author's notes: and here it is, the very last chapter. i swear to God i didn't write this to confuse people, it's just what my brain demanded it become. and i'm not ashamed to admit that i edited this to perfection, because that is what it is okay? it's perfect! modesty still doesn't suit me. anyway, i hope you all enjoy the last chapter, i sure had a blast writing it.
disclaimer: fic•tion [fíksh'n]: literary works of imagination
CHAPTER 24: THE END
there's a weakness at the window
place my footprints in a dark room
there's lonely voices like a scarecrow
in the hallway like a lost ghost
in the bedroom i see a shadow
from the moon with light from a candle
on a bed frame lies a girl
her reflection in the mirror
People say that when you die, your whole life flashes before your eyes.
"You are mine, Illeana," Godric says softly. He sacrifices a little bit of his soul, but it's what he needs to do to keep her safe. Claim her, own her, even though the unspoken claim she has taken on him essentially makes him hers. "No one will ever hurt you."
Illeana smiles to herself, still looking down to where their hands are locked. She doesn't look at him immediately, because she fears she might buckle under the sheer scrutiny of his loving eyes. And she wants to treasure this moment for the rest of her life.
"Godric," Eric's voice slices through the atmosphere, but doesn't feel out of place. How could it in this very moment? Both Illeana and Godric turn their heads to look at Eric. His head is slightly bowed, the way it usually is in Godric's presence. "A word," he adds, and glances at Illeana briefly. It's clear he doesn't want her there.
"Of course," Godric answers, Illeana leaving his side wordlessly. She knows when her presence is needed and when it's not. She's learned that much. Eric's eyes bore their way into her back as she makes her way into the house; she's just inside the room when she stops in her tracks. Something inside Eric's heart still hates her. "You think me selfish?" she hears Godric ask.
"You've spoken of her and equality in the same breath for so long..." Eric fails to find more words. He's just witnessed his Maker making this human his, and it sickens him to his stomach. But he's also seen the change in his Maker, a change for the best that has him clinging to the life Illeana can offer him. He suddenly wishes he hadn't spoken at all.
"I love her, Eric," Godric says, and Illeana feels a smile crawling to the corners of her mouth, her heart making a leap in her chest. "You can understand that," Godric adds, even though he knows that asking Eric to understand the emotion is a great feat indeed.
Eric remains silent. He's come to accept Illeana's presence, but he doesn't know whether or not he can ever accept the place she's seamlessly taken up inside the nest.
She wakes with a start.
Outside, she can hear the fireworks starting early; it's barely eight in the evening.
When she sits up in the bed it feels unnaturally gracious, one smooth movement upright. Illeana puts a hand to her chest; beneath the palm of her hand there's a stillness now that never used to be there, a missing of something vitally crucial. Her heart; it doesn't beat anymore.
A cold hand brushes her hair to the side, hesitant fingers caressing a short path down her jugular vein, and then desperate eyes find their way into hers. "You are certain this is what you want?" Isabel asks, voice slightly trembling.
"There's no going back for me, Isabel," Illeana answers softly. She's never expected much from life, because a world where getting your hopes up immediately means having them shattered had little left in the realm of expectation. She's never expected much; not when she learned that every little thing that went bump in the night was real, not when Godric accepted her by her side. Not even when he made her his. She's never expected much and she thinks maybe that's why she's getting everything she's ever wanted now.
Isabel leans in, and Illeana closes her eyes. She tries to summon the memory of Eric biting her, of how it had felt when the pain cut her in half, just to have some idea again of what's about to befall her. Isabel's fangs pierce through her skin like butter, and Illeana draws in a short pained breath.
She feels like screaming, feels like fighting the pain of Isabel's lips sucking at her skin, fight against the realisation that Isabel is literally drawing the life out of her. But she doesn't, because she knows this is what she wants.
Her fangs slice through the young man's skin as easily as always; he tenses up momentarily, breathing through the pain, but he quickly relaxes and allows Illeana to continue feeding. She usually doesn't feed directly off humans in this way, nor does Godric, but they were Eric's guests tonight, and declining his offer wouldn't be polite.
