A/N This is the chapter where Sookie and Ata exchange blood and learn about one another’s dark secret – there will be flashbacks to when Bartlett used to think ill things of Sookie and there will be hints towards his actions against her, but it won’t be spelt out for you as such. I’m going to use the scene from season one where Sookie tells Bill and she has a flashback. Personally any form of molestation/rape, to a minor or an adult, is a very serious crime in my opinion and something I do not tolerate at all, so you may find my thoughts on the matter in this chapter via Ata. I’ll try and keep the venomous hate to a minimum though, as I don’t want to force my opinions and thoughts onto you all 🙂
Italics in this chapter are memories and mental conversations, and bold italics are mental thoughts within memories. All memories are in the first person, regardless of the POV of this chapter, as they’re coming from each individual’s minds so of course the memories would be in first person! Horizontal lines represent a time jump btw. Hope that doesn’t confuse you!
Nothing hurts my world just affects the ones around me
When sin’s deep in my blood, you’ll be the one to fall
I wish I could be the one, the one who won’t care at all
But being the one on the stand
I know the way to go, no one’s guiding me
When time soaked with blood turns its back
I know it’s hard to fall, confided in me was your heart
I know it’s hurting you, but it’s killing me
~ Unholy Confessions, Avenged Sevenfold
My body was screaming at me. I was tired and achy and I honestly wanted nothing more than to stay in bed all day, curled up alongside my vampire. Unfortunately a small brunette boy stopped that from happening as he woke up around lunchtime, snuggling into me, grabbing my arm, tossing and turning in a desperate attempt to fall asleep again. Eventually he gave up, once he’d woken me up too that was. Together we dressed and I was appalled with the condition of Hunter’s clothes. While Hadley hadn’t had much money I would have thought she would have at least made sure her only son would have been properly clothed. It seems she was too busy with Sophie-Anne to care for the beautiful little boy who was clutching my hand as we made our way into the living area. I’d been completely serious when I had told Eric that I would adopt Hunter. He deserved a family who would understand him and help him. I’d grown up without any help, and because of that people referred to me as crazy and thought I was mentally deficient. I would not allow that to happen to Hunter.
When Eric had asked to adopt Hunter too if the VRA passed, I was at a loss. Eric had never struck me as the fatherly figure, yes he took care of Pam and it was clear he loved her like a daughter, but I couldn’t see much of a paternal bone in him. However, the way he had acted with Hunter earlier in the evening, holding his hand, cuddling him and speaking to him like a grown up had turned my insides into a pile of goo. I’d long ago accepted I would never have children, because I didn’t want them to have my disability and I couldn’t see myself with a human man anyway, even a Were or shifter weren’t a good idea because I could still get emotions from them, so that only left me vampires. It was common knowledge vampires couldn’t have children. Hunter was already of my blood though, be it distantly, but he still had Stackhouse blood in his system.
The thought that my home would soon be the residence of my vampire and the little boy holding my hand filled me with glee. My house had been empty for so long, not that I had actually been able to stay in it longer than a god damn week anyway without shit hitting the fan, so it would be nice to have permanent company, and when we end Russell there shouldn’t be any more threats to us.
Entering the living area, Ata and Jason were sat up at the breakfast bar eating their meals in silence. “Morning Auntie Ata, Uncle Jason!” Hunter cheerfully broke the silence, causing both surviving members of my family to turn in their seats, grinning at Hunter and I.
“Morning guys! How did you sleep?” Ata enquired as I lifted Hunter up onto one of the barstools, allowing him easy access to the food that was on the numerous plates scattered across the counter top.
“Really well thanks, did you manage to take care of the problem last night?” I asked cryptically, knowing Ata would catch on and that Jason was unaware, so he wouldn’t give away anything to Hunter if he did start thinking about last night. All Hunter would find out would be that Jason offered Eric some of his blood, which he took gratefully.
“Yes, I had some of the staff clean up. We have a special patch of land for that kind of thing just outside of the city. Eric feeling well?” Ata kept her tone light and cheerful so as not to give away the horridness of her statement. The fact she pretty much owned a graveyard, full of humans and supernaturals that had tried to hurt her and her children wasn’t much of a surprise but it was still not pleasant.
“He’s feeling much better, he enjoyed having cuddles with Hunter when he fell asleep.” I ruffled the boys’ hair as he started to cram a piece of bacon into his mouth. He reminded me of Jason. “The pair of them are already as thick as thieves.” I smiled indulgently at Hunter, whose face was painted into a smile as he continued to eat, kicking his legs happily under the table.
“I’m going to be adopting Hunter, as he can’t stay with Hadley’s friends now she’s passed, and Remy is useless. Eric has even offered to adopt him too should the VRA pass. Eric has even suggested moving in with me, so we can be around one another more.” I mentally filled in my cousin though the small channel we had between our minds, continuing to eat as if nothing was going on. Gran had always insisted silence at the dinner table, mainly because Jason’s mouth was usually going at 100mph and he often ended up inhaling his food and choking.
“I’m happy for you Sook, you’ve taken to one another well. I was hoping you would look after him. It seems Eric has taken to him also, if his actions last night were anything to go by. Living together is a huge step, but I do think the pair of you are ready for that, especially if you finish the bond. Separation will be both physically and emotionally painful for you then, so being as close to one another as possible is always a good thing. Will Eric be having quarter’s underground, or are you going to light-proof your home?” Ata mentally questioned for me.
Rather than responding I plucked out the memory of the night before and pushed it to her, allowing her to witness everything herself, including the attack. I was sure to start the little memory video after Eric and I had finished up round two. I had a feeling Ata and I weren’t quite at the stage where we could actually show one another the antics we got up to with our respective mates. I had a feeling though that Ata would be more accepting of it anyway, and it would be me who would shy away and blush.
“How do we know it’s Felipe though, it could be Russell given that we’ve figured out he’s trying to part Eric and I, and that he’s here in Vegas and knows where we are considering the ‘gifts’ we received.” I questioned, wanting to have every angle covered.
“It could be them both. Maybe they’re working together?” Ata suggested, my blood instantly chilling at the thought of Felipe and Russell in cahoots with one another. It would certainly explain where Felipe had gotten the branded wolves.
“I think we should exchange blood today Sook. I know it’ll reveal our secrets to one another but after last nights attack on you and Eric and I think we need to strengthen all of our ties. Jason and Hunter can stay down here and watch TV or whatnot. I have all of the TV channels available in Nevada. We can use the training room upstairs, that way we’ll have some privacy and we can even continue training afterwards.” Ata’s mental suggestion was sensible, but the thought of her being privy to my deepest, darkest secret disturbed me. I was well aware that we were related, and Ata had proven that she could be trusted, but even Jason hadn’t believed me when I had told him about my secret, he’d thought I’d just been doing it for attention, like momma and daddy had.
Silently agreeing that it would be the best course of action, especially before the VRA where there would be plenty of vampires and other supernaturals in attendance, I resigned myself to the fact that my secret would no longer remain secret as such. It wasn’t the thought of my uncle that had made me want to keep his actions a secret, it was the fact that he was family and he had still thought of it as an acceptable course of action. Family were suppose to love one another, cherish one another and care for one another, not abuse each other and torment them.
As all of us cleaned away the food on the plates and Ata took the empty dishes to the sink, leaving them for Flo to clean later on. “Sookie and I are going to go up to the training room, we’re going to be continuing with Sookie’s training though I’m afraid neither of you can be in the room with us as it could go wrong and you could get hurt.” Ata warned Jason and Hunter. I could hear her mentally reassuring me that nothing bad would happen, but that she was using a scare tactic in order to keep Jason and Hunter away from us during the delicate exchange.
“Whatever it is, I ain’t letting Sook do it if she’s gonna get hurt.” Jason declared stubbornly as I took Hunter off of the chair, helping him down onto the floor. He was still a little too short to get onto and off the chair by himself. Jason’s protectiveness, while endearing, was a little over the top. This was Ata I was going to train with, if I was safe with anyone during the day it would be her. As I placed Hunter down on the ground I caught sight of the video camera that Ata and I had used a few days ago to record our day. Later on I would ask Jason, or maybe even Hunter, to film us going about our day-to-day activities.
