A/N Welcome Ari, everyone! 😉
When I try to recall the past I see your face, you erased all my doubts, nothing less than a miracle
You saved my life, you were so amazing
Perish surely, I thought truly, but you came, you rescued me
Here I am once again in the midst of doubt, setting forth on the path you have fashioned out
You have shown there is none like you in this world, I’m undone, you have come, you’re my saving grace
Brittleness breaks me, once again I snapped in two, damaged through to my soul
Frail but I can feel the strength returning, so alive I can feel life burning with your beauty
How you’ve have moved me, you are there, you carried me
Here I am once again in the midst of doubt, stepping forth on the path you have fashioned out
~ Saving Grace, Eowyn
For 2000 years I have walked this earth, spending every night at the side of my Maker – my mother. We’ve seen the world together, watched as the humans evolved and reinvented themselves, discovered new things and went to war over the smallest incidents. Surprises were far and few between for one my age. My Maker, brothers, and I had witnessed it all.
Niall had called my mother and had informed her that we would be due three guests to protect, that she would be related to one and would have to train her up in the way of the fae. My brothers and I had been at a loss over the information. We were all aware that Ata’s human family were all deceased, and what little fae family she had left were always in Faery, where they were safely tucked away from vampires. Niall had primed us that we would be due a few surprises too, but there was of course little that could surprise all of us given our ages.
In my human years my family had guarded Ata’s for countless generations. I had watched over the young princess as she’d grown up, followed her everywhere, allowed her space to fall in love with the boy she had picked as her companion. It was fair to say I had grown fond of the young princess, and I had doted on her at every available opportunity. As her personal guard I had been present when Niall had informed her of her heritage and, without even having to think about it, I’d know that I’d wanted to find a way to stay around for eternity, to continue to protect her from everything evil in the world. After discussing it with my brothers, and my mother, I’d had myself turned into a nightwalker, and then my Maker had been staked so that Ata would be safe.
It had been the worst day of my life when I had been forced to tell Ata of the passing of her companion, and I had practically felt the pain pouring off of her as she’d wept for him. Things had gone downhill so rapidly from then on that I’d been worried for her sanity. We’d left Egypt in search of something more; to repair the damage the first few years of her life had caused her. So, 2000 years later, when I had been stood waiting for our guests to arrive, the last face that I had been expected to see had appeared, filling me with such extreme hope that I’d been forced to clamp down my bond with Ata. It was a difficult task for me to shut down our bond. Usually a Maker and Childe could shut down their bonds with ease, but the tie Ata and I shared was much stronger than the usual Maker-Childe tie.
Due to the affections we had held for one another in our human years, the tie we had created when Ata had placed her blood in my system had been exceptionally strong. Of course my mother loved her other children, and I loved my brothers too, but Ata doted on me like I had doted on her during our human years. My brothers and I had formed a mental connection with Ata when she had become our Maker, and we could access each other’s thoughts and memories whenever we wanted to. My brothers and I tried not to pry in Ata’s mind – we were aware she valued her privacy – but on occasion it had been a very useful tool indeed.
The moment I had clapped eyes on the eternally young face stood in our entrance hall I had known his name straight away, my vampire memory serving me well. It had been a strange sight indeed, watching my Maker be reunited with her childhood sweetheart. The way her face lit up, the happy tears rolling down her cheeks and the positive feelings through our bond had made me want to weep with happiness. She’d been so ill for the past two years, so weak and tired all the time, that we had worried death was claiming her 400 years early. I had known something was going to happen the evening our guests arrived when Ata had asked Oeri to bring her two painkillers and a glass of water. She had spent the past two years not bothering with painkillers. Instead she had chosen to grit her teeth and deal with it, to feel the pain. For her to ask for medication had put me on edge.
Now that I had spent a few evenings in the company of Godric, Eric, Sookie and even Pam, I had decided they were good for my Ata. My mother had always been happy, chirpy even; it was her joy for living that made me happy. With Godric though her happiness had trebled, and I found myself craving the companionship of someone for the first time in so long. I found myself wanting more than just a feed and fuck, someone I could curl up with just before sunrise and die for the day with, someone I could express my feelings and thoughts too, and someone I could kiss. Dear Isis how long has it been since I’ve properly kissed someone?
Speaking of companionship, Eric’s progeny Pamela isn’t too bad. Her sass and uppity actions during her first day or so here had been a bit of a put off but she’s subtly changed over the last day or so. I hadn’t gone to pick her up from the airport as I’d had plenty of documents to create for Felipe’s stupid taxations. He gave us a tax cut because he craved Ata; he wanted to call my mother his own. I would meet the true death before that would ever happen. My Maker and I despised the idiot Monarch. We played his games though so we could reap the benefits, such as the cut in tax. It had enabled us to expand a few years ago and bookings had exploded, so had the ability to charge more for our rooms. I had sent my brothers to collect Pamela, and I hadn’t known what to expect when she first arrived. What I hadn’t expected was for a 5’8 Goddess in designer clothing to step out of the limo.
Although a vampire, and therefore unable to walk in the sunshine, Pamela was just as radiant as the sunshine. I could faintly remember the sunshine, the feel of it against my skin, and on occasion I would find myself dipping into my mothers mind in order to see the sunshine from her perspective. Pamela was the sunshine, with her long blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Women such as her were hard to come by in Egypt; they were usually all tanned with dark hair and eyes. It was one of the reasons the people under Cleopatra’s rule had loved Ata so much, she was so completely different to them all. I had restrained myself from acting upon this sudden impulse to learn more about the Victorian vampire. It hadn’t taken much effort to discover her taste for women over men. The news saddened me but I still held onto the hope that I could sway her towards me.
The concern she had showed for my Maker, and for Sookie, during the ritual had warmed me to her more; especially when I had caught her making sure I was okay too. I hadn’t pushed my case with her; I’d just been my usual self. I’d been making sure to show a bit more skin every now and then too, to make a show of the power my age gave me. I was not above using my body to get what I wanted. I had a feeling that Pamela not only had a love for expensive things, but powerful things too.