Illeana thinks Eric does it especially to taunt her, since Godric and her have become such fervent supporters of vampire/human equality, but neither of them allow the annoyance to touch their hearts. They both know Eric now, and know that he would never do anything to really harm them. Maybe, just maybe, Eric has come to accept Illeana for the person she is: Godric's wife and lifelong companion.
She orders the youth from the room minutes later, and settles back next to Godric on the sofa, savouring the effect human blood has on her vampire body. It's like it spreads through her entirely, swimming through her veins, elevating her body temperature by a few meaningless degrees. She puts her head down on Godric's shoulder when he puts his arm around her.
"What's wrong?" he asks softly. It pains her to know that he understands her still and she now has to rely on her instincts in trying to understand him. She now realises that the years she spend in the nest as a human were absolutely vital; she needed them to know him completely, independent of her gift.
"Nothing," she lies, because she's never made him any promises about telling the truth, and saying it now might hurt him. She knows that much.
Godric looks down at her. "It's your heart, isn't it?" he says, and she slowly looks up at him. She hates the guilt in his eyes even more than she does the hole where her heart should be. She asked to be turned, longed for it with – ironically – her heart, entirely, so she can't blame anyone but herself. And she does, blame herself.
"I can't get used to it." Illeana casts down her eyes.
Godric kisses her hair softly.
At the age of twenty-five, when destiny has bestowed her with the worst and the best possible kinds of fate, Illeana Tyler dies at the hand of a vampire. Not in the way her parents did, or her foster mother. No, she dies willingly, because all she used to love is now dead, and everyone she still loves will live forever.
She thinks that becoming a vampire might finally put a stop to this Mary-go-round ride, to this cycle of needing hope and having that hope shattered in the most horrible of ways time and time again. An end to the pain.
Isabel had driven her to the woods, because apparently a Maker and his Child had to spend a day and night in the ground together for the turning to take. Despite being wholly ready, Illeana's nerves are on edge and every one of her senses is on high alert. For all intents and purposes, she'll still be dying. She's afraid to think of what she'll lose, so she focuses on all the things she will gain.
Isabel as her Maker.
An eternity with Godric.
"Try and relax," Isabel says, lovingly placing a hand on Illeana's shoulder; unlike it usually does the touch makes her heart jump in fear. She wants this, she needs this, but right now all she feels is the cold night air breezing across her skin, raising the hairs on her arms.
"Where's Godric?" Illeana asks and looks around anxiously. She needs him now, more than ever. She wants him to be the first to look at her when she emerges from the ground.
"He'll be here when you wake up," Isabel answers, concern still riddled all across her face when Illeana sits down on the ground, looking up at her soon-to-be-mother in anticipation. Isabel still knows she shouldn't be doing this; she doesn't want to be doing this. But this is what Illeana wants with all her heart.
"Thank you for doing this," Illeana says softly, and swallows hard in an attempt to slow down her heartbeat. She fails.
Isabel picks up on her anxiety easily enough. "Just relax, Ana," she says, and sits down by Illeana's side. Her cold hand brushes Illeana's hair aside.
The graveyard is eerily horrific at night, especially in the autumn weather, only accompanied by the brief rustle of leafs. Illeana doesn't like it here one bit, but night-time is the only hour she can go out, and she wasn't going to deny Isabel this.
"Do you think he was happy?" Isabel asks, her arm linked in hers, and they both stare down at Hugo's grave. It's a big dark gravestone with golden lettering.
"I think he was," Illeana answers softly, feeling her eyes tear up when she thinks back on all the nights she'd spend with Hugo, talking over coffee, or him trying to teach her how to cook. She smiles to herself; how useless that skill was now. Though she thinks that if Hugo had known he probably still would have wasted his time on her. "Doesn't mean he ever stopped loving you," Illeana adds, because she knows Isabel needs to hear it.
"You can't know that," Isabel shakes her head, and a stream of bloody tears escapes her eyes.
Isabel is right; she can't know that, not anymore. But she'd known Hugo, and despite the contempt he'd felt towards her once he found out Isabel had indeed turned her, she knows that he'd loved her. She'd seen him once after she turned, fighting his addiction with fangs and trying to start a new life for himself.
