The Age of Eric Contest

Title: The Viking and the Virgin Queen

Pen name: hearttorn (beta: vikingloverelle)

Characters: Eric, Queen Elizabeth I and a few other Elizabethan figures, three original characters.

Disclaimer: The character of Eric Northman is owned by Charlaine Harris and HBO. Queen Elizabeth I was owned by no man, nor woman save herself.

A/N: this is totally out of canon, although I tried to keep Eric pretty much to character. He is slightly different, in terms of dialogue, as he is in a different time and culture–Elizabethan England. Elizabeth I is my favorite monarch, and when I thinking of her, immediately the idea for this story came to me. What vampire could resist a virgin–a virgin queen no less? Although this is totally fictional, I portrayed the situation in England as historically as I possible –but as far as I know, I invented Prince Sven, Olaf and Josef. I will state, for the record, that I personally believe that Elizabeth I truly was a virgin until her death–most likely because she never met a certain Viking vampire. LOL Elizabethan ruff sized thanks to my beta vikingloverelle for taking on this beast!

May 1559, London

It was a good time to be in England. The Catholic Queen Mary I, was dead. With her, Spanish power over England–through her marriage to the Spanish king Phillip II–was broken. Protestants were returning home from exile, no longer forced to practice their religion in secret. The new Queen was a Protestant girl of 25, rumored to be extremely intelligent and adept at politics, despite her age and relative inexperience at swimming in the shark-infested political waters that made up the Tudor Court.

I had been wandering through Europe for some 200 years. I had made my way through Helsinki, Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin, Prague, and finally through France to Calais. I had even wandered down to Italy and Greece, marveling at the black waters at night. But, with the news of Elizabeth's accession, England was rumored to be the new center of learning, experiencing a renaissance. Having resided for several years in many relatively uneducated societies, I was ready for one that embraced and lauded learning.

I was past my 500th year as vampire at that time, and had reached the age where I felt my undead life was beginning to grow stagnant. I knew many languages and had adapted into many cultures, some very different from my own, but I was tired of hiding among peasants for my meals, staying in the shadows. The filth of most of Europe disgusted me–the Vikings were an extremely clean people, but at that time, most Europeans only bathed once a week. There was no system to cope with sewage and rubbish, and the strong odors everywhere assaulted my powerful sense of smell.

I had heard of the struggles in England, the descendants of Henry VIII fighting amongst themselves over power, position and religion. I myself had long given up my gods of old, and no longer embraced any one faith. Having been exposed to so many cultures, I could tell you that truly, no one was better than another. But I had learned that men would forever fight for their gods, no matter a golden idol or in stained glass.

The boy king Edward VI, a devout Protestant, died young of a chest ailment, barely on the throne of his father. His much older half-sister Mary acceded to rule, and tried to return England to the old faith by force. Burnings, hangings, beheadings were the death of the day in Mary's England. Superstitious and clinging to her mother Catherine of Aragon's teachings of faith, she feared the unknown and the different.

But Elizabeth...she was unusual. Having been given the advanced education usually reserved for males, she spoke many languages–though she had never left her native land. Disowned by her father, hated by her half-sister Mary and shoved aside in the line of succession by her younger half-brother Edward, she grew up wily and shrewd. When Mary imprisoned her for allegedly being involved in a plot to take the throne, she single-handedly argued against Mary's most seasoned interrogators and gave them nothing–not one scrap of solid evidence against her. She plead her case personally to the Queen, successfully arguing her innocence and winning her freedom. Having faced death a time or two myself, and being talented in verbal sparring as well as with sword, I could respect that. I admired a feisty woman, too.

In the port of Calais, I booked a passage to Dover immediately. I posed as a brother in mourning, taking a fictitious, slain sibling home in his coffin to rest. I was fairly adept at passing as human by that time, decent with imitating accents and, if well fed, able to appear positively rosy. I rested in my coffin during the days-long journey, a benefit of my age being that I did not need to feed as often. I was able to convince the rest of the passengers and the crew that I wished to be left in my room to mourn. Each night, I slipped from my coffin and threw the untouched meals left outside my cabin overboard.

Upon arrival in England, I immediately obtained a marvelous black horse from a drunken nobleman. As he staggered out of a pub late that night, I snatched and drained him, hungry from the long journey. I took little time to hide the body, but emptied his pockets and then rode off in the darkness on my new steed.

