Author: ncfan PM
He will never be worthy of her faith. He has never been worthy of anyone's faith. - Strauss, Laeti -Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Drama - A. Strauss & Laetitia - Words: 1,183 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 8 - Published: 05-11-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6982869
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Characters: Strauss, Laeti, others mentioned
Summary: He will never be worthy of her faith. He's never been worthy of anyone's faith.
Author's Note: This is before all the big reveals in the manga.
Disclaimer: I don't own Record of a Fallen Vampire.
"How can you just sit there and take it!" Laeti rages before spluttering out a handful of words startling enough under any circumstances but all the more jarring because they come from the mouth of what all the world would believe to be a ten-year-old girl.
Strauss smiles gently and puts a hand on Laeti's thin, trembling shoulder. It says something that even sitting down on a pallet as he is, he doesn't even have to stretch up to touch her shoulder. "Laeti, please don't concern yourself over my—"
The young dhampire's milk blue eyes flash with rage; Strauss's attempt to soothe Laeti has had the polar opposite effect. "How can you listen to her with that smile on your face?" Laeti shrieks. "How can you just sit there and let that high-and-mighty bitch talk trash about you night and day?" She shakes her head and pulls her lips back in a hideous grimace. "I don't…" Laeti hesitates and stares at the ground in the dark, fists clenched. "…I don't get it. You're nothing like what that Bridget says. How can you let her slander you?"
Strauss forces another gentle smile to his face. "Laeti, you really should get some sleep."
This drags her out of her protests; Laeti's eyes snap to him indignantly. "What? It's not even sunrise yet."
Still smiling, Strauss pats the smaller pallet beside him. "Still, it's been a trying night for you—the same for us all," he adds more quietly, and Laeti licks her lips. "Some sleep will do us both a world of good."
"…If you say so." Reluctantly, Laeti lowers herself to the ground, pulling the thick blood red sheets over her small body. After a moment of getting herself into a comfortable position, she rests her head against the pillow. "Good night, Strauss," is said almost as an afterthought.
How odd, that even though we sleep during the day we tell each other 'Good night' when we lay down to rest. Strauss nods even though with her eyes closed she can't see him. "Sleep well, Laeti."
For the fifteen minutes in which it takes Laeti to fall asleep, Strauss doesn't move. He remains sitting on his pallet, listening to her breathing. When the sound of her breathing becomes less labored, more relaxed, lighter and quieter, he moves to the open window, breathing deeply.
The moon is clear and full tonight. O Blessed Moon, where has your favor gone? He who you once looked on with such blessing now finds himself forsaken.
Is it because he has forsaken all duty? Is it because he has forsaken and betrayed those whom he swore an oath to protect? Is it because he has forsaken the trust of nearly all?
I suspect it is.
Bridget. Ah yes, Bridget. Strauss can almost smile at Laeti's favorite appellation for her: High-and-Mighty Bitch. He can almost smile, if only because the bitter irony is such that his only other option is to cry.
A thousand years ago, Strauss would have been the first to tell anyone who called Bridget "High-and-Mighty Bitch" to leave his presence and not bother ever returning into it. While he would not have killed them (that was up to Bridget if she really wanted to), he would not have been pleased.
He's still not pleased. He doesn't like it at all, but Laeti doesn't know enough to think at all kindly of Bridget and Strauss is in no position to defend the one he once called daughter.
Bridget… Oh, Bridget.
She hates him. She hates him with the intensity of one who has had their heart ripped out, who still has the faint outline of a scar on their chest from a long-ago battle. She hates him with the intensity of one so ruthlessly abandoned, of one who was cast off like garbage. Why shouldn't she hate him? She has every right to hate him.
Strauss feels a soft breeze on his face and it reminds him of Adelheid's hands, slightly.
Adelheid, I fear I have treated you poorly. What you deserved was not what you received, and I was too broken to ever return your love. My heart will always be in the hands of another. You deserved so much better than what you were given, but you always persevered to make the best of everything and in the end, you are stronger than I am.
I could not even see a sliver of light for the darkness around me.
If Strauss ever loved his second wife, it was probably in the most vague, absent, remote way possible. She was not Stella. Adelheid is not Stella and she can never be Stella. She can never be the one he loved with the passion of a dying man, but even as a pale shadow of a vibrant woman Adelheid was easy to live with. She is trapped because of him, and Stella isn't the only one Strauss dreams of at night.
Ruby red eyes cast back at Laeti for just a moment.
She is on her side, curled up like a little cat, her mop of fair hair loose and fluttering slightly in the breeze, tickling her cheek. The last time Strauss checked, Laeti is hard on seventy (sixty-eight now, he's pretty sure), but when she sleeps she looks like what she appears to be: a little girl with no understanding of the utter ugliness of life.
If only they knew.
What astounds Strauss about Laeti is her simple trust of him. She trusts him wholly, despite knowing what she does of the Vampire King. She must have been fed at childhood by her mother on tales of his treachery, yet Laeti puts all of her faith in Strauss's hands. Laeti looks up at Strauss and smiles, and her clear blue eyes are brimming with unquestioning trust.
This, I do not deserve. This, I react to fear and sadness, and why should I not?
O Moon, is she just another victim being lined up to the slaughter? Is she just another sacrifice being led up to the altar of the faith I always break?
Blind faith is not faith. Blind faith is ignorance.
He is not worthy of Laeti's faith. He has never been worthy of anyone's faith.
Yet he has it.
Strauss has Laeti's faith, and he has no idea what to do with it, except try to make sure that this little one won't become another victim of his propensity to break faith.
To repay the blind faith of one who has never questioned his goodness, Strauss can do no less.