Crane’s mind was still trying to wrap around what happened. One moment he was half asleep, fighting a nap, then asleep and suddenly he had volunteered for a position no one wanted. Everyone was slowly moving out of the room and he was left with the only person meant to remain, Cora Ailward. When he had been elbowed to wake up he had inadvertently raised his hand and offered himself to be Cora’s personal guard. The brunette wasn’t exactly the worst Ailward he could have volunteered to protect but at the same time she was up there on the list. Crane was sure she didn’t mean to be that way but she couldn’t seem to help herself and didn’t have the best of reputations with the Guards. Why and how did he get himself into these situations? Though, guarding an Aspect was one of the highest honors in the Guard so he should be happy, instead of incredibly apprehensive over the situation.

Staring at Cora now that they were alone he did hope that this could work, it wasn’t like he could back out now without looking like a prick. If he failed the trials he just looked like he couldn’t do his job and he was fully capable of carrying out his position to the best of his abilities. So his best was what he was going to have to give even though he knew it was in no way going to be easy with Cora and honestly he was afraid the darkness within himself might resurface, but maybe like Argent he could bring a bit of light into Cora’s life….maybe. “I have the feeling that you’re going to be a major pain in my ass but can we at least try to get along and set some ground rules?” He inquired trying to stay positive about the whole thing even though all he wanted to do was take a nap.

No one else wanted this position and it had to go to someone so the least that he could do was at least trying to make this work but it was going to require effort on both of their parts. All they had to do was get on some sort of footing and on the right page of the same book, that didn’t seem like it was going to be easy but the best things never were. “I can’t say we’re going to be the dream team or Argent and Aurelia but at least we’ll be on better footing than Aureus and Mikael since I think those two want to punch each other half the time.” So he had the feeling they weren’t going to be the most dysfunctional of the Aspects and the Guards.

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Being a people person was something that Cora never have been. Always preferring to keep space between to her and whoever. Whilst her siblings were the exceptions maybe Rashesh was too but she’d never admit it. Prefering to keep to herself, many of the aspects were the same except Argent who was a people person and loved everyone. All bubbly and happy all the time whilst Cora tended to be more colder, sarcastic. The darkness always there keeping her at bay. It always amused her to see fellow guard members run the opposite way if she was walking to. More people feared her than liking her. Putting up a cold front. Always got to keep up appearances but wasn’t as bad as Venetus or Erythrurus. Cora was starting to warm up to some others, only a little. Hearing the news from Aureus made her get annoyed almost. Seeing no need to need a bodyguard. Whilst keep being told that she needs ones. Half of the guards have their own personal bodyguards, luckily it seemed Malva and Tatiana were making amends. Out of all the aspects Malva was in need of one, cause somehow she’s always ending up finding herself into trouble.

Cora had lost her last bodyguard when the Isle of Skye blew up, not having had another one since. So she didn’t see why she needed one now. “Aureus do I really need a bodyguard?” The Aspect of Darkness sighed heavily, almost irritated seeing as he’d already rounded all the guard troops for a meeting for who decides or volunteering to be it. Yet the answer was still the same, there was no way out of it however much she complained. As the meeting commenced Cora sat beside her brother letting him take charge in it all. Prefering to look on out, watching all the guard members tensing up. Whispering to one and another. She was not really listening to her brother as he was starting to ramble, he way always the one to never to get to the point so quickly. As the questioned went out for volunteers who wanted to be her bodyguard Cora looked out at those in front of her. Curious to see who would be brave or stupid enough to do so.

It seemed that there was a winner as one guard member put their hand up almost jolting up from a nap. Cora had noticed how for most of the meeting Crane Redthorn had been sleeping. Yet it seems that he didn’t know what he was putting his hand up. He would be soon finding out. Cora was sn*****ing almost in amusement seeing as he was realizing what he’d done. Soon all the guards left along with Aureus leaving her with Crane who was still sitting on the chair. She decided to go other to him, kicking him the leg as a way to wake him up. “Wake up you idiot” She ordered, complaining seeing as her ‘bodyguard’ was nearly napping again. “You were asleep during the whole thing weren’t you?” She marveled sarcastically knowing she was right. “I don’t blame you tho, Aureus does go on during meetings” The two didn’t need formal introductions as they already know each other. As Cora’s known of Crane since he joined the guard, he was one of the few that didn’t run away from her. “Seems you're stuck with me now” She smirked yet unknowing to all it would inatel, not knowing how more difficult it would be for her to sneak in and out of the manor. With a bodyguard following her away everywhere. Forgetting what it was like.

