Remember when I was young and so were you and time stood still and love was all we knew
You were the first, so was I, we made love and then you cried, remember when
Remember when we vowed the vows and walked the walk, gave our hearts, made the start, it was hard
We lived and learned, life threw curves, there was joy, there was hurt, remember when
Remember when old ones died and new were born, and life was changed, disassembled, rearranged
We came together, fell apart and broke each other’s hearts
~ Remember When, Alan Jackson
I sighed when Sookie volunteered Eric to teach Oscar to fight: my Childe may be many things, but he was never one to help strangers. I could feel his anger boiling through our bond, although, to his credit, he was trying to calm himself, but his tense posture and the way he refused to meet Sookie’s eyes should’ve been enough to tell her something was wrong.
I could see the confusion on Sookie’s face, though I was sure she didn’t understand why Eric’s demeanour had changed. Eric will no doubt tell her when they have a moment of privacy. Like all older vampires, my Eric is a very private person. He wouldn’t want to air the problem here in such a public setting.
My Ata is truly a wonderful woman; the young vampire has nothing in the world and is a relative unknown, yet she is offering him everything. Her kind heart is endearing, it always has been: I can’t help but worry, though, that one day it will be her downfall. She has had her six vampire children watching out for her at night, along with myself now that I have found her, but during the day she has been alone, her only protection was that of wolves, and they weren’t always the best at their jobs: They tend to be all brawn and no brain.
I’d shifted on the sofa, mirroring Eric’s posture during the time Ata had been speaking to Oscar. As Ata took Oscar’s hand, she led the baby vamp to the couches where she settled down beside me once again, bringing the baby vamp with her. Oscar seemed nervous at first, perching on the edge of the couch, but as Ata found a comfortable spot against my side, with my arm around her shoulders; he seemed to relax a little. With a gentle tug from my beloved, Oscar found himself resting against her side. He visibly tensed, looking up at Ata with worry and panic in his eyes. “It’s alright, in this house physical contact is perfectly fine,” she reassured him. His emerald eyes lifted to me and I could see he was worried about my reaction too. He had sensed that there was something between Ata and me, and he could no doubt smell my blood in her system.
Softening my features, I gave him a reassuring smile, which caused him to relax and nuzzle himself into Ata’s side. Tentatively the young vampire reached an arm out around Ata, wrapping it around her waist. Ata’s left hand went to the boy’s blonde hair, stroking it in a soothing manner. Her right hand reached upwards, slipping behind my head to play with the short hairs at the nape of my neck. Even in our human years, Ata had been a touchy feely person, always touching me or holding my hand, which I now knew was down to her being fae.
Moving my gaze across the room to my Childe and Sookie, I took in Eric’s raised eyebrow aimed at me, and Sookie’s warm smile that was aimed at Oscar. Subtly shrugging my shoulders, I gave Eric a fond smile. If Ata wanted to expand the nest, who was I to complain? It was a strange thought, that once Ata and I were thrice-bonded and pledged by the knife we would be married by vampire custom, and her progenies would be like children to me. For 1000 years. I’d been alone, all of my family gone, Ata was gone, then Eric had come along and changed all of that. Once we’d parted ways he’d turned Pam, and my family had grown a little more. Now, though, my family seemed impossibly large, but it was comforting to know I had plenty of support and I would gladly give all of them my support in return.
Observing Oscar. I could see why someone would want to turn him. He was slender yet proportional, he had a boyish charm to him thanks to his young age, I would guess he’d been turned when he’d been around twenty-one, and his green eyes mixed with blonde hair would make him an attractive partner for anyone. Most were turned as companions for their Makers, usually to be a sexual partner, as vampires weren’t known to stay in serious relationships for long periods of time. It was true that I had turned Eric for companionship, and though there was no denying the beauty of my Childe, both physically and emotionally, I had in no way thought of him as a sexual partner when deciding to turn him. Of course, things had transpired between us, as was the usual way in Maker/Childe relationships, but once I had managed to pull his primal instincts under control he had returned to, for most of the time, taking women to his bed.
“Egor, Agmund and I will go and check on the work downstairs if you no longer need us this evening,” Ari addressed my beloved.
“Yes, thank you. If I don’t see you before sunrise, could you please leave me a note with information regarding the clean-up and renovation process?” Ata asked her eldest, who nodded before disappearing off into the elevator with the two Viking guards flanking him. Now five of us sat inside the living area. Eric and I would be able to defend our women and little Oscar from any threats should they arise.
“I heard about what happened here the other night, did you catch the guy who did it? If you didn’t, I’m more than happy to go and find him, tear him apart for what he did to your home,” Oscar spoke up, a deep-set scowl on his features. It was apparent he was trying his hardest to not let his anger get the better of him. For a young one, he had incredible control.
“You’re a sweetheart, but we captured him and got some information from him before Godric ended him,” Ata explained, continuing to stroke the boys’ hair in a soothing gesture as he looked up at her.
Oscar’s eyes turned to me and for a moment he silently observed me. “You got to have all the fun, that’s not fair,” he pouted, a very human gesture. “You’re blood bonded to Ata,” he stated suddenly. The young vampire had a keen sense of smell and it worried me. If Ata were to stop suppressing her scent he could prove a problem. As if sensing my worry, a wave of calm overcame me from both my beloved and my Childe. I sent adoration back to the pair of them and was rewarded with a low sounding purr from Eric. It shocked me a little, though I was able to keep my emotions in check so as not to give it away. Eric rarely ever purred in happiness. Perhaps I would have to remind him more often how important he is to me.
“Yes, twice,” I informed the young vampire, unable to hide my smile.
