Disclaimer: I don't own any of the VHD characters, places, etc.

Chapter 5: Mother

There. It would have to do. Unmarked and forgotten, but it was something. Minerva's body had been gone when he'd come back, and there was no sense in stirring up trouble to find it. Instead, he'd found a nice place off the road and piled a few stones up for her, before standing and staring down at his handiwork.

"She was a good woman…" his left hand stated. "Too bad the kid's too young to remember her."

"Victor will take care of it," D replied.

"It must be hard to be a mother."

"Too high a price," D agreed softly, gazing at the rocks over the frozen earth. He wished he could have buried her properly. Minerva had died alone, utterly and completely. It seemed as if burying her with his own two hands would have been a small step at making that up to her.

"She's not the only one who paid that price," his had said darkly. D paged back in his long memory to the woman with peat colored hair and dark blue eyes, the woman he had spent the beginning of his life with. Her wide smile had seemed a true gift to him, until he began to realize how lonely she was and how empty the days were. He had never played with the other children, just as she had never interacted with the other humans except for a soft request or a few necessary words. Looking down, he wondered now if Minerva had suffered the same alienation. He assumed she must have, given her untimely end.

He thought back to that evening only a few years ago when Minerva had thrown a blanket over his shoulders in the middle of the wasteland. It was one of his most striking memories. She had treated him as one of her own, of the same caliber and kind as she tucked her family in and gave him an extra blanket. That her life had been turned so miserably solitary and hunted over her child, a child she loved enough to die for, wounded him. His mother had been the same way, had been the only one to reach out to him and pour every waking moment to his happiness and affection, heedless of the fangs growing from his jaw, his unusual height, or the bearings of nobility on his face and frame. It had not mattered to her, because he was her son.

"Do you know what happened that day?" D asked. The parasite was silent, mulling over his words. He let the creature think.

"Only rumors," he confided. "It was rumored that your father killed all of those people in retribution but Carmella, captain of his guard at that time, quashed them all. Even utterances of that night were obliterated. I do know that your father was dangerously ill for a long time after he took your mother's blood."

"You mean physically unwell?"

"He almost turned to ash and required the purest blood for restoration. I have my own conjectures about what happened that evening, but the only one you'd be interested in was that the servant in the room with your mother was bludgeoned to death, and your father was a much more exacting murderer, even in his own fits of rage."

"And?" D prompted. He got no answer, only an adamant silence informing him that it was up to him to formulate his own opinions.

D wondered if Minerva would have liked his mother. She had always seemed very subdued and tired, heavy with sorrows but happy to smile at him. Minerva had been much more vivacious, appeared with a brighter outlook on life. Still, each of them had loved children the rest of the world had hated. His own mother had loved a Vampire, and for that he couldn't forgive her, but she had loved him too…she had loved him. For any other sin, wasn't that the most beautiful and unforgiving love? The love of his mother had come in spite of him, in spite of his mixed blood and his father's race, in spite of the cruelness and ostracism rained down on her because of him. Minerva's love had been the same, the same love for her son in spite of her death.

He and Malacca were lucky, D realized. Their mothers loved them, truly and deeply, with all the strength in their souls. Suddenly, this small pile of rocks built as a meager memorial for a remarkable young woman became more then that. It was the only way he knew to honor the sacrifices of Minerva and his own mother, and he finally reached inside of himself and released the heavy knot of anger that had rusted itself over his heart. Whoever she had been, his mother was suddenly embodied in Minerva and finally laid to rest.

"What was her name?" the parasite asked.

"Mother," D replied.

"What is it with you and names?" he groused irritably. D almost smiled as he went to the horse and pulled off the saddle blanket once more. He moved a few stones and threw the blanket over the others, securing it by rebuilding the monument. He bid the remarkable duo farewell, the red head and brunet, both with dazzling blue eyes, and mounted his cybernetic horse. He made his way back to the road and began riding east at an easy gate. He didn't look over his shoulder with grief, but looked ahead with resolve and acceptance.