The fact she had bought Sookie a dress that held sentimental value, and had then bought Ata a silver bangle for protection, showed me that there was another side to the seemingly cold woman, and that underneath her sass and fire there was a girl wanting acceptance and love. I could offer her both, if she wanted it that is.
Godric offered both of those things to my mother, and I couldn’t be happier for either of them. In fact, the way things are going I can see her eventually having her dream life. I can see her with her beautiful home and her white picket fence, her porch swing and her vegetable patch. I can see the large diamond on her finger and the smile she would wear on her wedding day. Oh I was positively giddy! The way fate had torn them apart all those years ago had been cruel, but now fate was rewarding them for surviving their time apart by reuniting them. Watching them together, observing their body language around one another, it was easy to see how quickly they fell back into their old ways. They were completely at ease with one another, utterly accepting of each other. I had been well aware of my mother’s innocence, it made me respect her all the more for remaining pure for so long. Unfortunately on occasion though, my brothers and I had been forced to place our scents all over her, at times even smearing some of our bodily fluids over her skin. It wasn’t pleasant at all but it was the only way other vampires would accept our claim on her. If they were to believe we were yet to have her body they could try and take her from us. My mother had grimaced whenever it had been necessary, but she was strong, and knew it would help her survive. We exchanged blood frequently, it was what kept our Maker-Childe bonds strong, and so the smell of one another’s blood in our systems was never an issue.
The first time I had scented Godric all over her, and in her, I had felt strangely jealous and possessive. My brothers and I had Ata all to ourselves for the past 2000 years, and though our relationship had never been anything more than platonic it had been significant for her to lose her purity, to finally have an attachment to a man outside of our family bond. It was like she was growing up. I guess, in some sense I could relate it to how a father would feel about his daughter growing up. Although I was unable to get into his mind, as we were yet to have a strong blood bond, it was apparent from the way he held Ata, the way he looked at her, the way he spoke to her, that he was completely devoted to her, and she was completely devoted to him. It warmed my cold, dead heart.
His progeny was an interesting character, full of the fierceness of his people and yet he showed softness when in the company of those in his bloodline, and Sookie. He had even shown tenderness with Ata over the past few days. I could see the qualities in him that made him a rewarding vampire, an ideal progeny. From the information I had gathered for Ata the night of their arrival, and subsequently left on the kitchen counter for her to read in the morning, he was a fierce warrior, a man of his word and believed strongly in honor. He was loyal and trustworthy, but not above manipulation and blackmail, just like every vampire. The vampires who had been around before the Great Reveal, including my brothers and I, were used to lying, manipulating, and blackmailing in order to get to where they wanted without being questioned. The centuries before the Great Reveal had brought about a huge power struggle within the vampire world, and many vampires had perished in some bids to get to the top. It was a cruel truth. Eric struck me as a survivor though, able to not only use his brawn but his brain to get himself, and those close to him, out of any sticky situation. I had a feeling his ability to come up with strategies, and of course his brute strength, would come in useful over the next few weeks. I was yet to have a conversation alone with the Viking vampire, yet Egor and Agmund spoke highly of him when we were all alone one evening. My younger brothers had known him during their human years, and they stated that even then he had been a marvelous man, capable of achieving things most couldn’t.
Sookie was a whole new can of worms. I had gathered from numerous sources that wherever she went trouble seemed to follow, and while I wasn’t overly pleased with trouble finding the empire my Maker, brothers and I had crafted over the years, I would do anything to help family. She was still so naive about the powers she could wield, still so unsure about herself. She reminded me so much of my Ata when she had first been told of her powers by Niall. Of course she had always been telepathic, and although others had treated her differently for it I had no issue with treating her like everyone else. In my opinion she was better than us all, the next step up in the human race.
Niall had given Ata no assistance with her powers, she’d been forced to discover them all, and master them all, herself. I felt for Sookie, she had been given all of this power and yet she had no idea how to use it. If it weren’t for my Mistress teaching her then she would probably still be unsure of what she was capable of. It was obvious, just by looking at Ata and Sookie, that they were somehow related. Their blonde hair was the exact same shade and they both had bright blue eyes. Ata’s eyes were a little brighter though, full of the sparkle of a long and prosperous life. Sookie had dealt with many traumas in the short time she had been walking the earth so far, it wasn’t hard to see why she had lost a little of her lust for living. Eric seemed to be doing a good job at making her happy though, smothering her in affection whenever he got the opportunity to do so. It was interesting to note how much he cared for her and compare it to the way his Maker – my new Master – cared for Ata. I could only hope that Eric would grow into a vampire similar to Godric. Not exactly the same, every vampire was different after all, but similar in nature – tender, loving, affectionate, yet with a fierce and protective edge.
Felipe de Castro, the vampire King of Nevada, had been causing us problems for a while now. It wasn’t a secret that he wanted Ata as his consort. The other Nevada Sheriff’s, and even some of the resident vampires, were aware of his attachment to my Maker. I wouldn’t allow him to have her though, especially not now that she was twice bonded to Godric. It was strange to witness the once slave boy as a vampire, to see how the 2000 years had shaped him. I could remember him going for long walks with Ata in the middle of the summer sunshine, I could remember seeing her sneak him into the palace at night. I never told anyone that she was bringing him in. I found myself enjoying how happy he made her, and how happy she made him.
When I’d learnt of Felipe’s party I had instantly been on high alert, throw in the fact Felipe was refusing to allow Godric to attend and I could smell something fishy. I had contacted Edgar, who had all but fallen over his feet in order to have a spot looking after Ata for the evening, and had been pleased to learn that Godric had also entrusted her care to two other vampires he trusted. Ata and I had attended many balls and parties over the years, it was one of the ways we promoted our business, but it also kept Felipe sweet. This evening was no exception.