“She won’t get hurt, I promise you that Jason, but you and Hunter could if she cannot control the magic she’ll be wielding.” Ata’s tone went from its usual soft timbre to a harder one, similar to that of Eric’s Sheriff tone. Jason still didn’t appear convinced, but it was Hunter who spoke up next as he sat himself down on one of the large sofas.
“Auntie Ata will take care of her, Uncle Jason.” He stated with complete conviction to his tone. Knowing such a small and young boy was so trusting was sweet, given that he was yet to see the harshness of the world and reevaluate how easily his trust was given, but also worrying. If he trusted everyone he came into contact with he would end up like me during my first few years in the supernatural world – being walked all over by everyone and anyone.
Jason still didn’t seem convinced, but he listened to Hunter and took a seat beside him on the sofa, grabbing the TV remote from the coffee table before him. “We shouldn’t be too long, trust me Jason, everything will be fine. Just, don’t leave the penthouse, either of you. It’s protected up here, not that we’re expecting anyone to try and hurt us, but you can never be too careful given that the VRA passing is tomorrow night.” Ata assured them as Jason turned the TV on, absently nodding his head as he flicked between the channels, trying to find something that was child friendly for Hunter. Offering me her hand, Ata opened up the staircase behind the bookshelf, the pair of us entered it quietly, closing the door behind us, before we ascended the staircase.
The training room was silent and empty and Ata’s boys had cleared the debris from our training away and the lack of music was strange. Listening to the sorts of things Ata played while training had given me quite an insight into her mind. There was the foreign music that had been playing yesterday, a nod to countries I had never visited and probably never would, there was heavy bass music, with force behind it that could only match the force Ata’s advanced powers could bring, and then there was the lighter, almost club like music. Out of all of her choices that was my favourite, the speed of the music and the upbeat rhythm helped me concentrate and think in a positive manner.
Shutting the second door behind us, Ata slid the bolt across to ensure us even more privacy. “Sook, I’ll take from you first. I would suggest we take from one another at the same time, similar to how vampires form bonds, but as we’re going to be subjected to one another’s secrets I don’t think exchanging at the same time will work, as we’ll have to watch one another’s secrets as our brains send out our own. I don’t want our brains to go into meltdown.” Ata forced a laugh, but I could see her nervousness underneath it. I had to admit that I was nervous too, worried about Ata’s reaction to my secret.
Moving to the store cupboard, Ata removed numerous pillows and blankets, throwing them down on the floor to create a pallet for us before she settled down on one side, gesturing for me to join her. I wavered for a moment, knowing if I sat there would be no going back. I would have to watch all of Bartlett’s thoughts and actions in my mind once more, they would be unearthed from the locked space in my mind that I had thrown them into. But then, perhaps if I told Ata my secret and she told me hers, we would be able to help one another overcome them. Maybe that was why Niall had told us to exchange, not only to form a family bond but also to help us overcome our fears. I had a feeling, deep down in my gut, that a lot of our fears would be coming to light over the next few days, and Gran had told me to always listen to my gut.
Sitting down before I could change my mind, Ata pulled a small steel dagger from her pocket, along with a roll of bandage fabric, holding her hand out for me to place my arm in. Wavering just for a second, I relented, knowing this would have to happen sometime, and it was better to just get it over and done with. Taking the blade, Ata created a small cut on the inside of my wrist, and I flinched at the quick, sharp pain. “Sorry.” She mumbled, popping the blade down before she raised my wrist to her mouth, not even concerned about any infections that could be passed between us, or the fact that she was going to be taking my blood from my wrist like a vampire. “Just relax.” I heard her murmur against my skin, the feeling of calm sweeping over me as she used our mental connection to send me the calming feelings. My shoulders slumped a little as I focused on my breathing, screwing my eyes shut so I wouldn’t have to watch Ata as she watched my memories.
Feeling her mouth over the wound, she started to take light pulls, not taking very much in each mouthful. It was so different than the times Eric and Bill had fed from me. Of course their fangs had been buried in my flesh, and Ata was fangless, but their pulls had been strong and, in Bill’s case, greedy. I could feel my blood in Ata’s system, like I could feel it in Eric’s and, to a lesser degree, in Bill. The moment I started to feel my blood in her though the memories started to play, and I was helpless to stop it. It was like the locked part of my brain, where all of my worst memories were, including the time Bill practically drained me dry in the back of the lorry in Jackson, was ripped open. The memories of Uncle Bartlett flashed to the forefront of my mind, and I felt Ata pull back from my wrist, gasping as her mind was hit the onslaught of my memories.
It was summer vacation, I was eight years old, and the sunshine was pouring in through the window of Gran’s living room. Gran was out, having gone to get some groceries as Jason and I were staying for the weekend. Jason was out too, playing with Hoyt down by the river on the new tire swing they’d created with some junk they’d found out in Hot Shot. School had given us homework for the summer, and as per usual I had been the only one bothering with it. Most of the other students got away with doing as little as possible, but my disability meant that the teachers paid extra special attention to me, so I could never get away with anything. Gran’s living room was just like every Southern home, her antique ornaments covered almost every surface, and photographs of the whole family in a jumbled assortment of frames covered the walls. The sofas, old and creaky, stood strong and sturdy in the middle of the room. As it was summer, Gran had placed flowers around the room, brightening it up further and adding to the fresh, summer smell. Gran had always been fascinated with the meaning behind flowers, as every elderly Southern woman usually was, and her fascination had been passed down to me. She’d decorated the house with cosmos flowers, for they were a sign of peacefulness, daisies for innocence, irises for inspiration and pansies, for loving thoughts. I thought it ironic how she had chosen pansies, given that the thoughts coming from Uncle Bartlett, who was sat opposite me in the single armchair, were anything but loving.
“Tiny little legs, flexible and smooth.” He thought, his expression remaining blank. My shields weren’t developed, so his thoughts were free to flow into my mind. “How’s the homework coming?” He asked me, feigning interest as I stared down at the math’s equations on the page in front of me. I had no clue as to how to answer any of them; math’s wasn’t my strongest subject as my teacher was an incredibly loud broadcaster, which made it difficult to concentrate.
“I hate math. Gran usually helps me.” I responded honestly, pausing in my scribbles to look up at my uncle.
“Maybe I can help?” He offered, but his thoughts betrayed him “Her skin is perfect. So soft.” He smiled, patting the space on his lap. “Come sit on my lap, so I can see it better.” He almost ordered, giving a soft smile on his features as if he wasn’t thinking such things about me. I was unsure what to do, if I freaked and told him I could hear him and his vile thoughts he would get angry, and without Gran around to defend me I would be at his mercy. If I gave in though, I would have to listen to his thoughts for longer, and they would be clearer, given that we would then be physically touching. Looking at my uncle for a moment I realised I didn’t have a choice in the matter. Picking up my book and pencil, I rose from my spot on the sofa, crossing the room to sit on Uncle Bartlett’s lap. He used his hands to place me on his legs, before he allowed them to rest on the arms of the chair. Although there was no direct skin-to-skin contact I could still hear his thoughts, and they were amplified by our proximity. Opening my book, I allowed him to see the page I had been working on.
Scribbling down a few ideas for the answers, I tried to block out his mental voice to no avail. “I’m good at this.” He told me, his eyes downcast onto the page. “It’s easier than you think.” He tried to encourage me, but I was distracted. “No hair anywhere on her body.” He brushed a few stray strands of my hair from my face, so he could see me better. “All mine.” He claimed me mentally. “Uncle Bartlett loves you sweetie.” He tried to make me feel valued and treasured, like his love was pure and innocent, but it was anything but.
It was the Christmas holiday; I was ten years old and this was the second year Jason and I would be celebrating Christmas with Gran and Uncle Bartlett. I’d tried to tell momma and daddy about him before the flash flood took their lives, but they’d thought I was lying and told me off for it, said they’d take away what little pocket money they gave me if I ever lied again. I couldn’t risk losing my pocket money; it was the only thing that was stopping the bullies from picking on me all the time. When I gave them my money they only bullied me once or twice a week, not every day like they did with some of the other kids. Gran was in the kitchen cutting up the turkey for the Christmas dinner tomorrow, and Jason was downstairs building a fire so that we could all sit around it and exchange stories before hanging our stockings up on the mantel for Santa to fill with presents. I was upstairs, putting the finishing touches to the present I had bought with Gran for Jason. We’d decided to buy him his own little bow and arrow set, as he was getting mighty good at shooting at things with Gran’s old shotgun, but she didn’t trust him with that on his own just yet. She said he was still far too young.