“I’m not asleep.” He muttered as he once more opened his eyes to stare at her. Besides, it’s not the best way to start with you calling me an idiot.” Which he didn’t take personally since she wasn’t a people person, truthfully he wasn’t always a people person either but he made it work and was trying to get better since there were so few of them remaining. Crane was trying to build a closer relationship with the rest of the Ailward since that was his best option since he didn’t want to see anymore of them hurt or killed. Everyone was still on edge since Octavia and Vlad were still missing and the lack of information was wearing on them all. After the Isle of Skye and then two of their best just disappearing off the face of the planet it was clear why Venetus and Aureus would want all the Aspects to have at least one personal Guard.

“I wasn’t asleep for the whole thing, just…a good portion of it. I just got back off a mission and I’m tired and worn down and walked into a mass meeting of everyone to find you a Guard. I don’t recall anyone else standing up or rushing to be your Guard so napping or not at least I’m here.” Though he was sure there would be a few who would be enthusiastic to guard an Aspect, Cora wasn’t who most wanted to Guard since she was one of the least welcoming and obviously didn’t want a guard but it was no longer about what she wanted but what she needed. “Though Aureus’ voice does seem to have the ability to put just about anyone to sleep especially when he goes on and on about nothing at all.” Though it apparently had been rather important and was now going to change the course of Crane’s life and purpose within the Guard which was fine.

“Stuck is a strong word and I’m trying to make the best out of this so help me out here a bit. I volunteered and I’m going to see this through but it’s a partnership. I’ll give you as much trust as you give me, so let’s at least try to get this off on the right foot even if it was a bit of an accident.” Once Crane agreed to something or set his mind to something he saw it through and gave it his all. “No more sneaking out and putting yourself at risk, you put yourself at risk and you put me at risk because I’m right there with you, you got it? I don’t care about the façade you want to put on with everyone else but I’m not everyone else anymore.”

She’s always prefered to be on her own. To have no one else close to her. Most people knew she liked her own personal space. She wasn’t the only one of the Ailwards who felt the same. It was mostly because how she dealt with her own darkness. Not wanting to make others feel so cold around her, almost in a way of protecting them. Cora didn’t want people to see the real her. Always preferring to put on a persona she was a cold and heartless. The best way she could avoid people and scare off any guards who she didn’t want to socialise with. That's how she got her bad reputation with the guards. She wasn’t the only one who scared them away but there were a few who were used to all the Aspects, pushing their way through. To the inner circle almost. Now it seemed that there would be a new one. Her new bodyguard. With how much she tried to push her brother, to persuade him that she was better off on her own. Not needing a guard or protector. Yet it failed with him being persistent as ever, pain in the arse. Leaving her with a guard who spends most of his time as sleep rather than fulfilling any duties. Cora wasn’t stupid or blind to see that he volunteered accidently without knowing what was happening. Now they were both stuck with each other. Potentially forever if anything didn’t happen like how her past losses of personal guards in the past.

The raven haired aspect continued to roll her eyes at her new appointed personal guard able to see clearly he was half asleep. “I don’t care, I can call you what I choose. Part of the contact” She added thick with sarcasm, reminding him that they were stuck with each other. However much both of them weren’t happy about the idea. If either of them didn’t kill each other by the end of it. Which was liking going to happen knowing on them. “A good portion of it” She quoted his words back to him, rolling her eyes again to him, almost fed up already. “I saw your head falling back then every so often jerking backwards” She didn’t understand how Aureus never noticed how Crane was half asleep in the meeting then appoint him the job. “Oh stop whining, not my fault someone got the wrong side of the bed” Cora didn’t care that nobody put their hand up volunteering for the job it made her more hopeful that the whole idea be dropped and she could go back to having no personal guard following her 24 7. “I was was hoping that I could get away with it but it seems not” She added reminding him. “He likes to ramble almost contradicting himself. Most I never understand” Maybe adding to why she was never the one to lead meetings. Not much of a people person or good leader.

