A/n: Wow, so final chapter. Special thanks to all of you who have been reading this since its inception. I couldn't have done it without your encouragement. Hope you enjoy!
"Are you sure you want to do this?" asked Raye, wringing her hands.
"You were the one that said this was a good idea," said Darien, looking at her incredulously.
"I know that! It's just if it kills her…I wouldn't forgive myself."
"Setsuna said that it won't…and I trust her. Besides I've already sent people all over the planet gathering the herbs that we need. They've created the mixture, there's no turning back now."
"I still don't understand how this is going to work," said Raye.
"Have a little faith in me," said Setsuna, entering the room, her blue robes sweeping against the cobblestone floors. "I am over fifty thousand years old. I have seen many things. The council is cleaning and blessing the Spiritwood."
"Spiritwood?" asked Raye.
"A makeshift blade made from bones and teeth during the time when our gods walked the earth, given to the first Moriarian under the first full moon of the season. I suspect that Nehelania possessed something similar and it's what Serena used to drain your life force. It is what Darien will use to drain his own. The herbs that we have pounded into a powder make a chemical that will oxidize Darien's essence and Serena's blood once me mix them together. It will cause the blood to be absorbed directly into her cells and will allow cell replication. She will go through a dying process as the blood mixture destroys her old cells and births new ones."
"And how are we going to get her blood?"
Setsuna looked to the king. "Darien will have to bite her, as if he were feeding." The king's eyes narrowed. "I know what you're thinking. You will be able to control yourself. The saliva and bacteria from your mouth with help her blood adsorb your essence. It's a dirty, painful task, especially for the one being turned. But it will work."
"How long will it take to turn her?"
"Seven days. Three above ground, four beneath. If we can successfully help her survive the first three days when the body essentially dies, she will live through the rebirth underground and all we will have to do is wait."
"That's easier said than done," said Darien.
"Isn't it always?" asked Setsuna, taking the mortar and pestle from Joshua and placing it on the marble countertop beside her. "Are you ready for this, majesty? Once you bite her, you drain all that remains of what is keeping her alive. You will not be able to turn back after that."
Darien hesitated for a moment. "I'm ready."
Setsuna nodded. "Then begin. Bite her."
Slowly he descended upon her, his footsteps loud against the stone floors. He listened to creak of the bed as the mattress sagged below his weight. He looked into her face as he hovered above her; so pale, so broken and bruised yet so beautiful. She had no idea how much this man loved her, needed her. He would give up everything he owned for her. He leaned down slowly, the smell of her natural aroma wafting towards him as he neared her neck. He nuzzled the skin their lightly, listening to the drumming of her heart, his eyes locking onto the pulsating vein that lay beneath her skin. Willing himself to stay in control, to fight his very nature to drain her dry, he lowered closer, until his fangs, once hidden away from her, became a blatant fixation upon his mouth, until his forehead was buried against her silken, golden spun girls, until the tips of his teeth were against her flesh.
Pressing himself forward he lowered his teeth into her, breaking the skin as he ventured deeper until he could taste her blood on his lips. She twitched beneath him as he fisted the sheets, the taste of her flooding his mouth. Her blood was sweet, akin to the taste of currants and wine, it was thick, savory and warm against his tongue and he couldn't help it; he swallowed that first taste that brought forth warmth and comfort as it filled and fueled his cells. Fighting to break free from this crimson drug he suckled harder, taking as much into his mouth as he could fit and fought the urge to swallow. Mustering all the self resolve he could bear he moved away, closing his mouth to seal away the blood, pulling himself off the bed as he felt his fangs retreat into his gums.
He turned to walk to Setsuna who had had arrived swiftly at his side. "Spit it out," she said, "before you get the urge to swallow."
He did as he was told, spitting the scarlet liquid into the golden goblet before him. He let out a sigh as he licked the remnants of her blood from his lips and swallowed, reveling in the wonderful taste of her. He had done it; he had taken enough of her blood as to not kill her. Rebelling against his nature was one of the hardest things he had ever done.
"You did well Darien," said Setsuna, as an attendant rushed to cover up Serena's wound and stop the blood flow. Darien eyed Serena carefully before returning his attention to Setsuna, who was carefully stirring the goblet with a decorated spoon. A strange odor filled the air as her blood and the herbs combined inside the cup. It was sweet, like pumpkin and anise. "Now, for the Spirtwood."
She looked to another attendant, a young woman named Ariana, an apothecary who had helped gather the herbs for this procedure. Ariana quickly handed her the weapon, a jagged knife with a blade made of what looked shiny pearls, the handle made of black onyx, silver and emerald.
Setsuna handed the goblet to Raye and came to stand before Darien. "This blade must be thrust into the chest plate, in between the ribcage. It is where the bulk of your essence lies. Concentrate on yourself, let it flow, like a river into the cup. You'll need enough to stain the blood black. Don't weaken yourself too much, Serena will need you."
