Memento Mori

writing-challenge3

 

EPOV

 

“What is this sookie you speak of?”

 

“I don’t know,” I replied to my maker. I had been just as confused about this word as he. I was not even sure which language it belonged to. Granted at this point there was little that I did know. It was just another word that tumbled out of my mouth. I could have been speaking about a book, a movie or a candy bar for all I knew.

 

“There is more to that word,” Godric discerned. “It tingles.”

 

I didn’t dare laugh at his choice of words. I knew nothing of myself but even less of the man who introduced me as his maker. His face told me nothing, whether I was acting accordingly or not. If he thought it tingles then it fucking tingles. I gave a tiny shrug. It was fast becoming my go to response to all things I had no control over or for answers I did not possess.

 

We had been spending weeks together on a secluded estate. I knew we were somewhere I had never been before. Everything was unfamiliar but my body still knew how to recognise things. I was glad I wasn’t completely useless despite my memory loss. I knew some languages. Three better than others, Godric concluded Swedish was my native speech. German called up stronger emotions in me, he thought perhaps my mother conversed with me in that tongue. I spoke English well but Godric said it was clearly taught to me at a later age than the other two.

 

I didn’t have a choice but to believe him. I was something else now even if I couldn’t remember what being a human was like anymore. I continued to enunciate the other words off my list. They were the words I wrote down that would pop into my head that I had no reference for. Apparently nothing else tingled because he remained stoically silent.

 

I knew my name. Godric had shown me a newspaper article with my biography. My family thought I was lost. I suppose I was, in more ways than one.

 

I had a wife. She looked beautiful. It stirred nothing in me. In the pictures of us together we looked unhappy. I don’t know what made me conclude that but it’s what I saw. During my day rest I would dream of another. She was younger and I had always thought her to be my wife until I was confronted with the other.

 

I first started dreaming of her eyes. Later and slowly her other features came into play. There was something different about her that drew me in. It had nothing to do with her beauty, which whilst admittedly great was not the cause. It was simply she.

 

I considered she might have been a mistress when I discovered of my true wife. I was a man and I appeared to be unhappy by that woman’s side. We looked to simply be tolerating each other’s presence. Even the smiles in our wedding photos appeared to be strained.

 

The girl didn’t seem the type to be a kept woman even if I was the type to have one. Perhaps she was my first love. The one that got away. Maybe something forced us to hide our love. I could only guess now.

 

Godric had taught me everything there was to know about being a full-blooded Sanguine for two years. My lack of memories from my human life only proved to be a great accelerator in the teachings of the pure blooded vampires. I was bestowed a great honour being the first and only child of Godric. Our house of Sanguine was an exceptionally powerful one. I was considered a Prince among my peers and the impure blooded owed me fealty.

 

I knew I grew up a privileged human from the newspaper articles. It explained how I knew so instinctively the decorum and mannerisms that were expected of my new station in life. I had yet to meet other vampires that were not of our direct line. My maker had kept me cloistered away only allowing me access to those closest to him by blood.

 

Godric had taken a gamble with me. I showed none of the mutations of an Impurus. I was a fully bred Sanguine except in my mind. My maker thought it was due to the damage I had already sustained when he found me. He would have been forced to kill me had I risen as an impure blood. Thus was the selection process of our specific house. It was why he had never desired to turn anyone.

 

My memory loss put me in a grey area, physically I was a Sanguine but I lacked knowledge of the human world. He kept me purposefully hidden. I assumed I might still meet my demise soon if my lack of understanding would prove an endangerment to our line’s survival.

 

He had not been greatly concerned with my amnesia till he was informed of the upcoming Great Reveal. Whilst the Sanguines had been an intricate part of human society the impure lived in the shadows. They lacked our discipline and restraint and would continue to threaten our combined existence with their recklessness.

 

The numbers were unequal. Where the Sanguine were selective breeders the Impurus turned with reckless abandon. The situation would only hold so long till it endangered the balance of power in both our world as the human one. Godric was quite looking forward to the upcoming changes. I was hardly managing to digest the changes that were altering my existence on a nightly basis.

 

He started to encourage my retrieval of memories. He had told me before it was a blessing I remembered nothing of my human life. Now I would be one of the first of a generation of vampires that would not have to disguise my nature. One that would not be needlessly pulled from their families’ embrace. Frankly Freyda’s embrace didn’t look so appealing to me.

 

I had simply nodded at his enthusiasm and diligently followed him to this estate. I spent my first week going through all the information a private investigator had compiled on my former life. Nothing registered with me; if he had shown me a file of another man I would have believed the words with equal faith.

 

I was an excellent Sanguine and a terrible excuse for a human. I assumed the former is what kept me alive well past the Great Reveal. My gifts and power were rich and plentiful. Part of it was due to the direct strength of our lineage. The other part of it was being the first and only child.

 

Nothing sparked at my memory and I knew this disappointed Godric. He continually tinkered with his memory exercises to no avail. His frustration was not at my inability. It took me quite some time to understand that through the bond that tied us together as maker and child. It stemmed from the fact that I was losing out on a richer existence.

 

I once made the mistake of asking him after his own human life. He didn’t seek my company for well over a week. It was on my fifth rebirthday that he shared some of his past. Becoming vampire was his liberation of his serfdom from a vicious Roman general. There had been nothing but darkness in his former existence.

 

I asked him why he was so insistent for me to know my past when his was so grim. He gave me a shrug that usually emanated from me in our conversations. “There is something from keeping you whole,” he had answered cryptically. I didn’t know if it referred to my physicality or something else. I worried perhaps my turning was not as successful as he told me it was. I wondered if he was hiding me because I was not truly a Sanguine and couldn’t find it in him to kill me again.

 

My anguish was ensnared in the bond and I was forced to admit my fears aloud. He assured me I was not in danger of being killed for my lack of humanity and our interactions seemed to move with more ease after that. He left me for a year. His own obligations had been kept unattended and he could not afford to any longer. It had stung me greatly that I was still not considered safe to be unleashed to the public at large.

 

I was forced to sample a whole host of synthetic bloods that had been developed to coincide with the Great Reveal. The were that secured us during the day would sometimes allow me to feed from him. It was slightly more palatable than the synthetics and I missed feeding on the human donors from my newborn days. In exchange for the Were’s blood, his children that lived on the estate with us got an occasional thrilling ride through the night sky.

