Everything’s cool now, oh, my life is good
I’ve got more than anyone should, oh, my life is good
And the past in the past
I was living in the shadow of someone else’s dream
Trying to find a hand to hold but every touch felt cold to me
I’m living in a new day, I’m living it for me
And now that I am wide awake, then I can finally be
Don’t feel sorry for me
~ Shadow, Ashlee Simpson
The moment Miss Stackhouse convinced me to come down from the roof, I decided to go and do something I had been holding off doing for far too long. It was time to face my past and deal with the emotional baggage. During my 2000 vampire years, I’d pushed those emotions aside, locking them away in a corner of my mind where I couldn’t access them and dwell upon them.
Once Dallas was secure I’d travelled to Europe, arriving first in Belgium, my human birthplace. I spent many nights wandering the streets of the cities and the fields of the countryside, reacquainting myself with my home. It was then I moved on to Germany, memories of my time with my Childe in the SS flooding to the forefront of my mind. I’d promised him we would avenge the death of his family together, unfortunately I was yet to follow through on my promise.
During my travels, I had heard of an elderly gentleman who was selling off Ancient Egyptian artefacts: He’d been an archaeologist during his youth and had no children or grandchildren left. He wanted to sell off everything he found and use the money to see the rest of the world before his body gave up on him. I had phoned ahead and had no clue what he would have in his collection, so I made sure I was there the night before his selling period.
Knocking on the door, I’d waited patiently for it to be opened; I’d decided not to use my glamour on the man to get what I wanted should he have something of interest. I had no fear of humans knowing what I was and this elderly man would probably take my identity to the grave with him.
The man who opened the door had to have been in his seventies: his hair was white with age, and the lustre from his eyes was gone. His skin was wrinkled, especially around his eyes and mouth, which made me believe that during his youth he had been exceptionally happy. “Mr. Nervii?” The elderly man had asked, and with a nod of my head he’d allowed me entry into his home. Immediately I’d been hit with the smell of history, of a time long forgotten and something inside my chest tightened. I was sure I’d find something of interest.
“What sort of thing are you after?” He’d asked me as he slowly made his way to the back of the house, towards an impressive dome shaped room. Artefacts were concealed in wooden boxes and the bookshelves were full of dusty books.
“I was wondering if you could show me anything you have from the reign of Cleopatra the Seventh,” I’d enquired, following him through the house. A knowing smile had crossed the man’s lips at this point as he’d observed me.
“I can tell you have been a night-walker for some time, though I would never have thought of you as an Egyptian going from the tattoos on your body,” he had pointed out: For a human he was exceptionally smart.
“I was born in Gaul and taken to Egypt by Julius Caesar to work the fields in front of the palace. Cleopatra was a wonderful woman and her daughter with Julius was beautiful.”
“You met Cleopatra? And the rumours of her having a daughter with Julius are true?” He’d asked me in shock. With a nod of my head in confirmation, he’d moved towards a small wooden box and carried it over to me with wide eyes.
Stopping before me, he’d opened it and instantly the tightening sensation in my chest became unbearable. In the middle of the box sat a golden crown, beautiful swirls decorated the band and a row of the purest pearls adorned the bottom of the solid gold band. Across the band were numerous peaks, decorative arches which held large clear purple amethysts. At the front of the crown two snakes sat proudly, their eyes made of the brightest green emeralds and their mouths open, breathing fire. The coils of their bodies were encrusted with diamonds and their mouths held up a gold star, in the centre of which sat a clear and flawless apophyllite. More diamonds edged the apophyllite. On each of the remaining points of the star a crescent moon sat proudly. In Ancient Egypt the crescent moon had been associated with the bull, and the metaphor of the ‘rutting bull’ had ben given. Bulls in Ancient Egypt were often seen as a symbol of fertility. At the back of the crown sat a golden sun, whose rays extended outwards. A friendly face had been etched into the gold.
Instinctively my hand had gone to my chest to rest over my silent heart, red rimming my eyes as I took in the crown before me and the scent attached to it. The smell was too weak for a human nose but my acute senses had picked it up. My lover had been the last to wear the crown.
“What do you want for it? How much?” I’d all but begged, knowing that I had to possess this piece of history. Money was not an issue for me anyway.
The kindly gentleman had spoken softly to me, as if I were his son, “I don’t want your money, all I ask is that you tell me about this crown and why it pulled such a reaction from you, why it means so much to you,” he’d requested.
So, for three hours I had sat with the elderly gentleman, talking to him about the kindness of Cleopatra’s daughter. I had told him about the scent attached to the crown and of my love for the woman who had last worn it. I had no problem with sharing my knowledge of the past with a man who had dedicated his whole life to uncovering it; it was liberating to share my story with someone.
“I recognise you from somewhere,” he told me, rising from his armchair, his old bones creaking with his steps as he’d approached a bookshelf. With a smile, he’d returned to me with a thick book, the papyrus pages slowly deteriorating. “I believe this belonged to your lady.”
Taking the book from him with shaky hands I inhaled the scent from the binding. My lover. With cautious hands, I opened it to the first page, my eyes falling immediately to the image in the centre of the page. It was a drawing, a human male asleep on his front on a bed, a zigzag pattern across one arm and a sea serpent down his back. My free hand went to the zigzag tattoo upon my left arm. “I-It’s me. She drew me as I slept,” I’d stuttered in complete shock.
The elderly man had smiled at me with nothing short of affection. “There are hundreds more drawings in the book, and I believe all of them are of you. The pages are so well worn that I can only assume she frequently spent time looking over them.” He’d explained. Unable to tear my eyes away from the pages before me, I flicked through them, observing the countless drawings of my sleeping form in her bed in the palace, drawings of myself harvesting the grain during Shemu, the harvesting season, and individual drawings of the tattoos that marred my body.