Sensing that this whole thing was going to be tedious, a big pain in the ass to the both of them. “You didn’t know what you were volunteering for” Now he was trying to make it out like he knew what he was doing. “I was happy by myself before. Don’t see why I need a bodyguard” Yet it was enividital as now all the Aspects had their own appointed guards she was only one without one. Seeing after Tatiana stepped down Malva soon had a new one appointed to her. “Sneaking out? I never snak out”  It was one of the main lies she was telling, trying to act surprised. Thinking she was always good at covering up her sneaking out of the manor, mostly to see Rashesh. Forbidden and all. “So you’re admitting that we’re stuck each other?” If they were to be with each other all the time, he was right about having to trust each other. “Guess we got to get to know each other better, all secrets spilled” Knowing that the secrets between Aspects and their own personal guards were kept between the two of them. Part of building and keeping the trust bond and all.

Crane wasn’t the best Guard they had but he definitely wasn’t the worst. He kept his circle small and at times it was almost non-existence. It had been a long mission and having just gotten back all he wanted was time to rest and being pulled into a meeting and forced to listen to Reus, drone on and on. So it was only natural that his eyes start to drift closed and he fell asleep. The thing was that it happened often, there wasn’t a lot of time that he happened to be at the Manor or the Isle of Skye before it had gone down. After he had taken his oath as a Guard he had spent as little time on the Isle as possible. Which was why his connections were limited but he didn’t mind that so much. It was also why he always got back tired and some thought that he was lazy and that wasn’t the case.

Cora’s sarcasm was far from lost on him but he just rolled his eyes and ignored it since they were both very much the same. Crane however had a pretty good handle on the darkness inside of him, he might even be able to help Cora with her own. It might not seem like he was very hopeful or light but he was good at pretending. After all Crane was so used to losing people that it was easy to keep that guar up and in place. “That’s not part of the contract at all. If it is then I’m going to start calling you Light Bright in the most sarcastic of ways.” Despite the fact that it was more fitting for Argent but that was why it was ironic. “Uh…Aspects send Guards on missions so it kind of was your fault. But whatever, I’m just tired case closed and moving on.” Especially since they really shouldn’t be at one another’s throats right now. “Like the rest of your siblings would really allow you to continue on without a Guard, especially now of all times since there’s a lot going on within the city.”

It was best to try to make this work and just make the best out of an uh-oh situation. He did want to be a personal guard at some point but Cora wasn’t exactly the one had in mind. “Of course I didn’t know what I was volunteering for but hey we’ve got to make the best of it. Besides, there are worse options for the both of us.” They could make this work, after all Crane was already aware of Cora’s little tricks to get out of the Manor. “You need a bodyguard since someone doesn’t like to adhere to the rules and I’m not only talking about myself in this situation. We’re going to reach an understanding because if I don’t do my duties as your Guard it comes back really bad on me and worse on you because your siblings will just be more over protective than before. So lets just figure this out.” He stated knowing that they were going to have to figure out how to work as a pair.

If the Aspect of Darkness had it her way she’d choose to skip out of the whole needing a personal guard for protection thing. Always believing that she’d be all fine by herself, not needing anyone to help protect her. Thinking she’d be able to stand her guard, to fend off any threats that may come her way. Yet as of lately she’d been finding it the opposite. Sustaining a few injuries from the backfire of a celestials burst of celestial energy. Cora managed to get stitched up and healed before any one of her siblings or guards noticed. Knowing it’ll only lead on them keep pushing that she needs someone to follow and protect her everywhere she goes. One of the other reasons why she was so insistent that it wasn’t what she wanted or needed is because she worried that it may lead onto others finding out what she does in her spare time. More importantly who she spends majority of her free time with. Not exactly ready for the judgemental scolding any remarks coming from her siblings that she had fallen for the enemy. They’ll only pressure her to call whatever she has off. To be honest it was not what she wanted. Cora would never admit to anyone especially Rashesh that she enjoyed his company and what they currently were to each other. Worrying that it’ll only lead onto her getting hurt. It was why Cora always put up her walls prefering to keep up the persona that she was a cold and heartless person.

