A/N: Thank you to everyone who reads and/or reviews. A special thanks goes to Midnat who always patiently listens to me babble about my story ideas, and who is a great sounding board.
Disclaimer: I don't own True Blood, otherwise Godric would never have fried. Enjoy the story!
He was the fastest of all his family, and although he understood the reason for his Maker's choice in commanding him to take his little sister to safety, it rankled that he had had to leave his bloodline to fight without him.
"Josiah, I'm c-cold." she whimpered, and he frowned down at her red cheeks. Even through the spelled sheet that muffled her natural scent, he could barely smell her illness, just as he could somewhat smell the dried blood from the wound on her leg. The scent pulled at him, pulled at his instincts to keep any harm from touching her. Her kind was sacred to vampires, and so very, very rare in the present day.
"I know, sweets. We will be there soon," he said soothingly. Carefully he listened for any pursuers, but only the sounds of nightlife and distant cars reached his ears.
"I want my daddy. And our brothers. Please, Josiah."
He sighed and put on another burst of speed as he saw the lights of the city ahead of him. From one step to the next he shuddered when he walked through an invisible wall of power. It had been several decades since last he had been to Dallas, but he would never forget the cold power of the Ancient vampire Sheriff that blanketed both the city and miles of the surrounding suburbs that clearly outlined his territory. After feeling that power, very few vampires dared to step out of line.
"What…what was that?" his sister asked weakly.
He was confused, perhaps it was a quirk of just what his sister was, but he did not think she would be able to feel vampire auras for several more years. "You could feel that?"
"Mmhm. Warm. Fuzzy." she mumbled as her head lolled on his arm.
Warm? It had to be the fever talking, he decided. In no way was the boy Death's power considered 'warm' or 'fuzzy'. Terrifying, yes. Warm and fuzzy, no. "I will leave you with the Sheriff, sweets, and he will protect you while I go back to help our family."
She shuddered in his arms, and clenched her small hands in his shirt. "Don't leave me."
"I know you're scared," he soothed and quickly skirted through the shadowed suburbs. "It will be okay. We've told you bedtime stories of the Gaul, and his Viking son. Remember?"
At her silence he glanced down and frowned at the deeper hue of her cheeks and the black shadows under her eyes. "If only my blood could heal you," he muttered and continued to speed towards the city.
The last few minutes of the journey were the hardest, as he could feel his little sister's body burn hotter with fever. Her scent slowly started to seep beyond the magicked sheet as the spell began to crack, and he thanked the gods that they were almost to the Sheriff's nest.
He ran so quickly through the city streets that the humans only felt a breeze at his passing. Unfortunately his great speed meant that his sister was shuddering with cold, but he had no other choice. Finally, he stopped before a sedate mansion at the end of a long, private driveway.
"Sweets, we are here." he murmured and barged quickly through the doors. If the precious burden in his arms did not mean so much, he knew that barging into the Sheriff's domain like this, ignoring all protocol of a younger vampire approaching an elder, would have had extremely painful consequences.
For a moment he stood in the doorway to the main gathering room, somewhat shocked that he had made it with his precious sister still alive. He cradled her to his cold chest as she stirred, and his eyes swept the room for any threats. It appeared he had interrupted some sort of party, and his fangs ached at the scent of the glamoured human companions.
"Josiah," she slurred. "I'm so c-cold. Please. A-are we t-there yet?"
He didn't respond as the entire room went silent and fangs dropped. "I need to speak to the Sheriff," he demanded, thankful that he was older than most of the vampires in the room.
"I am here." came the quiet, accented voice. The vampires and glamoured humans parted, and the Sheriff walked forward with his two lieutenants. Although shorter than either of them, it was obvious he was in charge. The female to his left looked Spanish in origin, and the other dressed like a cowboy although both were younger than Josiah by several centuries.
Josiah averted his gaze from the elder and bowed as well as he could. "Sheriff, pardon my entrance but it is an emergency. It has been several decades since we last met. I am Josiah, Child of-."
