I closed my eyes as every sinewy muscle in my body vibrated in exhilaration. Turning my face to the sapphire heavens and raising my arms in veneration, I basked in the rays of the sun as it warmed my body. I peered at the crisp blue sky in wonderment. I had forgotten the beauty of the day, and it truly stirred me to my very core. It is true; I saw a glimpse of brightness before Sookie bewitched us with her unexpected blessing on the rooftop in Dallas. But this… this was nothing like the smog filled gray twilight in the big city of Dallas. It was glorious; it was sublime; words cannot describe how I felt as I luxuriated in the sun’s magnificent warmth.
This did not even compare to the first time I saw the full Technicolor day in 1939 at the theater. It was The Wizard of Oz, and I remember fully the eagerness my child Eric and I felt as we bought our tickets in New York City’s Loew’s Capitol Theatre for the premiere. No, that was nothing in comparison to seeing the beauty of the day with one’s own eyes.
My awe-inspiring wonderment was interrupted when I heard a gasp behind me in the courtyard. Not in 2000 years has someone successfully been able to surprise me by drawing so near in silence. My vampire senses were all but gone, and it was unsettling. I quickly turned, and I nearly gasped myself. My eyes beheld a sight almost as provoking as the sun. Sookie Stackhouse was standing before me in full Roman garb, befitting a lady of nobility. How she managed this, I know not. She was truly industrious and resourceful to have accomplished this in such an unforgiving era.
My eyes darted to hers. They were smooth, warm, and brown as they shined back at me, filled with concern and pain, welling up in dejected grief as her bottom lip began to tremble. I could not fathom why the stunning girl was so distraught until she glanced down at my battered body.
I had almost forgotten, having become desensitized to pain over the centuries. Titus had left me in this state when he went to slumber with the intention of teaching me a lesson in humility. He had noticed my change in manners as of late, my contemptuous expressions as I dared to look him straight in the eyes, my boldness to speak without permission, and the confident way in which I now carried myself. Quite different from the numb-hearted boy 2000 years ago, who had all but lost hope in life and love after seven years of terrifying servitude.
“Godric,” Sookie cried, putting her hands over her mouth. “What happened to you?”
I looked down at my body. I was shirtless, Titus required it so, and only covered by a simple pair of dirty cloth leggings. I went barefoot most of the time as I could not stand shoes in my early years, and Titus did not bother procuring any for me until I was turned. I had fang bites covering my chest and neck. My left eye was black and swollen, and my bottom lip was deeply lacerated. In addition to all these injuries, I was slightly hunched to the side and holding my broken rib with one hand, but not because of the pain, mainly so I could breathe with more ease.
“Do not worry Sookie. It appears much worse than it feels.” I said trying to ease her fear. I am not sure my heart could endure her tears which were threatening to spring free from her moistened eyes. There was something about this unique woman that warmed me, that provoked me, that screamed to every fiber of my body.
“And pigs can fly!” She hissed, her sadness turning to anger. “Did that creepy Roman guy do this?”
“I have caused much worse to hundreds during my existence,” I tried to reason. “It is quite befitting and still this atonement does not closely measure up to near enough punishment for my long list of crimes.”
She closed the distance between us standing only half an arms length away. I could hear another creature breathe for the first time since I had become human, and she was nearly close enough that I could reach out to her and press my lips to hers. “Bull!” She screamed. “You haven’t even committed any crimes yet. We’re in the past, remember? Every single person you ever hurt hasn’t even met you yet, so put that in your pipe and smoke it!”
My eyes widened and my swollen lips parted. It cannot be, and yet she was undeniably correct! I had pondered the current circumstance but had little time to fully comprehend what my predicament truly meant. I may possess every minuscule memory of every vile deed I have committed, but here I was; a slate washed clean, a blank canvas awaiting a new masterpiece.
“After two thousand years you, Sookie Stackhouse, have done what few have, surprised me, with not only your words but your actions. You are correct; as it stands you have bestowed upon me a priceless gift, the opportunity to live anew.” I bowed my head to her in gratitude and reverence. Never did I think the moment when I would feel such respect and appreciation for a human would come. She has truly humbled me.