I heard his mind before I heard him physically approach, and my body involuntarily stiffened at the mental onslaught. I’d developed my shields after momma and daddy had died, with the help of Gran of course, mainly so that I could function in school. They weren’t that great though, and on occasion would spring what I liked to call a leak, in that they allowed a few stray thoughts to enter my mind anyway. “She’s growing up to be a beautiful young lady, still so smooth and supple.” His mental chatter caused me to bite down on the inside of my lip, to stop myself from crying. For two years this had been going on now. His thoughts around me were never pure, and he never bothered to disguise them, even though he knew
I could hear people’s thoughts, or so that was what I thought he believed. I wasn’t sure if he was in denial over it like momma and daddy had been, he never really thought about my disability a lot. His hands would wander a lot, but he’d make them out to be loving caresses, and every time I would hurt myself he would use it as an excuse to examine me, to make sure I wasn’t hurt anywhere else. His hands were always cold whenever he touched my legs or my back or my arms, and it made me feel uncomfortable. I was always warm, as I spent much of my time in the sunshine, so the contrast was unpleasant. On the few occasions where his touches had been less than soft, less than kind, and his thoughts more malicious and disgusting than before, he’d threatened me. He’d told me that if I told anyone about what was going on he would make sure I would pay for it. I was young, so the thought scared me to death. He would sneer at me and remind me that no one would believe me, that they all thought I was crazy and mentally unstable. He was damaging my self-esteem, which was already at an all time low.
He didn’t even bother to knock as he entered the room, and the brain waves coming off of him told me that he had been drinking, as his thoughts were a little muddled and fuzzy. He’d always been violent when drunk, and Gran had always monitored the amount he consumed when around Jason and I to ensure that neither of us was hurt. Of course every time she popped out to the shop or to the church for her ladies meetings she wasn’t there to monitor him and his alcohol intake. It was those times when he lashed out, but he only ever hit me in places that no one would see if I were to wear my shorts and strappy tops. I steeled myself for his onslaught, both physically and mentally, screwing my eyes shut for a moment in a silent prayer that it would be over quickly and then I could go back to pretending that nothing was the matter, that we were all one big, happy family. This had been going on for so long now that I had simply learnt how to block it out, pretend like it wasn’t happening to me.
“You’re growing up to be real pretty, Sookie.” He slurred, sauntering into the room with the confidence only alcohol could give someone. Opening my eyes, I turned to face him, plastering on my ‘Crazy Sookie’ smile in a hope that he would leave me alone, or get this over with as quickly as possible. I couldn’t understand how a family member, someone who claims to love you, could do and think such vile things to you, and about you. Then again, the only person who ever thought good things about me was Gran, and I could tell they were sincere. Momma and daddy had pretended, and I could hear under their mental lies their real thoughts. They had believed there was something wrong with me, and after hearing it for so long I started to believe it.
“Thank you Uncle Bartlett.” I forced myself into the role of sweet Southern belle, knowing it was the way Gran raised me and the way to make her proud.
“That dress looks real pretty too.” He commented, approaching me. I had nowhere to go, the backs of my legs were against the end of the bed and he was blocking my only escape – the door. “Shows off all of her long, slender legs.” He mentally leered. “What’s it made of?” he questioned, reaching a hand out to the hem of the dress, which he ran through his fingers. His hand started to trail upwards, towards my hips.
Looking down at the dress I had on, I quickly racked my brains for the fabric, hoping to end this conversation quickly and get away. The dress was blue and white, the shade of blue matched my eyes perfectly as it was a few shades darker so helped them stand out. The blue was in a band around my waist that knotted together in a bow behind me. Gran had bought it for me from this little boutique in Monroe that had been having a closing down sale. Usually we didn’t shop in boutiques, preferring to buy our clothes from Wal-Mart as it was cheaper, but on occasion Gran would have a little surplus cash from her job at the launderette and the benefit money we would get for Uncle Bartlett, so she would buy us all something nice each. “It’s satin.” I informed him, remembering when Gran had told me about how to wash it and to take care of it. It would last me a long time if I showed it a little bit of love, and with how tight our money was at the moment I would need to keep onto it for as long as possible.
“Feels so good.” Uncle Bartlett commented as his fingers ghosted over my hipbones. “Just like her skin. Gosh she smells so darn good too, like lavender and roses.” His mental chatter continued as his hands wandered. Removing myself quickly from his touch, I grabbed a bow that I was going to stick on Jason’s present, removing the backing before I placed it onto the wrapping paper.
“Don’t wanna forget the bow!” I giggled, acting as if I had only just remembered to place it on. I had in fact only just remembered, and it was convenient that I could use it to my advantage, to help me out of my current situation.
“Bows are good, but it’s the unwrapping that’s the best part.” I heard his mental commentary, along with mental images of him removing my dress, as he stalked towards me. With no where to go but back against the wall, I found myself shrinking towards the sturdy, vertical surface, hoping that it would somehow swallow me up and this nightmare would be over. “Why are you shying away from me sweetie? Uncle Bartlett only wants to give you a hug.” He tried to coax me away from the wall, but his mental thoughts were screaming at me that the actions he was about to conduct weren’t going to be to my liking, and therefore I refused to get away from the wall.
“I don’t wanna get my dress all creased up.” I tried to lie, but even to myself it didn’t sound very convincing.
“Don’t be silly now, a little hug ain’t gonna crease your pretty dress.” He tutted. Finally reaching me, he pinned me in place, his hands wandering over my hips and up my sides. “It’s a real pretty dress, the fabric is so soft.”
“Please don’t.” My voice was croaky as I tried to wiggle myself free of him, but he was stronger than me, even though he was getting on in his life. Fear coursed through my veins and I swallowed the lump forming in my throat.
“If you dare tell anyone, I will make sure Gran sends you to that Brentwood mental hospital out in Shreveport. Do you hear me?” He hissed, switching from the seemingly caring uncle to an aggressive, vicious man. The thought of being locked away, having more doctors poke and prod at me, it frightened me, and I could feel my heart thumping against my chest, the perspiration on my hands was making them feel clammy and, in order to relieve the feeling, I rubbed them on my exposed legs.
“Oh I hear you.” I hadn’t heard Gran climb the stairs, or enter the room, but the moment she spoke I nearly broke down into tears as relief flooded my system. “How dare you threaten my Sookie.” Gran crossed the room quickly, hauling Uncle Bartlett off of me before she placed herself between us. “How dare you have your hands on her in such a manner, she is not some toy, she is your niece! How dare you threaten to send her to the mental hospital, there is nothing wrong with my Sookie!” Gran’s voice continued to climb as her anger started to pour out. I hid behind her, feeling safe now that she was here, now that she was aware of what was going on. I’d been so frightened to tell her, not only because Uncle Bartlett had been threatening me, but because he was her brother, her only remaining relative bar Jason and I.
“There is something wrong with her, why can’t you see that?” Uncle Bartlett gestured in my direction as I continued to hide behind Gran. I’d never hidden behind her before, but I felt the need to distance myself from the volatile drunk in front of us. All my life people had called me crazy, said there was something wrong with me, and knowing my own family thought of me as some sort of freak hurt deeply.
“There is something wrong with you, Bartlett, treating my Sookie in such a degrading manner.” Gran scoffed, reaching a hand behind her, which I gratefully took. She gave my hand a light squeeze before she let me go, taking a threatening step towards Uncle Bartlett. “I want you out of my house right now, I don’t want you to ever come back here ever again, I don’t want you to ever speak to Sookie or Jason ever again. I’ll come by your old house tomorrow at noon with your things, but you will leave my family alone.” I had never heard such strength in Gran’s voice, never heard so much anger and yet, at the same time, so much pain. I instantly felt bad for what was happening. She was getting rid of her own brother, kicking him out of her life all because I continued to try and get away. If I had given up then none of this would be happening, and Gran would still be happily cutting up the turkey downstairs.