Oscar turned to Eric and Sookie. “You two are blood bonded also,” he stated, shifting his gaze to Eric. “You’re Godric’s Childe,” he continued, turning to look at Sookie, “and you’re related to Ata.”
“How do you know this?” Eric growled, tightening his grip on Sookie. Oscar shrunk back into Ata’s side, hiding part of his face. Already he felt safe around Ata, a positive sign that he would fit in well in the nest.
“Eric,” I chastised in a gentle yet firm tone. “Little one, please tell us how you know this,” I commanded Oscar softly, knowing that a light touch would be all that was needed to make the young vampire speak.
“You can speak freely here, Oscar,” Ata reassured him, backing up my words.
“As a human, I had this, sort of, intuition. I would get an instinctive feeling about things, rather than have a conscious reasoning. The body language between the four of you gives some of it away. I know that Ata and Godric care for one another,” he turned to Eric, “and you care for…” he glanced to Sookie who had so far remained relatively quiet, possibly because she was worried about Eric’s reaction a few moments ago.
“Sookie,” She filled in the blank for the young vampire, offering him an affectionate smile. He had already won over both fae women.
“You care for Sookie,” he finished, offering a small smile to Eric. My Childe eyed the baby vamp cautiously for a moment before giving a sharp nod. “I know that you’re Maker and Childe because you smell a little similar, and even though you’re sitting opposite each other, I can sense the adoration between you, only a Maker-Childe relationship would be the cause of such an emotion,” he explained, his gaze shifting from Eric to myself. It didn’t take a genius to work out that Oscar felt more at ease with me than with my Childe, probably because he assumed Ata would keep me in check. The thought was rather amusing and I had to suppress a smile.
His gaze shifted to Sookie and for a moment as we all sat in silence, watching as he took in her appearance, starting at her feet and working up to her face. “You’re real pretty, just like Ata,” he complimented her, causing both women to blush. A warning growl resounded from Eric and he puffed his chest up to make the point that he was much bigger than Oscar.
Sensing Eric’s show of dominance, Sookie swatted his arm. “Be nice, Eric. All Oscar did was pay me a compliment, and that was very nice of him,” she admonished him, offering a warm smile to Oscar who had leant forward a little towards Sookie, a look of curiosity in his green eyes
“She’s mine,” my Childe growled out. I couldn’t stop myself from rolling my eyes at Eric’s protective nature, there was no way Oscar could ever take Sookie from him anyway, the boy was a baby in comparison to my Childe and me.
“Eric,” Sookie sighed, “You know I’m yours, I know it too, and so does everyone else in this apartment! Oscar even admitted that he could smell our bond. What has gotten into you?”
Eric harrumphed as he settled back more into the seat cushions and tightened his hold on his Sookie infinitesimally.
Eric’s growl caused Oscar to pull himself back in and he nuzzled back into Ata’s side for comfort, although he smiled again at Miss Stackhouse, I assumed as a thank you for the backup. “I meant no disrespect, Sir. My human mom used to tell me that you should always pay a lady a compliment whenever you could, so long as it were true of course,” he explained, addressing my progeny formally. I could feel Eric’s smugness at the formal title through the bond and I sent him back a wave of disapproval. Both fae women in the room were glaring at Eric, and soon his smug attitude vanished and I could feel a tinge of embarrassment from him instead. It was one thing to profess your claim to an unknown vampire who had no idea of the attachment, but by claiming one aloud in front of a vampire that already knew of the claim, it suggested a lack of trust and a sense of aggression.
Oscar was far too young to recognise the underlying meaning of Eric’s claim, yet he dropped his head in a show of subservience almost instinctively. Ata swooped in at that moment, lifting the boys’ head back up. “Lesson number one, never bow your head in subservience to anyone. In respect, yes, but never in subservience. You are no one’s servant,” Ata informed Oscar in a firm tone, wanting the lesson to sink in. With a nod of acknowledgement, Ata pushed the boys’ bangs out of his face.
“How does your intuition work?” She asked him gently, I could feel through our bond that her mind was nestled inside of the baby vampires, checking the honesty of his answers.
“I don’t know because I was born with it. My human mom and dad thought I was a freak because I instinctively knew things, but I couldn’t help it. Information about people sort of just hits me. I thought, when I was turned, that I would lose the ability. Turns out I was wrong, though,” Oscar shrugged, clearly unsure as to why he had such a gift.
“I’m curious as to why you referred to your mother with the pre-modifier ‘human.’” Ata asked, voicing my thoughts.
“I know we said I would only live here for a while, to begin with, but,” Oscar dipped his head in shyness, hiding it in Ata’s side, “I like to think of you as the mother of this nest, and I know you’re not completely human,” he confessed, tensing as if waiting for a punishment. With the boy’s face hidden, the four of us glanced at one another. It was sweet that the boy was already thinking of Ata as his mother but the attachment could prove difficult if things didn’t work out. The fact he knew Ata was more than human troubled me, there was no possible way for us to command him to stay silent about it, we didn’t have a Maker’s command to work with, and we couldn’t keep him in the dark. Trust was valuable within a nest. I could feel Eric’s worry through our bond. If Oscar could tell that Ata wasn’t human then could he tell the same about Sookie? I soothed Eric’s worry with a wash of calm.
“Ata darling, does he know about Miss Stackhouse not being completely human too?” I mentally asked my beloved. For a moment she was silent until she gave a small nod. With a sigh, I mouthed our findings to Eric. His expression hardened and his clutch on Sookie tightened to the point where she hissed out in pain. Oscar’s head snapped up at the noise and he made a move to go to her but Ata grasped his wrist, pulling him back down as Eric growled at him once again. “I wanted to make sure she was okay, you were holding her too tightly,” Oscar snapped, his fangs descending with his strong emotions.
