This is a new take on the scenes in the lead up to the final fight in Carpe Corpus; I've been quite liberal with some of the facts in it, such as Oliver's role, in order to introduce a different angle to the Sam/Amelie relationship.
The fic is dedicated to Journey (Flying Penguinz) for her birthday.
The day dawns bleak and oppressive but in Amelie's eyes, this doesn't make a difference; it's not like her situation could get any worse. Her psychotic, deranged father already has control of the town and all her resources, her closest ally is being forced to play a fool dedicated to Bishop, and she's hiding out in a downtown house which hasn't been lived in for decades.
Not to mention the fact that her attire isn't just black; it's present-day human clothing.
"Amelie, will you sit down!" Oliver half snarls, causing Amelie to shoot him a poisonous look. Whilst she appreciates his input in these situations—his past indicates that he does know something about warfare—she doesn't think she will ever be able to accept him telling her what to do. He may be her equal in this situation but normally, in every other scenario, she's his ruler.
She doesn't feel the need to tell him not to direct her; her glare already told him that. Instead, Amelie sits down at the head of the table in the cramped room, her eyes passing over the stacks of paper already formed on the desk. She wants to sigh; Oliver's only had legitimate power for hours at most, and he's already made her working area a despicable mess. "What do you suggest that we do now, Oliver?" Amelie asks, suddenly betraying her fatigue in her tone. "How do you propose we regain my town from my father?"
Oliver's expression changes slightly at her wording, and Amelie presumes that he had assumed that the town would be theirs if he helps to return it to her possession; she has to fight back a laugh. That would never happen; she will never give power to Oliver, not more than he already has.
"Well, I compiled a list of the weaknesses Bishop could attempt to exploit in order to lure us out of hiding," Oliver says, extracting a piece of paper from the pile in front of him. He hands it to Amelie, but she doesn't even bother to glance at it.
"We have no weaknesses, Oliver, I thought you knew that," she comments, not quite understanding how a list of weaknesses has arisen. In the past when they fought her father, they had no weaknesses; it was one of the reasons they won: they had nothing to lose.
Oliver looks increduled, his eyes widening slightly. "Read the list, you know that this time, there are things we cannot afford to lose—or, rather, things which we would rather not lose, which makes them weaknesses."
In her mind, Amelie concedes to there being weaknesses—she can think of one immediately, one that she's still trying to pretend doesn't exist, even though it's obvious to everyone that it does—and so she lifts the piece of paper, scanning it over. The list is what she expected: Claire Danvers, Myrnin, the town, Myrnin's journals—and then the one that she doesn't want to admit.
"What do you mean by the last one, Oliver?" Amelie asks, her voice tightening just enough for her to know that Oliver will notice. As she looks at him once more, she's comforted and irritated concurrently to know that he hasn't; he knows how she feels.
"You know quite well why Samuel Glass is on the list, Amelie, don't waste my time with dense questions," Oliver replies, looking away and changing his focus towards one of the dated maps on the table. "If you continue staring at me with such an expression, Amelie, I will be forced to compare you to a human girl in love—and we both know how little you like that comparison, do we not?" He lifts his head to throw her a wicked grin, one that conveys everything he's feeling: irritation that Amelie actually has something to lose; amusement at her expression; fear that this weakness will cause Amelie to act without thinking and cause them to lose everything.
"Take him off the list," Amelie half-growls, her eyes flashing red with irritation. She doesn't want this being documented, doesn't want her feelings being shared with everyone on their side. She's lived her life too long keeping her emotions secret, something for only her to know; it's not right to share them with everyone, not for her.
Oliver shakes his head, his tone sounding equally irritated when he replies. "I won't remove potentially the greatest weakness on that list, Amelie, now let me get on with my planning. Heaven only knows why you think it's a wise idea to interrupt me whilst I'm developing new plans."
"No." Amelie's stubborn as she replies, standing up, though the motion doesn't make that much of a difference; even seated, Oliver's almost as tall as she is. It's the power which radiates from her which makes her seem taller, that and the anger. "Take. Him. Off. I can protect him myself, Oliver; I don't need everyone to know that he's the only thing that I fear losing. He doesn't need the burden."
Oliver, too, stands up, his eyes betraying the sorrow he feels for Amelie as he looks at her. "And that is precisely why he must remain on the list of weaknesses," he informs her, a half-smile playing on his lips. It's not one of malicious orient, but rather one of solidarity—or as close to solidarity as someone like Oliver can achieve. "If you had the priorities you claim to have, if you were the Amelie you attempt to make yourself out to be, then your greatest weakness would be Claire, or that insane alchemist—someone who can cure the disease."
Amelie realises what he's saying before he's even finished it; her admission that Sam's her greatest weakness means that he must be protected. She cares about him more than she ever should do—more than her own life—and nothing is ever going to change that. She'd do anything for him—she'd die for him. And that's something which can't happen.
She sighs, sinking back down into her seat. As she looks at her hand, she realises that, accidentally, she's crushed the piece of paper so that it's no longer legible. "What do we do, Oliver?" she repeats her request from earlier, though this time, the fatigue in her voice has been replaced by a note of hysteria. "How do we achieve everything that we need to and yet keep him safe at the same time? I…I can't lose him."
"We…we don't fall for any traps which could involve Sam," Oliver says finally, knowing that they won't know what they have to avoid until they're up against it. "If you receive anything that says he's missing, don't believe it until we've checked. If you hear anything about Bishop and threats to Sam, well, I'm not saying that they won't be true, but we take everything with a pinch of salt. Everything we do, we think through. Everything that we do must be beneficial to our cause…and if that means losing someone…"
"I'm not losing him!" Amelie snaps, and in that instant she's ablaze, all flames and fury blazing through her, her usual icy-cold power replaced by the heat of love. And then it's gone, once again the calm, collected nature which depicts her strength, but she knows that Oliver's seen it—she knows that he's seen the extent to which she would go for a love that she can barely confess to the other party.