The moment my Maker had returned to the living area with a band around her finger I had initially jumped to the conclusion that Godric had gone down on one knee, I’d worried that it was too soon for them, but Ata clarified the meaning behind the band on her finger moments after Sookie had grasped her hand for a look. I watched as everyone fawned over her new ring, but my eyes were not on my Mistress, but on the vampire who was my new Master. Due to Ata’s ability we had all developed the ability to read the body language of others, because body language could never lie where as one verbally, and sometimes mentally if they believed something so completely, could. The way he watched her, gazed at her, smiled at her obvious joy, it was reassuring to know that someone else would take great care of her. It saddened me though that this could signify the end of a long chapter of our lives, a chapter where my brothers and I have been the only men in her life. At the same time I was pleased though, proud even, that my brothers and I had helped her through the past 2000 years so she could be reunited with her fated. Although no one had outright told my brothers and I that Ata and Godric were fated, it was painfully obvious, even when they were both completely human. I couldn’t help but chuckle internally at the thought that Eric and Sookie were fated too. How strange that two from one bloodline could fall for two of another, their species mortal enemies at that!
After placing a tiara on my Mistresses head, we took our leave. I hadn’t had much of an opportunity to talk to Isabel however she seemed a kind woman, and if my new Master trusted her then so would I. That wasn’t to say I wouldn’t kill her if she turned out to be a traitor or if she hurt Ata in any way. If there was one thing I was certain of it was that anyone who dared to harm my Maker in any way would perish by my bare hands.
Pulling up to the gates of Felipe’s ridiculous estate, a bulky Were turned to face us. Felipe had always been big on security but it seemed he was pulling out all the stops this evening. The usual guards, upon seeing our limo, usually just let us straight in. “Names?” The Were gruffly asked, his eyes downcast as he glanced at the checklist of names. I watched as he inhaled, nostrils flaring as he took in Ata’s scent. I had to restrain myself from letting out a growl of warning and flashing my fangs at him as he leered at her. I could only image how Godric was responding to such a blatant display of disrespect.
“Ata Caesar, Ari Seti-Nekht and Isabel Beaumont.” I replied curtly, tightening my hold on my Mistress so the Were would get the picture that she was by no means dinner, or a fuck.
“Miss Beaumont and Mr. Seti-Nekht are my +2 for the evening.” My Maker informed the Were, batting her eyelashes. Slowly he ticked our names off the list, gesturing for us to carry on into the building.
I hated Felipe’s mansion though it was beautiful from the outside, the use of marble on the inside reminded me of Caesar’s Palace far too much, and though I had nothing against marble I always found it strange just how similar both places looked.
After socializing for a while all of the vampires were called for dinner, and I found myself unfortunately sitting at a different table to my Mistress. This was not what I had in mind! I was the second in command of Vegas; technically I should have been up at the top table with the other Sheriffs and their seconds. This all screamed of Felipe wanting Ata to himself, and it made my blood boil. The way he sang Ata’s praise, and so obviously favored her over the other Sheriff’s frustrated me even further. Thankfully my Mistress was on good terms with the other Sheriff’s, the last thing she needed was for them to become jealous of the way Felipe treated her.
The blood had been average at best, which wasn’t a surprise given that I usually sustained myself on the blood of my Maker. Felipe was also known for cutting costs and charging a lot in taxation, thus giving him plenty of ‘play’ money to gamble away and buy useless shit with, so it was no surprise the blood wasn’t of the best quality.
“Would you join me for the first dance, Ata?” I heard him ask Ata, dropping his voice in an attempt to sway her. I could feel her own disgust at the situation and my new Master’s anger and hatred was so strong that I could feel it through Ata. I watched as she purposefully gave him her left hand and had to hide my smile behind my napkin. As she passed my table I offered her a sympathetic glance. I could feel her disdain for her current situation.
The music drowned out their conversation regrettably, so I was unable to hear everything Felipe was saying, but the moment his fingers ghosted over Ata’s jawbone I was up on my feet at the edge of the dance floor, trying my hardest to reign in my anger and nervousness at the situation. I didn’t like the fact my Mistress was so far from me. I couldn’t go to her aid during the first song and take her from Felipe, that would be a show of disrespect to Felipe, and I knew how much Vegas meant to Ata. She would hate to be forced to move away.
They waltzed around the room together and I made sure they were never out of my sight. I dipped into Ata’s mind and kept a tab on their conversation, disgusted at the way Felipe was speaking to my Maker. Although his words were meant as compliments I could practically hear him begging her to sleep with him. The only reason I could see for Ata ever sharing a bed with him would be so she could stake him the moment the sun claimed him for the day. I’d pay good money, and risk the bleeds, in order to see her stake him.
The moment the song ended I was on the dance floor, taking Isabel with me so as not to look conspicuous. Felipe had stormed off into the crowd, clearly displeased with whatever Ata had told him. “I think I just upset him.” I heard her muse to my mind. I couldn’t have agreed more.
“Fuck him. Actually, please don’t.” Khai’s cheeky comment caused us all to smile. Khai had never been afraid to speak his mind; it was what made him such a loyal brother and Childe. I watched as Ata danced with Edgar before she was finally twirled into my arms.
Dancing with my Maker had always been one of my favorite things to do in the entire world, after fighting others of course, and I found myself unable to contain my feelings this evening. The moment Ata pushed her love and pride for me through our Maker-Childe bond I found myself overcome with emotions and instantly sent them back, wanting her to know how much I cherished her for all she had given to my brothers and I.
“Thank you, Ata.” I mentally thanked her as I gently twirled her on the spot before continuing our waltz.
“What for, my son?” She frowned lightly.