 

It was during this time that I learned to draw. I wanted to capture the images from my mind where my words failed to describe all I saw. Louvelle, the Were’s eldest daughter, had a natural ability and taught me diligently by candlelight whilst I fed her sweets.

 

It was when I finished my first portrait to my satisfaction that my maker reappeared again. Some part of me thought it was that feeling through the bond that made him return to me. Rationally I knew this was the moment he was supposed to be coming back.

 

He took in the sketches that adorned the wall of my workroom. They had progressed from crude to refined. The portrait of my light hung prominently in the middle. At the sight of it I felt a tingle work through our bond. I had no idea how to interpret that.

 

“This is Sookie,” my maker informed me. A rush of emotions swept over me as the name connected to the image of my beloved.

 

“Sookie,” I repeated as if testing out the intonation. “That is Sookie,” I said with more assurance.

 

I found once I discovered her name it never fell from my consciousness. She now haunted me in my sleep as well as in my waking mind.

 

“Was she mine?” I asked curiously hoping Godric knew more. He shut me out of our bond as he contemplated what he would tell me. My heart sunk as he told me she never was. I am embarrassed to say that despite my happiness at my maker’s return, I moped for a week.

 

I read books where the male protagonists gave up all they had to be with the women they loved. My penchant for romance novels made my maker laugh genuinely for the first time since I met him. It turned out to be a rare appearance on his face. I appreciated it all the more, even if it came at my expense.

 

When I was working on another portrait of Sookie my maker informed me she tended to my empty grave every Sunday. He didn’t elaborate more than that and I didn’t receive any answers to questions asked. My latest picture revealed she was a waitress who granted me a generous smile. In all my incarnations of her there was always an internal pain that troubled her lovely features. In this rendition there was none of that. Sookie looked genuinely pleased to respond to what I may have spoken to her at the time.

 

Slowly things started to return to me in fragments. Godric was right, without my memories I wasn’t whole and in the interim I felt like I resided in a fog where darkness once ruled. I couldn’t say for certain whether I liked the veil lifting or not most nights.

 

My memories of Sookie were limited. It was as if we had only met for a handful of times yet she was the first thing that allowed me to remember. Freyda never made it to anything near a tingle and her portraits were far from flattering. I soon discovered I had interacted with Sookie at her place of work. I always ate and drank the same thing.

 

“Stackhouse,” I said to Godric one evening. “Her name is Sookie Stackhouse.” That earned me the second smile from Godric and this one didn’t come at my expense. It was for me instead. ”She was a waitress who served me coffee with milk. Two eggs on toast, always the same.”

 

“Why does this sadden you,” Godric asked when I was unable to tell him more. I was finally beginning to discern his myriad of looks. His tells were minute and I always wondered if he withheld his expressions just for me or from everyone else too.

 

“I know everything there is to know of her now,” I explained. Every moment had been documented through the graphite that was moved by my hands. Like an animation they hung in chronological order even if the evolution of my drawing skill lay counter to that sequence. “She was important to me but I only knew her name and that she wasn’t meant to be mine. She deserved someone for life and I couldn’t be.”

 

Through our bond I sensed that my maker was pleased with me. I didn’t understand why he was so gleeful over my misery. Perhaps this was another lesson of his. Godric’s methods often took me by surprise. Was he only indulging my memories so I would carry them with the same amount of pain as he did?

 

“Do not take my pleasure with you as anything but,” Godric said knowing me all too well through our bond. “She was important to you. That is the truth. Now we need to figure out why.”

 

He had handed me another file. It was procured from the same investigator that had assembled mine. I learned everything there was to know about Sookie. All things that I knew for certain I had never known before. I had left my entire fortune to her in favour of my wife. It saddened me that this ‘gift’ had caused her so much trouble. It nearly bankrupted her to legally fight for what was rightfully hers.

 

My maker was forced to make me fly out my coiling rage as I took in the photographs of the men who had entered her life. Who kept her bed warm where I could not. Louvelle stood looking at me expectantly when I landed again. I indulged her and her little brother in a tour of the estate grounds from the sky as my rage had tempered.

 

Louvelle asked me what had upset me so as I tucked her into her bed. I don’t know why I told a nine year old about Sookie but I did. I learned that night that the French taught their children much about love and romance. It was increasingly difficult for her to stop excitedly telling me all the ways I could make her fall in love with me.

 

“She is not mine to keep,” I tried to convince the spirit in her eyes. “I had my chance and let her go.”

 

From the feral look she gave me then, I knew she would make a formidable exemplar of her kind. She had shot out of the bed and sat up staring me down with disbelief. “On n’aime que ce qu’on ne possède pas tout entire,” she all but sang out in her passionate voice.

 

I groaned a little at the notion that I was taking advice on romancing from the young girl who had taught me to draw. I may as well be dotting the ‘i’ in my name with a heart even if she was quoting Proust.

 

It became a ritual between Louvelle and I from that night onwards. I would fly her brother and she anywhere they liked, usually past the homes of jealous classmates, and tucked her into bed. No feedings required since I had discovered Royalty Blended. The wily little wolf would concoct another elaborate plan to win Sookie’s heart for my own whilst the rest of my memories slowly returned.

 

Louvelle informed me one night she had snuck in a kiss with her own true love. She asked what was holding me back. She didn’t fail to gloat at the sensation of it and the wonderful tingles that fluttered in her stomach. There it was again. Tingles. The fog had lifted and I knew who I was again but the tingles had remained.

 

I had given Sookie everything I possessed except what I wished for her to truly hold. My affection. Godric had given no indication we would be moving on. That had been the excuse I fed to myself and I knew it would not placate the little were.

 

“She knows things about me that I don’t remember speaking to her. Those that only reside in the memory of my thoughts.” I admitted aloud. “I do not feel whole yet.”

 

“Love, in the pain of anxiety as in the bliss of desire, is a demand for a whole. It is born, and it survives, only if some part remains for it to conquer,” she quoted impeccably from the same source as she did that night we first spoke of Sookie together. Louvelle had the uncanny ability to turn words that spoke of falling out of love with someone seem like the most important lesson to the ones that aspired to be in it.

