Phobos pushed open the door to the bathroom and entered, closing the door behind her.
She turned around and walked to Demi who was standing at the washroom mirror, obsessively brushing her teeth with a neem branch.
Embracing her from the back, she held onto her hand, stopping her from continuing to torture herself.
Prying away the small branch from her hand, she found that it came away bloody. She discarded it in a bin by the side.
The petite girl had brushed her teeth so hard, she had caused her gums to bleed.
Demi turned around and hugged her tightly, sobbing loudly into her chest.
“Phi-Phi. I… I ate Master.”
Her piteous tone was heart-breaking.
Although… the way she put it made her smile involuntarily. Typical Demi, trust her to bring joy to the grimmest of situations.
She sighed and gently caressed her hair, letting her pour her frustrations out.
One didn’t lose their memory when one reverted from their Feral state. She could imagine what Demi was going through, having the taste of Husband’s blood and flesh firmly embedded in her mind.
Phobos had seen the state of his arm. If she had done that to someone she loved, the guilt would eat away at her too.
She looked up at her form reflected in the mirror.
Her yellow eyes were bloodshot and her hair in a disarray… something intolerable to her just a few hours ago, but which seemed of little concern now.
There were a lot of expectations for the behaviour of women in this world.
While a man would be deemed successful if he was strong enough, regardless of his manner or disposition, a woman just had to be perfect.
From a very tender age, females were drilled in a very spartan manner to instil a strong sense of discipline into them to shape and strengthen their willpower.
It was all so that they would have a fighting chance against Vita’s divine will upon their awakening.
Growing up, she had been regaled with anecdotes about the parents who abused their daughter and were eaten by her when she turned Feral.
She had been taught not to be like the loving parents who had thoroughly spoiled their daughter, weakening her will. Even though she loved them, she was helpless, imprisoned in her own body and forced to watch as her parents were ripped apart by her own two claws.
When she was finally subdued, the memories tormented her till she took her own life.
Another family, out of the multitude decimated by Vita’s vengeful curse.
The harsh traditions and restrictions on women was society’s adaptation to living with ticking time-bombs.
Despite the bubbly personality which she showed only to Husband and her, Demi was actually a very shy person. When interacting with others of the clan, she hid it behind an icy mask of indifference.
It kept most of them at bay and that was fine by her. She only wanted to bare her heart to someone who took the effort to pierce through the veils of her deception.
In the training halls, she was the epitome of what a woman in this age was supposed to represent. Strong willed and disciplined.
She was held up as the example to follow in the class for the other girls, which alienated her further.
It was only in the privacy of their room that she could let loose.
If even the girl reputed to be the best among her peers had barely managed to prevent herself from taking her lover’s life in the Feral state, then how terrifying was Vita’s will?
Would she be able to resist if the transformation came upon her at this very moment?
Could she trust herself to sleep beside the now incapacitated Husband with the proverbial Damocles’ sword of her awakening hanging over their heads?
Demi’ wracking sobs stilled as she slowly regained her composure.
A tough little warrior, she was and Phobos loved her to bits.
She never wanted to see her this sad again…
She never wanted to be this sad again.
Her eyes took on a determined cast as she decided upon her course of action.
Washing their faces to remove the traces of their breakdowns, Demi clumsily tried to fix her hair but only managed to tangle it further.
Phobos sighed. She already missed the feeling Husband’s rough but deft fingers as they raked over her scalp during their bathing sessions.
With the state he was in, it would be some time before they bathed together again.
Exiting the bathroom, they were met with the sight of Husband’s mother sitting by his bedside with palms spread over his hand.
Droplets of sweat ran down her forehead and dripped down the tip of her nose as the soft radiance from her palms shone upon his wounds, knitting them together at a rate visible to the naked eye.
After some time, she paused her treatment and collapsed back into her seat exhausted. She had rushed over in her nightwear and it was now soaked with sweat.
Phobos immediately hurried to the icebox to bring over a jug of cool lemonade and a tray of ice.
Husband’s mother, Epione, shot her a grateful look before chugging some down and laying an ice cube on her forehead to cool herself off.
“H-how is he?” asked Demi timidly.
Epione’s gaze grew soft as she turned to her.
“Come child, show me your marking.”
Walking over to her timidly, Demi exposed the back of her left hand. The word for speed in the old language was etched into her skin in a deep red.
In the hectic sequence of events, Demi’s successful contract to Husband had slipped her mind.
Epione burst out laughing when she saw the seal. “That’s one ugly ass marking. All that time practicing calligraphy and that’s the best he can do. Ha-ha. Serves you right child for nearly biting my son’s arm off.”
Demi seemed to shrink into herself and tears sprang up into her eyes.
Epione put a finger under her chin and raised her face to meet her eyes. She said extremely seriously, “Child, as long as that marking of yours is as dark as it is, you needn’t answer to anyone. Not even me… because it shows how much you mean to each other. If you ever doubt in yourself, just take a look at your mark. It will tell you that there is someone waiting for you in this world.”
She took off her medical glove and exposed her own marking: A beautifully crafted piece of ornate calligraphy that spelt out the word ‘heal’ in the old language.
She placed their markings side-by-side. Both of them shining a deep crimson in the sunlight streaming into the room.
“Be proud, for you are the wife of Mars Felidae, son of Epione and Veer Felidae. Your bond marks you so.”