"I know who you are, youngling." the cool voice interrupted. "I can smell your Sire's blood in you, and the witchcraft around you as well. Why have you entered my territory and disturbed my nest? Who is this child?"
"She is my sister."
The cowboy scoffed but subsided at the Sheriff's glance.
"Yet I can hear her heartbeat, and I know your Maker's stance on sharing our sacred blood…and on Turning children."
Josiah nodded, "She is not, and will not, be my sister by Turning, but will always be my sister by choice."
The watching vampires stirred at actually claiming a willing relation to a human that didn't involve glamour, feeding, and fucking.
The sheet slipped as the girl shifted, and exposed her neck to the room.
Shocked silence filled the air before one young vampire gasped, "A Fated Mate?! I thought they were just stories!"
Godric ignored the vampires in the nest and stared at the small human. It had been many years since he had seen one of her kind, and never one so young. "Follow me into my office. Now."
The Sheriff turned to the watching vampires and calmly commanded, "The nest will be emptied for the evening, and unless it is an emergency all problems will be held until tomorrow night. Go." Without waiting for a response, he turned and walked deeper into the nest.
Josiah followed the three vampires into the center of the building. He was 800 years old, and vastly experienced, yet when they entered the Sheriff's office he had to grit his teeth to stay upright. Here the power of the Sheriff rested heavily on all who entered, and if Josiah's Maker had not been almost as old as the Gaul, he would have been even more uncomfortable in the room. While the Sheriff had been Turned young, barely into manhood, the power originating from his teenage body was formidable. He was Death, feared by all other Supernaturals, and this was why his Maker had commanded him to bring his precious sister and give her into his care.
The sheet slipped from her body and the scent of her blood swept through the room as the muffling spell finally collapsed. It had done it's duty, however, and had helped hide her until Josiah could get her to safety.
The two lieutenants froze as they reflexively took deep breathes, and their eyes fell to the girl's neck. They could see the marks, only visible to vampire eyes on her neck and wrists and knew they would also be at her femoral artery and over her heart. They almost seemed to shimmer in the light, and they warned every vampire exactly what this precious human was. That she was both a blessing to their kind, and the True Death to any who ignored the mark's warning.
"A Fated Mate. It's been so long. I hadn't heard that another had been born. And so very young!" the female vampire said softly.
Josiah and the Sheriff ignored them, their eyes locked. "Her name is Alexandra, but we call her Alex. Our bloodline was attacked by filthy wolves, and she was hurt just before my Maker commanded me to bring her to you." He carefully lowered her to the nearby couch and repositioned the sheet over her fevered body. "My Sire calls in the boon you owe him, and as repayment asks for you to protect her until the current unpleasantness has been dealt with, and we discover the reason for the attack. It should not take longer than a fortnight or two."
Godric looked down at the small, and so very precious, human on his couch. For the first time in decades he felt something besides apathy. What was it? Curiosity, perhaps. Definitely protectiveness. The girl's scent called to all vampires to guard her while she was still so vulnerable, although only one would ever have the privilege of her powerful blood once she reached adulthood.
"How did your bloodline find her?" asked the female vampire as she knelt and smoothed the auburn fly-away hair back from Alex's forehead. The child's smelled like rainfall during the coldest days of winter when snow was in the air. Crisp and clean.
Josiah carefully watched the three vampires. Just because his sister's scent encouraged a vampire's protective instinct, it did not mean that the vampire was incapable of hurting her. Just rather disinclined towards such actions. "Her family was killed in a car accident on some backwoods road in Canada. When we found her, she was the only survivor. Both of her parents were only children and had no living kin close enough to look after her, and because of what she is, my Maker decided to raise her until it is time for her to Search. The Council was made aware of her existence, and they commanded we keep silent about having found her until she was older."
Godric nodded. "I will guard her until your bloodline returns. She will be safe within my nest and under my protection," he said calmly before he turned to his lieutenant. "Isabel, call Dr. Ludwig. I charge you to care for the child, and to also find whatever a human girl-child may need. We will glamour the housekeeper to watch over her during the day. Josiah, will you rest here this evening, or head back to your Maker?"