“She’s mine, there is no need for you to care for her,” Eric shot back, his own fangs sliding into place. I had to stop myself from sighing in exasperation. I was picking up far too many human traits these days.
“Eric, Oscar was merely showing concern for me, don’t be such a possessive ass,” Sookie finally scolded my Childe. I couldn’t help but quirk an eyebrow at the sight; the young little fae was putting my 1000-year-old Childe in his place. “Thank you though Oscar, I was more surprised than hurt,” Sookie reassured the young boy.
“Sookie is important to the nest, and therefore important to me,” Oscar responded to Eric in a hiss, moving from Ata’s side a little to show more independence. Although it was not wise of him to pick a fight with a much older and much stronger vampire it was a wonderful show of his loyalty towards our nest. Pushing caution through my bond with Eric, I watched as my Childe backed down a little, tipping his head sideways as he studied the new vampire.
“You are already very loyal to the nest formed by my Maker’s bonded, I respect you for that and therefore I’m going to let you off the hook. I’m also going to give you the benefit of the doubt with the secret of Sookie and Ata’s heritage,” Eric spoke, eyeing the young vampire for a moment longer.
“I knew you weren’t entirely human!” Oscar grinned, his attention reverting back to my beloved as he settled into her side once more.
“Oscar, you are being trusted with this information, and as kind and loyal as you have been up to this point, should you ever betray us Eric and I will not think twice about ending you. Is that understood?” I put down the ground rules; wanting the boy to know we wouldn’t stand for any betrayal.
Oscar’s grin vanished, replaced by a far more serious expression as he nodded, “You’ve all given me a home, and a family, I would never want to give that up,” he stated, glancing at us all in turn. Ata and Sookie both gave him affectionate smiles and I found myself offering him a warm smile too. He was so young and inexperienced. I would never want another progeny of my own, Eric was everything I had ever wanted in a Childe, but I would help my beloved teach the young vampire everything he would need to know in order to thrive in this world. The slightly cautious glance Oscar threw at Eric didn’t go unnoticed by anyone in the room. My Childe was a good man but had a habit of scaring others and letting them see the aggressive side of him first. It frightened away many.
“Drop fang for me, Cridio?” I heard Ata’s request and frowned at her for it. She surely wasn’t going to open up a wound around Oscar?! As if hearing my mental shock, Ata’s voice filled my head once again. “It’s easier for him to taste, in order to understand. If he does lose control both you and Eric will be able to restrain him until he is calm once more.”
“I dislike another tasting you, Carissimus.” I couldn’t help the possessiveness of my statement, after 2000 years apart from my love; I wanted her all to myself.
Ata’s mental laughter filled my head and I found myself having to bite down on my lower lip to stop my smile at the melodic sound. “I will offer him no more than just a taste.”
Weighing up the options for a moment I sighed, a very human-like gesture, before dropping fang as requested.
Raising her right hand, Ata dragged her forefinger across the point of my left fang, creating a deep cut, the blood rushing to the surface and freeing itself. Eric, Oscar and I all inhaled deeply, relishing the scent of her blood. Eric and I were able to contain ourselves, but Oscar was practically drooling. Slowly Ata offered her finger to the young vampire. Using his vampire speed, he had the digit in his mouth, sucking at the wound, groaning as her rich ambrosia hit his taste buds. As the bleeding slowed he licked the wound, sealing it up. Eric, Sookie and I watched as he pricked his tongue on one of his fangs, brushing his blood over the area where the wound had once been before cleaning Ata’s finger off. His previous Maker had at least taught him how to feed in a respectable manner. I had always disliked it when vampires left puncture marks on their meals; it was tacky in my opinion, even if they were fangbangers.
As Ata removed her finger from the boys’ mouth, she smiled. “Your control is remarkable, little one.” She informed him gently as he looked up to her with nothing short of pure adoration. It seemed Oscar had already made his choice to stay with the nest permanently, that he was being on his best behaviour because he wanted to be accepted.
“What are you? You’re unlike anything I have ever tasted before.” He asked in wonder before turning to Sookie. “Do you taste like that too?” he asked innocently, though of course Eric took it the wrong way and growled at the boy. “I was just asking!” Oscar sighed in exasperation, clearly at the end of his tether with Eric.
“Not quite like that, but similar. Ata’s blood is stronger than mine,” Sookie answered honestly, ignoring Eric’s growls.
“We’re faeries,” Ata expanded on the point. “I’m a third and Sookie is an eighth.” She added as an afterthought, explaining why there was a difference in the toxicity of their blood.
“A faery? Could you explain to me, please?” Oscar asked, glancing between both women.
Remembering my need to call Nora and Isabel, I excused myself from the conversation as Sookie leapt into an explanation. I dropped a kiss on Ata’s forehead before leaving the room. Eric and Oscar would hear every word of my conversation, but it was important that Ata and Sookie remain oblivious.
Out in one of the windowless hallways, I pulled my phone from my pocket, calling Nora first. She picked up on the second ring.
“Nora Gainesborough,” the distinctly British accent met my sensitive ears.
“Nora my dear, long time no speak. How are you?” I couldn’t stop the smile at the sound of her voice, it had been a while since we had last spoken to one another, and though our meeting was only a brief one, Nora had showcased her interesting personality extensively. I couldn’t imagine there being a dull moment in her company.
“Godric! It’s been far too long. I’m well, all is well, how are you? I take it you haven’t called for a chin wag though” She responded, the surprise evident in her tone.
“Very well thank you, and what is this ‘chin wag’ you’re referring to?” I frowned, unsure as to the meaning of her words.
