"Bastian!" Zoe yelled as her dog went bounding towards the front door in excitement. His thick tail was wagging, and when he stopped and turned around, his amber eyes seemed to say: "Well, hurry up and open the door."
Zoe sighed in amusement as Bastian looked from her, to the door, and back to her again. His head reached as high as Zoe's waist, and his lean and muscled body was covered in a thick coat of grey and dusty brown fur. His general appearance was that of a wolf, and the first time Zoe had taken him to the vet's, Bastian had near given the animal doctor a heart attack.
He was a year old now, reminding Zoe that it had been a year since that terrible night in the rain. A full year since the demon known as Andras had left her alone and heartbroken in the middle of the night.
Looking back now, she didn't know how she would have made it through the pain of losing the one that she had loved so completely if not for Bastian. He couldn't replace Andras, but he had been a constant source of comfort to Zoe, ever since Flauros had stopped by, not long after Andras had vanished.
"I'm not going to see him again, am I?" Zoe asked, barely able to meet the fiery eyes of the demon that stood in her lounge room.
"No," Flauros answered, before he sighed. "It's gong to take him a while to get back to himself, and until then, it's best that he doesn't see anyone," he added in a kinder voice.
"He looked so … different," Zoe said, finally lifting her eyes to look at Flauros. She had hardly exchanged more than a few words with the demon in the past, and now here they were, trying to struggle through a conversation together. But Zoe needed to understand what had happened, and Flauros understood that much, at least.
"When he reversed the flow of energy between you two, it all came rushing back in one big hit. What you saw was the true form of Andra-Inanyas the Fallen Angel," he explained, and Zoe nodded dumbly. She had known that Andras was a demon, and had even seen depictions of his true form on the Internet; yet she had somehow managed to separate those images from the man that she had loved. She had blinded herself to the truth, right up until it had been staring her in the face.
"Look, I know he wouldn't want you to be left alone, especially now that you know about the things that go bump in the night," Flauros started, and Zoe gasped as the shadow of a large wolf appeared on her floor, before it grew up into the solid shape of Andras's companion.
"Wolf!" Zoe exclaimed, feeling a sense of relief at seeing the demonic creature. However, even though she'd grown quite close to the wolf in recent times, she now felt reluctant to approach it.
"Humans are naturally reluctant to come near Andras's wolf, and you are once again one hundred percent human," Flauros said, as if reading her thoughts. Zoe bit her lip as she nodded, before she frowned as she noticed that the giant wolf was carrying something in its mouth. Something that was squirming.
"Umm, what is that?" she asked, nodding towards the squirming bundle.
"That is why I'm here," Flauros replied, before nodding at the wolf, who dropped the bundle carefully onto the ground. It wriggled around for a bit, before it righted itself, allowing Zoe to get a good look at it. It was a wolf pup with too big feet, and bright, happy amber eyes. Its tail was thumping against the ground, and as it sat on Zoe's timber floor, its front feet kept slipping out from under it.
"His mother was some kind of wolf-husky cross, but his father was this guy here," Flauros explained, jerking a thumb towards the demonic wolf.
"W-why are you giving him to me?" Zoe asked, unconsciously crouching down so that she was on the pup's level. He seemed so excited to see her, and only the watchful gaze of his father kept him form rushing forwards.
Flauros sighed. "I'm not going to pretend that I like you, because you're just a human, and I honestly couldn't care less. But Andras adored you, and I hate to say it, but I haven't seen him that happy in many a long century. He seemed more alive when he was with you than he ever has before, and for that reason I'm thankful to you. I know he's a poor replacement, but this little guy will stay with you, and will hopefully keep a lot of the nasties out there at bay," he finished, and at some unseen gesture from his father, the little pup bounded forwards, hurling himself at Zoe in a mass of furry excitement.
"Take care of him, and he'll take care of you," Flauros said as the pup set about happily licking Zoe's face. "Goodbye Zoe," he added, and when the girl looked up, both the demon and the wolf were gone.
It had been a long year, and many times Zoe had thought about just giving up on everything – school, friends, work – and just wallowing in heartbreak. But every time she had tried, Bastian had been there to make her smile, and to remind her that there were still good things in the world to discover. And one of those things was waiting outside of her door.
Bastian barked, before jumping up on the door and pawing at the knob. Despite his obvious paranormal intelligence, the half-breed demonic dog was yet to discover exactly how to get the door open, and turning back towards Zoe, his expressive eyes were clearly telling her to hurry up.
"Alright, alright," she laughed, turning the knob and opening the door. Bastian pounced, and a rather loud oomph reached Zoe's ears. Bastian had his front feet up on the shoulders of a young man who was staggering slightly under his weight, and laughing as his face was vigorously licked.
