Disclaimer: Characters do not belong to me. They belong to Charlaine Harris. Hopefully you already knew that.
Warnings: References to rape, some gory violence.
Other Notes: Please review, I always respond to reviews and messages. Thanks.
Its like losing a limb. The thought made her bark suddenly with laughter, and then the laugh turned into a horrible sob. But it was true. In the same way she instinctively thought to wiggle her toes or stretch her legs, her mind reached out to his. And every time there was no answer.
Every evening when she woke she tried again. Wiggle your big toe. No answer. Where are you? Nothing, which was an answer in and of itself. It meant that he was nowhere. The silence rattled every piece of her, even those that were no longer there. Sometimes she managed to hold it in and the result was a blank stare, speech that was barely audible. Other times it came roaring out of her. When the death sleep of the morning came, she begged the rising sun to make it all a nightmare, and to return reality to her by the time the sun set again. Every time she did it she knew how foolish her attempts were - she had not dreamed in over thousand years, why would she start now?
It seems that even through being turned and adapting through time, vampires never changed, not really. They became something else, that was for sure. But something stuck, something imperceptible at times, but became clear in others. Sophie-Anne thought idly of this enigma as Andre began undoing her complicated ball gown and she his tie and buttons. Eventually he gave up trying to pry the damn thing off and simply got down on his knees to lift up her skirts, and she couldn't help but giggle foolishly.
How was it after all these years they could still be like children with each other, like they had been when they began their undead life together. Never had they had such freedom, such power, racing through the wooded night of the old French countryside, feasting on every villain and scoundrel who dared crossed their path. He took to it easily, barely needing to ask of the life she was offering him. He understood as soon as she saw her delicate face looming over his rapist's shoulder. When she watched him kill for the first time, absently smearing the blood on his full lips with the back of his hand, eyes wide and glittering in the moonlight, she understood how he must have seen her that first night.
It was symbols in the dirt at first, left behind after the scent of men and blood began to fade away. She hadn't seen who had drawn them, and she never learned to read as a child so she hadn't known what they meant. But she was curious, so she followed lightly after them, burying herself in the earth during the day, and at night feeding on migrants at the edges of the towns they passed, easily picking up the scent when she returned to the path. The series of letters showed up again and again, sometimes carved into bark or stone, but always the same.
It wasn't until the third night that she saw him in the act, sitting alone while the three other men negotiated not too far away. His motions were slow and deliberate, speaking of the only strength he had left, that of will, as he used a sharp rock to press the letters into the log he sat on. He paused, and unblinking blue eyes found her face in the darkness.
He seemed to possess an unearthly stillness, even in life, like a tired old doll that could only stare. And yet she could see that there was a quiver to his every breath, small convulsions that wracked his wasted form. His broad but bony shoulders would tense and come together, his white hands spasmodically clenching into fists - something he still did now when he lost himself. And his eyes, those eyes that saw her for the first time, were wide and electric and thirsting. The eyes of an animal past his breaking point, that only ran on his most base instincts, to stay alive, to hold on to the last piece of identity he had with unrivaled ferocity.
His name. That's what he had been writing, she knew it then somehow. He told her later that it was the only thing he had ever learned to write, and it had become the only thing that held him together, though he had not known how much longer it would last. In order for him to hold on to who he was, he held on to his name, while she had given herself a new one. She wondered at times if she had come across his captors' trail a little later, if there would be anything left for her to find.
One of the men came upon him then, hauling him up by the front of his shirt carelessly. His thin, clenched hands were nothing to the grizzly-looking brute's fearsome weight. His was a new scent, she recognized, having not joined the group until the day before and he would go on his way in the morning. He had done a favor, and was now being paid for services rendered as he dragged the boy away from the others' gaze.
"Who is he?" the man had asked upon meeting this small band, nodding towards the fair crumpled-looking thing amongst them. Sophie-Anne knew this when Andre's mind became a part of hers.
The men grinned in return. "Whoever you want him to be."
Sophie-Anne remembered fondly what it was like to haul that wretch up by the throat, spit dribbling from his mouth that held rotten teeth, his trousers still around his ankles and member standing out into the air. He had grinned stupidly at her when he saw her pretty face, her small body, not seeming to understanding the crushing weight around his throat. She didn't even bother to drain him - she was satisfied with the others who she had disposed of so quietly and quickly that he had not noticed - she merely pressed and pressed until the veins stood on his forehead and his face turned a royal color. All the while the boy remained sprawled on the ground, his face red and swollen from his most recent abuse, and stared at her in wonder. It had never occurred to him to run.
