AN: Thanks for reviewing! This last chapter takes place right before Mel and Edward's wedding.
Te'ijal was secretly glad that Lydia had tricked Edward into marrying her and then annauled the marriage. Otherwise she would have missed out on Mel's wedding altogether. With a smile she thought about how she had fled to Sedona a year ago out of shame, but now it was almost odd how things had worked out in her favor. She was a vampire again and she could see Mel and Edward get married for real.
She wore a fancy dress with a red bodice and black skirt - her favorite colors that finally suited her perfectly now that her skin was pale again. The lacy sleeves were a bit much, though.
She made her way down the hall with a hairbrush in hand, looking for a mirror so she could fix her hair. It wasn't long before she found one, a large, elegant, gold-framed mirror hanging on the wall, but when she stood in front of it she only saw the opposite wall.
Damn. She felt like slapping herself. Had she actually gotten so used to being a human that she momentarily forgot that vampires have no reflections?
Well nevermind that, she could fix her hair perfectly well without a reflection, couldn't she? She raised the brush over her head . . . but she found herself hesitating. Should she start with the right side of her head . . . the left side? . . . the top? Ugh, this was ridiculous . . . and yet she couldn't bring herself to begin.
"What are you doing, wife?"
She turned to see her husband striding down the hall towards her, dressed up for the wedding in his armor.
"Brushing my hair," she said, still holding the brush over her head. "What does it look like?"
"In front of a mirror?" Galahad grinned, striding up to her. "Isn't that kind of pointless for a vampire?" His grin widened to its physical limit. "Why, if I didn't know better, I'd say you missed having a reflection."
Te'ijal rolled her eyes, but then she got an idea. She stuck the brush in her husband's face, nearly hitting his cheek. "Well then, you brush it."
"You heard me, brush my hair."
Galahad stared at the brush as if it would give him a fourth bite on the neck. "Er . . . are you sure you want me to do it?"
"I cannot see myself," Te'ijal replied. "You can. Now brush it."
After giving a very human-like sigh, Galahad took the brush, turned his wife towards the mirror, and began running the brush through her hair. Her hair was short, so brushing it shouldn't have taken a long time, but he seemed to savor every stroke, stroke, storke, brushing her hair as slowly and carefully as if her hair were three feet long and infested with tangles. At first she wasn't sure why he had turned her to face the mirror, but once she looked in it she quickly decided it was for amusement purposes. Since Galahad never fed, he still cast the faintest of reflections. In the mirror he looked like a ghost running a hairbrush through . . . nothing.
But the ghost wasn't merely brushing the nothing. He was pinching the nothing, playing with the nothing curling the nothing around his fingers, acting as silly as he sometimes did when they were still human. Like a doting husband - but were they still married now that they were dead? Were they ever technically married since they were dead for most of their marriage? Perhaps they could go their separate ways now . . . but just the thought made her distinctly uncomfortable.
"Galahad," she said after a few more minutes, "the idea is to make the hair look neat."
"Which is what I'm doing," Galahad said as his ghost reflection took another pinch of nothing between its fingers. "Do you not trust your husband?"
"Are you still my husband now that we are dead?"
The ghost Galahad shifted its eyes. "Well . . . the marriage contract only used the word 'alive' when it said you had to obey me, and the preacher never said 'till death do us part' or anything of the sort."
"So we're still married."
"I assume we are." He pulled a strand of her hair. "So you can trust your husband to fix your hair, right?"
Te'ijal rolled her eyes again. "Well, you weren't exactly trustworty in Underfall."
Galahad gave no verbal answer, but his hands abruptly stilled and the brush trembled.
"Do you really not remember anything of the Demon Realm or what happened afterwards?" Te'ijal continued.
"No," Galahad muttered.
"Shall I tell you?"
Galahad suddenly put the brush down on the small table in front of the mirror. "All right, I think you're ready now."
"So you really aren't curious about how you tried to kill us?"
Te'ijal turned around and faced her husband, who looked like he would be blushing now if vampires could blush. "Not even a little tiny bit curious?"
"I already said no."
Te'ijal sway from side to side, rustling her skirt. "All right then, are you at least curious about how you offered to bite me?"
Te'ijal grinned widely. "Ah, I see I've finally got your attention."
Galahad's eyes were wide like an embarrassed child's. "You're . . . you're lying, aren't you?"
"No," said Te'ijal. "Ask Stella and Edward if you do not believe me."
Galahad's eyes bulged further. "Well . . . if I actually offered that . . . why didn't you accept? Isn't that what you wanted?"
