Half In Shadow Half In Moonlight Part 2: The Morozova Residence
Chapter 1: The Road To Moonacre
Summary: After his father gets killed in the Ravkan Civil war, Aleksander is forced to go live with his mother in the country side, where he discovers more about his past and an old family feud that is going to destroy the valley if he doesn’t find a solution...
Pairing: Aleksander Morozova x Ignis 'Iggy' Redwood
Warnings: Aleksander is still grieving, likely will continue to do so for the next couple of chapters
Word count: 2989
Taglist: @agirllovespancakes @ramadiiiisme @miraclegrisha @blanchedelioncourt @salfira-xd
The night had fallen over the valley by the time they reached the Morozova estate, both men were exhausted as they practically fell out of the carriage, finding just enough strength in their legs to support themselves, dragging what little baggage they had from the roof and made their way to the door, where Aleksander could make out a human figure in the doorway and he figured it was his mother, from what little his father had told him about her, she had the same flair for dramatics as him.
"How was your journey?" the woman asked when they were close enough to properly see her in the dim light of the house behind her.
"Long." answered Ivan, "but good."
Both men shared a look and Aleksander nodded in confirmation, deciding to say nothing of the attempted kidnapping as she motioned them to come inside.
In the salon burned a fire in the fireplace, which seemed to be the light they had seen from the doorway and a giant white dog in front of it, which perked up when it noticed the newcomers and growled deeply, its red eyes making the animal even more intimidating as both Ivan and Aleksander took a small step back at the sight of it.
"Don't worry, you are a Morozova. He won't hurt you," she said without looking back at them as she made her way to the adjacent hallway and they quickly followed, not feeling the need to stay in the same room with the dog for longer than necessary, as it was clear to the both of them that she had only spoken to Aleksander.
The hallway was long and the shadows seemed a sinister thing to the both of them as they followed the old woman, who, despite her confinements to a cane, kept quite the pace, seemingly not at all affected by the gaping darkness.
"Mister Kaminsky, your room is over there," she said as she stopped, pointing her cane into the night covered hallway, before she turned back to Aleksander. "Sasha, your room is over here."
It took Aleksander a second to realise she was addressing him and instantly, his thoughts were back in Os Alta, in the warm summer where he played outside with his father. He'd never called him Sasha. It was always Aleks, Al or his full name if he was in trouble, but never Sasha. He wondered why.
His mother led him up a small spiral stairway before stopping at a door half his size. The little foreroom smelled dusty, but he was too tired to think much of it.
"Here you go, I'll see you in the morning."
Her words weren't friendly, but they weren't entirely cold either and Aleksander was too tired to argue her tone like he would have if they'd arrived late in the afternoon, so he simply waited until she'd descended the stairs again before he let out a weary sigh.
At worst she'd given him a closet to sleep in, but despite all his father had told him about her -which wasn't much- she didn't seem like the person to let her own son sleep in that kind of environment.
The door of the room opened smoothly and to his surprise, it led to a spacious bedroom.
The ceiling was decorated with stars that reflected the night sky and the walls were richly decorated with lush forests, grasslands and animals he recognised as living amplifiers. Some of them dead, some of them alive, others mythical, speculated to even exist.
Against one of the walls there was a bed he was sure he could easily fit himself on at least three times and at its end there was a fainting couch, made of darkened oak and grey velvet fabric.
Without much thought for the rest of the room, he put his suitcase on the couch and popped the locks open.
And there was the book again, silently staring at him. Daring to be touched again.
The worn leather felt strange under his fingers now that he wasn't overcome by grief or anger. Instead, he felt a sense of -what was it?- sadness? Longing or belonging? Whatever it was, he couldn't give it a name as he sat down on the edge of the bed with it.
The first pages of the book were blank, like most of the books he lended from the library back home.
The third page was the one that yielded its first real text and Aleksander could recognize the handwriting of his father anywhere.
For my son, if I don't live to teach him everything he has to know from these pages.
The words stung like a dagger in his chest and he could feel tears well up in his eyes as his vision got blurry, but he was quick to wipe the tears away as he turned to the next page where he was surprised to find a photo of both his father and his mother together.
His father was putting a kiss on his mother's temple as she smiled widely, her then black hair tied in an intricate braid and she looked to be leaning into it. Fully enjoying the moment.