Oliver nods, taking steps towards the door. "I wasn't talking about him, though he was never the top of my list." He stops metres from the door, reaching out to take the knob to open it—and to go God knows where. "But…but if it comes down to the wire, Amelie, if it's him or the cure, if it's you or him…"
"Then I would die for him," Amelie replies fiercely. "The world has lived with my pride and I, my mistakes and my complex issues, for far too long; if it cannot exist with both of us, I would prefer it to be him who survives."
Once again, Oliver nods, his head remaining low to avoid betraying what's in his eyes—emotions Amelie knows exists, though doesn't want to acknowledge—before he's heading out of the room, slamming the door shut behind him.
All Amelie wants to do is to protect Sam, to do anything in her power to save him—even if that means sacrificing herself, once they've won.
Little does she know that Sam's been listening to every word and swore fifty years ago to protect her at any cost—or die trying.
Time passes too slowly in this shack of a house for Amelie's liking; every day she's here is a day she's not in charge. Every day which elapses between that fateful fight in the Elders' Council building and now is another when her friends (friend) is being persecuted, and her evil father is controlling her town, destroying everything she's worked for.
And yet she has Sam.
Every time she turns, he's there, not always for her—most of the time it's coincidence—but it's as if he knows she's watching him. His eyes find her and he looks at her in the way that only he can look at her: as though she's everything to him, his world, as though she's the most important woman in existence. That's not true, no matter how much Amelie tries to make herself believe it, and yet with Sam, that's all she feels she is.
She's managed to avoid being in a room alone with him besides for fleeting moments between meetings because she doesn't think that she could resist touching his face or staring into the depths of his soul for the rest of her life. It's not healthy, she knows that, but having lived fifty years without having the option to whisper those fateful words in his ear—"je t'adore"—now that she has the chance to spend time close to him, it's hard not to. She can't, not yet, not when all of their futures rest in her hands—well, hers and Oliver's; she can't let herself be distracted.
But that doesn't stop him.
She's ordered them all to stay away from the little room which has officially been designated as the planning room Oliver and herself are based in, with Oliver on a mission to locate constant sources of blood for the dozens of vampires crammed into this safe house, leaving her in supposed peace to consider their possible next moves. They know their objective and their starting point; it's just the route to join them that's proving difficult. But Amelie's trying; she's considering every possible solution to a problem she never thought she'd have to face, and whilst some are ridiculous, she knows she has to consider them. As Myrnin constantly proves to her, sometimes the craziest ideas the ones which work out the best.
She should have known that Sam would ignore her orders.
As the door opens and his familiar red hair peeks through, Amelie sighs; she can't send him away, she doesn't think she has the willpower. She needs someone right now, needs someone to tell her that everything will work out despite the adversity they're currently facing. It pains her to say it, but she doesn't think that she can do it without his help; no longer is she Amelie, the Founder of Morganville, someone who doesn't need anyone. She's Amelie, the child of the current tyrant in charge, and she's on the run; things couldn't be any different.
Yet despite her internal recognition that she needs Sam, Amelie doesn't see any need for him to see this clearly, and so it's with an icy tone that she says, "if you're staying, Samuel, you'll shut the door. I don't want a draught getting into the room."
He seems surprised at her request and the lack of admonishment on his behalf due to him ignoring her order, but he does as she wishes, slipping into the room and shutting the door within the same second; it's only in this moment that Amelie realises, for the first time in fifty years, they're completely alone. Normally when they're together, it's with at least one other person—when she saved him from the stake, there were dozens of people in the room, and when she explained her request of him during the battle with her father, Oliver was never far from their side—but now…now it's just the two of them, with almost no chance of them being interrupted.
"I didn't think you'd let me stay," Sam murmurs as he approaches her, and for a moment, Amelie's confused too; she knows why she wants him to stay, but she's not entirely sure if she wants him to know just how much she needs him. He suspects, she knows she does—he'd be stupid if he didn't—but…to confirm it would make everything that bit more real, and that little bit more reality could be the difference between life and death.
"I didn't think I would either," Amelie confesses, motioning for Sam to take the seat on the side of the table across from her. All that separates them now is a wooden table and stacks of paper, stacks of maps and possible plans all dependent on other people's actions, and it's not just the paper that enrages Amelie. It's the fact that the paper contains plans which rely on other people doing things just for the resistance to be able to act—and that's something Amelie hates. She doesn't like to be reliant on other people, doesn't want her daring plan to be based on the extent of destruction her father engages in. She wants to be in control, to make the decision as to when they regain her town—anything else would be wrong, would be conceding her father too much power.
Sam's about to speak, probably to say that he loves her and that he's so glad that she's accepted him into her life once more, and that's something Amelie can't hear. She doesn't have the ability to focus on the war effort and to focus all the attention Sam deserves on him; she has to choose.
"Can you sort those papers out into maps, semi-credible ideas and some of Oliver's more ludicrous suggestions, Samuel?" Amelie asks him before he can speak, speaking faster than she ever normally would. He goes to say something again, and she shakes her head, forcing herself to look back down at her paper. "There is no need to talk, I work far better in silence."
Amelie knows that it's enough for them both just to be together—for now.
The days turn into weeks, and yet the resistance continues to have no steadfast plan on how to take back the town. They've made progress slowly but surely, with almost all their key players in Bishop's hands now back on their side—but it's not enough.
All Amelie feels they're doing is going in circles; Oliver will suggest a completely inappropriate plan of action, something more ridiculous than the last, and Amelie will have to point out every hole in the logistics of it, resulting in there being almost nothing left. Usually, this is followed by an outburst from Oliver that maybe Amelie should come up with something, rather than merely destroying all of his suggestions, causing Amelie to stare at him with a dark stare, commenting, "there are plenty of others who would take your place in here in an instant, Oliver. Do not test me."
