Eric rose to greet his old friend when he swept into his office. His guest’s hair was windblown and there were droplets of moisture on his pale beautiful face. When he clasped his hand in welcome the chill of his skin made Eric shiver. “Godric,” he greeted him warmly pulling the smaller man into his arms embracing him tightly. He had seen the vampire only once since the last battle with Warlow. The battle where he lost Sookie to Warlow’s sword.
It had been Godric that pulled him up from the mud, his hands and face covered in blood. It was Godric who stayed with him and kept him from seeking an end to the lonely life he now faced without her at his side. It was Godric who had listened to his screams of rage and pain over how unfair it was to have won the battle and still have lost the only thing that mattered to him.
Eric knew he would not have survived without his friend. Godric had known Sookie for a great many years before Eric, having met her soon after she and her kin immigrated to this world from Fae. After the screaming was over they had reminisced about the beautiful Princess that had brought them together in the battle for this world and helped to lay the foundation for their friendship.
They talked about how her hair looked in the candlelight of the many evenings they had shared together before the fire sharing stories and laughing together. They remembered how funny she had been, how whimsical her sense of humor was and how she just made them feel better by being in the room with them.
It was because of the bond they shared that he had called Godric here tonight to ask him to do what he himself could not do, could not have brought himself to do even if he were able. His heart still belonged to a woman who haunted his dreams. He had nothing to offer one who wore her face, but she needed. 500K13 needed many things to be ready for what faced her and while many of them were beyond his power he would do anything to see that she got them, no matter the price.
He motioned for Godric to take a seat and then let himself fall heavy into his chair before taking another drink of the scotch he had poured just before Godric’s arrival. “How is she, our little hjärta?” Eric smiled and titled the glass in his hand.
“She is well, better than we ever dreamed, in fact. She has learned much from her teachers. She has mastered her shifting under the tutelage of Luna, and of her Were bear from Anika Quinn the Tiger.”
“She is John Quinn’s daughter?” Godric asked. Eric nodded. The Tiger had been their ally in the war, falling early in battle. Eric had taken Anika in to raise her when she lost her father. He and Sookie being surrogate parents for her in his absence.
“Diantha has taught her to master her Demon gifts as well. Hell, even Niall has chipped in teaching her. He gave her Sookie’s swords when she completed her training with him.” Godric raised an eyebrow in surprise.
“That is a surprise. Does she know who he is?”
“That he was Sookie’s father?” Godric nodded, “No, we have kept the knowledge of Sookie from her through the use of Niall’s magics, otherwise she would have picked it from our minds like flowers in the spring.”
“And he gave her Vengeance and Death?”
“I couldn’t believe it either. It seems right though, doesn’t it?” Godric thought a moment.
“Yes,” he said finally, “It does seem right. She would have wanted them to pass to a worthy owner and if Niall himself gave them to her then there is no doubt of her prowess.”
“There are no words for her prowess. She is so much like-“he stopped, choking on a sob that he refused to let pass his lips. He took another deep drink of scotch and tried to drown it in his throat. He almost succeeded. “I am sure your contribution of vampire genes to her DNA has a lot to do with the magnificent creature that she is.” Finishing the drink he set the glass gently on the table and then looked at Godric. “It’s time for you to teach her to be a vampire now.”
Godric waited for more. He expected Eric to tell him what he expected in more detail. When Eric spoke no further he realized that he was leaving the decisions of how and what to teach her to Godric. He inclined his head.
“I will not disappoint you,” he said as he rose. Eric smiled at him, it almost reached his haunted eyes.
“You never have, old friend.”
When the door closed behind Godric Eric poured himself another drink and sat back in his chair chasing his memories around and around his mind.
Godric was shocked to his core when he first beheld the fully grown 500K13. If he were younger he might have lost himself and called her by a name that was not hers. He was grateful for the magics that Niall had given him that hid all his thoughts of his long lost friend.
He had last seen her when she was an infant and though Eric insisted on calling her by her designation of 500K13 that had felt too cold for him, so he had taken to calling her Hjärta, less for who she was and more for who she would be.
Now faced with the reality of her he felt himself needing the same distance that he had silently condemned Eric for needing. He could not let himself forget who she was and not who he wanted her to be.
She had stood when he entered the room, clearly anticipating his visit. “You knew I was coming?”
“I felt you. I heard you.” She tilted her head like Sookie used to do when she was thinking. His heart clenched in his chest.
“You know why I am here then?”
“You are here to teach me how to feed and not kill.”
“Yes.” He should have stopped there. He knew that. He went on though following his heart and not his head. “But before we begin I would like to know you better.” She tilted her head again.
“How do we do that?”
“I have been told that you have completed your sword training.” She nodded. “Show me,” he said smiling at her, his fangs on display.
I don’t belong here.