They looked happy and for a few long moments, Aleksander felt jealous that he never knew them like that. That they never shared that happiness when he had been in the world. That he'd never have a childhood where both his parents had been present. And happy.
He quickly flipped the page where he found the first technique to summon the shadows and the small note his father made next to it tugged on his heartstrings.
The next two techniques had the same little notes next to them. Inked words telling him he had mastered it, his father silently telling him how proud he was and as he reads on, he sinks further and further into his own thoughts.
"Papa, papa! Look!" Aleksander ran over the grass in the backyard as fast as his legs could carry him, careful not to trip and make the small puff of black smoke in his hands disappear.
"What is it Al?" his father's voice was warm and friendly as he knelt down in front of his son, amused by his enthusiasm.
"Look!" he said excitedly as he pushed the small puff up to the man in front of him.
"Well well, my little boy can summon the shadows now huh?" he'd said as he ruffled Aleksander's hair, making both of them laugh.
"Will you help me?" he'd asked, still full of wonder.
As he read on, the memories changed from the time he spent with his father to how hard he'd worked to master the tricks and abilities described on the pages, but as he kept on turning the pages, fewer and fewer techniques had his fathers notes next to them.
Some of them he had mastered, but some were entirely new to him.
He realised it was because he went to the frontlines as Aleksander remembered practicing one of them alone in the empty house, feeling frustrated and angry when he couldn't get it right and the loneliness of not having someone to calm him, to tell him he was making progress and that he would get there eventually.
Of course Ivan had been there, but it was not the same.
They'd written each other over the months that he had been at the front, hiding the gambling from the paper, though his drinking habits had sometimes shined through. He'd told his father off a in a couple of letters, but it seemed to have had little use.
Tears welled up again as he turned the pages, both reminiscing old memories and feeling the guilt of never having been able to practice all that was written on the pages with him.
His fingers trembled every so slightly as he turned each page, from the rage against the war that took his father's life, from the emptiness he felt in his absence.
Then the book suddenly ended, the last few pages ripped out, like his father had been ripped from his life. It felt poetic and heavily ironic at the same time and he couldn't help the sinking feeling that set in. The feeling that he wanted to fall back into the sheets under him and disappear in them, never to return.
He decided it best to put the book away and get some sleep, not that he thought he would get much of it. Ever since his father left he'd had trouble sleeping, and he doubted this night would be any different, but he'd resigned himself to it as he put the book back in his suitcase and got his nightwear out of it.
A star fell from the ceiling and as his eyes followed it, he was surprised to see its timing line exactly to a star he could see falling from his bedroom window.
Funny, he thought to himself, though he doubted that it would happen again as he got under the covers and sleep took him quickly.
There was a soft seabreeze tickling his skin, the cold, wet stone of a cliff underneath his feet, a pair of soft hands holding his, as if to reassure him and angry faces he did not recognise.
He could not see the face of the person who was holding him, their features blurred and when they spoke, their voice unrecognisable, words melting into each other, yet he understood them perfectly.
He needed to get away, far from where he stood now, with a familiar pain in his chest, the hands letting go of him, not expecting to ever feel them again.
Aleksander woke up panting from the dream, as if he had been running for miles on end. His lungs were burning and it took him a great deal of effort to slow down his own breath, the images of the dream still clear in his mind.
Or were they from the past? A vision from what happend and would likely happen again if the fates would have their way?
He didn't know and he didn't want to think about it as he dragged his still tired body out of bed, wondering how he still had the energy for it as the images from the night were burned into the back of his mind.
It was only after he went looking for his clothes that he noticed a glass of cold milk on his bedside, the cold still evident on the glass as a few droplets made their way down. Beside it was a little gingerbread cookie in the shape of a star and Aleksander wondered who put it there.
He was certainly not a heavy sleeper and the idea of someone coming this close to him when he was so vulnerable unnerved him more than he wanted to admit to himself, but he saw no harm in consuming it. Given the likelihood that it was probably one of his mothers servants that put it there.
The thought made him smile. He didn't hold it likely that his mother would have asked one of them to give him something and the fact that they did anyway warmed his heart in a way that felt like it had been forever ago.
When both the milk and the gingerbread were gone, he turned back to look where he'd dropped his clothing the evening before, which were laying where he left them, or at least in close vicinity of where they had been.