“A chat, Godric. You need to keep up to date with the changing use of language, you old man.” She teased; I could almost hear her smile.
“Ah, well you would be right about that then. I was wondering, have you been invited to Felipe de Castro’s party this Friday night?” I decided to get straight to the point. I still had to ring Isabelle and ask her to come over to attend. Not only that but I wished to return to the living area and the conversation currently going on between my twice bonded, Sookie, Eric and Oscar. Oscar was firing questions at the other three left, right and centre. Some were related to faeries and therefore both women were answering, while others were related to vampires, and Eric took it upon himself to answer those for the young boy.
Nora’s groan filled the line and that was all the confirmation I needed. “Unfortunately, he invited all of us here at the Authority, but we drew straws to see who would be forced to attend. Of course, I ended up with the short straw. Why, may I ask, do you wish to know? Will you be there?”
Laughing at her eagerness I shook my head, “No I’m afraid not, but someone of the utmost importance to me will be. Felipe has been acting rather forward with her lately, and I will not have him try to take what is mine from me. Regrettably, I gave up my area over two years ago, and therefore cannot attend and protect her myself, I was hoping I could cash in the favour you owe Eric and I. Would you keep an eye out for her please?” I requested, knowing it wouldn’t be too much of a strain for the Elizabethan vampire.
I received silence for a moment before Nora spoke once more, shock evident in her accent. “Why on earth would your pet be allowed to go and not you?”
Instinctively I growled. “Ata is not my pet! She is my twice bonded,” I snapped, hating that for a moment I had lost my cool. My temper was reined in, however, the moment I felt my beloved push calm through our bond. My little outburst had been loud enough for her to hear.
“Do not tell me you are talking about the faery that Felipe has made the Sheriff of Nevada?”
Sighing, though it was not necessary, I spoke calmly even though inside I was infuriated with the fact that yet another vampire knew of Ata’s heritage. “Yes. How do you know what race Ata is, though?” I demanded.
“I work for the Authority, Godric. We know everything,” she stated nonchalantly.
“Fine, whatever. Will you take care of her for me or not?” I was starting to panic, I needed as many people as possible keeping an eye on her and if Nora was wasting my time then I would be rather upset.
Her laughter sounded down the phone for a moment before she composed herself. “I would love nothing more than to keep an eye out for the woman who has managed to capture your affections. Don’t think of it as cashing in the favour, as I’m dying to meet her. The others will be so jealous. Tell her I will see her inside Felipe’s mansion.”
“I will do so, thank you.” We ended our call and I scrolled through my contacts once more, finding Isabel’s number and hitting the call button.
“Godric!” Isabel’s Spanish accent graced my ears. It had been far too long since I had spoken to my old nest mate. I missed her enthusiasm regarding humans and the ridiculous, yet entertaining, human TV shows she always used to make me watch with her.
“Isabel, how did you know it was me?” I frowned.
“Caller ID. It’s the way forward. How are you?” She explained.
“Ah, I see. I’m very well thank you, how about yourself?” I responded politely. Although my age meant most vampires immediately gave me the respect I deserved, I found myself enjoying earning it. If there was one thing I had learnt during my human years while I had been with Ata, apart from the fact that I loved her of course, it was that manners could get you places.
“I’m wonderful, what can I do for you?” Isabel’s cheery response travelled through the phone.
“Do you have plans for Friday night?” I jumped right in, knowing that with Isabel it was best to be forward with her.
For a moment I could hear the shuffling of papers until finally, Isabel replied. “No I don’t, why what’s up? Are you coming back to Dallas?” Her voice took on an excited tone as she reached her final question.
“I’m afraid not, Isabel. I’m in Las Vegas at the moment. I was wondering if you would you like to attend a party on Friday night?” I pitched the idea to her.
“What’s the catch?” Her quick response made me smile. For the 100+ years that I had been the Sheriff of Dallas, Isabel had been my second in command, and over that long period of time, she had come to know me very well.
“Felipe de Castro is throwing some sort of soirée at his mansion, and only those of political power may go. My twice bonded is attending as she holds a position of power and as I no longer have an area I am not allowed to attend with her. Felipe wants to sink his fangs into her, and I cannot be there to protect her should he try anything, I was hoping you would be able to keep an eye out for her while I cannot.”
Silence. I was met with silence for a moment before Isabel’s laughter echoed down the line. “You’ve twice bonded? And she has more power than you? That’s priceless! In all my time knowing you, you have never bonded yourself to another vampire for any reason. What’s so special about her?”
I had to suppress a growl as Isabel questioned what made my lover so different than the rest. “I have known her ever since my human years and she is not a vampire, Isabel. She is fae.” I stated proudly.
There was a commotion on the other end of the line and the sound of a thud before scrambling met my eardrums. “Fae?” Isabel whispered, awe evident in her tone.
“Dropped the phone, did we?” I couldn’t help but smirk, Isabel had been a bit of a klutz in her human years and unfortunately, for her, the trait had carried over into her undead life.
“Shush Godric,” she scolded gently causing me to laugh, “I would be honoured to take care of the little faery that has captured your affections, maybe she’ll even be able to tell me a few secrets about you,” Isabel teased. I had always been fond of the Spanish vampiress; she had the right balance of viciousness and tenderness, sprinkled with a hint of playfulness. It was one of the reasons why I had readily accepted her into my nest.
“Good, see if you can have yourself on the next flight to Vegas, you’ll probably get here during the day I’m afraid, but I can have a car take you from the airport to our location,” I instructed, hearing Isabel logging into her computer to book her flights.
“Oh, and Isabel?”
The typing stopped as she gave me her full attention. “Yes?”