“Oh,” she said shyly unaccustomed to compliments I assumed.
She looked down and seemed to focus intently on the back of her hands as they folded neatly in front of her waist. I watched her in silence, overwhelmed with the curiosity of what thoughts stirred within her mind.
“Are you in pain?” She said, finally looking up and trailing her eyes over my damaged body.
“I…” My words ceased as she stepped closer and ran her fingertips down my temple, over my cheekbone, slowly trailing across my jaw-line as she assessed the damage on my face. My eyes closed, and I sighed, which caused her hand to freeze. I knew I had overstepped my bounds by showing pleasure to her caress so openly, but it had been so long since someone had touched me in such a way… with love and heart-felt concern.
I opened my eyes and was prepared to take a step back away from her in apology, but what I found etched on her face surprised me. Her brown eyes were big and full of some unnamed emotion, shock and some sort of realization. I had become an expert at interpreting the subtlest clues in human behavior over the centuries, but what realization struck her I knew not.
“Oh Godric,” She whispered bringing her other hand to the opposite side of my face. My breath hitched and came out in a shaky exhale as I tried to appear indifferent, a much harder task as a human. “How long has it been since someone touched you?”
“My child Eric and I embraced 23 years ago,” I shrugged. I had been touched many times but I knew the meaning of her question. She was referring to the touch of tenderness.
My indifferent ruse did little to fool this woman who has been associating feelings and thoughts to facial expressions her entire life. I suddenly realized that she could now read my mind, and facial expression most likely had little to do with her deciphering my emotions. I was no longer vampire, and that made me completely vulnerable to her ability. There was now nothing I could hide from her. I should have been concerned, but I found it exhilarating.
Her hands slid to the back of my neck as she wrapped herself around me in an embrace. I stood stiffly unsure of how to respond to such tenderness as my human heart quickened in my chest. I felt a wave of desire crash down on my senses, and I momentarily fantasized biting her silky flesh and tasting her sweet nectar when I realized I no longer needed human blood. I may be a mortal now but 2000 years of habits and desires were etched into my very bones.
Those lustful desires were soon replaced by deep emotions. My eyes closed as her fingers ran through the hair on the back of my head, and I found myself encircling her with my arms to return her soft embrace.
The emotions of affection for this woman were so powerful that they were consuming me. Most vampires will claim that they do not feel emotions, but that most assuredly is a falsehood, our… their emotions are tenfold more powerful than the average human. It seems that the strong emotions that came with being a vampire were still engrained within me, but frighteningly, I no longer had the vampire ability to suppress them. I realized my inner animal, which had been so carefully controlled over the centuries, was now a tumultuous storm of chaos and conflicting emotions.
There was a liquid coming out of my eyes as I pulled her tightly against my chest and buried my face in her hair. The last time I shed tears were of joy when I turned my child Nora. I was about to pull away for fear that I would get blood tears on her dress when she squeezed me tighter.
“Its human tears Godric.” She whispered into my shoulder. “I didn’t know you had a child besides Eric.”
Her words confirmed my suspicion that she could read my mind. I found it somehow comforting that this human already was beginning to understand me in a way that no one ever has.
“I’m sorry,” she said releasing me and looking at my face. “It’s just really hard to block out thoughts when I’m touching someone, especially hugging them. And for some reason I have a really hard time blocking you out, it’s not that you are a loud broadcaster. Your mind is actually pretty gentle and soothing, in an old world sort of way. It’s just that every time I try to block you out and put my shields up your thoughts come through anyway.”
“Do not apologize. I imagine you have never come across a mind such as mine.”
“A menuan!” Alia gasped in our ancient language, exclaiming ‘oh my’ when she walked upon us in the court yard. She looked over at Sookie and bowed her head to what she thought was a Roman lady of nobility. I am positive my sister was wondering why we were standing so closely together. It was taboo for Roman classes to mix so familiarly. Despite her concern for my well being as she had glanced at me in my current state, she remained with head bowed until Sookie would give her leave to speak. Deep down I knew my sister hated Romans and cursed them nightly with her magic.
