Pairing: Athenodora/ Caius
Author's Note: The title of this fic, as well as the lyrics in italics are from Love Like Winter, from AFI's album Decemberunderground. On an unrelated note, the story is initially set in ancient Rome, simply because Caius is a Roman name, and Athenodora is Greek.
It's in the blood, it's in the blood.
I met my love before I was born.
He wanted love, I taste of blood.
He bit my lip, and drank my war,
From years before, from years before.
Caius was certain. What he was certain of did not matter; his conviction by itself defined him. The strength of his beliefs only increased with immortality, but his brothers (for that was what Aro and Marcus were to him) accepted it. Everyone clung to some aspect of their humanity; the white-haired vampire had chosen his tenacity.
With his iron certainty, he believed that he would never be defeated, that he would never be destroyed and that he would never fall in love.
Only one happened, but it encompassed all three so well that it could be said Caius was entirely wrong.
He saw her for the first time in Rome, when the city was under the rule of the emperors. Caius' transformation had occurred centuries before and he was skilled at fitting in. His white hair passed unnoticed, and his eyes darkened from a stark, aberrant crimson to burgundy when he had not fed, convincing the mortals that he was merely an unusual human. When seeking his prey, he waited in public places where he would be overlooked, choosing his victims from those who appeared lonely. Killing the forgotten ensured that their deaths would not be discovered.
The sullen, stormy twilight painted the sky grey, allowing him to wander the streets freely. Hiding in the shadows of a nearly-empty forum, he watched people hurry by, his eyes darting in search of potential prey. Two friends sauntered by, then a group of children, then a young woman by herself, walking quickly.
A flood of sensation, vicious and burning beyond imagining, tore through him. He wanted her blood, but the word was far too weak to express the sudden, bestial hunger clawing at his chest. His fingers dug into the stone of a nearby wall, leaving a perfect impression, as he struggled to suppress the ferocity of his desire, while the woman walked away, not even throwing a glance over her shoulder.
He could have killed her, but there were too many reasons against that course of action, Caius thought. She would have screamed, at least once, drawing onlookers. Hoping that they would not believe their eyes was foolish- since childhood, the people of Rome had believed in monsters and gods. They would immediately recognize him for what he was, endangering his family. Besides, she was obviously walking somewhere, home to her parents or her husband; they would look for her if she vanished off the streets. Yes, these were reasonable excuses for allowing her to pass by. He did not notice that he was trying to convince himself.
When Caius returned home, his eyes still dark, not the unnatural scarlet of a vampire after feeding, Aro was surprised, and sweet, laughing Didyme was concerned. Marcus, with his unusual gift of sensing connections between people, said absolutely nothing, though he did briefly raise an eyebrow, as if he suddenly understood.
Immortality gave Caius more time than he could ever have imagined. He had interests, certainly, but they could not occupy every moment he had. As he wandered through the airy villa that he shared with Aro and Marcus, he could not help wondering why immortality was so difficult for him.
He did not have a power, but this had not bothered him at the beginning; he was more than happy to rely on his strength and intelligence to achieve his ends. Then, both his brothers found mates who suited them perfectly. Sulpicia and Aro were both curious, interested in learning about their kind, and entirely devoted to each other, in a quiet, understated way. Didyme and Marcus, on the other hand, were so obviously, happily in love that the world did not matter when they were together.
Caius was alone.
With these dark thoughts dancing in his head, he retreated to his rooms, lit only by moonlight. Pulling out a scrap of parchment, he absentmindedly sketched the woman who had walked past him that evening.
Somehow, she became important to him. Caius watched her during the evenings, when his brothers were otherwise occupied. He remained in the shadows, far enough to avoid the temptation of her blood, but close enough to observe her
Athenodora, named after a goddess, was moonlight in the form of a woman. She was a silvery creature, with hair like winter, and eyes that were lively and mesmerizing as quicksilver. He had not spoken to her, but already she had reduced him to metaphors. It was a very bad sign.
Aro, Sulpicia, Caius, Marcus and Didyme were sitting together at a table, as mortal families would at dinner. Their parody of normality was oddly comforting, though they ate nothing and simply talked. During a lull in the conversation, Marcus looked at Caius and said gently, "You love her." His tone was certain, because his gift was never wrong.
"Who? What? Marcus, I never said…what do you mean?" Flustered by his friend's sudden insight, the white-haired vampire could not formulate an answer.
Didyme's smile was bright as sunlight. "I did not know! Marcus, Caius, why did you not tell me? Who is she?" Her warmth and joy spread palpably through the room. Didyme loved it when other people were as happy as she was.
"Let Caius speak," Sulpicia's voice was gentle and calming as she looked at her brother-in-law, who looked as though he wished to melt away. Aro took her hand gently, "You are right, my dear. Please, brother, tell us." As always, their leader sounded quietly interested, with hidden authority behind his words.
"Her name is Athenodora." It felt like a release, finally saying it out loud. "Her blood smells delicious to me, but I… I do not know. I like listening to her and seeing her smile, and…" His voice was surprisingly fractured and tentative. "She is mortal." It was an awkward confession, but it was the most that could be expected from him
Didyme laughed, "Oh, I am so happy for you, Caius! I cannot wait to meet her!" Her voice was like silver chimes, and Marcus looked at her affectionately. Her enthusiasm was more than contagious, making Sulpicia smile too, already anticipating a new addition to the family. However, everyone's eyes turned to Aro, waiting for his opinion.
"Dear brother, you know the rules of our people," he said quietly. "If you love her, we must change her. You cannot explain what you are, and what she will become. It is too risky, letting her know about us before she a vampire. Are you willing to turn her on nothing more than blind faith? She may not love you, Caius."
The white-haired vampire sighed softly and nodded. His decision was clear.
That night, a young woman with silvery-gold hair slept for the last time. Her dreams were restless and troubled as a slender figure with moon-bright hair and stormy, burgundy eyes crept into her room, lifted her from her bed and held her sleeping form close, then left with her as silently as he had come.
"I have made up my mind. Change her, Aro. Please."