It was like being burned alive, every inch of her body was consumed by flame and fire. Every bone was broken and reforged with iron, the pain was excruciating and she screamed until her voice gave out.
Maybe death would’ve been the easier option. Perhaps death wouldn’t have hurt this much.
Days passed as Grace was broken and broken again. There was nothing untouched. There were no thoughts, no way of processing anything as the breaking took place. Only eternal darkness and torment.
Luke watched carefully as her body bucked and arched and broke. He heard her screams.
She had chosen this, he told himself. She had chosen this.
Slowly, so slowly, the pain began to ease. As if there were no parts left to break. Five days after she accepted his offer, she finally opened her eyes again. Finally regained consciousness.
She lay for a while, wiggling her fingers and toes, searching her body for any difference. She couldn’t detect anything.
Looking down at her hands though, her fingers were longer, more slender than they were before. Her arms had muscles that she had never worked towards building and there was a glow. A faint otherworldly glow seemed to emanate from her body.
There was also a dull ache between her shoulder blades.
Luke stood at the other end of the bedroom. She lay on the bed in a dressing gown and she looked up at him with clear eyes. Eyes that were so clear that they could see more than they had ever been able to see before. She could see his body warmth as it rippled off him and touched the cool air of the room.
She sat slowly and Luke rushed to her. Concern was written across his face. It wasn’t until her back muscles adjusted, instinctively moving them, that she looked over her shoulders and took in the wings.
Luke’s and Azriel’s wings were feathered but her wings were different. They were mahogany in colour and skin formed a membrane between them, there were claws at the tips. She concentrated on stretching them and (as with moving an arm or a leg) they obeyed her. They were amazing and terrifying all at once.
She met Luke’s eyes again, her mouth forming an ‘O’ shape as he smiled down at her.
“They’re beautiful,” he offered. “How do you feel now?” his words were gentle.
In truth Grace didn’t know how she felt. Her body was familiar and foreign all at once.
“I’m okay, I think,” she responded carefully, flaring her wings again.
When Luke had explained his plan to her, she thought it was insane. He had told her that he had received the order to track down and kill her. He’d told her that the letter with these had mentioned that Azriel had refused to let her die and that this had intrigued him. The last time Luke had seen his brother he hated human kind.
Why was she so precious? In an effort to find out, he had “collected” her.
He hadn’t fully made the decision to let her live until she’d sneered at him about his poor manners in the lobby. Her fury had amused him.
His brothers still thought him the bloodthirsty animal he had been centuries ago, they did not expect him to disobey them.
And then he’d announced that if she wanted to carry on existing, she would accept his offer. She would allow him to turn her into a demon. A member of his court. To do so would be to end her human life and her brother’s orders would be obeyed.
She had asked him what he would get out of all of this. He had responded that immortality had become incredibly dull, he simply wanted some entertainment. As much as it annoyed her that he considered her “entertainment”, if it meant she’d get to live long enough for Azriel to rescue her, she’d do it.
“We need to have a party!” Luke declared, grinning from ear to ear. He stood and grabbed her hand, pulling her from the bed.
The world tilted as she stood. Her limbs seemed ridiculously long, her body was slender but her curves remained. Those wings flared and adjusted as she stood, helping her with her balance. He pulled her to him, one hand holding hers and the other around her waist.
“We will have a party, with music and dancing. I’ll announce it immediately!” he was so excited. His blue eyes seemed to glisten, light had crept into them and made him look human, boyish almost. Luke’s blonde hair was disheveled, as if he hadn’t brushed it in a long while.
She smiled as he span her once and then he paused.
“Cecilia will see to your needs, I must go and make preparations!” He kissed her square on the forehead before disappearing. She stood, completely dumbfounded, for a minute or two before a woman came bustling into the room.
The woman was round, her face was friendly and she looked almost human except for the horns on her forehead. She didn’t even acknowledge Grace as she entered, she just went straight to the attached bathroom and turned the hot water on over the large copper tub.
Grace sat down on the bed again, lifting one wing and then the other until it was comfortable. For a while, the only noise was water hitting metal.
When the woman finally emerged she had a fluffy grey towel in her gnarled hands. She beckoned Grace to follow her into the bathroom. Once Grace was in the tub the woman began rubbing soap into her, she started with her hair and then moved onto the tops of her wings.
In order to fit, Grace had to wrap her wings around her, partially obstructing the room from view. All she could see through the membrane was filtered light from the other side.
Cecilia wasn’t rough as she bathed her, she simply helped her adjust to her new form, scrubbing away days worth of sweat and pain.
When it was time to get out, she was led back into the bedroom and positioned on a stool so Cecilia could braid Grace’s brown hair into an intricate knot on the top of her head. Once it was perfectly positioned, she started on Grace’s makeup. Dark eyeliner and lips that were almost the same colour as her wings.
And then the dress appeared. Grace turned to find Cecilia holding it. Glistening black fabric clung to her breasts, it pulled her in at the waist and cascaded from her hips. Looking down at herself, Grace felt every bit the demon that she now was.
In that dress, she truly was devastating.
Once Cecilia had completed the work, she led Grace to the solid oak bedroom door. Grace paused and thanked the female, but Cecilia only tilted her head and waved a hand in acknowledgement. It was only then that it occured to Grace that maybe the woman could not talk.
When the door opened onto a hallway with gold patterned wallpaper, she was surprised to see Luke standing there with another male. They were tangled together. Grace cleared her throat and the other male jumped away, blush staining his cheeks. Their hands remained intertwined though.
In one fluid motion, Luke looked Grace up and down and grinned at her.