“You need me here, you need the money Adele.” Uncle Bartlett was grasping at straws, and the panic in his eyes told us that he knew it.
“We don’t need your money, Bartlett. We’ll make do. We always have.” Gran’s tone held a hint of resignation to it. She took another step forward, causing Uncle Bartlett to back up towards the door. “I want you out, now.” She ordered, continuing her pursuit of him as he fled the room. I followed, standing next to the banisters on the first floor as Gran chased her brother down the stairs and out of the front door, not even stopping to let him speak, or to give him the Christmas presents we had already bought for him. She didn’t even give him his coat; instead she sent him outside in his Christmas jumper and pants, with only his slippers on his feet. Jason came in from outside, a frown on his features as he watched Gran chase Uncle Bartlett out of the house. I felt sick. This was my entire fault. I could have prevented this had I have just gone along with it one more time. I was growing up now, he would soon stop, and I would soon be able to defend myself better as he grew weaker with old age.
“Why’s Gran chasing Uncle Bartlett, Sook?” Jason’s eyes turned to me, but I didn’t have the guts to look him in the eyes and tell him the truth. He wouldn’t believe me anyway. He loved me but at times he thought me crazy and mentally handicapped, and this would be one of those times.
“I don’t know.” I mumbled my lie, grateful that he wasn’t able to hear my mind like I could hear his. He was coming up with so many different reasons for Gran’s sudden actions and thankfully none of them were close to the truth. With a shrug of his shoulders Jason slopped off into the kitchen in search of food, just as Gran returned into the house. Suddenly anxious, worried and frightened, I bolted for the stairs, hoping I could hide in my room for the rest of my life.
“Sookie, sweetie, come here.” Gran cooed up the stairs, standing patiently at the bottom step as I reached the top one. Freezing mid-step I quickly thought over my options. I could run into my room and slam the door shut, lock out the rest of the world and face this later, or I could pull on my big girl panties and deal with this now. Making my choice, I turned to face Gran, fingering the hem of my dress out of nervousness. She offered a hand up to me and I shook my head, tipping it in the direction of the kitchen where I knew Jason was pretending to look for food so he could eavesdrop. Understanding my apprehension, and the reason behind it, Gran climbed the stairs, joining me at the top. Taking my smooth hand in her slightly wrinkled one, she walked with me to my bedroom, where Jason’s present still sat on my bed, now decorated with the bow I had used to try and help me escape Uncle Bartlett’s clutches.
“How long, Sookie?” Gran asked as she cleared a spot on the bed, sitting down before she patted the space next to her, inviting me to join her. Rocking on the balls of my feet for a moment I deliberated the answer to her question. Should I lie and make it seem like a recent thing in order to make her not think so badly of Uncle Bartlett, or should I be honest with her? Gran had always told me that honesty was the best policy, so I took the seat beside her and explained.
“Since I was eight. Started a few weeks after momma and daddy died.” I admitted as the tears final cascaded down my face. For two years, at least once every week, Uncle Bartlett had been coming to me, pretending to be the doting uncle while his thoughts had been screaming far more sinister and wrong things to me. Gran pulled me into her arms, holding me close as she slowly rocked me back and forth in a soothing motion. Her hands were stroking my hair as I buried my face into her chest.
“Hush now my Sookie, he won’t lay a hand on you ever again, no one ever will.”
My flashbacks ended there, and I opened my eyes to feel the dampness of my tears across my cheeks. My eyes found Ata’s bright blue ones, where her own tears were shining. “It wasn’t your fault.” She whispered, giving my hand a gentle squeeze.
“I know that,” I responded quietly though tone was firm, “but it should have never happened. What kind of person does such a thing to their relative?” I sighed, dropping my gaze to my lap.
“Sick people, Sookie. He can’t hurt you anymore though; you’ve got all these powers to defend yourself with. You could nothing when you were younger, but now you have the tools to do so.” Ata soothed, leaning over to wipe the tears away from my cheeks. I hated remembering the way he used to touch me; I hated the way he used to think of me. It may not have been my fault, as I was a child who was defenceless and frightened, but it still made my skin crawl, made me feel violated and dirty, even if it had never gone past heavy petting. I supposed in some sense that it was why I remained a virgin for so long, coupled with my telepathy of course. It had been daunting for a man to touch me; I’d even shied away from Jason’s affections though they were meant with the purest of thoughts. It made Bill’s betrayal hurt even more, especially considering his reaction to the information.
“He can’t hurt me anymore because Bill killed him.” I confessed softly, still quietly reeling from the information even though two years had passed since then. It hadn’t been Bill’s place to murder him; Uncle Bartlett had been alone, confined to a wheelchair. He’d been frail and unable to defend himself. While his actions hadn’t been right they had in no way warranted his death. It was just another way that Bill had controlled my life, and another family member that had died because of my association with him. I’d lost my cat Tina, Gran and Uncle Bartlett. I’d almost lost Jason a few times too, not to mention Lafayette and Tara. I pulled everyone I cared about into the paths of vampires, and it wasn’t fair.
Ata was silent after my confession, and I found myself worried by it. She was a vocal person, who always seemed to have something to say. “Does Eric know?” She finally questioned, and I gave a small nod, recalling our conversation the other night. “How does he feel about it?” She gave my hand another reassuring squeeze, rubbing a thumb over the back of it.
“He was glad Bill killed him. He said he’d have done it himself otherwise.” I informed her, looking up to catch her gaze as she gave me a grim smile, nodding her head slowly.
“I promise that no one else will hurt you like that again, you don’t have to worry about it. I promise not to tell anyone either, I’ll lock it away in the private part of my mind. I know he was a family member so you hold some love for him, but what he did was so wrong on so many levels, and I have to agree with Eric. It’s better if he’s not around to remind you of that time. You need to accept it, learn from it.” She offered me a reassuring smile.
“I have accepted it, Ata. But sometimes, no matter how much we accept something, it stills come back to haunt us.” I stated, dropping my gaze once more.
“Shouldn’t I take from you now, so that there isn’t a large gap between us?” I moved the topic on, not wanting to delve deeper into a conversation regarding Uncle Bartlett. He did what he did and he received the exile from the family for it, and subsequently death by vampire. Hindsight would have probably been a good thing for him to have, but only a few seemed to have that ability.
“Urm, of course.” Ata shifted a little, letting go of my hand. I frowned, as she seemed to suddenly become nervous. Taking the blade she cut into her wrist, offering it out to me. Slowly taking it, I awaited the go ahead, and sure enough Ata gave me a small nod. Sealing my lips over the wound, I started to take light pulls, as she had taken light pulls from me. Ata’s blood was a combination of everything heavenly on this earth, and I could distinctly taste the different bloods of all those we shared ties with. Ari, Khai, Riei, Oeri, Egor, Agmund, Godric, Eric, Pam, Bubba, Isabel and Edgar. They were all there.
Noting that Ata had closed her eyes I followed, and I was immediately taken back into her memory.
Running a brush through my hair, I sighed as I tried to get the tangles out. My hair was forever knotted and it was a pain to take care of. A commotion outside of my room brought my out of my annoyance, and I placed the brush down on the table before me, glancing at my reflection in the small handheld mirror mother had commissioned for me for my birthday last year. I was twenty-two now and the boy I loved was dead, along with my father. I refused to marry and my stubbornness was causing problems with the High Court. They could stuff themselves though; I would not be forced to marry a man I held no love for. My mother had become a cold and cruel woman, ordering people around and obsessing over the latest step up the political ladder. Rising to my feet I crossed the room, pulling the doors open to reveal the limestone corridor. Following the noise I ended up in my mothers throne room, and a man stood in the centre of the room. He was easily 6′ tall, with a determined stare, thickset neck and square-jawed, fleshy face.
“Marc Antony, and whom are you?” He demanded in a booming voice that startled me. His accent gave him away though – he was from Rome. Typical. The only Roman I had ever liked was my father, and he was gone.
“Ata Caesar, daughter of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar.” I stated with pride, holding my head up high as I offered the man before me a smirk.
“Such a shame about your father. He had it coming really, but it looks like I’ll be replacing him.” He sneered, the glint in his eyes told me he was positively ecstatic at the concept of taking over where my father had left off.