“Everything. If it weren’t for you I would have perished over 2000 years ago. I would have never travelled the world, witnessed the first man on the moon, the invention of penicillin, the signing of the declaration of independence, the world wars and getting to meet Shakespeare. I would have never found my brothers and gained a family, I would have never witnessed first hand how wonderful the human race is, how they fight back against all the odds, how they always survive. I would’ve missed out on an eternity of laughter and love, of adventure and surprises. That’s why I’m thankful, mother.” I watched her reaction carefully, monitoring our bond closely. 2000 years was a long time to spend with someone but there had never been a boring day by my mothers’ side. She was my best friend, my companion, my charge, my Queen, my Mistress, my mother, and my Maker. If there were only one person in the world I would need more than anything, it would be the ancient fae in my arms.
Almost as soon as my declaration was made I felt my brothers flood our ties with overwhelming amounts of love and adoration, the feeling of which caused a tear to slip down Ata’s pale cheek. I relished in the love and affection she was pushing back, cherishing it. So few could understand the Maker-Childe bond, and so few could understand such a bond after 2000 years of it. At times even I couldn’t understand it. Slowly I wiped away her tear, popping it into my mouth to taste the sweet treat.
“I love you, all of you, it should be me thanking you.” She mentally whispered to us, keeping the constant flow of love going to our bonds. As the song hit the last note, I dipped Ata down gracefully. Righting herself in one smooth movement, she pulled me into an embrace, keeping her silver from touching my skin. It had been a while since Ata and I had simply embraced one another as we often preferred to let our affections for one another be known through our bond – it was secret that way, special.
The music changed once more and I could feel Ata’s mischief through the bond. “Argentine Tango?” I suggested knowingly. With a nod we took our starting positions and the moment the music picked up we were off. We had all learnt to dance over the years simply because it was a much loved pastime throughout history, but it was also a way to put the grace our immortality gave us to good use. We all had our signature dances and hardly ever danced with anyone other than Ata.
Lifting her into the air she pointed her feet before I placed her neatly back down onto the ground. Together we moved across the dance floor, our feet in perfect sync with one another, our steps light and quick. Our usual routine consisted of numerous lifts, which we had perfected over the years, and knowing my Mistress trusted me so much was heartwarming – if my heart could be warmed. Twirling her out I brought her back in, wrapping her in my arms before taking her hands in my own, starting to move my feet at a quicker pace. Ata kept up easily.
As we moved across the dance floor it was apparent that most people had vacated it and were instead stood at the edge, watching us as we glided across the floor. At the same time as Ata I caught sight of Edgar, Isabel and Nora, who were all stood together watching on with smug smiles, their eyes flickering every so often to Felipe, who looked like he wanted to stake someone. Isabel was holding a small camera in her hand. I’d asked her to film the dance for later, to show everyone back at the penthouse. I was sure they would appreciate it. Who knows, maybe we could even teach my Master how to dance, if he didn’t know already of course. Clearly the little touch of sensuality we had thrown in was having the desired effect as a few of the vampires in the crowd had dropped fang at our display.
Our dance wasn’t that long but as the music came towards an end Ata twirled into my arms, bending her knee which I grasped firmly, using it to lift her up. Twisting her body she flicked her legs out to straddle me, one of my arms held her firmly in place at the small of her back while the other was outstretched behind me in a flourished movement. It was then I bent her forward, her arms outstretched to the floor just as the final note rung out around the room. I could feel her giddiness through the bond and also the appraisal from those at the penthouse, they must have been watching through Ata’s contact lens cameras.
Pulling Ata back up, I placed her down on my feet before twirling her to my side, where we both bowed our thanks to the crowd.
Slowly the dance floor started to fill up again and a few vampires came over to compliment our dance. Ata remained glued to my side, thanking them copiously for their kind words.
“You dance real well Miss Ata.” Bubba bounded over to our side as we left the dance floor. My Maker offered him a warm smile. Only in Vegas would you find a 2000-year-old fairy princess, a 2000-year-old vampire guard and a mentally challenged ex-superstar vampire getting along in complete harmony.
“Thank you Bubba, but we all know you’re the best at the dancing.” She complimented.
“Aw shucks Miss Ata, we can jive together later if you’d like?” If it were possible for vampires to blush I had a feeling that Bubba would have been right about now. It was a well known fact the challenged vampire had all but given up singing and dancing after he had been turned, so to not only be offered a song by him but also a dance on the same night was a huge honor.
“I’d love that Bubba, very much indeed.” Ata accepted.
Nora slid up to us a moment later, a look of concern on her features. “The guest upstairs wishes to speak with you.” She whispered right in Ata’s ear so no other vampires would hear. Of course with the mental tie we had I could hear the words perfectly.
Ata turned to me then, biting on her lower lip. “The A.P is upstairs and has requested my presence. I’ll be fine though. I’ll take Nora with me, you stay here with Isabel and if anyone asks where I am then say I went to take care of my human needs please.” She filled me in, including everyone back at the penthouse in on the mental message. I wasn’t keen on this, not at all. I wouldn’t be with her, I wouldn’t be able to keep an eye on her and make sure she was okay. I would keep my mental tie to her open though, and the bond, just to be on the safe side. I pushed caution through my bond with my brothers, wanting them to watch over her for me where I was unable to, wanting them to take notes on everything happening. I had a bad feeling in my gut, and usually I went with my gut.
“Nora, I haven’t a clue where the ladies room is, could you show me please?” Ata batted her eyelashes, knowing Nora would play along. Together they left the ballroom.
Try as I might to socialize and blend in with everyone else, it was increasingly difficult, especially when my Maker wasn’t at my side. I worried for her safety all the time, even more so when I wasn’t there to protect her. I spent my time dancing with Isabel and countless other women at the party, never really giving them my full attention as I was too busy gauging the Maker-Childe bond between Ata and I, and listening on her thoughts about the conversation she was currently engaging in with Pallas.
“Three houses bound together, all four of immortal blood. Two sets of two that share a tie, combining all around together. One is ancient, majestic, full of joyful cheer. Two has much to learn. Three is wise beyond his years, And Four once tried to burn. Now four people, all of power, try to part the four. With thousands of years between them all, this riddle they will solve. One of them has used you, one of them has abused you, one of them wants to watch you fall. Deception and lies go hand in hand, but brutal truths can really hurt. Do not lash out at those you love, but seek revenge for those you lost. When the moon waxes all of this will end, new powers will be used and promised gifts will make amends. A sacrifice must be made, a selfless one at that. Time will heal the marks remaining, but only love will heal thy heart. In the house of royalty four will fight, yet only two will leave.”