Te'ijal glanced down at the floor, suddenly wondering what had possessed her to tell Galahad about his offer when she knew he would start asking questions. She stared at the blue and yellow tiles in their still dance. "You . . . were not yourself," she muttered.
"And why would that have mattered? You would still be a vampire."
"Well . . . how was I to know that you weren't going to eat me?" It was a feeble excuse, she knew that as soon as it came out of her mouth.
Galahad only snickered in disbelief. "Well how were you to know that Beatrice wasn't going to eat you? You were perfectly willing to take the risk then."
Te'ijal looked up at him, embarrassment in her red eyes.
"Now tell me," said Galahad. "Tell me the real reason."
"Why is it so important to you?" Te'ijal snapped.
"Because I want to know once and for all who my wife really is." Galahad stared her in the eye. "Now please . . . tell me."
Te'ijal sighed like a human, almost as human-like as her husband's sigh was. "It is . . . complicated."
Te'ijal sighed again without thinking. "I . . . was worried about you."
"Worried about me?" Galahad sounded like the very idea of his wife worried about anything was incomprehensable.
"Yes," Te'ijal said, blinking at him. "Something had overcome you. Changed you. You were no longer the man I . . . loved."
The last word came out in a mumble, but it made Galahad's brows go up.
"And I wanted my husband back," she continued, forcing every word out. "You, the only vampire in history who never lost his decency - even after three hundred years. Do you realize what a treasure I had found? I once thought it was impossible to resist the urge to feed on humans, but your integrity showed me . . ."
She cut off abruptly, again looking at the floor, thankful that she was no longer capable of blushing.
"What?" Galahad said quietly.
Te'ijal timidly looked back up at her husband. "Your integrity . . . it helped me believe that I could resist."
Galahad's eyes buldged as if he had lost the ability to close them. For several moments he seemed to be frozen, then his hand slowly lifted with a single finger pointed at her. "You . . . resist?"
Te'ijal looked down once more, feeling like she could never again look her husband in the eye. "Yes . . . resist. Never perfectly - I lapsed many a time . . . but as the centuries passed it gradually became somewhat easier . . . somewhat." She slowly looked back up at him. "The blood of some monsters tastes almost like human blood . . . almost."
By now Galahad's eyes looked in danger of falling out of their sockets. "But . . . if this is true . . . why didn't you ever tell me?"
Te'ijal sighed again, wishing she hadn't developed this annoying human habit of sighing. "Vampires consider not eating humans to be a sign of weakness - and weakness is the thing vampires despise the most." She ran her fingers down the mirror, glancing at her lack of a reflection.
"But I wouldn't have thought you were weak." Galahad actually sounded genuinely hurt. "I could have helped you abstain." He suddenly grabbed her hand. "Why did you let me think you were a killer? Do you know that I almost let you burn up because of that?"
"Yes," Te'ijal muttered. "But . . . you didn't actually let me burn."
Galahad squeezed her hand and then slowly let it slip out of his. "And . . . why did you try to get me to eat humans?"
Te'ijal felt her wicked grin forming in spite of everything. "Because it was fun. The way you complained, the names you called me, the way you ran away from me and I had to chase you - it was priceless."
Galahad scrunched his face. "Weren't you afraid that I would actually listen to you and eat a human?"
"Certainly not." Te'ijal laughed. "I knew you were far too stubborn for that."
"And even when I did lapse," Te'ijal quickly said, taking her husband's hands, "I could look to you for strength to try harder next time."
Now Galahad was the one glancing at the floor as if the tiles would come up with an appropriate response to what she said.
"So now you know," Te'ijal finished. "This is who your wife is."
Galahad looked back up a little bit at a time. He stared at her for several moments, his expression unreadable even to a vampire . . . then all of a sudden he grabbed her cheeks and kissed her lips - the first time he had ever kissed her when they were both vampires. There it was again, the spark, the passion, everything that had been missing when he kissed her in Underfall. Her eyes closed and her arms wrapped around his neck, savoring the kiss for moment after moment.
When they pulled out, a hint of uncertainty crossed Galahad's eyes. "So . . . I guess you'll want to go home after the wedding?"
"And . . . I suppose you think 'home' is Ghe'dare?"
"Certainly," said Te'ijal. "After all, Sedona is no place for vampires to live."
"But it's our home."
"Was our home." Te'ijal stuck her nose up. "Our human home. We can go back there and get our things and then set off for Ghe'dare tomorrow." She patted her husband's cheek. "Come partridge, do you not long for our old home? The ghost haunting the halls? The skulls on the mantelpieces? The cobwebs in the corners? Does it not give you goosebumps just thinking about it?"