Yet here she was now, with a new appointed guard at her protection. Cora wondered that maybe it’ll be the other way round, believing that she’d be the one ending up to protect him. Instead of Crane protecting her. Not seeing what he was like in combat, not knowing all his weaponry skills and all were like. Another reason why she didn’t like that she’d seen this whole appointing bodyguard through. Thinking that Aureus would take his time to see it all through. Making sure that they’ll choose the right person. Instead Cora ended up with the only person who had put their hand up volunteering for the job. Then to find up that Crane was half asleep during most of the meeting not knowing what he was putting himself up for. Cause Cora to become the ever more so irritated if that was possible. The two of them have barely spoken to each other and knew that they were both had enough of one another. Both ending up rolling their eyes at each other in annoyance.

Cora couldn’t help to sigh loudly, pinching the bridge of her nose with being fed up. “Kill me know” She muttered to herself full of sarcasm, seeing that they’d probably end up killing each other. Only person she’d let call her by something else was Rashesh. “Still you won’t be able to live it down, you know. If it’s not me, I’m sure it’ll be one of the other guards” She reminded him, motioning to back in the meeting how she wasn’t one of the only people who had noticed how he was fast asleep. “I don’t know how Aureus never noticed but oh well” In a way Cora was almost accepting to herself that they were both stuck with each other. Even with how much the two wanted out, both of them know they couldn’t. Maybe Crane was right they just had to get on with it now to move forwards. “I thought I was doing all fine with myself. I can see why Malva needs a personal guards. God knows what she does in her free time, probably hexing anyone in her way” Cora was starting to talk to herself as she started to mention her siblings. “Word of warning if you don’t know already, stay away from Mavla if you don’t want to be hexed” Yet she was sure he probably already knew it. Not all of the Aspects weren’t that fond by the guards, seeing how nobody wanted to take the position of her bodyguard.

Turning on her heels Cora started to leave the meeting room, knowing that Crane would be following her. If he wasn’t he’d already be failing in his duties. “I could have been stuck with someone who was all happy and full of light all the time” She marvelled sarcastically adding onto Crane’s comment. At least they were not stuck with polar opposites of each other at least. “All of us Aspects sneak out behind our guards it’s a common fact” Mostly it was Cora, Argent and Malva. She was very sure it was all for the same reason to meet the secret someone who they wanted to hide from everybody. “So you want us to get to know each other?” Cora didn’t know if she wanted to tell all her secrets to someone she barely knew but on the other hand she knew that Crane would end up being someone who’d she’d trust with her life. Since he know was her protection. “Your right, I have secrets of my own. They are secret for a reason” Way of protecting others. Only person who knew her secrets were Julian, person who knew her better than anyone has. Always have and she was sure that he always will.

It came as no surprise to Crane and Cora was so against having a personal Guard, she wasn’t the social sort and having a personal Guard meant having a personal bond, it tended to work better that way. You could tell when a Guard and Aspect got along and you could tell when they didn’t. Like everyone had known when Malva and Tatiana had been on the rocks and clearly Aureus and Mikael were just tolerating one another out of duty but Argent and Aurelia were a good pair as were Ery and Dom so there was hope. Maybe he and Cora didn’t know each other all that well but that would change that, slowly since neither really wanted to let others in to see their inner workings but they were both going to have to give a little to make this work. Beside this was what most Guards worked their lives for, to be a personal Guard to one of the Aspects and honestly it had been what he was working towards as well. He was good at what he did and he was a good, lighter person than most gave him credit for, Aurelia had trained him well and she was one of the best to be sure.