"I must go, Sheriff, but please tell my sister we will return for her." Josiah leaned down and ignored the watching vampires as he laid a soft kiss on her forehead. She had worked her way into his, and his bloodline's hearts, and he would miss her. Humans had such quick childhoods, and he loathed to miss any of it.
He looked up at the watching vampires. "She likes blueberry white chocolate pancakes when she doesn't feel well. Thank you, Sheriff." With a last, lingering look at his sister, he turned and vamp sped from the room. He had a long way to travel before the sun rose, and plots to discover before it was safe to bring his sister home.
She was lost, and so hot that it felt like her skin was on fire. "Daddy!" she cried out as she ran through a shadowed forest. Thick mist moved around the trees, hiding them from her view, and she sniffled when she stumbled over another upraised root. Wrong, everything was wrong and she was so hot that it was hard to think.
"Josiah? Gabriel? Bennet? Where are you?" she sobbed. All the trees looked dark and twisted, and felt so wrong…but something pulled her towards the center of the forest. Whatever it was made something deep in her chest weakly flutter.
"Daddy!" she cried again. Why wasn't he coming? Her daddy and brothers were super strong and fast, better than even Batman! Why weren't they answering her? Why was she alone?
She cried out and staggered forward, the pull in her chest making it hard to think. A tree, graceful and pretty but still so wrong, seemed to lean towards her and she whimpered and struggled to move away.
A soft voice echoed through the shrouded woods, and her head snapped up in surprise. Maybe she wasn't alone!
"Your touch seems to frighten the child." The words faded into the fog, but she could tell they came from the same direction of whatever was pulling at her. The voice was soft and calm and she didn't want it to leave her alone.
"No! Don't leave me!" she cried, and once again gained her feet, only to almost fall as the world spun around her like a merry-go-round. The voice made her feel safe, and she wanted to hear it again.
"I don't wanna be alone," she sniffled, and whimpered when the branches from the nearby trees scratched at her skin. They were wrong and she didn't want them touching her!
"Shh, child, you are not alone. You are safe."
The voice sounded closer, but still so far away, and with a last gasp she broke through the forest and into a clearing. In the center stood a beautiful tree that soared into the night sky, so tall that it touched the stars, and it's branches were so wide that no other tree dared get near it.
Her lip trembled. It was alone. Just like she was.
Her throat clogged with tears as she looked at it. It was so strong, but…sad. Tired. Hurt.
A tear slipped down her cheek. Lonely. So very, very lonely.
Her heart clenched and she wiped at her nose with her dirty arm. The flutter in her chest gentled as she looked up at the huge tree. It reminded her how she felt before her daddy and brothers saved her. How she sometimes still felt, as if something was missing. She had asked her daddy about it once, the sad feeling she sometimes got, but he had told her to be patient and one day it would be better. She wanted to give the tree a hug, like when her daddy hugged her, and made the sad feeling go away.
She looked down, and saw that her sparkly-purple painted toes were at the very edge of the great shadow it cast across the clearing, but unlike the dark forest, she was not afraid. Instead of a creepy darkness, this one seemed like it would hide her from all the monsters she was sure were following her.
"She seems to respond to you, vampire." she heard a second, grumpy voice echo from behind her and, with a terrified cry, she dashed forward.
As soon as she passed into the great tree's shadow, she immediately calmed. Warmth. Home. Safety. Nothing could get her here, nothing could harm her while she was under this tree's shadow. With a sniffle, she stumbled towards it's base and pressed her face against the cool bark. It smelled good, like her favorite candle that her daddy bought her for her room and made everything smell warm and campfire-y. She was so hot, and her head hurt, and she slipped to the ground and huddled against the smooth bark. She sighed and felt soothed and comforted at the cool touch against her face.
Something under her hand caught her attention and she picked it up. "An acorn?" she whispered. Her daddy had showed her one once when they had gone on their walks through the woods around their home.