Her riddle left me stumped and more than a little worried, it was the final line that had me in turmoil. Four would enter and yet two would leave, would I lose my Mistress and Master? Surely not! But then would I lose my brother and the woman I had come to think of as a sister? No! I wouldn’t allow any of that to happen!
My bond with Ata was suddenly dampened and, mid-step, I froze. “She’s fine, we can see what’s going on.” Khai was quick to inform me and I let out a sigh of relief, continuing on with the waltz I was engaged in with a redheaded vampire I had never met before. As the dance drew to a close I thanked her before leaving the floor, Isabel was at my side instantly.
“What’s the matter?” She inquired, searching my eyes for the answer.
“Ata has dampened our bond, she can’t do that when we’re here.” I whispered, knowing other vampires would hear me if I were to speak any louder.
“Ah Ari! Where is our dear Miss Caesar?” Felipe’s voice behind me snapped me out of my daze and I turned on the spot in a fluid motion, plastering on a smile Ata would be proud of.
“Ata is currently tending to her human needs upstairs, she should be back shortly.” I responded as planned, not letting my worry show on my features. If Felipe saw any weakness, any opportunity, he would no doubt take it.
The answer I had given didn’t seem to satisfy Felipe however as his smile fell, his head snapping sideways to look at two vampire guards. Giving them a small nod they ran out of the ballroom. “I have sent two of my men to go and fetch her for you, to ensure she hasn’t become lost or slipped down the toilet.” He laughed as if it were funny. I forced my own laughter so he wouldn’t suspect that this was anything but funny.
As Felipe swept away our bond opened up fully and I slumped against Isabel, using her for support as relief washed over me. I could feel Ata’s confusion and frustration and yet I was unsure as to the cause. There was a big old blank spot in her mind, like she’d been glamoured or had forgotten something, but that wasn’t possible. The fae couldn’t be glamoured, and my Mistress was far from forgetful.
Knowing Ata would join me in a moment or two, and would use our blood tie to find me, I didn’t bother rushing to her aid. She was a capable woman and would be able to find her way back to me with no bother.
Suddenly our bond snapped altogether and our mental tie went black. I couldn’t contain the roar of pain that I felt, startling all of the vampires present. I couldn’t feel Ata! Taking off at vamp speed I ran through the ballroom, oblivious to Edgar, Isabel and Bubba who were hot on my heels. Skidding across the marble entrance hall I raced up the stairs, flying down the corridors as I used my nose to scent out my Maker. Our mental tie came back so suddenly that I ran into a wall, but the vision that greeted me was far worse than any damage a wall could have done to me. I heard my brothers roar in anger through our mental tie and the bonds I shared with them were ignited with hatred and loathing so pure that I could feel myself starting to spiral into bloodlust. Fangs snapping down at the prospect of a fight, I growled.
“HELP ME! ARI!” I could hear Ata screaming into my head, her mental sobs spurring me on to find her in this godforsaken mansion. Changing my course of direction I followed our mental tie, and her scent, until I skidded into the hallway where my Ata – my Maker – lay flat on her back on the floor, Felipe’s figure looming over her.
Her eyes were wide in terror and she seemed unable to move. She had however managed to get her silver bracelet to touch Felipe and he hissed out in pain, the scent of his sizzling flesh filing the air. Quickly he dropped fang, raising his wrist to his mouth before he bit down, moving his wrist back towards Ata’s mouth. In a blur I grabbed the back of his neck and threw him over my shoulder, not caring if he was a King. He had just tried to get his blood into Ata, to try and forge a tie with her while she was bonded to another! I could, through my mental tie with Ata, hear Godric going berserk back at the penthouse. “Keep him there by brute force if you have to! I don’t want him running in here and slaughtering everyone!” I warned my brothers, knowing just how fiercely protective the eternally youthful vampire was.
Felipe hit the far wall with a thud but was instantly back on his feet. Isabel, Edgar and Bubba had surrounded Ata and were currently trying to get her to move, but it seemed she was unable to do so. From the floor beside Ata, Bubba picked up two needles – one was full and one was empty. Giving the empty one a tentative sniff he made a disgusted sound before he held it out some distance. “Iron.” He informed us solemnly. I wished to Isis that my bond with Ata would open up so I could take away her pain. She was unable to move, which stumped me, but her mind was screaming out for help, for someone to eradicate her pain. The other needle was capped and lay where Felipe had been kneeling. Bubba picked it up and placed it into his pocket along with the empty one.
“YOU DARE HARM ME?” Felipe screamed from the end of the hallway, setting off at vampire speed towards me. I had 1000 years on him though; he was no match for me. Grasping him around the neck I lifted him from the floor, holding the screaming Monarch at an arms length as he shouted obscenities at me.
“You were about to feed my Mistress your blood, to tamper with the sacred blood bond she has created with my Master! I should end you regardless of your status!” I hissed, tightening my hold around his neck.
“I will have your fangs for this! I will take away your area and your business!” He spat in response, but his threat was meaningless to me, he’d tried to break the tie between Ata and Godric. I would be the one having fangs, and they would be his. Throwing the bratty Monarch at the far wall I made sure he would hit it with such force that he would be knocked unconscious before I crumbled to my knees beside Ata, taking one of her hands in mine.
“Ari, get me out of here, please. I can’t feel my limbs; I don’t think I can move. I’m trapped in my own body, Ari help me!” Ata’s anguished mental cries were incredibly painful and it took me no time to comply with her wishes. Scooping her up in my arms I threw a glance to Felipe, who was still unconscious from the blow.
