Marie ran. She ran through the rain sodden streets, past the costermongers hawking their wilted vegetables and bruised fruit. She ran past groups of women and men gawping at her as she sped past. She ran like she had in Paris, from groups of strangers filled with curiosity or rage. She ran as she had from boys in her village who threw stones at the strange girl. She ran to get away, and she ran to forget, her mind and body filled only with one purpose: keep moving.
Eventually she stopped and collapsed by a church. The breath she had needed came in great gulps. She sat on the floor with her head down and her arms round her knees, gasping and sobbing.
From over the road a middle aged man, staggering from drink from the pub, wandered over to her.
“Everything all right, my dear?” he said. “Need any help, my darling.”
Marie’s head shot up and she stared at him. He backed away instinctively, muttering some apology as Marie watched him go. Finally, Marie spoke.
“He knows,” she said.
“Well,” said the gargoyle a few feet above her, “that was bound to happen sooner or later.”
Her head sank into her knees again.
“Ow’d he find out then, you tell him?” asked the gargoyle.
“No,” she said, “I went home after he had gone with the police. They had been to this house, the house of a vampire. I came back, and it must have been him, the vampire. He was in the room, and he just said it … said what I was.”
“You could have lied,” said the gargoyle, “told a little porky.”
“No,” she said, “I can’t lie to him. I’m just…”
“A little less than forthcoming with all the facts?” said the gargoyle.
Marie’s head sank down again.
“And now you’re thinking ‘Oh no, Sir John will never want to see me again and my life is over’ or somesuch,” said the gargoyle. There was a small nod from beneath him.
“Ain’t it ever occurred to you why you liked him, why he liked you? It weren’t a mutual appreciation of interesting cheeses.”
Marie looked up at the gargoyle, puzzled.
“Look,” he said, “it sounds like your Sir John wouldn’t know a subtle power if it sent him a telegram on a purple cushion with gold fringing. An’ he seems frightened of his own shadow. But some part of him wants all this. Wants the supernatural, wants the magic. And you, you want someone who isn’t completely boggled by all that. You want someone who can help you figure out what it is. What you can do. Dontcha?”
There was another nod. Marie’s head was up now.
“Well, this may not have been the time, manner and place that was ideal, but there’s naff all point telling me about it. You gotta go back there and talk to him, see. His head will be spinning a bit, but you’ll work it out. You belongs together.”
Marie stood up and started to walk away.
“Thassa girl,” said the gargoyle, “you go sort it out.”
“I will,” said Marie, watching a tall hooded figure moving awkwardly through the streets, “But I have something else I need to do first.”