 

We love only what we do not wholly possess,” I supplemented the final line she had spoken to me then. I knew the passage she spoke of like the back of my own hand now. At least Louvelle had helped me in indulging in more prolific literature that didn’t make the brow of my maker quirk.

 

Even if there were no happy endings in those books my understanding of my infatuation gave clarity to what I sought with Sookie. It wasn’t mystical or magical it simply was. I could contemplate it all my life but without knowing her in the flesh I would never know what I wished to possess.

 

“Maybe you never spoke them aloud,” Louvelle said thoughtfully pulling me from my reverie as she handed me the book I would be reading to her from. “Maybe she read your mind.”

 

I laughed at her fantastical notion as I took possession of the book from the same genre. She laughed at me in return when I gave a disgruntled noise at the sight of it. The irony was not lost on me as I started to read to her about the ordinary human girl whose affections were pursued by a vampire and a werewolf. Louvelle had made her alliances known well in advance. I was just glad my maker wasn’t here to witness what I was reading now.

 

The ridiculous notion of Louvelle’s started to become less ill conceived when I thought about it. Admittedly I was thinking about it too much. It was better than the alternative, that I had expressed these things to Sookie and she had scorned me for them and taken my money regardless. I didn’t like to think that that Sookie existed. I already had an ex wife that fit that description though she never carried my affection nor did I falsely allow her to believe that.

 

Our parents arranged our marriage. A rare thing these days but our family businesses made it necessary. Mine couldn’t survive without hers and vice versa. I had resisted throughout the whole proceedings where she had seemed somewhat less reluctant. In the end I only agreed to it because it would be an arrangement and nothing more. It was a marriage on paper and in appearances.

 

Freyda, however, had taken that it would mean I could grow to love her. Our cordial relationship soon became toxic. I had told her in no uncertain terms that wasn’t in the cards for us. I flaunted my mistresses in her face when her paramours made no impression on me.

 

Freyda’s family had diligently negotiated the prenuptial agreement. They knew her far better than I. It was heaven as long as we remained married and hell if either one of us sought out a divorce. When I met Sookie I still had five years left before I could even contemplate a divorce. That demanded Freyda’s compliance without that, it was another twenty five years till I was to be free of her. I doubted she would have let me go for someone that I could love.

 

Extramarital children were harshly penalised. I never wanted any so I had simply signed. The sight of Sookie had changed my mind on that. Louvelle consolidated it. Despite all the money in the world I had nothing to offer what she deserved. I was incapable to give her a normal life with a husband and kids that grew old with her. So I had stayed away as man and as vampire.

 

I finally gathered my courage and approached my maker. In a world where more existed than I ever thought capable perhaps it wasn’t such a far reach. I needed to kill the niggling thought that taunted at the possibilities.

 

“Do telepaths exist?” I blurted out inelegantly. He raised his gaze from his book and the blankness of his features told me nothing once more. He simply answered yes and shut me out of our bond. At my constant curiosity he finally supplied, “I have only met one in my entire lifetime. She sought out the company of vampires because we were the only ones she couldn’t read. Humans thought she was crazy. She was the first and last I have heard of. They are rare.”

 

Godric watched me with what I had determined was amusement as hope fluttered through my system. They were rare and Sookie was rare. That much was clear to me. I often wondered what would have happened if I had been selfish and simply seduced her then. She would have been collateral damage between Freyda and I. Most likely she would be the one resting six feet under now.

 

She had made the same realisation as I took in her extensive security detail. Freyda was as still capable of killing her as she intended with me. I had acted in her best interest and gave her a rich filled life. From the pictures I gathered of her she had an active life but a husband and kids never joined her.

 

I contemplated being by her side as vampire for the first time. No longer the imagination of our human selves frolicking in the sun. Perhaps she would want to be turned but she didn’t seem the type. Godric had said the Great Reveal would offer new opportunities to my generation perhaps being with Sookie was one of them, however brief it may be.

 

My maker gave his consent when I tentatively asked for his permission to seek out Sookie and reveal my identity as vampire. The impending vote on the Vampire Rights Amendment in America meant things would change soon. It became clear to me I needed to divorce Freyda before she could litigate against the comfort of Sookie’s life when my undead status is revealed.

 

The Council had sent out a memo for newly turned vampires to conduct certain legal affairs before the VRA passed or delay them purposefully. The public at large didn’t know the exact date the amendment would pass but I did. I knew I had less than nine months and decided now was the time to be reborn.

 

The Thursday after our arrival in Louisiana would be Sookie’s birthday and thinking of what to gift her was testing my sanity. Other women had been easy; shiny trinkets, flowers, credit cards. Some would simply give me a list of demands. They had acted like whores and I had treated them as such.

 

Louvelle was currently on true love number three when I succumbed to seeking her advice. So far she had rejected everything from my long list of ideas.

 

“Well what do you suggest?” I asked with a huff. The little she-wolf had a puff of her own that could blow me over anytime when she eyed me in the manner as she did now.

 

“Something she cannot buy herself,” she said exasperated as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. This was actually a good suggestion Sookie was a unique creature and I would find her something one of a kind. “Not that,” she said pointedly of my unspoken thoughts. I blinked unnecessarily as I waited on her suggestion.

 

“You must make something for her,” she explained. “Something she can keep safely away in her box of memories that she will show her grandchildren when she is old and wrinkly.” At her explanation she had pulled a vulgarly decorated pink and purple box from underneath her bed. She opened it and showed me the mementos she held inside. Little notes from classmates littered amongst photos and a dried up flower. Everything was covered with sparkly coloured hearts.

 

“You should give her one of your drawings,” Louvelle said as she held a strip of photos of herself and her best friend pulling funny faces in a photo booth. “As long as you put in a heart somewhere then she understands.”

 

“I will consider it without the hearts,” I answered as she stowed everything away again. She jumped out of bed and I knew better to chase her. Her father would surely send her back up and the shouting voices emanating from downstairs confirmed as much. She plopped back in the bed and handed me a candy heart.

 

MON PETIT CHOU CHOU

 

“Sookie seems a little old for candy declarations.” Louvelle was becoming mischievous in her teenage years and it was becoming difficult to gage when she was goading me and when she was being completely sérieux. Did she really want me calling Sookie a little cabbage? It was a term of endearment that didn’t translate so well into English.