It took several weeks to make my way to London. I immediately took to the place. Even at night, the air in the city was alive with change. It was the perfect blend of new and old - new plays were being written and performed each night, yet the Gothic architecture of Westminster Abbey soothed my old eyes. This was a building built in my time, and I decided I would rest there during the days. It had many crypts and coves that were long lost, even at that time, any of them perfect for a traveling vampire.

I found a tailor and commissioned new clothes, in the latest styles, to fit my tall frame. I had a master plan, and I would need to blend in as much as possible for it to succeed. I ordered the best fabrics, the most opulent trimmings–pearl buttons and lace–to appear as a nobleman. I went to a blacksmith and ordered the best saddle for my horse, with the most elaborate tooling on the leather. Finally, I was ready.

I had learned in my long life to keep my ears open. I listened to all around me, ambient sounds and conversations, taking everything in. It was a practice that had served me well, and it never failed me. I learned much from the conversations I overheard. I began spending my evenings at a pub near the court, posing as a traveling Scandinavian nobleman. I sat and played with the ale in front of me as I tuned in to various conversations around me. Finally, after several nights of this, I heard something of great interest to me.

A member of the new Queen's entourage had come in for a pint to relax after his long day. He sat talking to several other members of court as they discussed the various goings-on at Greenwich, the Queen's London residence. My ears perked up as he mentioned a Swedish prince that was due to arrive any day to court the Queen. Kings and princes from around the world were flocking to London, hoping to win the Queen's hand in marriage and gain access to the wealth of England.

The aide-de-camp mentioned that he had arranged lodging for this Prince Sven, who was due to arrive in the next few nights. Another courtier asked where he had found a room, as the court was filled to capacity and most of the boarding houses nearby were as well. He replied that his brother-in-law owned The Black Arms, a boarding house near court, and had evicted another patron to give Sven the room. A ha–this was my 'in.'

I began to survey The Black Arms each night, awaiting the arrival of the Swedish prince. When I saw him, I knew instantly who he was - almost a mirror image for me, tall and blond. Perfect. Quicker than he could see, I snapped his neck and glamoured his two companions to believe that I was Sven.

Entering The Black Arms, I registered as Sven and moved 'my' belongings (most of which fortuitously fit) to my room. I brought up my new "roommates," who were named Olaf and Josef, and began explaining to them their duties under the new Prince Sven. They would explain to the Queen's courtiers that I had an odd allergy to sunlight at present, which was most likely temporary, but due to it I could only meet with the Queen after dark. They would schedule my interviews with the Queen, and tell anyone who would listen how attractive a potential husband I was. I would not spend the nights in the room with them, but they would not find this odd. Finally, I was convinced they were ready and released the glamour.

They easily spoke to me as Sven, and it was decided that we would have a bath and then we would all ride to the court. (I was pleased to see the Swedish were still a clean people.) I quickly went through the prince's trunks and selected the clothes I liked the most. Calling for the chambermaid, we requested basins of water for washing, a bit of cloth and soap, if available. When they arrived, we busied ourselves scrubbing as best we could with this light wash.

Once refreshed and dressed, we made our way to the Thames and arranged for a boat to take us to the palace of Placentia at Greenwich. The royal residence, which had been the Queen's birthplace and was to become one of her favorite royal residences, was a sprawling, imposing building. Simple in external decoration, it nevertheless overwhelmed the viewer by its sheer length and magnificence.

We arrived at the large wrought iron gates and Josef went ahead to announce me. We were ushered in to the palace and taken to meet one William Cecil. He was one of the Queen's most trusted advisors, and one of the most keen to see her married. All marriage paths to the Queen led through him.

A smallish, bearded man, Cecil was an astute judge of character. I quickly straightened and donned as aristocratic an air as I could. Being raised to be a leader and a warrior, this wasn't too difficult for me, and I had spent enough time observing the other courts of Europe to know the protocol.

"Ah, Prince Sven, we are most pleased to welcome you to England." Cecil gave a small smile and bowed to me.

I removed my hat and bowed with a flourish. "I am most pleased to be here, Sir William. I have heard such wonderful things of your Queen."

"Yes, our Queen is most lovely. She has many talents and is most gracious."

"This I have heard of Her Grace," I replied.

"I must ask you, though, Prince - how dost thou feel about strong minded women?" Cecil questioned.

I grinned. "I am most fond of them, Sir William. My culture places great value on women, and I myself enjoy a spirited woman."