“I get that maybe I didn’t put my best foot forward during the meeting, I just got off a long mission, haven’t slept, didn’t want to be at a meeting listening to Aureus talk about the same things he always tells us but I did my duty and attended anyway. I know how to do my job and I’m pretty damn good at it. Would I have volunteered if I was fully awake? Probably. Would you be my first choice of Aspect? I’m not going to lie but no but I’ve wanted to be a personal Guard for years and worked pretty damn hard with that in mind.” Crane wasn’t sure if he was speaking for Cora’s benefit or his own at this point but he needed her to understand he wasn’t incompetent by any means. Sure he did things his own way at times and have hiccups like today but he was a good Guard, this was the only life he had known since he was twelve and it was everything to him.

Rolling his eyes he released a sigh trying to remind himself to be patient, “Can’t kill you, it’s kind of my job to make sure that you don’t die so kill you would be counterproductive.” He responded in a sardonic tone in his voice. “Whatever you say Light Bright, most of the Guards will find something else more interesting within a week and I’ll be old news.” Which was accurate for the most part since they didn’t hold much interest for long since they were always things going on in the Guard. “Oh Aureus noticed, he always does but I’m pretty sure he didn’t care today since I volunteered for the very thing he wanted.” Aureus likely would have pulled him aside and lectured him later if he hadn’t volunteered to be Cora’s Guard and the lecture might have actually been worse than being Cora’s Guard. “You all need personal Guards, clearly something is shifting or happening that none of us understand and you don’t need to face it alone.” He said in a sincere manner since even though the Aspects were strong on their own, that didn’t mean they always needed to be alone. Sometimes he thought personal Guards for more for the sanity of an Aspect than the actual protection of one. “I’ve learned to steer clear of Malva but she’s not always that bad.” She was more detached than anything but he had definitely heard some crazy stories about her.

The Aspect of Darkness turned and began to walk and out of instinct he followed knowing this was now his job. Sure he couldn’t watch her 24/7 and they would both need time apart but regardless he would do his duty. “I don’t know, Sapphire might have been a good pick for you if she wasn’t already taken, she’s already making me less cynical.” He admitted since she was pretty much a ray of happy light which he didn’t even know was possible. “Oh I know it’s a common fact and I know there are things you’ll want to do without me, places you’ll want to go and people you’ll want to see and I respect that. I’ll still want you to let me know where you are though for my piece of mind.” Gathering his hair in his hands he pulled the hair tie from his wrist and tied his hair into a small man bun. “I don’t need to know all your secrets, not right now because I sure as hell aren’t tell you mine yet either. But…you can talk to me, anything we talk about is between us, Aspect/Guard confidentiality and all. I don’t know if that’s a real thing but I’ve decided that it is.” He joked softly knowing this wouldn’t be easy for either of them but he was determined to make it work the best that he could.

One thing that she’s always loved and enjoyed was her freedom, well as much freedom as she was able to have. Still sticking with her loyalties and ties to her siblings and all the other Ailwards. One of the downsides to being an Ailward Aspect was that they couldn’t be too far from each other. If one would spend a fair time and distance from each other they’d feel an unbearable pain. Cora could remember Venetus telling her right in the beginning when she was all knew to her knew life. Being told about the weaknesses of their kind and the separation could lead to death in some cases. Many people were always so confused to why they all lived and stayed with each other even after 1,000 years give or take. Truthfully they couldn’t be apart from each other even if that's all they wanted. For many years Cora had watched as all her siblings had their own loyal personal guards. Other referred to as bodyguards. Ones who watched out for their own Aspect. The one thing that Cora’s never really wanted. Always preferring her own personal space, not liking someone overstepping it. Especially if one would need to spend so many hours or how long each day with her. Just to make sure that she didn’t get into trouble as apparently she has a bad habit of bad things or trouble following her. Cora was never able to see it whilst others could. After the death of her personal guard when the Isle of Skye fell Cora thought maybe she was able to get out of it in a way. Thinking and believing for a long time that maybe her brothers Venetus or Aureus would had forgotten all about it. Knowing that lately both of them have been more busier with their own lives. In a way so has she but no one else knows it. Cora have always been the one to keep her emotions and actions a secret from everyone around her. Maybe it was a reason why she was not that close to anyone, always finding it difficult to open up to anyone. The only people she felt most comfortable around was Rashesh and Julian. Both of them could see through and feel her emotions, see her true self in a way. 