"Bas, down boy," he said, shoving at the dog's chest, and finally getting him off. Looking up at Zoe, the young man wiped at his face, grinning from underneath messy sand coloured hair that had been messed up ever further by the excited canine. His name was Kieran Murphy, and he was a third year arts student, majoring in photography at Zoe's university. They had met out in the courtyard when he had been taking photos, and had kindly asked if she wouldn't mind doing a bit of modelling for him. Zoe had been feeling rather down that day, and Kieran had made her laugh – something that he never failed to achieve.
"Sorry about the face washing," Zoe apologised as Kieran stepped inside, Bastian on his heels.
"It's good to know that he's excited to see me in a friendly way, and not in a maul-your-arm-off kind of way," Kieran said with a laugh, and Zoe chuckled as well. Because of his looks, many people were terrified of Bastian. Yet when there was no obvious danger, he was as harmless as a butterfly.
"Bastian loves you probably more than I do," Zoe said, pulling her boyfriend close for a kiss. There was none of the nerve-tingling fire that had accompanied her many kisses with Andras, and yet Zoe felt something different with Kieran. It was a contented warmth that made her feel safe and loved, and she savoured every moment of it. Kieran had an infectious smile that Zoe felt compelled to return every time that she saw it, and with the exception of Bastian, the most expressive green eyes that she had ever seen. You could read so many of Kieran's thoughts just by looking at his eyes alone.
Between Bastian and Kieran, Zoe no longer felt so completely broken and alone. Bastian had been dropped on her like a happy ball of energy that refused to be ignored, and Kieran had slipped into her life with a gentle patience that Zoe had gradually opened up to. Both of them had brought her back from the brink of despair that she had almost completely fallen into when Andras had left, and even though the memory of the Fallen Angel still carried with it a certain amount of pain, Zoe hoped more than anything else that Andras had found his way back to himself.
"I've got the photos from the gardens in my bag too. They came out really well," Kieran said, before fishing a thick envelope out of his bag. The pair had recently spent the day at the botanical gardens, and being the avid photographer that he was, Kieran had taken hundreds of photos of everything from Zoe, to individual flowers.
Sitting down on the couch, with Bastian lying at their feet, Kieran flicked through some of the better photos from the trip, until Zoe halted him on one particular shot.
"What is it?" Kieran asked. The photo had been taken out on one of the lawns in the gardens, with a pond and a willow tree in the background. Zoe was laughing as the wind blew some of her hair across her face, and she had one hand up, holding the rest of it back. In the background, someone with black hair was standing underneath the willow tree, looking directly at her, and smiling.
"It's nothing," Zoe quickly said, before she smiled. "Next time we take photos somewhere without any wind, okay?" she said, and Kieran chuckled.
"Okay," he agreed, before continuing to flick through the photos, yet Zoe's attention had wandered.
Andras had been at the gardens, watching her with Kieran, and he had been smiling. Zoe had mixed feelings about seeing him in the photo, but the main feeling was relief. He had found his way back to his human persona after all, and Zoe was glad. She could never forget those weeks spent with him, and even though their relationship had started due to ulterior motives, and by accident, she would never forget the selfless act of sacrifice that had saved her, either. Andras had been bored of his life, and right when he'd had a whole new world opened up to him, he'd made the decision to give it all up because of her.
Bastian gave a whine as he sat up and rested his large head in her lap, looking up at Zoe with worried amber eyes. She smiled down at him, laying a reassuring hand on his head. She was okay, really. Although Andras would always hold a place in her heart, she now knew that a relationship between a human and a demon would always be doomed to failure.
Zoe Carter was finally happy again, and was looking forward to a long future spent with Kieran Murphy. Yet the two large jet black raven feathers that were wedged into her bedroom mirror frame would always remind her of a time when her heart had almost been completely stolen in the name of love, and of how she in turn had been willing to let it happen.
There were still demons in the night, preying on humans, yet Zoe had Bastian to guard her door, and Kieran to lead her back into the light whenever she lost her way. Indeed, in the end, her heart had been stolen, but not by a demon. A simple human had won her over, just as it always should be.
Author's Note – So there you have it, the end of this story. I wasn't going to end it on a positive note. It was going to have a miserable sort of ending, but I just couldn't do it. I got the idea of Bastian, and then decided to have Zoe completely move on with her life, and I like this idea better.
So, in my opinion, unless you are willing to destroy the one you love, a relationship between a supernatural person and a human will never work properly in the long run. No matter how you look at it. One or the other always has to change, and then it comes down to what's better for the person. In this situation, it really wasn't going to work, so it had to end.
Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed this story, and thank you to everyone who has sent me reviews! I really appreciate them, so please let me know what you think of the ending!