It had become his mantra over the past week he had spent with her. At first, the resemblance had put him on the edge of pleasure and pain. Those emotions had exploded through his ancient veins when they first entered the fighting arena and he had seen her summon her swords from the Nether.
“To me!” she had bellowed, echoes fading through the room and pounding his memories with all the times he had seen another version of her perform the summoning. When they engaged the dance too was familiar, owed no doubt to the fact that Niall had trained Sookie as well. They had sparred on many occasions through the years, it had been one of their favorite things to do together.
By the end of the first night he knew with absolute clarity that this was not his Fae Princess. He also knew that because while he had adored Sookie and considered her his best friend, this woman, this child of his blood and bone touched his heart in a way that Sookie never had.
His little Hjärta was different. Not better, just different. At first he told himself it was the natural affection that any maker would feel for a child, because in a way she was that to him. She had not been made in the traditional vampire fashion, and she was more than any vampire child had ever been but she had been called true when he named her Hjärta, for in the space of a few nights she had become his heart.
He kept this from her, putting all his energy into keeping the cold mask in place, not daring to show her how she grew in him with each mock battle, each conversation, and each interaction.
I don’t belong here.
It was what he told himself when he felt himself slipping. In his mind he knew that keeping her separate from that kind of interaction was part of what was needed to keep her focused on the journey she would soon undertake. If he confused her, if he told her he loved her and if he were as lucky as to find out that she felt the same for him what then?
I don’t belong here.
She belonged to man who lived three doors down the hall. She belonged to a man who had not been born yet. She could never be his.
At the end of the week he brought in donors, offering her a first taste at the vein of what blood could be like, would be like when she was out in the past away from this facility. He followed her emotions and feelings with the bond they shared. He pulled her back when she started to go too far. He calmed her when she became too excited and aroused not understanding the feelings and desires that rocked her as she experienced them for the first time.
It was in that moment that he realized the full weight of what he had to do, what he wanted to do. What he would have done if she were truly vampire made on the night she rose. He would have shown her what to do with all the feelings that were coursing through her and how she could use them to make taking the blood pleasurable for her and her partner.
He tried to rationalize all the reasons why he shouldn’t, couldn’t truly be a maker to her and then one by one shot them down. She needed this. She needed to understand. She needed to know so that when she was alone she would not be afraid of herself or of her desires.
He would have given anything not to be the one who had to do this. He would have given anything to be the one who had to do this.
All of this he kept from her, never showing her, never letting her know what she did to him or how she made him feel.
The first time he touched her, she jumped. His heart cracked as he realized that she had never been touched like this before. He hated Eric in that moment, the whole time knowing that nothing could change what had happened or what was to happen yet.
This moment was all he had. This was all he was to be given in this life. He would make it count.
His fingers caressed her face as she panted before him, the donor had just left the room and they were alone. “There is more to learn,” he told her softly. “That feeling you have inside you, trust it. Do what it tells you to do. You are safe with me. You can’t hurt me,” he told her feeling the weight of his lie in the face of his pain. She looked at him and then her arms came around his neck her lips crashing into his. He moaned as he opened to her, letting her rub her warm body against him as she sought to feed the ache in her.
“Feeding can be a great pleasure for you and well as the donor you choose,” he whispered when she released his lips. His hands came up to cup her breasts. She growled and tore at his clothes lost in her need for something she could not name.
Godric named it for her. Passion, he thought. Love, he thought. My Hjärta, he thought as she pulled him to the floor instinctively placing her body under his and pulling him closer. He took her for the first time as gently as he could but she gave little quarter despite the pain he saw on her face when he entered her. She was not a stranger to pain, and after a few moments the blood called to her, pushed her to roll him over beneath her. He rose from the floor and sat up pulling her face to his neck as she rode him furiously. When her fangs sunk into his neck he moaned as she came around him buried deep inside her.
It was all he could do to not bite her. He knew though that no matter what his heart wanted he could not form a bond with her. It would be unfair and it would make things harder when she left him.
Later, he held her to his chest and explained that Eric wanted her to know how blood ties work, that they were a psychic connection between the vampire and their human, or between two vampires. He explained that if they exchanged blood three times their bond would be unbreakable.
“Why didn’t Eric tell me this himself?” she had asked quietly from his arms.
“He called me here to teach you, so in a way he did.” She was quiet for a while.
“Eric wanted me to learn everything so I could be strong.” Godric’s heart ached. What she was true, he now believed that Eric had wanted Godric to teach her this and he blessed and cursed him in his heart. Had he known that this would happen? Probably. Godric had never hidden his nature from Eric. His friend understood the way of things. Eric had known when he called him here to teach her that this would happen between them.
For the sake of his friendship he chose to believe that Eric couldn’t have known that this woman would steal his heart in just a hand full of nights. No one would ever know.
“Thank you, Godric for helping me.” She stood then, leaving him in pieces on the floor. She dressed quietly and left. Godric lay there for a long time, not moving as he ran in his mind fast and far away from this impossible love he had found.