Cecil relaxed slightly, almost unnoticeably except to my quick eye. "Excellent, excellent, Your Highness. The Queen is currently entertaining guests; shall we...?"

"I would be delighted." I bowed again and motioned for Cecil to lead the way.

We walked through seemingly endless corridors, until we reached a large "audience" chamber. People milled around, some at tables eating, some just chatting with acquaintances. In the back of the room, a man played the lute softly, almost too low to hear over the chatter. I scanned over the heads of the crowd, seeking the Queen.

She sat on an elaborate throne, which rested on a raised dais at the long end of the room opposite us. Surrounded by her ladies, she sat looking almost bored as the French ambassador paid her extravagant compliments. Dressed in a beautiful gown of silver-spun cloth, with a large ruff and lace collar framing her face, her flaming red hair set her apart as much as the small crown upon it. She had smooth, porcelain skin of the fairest white, almost as white as my own. Her small, gloved hands fidgeted with a fan in her lap.

Cecil led us through the crowd, Olaf and Josef flanking me. We reached the front of the room and in perfect French, he politely asked the French ambassador for a chance to speak with the Queen. The French ambassador turned, quickly took in my height and build, wisely excused himself to the Queen then stepped aside.

The Queen beckoned to Sir William, and he approached her throne, bowing deeply. They spoke in hushed tones, and I saw her black eyes quickly flash over me. She resumed her bored position, and Sir William announced us. I bowed almost to the floor, and kept my eyes down.

"Your Majesty, it is a great honor to be in your presence."

"Arise, Prince Sven." Her voice was strong, and rang out across the crowded room.

I rose and calmly met her eye. "Your Majesty is indeed as beautiful as it is claimed." I gave her my best smile.

"Is that so, Prince? And you place such a high price on beauty, do you?"

"Beauty is indeed a gift, Your Grace, but in my culture women are prized for more than their beauty. A woman who is wise and fearless is just as valued. I have heard tell that Your Grace is most blessed in all these areas." I bowed again.

"How...interesting, Prince. I think I should like to hear more about your culture." She gave a small smile and beckoned me closer. I approached her throne slowly, and she indicated to one of her ladies that she wished me to sit in the chair next to her. I gracefully lowered myself into the chair and turned to see her better. Up close, she greatly favored her father in looks, albeit a more delicate version. Her only trait from her mother, Anne Boleyn, was her coal black eyes - all the more startling in such a pale setting. I could tell from her scent she was indeed untouched.

I set about using my considerable experience in wooing her for the next several hours. We chatted easily about Scandinavian and Viking cultures. I even went so far as to teach her a few phrases in Swedish, which she easily mastered. She loosened up somewhat, smiling and laughing, tapping me on the arm lightly with her fan and softening her voice. I could hear ambassadors cursing under their breath as I occupied the Queen's attention. Cecil was across the room with a cautious smile on his face, always keeping an eye in our direction.

Quite late in the evening, she rose and announced she was retiring. I quickly leapt to my feet, and she tapped me on the arm again and said, "You intrigue me, Prince Sven. I should like to speak with you further. Perhaps we could have a private audience tomorrow." It was not a question, but a command. I immediately bowed and replied, "Your Grace, it would be my great pleasure." I gave her a saucy smile and I saw a small spark light in her eyes.

"Excellent. Tomorrow evening it is." Gesturing to her ladies, she strode out of the room with them falling in line behind her. The crowds parted for her and all bowed. Sir William reappeared at my side. "My Lord, I do think that went rather well." I burst out laughing.

"Indeed, Sir William, indeed. A good night to you, sir." I bowed to him again and my royal representatives quickly followed as I, too, made the crowds part as I left the palace.

As instructed, Olaf and Josef immediately headed back to The Black Arms once our rented boat reached its pier. They didn't even look back as I gestured for the rower to move further on down the Thames. Once out of their earshot, I directed him, "To the Abbey," and he nodded. I disembarked at our pier, paid the man, then glamoured him to forget me.

I entered the Abbey silently and returned to the small, abandoned underground room I currently called home for my days. Windowless and dank, I could tell from the smell that no one else had entered it in years. I shut the door, barricaded it with a large stone block I had found, and waited for the dawn to take me–all the while thinking of a lovely red-headed Queen.

