Mountain City, TN

March, 1984


"You better have a good explanation for why we're wandering the backwoods in the middle of nowhere," Victoria hissed at James.

They had been running through the woods of Tennessee for what seemed like forever and she had no idea as to why. James had suddenly taken off and all they could do was follow his lead.

"I'm tracking down my singer," he said simply. The predatory smile on his face displayed his glee.

"You have another singer? How many have you had in the past century," Laurent queried, beating Victoria to the punch. She snickered.

James growled in frustration. "I don't want to hear another word from either of you."

Eventually, the coven came upon a small, rundown house surrounded by foliage. It didn't look like the type of home humans should live in. Victoria could smell the mold in it from a mile away. However, three heartbeats could be heard inside the shack. One of the heartbeats was definitely that of a child. Victoria blanched as a terrible thought crossed her mind.

"James..."

Before she could stop him, he was already flitting toward the shack. Victoria and Laurent followed after. She hoped that he would not go for the child first and instead, choose to play his mind games as he usually did.

When she entered the home, James had already began draining the mother. Victoria did not stop to take in the sheer filth of the home. Instead, she followed the delectable scent that she knew would lead her to the child.

Victoria burst into the last bedroom and her dead heart dropped into her stomach.

"Oh gods..."

The little girl could not have been more than seven years old, but she was so tiny that a human could mistake her for being a toddler. Her caramel colored skin was covered in a layer of dirt. Victoria could smell that she had not been given a bath in over a month and she had been forced to relieve herself in her own room. She could also smell old wounds.

The little girl looked up at her slowly, her body sluggish from starvation. The sheer intensity of her hazel brown eyes struck a cord in her. The girl's eyes lit up with hope and she smiled as best as she could. The red haired vampire felt a wave of determination course through her veins. She had to do something.

Victoria grabbed the cleanest blanket she could find, gently covered the girl with it, and picked her up as if she were a baby. She was surprised that the little human showed no signs of distress or fear being in the presence of a predator.

"What are you doing with my meal, Victoria," James asked exasperatedly, picking at the wall with his fingernail.

Victoria startled, unable to find words for her actions. She didn't know why she, a lover of indiscriminate killing, felt the need to save a human child. She never felt the need to save any other human before this one.

"I won't let her suffer any more than she has," she said finally, conviction permeating every word.

"She won't suffer. It will only take a moment," he said in a placating tone. His blazing eyes portayed another story.

When the tiny human whimpered and hid her face in the crook of her neck, Victoria growled at him in a way she never had. It was not playful or annoyed. This growl was protective and warned of death should he attempt to harm the little mortal in any manner.

He looked at the scared human child, who peeked through Victoria's wild mane with fear in her unsettlingly wise eyes. He looked to Victoria, who held the child with a gentleness he had never fathomed to be possible. The thrill of the hunt dissipated.

James sighed, throwing his hands up.

"Okay, but don't say I never did anything for you. If you were anyone else you would be dead," he grunted in annoyance.

"Oh and good luck taking care of that thing."

Laurent watched him storm out of the shack with wide eyes. He never thought he would see the day when Victoria could show compassion, let alone seeing James walk away from a hunt. He thanked god for his vampiric memory.

Laurent placed a hand on Victoria's shoulder as they left. "You did the right thing, cherie. Even with her scent, you chose to protect. You are stronger than James and I combined."

She held the child closer, feeling her seeking more contact. The girl's scent didn't bother her but she would not tell her coven mates that fact.

"It just felt like the right thing to do," Victoria said quietly, still in awe at her own actions.

A large part of her was still very confused as to why she did it, but she knew she couldn't take it back. The girl's horrid parents were dead and now she had no one in the world.

Laurent moved a piece of Victoria's hair to look at the little girl. She shied away at first, but soon became interested in his hair. He laughed and handed her one of his long dreads to examine. She giggled and yanked it. Thankfully, he could not feel it.

"My name is Laurent. What is your name, little one?" he asked gently as to not scare her.

She became sad and frowned. Laurent felt his heart do an odd thing. It seemed to ache in his chest for the first time in centuries.

"I don't like my name. Will you give me a new one," she asked quietly, moving to look at Victoria head on.

Victoria was stunned. She had never been given the task of naming another living being. However, the sad look on the girl's face made her feel obligated to do it. A genuine smile formed on her lips as a name came to mind.

"I think the name Raven fits you well. What do you think? Is it pretty?"

The little one smiled brightly, liking the sound of it. If Victoria liked it, then it had to be really pretty. Because she was really pretty.

She turned to Laurent once more with an excited smile on her face.

"My name is Raven."