“You know my safe? I was wondering if you could please bring with you the black box that’s inside of it? It’s very important, please keep it on your person at all times,” I added as an extra instruction, weighing my words with the importance of the object I wished for her to bring with her.
“Of course, I promise. I’ll finish up my duties here, hand over to my second and then jump on the next flight. I’ll see you at sunset!” She cheerily said her goodbye before we both hung up.
With my beloved taken care of, I returned to the living area in time to hear Oscar’s next question. “If you’re both faeries, how old are you?” he looked between Ata and Sookie before over to me, silently acknowledging my presence. Returning to my former seat on the sofa, I pulled Ata into my side and she, in turn, dragged Oscar with her. The young boy settled into a comfortable position at her side.
“I’m only 27,” Sookie responded with a hint of dejection. Compared to everyone else in the nest she was by far the youngest. We all tried to treat her as if she were the same age as us all, though, but it was obvious at times that she disliked being the ‘baby’ of the group so to speak.
“Hey, at least you reached 27 human years, I only got to 21.” Oscar shrugged, giving Sookie a broad smile. The baby vampire was trying to comfort her, to make her feel like there was nothing wrong with being the youngest.
“How old are you in vampire years?” Sookie tentatively inquired. I could feel Eric’s curiosity piqued through our bond, and I was certain it matched that of my own.
“Five, though my Maker wouldn’t let me out of the house for the first few years. He taught me how to feed and that was about it.” He shrugged although the sorrow in his voice was evident. He’d been turned and taught nothing at all and it was a shame really.
Oscar turned his head to Ata, awaiting her answer to his question. “I’m over 2000 years old, born in Egypt in 61BC,” my beloved stated proudly.
Oscar’s eyes widened in surprise and he leant forwards; “You’re an Egyptian?” He breathed. “Wait, Caesar’s Palace…your surname is Caesar yet you’re Egyptian, which means that…” the young vampire’s eyes widened even further, “Cleopatra was your mother!” He exclaimed. Eric and I couldn’t help but laugh at the shock and surprise evident on the young boy’s features. “You’re like, a piece of living history!”
“We’re all pieces of living history. Eric is over 1000 years old and Godric is over 2000 years old. The youngest of my children is just over 1000 years old, and the oldest is slightly older than me.” Ata explained to the young vampire, who had sat up straight by now and had his legs crossed neatly underneath him. During my phone call, he had removed his shoes so as not to dirty the sofas.
“You were a Viking, that much is obvious,” he stated to Eric, to which my blonde haired Childe nodded, a smug smile on his lips. He would always be a warrior at heart, and reminiscing about his people was something I knew he was fond of: He was proud of his heritage.
Oscar’s emerald eyes turned to me and for a moment he seemed to lose himself in contemplation. “I don’t exactly where you were from, but it was on the coast. You weren’t there for long, though, I can see how much you miss the water,” he stated.
I couldn’t help but smile at the knowledge that the boy had gleaned from his moment of observation and contemplation. “I was born in Gaul, in the area which you would know as modern day Belgium, in 60BC,” I told him.
“Did you know Ata in your human years?” He suddenly asked, sharing a glance between my love and myself.
“Yes, her father brought me over to Egypt and Ata chose me for her companion,” I answered truthfully, sensing the boys’ thirst for knowledge. I reached out to Ata, running my fingers through her hair as I recalled the day she’d chosen me to be her companion.
“You still owe me a story, Ata,” Sookie’s gentle voice drifted across to us.
Ata raised her head, smiling at her cousin fondly. “Yes, I believe I promised you tales of my people. What would you like to know?”
Sookie’s lips pursed together in contemplation for a moment as Eric stroked her hair out of her face. I took the opportunity to drop a kiss on Ata’s shoulder, which earned me a beautiful smile from her.
“What did you do for fun? Did you have parties and did you go on outings? How did you fill your days?” Sookie finally chose her subject. I could, of course, remember the days I had spent with Ata, all the activities we had done together. It would be a wonderful time to reminisce.
Sookie settled herself into Eric, who had leant forward somewhat. I could feel the curiosity in our bond and couldn’t help but smile. It appeared that my Childe was taking fondly to my bonded. Oscar had moved from his spot on the couch, seating himself in front of the sofa Sookie and Eric were sat upon, his back straight and his eyes burning with curiosity too. Cautiously, with her eyes glued to Eric to gauge his reaction, Sookie leant down a little to ruffle the boy’s bangs in a playful gesture. I could feel Eric’s slight annoyance though he allowed the gesture, sensing the fondness Sookie had taken to the inexperienced vampire. In some ways, I could see why she would care for him; he’d been thrown into this new world and knew nothing of it. He was exactly where she had been the moment she had met Compton.
“We used to tell stories to one another, sometimes they were passed down through generations, or other times the storyteller would make them up on the spot. We were known for our imagination and our creativity so to many the art of storytelling was a favourite pastime. Most of our stories were told orally, but the problem with this was that they could change depending on the storytellers’ personal agenda, skills and interests, as well as the reaction of their audience. Our stories took the forms of poetry, sing-alongs or even idle gossip; we weren’t too fussed with which format they were in, so long as we got to hear them. Our stories were closely linked with life lessons or our Gods. It was a way to help people learn but entertain them at the same time,” Ata shared, her gaze flickering to the three excited faces opposite her.
“Will you tell us a story, please?” Sookie begged, grinning at her cousin.
With a gentle laugh, Ata consented, “Of course, but of what?”
“Your Gods,” Eric was quick to respond. My Childe had grown up in his human years with tales of Thor, Odin and Loki bouncing through his intelligent mind. It only made sense that he was curious about Ata’s Gods.