If he's in the sort of mood Amelie wants him in, he storms out—and that lets her have Sam.
They still don't talk, mainly because if they talked Amelie wouldn't be able to silence herself afterwards, but it's no longer enough for her to merely look at Sam when he enters the room. There's no paper left for him to sort because Oliver has no plans, and Amelie has to admit that the future looks bleak; the only thing in her life which reminds her that there is hope for them, that they're going to make it through, is Sam.
One day, following a particularly unhelpful planning session with Oliver, Sam enters, and Amelie doesn't speak in any form of greeting, as usual.
What she does do, however, is move swiftly across the room, until she's merely a few feet from Sam; she can see every detail on his face—not that she needed to see it to confirm what he looks like—and she knows he can tell what she wants.
"Hold me," is all she says, her voice cracking on the final word, and Amelie knows that it's the first time that she's sounded almost totally human in decades; her façade is falling, her control is crumbling—and all that remains is a woman who's scared of losing everything. She's managed to build herself up to the throne of her town with her beau always around—if not by her side—and now there's a very real chance she could lose everything she loves.
She feels tears swarming in her eyes the moment that she speaks, and as Sam's arms wrap around her, bringing their bodies together, she understands completely why she refused to talk before. Even two words have managed to break her, managed to ensure that nothing will ever be the same again, and this is with weeks of acclimatising to his presence.
Her tears spill out from her eyes, their usual icy aspect weakened from the relative warmth of the tears—and for the first time in decades, Amelie knows that her emotions are betrayed here completely. She's let down all her guards, and she has no control over what emotions she's betraying: fear, anger, mistrust, sadness—love.
"Everything will be fine," Sam says, and Amelie knows that he means what he says; he really, truly believes that things will be fixed. "You're strong, Amelie, you're a good ruler. You're going to save us all—you'll see."
It almost makes Amelie smile, to realise the blind optimism Sam has in her, until she realises that this kind of unyielding faith usually gets people killed.
Amelie supposes that she shouldn't be surprised that the best idea for the final stage of their comeback against her father stems from something Sam says.
They've been planning for weeks now, and they're only advancing one step at a time towards a final goal which consistently seemed unachievable. Every decision for the future takes frantic discussion after frantic discussion, with the costs and benefits of every move analysed until it's becoming unclear to Amelie what is what. Usually Oliver gets his way when he decides it's time to turn back the next in the line of their people in Bishop's hands—but when this is no longer the next stage, when they have all their people, what do they do?
Planning goes in circles, one minute seeming as though they're advancing, just to result that evening in there being no difference in the plan—the plan which is 'we'll do everything we can now and figure out the last stage tomorrow.'
Only Amelie and Oliver are planning; everyone else is gathering supplies, talking—usually about the past, as though they feel they need to recall all their past endeavours—but usually, they're just sitting there, unsure what to do and where to take their mission. If they make decisions too quickly then they'll find themselves at the final barrier soon, much too soon for them to have come up with a daring and witty solution to their problem. Contrarily though, if they take too long, then the people they've turned back to their side remain in constant danger, the threat of discovery looming larger with every day which passes.
To avoid Sam coming in every day—Amelie knows it irritates Oliver to have him in the planning meetings—she's set him a series of jobs to complete, information to source from relatively dangerous places. Every time she watches him leave on a mission which may result in him never returning to her, her heart comes far too close to completing its first beat in over a thousand years, and only when she hears his voice upon his return does she relax.
However, midway through the stalemate of a planning session today, the door opens, revealing the ginger-haired man in the doorway. He shuts the door hastily, moving to take a seat next to Amelie, almost oblivious to Oliver's menacing glare—nonetheless, the older vampire refrains from saying anything, for fear of Amelie's wrath.
"I know that you've probably considered a similar idea to this in the past, and that it's most likely futile me talking, but I've had an idea about how to solve this," Sam says, the slight edge of hesitancy in his tone discernable only to Amelie.
Oliver rolls his eyes and responds before Amelie has chance to. "Allow me to guess at the idiocy of your plan," he says sharply. "You want us all to go and play happy families with Bishop, with Ysandre and Amelie braiding one another's hair." A hiss from Amelie soon makes him reconsider. "And you'll be attempting to chat to Bishop about your feelings. Is that the case?"
To Amelie's surprise, Sam levels Oliver with the most sarcastic stare that he can muster. "That may be your strongest attempt at formulating a plan, Oliver, but that certainly isn't mine." Sam flashes a grimace in Amelie's direction—and that's the thing that scares her, because never before has she seen a look of such despair on Sam's face. "What we have to do is tell them where we are, and let them capture some of us—some important people. Then we use that as a chance to attack—as there's no chance that Bishop wouldn't have a public gathering for capturing his enemies—and…and we can destroy Bishop, once and for all."
Whilst the plan fills Amelie with a dread that she can't wholly explain, she has to admit that it's the best that they could ever come up with; it's relatively simple, and its margins for error are much lower than other plans Oliver has concocted throughout the planning period. That doesn't mean that it's a foolproof plan; if they haven't measured her father correctly, if he decides to do something rash, then they could all be lost for no gain whatsoever—but it's worth trying.
To his credit, Oliver doesn't even attempt to discredit the idea; he merely sits down at the table and begins to write down names in lists next to crude, hastily drawn maps of areas of Morganville. "We'll need to co-ordinate with Myrnin to ensure that we attack only when his research is complete," Oliver comments, and it's his complete lack of comment about any fault in the plan that has Amelie certain that this is the course of action they're going to take. There's not even going to be a discussion. They're just going to do it.