“Sookie,” I said. “Allow me to introduce the sister of my blood, Alia. We are born of the same mother and father.”
“Really?” Sookie exclaimed. “Hi Alia, I’m Sookie.”
Alia looked up at Sookie and glowered. Still under the impression she was a noble Roman. “Godric, by the spirits what language rolls from your tongue? And who is this woman who stands before you?”
“Like I said, I’m Sookie. And that’s English I’m talking. I’m not really a Roman. I’m just dressed like one.”
Alia looked at Sookie and blinked in confusion. She did not understand her English words. I, on the other hand, was astounded that Sookie knew what Alia had said. My language had died out shortly after the Romans conquered Gaul.
“Sookie, do you know the Gaulish language?”
“No, but if I read people’s minds when they talk I know what they are saying. I just don’t know how to respond in their language.”
“Alia,” I said turning to my sister to explain what was unfolding. “There is much we need to discuss. Sookie has the ability of telepathy and says she can understand you when you speak but cannot respond in your language. The language she is speaking is a form of tongue from the British Isles that will not evolve for another 1500 years.”
My sister put her hands over her mouth. “Is she a fairy from the otherworld?”
“No,” I chuckled. “Fairies are a myth. She is merely a human with supernatural gifts.”
“Godric! By the spirits how can such things fall from your tongue? Do not speak such blasphemy in my presence ever again brother. I am a druid of the water clan and have studied divinity my entire life! You know our mother told us of a fairy who entered our home when I was but a babe and blessed me with the touch upon my brow, marking me as a druidess. Do you claim our very mother spoke untruths?” She sighed. “Forgive me brother. I know the demon must have marked your mind for control as he so often does. I will free your mind and wipe the curse away as I have done many times.”
“Alia,” I said trying to explain. “I have not been glamoured. There is much I must inform you of. This woman, Sookie,” I said pointing. “Comes from 2000 years in the future, as do I. I know it is confusing but the demon, our dominus, is immortal and has the ability to make others as he is. He forced this immortality on me, and I lived for 2000 years until I met Sookie who is blessed with many gifts.”
“I knew you were changed brother. I knew yesterday when I came upon you in the atrium you were different. You would not even help me. I thought the demon had forced his control upon your mind.”
“No sister. It has been 2000 years since I laid eyes upon you. Please forgive me. My hazy human memory had trouble recognizing you.”
I explained everything to Alia in that courtyard. I explained how I had first been turned by force, how I beheaded our dominus 100 years later, how I walked the Earth alone and dejected for so long. I even told her about Eric and Nora, my children, and the joy they brought me.
She listened in rapt silence, her eyes wide. But my sister, the druidess, being a devout believer in magic, fairies, and the otherworld had an open mind. She even used a very small amount of magic herself, which I assumed was some sort of witchcraft. Most witchcraft based magic was conjured from fire, while hers was based off light and healing. She believes her abilities are the result of a fairy blessing her as a newborn babe. In my time it was not uncommon for an entire religion to emerge and develop from the unexplained as the beliefs of my people had.
I also noticed Sookie was hanging on my every word as I spoke, or rather as she listened to my mind, completely immersed in the brief history of my immortal unlife.
After having a lengthy discussion about our separate experiences so far in Rome I found that I could no longer ignore the dull aching pang in my abdomen that had been growing dangerously worse as the morning progressed. My discomfort was starting to become visibly apparent when I hunched over and took a deep breath.
“What’s wrong Godric?” Sookie asked turning to look at me.
“I believe I have contracted a human ailment. It has been 2000 years since I fell ill, and I have forgotten the unpleasantness that accompanies it.”
“Well what’s wrong?” Sookie probed putting her hand on my forehead. “Does it hurt anywhere?”
“Indeed.” I answered. “But it is not like a pain of an injury. It is much more… irritating. My abdomen feels hollow.”
She started laughing which caused me to raise an eyebrow in question.
“I think you need to eat. That’s hunger Godric.” She said whilst giggling.
“I must disagree. I do not feel the overwhelming need for coitus which accompanies hunger.” I said stating the obvious.