The chair in which he had dropped them now bore a deep black Kefta, embroidery of the same color with hints of silver stretched over the fabric like dark tentacles while his own clothes laid neatly folded on the little table beside it.
The coat felt soft yet sturdy beneath his fingers, and the silver slivers glinstered in the morning sun as he moved them across the fabric. It had clearly been made by someone who was more skilled with fabrics than any seamsters he met in Os Alta and judging by the state of the coat, someone had either recently made it, or taken good care of it for all of the years it hadn't been worn.
His own clothes looked somewhat pitiful in comparison, but the dark Kefta seemed far too strange to actually wear. None of the people he'd seen in passing on his way to the villa wore them, nor did they wear the black that covered the fabric of this one.
He smiled at it. As if there would ever be a time where he could openly display his status like this. To not be shunned and chased away for simply being who he was.
No, he could not wear something like that. Maybe when old wounds had healed a little more and the past seemed more like a grotesque painting than a haunting demon breathing down his neck.
Descending down the stairs, he was not pleased with all the dust that seemed to have gathered on its steps and as he looked at the walls he realised the house was far older than he had noticed when they arrived. He silently wondered if his mother had suffered the brunt of the war as well, forcing her to dismiss most of the staff.
Of course he also knew the estate had been in his family for nearly seven generations now, but seeing the cracks in the walls and the pale, scaled off wood of the window frames made it all the clearer that the house was not aging very well.
Which stood in contrast with what he always heard from his father.
He'd always told him his mother was meticulous when it came to the care for the house, always repairing cracks in the walls and repainting window frames when they showed visible wear.
Though they had been young then, and though her later years clearly confined her to a cane, he would not be surprised if she'd still try and maintain the house the same way she had in the past.
As he walked through the salon from the previous night, he noticed the fire was still burning in its hearth, though to his relief, the dog was nowhere to be seen.
In the hall his mother was waiting for him, both exchanging 'good moring's before she motioned him to the dining hall where Ivan had already started his breakfast as the two joined him at the table.
One of the servants put a well filled plate in front of him and even though it smelt better than anything the cooks in Os Alta had ever put before him and the sight of it made his stomach growl, but Aleksander felt no desire to touch any of it.
Though he knew that if he did not eat now, he would collapse halfway through the day. Something he had learned the hard way.
As he picked away at his breakfast, he could hear the house and the nature around it come to life and he wondered what secrets it held for him to discover.
Secrets he soon discovered would have to wait as his mother called him and Ivan for a tour of the house. As they passed several corridors and hallways, most of them were pointed off limits, though to his relief the library was freely available for both of them.
Rain clattered on the windows of the Morozova residence as Aleksander slowly made his way between the large shelves, his own footsteps inaudible on the carpet that adorned the pathways as the leather of his new book sat strangely insistend on his fingertips.
He'd planned on putting it somewhere on these shelves, hoping it would give him less of a feeling of guilt, but now the book seemed to be all he could concentrate on. The worn spines of the books in the library simply glided by under his free hand as he tried to find the correct section to put the book under, but unlike the libraries back in Os Alta, this one seemed to have no categorisation to it. fiction and non fiction stood together like they had always been meant to be there and genres seemed to be of little importance to whomever had put the books on their shelves.
He couldn't imagine it being his mother, given her meticulous care of the house and the gardens around it when she was younger and the only books his father seemed to have been interested in were not ones he could find among the shelves so far.
Giving up the search for the order in the chaos, Aleksander settled in one of the windowsills as the rain and the cold that came from the glass surprisingly fitted his mood. Empty, grey and cold.
Not feeling up for reliving his childhood memories another time, he quickly flipped the pages to where he thought he'd left off with his studies.
As he read on, he played with a wisp of shadows between his fingers, the feel of it comforting him in the fact that not everything had changed. That no matter what happend, some things would always stay the same.
The technique he was studying before he suddenly had to leave everything behind was a complicated one, but if he could get it right, he would be able to see places he could never travel without ever having to leave the place that bound him.
The technique relied on another one that Aleksander had mastered years ago and although he knew he was a little out of practice with it, with a little brushing up, that problem would be solved in no time at all.
But that would be a task for another day as he wistfully stared out of the window, wondering what more there was on this plot of land in the middle of nowhere.
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