“Khai, Riei, Oeri, call Ludwig and have her come to the penthouse immediately, I don’t care about the cost.” I informed my brothers as I took off down the stairs, not stopping for anyone. No one would place a hand on my Maker until we were back in the penthouse. Vamping out of the mansion I chose the quickest route home, weaving between buildings and cars in a desperate attempt to get Ata back to safety, and soon. I could feel three vampires bringing up my rear and I spared a quick glance over my shoulder. Isabel and Bubba were behind us, I had expected that, but what I hadn’t expected was for Edgar to be following us without his entourage. All three wore expressions of worry and I couldn’t help but feel the same way.
It took a fraction of the time it had taken to get to Felipe’s mansion by car to get home on foot; vampire speed really was the way forward. Barging through the entrance hall, fangs still down and a limp Ata in my arms, I didn’t care for the thoughts of the humans as they all gasped and squealed in shock and horror. For a moment I contemplated the lift, but I knew that would take too long and if there was iron in Ata’s system then we wouldn’t have much time to work with. Taking the stairs I was up to the penthouse in less than twenty seconds, the other vampires following behind me, a little slower due to their younger ages.
The moment I entered the room Ata was ripped from my hold, encased in the arms of her bonded, who took her to the far side of the room, bearing his fangs at us all, hissing at anyone who dared to approach him. I could see the 2000-year-old killer in his eyes, the frantic worry and pain over his bonded’s suffering. He wasn’t suffering alone though, I could feel that my brothers were in just as much agony as myself over the pain or Maker was dealing with.
A pop sounded out in the room and Ludwig appeared, taking a quick moment to assess everyone in the room before her eyes landed on Ata. “Oh dear little princess, what have you gotten yourself into?” she tutted quietly as she took in Ata’s appearance. It was obvious that the iron was wreaking havoc in her system – her skin was pale, almost translucent, and her usually bright blue eyes were pale and dull. “Bring her to me, Nervii.” Ludwig ordered as she removed everything from the coffee table, throwing a blanket over it so Ata wouldn’t be exposed to the cold material. Godric let out a low warning growl, clutching Ata tighter to him. “She’ll die if you don’t let me treat her, vampire.” I could hear Ludwig’s patience running thin.
“Godric let Ludwig help her.” Sookie gently encouraged the ancient vampire, though she was smart enough to keep a distance. He was angry and volatile right now. He seemed to fight internally with himself, but one look down at Ata, whose eyes were now screwed shut in pain caused him to relent. Vamping to the coffee table he made short work of her dress, removing it so it wouldn’t be damaged before he placed it on the sofa, leaving my Mistress in her underwear on the table.
“I picked these up from the scene.” Bubba offered, handing Ludwig the needles. My brothers and I were sat around the table, as were Pam, Eric, Sookie and Godric. My Master had a firm hold on my Mistress, not letting go of her hand. She was unable to turn her head but she could move her eyes, and they locked onto his, all of her pain flooding to them.
Taking the needles from Bubba, Ludwig sniffed them before spluttering and wrinkling her nose in disgust. “Whoever it was has it in for you Miss Caesar. This needle contained a high concentration of iron, suxamethonium chloride and a trace of Hep D.”
I couldn’t contain my gasp at the statement that the needle contained Hep D; Hep D would severely weaken a vampire for around a month if they were infected. Whoever had injected Ata, and I had strong reason to believe it was Felipe or one of his lankies, would have known Godric was only feeding from her. Although he required little blood, the fae in Ata was practically screaming out at her bonded to take nourishment from her. It was Godric’s roar that silenced us all, and my eyes swung to the fuming vampire sat at Ata’s side. “FIX HER. NOW.” He shouted at Ludwig, demanding her to do something.
“I can’t do anything until the suxamethonium chloride has worn off. Whoever injected her wanted her to watch whatever they were going to do to her. It relaxes the muscles, effectively causing temporary paralysis but it does not lead to unconsciousness and it doesn’t act as an anesthetic either. Its effects may cause considerable psychological distress while simultaneously making it impossible for a patient to communicate.” Ludwig explained as she took the other needle from Bubba. If this paralysis drug would wear off soon then we needed to start getting things ready to remove the iron in her system!
“How are we gonna get the iron out?” Sookie voiced my query, reminded me that she was able to venture into my mind now. She offered me a sheepish smile but I didn’t call her out on the ability, it was still relatively new to her and I had a feeling my thoughts weren’t doing her much good right now if they were frantic.
“You all need to drain her down and replace her blood with yours, it’s the only way we can get the iron out of her system.”
“She’s infected with Hep D, you’ve got to be kidding me?” Pam stated in exasperation, flicking her hand out towards Ata.
Sniffing the other needle, Ludwig removed the cap, giving it a flick before she suddenly jabbed it into Ata’s neck. Her piercing scream rang out through the penthouse and I had to cover my ears it was that loud. “Found our voice now Miss Caesar? The suxamethonium seems to be wearing off.”
“You don’t fucking say so!” Ata yelled at the dwarf doctor who smirked at her patient.
“What the fuck did you just inject her with?” I could sense Godric was about to get up on his feet to tackle the small doctor, so I grabbed his arm to keep him in place. He had a few years on me, but not many, so keeping him down would be relatively simple.
“Seems whoever it was created a cure for Hep D.” She mused, sniffing the needle once again before she threw it into her little bag.
“The fae don’t get sick, why is the Hep D causing such a reaction?” Oeri demanded as he held one of Ata’s feet down, Riei was holding the other. Ata had started to thrash on the table, her screams making it difficult for us all to communicate. Khai was holding down one of her arms while Godric had the other, I’d placed myself at her head, holding her shoulders down. Egor and Agmund were stood by the elevator, fangs down, poised ready to attack anyone who dared to enter.
“It’s not the Hep D in her system, it’s the iron. The Hep D would remain in her blood system but not cause a reaction, I believe it was the intent of the injector for the Hep D to go undetected so as to weaken anyone who would feed from her.” She gave Godric a pointed look before continuing. “However, they got the ratio wrong of iron, they’ve given her too much. The suxamethonium was obviously used to keep her in place so her injector could heal her himself and appear a hero.”