 

“Remember what I told you when you blamed the materials for your inept drawings?”

 

“It is not the medium but the message it carries that counts,” I recited whilst trying to restrain from rolling my eyes like the tween who sat before me often did. Instead I kissed her forehead and wished her goodnight. The fury that rose in her eyes when I popped the candy in my mouth informed me it wouldn’t be long before her first shift. I speeded out of there before she could retaliate.

 

Louvelle had made her point decidedly well. Sookie was a simple girl and grand gestures could be bought by anyone. Something by my hand could not. A small token would mean more to her than impossible riches.

 

I was staring at the wall where the images of Sookie hung. Nothing seemed good enough. It was all drawings of her from afar. They felt voyeuristic; if I added Louvelle’s glittery heart stickers to it Sookie’s personal SEAL Team Six would be lifting me from my bed and handing me over to the FBI.

 

I threw out thousands of sketches unhappy with the compositions, the shading, the light until I was finally satisfied. I groaned. Little Louvelle had gotten in her damn heart. I had subconsciously drawn our interlaced hands in the foreground resting over the rumpled sheet forming the cusp as our heads defined the upper two curves. The way the light fell between us only emphasised the contours.

 

It wasn’t the composition that had made this the picture of choice. It was the moment it captured. The aftermath of a glorious war that had raged between our bodies. I could no longer offer her heat but I could give her a different warmth. One that had nothing to do with physicality. All she had to do was say yes.

 

“Just be yourself ok. If I can stand you I’m sure she’ll love you,” Louvelle instructed when Godric and I bid our goodbyes. I envied the ease at which the little were could jump from one amorous infatuation to the next. It was a generous and giving thing with her. Not this complicated giant weight that I seemed to be lugging around for years now.

 

My whole life everything has been handed to me. Forget silver spoons everything was gilded. I never wanted for anything, I became an elite vampire when I was supposed to die. Sookie was the first thing I truly wanted when I was alive and she was the first thing I needed when I was reborn. It was an attraction that I resisted in vain. I fell prey to her innate light. The memory of it drew me in from thousands of miles away regardless.

 

Louvelle was right about me being myself even though I had difficulty understanding who that was now. I needed to recalibrate and unite my former and post amnesia self to someone I recognised again. I never was this hesitant with women before. They flocked to me even when I didn’t want their attention. I knew I was charming despite that knowledge.

 

The thoughts, the possibilities and the pitfalls all occupied my mind as our departure approached. To distract my mind I fought my maker every night in hand to hand combat. I didn’t understand my innate ability when I first rose vampire and excelled. Now I knew it was from my years of training in fencing.

 

I managed to best Godric once or twice but he always maintained the upper hand. I was a formidable fighter with an unrivalled strength but my own need for control still deterred my victory. It would take an impure blood centuries if not millennia to reach the strength I possessed within three nights. Everything came at a price just like in my human life.

 

Financially I could have anything I wished for but only if I acted in accordance with my house of Sanguine. There would be a price on my head if I didn’t. Like my human family my comfort was maintained through certain obligations. Godric shielded me from most of it but he remained my keeper. Spending every ounce of energy in fighting him helped overcome the insecurities that were plaguing me all these years.

 

His insistence on regaining my memories was not to ascertain my worth as a Sanguine. Nor for him to use them against me. It was an act of kindness to express his affection towards me. He never intended to take my life as a human or as a vampire. It forced me to submit where I was once recalcitrant and unyielding. It wasn’t defeat but rather acceptance.

 

In assuming Godric’s love for me I resigned myself that I had no choice in the matter. Handing over the reigns of control was a lesson that I had to learn as my maker’s child. I was as much at Sookie’s mercy as I was at his. She owned me and I hoped that meant she would keep me.

 

We arrived in Shreveport as scheduled. I was introduced to my blood cousin Pamela Swynford de Beaufort at her impressive estate. She ran the southern contingent of Nova Gallia, the former French Colonies of North America. The wars of man had done little to change the initial borders that were carved up by the houses of Sanguine.

 

Pam, as she preferred to be addressed informally, was a favoured relative of Godric’s. It was why she held such a high position from an early age. I liked her personality. It reminded me of my own sister, Lovisa, who would undoubtedly show up with a scowl on her face as soon as I contacted her.

 

“So you’re what all the fuzz is all about,” she drawled with a Southern accent. Living here as an expatriate for all those years allowed me to recognize it wasn’t born with her. Her impressive last name had told me the rest. I was used to hearing this statement from other Sanguines. Godric had publicly refused to continue his line as long as his house upheld the culling of any Impurus born of their blood.

 

To say I was an unintended pregnancy was an understatement. I wasn’t even a possibility until he came across my dying body. Godric told me he chose to turn me because I had fought my attackers so valiantly even though it came at the cost of my own survival. He didn’t even need to drain me, I was that far gone.

 

I gave my cousin the same reply I gave every other Sanguine, “My maker thought me a worthy human.” It was the prefect answer to a fellow thoroughbred. It expressed the right amount of arrogance and submission.

 

“True,” she quipped at me. “That wasn’t who I was referring to. We have a friend in common, you and I.” She stared me down as only a vampire can with that unrelenting gaze that could be held still for centuries if necessary. I wanted to snarl and growl at her as my inner demon was crying out that Sookie was mine. I knew they were friendly but her tone suggested there was more to it. The missing husband and kids. She stopped entertaining men around the same time she met Pam.

 

I calmed myself as I realised she was testing my worth as her eyebrow rose in amusement at my poor attempt of keeping myself in check. Despite her loyalty to our shared house if she found me unworthy of Sookie her devotion lay with her.

 

“I hope you’re not referring to my former wife,” I offered in deflection. It worked her porcelain veneer cracked with a hearty laugh. A smirk grew on my own face too.

 

“I think Stackhouse would stake me herself if I even so much glanced her way,” she offered with a sinister smile. I was taken aback that she referred to Sookie by her last name. It was how the Sanguines referred to another, I was Northman she was Swynford. It was a rare sign of respect to address one of other species in the same manner. Her playful tone soon turned serious, “Don’t play with your food.”

