I always knew she was special but I never anticipated my closest confidant was a royal princess of the Fae. It was Shahbaz’s lord commander, Afshin, who informed me of that fact. He was old enough to remember the scent that drew us all to her presence. Godric and I now fully understood Aelia’s interest in Sookie but it would only be from her lips that we were to understand how our Grandest Sire* knew of her. Sookie’s telepathy was of no importance to her, the interest lay with the faery kind. Eric’s defence of the little were turned out to be righteous after all.
The Empress herself was gracing us all with her presence because of it. Aelia possessed no physical lands to rule herself but she reigned over the kings and queens who were direct descendants of the Aurelie line. We would be fools to think her unexpected presence was related solely to the sudden terrorist attacks.
This was the first time that I ever saw Godric hold some concern to his stoic façade. I held the same disquiet as he. Their wedding was already determined as far as our house was concerned. Their shaky foundations were going to be put to the test. Eric barely escaped one arranged marriage and Sookie was never one to be rushed, yet the church bells seemed to already be ringing with anticipation.
Sookie could lie like the best of us, she had all the necessary skills, but I knew the girl that hid behind the mask. She could was more capable than most but she wouldn’t. Not with me, I knew that much. Sookie was as unaware of her royal status as we all had been. She had asked me once if I knew what she was, it had been the first time her defences had ever slipped with me. The telepath was a talented actress but that couldn’t be faked.
Afshin informed me the Fae were not as extinct as claimed to be, they had retreated to their own realm but it was far from a peaceful existence there. He assumed Sookie was hidden for security reasons. My maker had once suggested that the magic that animated us was connected to that of the Fae. At the time it had all sounded like fairy tales to me, only the truly ancient ever had credible knowledge of their kind. Only now did those lessons begin to resurface with renewed importance.
My royal estate stood in better conditions than I had anticipated. Repairs were already on their way and I reluctantly made the call to Sophie-Anne Leclerq, who held seat in New Orleans. I would be in need of her eldest child André. Sophie-Anne is a Sanguine baronetess from a lesser house, their blood line is too diluted to hold any true strength. She has yet to turn a true Sanguine but it has hardly deterred her from trying. Her success rate is more miss than hit, I was forced to execute her rampant child Waldo a few years back.
Her eldest André was similarly unstable but was far too devoted to Sophie-Anne to stray too far off the leash. He excelled at extracting sensitive information with methods I rather not acknowledge publicly. So far the three caught perpetrators had withstood the usual scrutiny of my interrogators. Compton had also yet to confess a thing since being arrested in a neighbouring kingdom. I knew Godric would do a better job than André ever could but I also knew such tasks weighed heavy on his conscience. I would travel other available paths before I would resort to ask for his assistance.
Unfortunately as everything was with Sophie-Anne, her assistance would come at a steep price. We would be hosting her and her entourage of children by dawn, and a dinner in her honour would be hosted the next night. She was a social climber even though she probably reached the pinnacle of any station she could hope to have ambitions for. Preparations were already on their way for Aelia’s arrival so it would be no bother, although it would require separate tables. Aelia would not deign to sit with Impurus at the table, we would be lucky if she bit her tongue with their mere presence in the banquet hall. Sookie’s attendance would hopefully keep her civil until we figure out the full extent of the Empress’ intentions.
Sookie’s newly discovered lineage would otherwise make her the highest attending guest earning her a place between Aelia and myself. She will, however, be attending as Eric’s guest, for now her status will remain unknown, especially in the company of the likes of Sophie-Anne.
While I continued to wrack my brain over the seating chart I felt the tentative touch of Godric’s smaller hand resting over my own. As Sanguines we hardly ever touch as a rule but it was a gesture of comfort from our joint times where our stations often lay forgotten. I rewarded my uncle with an appreciative smile. As youthful as his spirit might sometimes be, he understands the weight of duty like no other. He shuffled around a few of the names and I was finally able to release a sigh of relief as he seated each individual in perfect accordance.
“Sophie-Anne will rest in the former slave quarters?” Godric asked merely in confirmation of his assumptions. I simply nodded as the energy of the day had wasted away at me. I will assuredly need to take a live donor before the impending arrivals. While I would love to indulge in the spoils that come with it, I have nor the energy or the time. Sophie-Anne will feel assuredly snubbed by my second rate offering of accommodations but Aelia’s arrival will surely awaken her up lofty ambitions in favour of complaints. It’s going to be a trying few nights.
“Will you feed with me?” I requested of Godric as I handed off the finalised plans to my social secretary. Our evening’s most pressing obligations were done, even though the night is still young. My queendom is now firmly in control by the Guards of Anûšiya as the Impurus are held under curfew. I adjusted the order to include all of the Sanguine even though this will assuredly cause me to lose some of their support. I however refuse to abide by their preferred treatment when one of them may have aided the attackers on my reign.
“We’re not draining a bitch together,” I exhaled with exasperation as the only answer to my former question was a hesitant gaze. I knew his appetite for fresh blood had resurfaced some after Sookie forced him to drink with her in celebration of the return of her former home. “It is just a feed. Nothing more.”