"She is obviously delirious Dr. Ludwig, she only reacts to the coolness of my hand against her fevered skin." answered the calm voice from before, and she happily smiled as it wrapped around her like her favorite pink fuzzy blanket on her bed at home.
"I'm scared," she whimpered into the tree, and cuddled closer to it. Something had happened to her, something had attacked her family, but her head ached and all she wanted to do was sleep.
"Do not be afraid." came the quiet reply, and she felt her fear slip away.
The ground around her stirred, and she looked down when the roots of the tree rose and shifted to create a hollow space just her size. Gratefully she curled up, and weakly giggled when a thin, green root tentatively wrapped itself around her wrist. She pet it with clumsy fingers, and smiled sleepily as it seemed to protectively curl further around her wrist with gentle strength. The fluttering in her chest eased and she sighed in relief. She looked up, but the tree was so high above her, and she was so very small, that she doubted it even knew she was there. Tears dripped down her cheeks that she couldn't make her tree feel better. It hurt that she couldn't make her tree happy.
"Shh," said the fuzzy-blanket voice. "You are unwell, and need to rest. You are safe, child. Sleep."
She yawned, and her eyes had started to droop shut, when a bright light filled the comforting shadow of her tree. She blinked dazzled eyes and stared at the white-winged figure above her. He was…familiar, somehow, even though the frown on his face made her cower away from him.
"How can you be meant for this one?" he scowled, and stared up at the branches above. "There must be a mistake, how can this one be considered worthy of such a gift? And how in the Gods' name did you find your way to this place now?!" he said, and reached down to pick her up.
"No!" she whined, and clung to the thin root around her wrist. "I don't wanna go! My tree needs me! Can't you see it's sad?"
The winged man stopped and stared up at the monstrously huge oak. 'Sad' would not be a word he would use to describe what he felt while standing under the shadow of it's power. He was lucky to have remained here unseen for as long as he had. He shuddered, and gripped the girl tighter.
"You are ill, and easily confused. This one cannot be meant for you. Listen, when you are older…." he paused, stared at his stubborn charge, and shook his head in exasperation. "Why am I even arguing with a toddler?" he grumbled to himself, and with quick movements unwrapped the root and hoisted her into his arms.
"No no no! It's mine! Give it back!" she sobbed as the fluttering in her chest grew painful. She weakly flailed in his arms, and reached down towards the root that stretched to meet her fingertips.
He watched in shock as the two met, and the slender root gently twined around the girl's small fingers. He could see their auras shifting towards each other. Shit. His job had just grown much, much more difficult. None of the others had been this much trouble, and the girl was still barely more than a toddler!
The branches above them began to stir, and he quickly passed his hands over her eyes and sighed when his troublesome charge went limp. "Sleep, and when you awake this will be just a fever dream, and as easily forgotten. No one can know who your mate will be. You must forget."
The winged man shifted the girl in his arms as he prepared to move her soul back to it's rightful place, and never noticed the small acorn the child clutched in her other hand.
Sleepy, brown eyes opened and stared into the grey ones of the vampire next to her.
"Where's Josiah?" she asked, scared. She was hot, in a strange place, and she wanted her brother. Where was she?
"Your brother left you in my care, and you have my word that none shall harm you here. I am Godric, Sheriff of Area 9 in Texas."
"Sheriff," a grumpy voice said. "The girl will sleep for the next few days, but should heal quickly. I've bandaged her leg but it looked worse than it really was. Since she cannot drink vampire blood, it must heal naturally."
Alex struggled to focus as everything seemed to float around her, but at the word 'blood' she panicked. Her family told her to never drink a vampire's blood!
"No blood!" she said, and began to struggle with the heavy blanket. She looked up at the Sheriff and struggled to find the words. Her daddy told her she always had to be polite, but her head hurt and she was scared. "Please Mr. Sheriff Sir, no blood!" She had promised her daddy to never drink any vampire's blood, and he would be angry if she disobeyed him!
A prick in her arm made her jerk and look at the short, odd woman next to her.