Amelie's eyes meet Sam's across the room and she smiles ever so slightly, the sort of smile that is reserved for him and him alone; she knows that he can see into her soul through it. "You can do that, Oliver, if you—ah," she stops midway through the sentence, a wider, more cunning smile slipping onto her lips to replace her former expression. This isn't a smile of secret emotion; it's one of cool, calculated cunning, one that would chill the heart of anyone exposed to it, friend or foe.
"Yes, Amelie?" Oliver asks, curter than usual.
She turns to him, Sam forgotten in her cold excitement. "Oliver, do you recall what my father asked you during his first days in town?" Amelie speaks much more rapidly than is her norm in her attempt to get the words out.
Oliver merely nods, looking his most pensive as he does so. "I…I told him I was his—it was what you wanted, though," he hastily tacks onto the end, as though suddenly fearing Amelie turning on him.
Waving a hand, Amelie rolls her eyes, indicating her slight irritation at Oliver's incorrect assumption. "I am quite well aware of that, fool! What I merely mean is that we have an opportunity to exploit this situation we find ourselves in, as well as greatly reducing the margins for error which currently exist."
Both the brows of Oliver and Sam simultaneously crease in confusion, neither of them clear about what Amelie is saying. "You're talking gibberish again, Amelie," Oliver comments. "Perhaps it's the presence of your beau that is causing such a difference in your personality—don't presume I couldn't see you making eyes at him earlier—and perhaps he ought to go."
There's nothing Amelie wants more than to overrule Oliver, to tell him that Sam is her guest in the room and that he cannot throw him out; but he's right. Sam cannot be present for the intricate detailing of this plan. Now that he's given them the basic framework, they can build on it—and he can go back to being someone who merges into the background, someone who doesn't stand out for her father to see when he comes.
So she sighs, a deep, heavy sigh that indicates to Sam before she even speaks that she agrees with Oliver, before telling Sam, "you need to go. We appreciate your input for the plan, but this is no longer your responsibility."
He takes a step towards her, his eyes filled with hurt, his hand outstretched, willing her to take it and allow him to be part of this—but she can't. If they required a third to make decisions, it wouldn't be the world's second youngest vampire; it would be Myrnin, one of the world's most powerful and important ones.
"Leave, Samuel." Her voice is deliberately cold and harsh, causing Sam to flinch backwards. "Do not disturb us again unless we request your presence."
He doesn't even say goodbye as he sweeps from the room.
(Best that he's stuffy and irritated with her than on the brink of a near-certain death though, Amelie thinks.)
For the first time in months, Amelie takes a break from incessantly planning—but it's not by choice.
For the past week, she's been working with Oliver to further the intricate details of the plan to take back her town, detailing what individuals' roles are to be, and just where to fit Claire and Myrnin into the scenario. Her prized human pawn's current position is unclear; whilst Myrnin reports that she no longer bears Bishop's mark, Amelie knows that it may very well be a trick to see what she will do. She hasn't seen the girl, and hasn't particularly wanted to, because to see a human would remind her of what she's lost.
Unfortunately for Amelie, it transpires that her desires are overruled.
During the vampire night, in one of the brief interludes between developments, Amelie's jolted by the tug on the connection between herself and Claire, an alarm ringing in her head—one that hasn't been activated in centuries. This Protection is unique in Morganville nowadays—Amelie is the only Protector who has a blood bond with her Protectee, something wrought by old, near-forgotten magic wielded by Elders alone—and the fact that it's been activated leads Amelie to only one conclusion: it's a trap.
Her father understands this branch of magic well, better than even Amelie does, and the fact that a call cannot go unanswered must not be wasted on him. She can't resist the demand for help Claire is making—but she can take her time about going there.
"Oliver!" Amelie hisses, moving so quickly through their headquarters that it looks to others that she's flying. "The girl has invoked her Protection bracelet's request for help; I must go to her side."
Almost without realising it, Oliver reaches out and grabs Amelie's wrist, preventing her from moving—though, if she really wanted to, she could break his grip. "It might very well be a trap; Bishop may understand the bracelet's abilities!"
Amelie rolls her eyes and only just manages to keep her tone level. "Don't be ridiculous, Oliver, of course my father knows what the bracelet can do, and how to operate it to ensure that I must go to her. Recognise his true abilities, at least."
Oliver's brow furrows as he attempts to concoct a plan, however, Amelie is one step ahead of him. "I require you to gather a force of those who are our strongest fighters, as well as wholly ready to sacrifice themselves for our common aim." She lifts her chin to look Oliver in the eyes, dark brown meeting ice-cold blue, as she says, "if he is there, we modify the plan—and we fight."
"Is that wise?"
A slight smile creeps onto Amelie's lips almost involuntarily. "Perhaps not, but the time for wise decisions is long gone."
She's not sure how—perhaps he excelled on the 'I would die for Amelie' requirement of coming, perhaps Oliver merely wanted to irritate her—but when Amelie greets her fellow cloaked vampires, she finds Sam with them.
"You're not coming," Amelie says sharply, stalking away as she does so.
"He is," Oliver contradicts her, causing Amelie to stop dead in her tracks. "You wanted loyalty, you have it. Now come on, otherwise you're going to succumb to this call the girl's bracelet is coming out—it really wasn't very wise of you choosing this type of Protection to issue to the girl, having to work with the magic in it."
Amelie grits her teeth, but doesn't respond to the jibe regarding Sam in a negative manner. "Fine, he can come," she replies, knowing the decision was already made; she doesn't have to acknowledge him on this potential suicide mission, though. "As for the Protection, Oliver, it was necessary, as you are well aware. Also, I did not expect the magic to be invoked; only someone wiser than Claire Danvers could be aware of it."
"I am well aware of that," Oliver begins, before Amelie cuts him off, not willing for her patience to be tested at this moment.