“Felipe.” I ground out, my jaw clenched as I remembered seeing him about to force his blood into Ata’s system. “He was leaning over Ata when I found her, trying to give her his blood.” I informed the small doctor whose eyebrows shot up into her hairline.
“A blood offence, you could kill him for it you know?” She offered Godric who only gave a growl in response, his eyes locked onto Ata who’d thrown her head back and was wailing with the pain. I started to feel our bond coming back to life, now the paralysis drug was wearing off. Our bond was only halfway open and the pain that tore through it was unbearable even for me. I couldn’t imagine what it was like for my Maker.
“I need one of you to taste her, to see if the Hep D has been eradicated from her blood or not.” Ludwig instructed, sparing a glance at my brothers and I, to Eric, to Pam, to Godric, to Isabel, Bubba and Edgar and eventually to Oscar. Unsurprisingly no one really wanted to taste her and risk coming down with Hep D.
“I’ll do it.” Oscar offered in a timid tone, Godric’s possessive growl causing him to shrink back for a moment before he stood his ground. “It doesn’t matter if I get sick. I’m too young to defend Ata and Sookie very well anyway, and they need all of you healthy and able to fight.” The young vampire offered. I felt strangely proud of the young vampire. Hep D was much worse for the younger vampires whose bodies were already weak and constantly thirsty. Vamping to Ata’s side, opposite Godric, the young vampire dropped his fangs before he picked up Ata’s wrist. Turning to face him, my Maker pleaded with her eyes for him not to, mentally praying for him not to fall ill. “It’s okay Ata, you saved me so now I can save you.” He grinned at her before he eased his fangs into her wrist, causing her to whimper out in pain. Once again Godric growled lowly as the young vampire took a few pulls on her wrist. Pulling back he coughed violently, wrinkling his nose in disgust. “There’s no Hep D there, but iron tastes horrible!” he blanched. If it were possible for vampires to throw up I had a feeling Oscar would be right now. As it was, my brothers and I found humor in his comment and chuckled.
“Here’s what we’re gonna do fairy princess, each vampire is gonna take some of your blood, offering you theirs at the same time in order to create first level bonds. Niall came to me and told me to speak to you about the correct procedure tomorrow but it seems we don’t have time for that.” She lifted her head to look at Godric, whose expression had gone from anger to worry as tears flowed freely down Ata’s cheeks.
All of the bonds were wide open now and I could feel him pulling her pain away, taking it all for her. Slowly I breached into the bond they shared, pulling the pain from him too. His head snapped in my direction and he regarded me for a moment before a small smile crossed his lips. “Thank you, my Childe.” He murmured softly. Feeling proud that I had earned the title of his Childe I dipped my head in thanks.
“Nervii, you’ll take from her first but you’ll give to her last. Niall mentioned you have a second level bond and I don’t want the third to be created when Ata is in such a state.” She ordered as my brothers and I all started to form a line.
“We need as many of you to take and give as possible in order to eliminate the possibility of her being turned. Any other offers?” Ludwig turned her attention to the crowd as Godric knelt beside Ata, nuzzling her wrist with his nose as he pushed her bangs from her face. She whimpered in pain and raised a shaky hand to his cheek.
Moving through the crowd of people in the penthouse, Eric took a spot at the end of the line, and we all turned to silently thank him. Pam was next to stand in the line and I was honestly surprised by her choice. I had expected for her to throw out about it, but she was willing to loosely tie herself to my Mistress in order to heal her. Isabel, Bubba and Edgar were behind her instantly and even Oscar had joined in. Sookie stood nervously at the side of the room. “Come here little fae, you have the most important job. I’m going to hook an IV up to you, straight into your cousins’ bloodstream. As soon as Eric has taken and given then I want you to take from him. The fae in you will bolster the fae in your cousin and help her turn the vampire blood into fae blood in order to support her system. I say we get all of the blood ties done this evening, so I want all of you to start exchanging with one another as soon as you’ve given, and fed from, Ata.” The small doctor ordered as she hooked up Sookie and Ata, giving the tube a light squeeze to encourage the blood flow from Sookie.
Instantly Godric sunk his fangs into Ata’s wrist, taking several large pulls. She squirmed on the table, gasping at the feel of his fangs in her. Their blood tie meant that whenever Godric fed from her it was a pleasant experience, even when they didn’t wish for it to be so. Once he’d taken his fill he moved to Ata’s other side, sitting himself between Sookie and Ata. Biting into his wrist he offered it up to Sookie who latched on, taking just a few short pulls as he took from her wrist, creating the first bond between them. With that done Godric sat and held onto Ata’s free hand as we all took turns to feed from, and give to, Ata. The process took a while, and Eric found himself having to dip into donor blood in order to sustain himself and Sookie as she was contributing quite a fair amount of blood to Ata. With each new bond formed, Ata’s thrashing starting to slow down, her movements slipping into lazy and the pain that had originally flooded our bond was slowly disappearing. Her heart rate slowed considerably, and her eyelids fluttered shut as her breathing fell short and shallow. The rapid extraction and replacement of blood wasn’t doing her system any good. As soon as we had all finished the exchange with Ata we all started to swap with one another, creating new bonds and strengthening existing ones. The moment Oscar had finished up his bond with Ata, Godric was on his feet, biting into both of his wrists. He held one over Ata’s lips and she forced herself to stay alert as she took pulls from him. Oscar had latched on to his other wrist and Godric was taking pulls from the young vampire himself. As Godric’s wounds started to heal over I could feel Ata slipping into unconsciousness.
“She needs to rest, her body has undergone extreme stress.” Ludwig explained in a surprisingly soft tone as unconsciousness finally claimed my Maker. “She’ll be out for a while, her body needs to heal itself. When she wakes she’ll be incredibly thirsty and hungry, so I recommend you keeping a chef or something from downstairs on call. She needs to be kept warm too, and tomorrow she’ll probably suffer as the bonds between you all start to settle within her.” Ludwig explained. “I’ll expect payment by the end of the week.” She murmured, gathering up her things before she popped out of the room, leaving us all to stand there in silence.