“You will never replace my father!” I spat, the anger boiling up in my blood as this man dared to talk ill of my Itf.
Marc laughed and the sound was deep and creepy. Taking a few short steps towards me he ended up towering over me. “Oh but I will do, little girl. Egypt and Rome will be mine. Your mother is putty in my hands, and there is nothing you can do about it. Now, run along and play with your dollies. Leave the politics to the grownups.” He wafted his hand in my face in a shooing motion.
My nostrils flared as I tried to hold onto my anger. “You will regret this, you will pay for this.” I seethed, storming from the room. Stomping down the corridor my mother came into view, approaching her throne room and thus passing me.
“Mother, can I speak to you?” I asked, plastering on a sweet smile as I batted my eyelashes at her, hoping to butter her up.
“Not now, Ata. I’m busy.” She admonished me, not even bothering to stop as she continued into her throne room. “Ah Marc, so glad you made it here safely!” She exclaimed as Antony came into view. Turning in disgust, I watched as she practically threw herself at him, pulling him into an embrace. Over her shoulder he spotted me, and the wink he gave me told me all I needed to know. This man had to go.
I was twenty-four, still unmarried, still a virgin, and still causing the High Court trouble. My life was short, of that I was certain, but I would never bend to their will and marry, I would never let another sleep with me in my bed. Sat on the window ledge of my room, I allowed my eyes to drift over my surroundings. My room was so bare without my Godric there to keep me company. It had been over seven years since I’d lost him; back when I’d been seventeen. Playing with the leather bracelet around my wrist, the one that had once belonged to him, I sighed as I turned to look out of the window, watching as my people went about their lives in the darkness of the night, oblivious to the current goings on inside the four walls I was trapped inside of.
Mother had managed to get herself knocked up with Antony’s spawn nine months back, and now she was sprawled out on her bed on the other side of the palace, her legs wide open as per usual, shoving the demon children out of her. Antony has caused nothing but chaos for the past two years. Mother has all but forgotten about me, preferring to spend time with her new squeeze, dealing with the political bullshit he has brought with him. If I were Pharaoh I would cut all ties with Rome altogether and let the damn place fall into the dirt. Mother had been so quick to form an alliance with Antony, so quick to have his children. It was as if she simply forgot about my father, forgot about the affections they held for one another, the love they so obviously shared. My mother and father had been perfect together.
A knock at the door pulled me from my angry thoughts, and one of the servant girls entered, a smile painted on her lips. “Your mother has given birth to two children, a girl and a boy! She has named them Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene!” The servant woman informed me, but the moment their names slipped from my lips I felt my whole world crumble around me. My mother had named her new daughter after her, the ultimate show of her love and affection, and I had been landed with Ata. There was no love there, my name simply meant ‘Princess’, as if someone would be dumb enough to question whether I was royalty or not. It was like a bad story, her new spawn being given her name while I was stuck with nothing that could tie me to her. Mother’s were supposed to love all of their children, not be selective!
“Aren’t you happy Miss?” The servant girl asked me, taking a small step in my direction.
“Get out.” I murmured, not looking at her. I turned my head to look out over Egypt. My Egypt. This empire was mine as I was the eldest. I had been raised to be a Queen and I would take control of this empire if it killed me.
The servant girl started to protest. “But Miss…”
“I SAID GET OUT!” I turned and screamed at her, throwing the nearest object that I had to hand in her direction, which just so happened to be my jewellery box. Yelping in surprise, the servant girl fled from my room, slamming the door shut behind her. My jewellery box smashed into it, falling to the ground in millions of pieces, my jewels scattered all over the floor. Angry tears were streaming down my face as I took in my obliterated jewellery box. It wasn’t the box I was upset about; it was the content of it. The box was poorly made anyway, a gift from an apprentice crafter who had wanted to marry me, but the content was from my father.
Crumbling to my knees, I gathered up all of my jewels, looking them over for damage. All of them were in one piece and I sighed in relief, clutching them to my chest. It was then I spotted the golden necklace my father had given me for my birthday, the last one he had ever been around to witness. Picking it up off of the floor, I dusted off the pearls and lazurite. Father had always told me the colour of lazurite reminded him of my eyes. Unclasping it, I tied it around my neck, my fingers running over the cold material as I looked to the closed door, hearing the excited squeals of the staff as they rushed by to welcome the two new children into the world. “He’ll pay for this, daddy. He’ll pay for all the nasty things he’s said over the last two years and he’ll pay for bringing those two children of Apep into this world. I promise you.” I vowed quietly, pulling myself up onto my feet, still clutching the jewels my daddy had given me to my chest.
A timid knock at the door alerted me to the presence of another, and I dropped my shields to examine their mental signature. “Come in baby brother.” I called out softly, moving to arrange my jewels back onto the tabletop. I heard Caesarion enter, and watched as he nimbly tiptoed through the debris of my jewellery box.
“You heard that mother has had two new children.” He stated, looking to my broken box before up to my face. I could see the tear tracks down his cheeks, and it broke my heart.
“Yes, she named the girl after herself.” My shoulders slumped. I could show my emotion to my baby brother, he understood me and loved me regardless. “Talk about stabbing someone in the heart and twisting the knife.” I muttered, sinking down onto my bed. Caesarion sat beside me, wrapping me up in his small arms. I welcomed his comfort, knowing that the only other person who could reassure me at that moment in time was dead. Fate had taken my beautiful Godric from me, and my father, and was now taking my mother too.
“Marc said that those two new babies are the new you and me, he said to me that they’re replacing us. I don’t wanna be replaced, I’ve never done anything wrong! He says you and me aren’t gonna be royalty anymore, that we’re illegitimate now ’cause daddy is dead.” My brother started to sob against me, and I couldn’t help but cry with him, though I forced myself to cry quietly. I needed to be strong for him, I needed to care for him and carry him through his difficult transition. It was my job as his big sister.
“I’ve never done anything wrong. I’ve always been good, always listened to Mut, always done as she’s asked. Don’t wanna be replaced, can’t be replaced. I’m a good boy. I’ll try harder, try to be better, try not to disappoint her. I don’t want that man to say nasty things about daddy anymore, daddy was good, daddy was nice, he use to bring me pretty presents and give me cuddles. That man doesn’t cuddle at all, he gives me funny looks and talks to me like I’m stupid. I’m not stupid. He even said Ata was mentally deranged. Sister isn’t deranged, just different. Different is good though, doesn’t make me love her any less. I just want that bad man to go away.” My brothers anguished thoughts caused me to sob out loud, and I hand to clamp a hand over my mouth to silence myself. My perfect little brother thought he was bad, and wrong. There was nothing wrong with my little brother, he was just like daddy and there was certainly nothing wrong with daddy.
“You do not listen to that man, Caesarion. You were named after daddy because you are just like him, you are strong and brave and good and loyal, you are a little Caesar, and every Caesar fights. It’s in our blood. We will not be replaced, we are the true heirs of Egypt and it will be ours. I promise you little brother that I will fix this, Egypt will belong to us once more and that man will no longer be in our lives. I will avenge father, everything that man has spouted about daddy is a lie, and I will cut out his tongue to silence him if I must. Just because daddy’s mortal body is gone doesn’t mean his soul is. He’s in Aaru, Caesarion, and we will join him one day, but we will go there as King and Queen of Egypt, not as the prince and princess. I will not allow this man to take from us what is rightfully ours.” I pulled him onto my lap, rocking him gently as I rubbed his back. His sobs started to slow down, and the hiccups took over.
Pulling back, he looked up at me with complete love and trust, and I knew then I would do anything to make my little brother happy again, to make him smile and laugh. “You’re gonna kill Marc, to avenge daddy?” He asked quietly, knowing that someone could be listening in at the door. They weren’t, my disability could tell me that much. They were too busy with the new demon children.
“Yes. Egypt will be ours.” I vowed.