"If you were aware of it, why did you feel the need to comment on a decision I made, Oliver?" she retaliates, her tone indicating that she doesn't desire any form of response. "Now that your idiotic commentary is complete, we must move." She turns back to face the group of vampires surrounding her, her expression betraying nothing to those who don't know the minutia of her face; she knows that there is only one who ever has, and ever will, and that he's standing before her. "Where we are going may very well be dangerous; I am not entirely certain of what we will face here. You have volunteered because you believe that our cause is real; I must reiterate that there is a chance of death. If you do not wish to die for this, you will not be frowned upon, and will be allowed to return to the others. If this is what you desire, please step away now."
No-one moves, and that sends a wave of relief through Amelie; her people trust her and are willing to die for her in a situation completely unknown to them all. They're going to risk their lives to protect her, to ensure Bishop's end, if it comes to that—and some of their identities surprise her. It's the people she never expected to step forward who have—with the exception of Samuel, naturally—but that doesn't make a difference.
They're going into a potential battle…and they're prepared for anything.
As they glide through the tunnels which twist and turn beneath the city, tunnels which are of no interest to Bishop so form the basis of Amelie's group's travel, Sam drifts into a position next to Amelie. It's by no means an accident that he makes his way past the rest of the group, past Oliver, to her side, but Amelie isn't going to send him away. Whilst she doubts that this is the end of the road for their campaign against her father, there's always a chance that this is it, that she won't go any further down the road of life—and that's…well, she's never going to lie and pretend it's okay because it isn't. But with Sam by her side perhaps it will be bearable.
"When we reach the school, Samuel, I have something I want you to do for me," Amelie murmurs, knowing that everyone around them will hear but having no other choice.
"Anything," he replies, it bringing a bitter smile to Amelie's lips. His idea of anything isn't always what she wants it to be.
"I want you to drop to the back of the group and be a lookout for anyone following us—if anyone comes near us, shout something."
A brief peek at his face tells Amelie that Sam isn't happy about this, not that she expected he would be, but he nods, acquiescing to her request. She supposes that he knows he shouldn't be here, and that it's dangerous, and that if he can live for her, he will. It's moments like these which make Amelie realise just how much she loves him for doing what she asks, for wanting to strike out against the enemy for her; it's indescribable how she loves him, not just for what he can give her but for what she can give him, and Amelie is thankful she's never had to quantify her love for Sam. She wouldn't know how.
"What should I shout?" Sam asks. He inches closer to Amelie, something she permits, knowing that it's possible this could be the last time she sees him—or the last time that he sees her alive.
"Carpe diem," she replies thoughtfully, her mind elsewhere. "In commemoration of the first time we met; I thought it would be fitting."
She knows that Sam's touched by her decision, but concurrently she knows that he's got a better suggestion, something that's probably more fitting. "What about carpe corpus?" he suggests. "It would be more appropriate for the situation."
Considering it, Amelie nods, not breaking her stride as she reaches out to take Sam's hand, deciding against any decision to keep their relationship under wraps and to keep her emotions contained. This is her end, and she wants to approach it in the way she wants to.
"That sounds…more apt, and perhaps a better choice," she admits. "Very well, you can shout carpe corpus if there is any attack. But do not hesitate if you find yourself having to shout it, Samuel, do not try and take them on. I do not want you hurt."
Sam's head turns to face Amelie, their eyes meeting, and she knows that he can see just how much he means to her—just as she knows how much she means to him. Nonetheless, there's something in his eyes that she can't read, something that suggests that he would go to any length to protect her—anything at all—and that worries Amelie. It worries her more than she can say, because the day has finally come when she's not able to read Sam completely. He's always been like an open book to her, his motives and reasoning clear behind every decision he makes, but now, there's a slither of him which is lost to her.
But he promises her that he won't, and the words, "I swear to you, Amelie, I will," soothes Amelie because she knows that no matter what it is that he's hiding from her, he would never break a promise.
(Little does she know what's festering in Sam's mind, and how the biggest promise he's ever made her is close to being torn to shreds, along with a promise that she made herself fifty years ago.)
The moment they reach the school, Sam drops back from Amelie's side, giving her hand a squeeze as he does so, their eyes meeting; there's no need for words when one look betrays everything they're feeling. As soon as he's gone, any emotion fades from Amelie, her expression returning once more to cool ice, betraying none of her internal worries.
Oliver moves closer to her once more, their eyes meeting to confirm that it's time to leave the safety of the tunnels and emerge into the light which envelops Morganville High School, and simultaneously, they lift their hoods over their heads, cloaking them in their preferred darkness. The cloaks are deep, meaning no skin is directly exposed to the sun's rays, yet Amelie knows that she could walk directly exposed to the sun and face no ill-effects for quite some time. The cloaks' main purpose is to disguise their identity to potential human lookouts, something she feels is relatively successful.
They stride forwards at a slow, measured pace, in no hurry to get out of the sun; whilst the rays are detrimental to a large proportion of her vampires, she's determined to take things slow and steady, if only to postpone the battle that will rage inside the school's disused quarters.
As they walk, Amelie feels phantom feelings: the beating of a still heart; the spreading of unused hormones throughout her body; the need to breathe faster to facilitate her angst. She's never felt these before in the lead up to a major battle, and she presumes that the reason is because she's let her guard down the most she has done in fifty years—and certainly the most she's ever let it down before battle. She doesn't quite feel nervous—she needs to be strong for Samuel—but she doesn't feel the most confident she has ever done, if only for the fear that Sam will die.
"If we don't win in here, I hope not to see any of you dreadful people in the afterlife, you've crowded my apparently limitless life enough in the past few months," Oliver says seconds before they enter the door, sounding to Amelie's ears both serious and joking concurrently. That's a strange mix; Oliver never makes jokes.
Her hand connects with the door, expecting to find silver to slow them down; instead, it's merely rusted steel, stiff from years of neglect. Before entering the building, Amelie takes a fleeting glance over her shoulder, determined to see Sam one last time; he's in position almost one hundred metres away from them, slowly advancing in their direction, his position akin to how one hunts. She knows he's safe, at least; he's aware that a lookout doesn't enter the scene of a battle, and runs as soon as trouble is spotted.