"This will help you sleep little girl, no one will give you blood here." said the grumpy sounding lady. She turned away and snickered as she muttered, "Mr. Sheriff Sir!"
The world began to swim, and with a huge effort she turned her face towards the other vampire. "Mr. Sheriff Sir?"
Calm grey eyes stared down into her own, and her chest fluttered softly. "Sleep, you are safe here." he quietly said and some of her fear went away as the world turned soft and dark around her.
Several days later
Godric looked up from his desk at the sound of small feet limping down the hall and pausing outside his door. Several days had passed and the girl, Alex, had bounced back from her injuries with the ease of youth. Isabel had taken over her care and he had yet to actually talk to the child. He could hear her heartbeat quicken, and heard her giggles as she struggled to move the heavy door.
"Hi, Mr. Sheriff Sir!" she chirped when she finally huffed and puffed the door open. She stared up at the quiet vampire behind the huge desk, and brought her thumb up to her mouth. Her daddy said she was too old to suck her thumb, but it made her feel better. She nervously clutched her new teddy bear to her chest and rubbed her nose in his soft fur. She liked this vampire, liked his quietness and soft voice, although she didn't think he liked her. Tears filled her eyes at the thought, but she clutched her new bear to her and felt better. She missed her daddy and her brothers, but somehow Mr. Sheriff Sir made her feel better. Less alone.
Earlier in the evening he had introduced her to his nest. She wasn't used to so many people staring at her, and she had shyly hid behind his legs. He hadn't made fun of her, or moved from his spot in front of her, until Ms. Isabel had managed to coax her with a surprise gift. When she had turned to show him what it was, he was gone. When she finally managed to escape, she somehow found the way back to the room Ms. Isabel had said was his office and was 'not for children'. She didn't want to get in trouble by going into the room, but some of the vampires in the nest were scary and she really wanted to hide behind him again. When she was around him, it was like she was wrapped in a warm blanket, and nothing could hurt her.
"Good evening, child. I believe you were told this room was not for you," he said, even as he turned his attention back to the important documents in front of him. With words to soft for her mortal ears, he called for Isabel to come retrieve her from his office.
"If you wait quietly, Isabel will-," He stopped and blinked when an object with brown fur was shoved into his face.
"Look, Mr. Sheriff Sir! Look at what Ms. Isabel got me! She said you told her to get me a toy and look!" she squealed. "It's a bear, and he has a cowboy hat and a sheriff's badge! I named him Mr. Sheriff Sir, just like you! Do you have a badge too? Can I see it?"
Godric's lips twitched when he glanced down and saw that someone, he suspected Stan, had sewn small vampire fangs into the toy's mouth. "Ah, yes. I am glad that you are satisfied with the toy," he said quietly. "And no, I do not have a badge."
She scrunched up her nose in confusion. "What's sa-tis-feed mean?"
Godric sighed and looked at his desk. He had much work to do before the night was over, but he could not bring himself to hurt her feelings. He could hear Isabel approaching, and knew that he would only have to entertain the child for a few more minutes.
"The word is 'satisfied' and it means to be happy with how something turned out."
"Oh." she said and looked up at him with big brown eyes. "Then I am sa-tis-feed with Mr. Sheriff Sir. He's so soft! Thank you!" Quickly, she stretched up towards the vampire, and gave him a big hug.
Godric stiffened in shock. How many decades had it been since someone had touched him? Since a human had dared to do so?
Even after Isabel had gently chastised the child and taken her away, and long after he had returned to his work, part of him worried that she would be tainted by him. That somehow his generations of bloody genocide would mar her innocence. She was sacred to his kind, a Fated Mate, and he refused to be the reason she was so damaged. She had his protection while she was in his Area, but, he decided, he would leave all of her management to Isabel and the glamoured housekeeper. She was only one small child, no matter her special destiny. Surely she would be little trouble. In fact, he doubted he would even have much cause to see her before her father and brothers returned for her.
With that thought he turned back to his never ending pile of work, and staunchly ignored the twinge of sadness at his choice.