Chapter 22 - Demetri

As the year slowly passed and my eyes had calmed to the same golden shade as my beloved Sarah's, I mused on all that had transpired. I knew I could not survive without her and even though it had been hard and continued being difficult and extremely uncomfortable at times, I craved the blood I had feasted on for seven hundred years. It had gotten easier of late and I shied from doing anything that might make Sarah see me as she had Aro. For her I could do anything.

I learned more about her then I thought possible as I watched her interact with her family. I had been more correct then I knew when I had said she was joy and light and I could not help but notice that everyone was drawn to her and the life that radiated from her. Each in this strange familiar blend of characters needed my Sarah in a different way and she responded to each in that way. I was intensely proud of her.

Where I had once thought I was not capable of loving another person, I now found myself incapable of living one day without Sarah's love. I hated to be from her for longer then a couple of hours. I couldn't go that long without touching her, if she was within arm's reach and often sought her out, though she never left me alone for long. I liked to think she couldn't be that long without me.

We hunted only with each other, strengthening our bond further. I particularly enjoyed those times. Sarah would drop her civilized façade and become who she had been born to become. She was strong and bright, a great fire compared to everything else in my life and that she chose me, each time, it took my breath away.

Esme came and sat beside me as I watched Sarah in a rough and tumble game of the American football she so loved. It was hard for me not to jump out of my chair each time she was thrown to the ground and rip the male off her that had done the tackling. My instincts concerning her were often quite hard to control. She was mine and I would let nothing happen to her.

She always laughed at me at such times and kissed me until I had calmed. Even after the time that had passed, I had a hard time seeing the others as her siblings, though intellectually I knew that's how she saw them. They were still males in close contact with my mate.

I watched Esme as she watched her brood. She was a lovely female, the softest and gentlest I had ever met. She never judged and I was grateful for it. I turned to her often as I would a mother -- or a sister.

"Why," she began turning to face me, "did you save her?"

It wasn't a question I had been expecting and it took me a moment to answer it. I had to examine several painful memories to get to the one I looked for.

"It was her eyes. Sarah had the most beautiful eyes. They were the color of the sea and like it they were fathomless and ever changing." I was not one with a lot of words, but I could certainly talk about Sarah.

"The first time I saw her, she was standing focused on the floor and doing her best to escape a vampire," I chuckled at the thought. "She was so tiny next to Heidi, yet so much more. When she flicked her eyes up and I saw into their depths, I was gone. I drowned in them in that moment."

Esme sat still, waiting, so I continued self-consciously.

"I saw in that moment she knew what we were and there was a strange acceptance in it. It was a wild, exhilarating feeling and it flowed through me. I knew I had to save her, for what, I selfishly didn't care, but I had to keep them from killing her. The feeling grew from there to the realization that I could never be without her."

"Would you have let her leave Italy?" Esme asked.

I nodded, "Eventually, yes. I knew it would come to that. She is … Sarah is joy. Even had she no other power, she would have that."

Esme smiled in agreement, "Now that you are here and we have begun to know her for who she truly is, we see that. She is quite unique in the way she accepts what is given to her. It was hard to see her so lost."

I winced at the thought of a true frown on Sarah's face, "She would not have survived in Volterra. They would have snuffed that joy and corrupted her. I feared for her but had no one to leave her in the care of, no one to trust.

"I was torn between my loyalty to the brothers, who had in essence raised me, and my adoration for her. I chose wrong that day. I had hoped the fact that she was my mate would be enough to stay their hand, but I left anyway, knowing what would happen and praying it wouldn't.

"I blamed myself when I came back and my Sarah was gone as though she had never been."

I paused remembering the horror and grief that had sunk into my soul at returning and finding my room empty, devoid of her warmth and light.

"I did not believe the story I was told, not truly, but felt so unworthy of her that I didn't follow. Then later," I paused uncomfortably at the memories of that time, "I couldn't. I felt her constantly in my mind and resigned myself to the knowledge that that would have to be enough. There were times that was all that kept me from going mad. It was harder then I ever thought. I finally agreed to come here out of desperation. It was that or die."

Those months that we had been separated had been the most difficult in all my centuries and not for the physical punishments I had endured. After Sarah had left, my existence truly was pointless. I had more or less withdrawn from everything. Nothing had color or texture. Before Sarah, my life had been predictable, a bit boring, but fine. After Sarah, it was nothing but endless dark.

"And now?" Esme asked pulling me from my musings.

There was a light in her eyes that told me she already knew what my answer would be, but that she wanted me to tell her anyway.

I met her eyes steadily, "I would walk through hell for one word from her lips."

She sat back in her chair nodding; a pleased smile lit her face even more.

Sarah glanced over at us and caught me looking too serious for her likes. She immediately left the game and came behind me to drape her arms around my shoulders. I felt the same homecoming I always felt the moment she touched me.

"I don't think I have seen you smile for a while, Tri." She said calling me by a pet name she had adopted and smiling. I basked in her warmth and couldn't help teasing her a bit. It always came as such a surprise to her.

"No one has given me cause to smile."

She raised a single honey tinted eyebrow, "And now I am supposed to entertain you?"

I nodded soberly watching her lovely eyes soften into molten gold.

Without another word she slid her dirty, grass stained little body on my lap and nuzzled me with her nose before kissing me lightly on the lips. I couldn't help the tightening I felt at her weight and the brushing of her smooth lips against my skin and I smiled, in spite of myself.

She drew away, satisfied and untangled herself from my arms. I growled at the loss and she laughed.

"Well, my job's done for the moment." She said lightly before half-turning to rejoin the game.

"You sure, you don't want to learn to play?" she asked me again, warm eyes searching mine for the truth I could never hide from her. "You might actually like it."

Still thinking of her weight on my lap, I looked over at Esme, who nodded gently and I stood. Today might just be a great day to learn to play a contact sport. Sarah took my hand and together we went to play.