Chapter 1: Godric
Disclaimer: I do not own anything from True Blood or Harry Potter.
General Warnings: AU - mostly in HP-verse; fem!Harry (AKA Holly); Dimension traveling Harry; MoD!Harry;
Summary: He'd given a lot of thought to what he might find after death; somehow, he hadn't been expecting to find her.
Author's Notes: My introduction to True Blood fanfiction was one that literally started with me going "What the hell, why not?" and then clicking on a story; and then Godric ended up being such a fascinating character that there was no turning back. I have a weakness for fem!Harry stories, thus Holly Potter.
This story is cross posted from my account on ff.net
The idea of death had never been a foreign one to him.
He had been born and raised and had died in a time when something that was seen as a passing annoyance in modern eras could be fatal, had been fatal. He had been roughly four summers old when his aunt had died from a simple cold, and death was a frightening concept even then. He was barely eight when his tribe had been conquered by the Romans; the men slaughtered, the women and children taken and sold into slavery.
By the time he was sixteen, he had been wishing for death, had been praying and mentally begging for it. Anything that would get him away from the sadistic desires of his master, even something as frightening as death, was welcome.
But, there, even death had failed him. He had died and then he woke. And his torment continued for years, for decades, and under his Master's tutelage, he had learned new ways to kill and did, and he had used his Master's tender mercies as fuel for the rage that burned within him until he had finally been able to take his revenge on his master and maker. And he had enjoyed it. He had enjoyed it more than he had enjoyed draining a servant girl for the first time.
When he had killed his maker, he had felt powerful for the first time in his life. He had felt powerful and free and in control and euphoric and that kind of euphoria, that feeling of being in control of someone else's life, of having power over whether someone lived or died was addicting.
But killing his maker had also had consequences. The bond between maker and child was, truly, a work of divinity. It was sacred and he should never have been able to overcome the bond to kill his maker, but he had, and that frightened the vampire council. They sent their enforcers after him, but he had escaped. He had been a slave since he was little more than a boy, and he had endured and survived his maker's treatment for decades. He was, above all, a survivor, a clever one.
He had dedicated the next five hundred years to running and killing. And he was good at it, terrifyingly good, until many were too frightened to speak his name. Instead, they renamed him, called him Death. 'The Boy, Death.' Even then, the words were whispered, lest saying them summon him.
And so he survived.
It wasn't easy. Though they never stood a chance at catching him, the council's enforcers had still made his life difficult and he existed on the fringes of society at the best of times until he could barely even be considered civilized in the loosest sense of the word.
But, he remembered thinking to himself then, Death was not meant to be civilized. Though it had moments where it was silent and clean, above all, Death was wild and violent and it took without asking permission. And so that was how he became. Wild and violent and taking without asking and leaving only the dead in his wake.
Back then, his thoughts on death had been little more than idle curiosity as to what happened to all of the humans and vampires he had sent to their true death.
What greeted them in the afterlife after he had ushered them to it? Did they even experience an afterlife? If they did, were they aware of it? Or did they and their consciousness just cease to exist after he had taken their life? What happened when one died and did not come back as a vampire?
They were little more than idle thoughts to amuse him in the short periods where he lacked other entertainment.
From the time he had murdered his Maker and fled from other vampires, he had reveled in the freedom he had not experienced since he was but a small boy. Each night, he had dedicated himself to taking pleasure in all the things he could now do: he followed armies because they were easy meals and he participated in night time battles just because he could; he took pleasure in flesh and blood because he could.
He had reveled in the sheer life he had found that was his to have after death.
But… Something had been missing in the years since he'd become a fugitive from the vampire council, in the decades since he had become Death. He'd grown strong, too strong for the weaklings the council continuously sent after him, and he feared that without that challenge to engage in, he would grow bored.
So he sought out a new challenge, one he had never before done.
He would become a maker.
Of course, he was picky.
He'd spent years searching for the right warrior to turn – and it would be a warrior. He didn't think he had the tolerance or the patience to turn someone who was not a fighter. He didn't think he could even begin to understand their mindset because fighting and surviving was all he knew.
And then he found Eric.
And all the years following Eric's turning had certainly been a challenge. Even now, a millennia after he had changed Eric, Godric still had moments where he thought his childe challenging.
When he had made Eric, the fire that burned within him had been tempered.
Teaching Eric all he knew, passing on his knowledge and ideals, ensuring he had a legacy in the world like he had been unable to do as a human, had calmed something in him, and as the years passed, he'd found himself much calmer, much more apathetic.
He and Eric had parted, his Viking son wishing to go his own way and hunt for the murderer of his human family and Godric had turned his attention to the New World, looking for another challenge to hold his interest. They had reunited for a short time in Germany, during the Second World War, Eric having called him in to help with the lead on the werewolves he found there, but they had parted just as quickly.
And Godric found he was tiring. Of war. Of death. Of everything.
If the humans felt jaded and shaken after two world wars, they could not even begin to compare to him.
It wasn't until the most recent five or so decades of his life that he had begun to consider death personally, in a manner other than causing it for others.
It had happened slowly, his thoughts. Creeping up on him until one day, he awoke from his daily death and wondered why he was bothering waking up at all when it would be so much easier, so much more peaceful, if he were to just stay dead.
And he began to hope for it, hope that something would go wrong as he slept and he wouldn't wake up. He began hoping for it with such desperation that he actually started planning against it.
He took every safeguard he could to protect himself during his rest, invested in ever newer and ever more secure precautions until it was nigh impossible for someone to reach him as he slept, not unless they could teleport directly into his room, onto his bed.
In all honesty, his growing lack of interest – he didn't want to call it depression; somehow, he felt that if he were to actually name it, it would become somehow worse – frightened him in a manner few things since his Maker had.