She knows he married, and had two kids. He was happy; she might not know that for certain, will never know for certain, but that's a truth she finds in her heart now. Maybe there still was something inside her that was human after all.
People say that when you die, your whole life flashes before your eyes.
How true a saying that is.
She sees, right behind her eyelids. She sees.
The little hand of a four year old drawing flower patterns in a pool of blood, simply because she doesn't know any better. It goes cold but she still manages to have fun with it, because she's only four and only such things matter in the life of a toddler.
The little hand of a toddler on a two thousand year old vampire's pale skin, a white-blue shine coming from her blood-covered little fingers. He had to keep her safe, he knew that in that very moment, and has known it ever since, because her ability might wane, but their love never will.
The hand of a little girl on a grown vampire's, making smudges on her perfect skin. The vampire doesn't move her hand, but looks at the girl the same way she does years later; as a daughter. "Don't worry," Isabel says softly, "You are safe now." The young girl doesn't know any better; she believes the nice lady in front of her.
Her little hand reaching out for a fluffy animal hesitantly, the first of many yet to come, while the swing she's in rocks her back and forth. It's a sad day, but pain goes away eventually.
Her hand reaching for the door of the tattoo parlour, but his voice stops her for the first time. "Hello, Illeana," the voice says; she knows who it belongs to all too well. She only gets the tattoo two hours later, after Godric is long gone, but her knees won't stop shaking.
Her hand closing the door to her dorm room, while her other already reaches for one that will become familiar in years to come. It's the day that she turns her back on one world, and tries to gain entry into another.
Her hand reaching for his chest when he tells her to look into his heart. "It isn't calm," he says, his eyes settling in hers. "It's death." She tells him he's lonely instead, but deep down she knows she's speaking of herself more than anything. His hand comes to cover hers lazy seconds later. "I cannot be what you want me to be."
Her hand reaching for her own chest once her mother asks her whether or not she loves Godric. "I do," she answers, two words she'll repeat twenty-two years later when she marries Godric. She finds her heart beating fast, rhythmically, and in chime with a greater truth: she will never love anyone else the way she loves Godric.
Him lifting his hand to her cheek, caressing his thumb over her skin, telling her everything she's ever wanted to hear. "Because it is you, princess. All these years, all this time, it has been you." Tears spring to her eyes. Tears of joy, because she swears she can almost feel his heart beating, hear it coming to life right inside his chest. "My life, my love, princess mine."
And then, with a final dull thud, Illeana's heart stops beating.
Her legs dangle over the side of the bed loosely, her feet making imaginary footsteps in the air. All the movements come so easy now, flawlessly so. Godric moves in the bed behind her, and in a reflex that's too human still, always, Illeana draws in a breath, only to find the movement feels unnatural. Her lungs don't need the oxygen.
When her feet touch the ground, there's not much of a difference in temperature anymore. This time around her footsteps come silently, as if she's a ghost, roaming through the house, intricately attached to it because it's her heart, her love. Her home. She haunts her home now, because some part of her can never let go again.
"Ana, you have to eat something," Isabel says strongly, and shoves the cup of human blood back under Illeana's nose. The smell appeals to her so greatly that she almost considers taking it and downing it in a few greedy gulps. But something inside her, a remnant of her once human heart, keeps her from doing it.
"You said Tru Blood would sustain me," Illeana answers gravely, turning her head away from Isabel and the extremely appealing cup of human blood between them.
"But it won't give you the strength you need," Isabel insists, reluctant to admit even to herself that Tru Blood is a vile and ghastly drink no vampire should be subjected to.
"I'm not..." Illeana shakes her head, her lips remaining parted once her fangs slide out. It freaks her out so much she jumps up from the couch. "I can't!" She looks at Isabel, but walks to the other side of the room. "Not yet," Illeana adds finally and crosses her arms over her chest. She's hungry, hell yes, she's famished, but she'll continue to refuse human blood until she's ready.
Isabel admits defeat, and Illeana leaves the room quietly.
"You reason with her," Illeana hears Isabel say seconds later. There are footsteps on the tiled floor, followed by the tap of Isabel's heels. "She needs to feed, Godric," Isabel adds. Illeana hears the microwave being opened and a glass bottle being put inside. Godric doesn't say a word.