The next night, I arose and flew to The Black Arms with renewed purpose. Olaf and Josef did not bat an eye at my sudden appearance in the room, dusty and in the previous night's clothes, and I quickly changed into a new outfit courtesy of the real prince Sven. We returned to the palace, again by boat, and were immediately ushered into a small waiting room.

After a short while, one of the Queen's ladies stepped outside the room and beckoned me inside. Olaf and Sven started to enter after me, but with a soft hand she stopped them, advising that the Queen wished to speak with me alone. I entered the small chamber and found the Queen seated on a smaller, less elaborate throne. I heard the door softly shut behind me and I realized I was indeed alone with the Queen–no others were in the room, not even any of her ladies in waiting.

I crossed the room in two long strides and bowed. "Your Majesty, it is a great pleasure indeed to see you this evening."

"And you, prince. Please, join me." She gestured to the empty chair next to her, an elaborate silver tray with cheese and fruit on a small table next to it. I shivered inwardly at the silver, but took my seat.

The Queen turned to face me. This night she was wearing a gown of midnight blue velvet, embroidered with gold thread. Her un-gloved hands were empty in her lap. The ring signifying her royal authority looked enormous on her small, pale hands.

"Your Grace-," I began, but she interrupted me.

"Elizabeth. Call me Elizabeth."

My eyes shot to hers, which were twinkling with mischievous delight. "I do think that, if we are discussing such a thing as marriage, we should be more casual with each other, do you not agree?" She didn't wait for me to respond before she continued. "In private, of course. I do not afford this privilege to just any suitor." Her eyes were positively dancing and a small smile played on her lips.

"As you wish, Elizabeth." I smoothed her name into as silky and sexy a sound as I could.

"Excellent! We will get on splendidly, I can tell." Her smile expanded into a large grin.

I started to make small talk, dancing the dance of court protocol, when she stopped me again.

"Do you know why I am meeting with you privately, Sven?"

"I can only hope it is because you favor me, my lady Elizabeth," I replied.

"I invited you here, in this setting, because I wish to ask you a question."

"You may ask me anything, my lady." I gave her my most disarming grin.

"What is your real name?"

The smile fell from my lips as I reeled inwardly from her question. I opened my mouth to insist that I was, indeed, Sven, and she held up a hand. "Please do not insult my intelligence by lying. If your culture honors wise women, do me the courtesy of telling me the truth."

Skit. I decided to take a risk. I still knew what my end goal was, and protesting would only hurt my cause. "My name is Eric, my lady."

"Eric. Indeed." Her eyes narrowed slightly as she gave me an intense stare. "And why, pray tell, are you impersonating the Swedish prince?"

"I hoped to meet you, Elizabeth." I met her eyes dead on. "Might ask I be so impertinent as to ask you a question, my lady?"

"You may. I may choose not to answer, but you may ask." I gave her a genuine smile - this was a plan of action I could respect.

"How did you know I was not Sven?"

She laughed. "You are much more handsome than the portrait sent to me of the Prince. I find that portraitists tend to make their subjects more handsome in their paintings, rather than less."

"A great compliment, indeed." I nodded to her.

"Now, I have another question for you. I can tell you are...something other. What are you?"

I tensed. I trapped her gaze with mine and tried to glamour her. But...it didn't work. As hard as I tried, her mind was strong enough to resist.

"I think, sir, that it would be in your best interest to answer. I have guards just outside that door; I will not hesitate to send you to the Tower. I can assure you, it is not a pleasant place." She gestured to a small, almost concealed door to her right, hidden as a panel of the painting that covered the wall.

Again, I decided to take a risk. If she panicked, I could easily defeat the guards and escape. But as she had been honest with me thus far, I responded in kind.

"I am vampire."

"Vampire? Why have I never heard this word before?"

"We take great pains to conceal our true nature, my lady."

"And what, pray tell, is this true nature?" Her face showed nothing but avid curiosity.

"We are undead. We slumber during the day, and venture out only at night." I glanced at her and she seemed accepting, so I decided to give a full description. I gestured to the fruit tray. "We do not eat food, but rather need blood to sustain us."

"Blood? Human blood?" Again, there was nothing but curiosity in her face. I was taken a bit aback; I had never before met a human that did not fear our nature, but there was absolutely no fear in Elizabeth's face.

"Yes. In some situations, we can sustain ourselves on animal blood, but it does not taste pleasant–unlike human blood, which is quite...alluring. I must say, I am surprised - you do not fear me, my lady?"