Darien nodded before taking the dagger into his hand, casting a look at Raye and pulling open the white shirt he was wearing. He inhaled deeply, bracing himself for the pain from the wound, pressed the dagger against him and plunged it into his chest. He cried out slightly as the blade cut through skin and muscle tissue, the tip reaching the inner void. He concentrated on what Setsuna had told him, ignoring the trembling within him. It was like the tip of the blade was rotating inside him, scarring and tearing at his innards. He concentrated on himself, his power, his lineage, until he felt something hot and warm dribble down his chest. Raye immediately placed the cup beneath him as the black contents trickled over the jeweled rim and into the pool of blood beneath it. He waited, ignoring the pain until the cup's contents turned a deep black before pulling the knife from his body and collapsing onto the stool beside him.
"Are you alright?" asked Raye, handing the goblet to Setsuna and taking a cloth to cover Darien's wound.
"I'm fine," he said breathlessly. " I just feel, tired. I'll be okay. What do we do next?"
Setsuna remained quiet for a moment as she stirred the contents of the cup, her trained eye scrutinizing the liquid. "Now, she must drink this. Her blood, your essence, and the magic of our people," she said, walking carefully toward the slumbering human. "Darien, hold her down."
"Her body will go into a rejection mode, it will be reminiscent of a seizure, hold her down or she will injure herself."
"Will this hurt her?"
"More than you can imagine," Setsuna said grimly. "Her body is literally collapsing and changing from the inside out. The first three days will be agony, but her living will be worth it, in the end."
Despite his utter trepidation he did as was told and placed his hands firmly against Serena's shoulders as Raye came around to hold down her feet. Carefully Setsuna rounded to the right side of the bed, opened Serena's mouth and began to pour the liquid in, slowly letting it dribble past her lips so that she would not choke on it.
Darien watched silently as she swallowed, the entire contents of the cup finally swirling in her mouth as the remainder trickled down her throat.
For a moment, a small moment in the infinity of time, the room was silent, calm, until the stillness was broken and Serena's body came to life. Her eyes shot open, the irises red with blood as she screamed, her body thrashing against the sheets, painful cries of agony passing unabashedly through her lips, tears falling from her eyes staining the blanket a pallid grey. For minutes he held her, telling her that things would be alright as she spasmed and squirmed beneath him, her loud cries carrying to the depths of the castle.
And suddenly it was finished, the red faded from her eyes and she collapsed into a flaccid mound of flesh and bone upon the bed. Darien bent down to caress her cheeks, his eyes filled with concern. "Is she alright?"
"Yes," said Setsuna, reaching for the blonde's hand and filling the pulse beat weekly against her forefinger. "If she survived that she will survive the change. Now we must wait. Watch over her, her mind will be in a panic, her body in a frenzy of change and disorder. But she will survive. Of this, I am sure."
For seven days he waited in worried silence, a majority of his time taken up by his young daughter. She was barely ten days old and was finally spending a decent amount of time with her eyes open, beautiful little noises passing from her lips. She reminded him so much of Serena. So much of the woman that lay resting underground, her body metamorphosing into something she thought she would never become.
It was almost midnight, it was almost time to stir her from her slumber to see if she had survived and Darien was fearful. How could he explain to his daughter what had happened to her mother if after all this, she died? He banished the thought from his mind. He watched as the baby girl sipped hungrily from the bottle of synthetic formula she was drinking. He had spent many nights awake with her due to an illness that came upon her during the fourth night of Serena's transformation. After many tests Joshua concluded that her physiology required a mixture of both baby formula and blood from the synthetic labs. Her hybrid nature forced her to need sustenance from both worlds to satisfy her hunger. Darien wondered what else his little princess had in store for him. He couldn't wait to find out.
"You done now, little one?" he asked, turning the baby into a sitting position and patting her back gently until the smallest of burps passed her tiny pink lips. He chuckled. "Nice one."
He couldn't take his eyes off of her. Darien had never been particularly fond of children, but he knew for a fact that he had the most beautiful daughter on the planet, and dared anyone to tell him otherwise.
A gentle knock on the door skewed his thoughts away from his child and he watched as Raye carefully walked in. "Setsuna says its time. And the only person who should be down there is you…to explain things to her. It'll be like waking up from death, she said. Serena will be confused."
Darien nodded before handing the infant off to his sister. "She just ate, she may need a bath…if she gets sleepy, put her in the crib, but don't forget to put her on her back-"
"Darien, I'm not a complete idiot, I know how to take care of a baby!"
"Okay, okay, just be careful with her," he said, walking past her.
"You know I never pictured you as a doting father."
He paused at the door. "Neither did I. But now, I wouldn't have it any other way," he said, shoving his hands into his pockets and exiting the room.
He walked quickly, passing each guard with a nod as he descended deeper into the castle towards the resting chambers. His hands pressed upon the iron gates that sealed all light from these rooms, walking quickly until he reached another door, pressed forward and entered.
He strolled lightly as he walked across the white marble floor until he came to a vast rectangular opening in the floor. The hole itself was filled to the brim with red dirt. Slowly he crouched beside it before digging his hands deep into the soil, curling his fingers around her shoulders and pulling her out of the pit into the embrace of his arms.