Sophie-Anne perched herself on the extravagant bed as Andre patiently removed her shoes and peeled off her stockings, his eyes only leaving hers to bend and kiss the cool pale flesh he revealed. She felt the rich fabric of the coverlet and her gown underneath her fingers, and could not help but think of how the first time they made love had been on the ground with his back against an old pine and her legs wrapped around him. It had been the first time either of them had experienced sex in such a way - on equal ground and with passion. Since her transformation of course she had seduced many a man and woman to take as prey. But that was hunting. This was entirely different, and taking his face in her hands to kiss him he felt more hers than any human that she had taken the life of ever did. She felt the wrapping of her mind around his along with the new strength of his body, her blood seeming to have fleshed-out the muscles that she ran her palms over. It was the same body and same hands that she felt over a thousand years later, but now after years of a careful combination of warfare and seduction, the soft silks they lay on were the product of the kingdom he helped her build.
Then there was that promise, that new expectation - that not only would it belong to her now, but him as well. They could finally be, after all this time, after everything they worked for, partners instead of master and servant. Side by side, one in the same. It thrilled her and she wasn't sure why. It intensified his every touch, his presence, that arms that held her would soon no longer be those of a loyal soldier, but of her king. When they had danced together she felt more connected to him, more in sync than ever before, so much that she did not dare let go of him as they made their way back up to the room.
Neither of them been had ever been the kind for brutal loving, though they had their moments where violence in the hunt carried over to their bed, but the promise between them from that first night had always been time. They always had time, so they took it. As the dress finally came off, Andre languidly crawled over as she lay back on the bed, with the patience and elegance of a prowling cat. He lowered his mouth to hers and kissed her just as slowly, one arm braced by her head, the other hand lifting her small ribcage to meet his. When the time came, he would let her drink from him first - this time from his wrist so she could drink deeply though she often liked nipping at his shoulders and lips, teasing herself with little drops - sometimes several times, before he allowed himself a share, and it was always until the point where he could no longer resist. He liked to wait. He liked to give her everything she wanted.
But he would not be hers, she would not appreciate his devotion if she did not reciprocate. He didn't want much really. When he drank from her, it was a mouthful from the throat, no more. Sometimes she thought he liked to tease himself, other times that he didn't think he deserved any more. But he did. He deserved it all.
That was why she took him, all those years ago, to find the uncle that sold him into slavery, a man who was entrusted with the family of his late brother, and used them to make a few coins. Andre's brothers had died trying to protect their mother, Andre himself being too young and too skinny to protect himself. He did not know what happened to his mother, for they were separated. He hoped that she did not have to suffer as long as he had.
The old man had cowered before them. He had thought Andre was his betrayed brother at first, a ghostly apparition far more beautiful and fearsome than the man had been in life. Andre let him think this as he took the bastard's arms into his now powerful hands and crushed the bones slowly. He did this again and again, with the feet and hands and legs. To come up with a more creative revenge was too much to ask of this new horrible creature who, despite the stoic face he kept as he went of his work, quivered imperceptibly with rage. He didn't bite him. Rather, he crushed him little by little until the blood came oozing out. When he bent to taste, the thirst overcame him and he ripped open the barely alive man's veins with his hands to drain him dry.
For a long time when Andre thought of his human life all he could remember was the people he grew up with dying around him or at his own hands, and the feeling of lying alone covered in blood, shit and semen. It wasn't until recently that he began to remember what it was like to run in the orchards with his cousins, stealing fruit from the trees, and this was only because Sookie Stackhouse's fairy-tinted scent reminded him of what crushed apples tasted like when licked from bare, dirty hands.
"You are such a beautiful, respectable woman, my dear Sophie-Anne," her late husband had remarked, back when he was still trying to make her love him instead of trying to kill her. "And yet you surround yourself with thugs. Why?"
Sophie-Anne smiled at him then. "Darling," she said to him, "that's how things get done."
A quiver waved through her, but she held it down just in time. He would have made a good king, even if what Threadgill had said about him was true. Andre was used to doing her dirty work, and he did it well. He didn't bother with charisma or wit. He was brutal and efficient, and he applied all of that to making her into what she is. What she was.
And now it was over. It didn't matter that her fleshy stumps that were once legs got microscopically longer everyday. It wasn't just about her limbs. The body that was once her empire was now crippled, it had been beaten down and received its final blow. A thousand years of work amounted to this moment here, staring at a white ceiling feeling as though she was sinking, as she heard unfamiliar footsteps coming up the stairs.
They had almost had everything. All the time in world, but in the end they ran out. And now everything was in pieces. Sophie-Anne sighed. She almost felt relief that she could make a sound other than a murmur or a cry. Maybe there was something of her old self left in her yet.
The voices and footsteps were getting closer. She thought of calling out to Sigebert, but she didn't need to. He was already absorbed in war, she could tell by the scuffling of bodies against each other and his muffled battle cry. There was not much going in that head of his in such moments.
Not much of a fairytale, she thought. Enemy combatants have come for the queen. She thought of the story she heard of once, that when an army was sent to kill Alexander the Great's mother by the ambitious and ruthless Cassander, each soldier stood before the woman then walked out unable to bring themselves to complete his mission. Sophie-Anne did not think she would have such luck. There would be no great storybook finale for her. But that should've been obvious enough from the moment she rose from the earth before the ashes of her maker, in the modest hut of a cowering priest. Vampires don't get their happy endings.