She smiled. "I have lived through worse than meeting a vampire, Eric, I can assure you."

"I must ask, Elizabeth, that you keep this in your strictest confidence–we vampires are secretive by nature, and do not normally share details about ourselves and our culture with humans."

"I can assure you the utmost discretion, Eric. My motto is video et taceo." I smiled, understanding her meaning - "I see, and say nothing."

She began peppering me with questions, and soon I had explained much of vampire culture to her. It was freeing to be with a human and be able to be honest about myself, yet I was still on alert. If she made the slightest noise of fear, her guards would attack.

Finally, I saw her eyes begin to look tired and knew it was time to take my leave.

"My lady, it grows late. I must leave you to your slumber." I rose and offered her my un-gloved hand.

She took it and gasped. "So cold!" I grinned softly. "Indeed, my lady. I am cold. My heart no longer beats, so I am cold as the grave." She reached her hand towards my face, hesitantly.

"May I?" she asked.

"Of course, my lady." I bent slightly for her to reach my face. Slowly, her warm hand patted my cheek, her dainty fingers traced my lips.

"Most fascinating! You are cool as death, yet you stand before me, clearly alive."

"It is a great magic that animates us, Elizabeth."

"Great magic, indeed. Eric...I find myself drawn to you. I should like to meet with you again, tomorrow?" This time, there was hesitation in her voice, and it was a request, not a command.

"As you wish, my lady." I bowed.

She started to the concealed door, and it opened from without just before she reached it. She stopped and turned back. "You know, my sister would have had you burned at the stake." With that, she strode through the door. I grinned, in spite of myself. She was quite the challenge to let me know she still had the upper hand, and having the last word!

.oWo.

The nights seemed to fly by. Elizabeth and I met as often as we could, and on the nights she had other engagements, I enjoyed the city of London. As a major port city, there were people of all cultures–tradesmen, sailors and immigrants. I was able to brush up on a number of my languages, particularly Italian and French, in speaking with these people. It was also an easy place to be a vampire–so many people, such heavy traffic on the streets. It was easy to find a meal. London was full of dark corners and alleys, safe places to feed or to leave a body.

Many Protestants from other countries were flocking to England, to live in a society where their religion was embraced. English Catholics were upset with the change of the national religion back to Protestantism, as a single Church of England. However, Elizabeth promised a society that embraced all and oppressed none. There was relative peace among the people in this Queen's realm.

As for the Queen herself, we grew closer as we spent time together. We would meet for late night horseback rides, I on my dark mount and she sidesaddle, with her voluminous skirts flowing over the back of her mare. It was on these rides, far away from the court, that we talked of the things most intimate to us. She was able to speak freely to me, in a way she could not even with her closest advisors and ladies in waiting. We each had secrets...

"I confess, I grow weary of the constant stream of suitors, each one worse than the last, being paraded before me. They wish to wed me just to control my realm. Why must a woman marry at all? Why cannot I rule my realm myself? I do not think I have done poorly thus far."

"No, my lady, you are doing quite well. Your realm is prosperous and at peace, which England has needed quite desperately for some time. As for the question of marriage, it is usual because most women need protection. You, however, are quite well protected."

"That is my point exactly. I do not need a husband to protect me; I have guards everywhere, I am scarcely alone. Even in my slumber there are guards outside my chamber. It is most ridiculous to think I should need more protection."

"There is always the issue of love, my Queen. Some are lucky enough to find it. The Italians, in their new Enlightenment, are beginning to speak of marrying only for love. Do you not wish to know the joys of love and marriage?"

"In truth, Eric, I have loved. I loved a man I met when I was just a young girl. You have encountered him at court, Sir Robert Dudley. I loved him and him alone I wished to marry. But he had already married another...an arranged marriage to promote his family's interests. I truly believe his heart was mine, as well. His wife died most unfortunately, by falling down the stairs when she was ill. Many thought it was no accident but that she was pushed, to make a clear path for Robert and I to marry without scandal of divorce. So strong were these rumors and suspicions that I could never marry Robert–to do so would be tantamount to admitting murder. It is not to be." Her face looked wistful as she reflected.

"But you trust him still? You do not think he was involved in the death of his wife?"

"Robert could no more have had Anne killed than you could survive seeing the sun rise. No, I trust him with my life. He has never advised me poorly, except to tell me that what I could never truly have was indeed mine–his heart."