Illeana knows that Isabel only has her best interests at heart, but she also knows that if human blood was that vital, Isabel could easily command her to drink it. She is her Maker after all. Tru Blood will do for now; if it is the only taste she knows now, she'll never want for anything else. In truth, she doesn't feel like a vampire yet. She's too prone to trying to breathe, too careful around other vampires still, even though they are of the same kind now.
"Princess," she hears behind her, and a split second later, Godric is sitting next to her by the pool. He hands her a bottle of Tru Blood in silence; Illeana doesn't look at him. She feels bad, ashamed for wearing her hunger so outwardly on her face. "You shouldn't feel embarrassed, love," Godric reads her mind effortlessly. Illeana looks at him slowly. "It's only natural." He leans in and places a kiss right next to her lips. "Drink," he adds softly.
Illeana puts the bottle to her lips and takes one careful sip, the fluid running over her tongue sluggishly. She swallows another two sips before wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. She feels her fangs retracting as if she has no control over them. Godric tells her that won't always be so.
"What's wrong?" Godric asks when Illeana remains silent and just stares down at the bottle in her hand.
Illeana looks at him, eyes wide, and wrinkles her nose in disgust. "It really is quite horrible."
Everything comes effortless now. She doesn't know exactly when in the past few years it had happened, but she understands now; why Godric had once told her there was only death inside of him. That's what she feels inside herself now. A stillness, a hard black rock right inside her chest.
She puts a hand against the blinds in the living room, and feels the last hints of the sun's warmth inside the palm of her hand. She flips one of the switches on the wall, and the blinds slowly open up; new technologies allows them to look straight into the sunlight now. Her trade of day and night had been conscious, but she's grateful she still gets to witness these wonders.
The first time he sees her she's not the same person he met all those years ago. There's mud and dirt in her hair and on her skin and she looks like a scared little lamb about to be taken to slaughter. But then her eyes, the same evergreen eyes that are unmistakably hers, find their way into his. He walks over to her, and crouches down by her side. "Illeana," he says softly.
When his fingers touch her cheek, Illeana rears back in fright at first, because there's no longer any difference in temperature between their skins. "I can't..." she says, and places her hand over his, her other hand moving to his chest. "I don't..." she breaths, not realising she doesn't need the oxygen. He doesn't know what she's trying to say.
"Calm down, princess," he says, but Illeana does everything but. He can see red-rimmed panic filling up her eyes.
"I can't... f-feel," Illeana stutters, and he understands instantly. He stares down at her hand on his chest and realises what she's so desperately looking for. He was afraid this might happen, feared that some part of her wouldn't be revived and would disappear from her altogether.
"It's okay, love." Godric puts his arms around her and pulls her close, rocking her in his arms. His white shirt becomes blood-stained with her tears, but he doesn't care. He only has to keep her safe from harm; nothing else matters.
It is the year 2020 and she's forever twenty-five, but that doesn't stop Isabel from celebrating her birthday. The date has moved on Illeana's request, because her human birthday brings her too many memories of her mother's death, but it is the only allocation Isabel had granted her.
Every year on the dot, there is a teddy bear to be found somewhere in the house. It's all fun of course, but if Isabel keeps this up for the rest of eternity, Illeana thinks she might need a house just to put all the stuffed animals. Godric tells her that the oldest ones will probably decay before it ever comes to that.
"I'm not a child," Illeana says strongly, inching back in the bed to get closer to the warm body next to her. She knows Godric's body is really cold, but she doesn't feel the difference anymore; it's one of the best changes since she became a vampire.
"That you are not," Godric agrees, and leans in to kiss her. Illeana turns in the bed to allow him to capture her lips fully, and when she does, they melt into a deep burning kiss. She wouldn't give this up for anything. Not for the world. Not for miracle resurrections. Not even for her heart. That is truth, and it will remain so for the rest of eternity.
The ring Godric gave her has been there for years now, but with her death had come the serenity she had always admired so much in the rest of her new-found family. A tranquillity that put aside human urgency and immediacy. So it's been there for years, waiting, anticipating this very moment.