 

Her threat was clear to me and I was glad for it. Possible telepath or not Sookie was special. Pam had bestowed her a great respect and I would do well to treat her no less. I wasn’t sure if she meant to leave the donors untouched or regard Sookie as more than a tasty snack. Most likely both. Frankly I hadn’t even considered feeding from Sookie. The seclusion in France had me quite used to bottled donor blood. Nostalgia remained for a live feed but my mind was more occupied with what was to come ahead than a tasty nightcap.

 

I simply nodded in understanding and bid her good day as I started to feel the effect of the pulling sun. I tried to sleep but my mind swirled with the events of the coming night. I would be in my old stomping grounds once again. More importantly she would be there. Godric must have sensed my turmoil as I felt him impose his will through our bond that lulled me into a dark sleep.

 

I knew it was strangely morbid but I wanted to see my grave from the moment my maker told me about it. I could have hired someone to send me a photograph for all this time but I wanted to truly see it. It was Sookie’s testament to me. I expected her to have visited it during the day. When I scented her unique smell surrounded by a group of weres I held my distance. I listened to her talk to her dead relatives. It was a detail unknown to me she had ‘interred’ me alongside her kin.

 

Then she spoke to ‘me’. I couldn’t resist when she said she wished I were there to escort her to the charity function that night. I made my presence known to her and offered to take her. She was cautious and it didn’t take long for her to be surrounded by her security team. My gaze didn’t pull from hers.

 

As a Sanguine I was a difficult task to kill even for the expertly trained wolves. I was also untouchable. Their pack would be decimated as well as all of their blood relations. I had nothing to fear from them, I stood above their job they could maim me but not kill me. It seemed Sookie felt she had nothing to fear from me as she called them off. She knew I was a vampire now but didn’t understand why I had stayed hidden for so long.

 

I wanted to tell her everything but I was distracted by her scent. It was like her, completely alluring. I blamed everything on my ex-wife, as there was no love lost there. I tried to find the courage to tell her what I needed to tell her. Instead we started to quarrel over her inheritance, she wanted to return it but I had no interest in it. She deserved it and had run it well, she had put it in the hands of the right people. The value now was far greater than I would have been able to achieve. The desperate marital merger between Freyda and I had become obsolete for the survival of our respective family businesses.

 

I realised she was just as nervous as I when we finally got off the topic of what belonged to whom. We walked the damp grass of the cemetery to her car I hinted at her suspected telepathy. When she told me she was uneasy speaking about that in earshot of her own weres I knew my fantastical suspicions were fast becoming a definite possibility. She invited me to her home after which she corrected it as my home. I didn’t want to revisit that conversation and hoped one day she’d consider it our home.

 

She looked comical standing next to my old corvette. I knew she had kept it but I didn’t realise it was her main mode of transportation. It was old now but it still brought back memories of my younger years. I could hardly contain my glee when she offered the keys to me.

 

“Do you still know how to drive?” she asked softly almost as if she was scared to insult me. I thought this was perhaps the opening to tell her of my memory loss. That I had forgotten much but remembered everything now. I wondered what use that knowledge would be to her when she was simply asking if I was still fit to drive.

 

“I rely on flight most nights now,” I offered in an attempt to impress her. It had kept Louvelle and her brother chasing my ankles all these years after all. She wasn’t surprised by my ability. I blamed Pam for stealing my thunder on that one.

 

I opened the passenger door for her and helped her get in. It was a move I had perfected for countless other women. I reverted back to that lothario when I all but purred, “You have taken good care of my baby.” I threw in my patented pantie dropping smile. “She’s as responsive as when I last had her.”

 

Sookie just smiled at me politely. Her terse silence unnerved me. I was reverting to my former self who pursued easy women. I felt like the douche I was back then, I was disgusted with my car and myself. Even though I had assured her I was perfectly equipped to drive my lead heavy foot had me pushing the car to its extremities. This seemed less offensive to Sookie than my words so I kept quiet.

 

I chose my words more carefully when we reached a red light and our rapport soon improved when we nearing our destination. My former home looked exactly as it did when I last left it. She had upgraded the outside security measures but aside from that little had changed. The changes inside were just as subtle. I took them all in one by one, it was more as if Sookie had just moved in with me, so minute was her presence.

 

I wondered if she had kept everything in place because she thought I would be coming back first as human then as vampire. I asked her and she told me everyone she consulted had told her I was dead. She also informed me Freyda was the one who had stood at my mortal death. I had always assumed as much but had no tangible proof. Sookie knew this because she had read her mind.

 

Just like that she had revealed to me her secret skill. Louvelle was going to be getting a giant package with a big pink bow. I worried she had been reading my mind the whole time. No wonder she seemed to be screaming silently in her own. She assured me that vampires were her personal time out zone. Voids we were to her, suddenly my nocturnal state was less discrediting than my previous one. I took any positive I could get.

 

She asked me if I was serious about accompanying her that night. It had been more of a spoken wish aloud. I was unwilling to back out of it so I told her yes. I wanted her by my side as I was reintroduced to polite society. Nan Flanagan and her edicts be damned.

 

It turned out Sookie had her own Nan Flanagan. “I’m sorry but I can’t be your date,” she said with a nervous smile as she got off the phone. She was as adept at hiding her emotions as my maker. I would have to work hard to find the micro expressions telling me the truth of her statements. “Mindy, my personal PR Satan, advises against it. My lawyer thinks it would give Freyda ground to petition for your estate again.”

 

I cringed a little at the mention of my personal devil and her greedy claws. I had overheard her conversations with perfect clarity so I knew her to be truthful. I was, however, completely clueless how she felt about everything. Her next sentence made me think she was apologetic but I deduced her life long telepathy would tell me nothing of whether I was wrong or right.

 

“Your tuxedos are still stored in the attic,” she said in the same polite tone she had carried all night. “I never found someone with your physique that had use for them.” That made me smile. I thought she was trying to tell me something with that statement. Perhaps it was more wishful thinking but I thought she told me she never found someone to replace me.

 

“Is the dark navy Zegna still there?” I asked after my favourite custom suit. Black was a colour Freyda had always been pushing on me and I hated the shade ever since. I had a perfectly good black tux waiting for me compliments of the AVL but I much preferred the idea of my own.