"And what of physical pleasure? Did Sir Robert share that with you, as well as his heart?"

"Indeed, no. Robert was, and is, a true gentleman in all things. And you, sir, should not speak of such things." She blushed a charming shade of pink.

"Ah, but I speak freely what is in my mind. Do we not talk of topics taboo in polite society, confess ourselves to one another?" I gave her a saucy wink. She blushed an even darker shade of red.

"It is true, I do speak most freely with you, Eric. I find I can truly speak my heart with you."

I edged my horse closer to hers, and leaned over, close to her face. "And I you, my lady." I gave her the softest of kisses, not wanting to frighten her. She was hesitant, but after a short moment kissed me back, more firmly pressing her lips to mine. I pulled back after a moment.

"Thank you, my lady Elizabeth. That was a great gift, indeed."

She merely turned her mare, spurred it and took off back towards the palace.

.oWo.

We were on another night ride, and stopped to rest by a small pond. I removed my cape for her to sit upon, and then sprawled on the soft grass beside her.

"Eric, I have come to a decision." Her voice was serious, and I sat up a bit to look at her.

"Pray tell, Elizabeth."

"Do you see this ring upon my hand?" She gestured to the large ring of state and I nodded. "This ring symbolizes my royal authority. I have decided it shall symbolize even more–my marriage."

"Marriage, my lady? You have chosen a suitor?" It would cramp my plan a bit if she were to wed, but I would just have to move more quickly to obtain my goal.

"Not a suitor–England. I have decided I shall never marry; I am married to my realm. My kingdom needs me, and I truly believe in the divine right of kings. I was destined to be Queen, and Queen I shall be. No other shall rule my realm while I live." Her face was set and determined.

I was relieved. "If this is your wish, my lady, then so be it. Your realm can only continue to prosper with your guidance." I gave her a solemn nod in respect.

"But...there is more." She seemed hesitant.

"Yes, my dear Elizabeth?" I smiled encouragingly.

"I do find I am...quite strongly drawn to you. As I have truly decided to rule my realm alone, so I have decided that in order to do so, I must experience and embrace all aspects of life. Do you...do you understand me?"

I saw clearly what she meant. "I do, my lady. I am quite drawn to you as well."

She nodded quickly, as if making up her mind about something. "I should like you to come to my chamber next night, at the stroke of midnight, Eric. Find Bess, she will guide you." She referred to her most trusted lady in waiting, Elizabeth "Bess" Throckmorton.

"Nothing would give me greater pleasure, my Elizabeth." I pulled her to me and kissed her, swiftly, my tongue gently seeking entrance to her mouth. She moaned and I darted my tongue against hers. We kissed passionately until I could feel her begin to swoon.

I lifted her in my arms and stood. Striding to her horse, I helped her to her saddle and quickly took my own. "Tomorrow night, my Queen." I nodded formally and, in a quick gallop, headed away back towards London.

.oWo.

The next night, I rose, returned to The Black Arms and dressed in my finest outfit. I instructed Olaf and Josef to stay behind, as they would only draw more attention to my presence. I headed for the castle by air and, from above, surveyed the area containing Elizabeth's bedchamber for escape routes. I landed a short distance from the castle and approached her wing. Slipping in a side door at the stroke of midnight, I heard a whisper.

"Prince Sven!" Ah, so Elizabeth had indeed kept my secret; not even her closest confidant knew my true identity.

Bess gestured to me and I followed silently behind, the only sound the rustling of her skirt in the corridor, empty of guards. Bess led me to a door and silently pointed for me to enter. I knocked softly, and heard, "Enter."

Crossing the threshold to her most private space, I took in the room before me. One of the largest bedchambers I had seen, it had large windows to let in light and the most opulent fittings throughout. In the very center of the room, on a raised platform, sat an enormous bed. Soft drapes surrounded the four-poster frame, shielding its occupant. Even my sharp eyes could barely make out the shadow of the person within.

I crossed the room and gently lifted the drape. "My lady?" I inquired softly.

Seated in the center of the bed sat Elizabeth. Dressed in a simple white gown, her fiery hair was loose and flowed down to her waist. She looked very young, and very scared–an expression I had n ever seen on her before. I gently knelt on the bed next to her and took her fidgeting hand from her lap.

