I've been seeing my angel of death long before I ever wrote about him.
Silently as a shadow, he'd enter my dreams, without a word would he appear when there was no one around. Always, always would he come alone, and he would never be seen by anyone but myself. He was serious, and left that impression of a person who could do just anything, yet he never did hurt me - and I was never afraid.
He told me stories, long before I started writing my own, long before I was even old enough to tell what all the mysterious signs and symbols on paper meant. Stories of faraway lands and people I could barely imagine being real, and his voice brought to me the scents of worlds other than my own.
At the age of eight, I've told about him to my tutor, and not much after did my mother find the drawings in my notebooks. In there, his long coat always somewhat resembled a cloak, and trailed as if in the wind, and his face always seemed to be shadowed, only with his eyes light, resembling stars or little flames in the darkness. Sometimes, I'd have drawn the others too - a little blonde girl, a dark-eyed woman and a man with kong white beard - my friend had been telling me about. Sometimes, he was serious, but more often than not he was smiling - that little, impalpable smile which he wore on his face like a mask.
I never forgot that smile. I never forgot it, regardless of everything that have happened, just as I always carried the memories of his stories. Of the way he'd smile, listening to my secrets, and how he'd wipe away my tears when my parents wouldn't even know they were there.
I have called him the Master of Words - and it hasn't been until years later, that I realised how suitable that name was.
I sighed, leaving the station behind, lifting my gaze to look at the house. In my whole life, I couldn't recall seeing a mansion like that one; with its iron gates and sharp points of the fence seemingly just waiting for some angels to fall from the sky and get their wings and their hearts pierced through, it appeared to be so appropriate for a writer of horror novels that it almost seemed staged.
If this was a book, it would be such a cliché, I couldn't help thinking, taking the door knocker in my hand and sighing again before lifting and dropping it again.
Gripping the handle of my suitcase, as old and shabby as the house I was entering seemed to be, I licked my lips and tried my best to look presentable. Regardless of the house, and the fact he obviously didn't care of how the things around him looked, the owner of the house was the writer of half the novels I've taken with me as I left home, and it was next to impossible not to feel nervous.
What if he doesn't like me?
I shoved away the thought. I've replied to his advert, we've exchanged a couple of letters and I already got the job - so I didn't have to be so worried. Even if he didn't like my appearance, what matters would be the way I treat the child I was to take care of, and how much I can teach him.. I suppressed the urge to run my fingers through my hair, remembering I should keep it neat while it still agreed to stand as I put it.
What if I don't like him?
I cringed at the thought. I've seen men I didn't like before, but I never lived with one yet. And even so, one which wasn't even close to being my husband, yet I was to be almost like a mother to his son.. what if the boy doesn't like me?
I looked up, smiling automatically, meeting the eyes of an old man. He was just a bit shorter than myself, his hair mostly grey though showing traces of once being brown, his eyes watery blue. He was looking at me with his brow furrowed, mouth pressed into a serious, tight line under a nose resembling a potato. Nodding in reply to his question, I mentally kicked myself, curtsying a little, unsure of the customs they followed.
Thinking of people in the way I thought of my characters was never going to get me anywhere - I've been told that enough times, yet I couldn't help it, observing everyone I've met and almost imagining describing them on paper as I noticed their features. Sightly bigger nose and ears than it would be proportional, tidy appearance yet a visible tiny spot on the left on his lapel. Silver chain falling on the right of his chest, disappearing in a pocket of his waistcoat.
"Follow me," he said, and, with another sigh, I stepped inside.
A woman welcomed me - a woman in her fifties or so, with hair in a big bun on top of her head, whom I refused to observe in my usual way. She stood in the bottom of stairs, and I couldn't help but look up, to see the stairs parting in two directions, each new set of stairs ending with dark wooden door. The whole interior was lit only by outside light, sun coming through the numerous windows of different shapes and falling on dark carpets and heavy furniture.
"Ah, Miss Deveraux!" Her voice was warm, deeper than expected, and she sounded unexpectedly happy about me being there - as if we were some kind of old friends. "Welcome. It's a pleasure to finally see you in person."
For a second, I wanted to ask her to take me to the house's master, but then I noticed her dress, layered and made of dark plush which must've been at least as heavy as it was expensive, and I changed my mind.
"Are you Ms Fortescue?" I asked, and the woman nodded. "Mr Fortescue's.."
"Mother," she finished, taking my arm, leading me towards another door, softly knocking before opening them. "I will leave you alone now, and wait for you as you two finish your talking, to show you your room."
I didn't even have the time to nod before she turned and disappeared, closing the door behind me again.
Putting my suitcase down, my curiosity growing, I observed a massive desk across the room from me, covered in papers and quills, and a drawing in ink not yet dried, on top of a few pages filled with small letters.
"You are the governess, yes?"
I felt my lips curling into a smile, though his voice startled me. I turned to my left, my heart beating a bit faster than usually, finding a man glancing at me over a notebook he held in hand. Looking away from me, he closed the notebook and walked to the table, taking his seat and never offering me to sit down as well - not that there was another chair to sit into, though - and I took my time to observe him. He was fairly tall, or at least taller than me - which might have meant he was really of quite average height for a man his age - and he didn't look like he really cared for first impression at all. He was wearing a shirt and a waistcoat with a pocket watch on a chain, but didn't seem to have bothered to make himself particularly neat. I let my eyes slid from black curls to a few days old beard, just then realising I never answered his question.
"Governess, correct," I said, trying not to laugh. I've tried to imagine him before, as I read the words his hand wrote, but I've never imagined him like that. There was something almost charming in the way he didn't seem to care for inkstains on his fingers. Though you could as well look up at me, instead of staring at your papers while I'm talking. "I am Jaimé Deveraux, and--"
"I know who you are," he cut, looking up, seemingly just a bit more interested in me than he was in the door behind me. "Do you think you would be standing here if I didn't? I wouldn't give a job of looking after my son to any girl who walks by."
If it wasn't said in a manner which made me feel stupid - in other words, if it was directed at someone else and I was an observer - I would've laughed. Instead, I felt my cheeks blushing and looked down from his eyes.
"Of course, sir," I said. "I just saw it..proper, to introduce myself."
"Mm." I looked up again, finding him still observing, almost examining, me. "Welcome, then. You can start right away - my mother will show you your room, and you will find Victor in his. Dinner is in an hour, we will discuss the matter further then."
With that, I just knew the conversation was over; he turned attention to his papers again, a hint of a smile playing on his lips, and I bent to take my suitcase again.
"Leave that," he muttered, and this time I didn't turn to look at him. "Someone will take it to your room for you."
I stood up, and couldn't help but glance at him after all. "Thank you."
"An hour, miss Deveraux," came an answer, a moment before I closed the door behind me as I left him to his deeds.