She lay against him, her head resting against his rib cage, her forehead leaning into his chest as he stroked her hair, gently, softly. "Serena? Can you hear me? It's time to wake up," he said. Over and over he prompted her with whisperings in her ear, until her lips parted. Her eyes fluttered open slowly before focusing on his own. Blue met blue and he fell in love again.
"Are you alright?"
She looked around wildly before throwing herself upward, her chest heaving with nervous fear. "Serena are you okay?" he asked, more firmly.
"Where am I? Where's our daughter?" she croaked out, worry etched into her face.
"It's okay, the baby is fine. Raye is putting her to bed. Everything is okay now."
"I don't… why am I here? Where is here?" Serena asked, struggling to stand as her knees buckled beneath her. She felt weak and strange and different.
"You're underground, in one of my resting chambers."
She looked at him confusedly her eyes falling to the mound of dirt then to the soil covering her legs and arms. Her eyes widened in fear. "Why was I down there?" she asked frantically, pointing at the pit. "Why? Why?"
"Serena let me explain-"
"What did you do?" she asked, her eyes tearing as she backed away. "Something isn't right, I don't feel right. WHAT DID YOU DO?"
"The only thing I could do to keep you alive!"
She breathed loudly, a panicked expression rampant across her face. "Tell me. Say it!"
"I turned you," he said. "Into one of us. It was the only way, Serena. You're body was damaged….you were dying."
"No, no, no, no," she said shaking her head. "You can't…I don't want to be like this…"
"I know…it was the only choice I had. It was selfish. I didn't want to live without you. I didn't want our daughter to be without her mother."
Mother. Mother. She sighed. Her daughter was safe, her baby was safe. Wasn't that all that mattered? She had been willing to die for her child, but she wasn't willing to live? She looked to Darien, he looked tired and broken and fearful. He had done this for her, he was willing to sacrifice his throne for her, he nearly killed Tiberius for her. They had both saved their daughter.
And he had saved her.
She looked to him for a moment before rushing into his arms, her resolve collapsing into maelstrom of tears. She was crying because it was finally over, because her daughter was alive, because Darien was beside her, but mostly, she cried for the humanity that she had lost.
"We're going to have to name her you know," said Darien, resting against the headboard of the bed as Serena rested her body against his. In her arms laid their daughter, her eyes opened wide and staring back at her parents.
"I thought you would have already done that. What have you been calling her all this time?"
Serena laughed gently. "Baby?"
"Yes, baby. I wanted to wait for you."
"What if I didn't make it?"
"I knew that you would. I had faith. We fought against the entire council and we won. Because of your strength. I knew you would survive."
Serena grinned. They did win. Against all odds, against everything that had been put in their way. "That's what we should name her."
"What? Survive? No child of mine-"
"No not survive. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. I meant, we should name her Victoria."
"Victoria?" he asked, still chuckling from her response. "Princess Victoria…I like that."
"Who said she was a princess? You have an illegitimate child from a human-"
"You're not human anymore. You've been a Moriari or vampire as you like to call us for a little over five hours now and our baby is not illegitimate. She was made with the woman that I love; the woman who will be queen someday soon."
Serena's mouth gaped as she stared at him wide-eyed. "What happened to all that stuff you said to me at the beach house that night we made her?"
"You're one of us now. Things are different."
"Well then what about your people? It was my doing that killed thousands of people. They wouldn't want me as their queen."
"Well according to Setsuna the tides are turning. And yes, that's a direct quote. A majority of the people that were supportive of the laws Tiberius upheld are dead now. The coliseum wasn't filled to capacity. Only filled with the people that wanted our baby to die."
"Are you trying to get out of being my wife?"
Serena sputtered. "No. Not at all. My entire life just changed literally in the last week. First things first, have we settled on a name?"
"I think we have; it's a nice addition to the royal family I think. King Darien, Queen Serena and Princess Victoria. It all sounds so regal."
Again Serena laughed. "Things won't be easy."
"When have things for us ever been easy?"
She smiled at his candor. "I suppose you're right. Being…like you…will take some getting used to. I'm having strange urges I've never had before. Things…I can't even barely talk about."
"The urge to hunt, to kill…the constant need of blood?"
"I don't like it…I feel like I can't control it."
"You'll learn to. I promise."
She turned her body to face him. "Do you promise you'll never leave us?"
He smiled gently before leaning in to kiss her, her lips soft and warm against his. "You have given me everything I have ever wanted. Why would I leave? I love you and our daughter, Serena. You're just going to have to face that you're stuck with me for eternity."
Serena smiled at him before smiling at her slumbering daughter. Her life here on Moriari seemed to only be beginning. And she was right, things wouldn't be easy. But for the first time in her life, she found a home, she found happiness, she found him.
And deep inside she knew that everything would turn out the way it should. She never imagined she would find a home on this planet. But she found more than that.
She finally found a family.
The End. For now…