"It is a great pity to find your ladies have helped you de-robe. I find it a great gift to undress a lady. Like opening a package." I smiled softly at her and stroked her hair with my free hand. "You have the most glorious hair I have ever seen."

She smiled and seemed to relax a bit. "Some think I am the devil's child, by my hair."

"Oh, you are no devil. You are an angel." I took her face into my hands and gently kissed her. "My lady, I must ask you–are you certain you wish to give this great gift to me?"

She met my eyes, her black ones almost glowing. "I am indeed certain, Eric. I know my own mind."

"I never doubted that, my lady. I only wish you to never regret this night."

"Please..." she whispered. I needed no further encouragement and kissed her, hard. She responded in kind, and her hands moved to my clothes, tugging at the laces and buttons. I sat back and she asked, "May I, Eric?"

"My sweet Elizabeth, you may do anything you wish with me." Her hands fumbled as she worked at the foreign process of undressing a man. I sat patiently, allowing her to fully engage in this intimate act. Soon, she had my doublet and shirt off; her hands gently traced across my cool chest. She let her fingers wander down to my hose and I stretched out on the bed to give her easier access in removing them. She slowly slid them down my legs and took in my naked, aroused form.

She ran her hands back up my legs, feeling the calf and thigh muscles. Ever curious, she gently stroked and gripped my shaft. I groaned, watching her.

She looked up in alarm at the noise. "This hurts you? I am sorry!" She started to remove her hands but I quickly held them in place.

"Just the opposite–it gives me great pleasure." She relaxed and her hands again traced my cock, feeling it harden at her touch.

"So smooth..." she murmured. "Soft, and yet hard." I guided her hands in an up and down motion, and lay back as she pumped me until I felt I couldn't stand it any longer. I sat and reached for the hem of her gown.

"I need to see you, Elizabeth. May I see you?" She nodded and I raised the gown over her head, setting it to the side. I took in her slender form: small, pert breasts, slim hips and legs. The palest of skin, and below, a small thatch of red that called to me like a beacon.

I gently cupped her breasts, rubbing my thumb over the nipples. They hardened under my touch and she gasped at the sensation.

"Lie back," I whispered. She did as I asked and I slid my cool body next to hers. I traced my fingers down her stomach to her hips, tickling gently, and she shivered.

"I need to prepare you, Elizabeth. This will not only give you pleasure, but will make taking your maidenhead less painful." She nodded and I slid her legs apart and moved between them. I lightly traced my fingers across her folds and she moaned. I began to work her, gently, with my fingers. When I touched her with my tongue, she bucked up off the bed. I took that as a good time to ask...

"My lady, you know that I need blood to survive," I said, fingers still working. I gave her a quick stroke with my tongue before continuing, "Blood tastes best when the person is aroused." She nodded and I licked again.

"I'm asking, my Queen, if I may drink from you. I honor you by asking your permission." She nodded, and her hips began to tilt off the bed at my ministrations. I licked, sucked and stroked until she was writhing on the bed. Finally, when I felt she was just at the edge, I bit her inner thigh, sending her tumbling into bliss. I drank as she rode out her orgasm, my fingers never stopping as she bucked against me.

When she calmed, I slid up the bed and kissed her forehead. She sighed and tucked herself next to me.

"What does it taste like?"

"It is almost impossible to describe. Like...power and sunlight and life, all in one. It bursts into the mouth and I can feel you, pulsing inside me, giving me strength."

"Does royalty taste different?"

I smiled into her hair–she was every inch a queen, even in bed. "It does. It tastes...more, somehow. Richer, stronger, denser, more powerful."

"Have you had royal blood before?"

"Once. I helped my maker overthrow a Prussian king who was becoming suspicious of us. He was planning to mount an attack against my nest. I never knew how he learned of us, but in order to survive we did what had to be done. It was over before he knew it."

"I cannot say I approve of regicide, but I do understand doing what one must to survive. We are rather alike, you and I."

"We are that." I rolled to kiss her again, and moved my hand back between her legs to stretch her further. I gently slid one, then two fingers inside her. I grinned as she again began to buck in pleasure. When I slipped in a third, she gasped and gave a small moan. I positioned myself back between her legs and rubbed my head against her sex, coating it in her fluids. Then I bit the index finger of my hand and rubbed it over the tip of my cock, to ease her pain a bit.