“I’ll tell you the story of our creation then, how Re, our sun God, took revenge on mankind and how Isis, the Goddess of motherhood, magic and fertility, tricked Re into telling her his secret name.” Ata started, I could feel her happiness and excitement bouncing through our bond and it pleased me greatly that she was sharing the history of her people with our family and that she was returning to the world she had come from. Her happiness was infectious and I could no longer hold back my smile. My mind drifted to the day she had first told me the coming tale. We had been young, around twelve or so, and it had been a very hot day. We had sat on the cold marble floor of the throne room together, alone in the vast space as her mother had been elsewhere for the day. Ata had taken my hands in her own, rubbing them together as she’d leant in so our faces were inches apart. She had recounted the story to me with nothing short of excitement and awe in her beautiful blue eyes. It had been the first time she had shared it with anyone; she had only learnt it herself the day before. Thinking back now, I could easily identify it as the moment when I had finally admitted to myself that I had some rather large feelings for the young Princess.
“In the beginning, before there was any land of Egypt, all was darkness, and there was nothing but a great waste of water called Nun. The power of Nun was such that there arose out of the darkness a great shining egg, and this was Re. Now Re was all-powerful, and he could take many forms. His power and the secret of it lay in his hidden name; but if he spoke other names, that which he named came into being.
“I am Khepera at the dawn, and Re at noon, and Atum in the evening,” he said. And the sun rose and passed across the sky and set for the first time.
“Then he named Shu, and the first winds blew; he named Tefnut the spitter, and the first rain fell. Next, he named Geb, and the earth came into being; he named the Goddess Nut, and she was the sky arched over the earth with her feet on one horizon and her hands on the other; he named Hapi, and the great River Nile flowed through Egypt and made it fruitful.
“After this, Re named all things that are upon the earth and they grew. Last of all he named mankind, and there were men and women in the land of Egypt,” Ata’s voice had taken on a soft tone, caressing her words as they spilt from her lips. Although I had heard this story in my human years, and it had been Ata who had told me of it, I still found myself ensnared in her tale, listening avidly along with my Childe, Sookie and Oscar.
After a brief pause, Ata continued. “Then Re took on the shape of a man and became the first Pharaoh, ruling over the whole country for thousands and thousands of years, and giving such harvests that forever afterwards my people spoke of the good things which happened in the time of Re.
“But, being in the form of a man, Re grew old. In time men no longer feared him or obeyed his laws. They laughed at him, saying: ‘Look at Re! His bones are like silver, his flesh like gold, his hair is the colour of lapis lazuli!’
“Re was angry when he heard this, and he was angrier still at the evil deeds which men were doing in disobedience to his laws. So, he called together the Gods whom he had made – Shu and Tefnut and Geb and Nut – and he also summoned Nun. Soon the Gods gathered about Re in his Secret Place, and the Goddesses also. But mankind knew nothing of what was happening and continued to jeer at Re and to break his commandments. Then Re spoke to Nun before the assembled gods: “Eldest of the Gods, you who made me; and you Gods whom I have made: look upon mankind who came into being at a glance of my Eye. See how men plot against me; hear what they say of me; tell me what I should do to them. For I will not destroy mankind until I have heard what you advise.”
“Then Nun said: “My son Re, the God greater than he who made him and mightier than those whom he has created, turn your mighty Eye upon them and send destruction upon them in the form of your daughter, the Goddess Sekhmet.”
“Re answered: “Even now fear is falling upon them and they are fleeing into the desert and hiding in the mountains in terror at the sound of my voice.” “Send against them the glance of your Eye in the form Sekhmet!” cried all the other Gods and Goddesses, bowing before Re until their foreheads touched the ground.” Ata’s voice turned dramatic and I couldn’t help but notice how Eric, Sookie and Oscar had all leant forward some more, Sookie’s eyes were wide in anticipation, Eric’s lips parted in curiosity and Oscar had reverted back to the human habit of breathing.
After another dramatic pause, my beloved continued with her tale. “So, at the terrible glance from the Eye of Re, his daughter came into being, the fiercest of all Goddesses. Like a lion, she rushed upon her prey, and her chief delight was in slaughter, and her pleasure was in the blood. At the bidding of Re, she came into Upper and Lower Egypt to slay those who had scorned and disobeyed him: she killed them among the mountains which lie on either side of the Nile, and down beside the river, and in the burning deserts. All whom she saw she slew, rejoicing in slaughter and the taste of blood.
“Re looked out over the land and saw what Sekhmet had done. Then he called to her, saying: ‘Come, my daughter, and tell me how you have obeyed my commands.’ Sekhmet answered with the terrible voice of a lioness as she tears her prey: ‘By the life which you have given me, I have indeed done vengeance on mankind, and my heart rejoices.’ Now for many nights, the Nile ran red with blood, and Sekhmet’s feet were red as she went hither and thither through all the land of Egypt slaying and slaying.
“Re looked out over the earth once more, and now his heart was stirred with pity for men, even though they had rebelled against him. But none could stop the cruel Goddess Sekhmet, not even Re himself: she must cease from the slaying of her own accord – and Re saw that this could only come about through cunning.
“So, he gave his command: ‘Bring before me swift messengers who will run upon the earth as silently as shadows and with the speed of the storm winds.’ When these were brought he said to them: ‘Go as fast as you can up the Nile to where it flows fiercely over the rocks and among the islands of the First Cataract; go to the isle that is called Elephantine and bring from it a great store of the red ochre which is to be found there.’