“Myself and other Egyptologists were baffled by them at first, we assumed they were drawings of a hired artist but as time went on we realised that they were drawn by a woman completely in love with the subject she was drawing. Every little detail was meticulously recorded. The pair of you became rather famous within our line of work.”
“What do you want for this?” I’d asked quietly, entranced by the images before me.
“I don’t want anything, my son. It’s yours, she would no doubt want you to have it.” I had been so honoured by the respect this man had shown me that I had kept a note of his address. I would send him a ticket for a holiday around the world. It was the least I could do for the man who had been so kind towards me and had preserved my lover’s most treasured belongings.
After my encounter with the elderly man, I’d felt ready to face my biggest challenge, to visit my lover in her resting place. Few knew how to access the chamber these days and that was exactly how I liked it. Although I found the work of archaeologists fascinating, and I respected them for their love of history, I would never let them exhume my lover’s body. I would take her from her tomb and keep her in her gold sarcophagus in my home if anyone tried to take her. I would build her a tomb in my basement and allow her to sleep peacefully for the rest of time. I would watch over her and lay flowers for her every day to make up for the fact that I’d abandoned her. I’d given her flowers a few times in my human years and although they had not been huge wonderful bouquets she had accepted them gleefully and had placed them on her nightstand.
It was on my way to Egypt that I received the phone call.
“Nervii.” I’d greeted in typical fashion.
“Brigant,” came the response.
“What can I do for you?” I’d enquired, puzzled by the voice of the Fae Prince.
“I need you to return to Louisiana immediately, to your Childe’s social establishment. It is of the uttermost importance, vampire. The lives of your kind and mine are at risk. Do not contact your Childe,” he’d demanded before hanging up on me. Phone etiquette was something neither of our races were good with.
Sensing the urgency in the old faery’s voice I had hopped on the first plane back to Louisiana, my precious cargo in my hand luggage. I would return though, and visit my lover, to say my goodbyes properly and ask for her forgiveness for leaving her behind.
Now I sat in the leather chair my Childe kept in his office, observing the room around me. It wasn’t as tidy as I thought it would have been, my Childe had always been known for his fastidiousness, so it was a strange sight to behold. It was the photograph in the frame on his desk that captured my attention however; it was of my Childe and Miss Stackhouse, locked in a lovers embrace, my Childe’s lips pressed to Miss Stackhouse’s in a somewhat fierce and possessive kiss. I couldn’t contain a chuckle; Miss Stackhouse had obviously taken my words up on the roof to heart and was caring for Eric in a way I could not.
The sound of a car pulling up outside made me turn to look at the door, and moments later my Childe entered, his large hand holding Miss Stackhouse’s much smaller one. Upon seeing me however, she dropped his hand, squealed my name and made a beeline for me. I was not a physical creature and I disliked physical contact. It had been difficult for me to be affectionate with my Childe over the years we had spent together, and yet he seemed to understand. My Maker had spent the last of my human years abusing me.
It was why I had gone to my lover so often, to seek solace in her bed. Being with her offered me perfect comfort. She had known of my mistreatment and her touches had always been soft and gentle, she’d taken care of me when no one else had bothered. She’d washed the cuts from my abuse, prepared medicines for me to stop infections, and had held me close when I’d finally let the damn break once and cried myself to sleep.
Stopping before me, Miss Stackhouse pulled me into a short hug, which I awkwardly returned. With time, I may grow to like physical contact given that I was dealing with my past, but for now it was something that still troubled me. “You’re back, I can’t believe it. How were your travels?” she asked, clearly excited by my return. I could see through her façade however, underneath her excitement was a layer of worry and fear. Whatever was about to happen, I wouldn’t let anything hurt her, she was too much like my Ata.
“My travels were wonderful, Miss Stackhouse. How have the past two years been for you?” I responded politely, not quite ready to share my discoveries with her yet. Clearly there was something bigger going on here and we had no time for stories.
“Eventful, but then I’ve come to expect that. We had a run in with Russell Edgington, and then Eric forgot who he was,” she explained briefly.
Looking over her shoulder to my Childe he grimaced. “Witches cursed me, it’s all good now, though, and they’re all dead,” he explained with his signature smirk. Few crossed my Childe and lived to tell the tale, it was why I had chosen to turn him and I couldn’t help but smile proudly at him. I knew it was wrong to kill humans but when they tried to kill us I felt it was acceptable. An eye for an eye I believe the saying goes.
“I saw Edgington on TV, what happened?” I inquired, tipping my head sideways slightly as Miss Stackhouse sat herself on the couch in my Childe’s office, Eric took a seat beside her. I don’t know if she realised it, but Miss Stackhouse took Eric’s hand and started to play with his fingers, her body pointing towards his in a subconscious show of affection. Over the years, I had learnt body language was just as important as words.
“I staked Talbot. It’s him, Godric. Russell killed my family, over a few goats,” he growled out, the anger and pain flashing in his cerulean orbs. I had feared that Russell was the one behind the slaughter of my Childe’s human family and it seemed I was correct.
“Do you think that’s why we’re all here? Because you staked Talbot and now Russell’s free and coming for us to get revenge?” Miss Stackhouse asked us both.
A sudden popping noise pulled our attentions to the other side of the room, my fangs instinctively sliding into place at the intruder. “That’s exactly why you’re here,” the old man spoke, flashing us a perfectly white smile.
“Niall,” I greeted curtly.