I raised myself up onto one arm, cock in the other hand, and warned her. "My sweet, this will hurt. I am sorry;I will do what I can to be gentle." I slowly slid into her, moving her legs to wrap around my waist for more gentle entry. Back and forth I slid, moving further each time. When I reached her maidenhead, I gave a small thrust and pushed all the way into her. She uttered a cry and a tear slid from her eye. I bent down and licked it from her face. Holding still inside her, I held her as she adjusted to my size. She whimpered for a moment then regained her control. She gave a small nod, and I began to slide in and out of her fully, almost pulling out, pushing back in. She gradually relaxed, and began to move with me. I knew the first time would likely bring her no release due to her discomfort, but I held off as long as I could. Finally, I stilled and pulsed within her, wrapping her in my arms as I came.

Rolling to my side, she again tucked in next to me. "Is it always like that?"

"No. You will rest for a bit, and the next time I think you will enjoy more."

"We will again?"

I smirked. "Vampires are very sexual creatures. We can do that as often as you like, before dawn."

I felt her smile against my chest. After a moment, she sat up, and I laughed. "You are rested so soon? I should think you part vampire!"

She smiled, a bit sadly. "Not vampire, but I wish to fully embrace tonight. It is most likely my only chance to experience physical pleasure."

"In that case, let us try another position. You may enjoy it more, as you will be able to control the movements to your pleasure." I lifted her easily onto my lap, and gently slid her down onto my erect shaft. She gasped at the sensation. I guided her at first, rocking her hips, but she quickly caught on and took control. I lay back and let her take pleasure in my body. Soon, she began to moan and rock faster against me. I watched her, and when she threw her head back in ecstasy, I demanded, "Look at me, my sweet. I wish to watch you as you come."

Her head snapped back and her coal black eyes fixed on me. Eyes locked, I watched as she reached her peak. She looked glorious, her pale body almost glowing, red hair fanned out around her back. In later years, when I heard her referred to as "Gloriana," this moment came to mind.

We continued to take our pleasure in one another until it came time for me to take my leave to rest. I left the Queen of England sated and asleep with a small smile on her face.

.oWo.

Elizabeth was wrong about one thing: that night was not our only night of pleasure. Over the next several weeks, I went to her as often as possible. She would let me know, via a system of cryptic codes between Bess and Olaf, if she had no evening engagements and could see me. We spent many nights talking, laughing and enjoying each other's bodies.

Little did we know that we were being watched. Or, at least, I was. I was always aware and cautious, but even I was no match for the spymaster, Walsingham. Sir Francis Walsingam, Elizabeth's other chief advisor with Cecil, is known to history as the father of espionage. He had spies everywhere, even in the most unlikely of places. It was impossible to know who was in his pay, and who was not. He was devoted to his queen, though, and all the fruits of his labors went to secure her throne and advance her kingdom.

Taking my usual entry to see the Queen, I was stopped one night by a frantic Bess. Handing me a small scroll, she whispered, "You must leave, Prince! The Queen bids me give you this and tell you to hurry away, quick as you can! Also she bids me give you this." She handed me a small gold broach in the shape of the letter 'E' with a Tudor rose. "Quick, you must go now! Hurry!"

I saw the royal guards turn a corner and begin rushing towards me, swords at the ready. I took the scroll and broach from Bess, ran from her sight and once outside, took flight. From above, I could see the guards exit the palace and begin searching for me, bewildered that I had escaped them. I flew to Westminster Abbey and, once safely barricaded inside my small room, I lifted the wax royal seal and opened the scroll.

In her distinctive writing, it read:

"My Dearest Eric,

It brings me great pain to write this missive to you, but I have no choice. My advisor Walsingham has become suspicious of how I spend my nights, aware that I do not spend them alone. He has been gathering information on you, and knows that you are not what you seem. Discretion and fear of this landing in the wrong hands forbids me tell you expressly his conclusions, but I trust you will understand. I give this broach to you as a token of my affection and gratitude for your friendship, loyalty, and tutelage. Know I will think of you fondly."

It was signed with her elaborate signature, "Elizabeth," with great flourish beneath the name. I looked at the broach and smiled. I had achieved my goal. Not every vampire could say that they had enjoyed the pleasures and taste of a Virgin Queen.

I left England as quickly as possible, not returning for several centuries but always remembering it fondly. When I finally did return, some 300 years later, I found another feisty English girl, a blonde. This one would stay by my side for eternity as my child: Pamela. Yes, I am most definitely fond of England.

FIN