“The messengers sped on their way and returned with the blood-red ochre to Heliopolis, the city of Re where stands the stone obelisks with points of gold that are like fingers pointing to the sun. It was the night when they came to the city, but all day the women of Heliopolis had been brewing beer as Re bade them. Re came to where the beer stood waiting in seven thousand jars, and the Gods came with him to see how, by his wisdom, he would save mankind. “Mingle the red ochre of Elephantine with the barley-beer,” said Re, and it was done, so that the beer gleamed red in the moonlight like the blood of men. “Now take it to the place where Sekhmet proposes to slay men when the sun rises,” said Re. And while it was still night the seven thousand jars of beer were taken and poured out over the fields so that the ground was covered to the depth of nine inches – three times the measure of the palm of a man’s hand – with the strong beer, whose other name is ‘sleep-maker.’”
Another pause, another sharp intake of breath from Oscar, in anticipation. Ata had indeed inherited the skill of storytelling.
“When the day came, Sekhmet the terrible came also, licking her lips at the thought of the men whom she would slay. She found the place flooded and no living creature in sight; but she saw the beer which was the colour of blood, and she thought it was blood indeed – the blood of those whom she had slain. Then she laughed with joy, and her laughter was like the roar of a lioness, hungry for the kill. Thinking that it was indeed blood, she stooped and drank. Again, and yet again she drank, laughing with delight; and the strength of the beer mounted to her brain so that she could no longer slay. At last, she came reeling back to where Re was waiting; that day she had not killed even a single man.
“Then Re said: ‘You come in peace, sweet one.’ And her name was changed to Hathor, and her nature was changed also to the sweetness of love and the strength of desire. And henceforth Hathor laid low men and women only with the great power of love. But forever after her, Priestesses drank, in her honour, the beer of Heliopolis coloured with the red ochre of Elephantine when they celebrated her festival each New Year.
“So, mankind was saved, and Re continued to rule, old though he was. But, the time was drawing near when he must leave the earth to reign forever in the heavens, letting the younger Gods rule in his place. For dwelling in the form of a man, of a Pharaoh of Egypt, Re was losing his wisdom; yet he continued to reign, and no one could take his power from him since that power dwelt in his secret name which none knew but himself. If only anyone could discover his Name of Power, Re would reign no longer on earth; but only by magic arts was this possible.” Ata paused, glancing between Sookie and Oscar before looking to Eric and I. I offered her a warm smile of encouragement, dropping a kiss on the top of her head.
Turning to face the three opposite her, Ata launched back into her tale. “Geb and Nut had children: these were the younger Gods whose day had come to rule, and their names were Osiris and Isis, Nephthys and Seth. Of these, Isis was the wisest: she was cleverer than a million men; her knowledge was greater than that of a million of the noble dead. She knew all things in heaven and earth, except only for the Secret Name of Re, and that she now set herself to learn by guile.
“Now Re was growing older every day. As he passed through the land of Egypt, his head shook from side to side with age, his jaw trembled, and he dribbled at the mouth, as do the very old among men.” Ata nudged my side playfully, causing the two vampires and the faery opposite us to chuckle at her teasing.
Pushing her love for me through our bond, she continued. “As his spittle fell upon the ground it made mud, and this Isis took in her hands and kneaded together as if it had been dough. Then she formed it into the shape of a serpent, making the first cobra – the Uraeus, which ever after was the symbol of royalty worn by the Pharaohs.
“Isis placed the first cobra in the dust of the road by which Re passed each day as he went through his two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt. As Re passed by, the cobra bit him and then vanished into the grass. But the venom of its bite coursed through his veins, and for a while, Re was speechless, save for one great cry of pain, which rang across the earth from the eastern to the western horizon. The Gods who followed him crowded around, asking: “What is it? What ails you?” But he could find no words; his lips trembled and he shuddered in all his limbs, while the poison spread over his body as the Nile spread over Egypt at the inundation.
“When at last he could speak, Re said: ‘help me, you whom I have made. Something has hurt me, and I do not know what it is. I created all things, yet this thing I did not make. It is a pain such as I have never known before, and no other pain is equal to it. Yet who can hurt me? For none know my Secret Name which is hidden in my heart, giving me all power and guarding me against the magic of both wizard and witch. Nevertheless, as I passed through the world, that I have created, through the two lands that are my special care, something stung me. It is like fire, yet is not fire; it is like water and not water. I burn and I shiver, while all my limbs tremble. So, call before me all the Gods who have skill in healing and knowledge of magic, and wisdom that reaches to the heavens.’
“Then all the Gods came to Re, weeping and lamenting, at the terrible ailment that had befallen him. With them came Isis, the healer, the Queen of magic, who breathes the breath of life and knows words to revive those who are dying. And she said: ‘What is it, divine father? Has a snake bitten you? Has a creature of your own creating lifted up its head against you? I will drive it out by the magic that is mine, and make it tremble and fall down before your glory.’
“’I went by the usual way through my two lands of Egypt,’ answered Re, ‘for I wished to look upon all that I had made. And as I went, a snake that I did not see, a snake that I had not created bit me. Now I burn as if with fire and shiver as if my veins were filled with water, and the sweat runs down my face as it runs down the faces of men on the hottest days of summer.’
“’Tell me your Secret Name,’ said Isis in a sweet, soothing voice. ‘Tell it me, divine father; for only by speaking your name in my spells can I cure you.’
“Then Re spoke the many names that were his: ‘I am Maker, Heaven and Earth.’ He said. ‘I am Builder of the Mountains. I am Source of the Waters throughout the entire world. I am Light and Darkness. I am Creator of the Great River of Egypt. I am the Kindler of the Fire that burns in the sky; yes, I am Khepera in the morning, Re at the noontide, and Atum in the evening.’