When I was a mere fledgling it had been Godric who had finally managed to curb my voracious appetites where my own maker had tried and failed. Only under command would I be able to restrain myself but my maker knew that was not a solution for the rest of my existence. I had petulantly defied Godric at first, when each of my life lessons had started. He persevered regardless and taught me to compartmentalise the necessities of life. No longer was everything in my newfound existence a string of heightened sensations. With Godric I finally learned to settle in myself without the demanding obligations of the outside world. These days I felt his own restraint was pushing him further in the opposite direction of where I once started.
He had always taught me to walk the middle ground while knowing all the views from the sides, that’s what had kept his existence intact. Godric’s position was an admirable one, he had manoeuvred himself with such conduct that he held dominion over his choices better than most in our house. The obligations he owed were minimal but from Aelia’s announcement earlier this night we both knew that siring Eric had caused Godric to lose some of his cherished independence. There was no doubt in my mind that my uncle would hover especially close, like a helicopter mom, with Eric whenever in the public arena of the Sanguines. He would not be relinquishing his maker’s right as easily as his own maker had, despite the possible persistence of the powers that rule us.
“Very well,” Godric agreed moments before a knock on the door announced the arrival of the donor. It wasn’t the momentous occasion it should have been. We simply sat either side of the all too eager donor sucking at her frail wrists. Her advances were offensive and she would be relieved of her duties the moment we were through. Aelia would have a fit if she were presented with a desperate offering such as this one. As my energies replenished the gravity of the situation was beginning to settle in and it never failed to go unnoticed with Godric. His gentle caress was there once more and like that first time so long ago I stopped fighting what I couldn’t control.
“Containment,” I spoke remembering the lesson Godric had taught me then. Pieces were always much easier to swallow than the whole. “We can only fall apart in parts.”
“You still remember your lessons,” he returned with a slight chuckle.
“Unfortunately I remember them all,” I retorted with an exaggerated roll of my eyes. Not all had been such gentle lessons as this one. Godric had been the only other person besides my maker that was able to strip me to my essential core. It wasn’t always a pretty sight but it had been necessary, with him I could bare all. I wouldn’t be who I was now without him. “Thank you.”
My head rested on his shoulder as he carried the share of my burden and I carried some of his. He would do all for Eric where I would do the same for Sookie. “It’s not easy having someone I care for in my life.”
“That was always the toughest lesson I had to teach you,” my uncle said soothingly. It was a tone of voice that I had only heard from him on rare occasion, when there was little of me to shield myself. “It has taken you long to appreciate its full extent.”
“How are you handling a lesson of your own?” I pondered aloud. We had not ever spoken of why he had turned Eric. Knowing Godric it was a decision not made lightly, it had broken a strong conviction within him.
“I think I have indulged him more than I should.”
“I hear it’s always like that with the firstborn,” I said with a faint smile. It had been the same between my maker and myself. There were no limits to my desires only when my maker realised the mistake, was it rectified with the aid of Godric. “You should practice what you preach.”
“No,” he replied stoically. “There was nothing left to take from him. He retained no memories of his former life, it would have been cruel.”
Now it was my turn to soothe his hand with mine. Our lack of touch in our daily life made the sensation of it all the more heightened. “You were never cruel uncle,” I told him with earnest eyes. He once told me I never failed to tell the truth with my stare so as unwilling as he was to hear it he accepted the words I spoke.
“I have been cruel before you,” Godric said with a silent sigh.
“We have all been cruel when it was called for,” I tried in appeasement. “I have even seen Sookie be cruel.” With that I managed to carve out a small smile on his pale face.
“I fear she is being cruel to Eric as we speak,” he said with mild amusement. Undoubtedly the two were having far more of an exhilarating time than the exhausted sight of the two of us. “His emotions refuse to settle on any but one.”
“That is merely the effect she has on people,” I returned knowing those sensations all too well as my own. “Sookie brightens where one thinks there is no room for light. She is unlike any other I have met. And I have met far too many.”
We remained silent as there was no need to dispute my claim. I knew Godric had taken to her from the moment his eyes rested on her agitated form, I had mistaken it for attraction at the time. I should have known better, Sookie offered something that little are willing to give without prejudice. Sympathy. I have found Godric is completely unused to its presence but I see it pacifies some of the inflicted wounds he carries as his own.
Sophie-Anne arrived sooner than expected, her invitation to court had her on her feet quicker than her reluctant demeanour on the phone suggested. I tolerated her mostly but her sycophant tendencies grated me more than usual this evening. Their rooms in the old slave quarters were appropriate to her station but I had better ones to offer, the mere mention of Aelia’s impending arrival had her suitably excited. Thankfully she had left the freakish twins at home and arrived with merely André by her side. I left them to the capable hands of my household staff as soon as it was polite to do so and retreated to my own private quarters just as the sun started to rise.
It was quiet and lonesome, like it always was. For once I found I could appreciate that silence and isolation. There was no doubt in my mind this was merely the calm before the storm. Life swung in a pendulum like that, all could be still and the next moment chaos erupts. I raked through the inventory of my closets appropriating the necessary outfits for the upcoming night. Sookie would have to dress herself without my aid for once but I was assured she would choose well.
