Epilogue

A gentle breeze from the northwest chilled David as he stood in the shade. It was still not too cold, considering it was November, but he involuntarily crossed his arms and drew his coat tighter as a shiver wracked him. A gaping hole carved into the earth like a great, screaming mouth made him turn away, then, and walk back to the waiting group.

Shirit sat in the second row of seats staring into the distance, while Avram and Judah flanked Alexa, who was barely on her feet as her body shook with sobs. Peter stood nearby, with Billy holding him protectively. Sebastien was there with his parents, though they hung back in the crowd behind the big group of guests from the various New England and international covens.

Misha’s simple wooden coffin rested beside his grave, while an urn of ashes sat on a nearby table. Alexa had opted to bury her brother in the local cemetery, adjacent to Tom’s family plot, since she and her twin had no familial connections or loyalties to any particular locale. It seemed fitting, based on what David had revealed of their final conversation and Misha’s dying request. Elise would eventually be put to rest in her native Limoges, but she would join her comrade at this joint memorial.

Aiden and his mother sat in the car silently until the last minute, and as they approached the gathering, even the somber atmosphere became more oppressive. Aiden looked at the coffin and the urn, and felt a pang in his stomach. Tom was deprived to the opportunity to be properly mourned side-by-side with his comrades: his loved ones were deprived of their opportunity to say a final goodbye. Walt and Martha had declined to attend. Having lost one son, it was too hard to mourn another in absentia: Aiden had had to come out of friendship to the dead – Tom would have insisted – and to be there with the boys, all he had left of Tom besides a great old house haunted by specters of memory.

Aiden caught sight of Sebastien and was surprised to find that David was not with him. He looked around with anxiety until his eyes settled on the boy, who stood quite apart from the crowd and leaned against an ancient oak. The boy’s face betrayed a storm of emotions raging inside, and Aiden scarcely noticed Judah and Father Tim open the memorial with a prayer. He was lost in thought about the boy, who remained his strongest connection to Tom, whom he had given up as dead.

Every mention of Tom during the memorial, every hint at his loss, every reference to his absence was a new knife, and David couldn’t bear it. He pulled away further until he could no longer hear. Tom and Misha and Elise, his parents however bad they had been, countless innocent victims: the losses were staggering and he could not reconcile himself to the world’s insistence on continuing impetuously its revolutions. He reached into the inner pocket of his jacket and pulled out one of the little volumes he had found in Misha’s bag – this one was one of his journals.

David had no idea why the man had given him these things, but he had taken the bag secretly. He didn’t know if Alexa would have let him take it, so he hadn’t asked. He felt sure there was some reason Misha wanted him to have at least something in this collection of personal objects. Perhaps once he knew why, he could return some of it to her. “What am I supposed to do?” he whispered to himself.

Out of the corner of his eyes and in the distance, for an instant he saw two figures standing side-by-side, but when he turned to examine them no one was there. He rubbed his eyes and told himself he wasn’t crazy. Then he sat down next to Sebastien and tried to listen to men and women talk about people he had grown to love, whom they had all lost. Still every few minutes he looked over his shoulder expecting to see the two men as he had before. But all he saw was the occasional eddy of leaves stirred by the gentle autumn breeze.