And so Amelie advances through the building, expecting to find hidden traps in dark corners, ready to fight the ensuing army…and all she finds is Claire with Ada.
It's so anticlimactic that Amelie considers laughing; they've psyched themselves up for a battle, prepared themselves to die—and there's nothing but a curious girl who's used Morganville's secret computer to activate the summoning call to find out information which she doesn't need to know. She's caused Amelie to consider death, to share with Sam every feeling she has for him, for no reason other than for information.
Beneath the hysterical laughter, all Amelie wants to do is to destroy the most precious pawn on the chessboard.
As soon as they arrive back at headquarters, Amelie dismisses those who came with her—all save for Sam.
"I need a word regarding your idea of being the lookout," she says, barely resisting the sudden impulse within her to reach out and grab his wrist to pull him with her. Ever since she let him hold her in public in the tunnel, he's been her only thought; everything in her mind has revolved around him. She's considered solution after solution to their problem, her desire to run with him to the far corners of the earth hindered only by the knowledge that if they don't get Bishop's blood, they'll die a worse death—a death where they don't know the other's face, where all they want to do is destroy the other to try and regain a little sanity—and she'll have lost everything she cares about in her life. They have to stay, but that doesn't mean that Amelie's going to accept the apparently inevitable future outlined through Sam's proposed plan without a fight.
He follows her into the planning room, closing the door behind him, locking it when Amelie indicates him to. Whilst the vampires outside the room will be able to hear, the locking of the door indicates something which isn't for their ears is going to occur, and they should do everything in their power to block it out. The only one she knows almost definitely won't is Oliver, mainly because he's bitter about being cast out of the planning room and back into the realm of the 'common people'.
"Yes, Amelie?" Sam asks, but before he can say another word, Amelie reaches across and presses her lips to his, wrapping her hands into his brilliant red hair. This has been her secret desire for so long, something she's fought to bury beneath dull town legislation and mundane quarrels between species in her town, and she finally has the chance to pull her love close, to breathe in his scent without worrying about the consequences.
At first, he kisses her back; he loves her and she loves him because together, they're two parts of a jigsaw puzzle. They fit together intricately, their every edge forming a close-knit bond, something that's almost impossible to break. He whispers words against her lips as his hands knot themselves in her hair, locking them together physically as well as metaphorically. They're burning the same as one another, his fiery passion overcoming her ice-cold control as it has been for some time, and just this one kiss reminds Amelie what it's like to really live. She hasn't lived for so, so long; she's survived, but there's a difference between surviving and living, and she's not been reminded of this for far too long. He's woken her up—and it's going to be hard to disappear once again.
And then he stops. Slowly but surely, he stops kissing her and unravels his hands from her hair, taking a step back; there's space between them now, and with the space comes embarrassment and an ever-increasing belief that maybe he doesn't want her. Maybe she's imagined his feelings for her; maybe he's never been more than a friend to her, and she's only read what she wants to see.
He sees this in her eyes, she knows he does, he knows that she feels betrayed and hurt and indescribably pained—she has no words to explain it, can barely even comprehend his rejection in her own mind, and her mouth merely hangs open.
Within seconds, his hands are on her shoulders, pulling her in close to his body; she's still too in shock to protest, to do anything other than acquiesce to what he wants, and it's only when her face is pressed against his chest that she realises she could cry. It takes a few seconds, however, before she's composed enough to stop this happening; he doesn't deserve her tears, not yet.
"It's not that I don't love you or want you close to me, or anything like that," he breathes into her ear, so quietly that she can barely hear him herself. "I just…it's not the right time. We've got days before the final battle; I don't want you distracted when you're trying to plan the best way to fight and let us all survive. Please, Amelie, don't ever, ever think that I don't love you, because I love you more than I love my life…but you need to focus. You know you do."
Thinking, Amelie knows he's right; it just doesn't make her feel any better about the fact that she let her guard down completely and he's hurt the real Amelie, the woman who lies beneath the ice-façade …but he's right. She can't allow herself to be distracted by him, not when all their lives are at stake. They can be together before the end, but not prior to that point.
And so she takes a step back from him, ensuring that this time she's the one in control, causing Sam to smile; she knows he knows that she needs control, needs to be the most powerful one in the room—and that it scares her when he's with her, because they're equals, and he's just as capable of destroying her as she is him.
"Very well," Amelie replies, looking away and focusing instead upon a pile of documents on the corner of the desk. "In that case, now that you are aware that your lookout duties were completed with relative proficiency, you may go. Inform Oliver that I require his presence when you leave."
With that, Sam knows that he's dismissed; he leaves the room wordlessly, but in the second before the door closes, Amelie turns and their eyes meet, both of them aware that she doesn't mean anything that could be construed harshly.
(He's still wracked with guilt about what he's going to do in four nights' time, and he doesn't think that he could be close to her for four entire days—he'd crack. He can only be with her in the final minutes before the end, and even then he won't last. All Sam hopes is that she won't despise him too much to not miss him when he's gone.)
((Because he's never going to survive this, is he?))
The door shuts louder than Sam wanted it to, and he winces; it's because he's nervous, he knows that, but loud noises tend to attract their allies from their various tasks around the hideout. Usually, anything louder than a few decibels indicates trouble—or at least something to investigate, a discovery to break the monotony of being on the rebelling side. Sam knows just how hard it is to fill the days, and he knows that there's always a chance that he could be caught out here.
