A/N: This very short piece is in no way related to my ongoing series. There is a small tie in to "Black Balloon" (my other stand alone). I am hard at work on the next chapter of Left For Dead, but I was compelled when I woke up today to give in to the holiday spirit. I wish all of you peace and joy this holiday season.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or stories from The Southern Vampire series. I can only hope that Ms. Harris does not mind me taking them out to play with.
Fangtasia would be crowded tonight, Christmas Eve always was. So many humans felt sorrow at this time of year, rather than the joy and spirit of the season. They would drown themselves in drink, or come looking for a renewed life, hoping in vain that a vampire would notice them and find them worthy of turning. They didn't realize that very few smells are more foul than the stench of desperation. They are lost souls and deserve our kindness, she would tell him. He would just scoff at her, not understanding her pity for such useless sacks of blood. She would scold him for his lack of empathy, and he would give in, showing a bit more attention to the throngs for this one night. Not for them. For her. It became their Christmas tradition.
But, that was long ago, and Fangtasia was no more than a distant memory for him. He had a new tradition now.
He moved silently through the trees. There was a thin layer of snow on the ground. It was unusually cold for this time of year in Louisiana, though nothing compared to the frozen Scandinavian land he once, and now again, called home. There was a new moon tonight. He would not need his enhanced sight, he had walked this path every Christmas Eve for the last one hundred years. The property and its surrounding homes and land all belonged to him. He would not see it spoiled by time and the endless 'progress' of man.
The smell of evergreens and fresh snow hung in the air. He slipped silently to his knees, having reached the place he sought. With reverence and purpose his hands brushed the leaves and snow from the stone. His fingers traced each letter.
1979 - 2012
The headstone was simple, as she would want. He'd laid her to rest in the cemetery by her home, as she would want. When the bullet severed her jugular, he'd allowed her to die in his arms, instead of turning her. That, too, was what she'd want.
It took decades to uncover the plot and destroy those who took her from him. He'd always known Niall's enemies would target her, but for all his vigilance, in the end he'd failed to protect her. Her death was the spark for a second war. She'd had protected status with his kind, as well as the shifters, and her assassination by the fae was the only catalyst needed to shred the thin veil of peace.
So many had fallen, but he had seen it through to the end, hewing down the last of her killers only months ago. It was the last gift he could give her. Now it was done.
He drew his sword from its sheath, placing it on the Earth above where she lay. Forgive me, Dear One. His head bowed, he prayed silently. Not for him. For her.
Dawn was nearing. He hadn't forgotten the vow he'd made to her all those years ago. The promise she'd never known about, sealed with a ceremonial knife.
Eric, this is not what I would want.
It was my solemn vow.
You wish to honor me, and you have done so. Will you not continue to do so?
There is nothing left for me on this Earth.
You have given your all to war, you must give your all to peace.
You were my peace.
Our love is eternal, if you allow it to remain alive within you...
A soft, shimmering light surrounded him, wrapping him in warmth. His hand clutched to his chest as he received her gift. It vibrated beneath his fingers, thudded in his ears, and rushed through his body. Once. Twice.
A heartbeat for each of them.
His crimson tears fell silently to the snow. His gaze cast toward the sky, the North Star bright overhead. He would spend this day, her favorite day, in the ground beside her. He would rise with new purpose. He would make himself worthy of her gift, he would honor her memory. The time for a new tradition had come.