The feel of the luxurious fabrics trailing through my hands brought comfort I rarely found elsewhere. Clothes always made sense to me, they moved with seasons and time even when I didn’t. It brought an order to my eternal existence like nothing else and catalogued it at the same time. Blood was fickle, a dress always fitted me the same. The soles of my shoes displayed the wear on my life where my body never would. Piece by piece they made me whole.
“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown,” the familiar voice of the man who had aided me through the testing day and night spoke pulling me from my trance. It reminded me of my maker who used to read Shakespeare to me by candlelight.
“And what of your excuse,” I mused as I continued to finger the bouclé fabric of a pantsuit. “You avoid your day rest to simply taunt mine.”
“I need no crown to lie uneasy,” he returned with a small prod. Godric removed the hanger from my hands and hung it back in its place. His hand cupped the side of my face and I couldn’t help but lean in to its ease. “Shall we lie together for old times’ sake?”
“Let’s,” I agreed and followed him out to my bed chamber. We slipped under the covers in our night clothes and we found our familiar embrace of comfort. I had slept with Godric many times like this, especially after a particularly tough lesson soothing us both like no other. It had never been sexual between him and I, yet it was far more intimate.
He kissed the crown of my head just like he always did and followed with, “Goodnight, princess.” I was a queen now but I felt like the young Sanguine princess I had been the last time he held me like this.
“Sweet dreams,” I whispered closely to his chest as I continued our old routine.
“Only if you are there as well,” he finished, at which we both laid our eyes to rest. It was restorative to us both as it always had been. I always thought our aversion to touch had more to do with restraint than disgust. It could be addictive and in some aspects it had been like that with my maker. Apart or together it had never made sense.
We arrived at the private air field promptly on time. Since the attacks my security detail had grown exponentially, they did little to ease my mind. I couldn’t fathom what had motivated the targeting of my person. I was considered a fair ruler, there were reigns far less generous to the impure than mine. Yet my concern lay with the blonde telepath that arrived at the hands of my latest cousin.
She wore a dress I had made her buy but she had since refused to wear. It was conservative in shape with its weighty woollen and silk fabric but the deep red colour and slight shine called to an attention Sookie had always avoided. By the way Eric’s eyes blazed in appreciation, I knew it was at his insistence she wore this particular dress. It was the first time I ever saw her wear something like that with a quiet confidence. That suited her better than the dress.
They both basked in an afterglow of contentment as if still both in post coital bliss. I didn’t need to scent her to know they had slept as innocently as Godric and I. Like proud parents we beamed at the couple in approach. They looked like the golden couple they deserved to be, but I couldn’t help but fear that soon a layer of dust will taint their sheen. I committed this moment to memory for times ahead would seek to test their resolve.
Eric gave Sookie a knowing smile when Godric complimented her on the dress. She had already received my approval from a mere look we had shared while we continued to wait for the airline crew to unleash the staircase to the private jet.
The squadron of guards exited first as it came to reveal Aelia’s distinguished form. She had a stature and face made for the ages with the darkest brown hair that shone black. She was the image of symmetrical beauty with a body of sin. It was an instrument she had honed finely to divert attentions of her true talents of manipulation. For centuries many had assumed she had been turned for her looks, it had been the least impressive quality as far as her maker was concerned. As striking as her presence always is, it wasn’t Aelia that held my eyes locked to the entrance of the plane.
If I had a functioning heart it would have stopped as my blood inside me roared to a heated boil. Within seconds Kristian Holstein-Sonderburg, Duke of Ærø, stood in front of me once more. Every sensation in my body buzzed to life as he whispered his customary greeting in my ears, “Glad to have found you once more, min lille humlebi.”*
My maker. He had arrived.
 Henry IV. Act 3 scene 1. W. Shakespeare
A/N: Thanks to whoever made sacrifices to the WiFi gods, it is currently holding strong. I hope it was a pesky maenad or the like and not cute kittens or puppies. I don’t think my conscience can condone that… what can I condone… Barf Bill! I have stolen several air sickness bags from the plane I was on last night in preparations for next week’s episode…
I have put up character banners for Aelia and Kristian below and I am very curious what you all think of my casting of Pam’s maker because if AS had never been born this would probably have been my pick to play the Viking…
The reference page has also been updated with some newly introduced terms and an adjustment had been made to the family tree.
*Grandest Sire: The eldest Sanguine of the blood line. Aelia carries the title of Empress because descendants of her line carry royal titles with territories. All the eldest of bloodlines carry the title Grandest Sire but they are not all Emperors or Empresses.
*min lille humlebi: is Danish for my little bumblebee, which is Kristian’s pet name for Pam. As mentioned in the first chapter the family gift of flight is lost on her and her trajectories are more akin to the flight of a bumblebee.
I am still officially on holidays so updates will come when they come. I am sticking to the order in which I usually release them so Galatea’s Descent will be the next to receive an update just don’t ask me when…