Galahad rolled his eyes. "Vampires can't get goosebumps."
"I was speaking metaphorically, darling, you know that."
"Well what if I wanted to keep living in Sedona?"
Te'ijal lowered her brows. "I am going back to Ghe'dare with or without you. If you wish to live in Sedona, then live there without me." She ignored the slight alarm going off in the back of her head.
"I am your maker!" Galahad said in a near-shout. "You have to do as I say!"
"And I am your original maker!" Te'ijal retorted. "Besides, do you intend to obey Beatrice for all eternity? I don't think so." She turned around, sweeping her skirt about her. "If you intend to order me around, you will have to move back to Ghe'dare in order to do it."
"Te'ijal . . . wait," Galahad said, grabbing her shoulders from behind. "Don't do this."
"And what are you going to do to me if I don't obey you?" Te'ijal said with a sniff. "Stake me? Shove me into the sun? You never obeyed me very well during those three hundred years anyway."
"Te'ijal . . ." Galahad said softly, sounding almost desperate, ". . . please . . . don't leave me . . ."
She slowly turned back around, seeing that her husband's head was lowered yet again. "Will you come back home with me?"
Galahad seemed frozen for several moments before he finally looked back up, as timid as a human child. "Will you . . . do something for me if I do this for you?"
"If this something is obeying you for eternity, certainly not."
"No . . . something else." He wrung his fingers together before putting his hands back on her shoulders. "You are not a killer - I know that now. Can you . . . stop eating humans entirely?"
Never eat humans again. Not merely try to abstain for a year, a decade, even a century, but never know the sweet taste of human blood again. The unique flavor of human was dancing around in her mouth, teasing her, taunting her. No . . . she could never go the rest of eternity without it . . . could she?
Galahad's hands moved up to her cheeks, squeezing her face and looking into her eyes. "You are not a killer," he repeated. He said it with such confidence, such absolute certainty. "It was only your vampire side that was a killer. You can overcome that - you are strong."
Strong. Here was a vampire who thought oppositely of other vampires. For him it was strong to resist the urge to eat humans . . . and maybe he was right. After all, it was a struggle to overcome the desire - to feed on humans was no struggle at all. Maybe it was actually the weaker vampires who called not feeding on humans a weakness.
"I can do it," she suddenly said, hardly aware that she was saying it.
A fanged smile crossed Galahad's lips. "Really?"
Te'ijal stared into his blue eyes, the eyes that had remained blue for so long. "Yes," she said steadily, suddenly meaning it. "I can."
Almost before she finished her last word, he kissed her again. She closed her eyes and grabbed his neck, his beautiful neck, confident that yes, she could do this so long as she had him around.
"Oh," he said suddenly, abruptly pulling out of the kiss, "I have something for you."
"Galahad," Te'ijal said with a cackling giggle, "you are such a doting fool."
Galahad dug into his pocket. "Are you ready?"
"Fine, get it over with."
He dug into his pocket a second longer and pulled out a gold necklace with a large clear pendant dangling from it. "I thought you could wear this to the wedding."
Te'ijal stared at the dangling pendant swaying from side to side. "Galahad, that looks exactly like . . . the Soul Pendant."
A sheepish look overtook Galahad's face. "Er . . . actually, it is the Soul Pendant - though it's just an ordinary necklace now."
"What?" Te'ijal exclaimed. "But I lost it almost fifty years ago. I . . . wait . . . you didn't by any chance take it, did you?"
Galahad scrunched his face. "I wanted to get rid of it. Even though it no longer worked, every time I saw you wear it it reminded me of what I had become. I was going to throw it in the ocean, but for some reason or other . . . I didn't." He shifted his eyes from side to side. "Anyway, I thought it was high time I returned it to you."
At first Te'ijal wasn't sure how to respond, then all of a sudden she burst into a fit of cackles. "Oh Galahad," she crooned. "Galahad, Galahad, Galahad, you are such a hopeless romantic."
Galahad's fangs brushed over his lower lip. "Would you like me to help you put it on?"
"Yes," Te'ijal said, hardly able to speak through her cackles. "I would so love to wear your soul again."
Galahad rolled his eyes. "You know it no longer holds my soul."
"I can wear it metaphorically, then." Te'ijal snickered.
Galahad sighed. "All right, that works." He undid the clasp on the necklace. "Turn around."
Te'ijal gave a fanged grin and turned around. The grin remained as he skillfully fastened the pendant around her neck.
"My soul is yours," he whispered, kissing her neck. "Take good care of it."
Te'ijal stroked the pendant. "I always have."