 

“I never checked the labels,” she said thoughtfully as she led me up the stairs of my former home. I felt almost like an intruder into her life. I suppose my sudden appearance really was just that. “I think I saw a dark blue one among them.”

 

My eyes roamed freely when we moved past the open door to the master bedroom. This is where Sookie truly lived and she invited me in to look. The furniture jarred slightly with the décor but it was inoffensive. She explained they were family heirlooms and my old stuff was in storage somewhere.

 

“Sookie,” I said as I moved in front of her. “I really don’t care for those things. I came here to see you.” I meant every word of it. Being in such close proximity to her enticing smell I couldn’t help but inch closer as I stared down into the interminable depths of her eyes.

 

“What do you want from me?” she asked. Her voice had caught in the back of her throat. I was glad to see that despite her lack of facial expressions her body reacted to mine. I was subconsciously trapping her closer and she moved behind her till she was stuck against a post of her bed. I tried to ease her caution by tucking a lock of stray hair behind her ear.

 

“Do I really need to tell you that?” I told her. “Haven’t you already read it from my mind years ago?” She remained pensively silent as her eyes dropped to anywhere but me. I cursed myself for being too forward, for caging her in this way.

 

Then she whispered so softly that had I not been a vampire I would never have heard the words, “Someone for life.” They were the words plucked from my mind when I rested my eyes upon her all those years ago. It was in that moment she looked at me without the internal pain. She deserves someone for life, I can only give her for now. I could not be what I thought she deserved at the time. She deserved more than I could offer and she still does.

 

My finger travelled up her neck and jaw so I could see her eyes again. Her expression may not tell me what she felt but perhaps her eyes would reveal a truth to me. They told me nothing. If she was serious about paying me back all the money that she had given away she would make a killing playing poker. Telepathy or not.

 

“Is it because I am vampire now?” I asked in a moment of insecurity as she had emphasized the word life. She revealed her first tell to me then. Her eyes minutely shocked back into her socket. It seemed my nocturnal living status was not the offending statement rather that I thought her capable of such discrimination.

 

“I let you walk once because I thought you deserved more. I don’t know if I can do it for a second time,” I told her my truth in a final attempt to gage her feelings on the matter. She was silent once again as I waited pensively for her reply.

 

“You don’t think I deserve more anymore?” Her tone was still unchanged, had she been truly mad I would have sensed an elevation in her heartbeat. Her question rang as much as an accusation to me regardless.

 

Now I was silent. Offended that she would think I would think so little for her. I moved closer to her desperate to read any twitch that journeyed across her face.

 

“No,” I replied tersely making sure her eyes had nowhere to roam but at me. “You deserve more than I could ever offer you. You deserve a husband who you love and who loves you even more. Children that adore you and refuse to leave your side. You deserve the sun and the stars and the moon. You deserve to live a happy life, a normal one.”

 

She flinched when I mentioned normal. It was her saving grace for I had been well on my way to insulting her. Telling her that despite all the offerings of her new standing she hadn’t acquired any of it for herself.

 

Normal. That was the reason why. A telepath wasn’t normal and neither was I. Maybe she never wanted normal. Maybe she wanted just now.

 

“I…” she started but my thumb silenced her full lips. I couldn’t resist caressing her cheek. I understood now and cursed Louvelle for being so acute once again. I needed to be myself and put my heart into it. Then she would understand.

 

“I can’t give you those things,” I told her honestly. “I can only offer you me. I can love and adore you but I can’t give you sons or daughters.”

 

I was about to lean in and taste her full mouth before she had a chance to reject me. I needed to give her something only I could give her, a salutation of my affection. As I waited for her permission I sensed the approach of Pam. Protocol demanded I step aside and I did so in sync with the ring of the doorbell. A regent would not be kept waiting despite my physical urges.

 

Sookie quickly showed me to a guest bathroom forgetting I knew every inch of the house. She rushed off to the front door soon after. I listened in on their conversation whilst I enjoyed the hot steam of the shower. Asthma was a thing I surely did not miss from my human life.

Sookie and Pam had a good rapport and it eased my earlier fears of a relationship that was more than friendly between them. They were more but in a platonic sense, kindred spirits. I was surprised to hear Pam hugging Sookie. Affection was a rarely expressed thing among the Sanguines but a physical form of it was almost inconceivable. I found there was more to their friendship that defied protocol when I joined them again fully dressed in my familiar tuxedo.

 

Pam gave me an approving look for my evening dress. I was glad it pleased her since she seemed an expert of sorts. Since meeting her in the early hours of the morning I had seen her in a total of six different outfits. She was frighteningly impressive in all.

 

At this moment in time, however, my eyes were only interested in Sookie as powders brushed her face whilst she sat still in her silk dressing gown.

 

“She’s quite a beauty, is she not Northman,” Pam said pulling me from my inner thoughts.

 

“She is even more beautiful than I remember,” I replied honestly and again nothing in her reaction or body revealed my effect on her.

 

“Our senses will reveal more than what was visible before,” Pam returned with an amusement that I couldn’t find the source of. With colder steel in her voice she addressed me more seriously, “You will do well not to speak of our interaction to others Northman.”

 

“Of course Cousin,” I returned. I was glad she defied protocol. Tending to Sookie in a way she would not even be allowed to do to even herself. Something had passed between Pam and Sookie that I could not detect.

 

“Leave us,” Pam commanded in a voice befitting of her status. There was no request about it and I sped out tossing the keys to the Corvette on the hall table. The car reminded me of my former conquests now, women I chased to annoy another. It wasn’t me; it was a petty version that Freyda encouraged out of me.

 

My coming out was as dreadfully boring as I expected. The only time I marginally enjoyed was my time speaking with Sookie. We fed each other the lines carefully rehearsed by our publicists. From that point on I was once again surrounded by sycophants. There were more of them now as the Sanguines had their own set of brownnosers. It continued for nights upon nights.

 

The press was relentless. I had once been thankful for them, as they had documented Sookie’s life for me from afar. I now loathed their meddling in my own personal space. I fully understood why Sookie was keeping her distance not wanting to get sucked in along with my vortex of exposure.