She gasped which made me realize she thought I must not want to have coitus with her. I would love nothing more than to couple with her given the opportunity. It was just that my pain was not associated with hunger. I was ill as indicated by my lack of enthusiasm to pound her into oblivion this very moment. If truth be told, were we not in our current predicament and in such dire circumstances, I would most likely be slowly and calculatedly seducing the beautiful woman until she was mine. I found myself drawn to her in every way, and the more I learned about her the more I wanted her.
Her eyes widened and she put her hand over her mouth. “Godric you do realize I can read your every thought?”
After recovering from my humiliating deepest desires being ousted and being fed human food by Sookie and Alia, I departed to bathe in the water reservoir in the atrium. This normally would have been a serious offence punishable by death, but as Titus had little use for water it is unlikely he would care nor ever find out.
Before I bathed, Alia had insisted that my first meal in 2000 years be a special one, so along with Sookie’s assistance they prepared a mullet and fat dormouse. Alia exclaimed that the fat rodent and fish were delicacies that usually only wealthy Romans could afford to eat. Sookie however stated “That’s just disgusting.” But she graciously helped my sister prepare the meal despite her reservations. I had requested a side item of blood from the dormouse but both ladies refused me quite sternly. Instead my side items were sliced figs, grapes and olives.
When I was finished eating I felt very satisfied. The meal was tasty but not quite as delicious as blood. I wondered if my inclination for the red liquid would ever subside.
We continued to talk after that, and when I discovered from Sookie that Mark Antony knew the Pythoness, we formed a very extensive plan. It had taken me a few minutes to come to terms with the verifiable certainty that we must associate with such a vile creature as Mark Antony, the man who led the Roman legions in conquest against my fatherland. I wished nothing more than to sodomize the man and rip off his flaccid cock. Then make him watch while I licked the blood from it.
I chastised myself for thinking such thoughts as I tried to expel them from my mind. It was time for me to live anew, repaint my blank canvas if you will. But old habits die hard, and I am not sure I will ever be able to fully change my primal nature.
An hour later the three of us were making our way through the ancient stone streets of Rome to the domus of Julia Antonia, mother of Markus Antonius.
“I still don’t like the idea of you guys acting like my slaves. It just doesn’t seem right.” Sookie protested.
“It is the logical choice. Antony believes you to be a noble-born Roman, it will be expected that you have servants. You must act superior to us. We will only speak when you visibly give us your permission to so.”
“You must stick your nose high into the sky and look as if you are making disparaging remarks. It will help us deceive the Roman swine.” Alia chuckled. She had inferred what Sookie said. I had forgotten how intelligent and astute my sister was.
“I can do it. I might not like it but I’ll do it.” Sookie sighed.
“It would even help if you hit one of us. I prefer it me.” I tried to tell her.
“Absolutely not! I’m not going to hit you Godric.”
“A small slap on the backside of the head. I will not even feel it. I assure you, I am quite accustomed to pain.”
“If she does not want to raise her hand to one of us, perhaps she could threaten to strike us.” Alia suggested.
My sister and Sookie seemed to be getting along brilliantly. Alia still believed Sookie was some sort of fairy, or at least part fairy since Sookie had explained that her parents were both human. My sister was adamant that knowledge within the druid guild proclaimed that fairies sometimes had the ability of telepathy and magic of life, breathing light into darkness as she had done to me on the roof top.
Alia believed that Sookie was unintentionally trying to stop me from burning in the sun with her magic. Since she had no idea what she was doing the fae magic granted her desires by making me human. I could not be simply transformed into a human so we were sent back in time to a point before I was turned. The magic worked, granting Sookie’s wishes that I not be harmed by the sun anymore, albeit in a very backwards way. It was a compelling explanation.
I felt a soft hand reach out for mine as we walked. Sookie intertwined our fingers, and I was momentarily taken aback. I glanced over at her, and she was absentmindedly looking ahead with an expression of determination on her face.
I squeezed her hand and smiled. I may not be vampire anymore nor have a right to claim her, but this woman was most assuredly becoming mine. I had already become hers the moment she stepped on that roof top.