The Morning After. . .

He had been sat on the windowsill all night. Green eyes flitting from side to side as he watched every movement in the street. As the sun rolled into the sky he watched. As light spread across the road and the creeping shadows retreated, pulling their claws away from the doorways of his unexpecting neighbours. It was ending. Streaks of gold painted the air leaving a glow over the wilting pumpkins discarded on front lawns. He could feel the weight of night abandoning them and was almost ready to leave his guard post when he saw it. A young girl, sneaking back to her parents’ home with painted eyes and a stolen cigarette dangling from her lips. She had almost reached the safety of the sunrise when a claw reached from the shadows, long fingers of darkness aiming for her milky skin. He tensed, the hair on his back standing on end as he prepared for one last fight. The claw could almost brush her skin as he prepared to pounce when an aggressive streak of gold darted through the air piercing the shadowy threat and turning it into nothing. It had ended. Just as the young girl slipped through her bedroom window.

He stood, stretching his legs and back, letting relaxation reach the tip of his tail. With his ears still pricked to attention he strode across the room, picking his way through torn books and pools of liquid discarded on the floor. She was there, still slumped against her cauldron, half buried by books and now empty potion bottles. Nudging her cheek with his nose he watched her heavy eyes struggle to keep themselves open. Her skin was pale, her hand shaking as she ran it down his spine. Her strength was mostly gone, so was his.

“Is it over?” She whispered in between laboured breaths. “Did we, do it?”

He looked to the window once more. The sun was full in the sky and the neighbours were beginning to stir. The smell of morning coffee was seeping through the air and the sound of happy children waking echoed down the street. They would never know. They would never need to know. He looked at her, blinking slowly. Her bloodshot eyes were filled with fear that they had missed one, that they had failed. He did not know if her hands were shaking from fatigue or from fear. They would never know that she had saved them. That she had kept them safe from the shadows that linger and had given all that she is to protect them from the true darkness of the world.

With a gentle purr, he bowed his head. Watching as she let herself close her eyes. She could rest now. As the children opened their doors and ran out to play, he curled up beside her frail form, and slept.

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