After the End

By LastScorpion

Written for Signe's Blood & Wine Intoxication Challenge (see www . oxoniensis . popullus . net / intoxication / main . htm )

Disclaimer: The characters from "Forever Knight" are owned by Sony or Columbia/TriStar or James Parriott, not me. I'm just fooling around.

He finds me every February.

I don't know how.

One thousand years ago (how long that seems, when one spells it out like that!) he saved me from the "fate worse than death." Also he saved me from the fate exactly as bad as death, but I have paid him for it in full, I think -- paid him in the coin of devotion, almost of worship, through so many long, dark years.

He is not even my master now. My master is dead by his hands.

I was unaccustomed to think that there was ever any hurry to sort things out with Nicolas. LaCroix sent him unforgiven to his dusty grave, and now I'll never know how it would have worked out between us, or if I would have ever forgiven him for his presumption.

No. I know I would have. I always forgave Nicky everything, in time, and he always forgave me.

I don't know exactly what happened between them at the end. I don't want to know, but I can't help making up stories about it in my head. Natalie came between them, of course, there was a frightful scene, ending with the lady and her knight both dead on the floor, and the master vampire snarling above their bloodless bodies. No, that one accounts for the dead, but not for the survivor.

Whatever it was, I'm sure Nick would be the first to tell me it was all his fault.

LaCroix will never say that, but he finds me every February.

For hundreds of years, of course, he had to have his day of mourning. He spent those alone, for the most part, grieving for his lost virgin. My company was neither required nor appreciated. But there was something about February; it was always a bad month with him, even before Fleur.

I don't know anything about what the world was like when he was young, about the funeral customs of the ancient Romans, but I think there's something wrong there. Nicolas was never the only fool in our "family." Mourning is for the living, for the widows and orphans left behind to starve. To carry such a grief for eight centuries, even at the rate of one night per year, is very nearly insane.

And since he killed poor damned, deluded Nick, it's become *so* much worse! Zut alors! Not one long night, but an entire *month*, and every minute of it spent wallowing with his dead! And he must always find *me*, I who have better things to do than watch an old man drink, and see him safe to shelter before the sun rises!

Ah, well. Things could always be worse. At least he does not weep and wail, as poor dear Nicolas was often wont to do. I mix the blood and wine for him with my own hands, and keep one eye and one ear for my old master. He quotes the modern poets, whom he loathes -- volumes of portentous stuff near midnight, punctuated with that mocking giggle, and dwindling to a bitter taciturnity towards dawn. My business flows around him, in the years when there is business. Mortals keep their distance through instinct, I suppose, and vampires from hard-won caution.

When it is just he and I, in my home, I drink with him, and we reminisce. These are the worst years. I do not wish to share his sorrows.

I wish only to live forever, and mourn no more.