“I don’t care, I want him dead!” I seethed, glaring at Anubis, as he stood opposite me. I had allowed myself once again to slip into my meditative state, hoping to seek counsel with the Gods I worshipped. I was twenty-seven now, and my mother was still enamoured with Antony. She had given birth to another of his spawn in the early hours of the morning, another boy whom she named Ptolemy Philadelphus. “I have put up with him for five years, and he has done nothing but make my life, and that of Caesarion’s, a nightmare. Do you know that he calls Caesarion and I disappointments, that he spouts evil lies to my baby brother every day in order to upset him? It is because of him and his foolishness that Egypt is now weak, that we are about to be declared war upon by Rome as he has allowed relations with our adoptive brother, Octavian, to crumble! He’s going to get us all killed, and I will not sit back and let some fool take my life from me, take that of my brothers either!” I hissed as I paced around the room I had brought all of my Gods into. No one would be leaving this room, this meditative state, until I had a plan.
“You know I can’t interfere in this, Ata. It is not his time.” Osiris tried to reason with me, but I wasn’t having it.
“If none of you will help me, then I will end him myself. He will die by my sword and I will relish every moment of it.” I spat, stopping in my pacing to glare at the Gods around me. I had spent every waking moment since I had first been able to make conscious decisions worshipping them and the ground they walked upon, and yet now they wouldn’t help me – a sister in need.
“If you kill him Ata, I cannot let you into Aaru.” Anubis warned me, but I was far beyond Aaru right now.
“My father and my beloved were murdered, but they aren’t in your precious Aaru, are they? So what makes you think I want to go there? My baby brother will be the only one of my bloodline to reach the fields and you better let him in or so help me Isis I will drag your sorry asses into these mediations for the rest of damned eternity and make you suffer for it!” I felt like a caged animal, unsure and angry, willing and wanting to lash out at everything and everyone.
I could hear my Gods hiss at my threat, but none made a move to verbally spar me. There was a reason the symbol of the royalty was that of a snake. “You are walking a dark and dangerous path, sister.” Anubis warned, but his warning was meaningless to me. None of them had come to me in my time of need; none of them were willing to help me end the man who was single-handedly destroying my empire.
“It’s a good job I’m not afraid of the dark then.” I growled.
“You do what you must, Ata.” Anubis stated with a sad sigh. I could hear his mental thoughts; the way he wished I wouldn’t be so destructive, that I would accept Antony and his children. I would have rather allowed the royal embalmers to pull my brain out through my nose while still alive than accept Antony and his spawn.
“I will take whatever comes my way. I don’t need your help.” I declared, remembering the promise I made to my brother to kill Antony, the promise I made to my father to avenge all of the spiteful words uttered regarding him. I abandoned my meditative state, slipping back into reality to find my baby brother sat before me.
“Well?” he asked quietly, nervously playing with the hem of his shirt.
“He dies tonight.”
Three hours later, just before the sun was due to set, I hurried through the passageways of the palace, slipping past the guards and the servants. They seemed to do whatever I wished them to do, not even bothering to put up a fight. I frowned at the strangeness of it; it was as if I was controlling their minds. Entering the armoury I took stock of the weapons at my disposal. There were a variety of swords, with their respective shields beside them, and numerous other blades we had accumulated over the years. I couldn’t risk taking a sword without someone finding out, the guards were forever entering here to swap their weapons so as not to blunt the blades as quickly. A flash of bronze captured my attention as I turned to leave in order to search elsewhere for my weapon, and I smirked at the weapon before me. Reaching out, my fingers caressed the khopesh. Nobility and my family were the only ones who usually used it, and on occasion the guards who defended our cities many temples would have their own versions to wield. It had approximately six inches of handle and quillons. The blade extended straight out about eighteen inches from the handle, then curved into a slight sickle shape for another two feet. Its sickle-like blade was edged on the inside and outside curve. The spine of the weapon was made to be heavier than the spine of most other swords, allowing attacks to bear far more brutal results. Edged to the outside, this weapon was extremely effective at creating slashing wounds, swung across the wielder’s body, like a scythe reaping crops. Edged to the inside, this was used for hacking an opponent; much like a machete was used to cut through dense underbrush. The heavy spine of the weapon, with its centre of gravity along the blade instead of close to the hilt, along with its ability to cleave through both armour and flesh easily, made it the most effective weapon we had on offer. I would use it to slay Antony this evening.
Tucking the blade into my dress, I used the many layers of light fabric to easily conceal it. The last thing I needed was to be seen carrying it through the halls, in the direction of Antony’s chamber. Slipping out of the room I used the shadows to my advantage, concealing myself in them as I moved through all of the corridors in the palace, heading towards the room my mother had allocated to Antony – the room right next to hers. Using my disability to my advantage I tracked the minds of the guards and the servants as they went about their evening duties. None of them were anywhere near Antony, and he was alone in his room. Good.
Using the element of surprise I opened the door to his chambers a fraction, slipping in before I shut the doors behind me, not wanting anyone to enter. “Good evening, Antony.” I called out in a singsong voice to the man who was stood on the other side of the room. The years and the stress had made him look more haggard than he had been before, and I was glad to see that he looked a lot older than he was. My father had retained his youthful appearance even into his old age. Antony turned to look at me, shock plastered onto his features before he quickly schooled his face.
“What do you want, child? It’s about to become dark and I wish to retire for the night.” He snapped in my direction. I was tired of his attitude, tired of him calling me a child and thinking so little of me. I was a princess, the daughter of Rome’s greatest general and Egypt’s greatest Pharaoh. I was the ultimate woman, a powerhouse, with royal blood in my veins. It was unfortunate that the bastard before me was of the same bloodline too; his mother had been my fathers’ cousin. That wouldn’t stop me from ending him though, if anything it only made me angrier that he had taken my mother from my father.
“I am twenty-seven years old, I am the daughter of two of the worlds most powerful people. I am no child.” I stated slowly and calmly, as if the man before me was stupid.
“You are ignorant of the world, you have a mental hindrance, and you are a child in a woman’s body.” He responded in a clipped tone, taking two strides to stand before me. “Leave, child. I have no time for your games.” He tried to shoo me away, as he had done the first night I had met him, but this time I wasn’t going to run along and cry and I certainly wasn’t going to back down. I was the daughter of Julius Caesar, the Roman general who conquered Gaul, who led his men into victory. With a flourish I produced the khopesh, ensuring my actions caused the blade to slice along his torso, the serrated outer edge causing a slash wound across Antony’s chest. His howl of pain echoed around the room before he growled in anger, and a hard glint appeared in his eyes. I used my mental ability to ensure no one would come to his rescue. “You little kenes!” He spat, lunging at me. He used his weight and his size to throw me across the room; the khopesh fell from my hands and slid along the marble floor, stopping beside the door. As my back hit the wall I grunted at the pain, mentally cursing myself for being so stupid as to remain so close to him after harming him. My fighting skills weren’t great yet.
One of his hands went up to the wound on his chest, trying to suppress the blood flow as he stalked towards me. “Do you have any idea what is going on right now? Octavian is planning on invading Egypt and he will not stop, he wants this empire for himself and I am trying my hardest to keep it from him, to allow your precious mother to maintain her throne.” He sneered at me as he hauled me up off the ground. I yelped as pain shot through my body, right down my spine. I would have a nasty bruise in the morning. Eyes frantically searching the room, I tried to find a way to escape, but there was only one door in and out, the only other options were the open windows. However, I did spot his sword leaning against the wall next to me. “You think the whole world revolves around you and your precious daddy, but it doesn’t. He’s dead, he got himself killed because of his stupidity, and you think for one moment you can ever change that? I’ve heard you praying every night to your Gods. Continue praying to your Gods as you do, continue to ask them for him back, they’ll never help you. I could make it look like you had an accident, like you tripped and landed on the khopesh,” his eyes flitted to the blade by the door, “and then I wouldn’t have to put up with your whining any longer. But don’t worry, I’d kill your brother shortly after, wouldn’t want the throne to fall to that brat now would we?” The mention of my brother, of him killing my brother, stirred my possessive nature, and I felt my anger spill over.
In my state of anger and aggression, in my need to protect my baby brother, I didn’t even register that I had grabbed a hold of his sword, nor that I had buried it into his chest until his hand around my neck slackened and he took two heavy steps backwards, his eyes wide in surprise as he looked down to the iron blade protruding from his chest.