“But Isis said never a word and the poison had its way in the veins of Re. For she knew that he had told her only the names which all men knew and that his Secret Name, the Name of Power, still lay hidden in his heart.” Ata paused again, glancing between the three opposite her and then turned to me, “At last she said,” Ata’s tone changed, and I could tell from our bond that in that moment she had slipped into the role of Isis: Her mother had believed herself to be Isis reincarnated, so Ata was seen as Isis’s daughter. “You know well that the name which I need to learn is not among those which you have spoken. Come, tell me the Secret Name; for if you do the poison will come forth and you will have an end of pain.’ The poison burned with a great burning, more powerful than any flame of fire, and Re cried out at last.” She paused, watching with me with a hopeful expression.
I took my cue. “Let the Name of Power pass from my heart into the heart of Isis! But before it does, swear to me that you will tell it to no other save only the son whom you will have, whose name shall be Horus. And bind him first with such an oath that the name will remain with him and be passed on to no other gods or men.” I replied, recounting the story in my own mind with her.
Ata’s eyes switched back to the two vampires opposite us before they settled on Sookie; the young telepath’s eyes were wide. “Isis the great magician swore the oath, and the knowledge of the Name of Power passed from the heart of Re into hers. Then she said: ‘By the name which I know, let the poison go from Re for ever!’
“So, it passed from him and he had peace. But he reigned upon earth no longer. Instead, he took his place in the high heavens, travelling each day across the sky in the likeness of the sun itself, and by night crossing the underworld of Amenti in the Boat of Re, and passing through the twelve divisions of Duat where many dangers lurked. Yet Re passes through safely, and with him, he takes those souls of the dead who know all the charms and prayers and words that must be said. And so that a man might not go unprepared for his voyage in the Boat of Re, my people painted all the scenes of that journey on the walls of the tombs of the Pharaohs, with all the knowledge that was written in The Book of the Dead, of which a copy was always buried in the grave of lesser men so that they too might read and come safely to the land beyond the west, where the dead dwell.” Ata ended with a flourish.
“The moral of the story? A man may hold all of the power, but it only takes one woman to throw him off his game, to claim the power for her own. We are their downfall, and that makes us the most powerful of all.” Ata’s attention turned to her cousin, whom she offered a smile.
“Female empowerment,” Sookie murmured, snapping herself out of her awe at the tale. So few had ever heard the stories of old, as so few remained to share them. It was both a great honour and a great tragedy for my love to be sharing the stories of her people with us.
“Female empowerment,” Ata confirmed.
“You told the story of Re and didn’t wait for me? You know it’s my favourite,” Ari’s voice broke through our group. The dark-haired vampire was leant against the elevator, Egor and Agmund at his sides.
“You have heard it countless times, my son,” Ata pointed out gently.
A smile graced Ari’s features and he laughed quietly, “But I would gladly hear it again.”
With a roll of her eyes, Ata’s attention turned back to the youngest vampire in the room. “Bed for you now, little one. You have had a long night.”
A pout crossed Oscar’s features at the mention of bed. I had to stop myself from laughing at how much she was treating him like a human child. “My bedtime is when the sun comes up.” He pointed out.
“I know, but I want you to settle into your temporary room and feel at ease here before slipping into your slumber for the day. Now go, Ari will take you to the room he shares with Khai, you will be safe there.” She ordered in a soft tone, glancing to Ari who offered his hand down to the baby vamp. Oscar cautiously took it, allowing the older vampire to pull him up onto his feet.
Oscar rocked on his heels for a moment before giving in to whatever had been troubling him. In two strides he was before Ata, pulling her into his embrace. “Thank you,” He whispered in her ear, pulling back to offer her a small smile.
With the tenderness only a mother could have, my Ata placed a kiss upon the young vampire’s forehead. “There is no need to thank me, little one. Now go, rest, I will see you at sunset.” She ruffled his bangs before shooing him out of the room, along with Ari. Egor and Agmund had taken their places on either side of the elevator doors, standing straight and tall.
Ata’s attention shifted to my Childe and Sookie who had risen from their positions on the sofa. Sookie was stifling a yawn. Copying their actions, I stood too. “Thank you for sharing, Ata,” Sookie spoke softly, embracing her cousin before taking a step back.
“I am always happy to share stories of my people with you all. Perhaps Eric will share a tale or two of his own with us tomorrow?” my loves blue eyes turned to meet the cerulean ones of my Childe.
“I would love nothing more,” he stated, and I could feel the sincerity of his words through our bond.
“I believe there is much you both need to speak about alone before the sun rises for the day, so we’ll leave you be. Goodnight,” Ata graciously bid Sookie and Eric farewell, for the time being, offering her cousin one more hug before nodding her head at Eric, who returned the gesture. Although Eric was the picture of calm, I could feel his burning curiosity and his underlying worry and anger. He had no idea about whatever was going to be broached in the upcoming talk between himself and his bonded, but I knew he would be discussing with Sookie her high-handed volunteering of his help. I pushed strength through our bond, wanting my Childe to know I could offer him some comfort. He readily accepted it. Although I loved my Childe, such show of affection as a hug had been long ago ruled out between us. We had no issue with it in general, but it was something that felt awkward between us. Instead I, too, nodded in his direction and he dropped his head in a bow. My Childe had always been fiercely loyal and respectful, and I loved him even more for it. Not quite having such a familiar relationship with Sookie as my Ata did, I offered her a nod too, which she graciously returned.
Slipping my hand into Ata’s we moved through the living area together, out into the corridor and finally into our bedroom, where the moment the door was shut I had her pinned to it with my body, my lips attacking hers with a sweet and passionate kiss.
“Carissimus,” I pulled away to purr as she regained the breath I had stolen from her.
“Cridio,” she responded in a whisper, her lips meeting mine once more.