“I’m taking her to bed.” Godric whispered, moving slowly to scoop Ata up in his arms. Although unconscious she seemed to instinctively curl into him. “Thank you for helping these evening, I appreciate it. I owe you all.” He vowed quietly as he walked at a humans pace out of the living area, carrying both Ata and her dress in his hands.
“Would that ever happen to me?” Sookie asked in a low whisper, clearly shaken by the evening’s events.
“If you were exposed to an extremely high concentration of iron, more than likely. You’re not as much of a fae as Ata as in terms of blood purity, so it would take more to get such a reaction from you.” Oeri answered quietly, running a hand through his hair.
“We can offer you a safe space for the day if you’d like?” Khai offered Edgar and Bubba, knowing Isabel already had a room of her own.
“We’d appreciate it Khai, thank you.” Edgar was still watching the door that Godric had taken Ata through. His attachment to my Maker was an incredible thing.
“I don’t want to leave Miss Ata’s side until I know she’s okay. Do you think Mr. Godric would let me sleep on the floor of their room?” Bubba asked, blinking twice. His devotion was so pure that it was incredibly beautiful. Although we had no need for comfort during our day rest the fact he was willing to sleep on the floor when he could have the luxury of any room in the building spoke volumes of the challenged vampire.
“Go and ask him, I’m sure he won’t mind.” Riei encouraged tiredly. Sunrise wasn’t far off and I could tell that my brothers were just as exhausted as I was. That was the downside to our bonds; if one was feeling something then usually the others did also.
“I’ll go and take you to your rooms.” Khai spoke to Isabel and Edgar, leading them to the lifts. Egor and Agmund went with them as more backup. We weren’t expecting another attack but after I’d thrown Felipe around in his own mansion like he was a ragdoll there was no telling what he would, or could, do.
Riei and Oeri bid us goodnight before disappearing off to their room, leaving Eric, Pam, Sookie and I in the living area. “Thank you for helping her this evening.” I offered quietly, feeling the weight of the evening on my shoulders.
“Anything for family.” Sookie offered just as quietly, taking a step forward and surprising me by pulling me into her embrace. Cautiously I returned her hug, knowing Eric would be on edge otherwise. I took a moment to think of how we were related and came to the conclusion that, to Sookie, I would be her first cousin once removed. How strange it was to think I had an Auntie of sorts, even though I thought of her more as a sister due to her tie to Eric – whom I now thought of as a brother.
“You need to rest Sookie, you gave Ata a lot of your blood.” I slowly let her go, allowing her to pop her hand to her mouth as she yawned, nodding her head in agreement. Eric lazily scooped her up in his arms, nodding his goodnights to Pam and I before he left the room.
The moment he was gone Pam was before me, her features full of concern, a look I found strange on the usually cold vampiress. “You weren’t hurt were you?” She asked in a hushed tone, her eyes raking over me, inspecting me for any damage.
Unable to hold back my smile and small laugh, I shook my head. “I’m fine, honestly.” I reassured her as I went to check on the newly formed tie we should have created earlier. Only, when I went to check on it, it wasn’t there. Frowning lightly I probed all of my new connections. “We didn’t complete an exchange.” I commented quietly, not wanting to spook her.
Pam fell into her own silence as she checked her own bonds, and she too frowned when she found we didn’t have one. Instantly she was biting into her wrist, holding it up to me. Offering her my own wrist I latched onto hers as she broke my skin, taking a few deep pulls. We exchanged in silence, my dark chocolate eyes locked onto her bright blue ones. Finally though the wounds healed over and we were forced to part. “Thank you.” I offered as I licked my lips clean, watching as Pam did the same. Seeing my blood smeared across her lips was doing horrendous things to my libido. I so shouldn’t be attracted to her; she likes women for Isis’s sake!
“It’s not problem.” She offered with a shrug before she started to move towards the doorway leading to her bedroom. “Night Ari.” She murmured softly, turning to look over her shoulder at me.
“Sweet dreams Pam.” I offered in response with a warm smile. In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it move, Pam was before me once again, up on her tiptoes, pulling my head down to her. Her lips met mine in a soft and tender kiss and I found myself wrapping my arms around her slender frame, holding her close as she continued to consume me with her lips. Breaking away a moment later, her blue eyes found mine, “I’m glad you weren’t hurt.” She told me quietly, placing one last chaste kiss to my lips before she vamped from the room, leaving me stood alone in a daze. How on earth could she plant one on me like that and then leave me? Tentatively I raised a hand to my lips, ghosting my fingers over them, imprinting her kiss into my mind.
The ding of the elevator pulled me from my thoughts as my brothers returned without our guests. “We need to go to rest Ari, the sun will be up in twenty minutes.” Khai approached me, placing a large hand on my arm. Day rest. It sounded so good right now. “Hey, you did everything you could, you know how stubborn she is. At least we saved her, she’ll be fine when she wakes.” My brother encouraged me. Egor and Agmund said their goodnights before they went to their own room, leaving Khai and I to make our way to our own bedroom. Stripping down I clambered into bed, reminding myself that I would shower at sunset, and then deal with whatever shit Felipe would have no doubt thrown our way by then.
“Vos amo, frater.” Khai whispered across the room to me, causing me to smile.
“Vos amo, frater.” I repeated, slipping into downtime so my transition to my day rest would be quicker. I was still worried about my Mistress, she had looked so ill while she’d been sprawled on the table, she looked like she’d been knocking on deaths door. Felipe would pay for this. I’d have his fangs and then I would present the goo of his head to my Maker on a silver platter.
I felt the moment the sun rose, and then felt nothing but relief as it claimed me for the day.
Vos amo, frater (Latin) = I love you, brother