Heaving and panting, I pulled as much oxygen into my lungs as possible, admiring my handiwork for a moment before I started to hear mental signatures approaching the room. I would have a bruise around my neck in the morning and would need to wear a piece of cloth to cover it so as not to arouse suspicion. “No one threatens my baby brother, no one tries to take my empire from me, and no one speaks ill of my father. I promised you that I would make you pay, and now you have.” I laughed as he fell to his knees, his hands clutching at the blade as he tried to pull it out of his chest. It was useless though; in my anger I had embedded it deep within him.
Crouching before him, I ensured we were eye-level before I spoke again. “You will not tell a soul about this in your last few minutes. I did not kill you. As far as they are concerned you were worried about Octavian and his plans for a takeover, you couldn’t live through that so you decided to take your own life, so that Octavian wouldn’t have the pleasure of taking it from you. Do you understand?” I tried to use whatever it was that had influenced the minds of the guards and servants earlier, and the glazed over look in Antony’s eyes, along with his robotic nod, informed me that whatever the hell it was that I was doing had worked. In that moment I didn’t feel like a freak. I had power over other people, and it was getting me exactly what I wanted. “You will go to your tomb knowing that I have killed you because of everything you ever did to me, my mother and my brother, for the lies you dared to utter about my father. Egypt was never yours, and now it never will be.” I tormented him.
“Izi nek djesek.” I blew him a kiss before I hauled myself up onto my feet, leaving him gasping and groaning on his knees. Grabbing the khopesh I placed it back under my dress, securing it. Although the evening had not gone to plan the desired outcome was still the same.
I could hear footsteps approaching, and before the door could open to reveal the guards I took off towards the window, vaulting myself through it to land on the sandy dunes outside just as the guards entered Antony’s chamber. Instantly they started shouting orders, the servant women were screaming the palace down.
Realising I would need to be back in my chambers so that the servants wouldn’t suspect anything should they come knocking, I took off running, sticking to the walls. Reaching my own windows I threw myself up onto the outer ledge before I slipped in, catching my dress a little on the corner of the limestone, causing it to tear. “Nek!” I cussed, causing my brother who had been waiting for my return to tut quietly, a smile on his lips.
“He’s dead.” Caesarion stated as he dashed to my wardrobe, throwing me a new dress, which I changed into as he poured me a bowl of water. I quickly cleaned myself up with the fresh water, wiping the blade of the khopesh free of blood before I stored it under my bed. I would return it tomorrow. Sitting down on a stool, I handed my baby brother my hairbrush and, as planned, he started to slowly brush my hair. For twenty minutes he brushed away, the pair of us sat in silence, though we silently communicated via our eyes through the handheld mirror I kept in place, focused on the door. It was then as a knock sounded out against said door.
“Mistress, Master, come quickly!” The panicked voice on the other side of the door was loud and clear, but Caesarion and I ignored it. The servant woman continued to knock frantically, and my poor brain was being assaulted with her thoughts. One thought in particular made my blood run cold.
“Mut.” I whispered, bolting up onto my feet and towards the door. Caesarion was behind me, having abandoned my hairbrush. Flinging open my bedroom doors I shoved the servant away, running through the limestone corridors towards my mothers room. The doors were wide open; the other servants were clinging to one another, weeping openly. Pushing my way through the crowd I could feel the panic building up inside of me, and with my baby brother hot on my heels I skidded to a stop.
My mother lay in the middle of a bed on the far side of the room, her chest no longer rising and falling with steady breath. A basket of figs stood beside her, the contents spilled out on the marble, and an asp amongst the debris, the creature just as silent as my mother. Two of her servants were slumped against her bed.
“What happened?” I croaked towards the nearest servant, grabbing her wrist tightly. She flinched under my grasp, but I was beyond care.
“The Queen heard of Antony’s suicide Mistress, she was distraught. She whispered to a servant girl to bring her the basket of figs that entered the palace this morning. We believe she asked the servant girl to bring her the asp. She was so upset Mistress, spoke of how she couldn’t go on without her Antony.” The servant girl filled me in between her sobs. My blood felt like ice as I processed the woman’s words. My mother had committed suicide because Antony was dead. I had inadvertently killed my own mother. Crumbling to my knees beside my mother and my brother, I finally cried out in anguish. I went to hold her, but Caesarion smacked my hand away.
“This is all your fault!” he screamed at me. The servants and guards, sensing that we would need a moment, all left the room. I followed their mental signatures as they moved further and further away from mothers’ chambers. “If you hadn’t of killed Antony then mother would still be alive now!” He spat at me, wiping angry tears away.
“I killed him for you, Caesarion, for us! How was I to know mother would do this?” I shot back angrily, the tears streaming down my cheeks at my brothers anger and sorrow.
“Your mental disability should have told you! This is all your fault, I hate you!” My little brother yelled at me, rising to his feet as he fled from the room. He hadn’t laid a finger on me, but his words hurt far more than any slap around the face. I would have preferred the slap in all honesty. My brother had been nothing but loving towards me for my whole life, he had accepted my difference as something that made me special, not a handicap. I couldn’t have cared less about how others felt of me, but for my little brother to hate me, the little boy I had looked after my whole life, who I’d taught to walk, talk and write, the little boy who shared my blood – that hurt more than anything I had ever experienced. Even the passing of my father hadn’t hurt this much.
Gathering my mothers’ still form in my arms, I wept over her, brushing her dark hair back from her pale face. “I’ll fix this, I’ll fix this. I didn’t know this would happen, I promise. I’ll marry if I must, create an heir. I’ll do everything you wanted me to do. I’m so sorry.” I babbled away in my native tongue, rocking my mother as if to comfort her. I was unaware of the pale blue eyes, full of longing and sadness, watching me through the window. I was unaware of everything that had happened to the teenage boy in the years he had been ‘missing’ from my life, unaware that he had been watching over me whenever he was able to escape the clutches of his Master. I was even unaware that he had killed his Master to come to me this evening.
The sound of someone entering the room stopped my babbling and ceased my crying. I didn’t turn to look at my guest, I was well aware of the man behind me. His hand came to rest upon my shoulder as he crouched beside me. “What do I do, Ari?” I whispered, still cradling my mother as I leant against the broad shoulder of my favourite personal guard.
“Mistr— My Queen,” he corrected himself with my new title, “you allow the embalmers to take her body and bury her. You take the crown, and you hold your head up high, you don’t show an ounce of weakness. Egypt is in a dark place, we need you to lead us out of it.” He brushed my hair from my face, wrapping an arm around me to hold me close. My relationship with Ari was far stronger than it should have been. Guards were suppose to protect you, not be a shoulder to cry on, a soundboard for your ideas, or a companion in the wake of the deaths of all of your loved ones.
“I don’t think I can do it, Ari.” I confessed quietly as the embalmers started to enter the room. Slowly they took mothers’ body from me, their eyes downcast; tear tracks on their cheeks. I forced myself to remember how my mother looked in her death – pale, her mind silent, her eyelids shut to conceal her beautiful dark eyes from the world. Her lashes were fanned out across the tops of her cheeks, and her lips were painted their usual ruby red. I would never see my mother again, this would forever be my last mental image of her, and I would have to live with it for the rest of my life.
“You must, Ata. I’ll be with you though, every step of the way, for the rest of your time on this earth.” Ari vowed quietly, using my first name. It was a rare occasion, but I hated it when he gave me a title. He pressed a tender kiss to my temple as the embalmers took mother from the room, leaving Ari and I alone in the empty, bleak room.
Opening my eyes, I watched as the silent tears continued to stream down Ata’s cheeks, much like mine had done earlier on. “It wasn’t your fault.” I mirrored her earlier words. Looking at the woman before me it was difficult to imagine her so venomous, so insistent upon the death of someone. The depth of her devotion to her loved ones had never changed though. I saw the jealousy she had carried over the loss of her mothers’ devotion, the hurt when she had named her new child after her. I saw the pain the words her brother uttered had caused her, and the desolation she had felt when all of her family were taken from her, leaving only her behind.
“For 2000 years I carried that guilt, thinking my actions led to my mothers suicide. I allowed my people to refer to it as that, and to write about, because the truth was far worse. Of course the moment we received those gifts from Russell I realised it wasn’t my fault and that I’ve spent the past 2000 years trying to make amends for something that was never my fault.” Ata tried to pull her hands away but I held onto them, wanting to comfort her as she had comforted me.