She looks at herself in the mirror, at the short white gown she bought two weeks ago, at the curls in her hair that she'd spend the past two hours perfecting. At the bouquet of flowers on the dresser that she'll walk down the aisle any moment now. If she'd been alive still, her nerves might have killed her. But instead of the raging storm her heart would have made, there's only dead air, unmoving noiselessness.
When Eric comes to stand in the doorway, she knows it's him immediately. Not because her gift tells her so – she lost that ability a long time ago – but because she's learned to distinguish the odd sound people around her make, the way they smell, the way they move. These are new things she understands, but in this world, in which she belongs completely now, she's far from unique.
"You think him selfish," Illeana says, not a question, but a belief she knows Eric has held for a long time. Godric had always spoken of equality between humans and vampires, but still turned her into one of his kind. They're equals now, much in the same way they were before, but Eric still sees the hypocrisy in all of it. And she guesses she can't really blame him for that.
"I do," Eric answers in short, because he knows that despite losing her gift, Illeana gets him in a way few others do. He figures it's her strange connection to Godric, the same in kind he and Godric have.
"I'm sorry." Illeana turns to look at him.
He thinks she looks beautiful, but he doesn't once consider telling her that. That's not his place, and it is definitely not in his nature. "What for?" Eric asks.
Illeana frowns to herself. She doesn't know exactly why she apologizes, but she's pretty certain that when she speaks the words she means them unconditionally. Maybe she apologizes for being the one keeping Godric alive, maybe her reasons are undecipherable entirely.
Eric watches as her reflection in the mirror slowly places a hand over her heart. He's seen her do it before, or look down to where her heart should be beating. Isabel tells her she'll get used to it; but he's not so sure that someone like Illeana ever could.
The humans, or what is left of them, are celebrating a new millennium, and she realises that soon, not too long from now, not long at all in a vampire's life, she'll celebrate her first millennium as a vampire. She takes off her ring, and makes it sparkle in the dim sunlight still left, before returning it pristinely to her pale ring finger.
Outside there is the incessant crackling of fireworks, the sun setting behind the horizon, painting the sky orange and pink and darker shades that are always unique. Beyond the pops she can hear people laughing, drinking, getting drunk and passing out long before the year 3000 comes. She remembers celebrating the year 2000 with her mother like it was yesterday.
In her human state she would have cursed her memory, even though she'd told Godric long ago that memories are the only things humans have sometimes. How much more true it is for vampires.
The world outside has changed, but Godric and her, and all the others her kind have not changed alongside it. They remain the same, in stasis, from now until forever. She's done her best fighting for human and vampire rights alike, for equality and other things barely imagined when she was human.
Most of the time she'll even find herself admitting, or realising, that she loves her life. It still is everything she's ever wanted. And she imagines that won't change in years to come.
But then her memory kicks in, and she remembers how her heart would have grown, would have blossomed at such thoughts once, and a tinge of melancholy touches her eyes in the form of blood-red tears.
She hates the hollowness inside her chest.
"Princess," she hears behind her. He'd promised her they'd watch the start of the new millennium together. It's just the two of them in the entire house. He walks over to her, his bare feet hardly making a sound on the floor.
Illeana doesn't move, but waits until Godric is standing behind her. She waits patiently, for something she knows that is bound to happen, because it always happens. Just how once she kept him alive and gave him a reason to live, he has become her reason to continue on. He's always been her reason.
Godric puts his lips to her shoulder, and Illeana closes her eyes, and she takes in a breath she doesn't need and always, oh yes, there they are.
Her butterfly wings.
NOW: all you lurkers and secret admirers, come out of hiding and leave me a record number of comments! there are 122 alerts on this story, so i expect at least half of those people to comment! okay i suck at being mean: pretty please with cherry on top?
additional author's notes: pfew, wanted to take this time to go through my knees and bow down by your feet, because you have been the most awesome readers and reviewers a writer could ever ask for. this started out as a little story about keeping Godric alive, and turned out to be an epic love series. you guys kept me going, constantly kept me on my toes, and were just overall amazing. so a huge big THANK YOU! to all of you. part of me is happy i finished this, and managed to give Godric and Illeana their happy ending, part of me never wanted it to end.
thank you for sharing this journey with me!