He saw her once more two nights before she left he slipped into her quarters and awakened her. He took her hand and kissed it softly before he spoke.
“I am a very old vampire. Where you are going, I will be there. I won’t know you, but I am certain that if you need a friend I can be that for you in the past as I have been here. In the 1980’s I was in Brazil living under the name Estaban Mendez. In the 90’s I moved to Calgary and became Richard Sovegny. In the new century I was in America, Texas where I was Sheriff of Area Nine in Dallas. I was there until the war started in earnest with Warlow. Promise me that you will call upon me if you have need?”
“How will I convince you to trust me?” He smiled in the dark. Her question was so typical of her. It was succinct and practical like the woman herself. However she came to be, whatever her reason for being was beyond her job or her known destiny her perfection in his eyes reassured him for the first time in centuries that there was indeed a God.
“When I was made into vampire I was taken from my home in the middle of the night. I saw my wife and children murdered before my eyes and for a long time I was a monster. I called myself Death and meted that out to every stranger who crossed my path. I teased them cruelly and murdered them viciously as if that would make up for all the things I had lost in my turning. I think I thought it would change things somehow if I could make the rest of the world run red with the pain that coursed through my veins. I was young and foolish then.”
“And you aren’t now?” she asked.
“I am less so.” She clasped his hand in acceptance of a past that could not be changed, recognizing it from the future she faced that could not be changed either. “I finally remembered under the pain what it was to love and for the first time in centuries I could see my wife’s face and remember her name. It was Amalita. If you have to find me, if you need me, tell me her name and I will know that I sent you. I will believe you because there is no other who knows her name that still walks this earth, not in this time or in the one you are going to.”
She leaned forward and kissed his check softly. He made himself sit still. He made himself not turn his head to meet her lips with his. “I’ll remember,” she breathed her promise against his cool skin.
Eric and Sookie had retired to the sofa after they finished their coffee. She was snuggled around him, her hand open on his chest above his heart. He covered it with his. He had searched the information in his mind and found nothing about the history of the Princess and Warlow.
“We need to find out more,” he said as much to himself as to her. “We need to know how that man turned into the one we are faced with here today.” She hesitated and then turned her face up to his.
“There may be someone we can ask.” He looked down at her.
“In the future I knew a vampire who is alive now, has been alive for many centuries. I know that he was connected to Older Eric and the Princess, but I am not sure how or what he might know. He told me how to find him here if I needed him.” Eric sensed her anxiety through their bonds. There was something she was not telling him, something that she was uncomfortable about.
“What is this vampire to you, Sookie?”
“He was my friend. At least I think he was. I knew him only briefly in the future. He was the vampire who taught me how to feed and care for myself when I was sent back here.”
“And he told you how to contact him? Why? He won’t know you.”
“He told me how I could convince him that I was a friend if I needed to contact him.” Remembering their conversation about pleasurable feeding Eric was flooded with possessiveness and jealousy.
“You were intimate with him then?”
“And you want to go to him for help?”
“I think we can if we need to.” In all his life Eric had never felt like this before. He hated it, this feeling of fear and pain that he could lose her, that she might want another. He had been in relationships before and had never been provoked to this cave man response. It was frustrating to feel this uncertainty over something that he wanted so strongly.
“It wasn’t like it is with you, Eric,” she assured him, homing in on his distress. “It was never like this with anyone but you. I didn’t feel that way for him and he didn’t feel that for me. He was there to teach me what I needed to know and to help me. It was nothing more.”
“Were there others who helped you?” She told him of Diantha, Luna, Annika and Niall, all of whom had taught her what she needed to know to master her gifts. “Older Eric made sure that I had the best teachers.”
“Did he know about everything that Godric taught you?” He hated the tone of his voice when he asked this question. He hated having to ask it because he knew that he was asking once again what kind of man he turned out to be. She hugged him tighter.
“We never discussed it.”
“Of course not,” he said fearing that told him all he needed to know. She sighed.
“Eric, there are things that have happened to us, and things we have done before we came together. They are the events that molded us and made us who we are now. I can’t change them, and I wouldn’t change them because if we did then we wouldn’t be here right now. There is nowhere else I want to be, and so I must accept each thing that led me here and try and find ways to be grateful, even for the bad things. You must as well.”
You must move faster, his dream voice had told him this morning. He needed information to arm himself. Could he wait for another way to present itself? Maybe if they went to sleep they would dream together about the things that happened next?
He pulled her closer to him. “Let’s sleep on it and see if we can come up with a better idea?” She cuddled him closer and placed her leg between his. The sounds of the rain on the roof lulled her to sleep in minutes. He was awake for a while wondering if every man in the world wanted this woman in his arms and how he would ever measure up to Dark Fae Kings and ancient vampires to keep her heart.