Forcing himself to take three very deep, slow breaths, he waits to see if there's any reaction from inside their headquarters—but, surprisingly, there's nothing. For a few moments he's confused, until he remembers why: almost nobody is here. In preparation for Oliver betraying the location of their hideout, most of their supporters have moved into alternate accommodation closer to the centre of Morganville, ready to strike when the order is given. It's only him, Amelie, Oliver and a few others who are willing to remain who are still in this building which has become more of a home to Sam over the past months than anywhere else has—besides, perhaps, for the Glass House. But that's not been his home for many, many years…and it will never be again.
Moving fast as he departs the scene, Sam thinks through whether or not he wants to do this, whether he wants to risk everyone just to increase the odds of saving Amelie. They're not prepared today; they won't be ready for the final battle until the day after tomorrow, and if this happens tonight, the stage scene will be tomorrow. The only person who's already prepared, who has been pushing, pushing, pushing for the end to be tomorrow is Myrnin—admittedly, he's the most important of them all, but he's not the one who can save Amelie.
Sam decides just as he reaches the house of Christopher, the vampire who's pretending to be on their side but is secretly Bishop's through and through, that no matter what, some of their people will die. And perhaps it's selfish, but all he wants is for Amelie to live; he doesn't care about the others, not really, not in comparison to her.
He's going through with it.
"To what do I owe this pleasure, Samuel?" Christopher says, sounding more surprised than anything else to find Sam at his door. The majority of the work done to trick Christopher into feeding Bishop false information has been done by Oliver, due to them both apparently being on Bishop's side; Sam hasn't seen him since before the Welcome Feast, and he hasn't had any regrets over this. Christopher has always been a sleazy player, someone who will choose the side which is appears likely to win over the side he personally supports the most; he's a glory supporter, and so far that's succeeded in helping him survive.
It won't this time.
"Oliver's busy—really, really busy—so he asked me to come over with a message for you." He finds that he can lie much easier than he expected he could about something so important, and there's no shadow of a doubt about his reason for being here. Christopher invites him in without a moment's hesitation.
"So what is this message?" Christopher asks, grabbing a glass paperweight off his table and tossing it in the air. "Oh, do you want some refreshment?" He indicates towards a fridge which Sam presumes is filled with blood—in order to continue with the pretence that he opposes the hunting Bishop permits without hesitation—but Sam shakes his head. "Ah, suit yourself."
"Oliver wishes to tell me that you need to be careful; his plan is going to be enacted tonight, whatever that is," Sam explains, taking pains to make it clear that he doesn't know what Oliver's plan is. He thinks that nobody would know that Oliver's a turncoat, not even the person who Oliver has delegated to send his message—especially not him, not someone so loyal to Amelie. "Oh, and that we're preparing for the attack against Bishop for the day after tomorrow, so if you want to head down to headquarters for the final briefing at some point in the next twenty four hours, that would be great."
Christopher nods slowly, his eyes focused on something on the far side of the room; even without his attention, he still catches the paperweight every time, however. "And it was Oliver who sent you to me?" he confirms. "Not Amelie or Gérard or anyone else, but Oliver?"
"It was Oliver, why?" Sam decides it's fitting to insert a little intrigue into his tone. "Does it make a difference if it's Oliver's orders or Amelie's?"
Almost as though sensing he's dangerously close to perilous waters, the other man's head shoots up, his eyes meeting Sam's as though to ascertain if he's figured anything out. "No, not at all, I merely wondered who remained in charge of the decision making," Christopher replies. "We all know Oliver has a…reputation for being a good war leader; I simply wondered if even in the final days, Amelie continued to recognise that. I am extremely glad that she does."
Sam nods slowly, getting up from his position on the rather uncomfortable couch. Being this close to someone who, if they hadn't identified his suspicious behaviour early on, could have destroyed them all makes Sam angry, but he knows better than to fight someone older than himself; he'd lose, even with the extra emotion running through him. "I'll see you soon, Christopher."
And with that, Sam walks out the door, shaking ever so slightly as the enormity of what he's done hits him; he's betrayed their entire side, just to save Amelie—a woman he's not even with right now.
The door slamming shut makes Amelie look up but it doesn't faze her; those who have elected to remain behind are nervous, as they should be, and they're probably just letting off a little steam. She can't say that she blames them; all she wants to do is to sit down and forget about their troubles, but the only person who can make her relax who isn't half mad is currently missing from her presence.
She soon loses herself in the intricate details of the plan, focusing more on the theoretical fight—which she very much doubts she'll be alive to see—and the number of dead she believes will be required to secure a substantial victory against her father than her role. Her part is simple: be caught, be defiant, be killed. She's never been in doubt of what her role entails, never wanted another to take her place, and she isn't going to start thinking about it now; fear isn't what drives Amelie forwards, not today.
What drives her today is the knowledge that Sam will be safe because of her sacrifice; her long life will finally be over, her book's pages finally filled, and he will have the chance to flourish without her playing games with him. She knows that she's been an awful love to Sam throughout the past half-century, and all she can hope is that age allows him to understand this, to hate her and then, finally, to accept why she did it—and move on. Perhaps Sam will become the new version of her, she thinks, though he'll be the sort of ruler who rules solely on their morals and their beliefs, keeping all their personality, rather than someone who thinks solely of the end goal.
Some time later, the door opens, surprising Amelie; she made it expressively clear that not even Oliver is to enter. She's just about to say something when her senses kick in, realising that it's Sam who's standing in the doorway.
He shuts the door behind him, by which time Amelie has discarded all sheets in front of her, her eyes now focused solely on Sam. Compared to normal, he looks…ill, even though it's not possible for him to be under the weather; he looks scared, more scared than Amelie's ever seen him, and it scares her too.
"Samuel," she says gently, standing up and moving across to stand in front of him. Amelie takes his hand in hers as she looks even deeper into his eyes, trying to solve the problem—but once again, there's a block there, hiding more of him than she can actually see. "Are you alright? Are you hurt? What has happened to scare you so?"