 

As predicted my sister was standing impatiently by my door the next night. She slapped me hard across the face in greeting and my maker only thought to chuckle. If I had known it was this easy to make him laugh I would have let Louvelle beat my ass every night. I was surprised to hear Lovisa was staying at Sookie’s home. She wouldn’t tell me anything about her or how she was doing. Frustratingly she owned a pair of those damn anti-glamouring contacts.

 

The women of my past seemed even more persistent now that I was vampire. My sister was thankfully the best defensive shield a man could ever hope to possess. Lovisa had more balls than I ever had, human or vampire. My glamour was helpful too.

 

She had scorned our parents demand for an arranged marriage choosing instead to live with her university boyfriend. They had three children and lived a happy life. She had my blessing then and now but it had meant the precarious family legacy had fallen upon my shoulders. There were too many other mouths in our extended family to feed to simply ignore that. The family fortune was vast but not enough to keep everyone afloat.

 

I was pacing up and down the lawn of Pam’s elaborate manor on Wednesday. Pam and I had been given a direct order not to seek out Sookie unless lawyers were present. The AVL had a vested interest in making my turning exposed as the murder that it was. By my wife’s hands rather than a vampire’s. It was bound to get messy and they feared my relations with Sookie would suggest it was a premeditated action where she served as a placeholder for my fortune. Pam would be seen as our liaison in the interim. I think she was even more pissed than I at the edict.

 

That was not the reason for my pacing this night. No, that was on account of the still empty inside of a certain birthday card. The front carried my sketch of us, which told her everything I wanted to say. The words, however, were eluding me. I decided perhaps alcohol would extract them from me so I set off to Pam’s extensive pantry.

 

It was one of the most pleasing things I had taken knowledge of as rising Sanguine. I could still partake in food and drink. Our weaknesses were minor compared to those of the Impurus. Only a clean slice beheading us in one go would truly kill us. Sun, silver and stakes had no permanent effect. We avoided them regardless. There was an added sense of security in upholding those myths for the Sanguine.

 

As I was browsing the shelves for my liquor of choice my eyes caught the jars of sweets. Candy hearts. I was going to blame Louvelle for this if it all went wrong as I pulled the heart of choice from the jar. BE MINE.

 

It was simple and it was exactly what I wanted to say. It was far superior to all the awful drivel I had come up with so far. The message held more than one; I was an enamoured child that wanted her affection but I was also a vampire from a house of Sanguine who was asking her to be his. It was a higher honour than Pam referring to her by her last name. It was akin to marriage and I needed the permission of my maker. I was thankful to have his blessing. I was asking her for everything.

I gave my envelope filled with my request to Pam who had ordered Sookie a mountain of gifts. At my questioning look she had simply replied it was an inside joke. Sookie gave me no reply on the night of her birthday or the nights after. The first I heard of her was through Desmond Cataliades. The demon lawyer had been assisting and preparing defences at her request from the moment she found out about my will. Incidentally he was the lawyer of choice for the AVL and my house of Sanguine. When I met the man he introduced me as Sookie’s godfather, which explained his aid to her but only unearthed more questions about her.

 

Sookie had done me a great service in fighting Freyda every step of the way. When Sookie stood victorious after every single legal claim had been filed she had given Freyda what she had essentially put into our combined assets. She had given me the divorce I could only dream of, a clean split. It was fair to both of us. Something neither one of us had been able to be with each other in our marriage.

 

The law in Louisiana still hadn’t caught up with the status of the undead yet. So whilst I was revived from the dead my marriage with Freyda still stood. She had already called upon Cataliades to ensue divorce proceedings.

 

I had been hesitant to see her again. She had aged unlike Sookie. It was a strange thing to behold. Something else was different about her too. She apologised to me privately for taking out the hit on me. She was glad I wasn’t killed in the end. She asked if I was happy in my new existence. It startled me and I answered a truthful yes. I didn’t understand until hours later as we were still negotiating the terms of our divorce.

 

Her lawyer caressed her hand tenderly and she gave him a secret smile. A smile I had never seen her carry for anyone. She was in love. With a fellow Swede who had prepared her last appeal. I scented the air and concluded she was in the early days of pregnancy.

 

Through my final will I hadn’t been able to give Sookie a normal life but Freyda had one. It made things easier between us. I long blamed her for everything. I had been equally cruel to her if not more so. I saw that now as she proudly held what I had been denying her throughout our marriage.

 

It also made clear what I wanted with Sookie had nothing to do with normal. I wanted an extraordinary life with her. Love and babies was fine for the mortals but we deserved more. I was sure we would be even if she was taking her time getting back to me.

 

I invited Freyda and her partner, Sten, to dinner when our divorce terms were final. I told them the truth of what I agreed to do for the AVL in naming her in my murder for hire. I found myself assuring her that nothing would come of the charges that it was all a matter of PR. The AVL simply wanted to set precedent that vampires didn’t randomly go around killing people and turning them as an afterthought.

 

She looked over to Sten and they wordlessly spoke to one another. She dug out a business card with the name of her PR firm. “Have them confer,” she said. “We’ll help out however necessary. It’s not like my name holds high regard in Louisiana anyhow.”

 

Her use of the word ‘we’ and their intimacy made me jealous, not for who she was with but for what she now possessed.  I understood now why she had wanted me dead. She couldn’t bear not having me whilst alive. I didn’t think myself capable of doing the same to Sookie but I understood the sentiment regardless.

 

Our divorce fattened the society pages of newspapers and blogs. All carefully orchestrated by the powers that be. The accusations of murder and false claims to the court completed my obligations with the AVL. I was never more thankful to see the back of Nan Flanagan. Freyda returned to Sweden with Sten exonerated.

 

Strangely enough I offered to keep in touch and asked her to tell me when the baby arrived. I learned that night it is better to keep such things to yourself as a vampire. I never did well with tears even if they were happy ones. Apparently they had been trying for a while and she didn’t dare hope it was successful till I had just confirmed it.

 

I had been giving Sookie time but I was running on impatience. When I received word from the lawyer what she had been up to in securing my inheritance from Freyda she had already departed to Abu Dhabi to make it untouchable. I couldn’t tell her of anything with my dealings with the AVL. She had responded to the concocted charges and press releases. She was gearing up for another round of sparring with Freyda. It was almost second nature to her now. She couldn’t have known that I still didn’t want back my former possessions and Freyda had what she wanted.