Cora could see both her and Crane were quite in a predicament, that being the only way to explain it really. Both have been forced to be stuck with one and another. With no other way around it. Cora being forced to have a new personal guard with no questions answered whilst Crane was forced to be her personal guard. As it was something he’d never asked for yet one he found himself doing since he’d accidentally volutered. Maybe it wasn’t all that bad, both of them weren’t completely strangers just ones who’d never spoken but always seen around in the manor. Cora knew she hasn’t exactly won or done any favours with any of the other guards but it was just who she was. Never a people person. Cora followed her eyes at Cranes rambling didn’t really need to hear a full blown expectation to the whole story to how it came about him being landed with the role. “I’m not that bad of a person I’ll have you know” She pointed out trying to explain and justify herself to him. Just maybe she always finds herself getting on the wrong foot with everyone else “Now your my new personal guard you got to live up to your expectations, can’t have a nobody being my personal guard right?” She spoke with a teasing smirk, crossing her arms as she looked over to Crane. Almost in a way of herself admitting defeat trying to make this all work

“You know what I mean” She replied bluntly trying her best not to roll her eyes back to him as the two continued to bicker. Challenging each other almost which never always ended up too well for her. “See it won’t be all that bad afterall” Nodding her head knowing he was right. One thing she knew was the gossip was always changing in the manor with the guards. Not many of it was about the Aspects, since if the guards were clever they’d know not to cross the wrong path of her or any of her siblings. “Oh by the way you still got a bit of drool, right there” She grinned a little teasing him when he was drooling in his sleep from early. “I think he was starting to draw straws” Knowing that her brother Aureus was starting to grow tired of her constant dismissal to even the concept of her having a new personal guard. Always trying to dismiss and sway him away from the idea yet it didn’t work out the way she had thought. In the end his plan worked all out to her dismay. Cora nodded her head as she listened to him agreeing with knowing there was dark forces ahead of them but no one knew what it was. “I feel sorry for Damien but someone needed the job after god knows what happened between her and Tatiana” It was still quite a mystery to her with Malva changing her own personal guard after so many years. Never able to get it out of her sister, trying to get to the root of it all just Cora knew something was bad enough to cause the fall out and the change. 

Cora choice to turn on her heels walking away from him wondering if he would follow. If not he’d follow in his duties before properly starting them. “Her and Aurtina are a good match” Almost the opposite to her yet it what all made them all different. All Aspects and guards are different, all different qualities all put together. Cora thought she was always good at covering her tracks keeping all her secrets underwraps yet looking at it now she could see how surposious it was her and other siblings all sneaking out. Thinking that nobody is looking. Stopping in her tracks she turning to him as she dragged him to her room where they were more private. Wondering if he was right if she’d open up to him a little with how he would need to know where she was. “I’m kind of seeing someone. Its someone who no one here especially my siblings will approve of” Cora admitted truthfully to him, biting the inside of her cheek waiting to see his reaction if he was figuring it out on his own. “He’s a Celestial” Adding to why she didn’t want anyone to find out yet she had a feeling that Malva had figured it out. Weirdly Malva knows everything, god knows how. 

The Aspect of Darkness turned and began to walk and out of instinct he followed knowing this was now his job. Sure he couldn’t watch her 24/7 and they would both need time apart but regardless he would do his duty. “I don’t know, Sapphire might have been a good pick for you if she wasn’t already taken, she’s already making me less cynical.” He admitted since she was pretty much a ray of happy light which he didn’t even know was possible. “Oh I know it’s a common fact and I know there are things you’ll want to do without me, places you’ll want to go and people you’ll want to see and I respect that. I’ll still want you to let me know where you are though for my piece of mind.” Gathering his hair in his hands he pulled the hair tie from his wrist and tied his hair into a small man bun. “I don’t need to know all your secrets, not right now because I sure as hell aren’t tell you mine yet either. But…you can talk to me, anything we talk about is between us, Aspect/Guard confidentiality and all. I don’t know if that’s a real thing but I’ve decided that it is.” He joked softly knowing this wouldn’t be easy for either of them but he was determined to make it work the best that he could.

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