He shakes his head, looking at Amelie, but not really seeing her; it's as if he's in another world, a world which he doesn't want to share with anyone. "Nothing is wrong, Amelie…I'm just worried about the future, that's all."
She sighs ever so slightly, wishing he hadn't prompted this line of conversation. "Samuel, you have nothing to worry about, I can assure you of that," she reiterates to him, a force behind every single word.
His response surprises her. "I know," he says, though he doesn't sound as though he means it—but he actually looks at her, which makes a change. "But I worry for you, Amelie. I spend my nights wondering if we're both going to make it out of this alive, and then when I decide that we are, I think about what we can do when we're free." His tone sounds wistful, dreamy almost, and he draws Amelie into thinking that there's a possibility they can both survive.
"I have considered it also," she says, but he doesn't seem to have heard her.
"I imagine us taking trips throughout Europe, you showing me the heritage sites which were present when you were growing up, you teaching me French, me showing you how to ride a bike. I imagine long walks in the twilight hours, me ignoring the burns just to be with you whilst the final dregs of sunlight remain—the sky is so beautiful at that time, is it not? I never noticed it as a human but those first years of being alone, the sight of the sky shot with purple and red and burnt orange, it was all that got me through the night." He laughs a little, even more shaky than his tone, but when he looks at her, his feelings are clear.
Before she can say a word, his lips are on hers, the surprise helping him in accidentally throwing Amelie halfway across the room. Her back collides with the wall, but she ignores the irritating piece of wood digging into her skin as she kisses him back, certain she's never been kissed like this before. Never before has she had someone she loves more than anyone—who also loves her back equally so—by her side in the lead up to a major battle which could quite easily end everyone and everything that has sided with her. She's never had the apprehension of battle mix with the unmistakeable feeling of true love—and she's glad, because it means everything that their last kiss will be the one with the most emotion, the most obvious depiction of their love.
She half imagines that there are fireworks going off around them as his hands wrap into her hair whilst hers slip around his back, but perhaps they're just in her head—but she knows that the words, "I love you," which escape her lips when his mouth leaves hers and moves to her shoulder are real, because she could say it one thousand times and it would always be true.
"I know," he replies, and she can feel him smiling against her skin. "Oh, I know it, Amelie. It's taken so long for you to admit it, but I've always known it, no matter what you've said to the contrary."
Amelie loses track of how long they spend like this, in one another's arms, two parts of the same person; they're still individuals, continue to have their own traits and personalities and beliefs, but when they're with the other, they have everything they could possibly need to be great. Together, they could rule the world, could command the ships and the seas, could destroy entire cities with one word—they could bring hope and prosperity to the people of every country, could make everyone feel loved. They could both destroy the earth and rebirth it—together.
They stay like this until the clock strikes eight, and there's a noise originating from far away, but loud enough to be audible even in here. Amelie hasn't a clue what it is, but she knows it's bad news; whether this is instinct or the fact that Sam's body suddenly freezes, she doesn't know.
"Three minutes," he whispers to her—or maybe to himself, Amelie can't tell, and not even her attempts to shake him from this panic are successful. He looks at her, and it's with real, unadulterated fear in his eyes, not just a passing flash of it. "Do you remember when we went for that walk down Lot Street when I was still a human? It was dark obviously, but there were no threats and it was just you and me, me and you, together, in our own little world. The streetlamps lit you up in such a way that it would be impossible for anyone to tell you that you're not beautiful; your hair glistened in a silver-blonde way, and the blue hidden in your eyes danced in your face. In that moment I knew that I was completely hooked and that, no matter what anyone said, it was because I wanted you. Not because I was enchanted or because I was scared about the future and being alone—but because I loved you."
Amelie breaks in at this point, her hands shaking Sam's shoulders softly. "Samuel! Why are you telling me this? What are you trying to say?"
Suddenly he's shaking again in her arms, and not even her strength can hold him still from the reverberating sobs which wrack his body. Tears are streaming down his face, great rivulets of fluid escaping his eyes which, despite everything, are still focused on her, still showing her love and fear and everything inbetween. "I didn't want to, I didn't want anything like this to happen—but it had to," he whispers, and Amelie gets an idea what he's done. "I couldn't bear to see anything happen—please forgive me, Amelie. Please, please, please don't hate me for what I've done. I only did it for you, for the people, for this to be a swift and painless regain of power, for things to go back to normal afterwards.
"I didn't want anything to happen to you, Amelie, because, oh God, because I love you. You're the only thing that matters to me in this world, if only because I have noone else. You are everything to me, everything—and I didn't want the world to lose the only thing that holds me here. I couldn't let that happen. So please, when you think of me in the future, don't hate me for what I've done. Don't despise me for destroying everything—please, Amelie, please forgive me." he hisses the last words, losing the ability to speak through the tears that are now dripping onto Amelie, drops of cool liquid that she barely notices. All she notices is that she's cold and that even though he can barely speak, he's still sobbing attempts at saying how sorry he is, and that he loves her.
She knows what he's done—and she could never hate him for wanting to save her.
Still, her body feels ice-cold and foreign to her even as she comforts him, telling him he's done nothing wrong, that she can love him forever and be with him forever, and that they can go for that walk along the streets of Paris and Bordeaux and anywhere and everywhere in the world—because they're going to live. They're going to survive this, they're going to stride out from it united.
Amelie knows that that's not going to happen, that he's destroyed his own future just so that her menial existence can continue, living for nothing but power and the fear of what lies for her at her own judgement day, but he doesn't need to know that she already knows the outcome. He doesn't need to know that they're doomed; he's doomed to death and she's doomed to an eternity of regretting that final person who saved her from past demons.
But as she hears her father's amused and insulting tone as he comments on finding the two of them together, she realises that it was always going to end this way. From the first time he saved her until this last, she knew that the end would always wreak death for one of them, just to save the other.
It's the curse of her love, and Sam's paying the price she ought to have paid long ago.
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