 

On Sunday I realised she would miss out on visiting the graves of her family whilst still abroad. I was too taken by her at the time so I never really saw the grave she had put up for me. I remembered the fresh daisies and daffodils on the other graves as well as the six pack of beer. There were white roses on my grave too but I didn’t think it necessary to purchase those anymore.

 

I introduced myself to her parents and grandmother as I gave them their individual offerings on Sookie’s behalf. It is a frightening sight to see your own gravestone, your name with an expiration date that passed. I was more disturbed by the bouquet of withered roses. The green of the edges now more pronounced in their dried up state. They were a week old just like the other bunches of flowers.

 

I angrily tossed them across the cemetery not sure where they had landed. A pissed off Impurus came to seek me out. It turned out they had landed on his car. The metal vase had left an impressive dent. Bill Compton was eager to attack me over it but quickly retreated when he recognised my status as a Sanguine and my less than friendly face.

 

I flew endlessly south. It wasn’t till I reached far over the Gulf of Mexico that I had calmed down enough. She wasn’t stalling she was simply carrying on her life as if I was still dead to her. I broke and fell to the bottom of the ocean like a heavy weight. I was engulfed in darkness once again.

 

I lay there pitifully for a week till my maker came to retrieve me. He looked healthier than I for once as his pallor now had a rosy glow.

 

“Tell me what grieves you so my child,” Godric asked when I emerged from a warm shower.

 

“I’m dead to her,” I sighed not in the mood to have this conversation. I felt like a whiny thirteen year old girl. Louvelle would be a better choice for receiving my grunts of complaint right now.

 

“We’re not exactly alive,” he returned with a chipper note. I eyed him warily.

 

“What has you so happy,” I demanded forgetting who he was to me.

 

“The same person that has you so miserable,” he said as if that explained it. He had to be a cruel bastard if my pain was the thing that brought him so much joy in his undead life. He alleviated me of those fears soon enough, “Not at your expense my child. I am happy because she is happy.”

 

Well that explained nothing to me. Even though I always wanted her to be happy my mood didn’t allow me to feel any joy for her if it was without me. I sank back onto the bed nursing a Royalty Blended. My hope for everyone to leave me alone was not to be as Pam appeared at the door with a giant bouquet of those hatred green tinted white roses.

 

“What’s she sorry for?” Pam demanded to know.

 

I gave her a shrug as I took in the double S inside the card. “She has nothing to be sorry for.”

 

“There are fifteen roses there,” she said in her bored tone. “She’s apologising.”

 

“Send them to my grave,” I said in annoyance as I shoved them back in her hands.  I probably shouldn’t have ordered a queen around like a servant. It would have cost me my head in any other situation. No she just laughed at me.

 

“You two are quite entertaining,” she cackled as she placed the flowers on a sideboard. “In the world of flowers it isn’t over till you see a single black rose. Trust me Sookie knows her flowers. This is asking for forgiveness.”

 

I scoffed disbelievingly.

 

“Were you particularly fond of green tinted white roses in your human days?” she demanded already knowing the answer as she continued when I shook my head in the negative. “She chose those for you because she didn’t know what flowers you liked. They represent happiness in your new life. What is the inscription on your grave?”

 

“Memento Mori.”

 

Respice post te! Hominem te esse memento! Memento mori!,” Godric said reverently. “The slave told his triumphant Roman master upon his victory, ‘Look behind you! Remember that you are a man! Remember that you will die!’. At his peak today tomorrow, he could fall.”

 

“Remember that you will die,” I repeated as I connected her choice of flowers to the inscription. She never thought me truly dead. Even after everyone told her I was. “She believed I was turned.”

 

The woman had set it to stone, my candy heart was a pittance in comparison. Louvelle said the medium didn’t matter but it meant everything to me. Granite was for eternity, like I was now.

 

“Yes,” Pam replied dryly to my statement. “Had Godric over there not hidden you away I would have been able to point her in your direction years ago.”

 

Sookie’s first words to me after she confirmed my identity were ‘what took you so long?’ I should have known then. I still owed her that answer.

 

I wanted to go see her immediately but the hour of night was less generous. I sighed in disappointment at the realisation.

 

“You will find her in Bon Temps tomorrow night,” Pam said before she explained, ”She just managed to get the house back that she was forced to sell. Trust me she’ll be there.”

 

She was there as promised the next night. I waited in the graveyard as she rediscovered her family home with her brother. The fresh white roses were inoffensive to me now. I bared my fangs to a group of teenagers who had clearly come to steal the beer for Sookie’s father while I abided my time. I wanted to go to her when I heard her brother depart but I sensed she was coming in my direction.

 

I died a second death as I saw the flower in her hands. Pam’s words from the previous evening were not escaping me. A single black rose.

 

“Are you here to tell me it’s over?” I asked trying to wash my face of any emotions as efficiently as she could. She didn’t back down nor did she seem troubled by my presence.

 

“In a sense,” she replied softly. She turned her back to me as she sat at the edge of my grave on her knees. “Yes.”

 

I understood now that this particular bloom was meant for the other me. The one who occupied the empty ground beneath us.

 

“I don’t think we can see each other anymore,” she said through the tears that stained her eyes. “I have a chance at something real now. It scared me at first but I don’t think I should let the opportunity pass.” She lingered a little longer as she said her goodbyes and swallowed her tears.

 

She turned herself back to me with her hand reached out in greeting. “I’m Sookie Stackhouse. And you are?”

 

I looked down at her hand in offering of our fresh start. Happiness in our new life.

 

“Eric,” I replied. A touch of my lips on her knuckles would have to suffice for now. “Eric Northman.”

 

I knew I had her now and the fucking tingles were still there. They had remained all this time.

 

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Continue on to From Time Immemorial the multi chapter follow up >

 

13 thoughts on “Memento Mori

  1. Excellent. Freyda definitely got off easy. She’s lucky Eric is so forgiving. But how would you prosecute someone whose victim isn’t truly dead?

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    1. It was one of the questions I always had about the Great Reveal, it would be so altering to the judicial system and to inheritance law especially if they continued to not recognise vampires’ legal statuses. I’ve tried to make some sense of it but concluded that it would just be a bit of a mess until the lawyers figured it all out…

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