“Your mother and brother, do they know that Russell was the reason your mother died? In your meditative state everyone seemed to get on so well, your mother looked so happy with your father.” I tried to approach it from a different angle, to help Ata reclaim her family.
“I assume they know, because they wouldn’t visit me or talk to me if they were unaware. I just hate that they didn’t think it vital to tell me. I’ve wandered this earth blaming myself for my mothers’ death, weeping over my lost bond with my baby brother. It didn’t help matters that Octavian ordered the death of my little brother eleven days later.” I heard her mutter before she sighed. I was suddenly very glad I hadn’t been an Egyptian – life sounded worse than death.
“Who else knows?” I asked, wanting to find out how many people were aware of her secret. She’d asked me the same question, so I found it fair to ask it back of her.
“Only you.” She confessed. “Not even my boys know that I killed Antony, I haven’t told Godric either. I don’t want him to think ill of me.” She shrugged, but I could see that it pained her to hide it from him.
“Tell him. Eric didn’t think ill of me when I told him about my uncle, so I doubt Godric would think ill of you for doing what you did. That man was a threat to you, to your brother and mother, to your empire. I’m not saying it was right to kill him, but you were protecting what was yours, and apparently that seems to be a common theme in the supernatural world.” I gave her hand a gentle squeeze as she offered me a small smile, but I could see the apprehension in her eyes. I couldn’t begin to imagine what it would be like to think that momma had died because of me; I couldn’t even begin to think about how I would feel to carry that guilt all by myself for over 2000 years. I felt that, in some ways, by exchanging blood and creating our tie, Ata and I had a deeper understanding of one another. I could see how she had changed into a better woman, and she could probably see why at times I was shy and why I was so naive to most things in the supernatural world. We both had a few skeletons in our closets, and something deep inside of me was niggling away at me. I had a feeling these secrets were important, that we would have to face the fear they had left behind, the destruction and the hurt, sooner rather than later.
Opening my mouth to speak, I was suddenly silenced as Ata raised her hand into the air, her head snapping towards the door. “We have company downstairs.” She growled out, rising to her feet quickly. Quickly I threw out my mental net, capturing the six angry Were minds downstairs, the haze of red aggression giving away their intentions.
“Fucking Were’s again!” I hissed, getting up onto my feet too. I followed Ata out of the room; fingering the pearl bracelet I had on, the one the witch Amelia had put a protective spell on.
“Hey Sook, hey Ata. You guys were up there for a while, shouldn’t your vampires be waking up in a few minutes?” Jason asked us as we reached the bottom step. Pausing I glanced to the clock, shocked to find that we had spent the best part of four hours in the training room, being exposed to one another’s memories and secrets.
“We should wait for Eric and Godric to wake.” I informed Ata, hoping she would delay her attack of the Supes downstairs. My argument was useless though.
“My home and business was blown up by Were’s, you and Eric were attacked by them last night and now they’re back. I am not going to sit by and allow them to destroy my home, hoping Godric will come and save the day. I’m perfectly capable of taking care of them myself, besides, what better way is there for you to continue using your powers?” Ata turned to smirk in my direction before she took off towards the elevator. “Sook and I need to deal with something downstairs, it’s imperative that you both stay up here. Do not leave the penthouse.” Ata raised her finger in warning as she called up for the lift, which had already been waiting for us as the doors slid back immediately. Scampering in after her, I was able to see that in her mind she was constructing the protective pyramid around the penthouse, as another layer of security for our sleeping vampires, along with Jason and Hunter.
“What’s goi-” Jason was cut off as the doors slid shut, abruptly ending our conversation. Ata closed her eyes for a moment and I gave her the silence, unsure as to what she was doing.
“They know where this lift is, they’re waiting for us at the bottom. Two are on the left and two are on the right, to grab us as soon as we step out. The other two are around the corner, securing the way out so they can get us into the car they have waiting and drive us to the drop-off point that was specified in the text message they received last night from their Master.” Ata reeled off the information, and I was impressed that she was able to read Werewolf minds so easily. Obviously years of practice had helped her, and I was still relatively new to it all.
“How do we go about this then?” I asked, suddenly feeling an urge to fight. It was similar to the urge last night, but that one had been much stronger, probably because I had been defended Eric – my bonded. I was going to be defending myself this time though, and I was sick and tired of being walked all over by other Supes. If what Niall was saying was true, then I was quite literally a fairy princess, and I had a feeling fairy princesses didn’t just roll over at the first sign of trouble and allow themselves to be hurt.
“I’ll take the two on the right, you take the two on the left. I have many things I can recall which make me angry enough to want to kill, and I’m going to use our newly formed tie, this one,” I felt a tickling sensation in my chest which caused me to wheeze with laughter, “to transmit some of my anger to you, so that you can blast them to kingdom come when I do too. Then, we’re going to knock out the final two, so I want you to use your white light to topple them and throw them against the nearest wall. Fuck the marble, that can be replaced, but I want to keep the two Were’s as bargaining chips.” Ata ran through the plan just as the elevator reached the bottom floor. I was nervous, given that my first kill with my light had been last night and now I was expected to kill again, but I felt the need to protect my brother and nephew, along with my sleeping vampire and my new family. Nodding to Ata, the elevator dinged, the doors sliding back.
Turning, we placed ourselves back to back as we sidestepped out of the elevators, instantly met with the aggressive, angry faces of the Were’s who were trying to harm us and those we loved. I felt a surge of anger within me, not just from my own thoughts that these men wanted to hurt my Eric, but from Ata too. Raising both my hands, I realised that I was yet to learn how to fire off two kill shots at once. I’d managed to do it last night by accident, but I needed the talent right now. Blocking out the noises behind me as Ata took care of her two Were’s, I focused on one of my two, the one charging towards me, and sent a huge wave of golden light towards me. He stopped right in his tracks, his mind screaming out in pain before it went blank and he slumped to the floor.
The mind of the other Were started to swirl as his anger levels rose, obviously having witnessed the death of his friend had riled him up even more. I raised my hand as he charged towards me, ready to land another kill blast, but as I tried to force my magic outwards I found myself unable to get my light working.
Panicking at my sudden loss of magic, I was grabbed roughly around the waist and twisted around, my hands clamped behind my back by one large hand while the other was placed over my nose and mouth. The contact meant his thoughts were much clearer.
“Maybe Russell will lemme have a play with this one, like me some feisty blonde piece of country ass.” Gasping for air, my vision started to blur, but then I felt a tug inside of me, and a wave of concern and fury poured through my bond with Eric. My vampire was awake.
The reminder of Eric, feeling his emotions through our bond, feeling him wake for the night, it spurred me on to fight back. Throwing my head backwards it collided with the Were’s nose, and he howled out in pain, slackening his hold on me. Using that to my advantage I turned to face my would-be assassin, pulling back my foot to slam it into his crotch with force that I felt was rather impressive. Jason had taught me that the easiest way to bring down a man was to ‘hurt his baby maker.’ Grunting, the Were doubled over, one hand clutching at his bleeding nose while the other held onto his crotch. Raising my knee now that it was under his chin, I brought it up sharply into his throat to silence him before I raised my hands once again, summoning what little magic I felt in me, and I even pulled some from my bond with Eric, before I sent a blast of golden light towards him. He crumbled to the ground as his mind fell silent. A wave of sickness took over me, and I swayed on the spot, feeling exhausted and drained. I would have laughed at how I was feeling if I’d have had the energy.
My feet gave way from beneath me and I felt myself falling to the marble floor, but before I could reach it a pair of strong arms grasped hold of me, the scent of the ocean in winter invaded my nostrils and a pair of bright blue eyes fell into my line of sight. “Jag har dig min kärlek, jag har dig.” His voice hushed me as I felt the compulsion to shut my eyes. Unable to fight it any longer, and feeling safe in my vampires arms, I allowed the world to become black.
Mut (Egyptian) = mother
Itf (Egyptian) = father
kenes (Egyptian) = c*** (I hate that word, which is why it’s in another language, sorry!)
Izi nek djesek (Egyptian) = Go fuck yourself
Nek! (Egyptian) = Fuck!
Jag har dig min kärlek, jag har dig (Swedish) = I got you, my love, I got you.