The Relationship That Changed
I drill my fist into the door, echoing the familiar pattern of a famous song. So… we tell Hermann that we got lost in the forest and that we then saw Jan Hass?/ Indeed, according to Greyscale’s memories, my analysis is that the key to lying seems to be to keep it simple. Less chance of ‘misremembering’ details that way./ That makes sense, especially in retrospect to all the times my lies have failed.
I frown, glancing at the door. What’s taking him so long? I knock, this time harder. /Maybe he isn’t home?/ Where would he be… I turn towards the adjacent villa. Greyscale./You do need to tell someone about Hass. If not Hermann, then Greyscale would be a acceptable substitute./
I bound down the steps to my villa, no my old villa, and towards Greyscale’s. Two knocks and the door flies open, revealing Greyscale holding a bottle of Finnish vodka. He looks at me, and then his left hand, which is clutching the bottle. With a deft move he launches it back into the hallway. I wince at the sound of glass breaking. “Hi there, Rune”, he says with a large smile as if he weren’t drinking a moment ago.I shake my head. “Hey. Have you seen Hermann recently?”
Greyscale rotates his head back in a quick serpentine movement and shoutes something in rudimentary German. “Give him a second or two”, he says while ushering me in,” he’s in a bit of a slump.” I hang up my clothes, only now realizing that I smell like dried sweat. I backtrack, running Greyscale’s comment in my head again. “Slump how?”
Greyscale stares at me and now he shakes his head. “Shame on you”, he says without his usual levity.” Hermann is alone in the villa and his son, which is what he sees you like, hasn’t visited even once”, he adds in rebuke.
I stiffen. Open my mouth. Then close it. “I….”, I begin. “You what? Didn’t have time? Forgot the man who’s been part of your life all the way since you were born? Who held you as you cried when your parents died?”
Greyscale’s barrage stuns me in several ways, the worst one being that he might be right. The party, the studying and the general press of my life has gotten in the way, but that’s just an execuse. Geez, when I consider it more carefully, I realize that I haven’t called him. Every call since I moved out has been initated by Hermann. I interrupt Greyscale.
“You’re right.” Greyscale pauses. In that interval of silence I continue,” .. and I will do better. Life might have gotten in my way, but that’s just an excuse. I can do better, and will do better”, I say contrite. Greyscale nods, eventually. “See that you do”, he says, a bit more mollified.
Inside the kitchen Hermann sits, drinking a cup of tea. I do not need a supernatural sense of smell to detect the scent of liquor in the air. And Hermann… no tie on his suit, his shoes don’t shine and there is a general sense of… filth about him. I glance back, at Greyscale’s retreating form.
“I am so sorry!” My outburst startles Hermann; he tries to hide it, but his pupils widen just a fraction. “With the party, the new apartment and Nevena finally ending it I seem to…”, I search for the word, “lost you somehow”, I finish with. That feeling of loss is compounded by the way he looks; Hermann always look dapper, with the consistency of rain.
“Rune”, Hermann begins before stopping. “Rune”, he starts again. ” Everyone grows up. Some do it sooner than later. I… knew this of course.” He clears his throat before continuing.”Yet knowing it is one thing, and actually experiencing it is a different thing. This”, and now he gestures to under the table where I spot several empty bottles of more Finnish vodka,” is just…” he trails. “… it’s just growing pains. Our relationship is changing. But you will always be family. You will still be like the son I never had. That”, he says, looking directly into my eyes,” will never change.” I nod./Hug him!/ What? /You heard me. Hug him!/
I close the distance between us slowly and extend an arm. He clasps it and embraces me in hug. We stand like that for a while.
“You really smell like booze…” “Way to ruin the moment”, Greyscale adds from the entry to the kitchen. I detach myself from Hermann, feeling out of my depth. Even my parents rarerly hugged me. I… I don’t do well with intimacy. Subject, I need to change the subject.
“I have something to tell you guys. Something I saw while out running just now…” I describe Jan Hass’ changed scent and his sudden ability to fly, while taking care to leave out the details of how I ended up in the mountains in the first place.
Hermann scratches his shin. “You are right. We needed this information. But I do wonder when he learned to fly….” Greyscale grunts before adding in my direction,” the ability to fly is high-end magic.” He continues. “Not something you see every day”, he adds. Hermann ticks off fingers on his hand. “An ancient vampire with true control of his or her density-magic can become lighter than a feather, but that isn’t true flight. Members of the Flight can fly through the use of their other shapes and certain in-built magic that ensures that their bodies don break under the strain of their gargantuan bodies. The venti, Roman spirits, could hover milimetres above the ground.But true flight…” Hermann muses.
“Do you think he is a danger to the children of Ochre?” Greyscale’s question is tentative.
Hermann shrugs, only to smile. ” Who can tell? If… if he still is Jan Hass, then I don’t think he will hurt the children. The Jan Hass who I met three months ago wouldn’t have. And should he want to hurt the children, then he will have to contend with Gomagog, Perenelle, Merith and Richard”, Hermann says, with a flourish.
I almost feel sorry for him. Almost.