The years marched on, and he grew ever wearier.
"Do you believe in God?
"If you're right, how will He punish me?"
"God doesn't punish. God forgives."
"I don't deserve it. But I hope for it."
Yes, he had thought often of Death and what he could expect after it.
He had expected an eternal darkness where he knew nothing beyond that there was nothing.
He had expected to not be aware of anything at all.
He had expected Hell. He had expected fire and pain and reliving his sins and the pain and humiliation he had felt at his Maker's hands for the rest of eternity.
At the very least, he had expected Purgatory.
Somehow, in all of his thoughts, all of his calculations, all of his considerations and expectations, THIS had never once occurred to him.
It was a large hall; truly, a wide-open space, bright and clean, with a clear, domed glass ceiling roof that glittered with sunlight high above him. Chairs were set in little rows and there were bits of railing here and there and yet he was the only the only being there.*
In the distance, he spotted tracks and he blinked in surprise.
It was a train station, emptier and cleaner than he could recall ever seeing one, especially one so busy as King's Cross could be.
He wandered through the station, exploring all the nooks and crannies that would appear and disappear as soon as he noticed them.
He didn't know how long it'd been since he had first appeared here. Time was immaterial. Years could have passed, or mere seconds, and he wouldn't be the wiser. Especially since not a single clock in the station worked correctly.
Rather than move as if it were keeping track of the time, the clocks all seemed to be counting down. When he had first noticed the quirk, the hour hand had been on the four. He glanced at the nearest clock and stilled in surprise as it now pointed towards the nine when he would swear that just seconds before, it had been on the eight.
He shook his head and went back to exploring. He still had yet to find a way out of the station and he was curious as to what lie beyond the chairs and tracks and glass dome.
He was sitting in one of the seats, staring up at the glass dome as it glittered in the sunlight and wondering if he was going to go crazy from the silence, the emptiness of this place, when the silence was shattered harshly enough to actually make him jump in his seat.
There was a mighty toll that echoed throughout the station when the clock struck twelve, the echoes bleeding into each new toll until it was like one long noise as the clock chimed the hour. Then, so quickly on the last toll, came the shrill sound of a whistle, the chugging of a train, the squeal of brakes.
A bright red steam engine came to a stop in the middle of King's Cross, with the words HOGWARTS EXPRESS emblazoned on it in gold. He drifted closer, the hiss of escaping steam a welcome sound over the previous silence, studying the train with muted curiosity.
Why was it here? Was this train how he had arrived in this place, or was it how he would leave? If the first, did that mean that others were joining him here?
Just as he began to think that the train was empty, that he would be getting on it, a door popped open and a woman dropped gracefully from the train car onto the platform. So involved with adjusting the bag on her shoulder, straightening her clothes and patting down her hair, she didn't notice him.
"Are you Death?" he called out, his question echoing across the empty space, and the irony of him asking the same question that Eric had once asked him struck him as funny, but he couldn't bring himself to even smile because suddenly he missed his childe.
She started, apparently not having expected anyone else to be here with her, before she loped over to him with easy grace, a bemused expression on her face.
She was pretty, classically so. Her black, ear-length hair was a mess of curls and waves, some of them even spiking up like little horns; her skin was pale, not the deathly pallor of vampires, but that of one who was naturally fair-skinned; and while her lips had smiles tucked in the corners, it was her eyes that drew the most attention. Almond shaped and tucked behind a pair of rectangular, rimless glasses, even the lightning shaped scar off-center of her forehead seemed to point towards the bright, emerald green gaze that seemed to glow with a life all its own.
She was dressed simply: distressed jeans that had a hole at the left knee, a pair of black combat boots, a white V-neck t-shirt with a plaid flannel over it, and then an olive green military-esque jacket over that. She carried a bag that was more a satchel than purse, and other than the necklace that seemed to have bottle cap charms (of all things), she was free of accessories.
Despite her overall harmlessly youthful appearance and the friendly smile that was tugging at her lips, there was something about the girl that screamed of age and danger.
"Not quite," she smiled with laughter in her voice as she came to a stop just a few feet away from him. "I'm just sort of passing through. What are you doing here?"
He hesitated, glancing around the station again before he tilted his head at the girl. "Where is here, exactly?"
"Where isn't the right question," she replied.
"Then… What is this place?"
"You can call it… A gateway."
"A gateway," he repeated.
"Yes, like a door. Only, well, much more ornate and complicated than a simple door," she nodded.
He frowned and shook his head in frustration at her obtuse answers.
"A gateway to what, a doorway to where?" he asked.
She shrugged and answered simply: "On."
"When you're ready, you can get on the Express and it'll take you on."
"But… You came here on it."
The air around her grew sad, though her smile never faded. "I did," she agreed, but said no more.
He let the subject drop for now, content simply to have company once more, and together they set off to wander the station to explore all the places he had been unable to find until she was at his side.
"My name is Holly, by the way," she introduced as they stood in the sunlight after she had found a door that led to the outside. She was standing a few feet behind him, further up the hill they'd ventured to in order to feel closer to the sky, watching him curiously.
It was the first words she'd spoken since their first encounter, however long ago that was.
"Godric," he said absently, face lifted to sky and attention held by the clouds that drifted overhead, by the feel of the sun on his skin without the fear of burning.
"Nice to meet you, Godric," she replied and he could feel her amusement, but didn't know the cause of it.
He turned to face her, lowering his eyes from the sky to her face. She had shed her jacket and had tied her plaid shirt around her hips, revealing arms that were sprinkled with scars. He blinked, taken aback by the open, friendly smile she wore now, as if he had passed a test he didn't even know he was taking, the genuine joy she felt showing in the way her emerald eyes had brightened.
And he couldn't look away, could only stare at the life he could see in her eyes.
Suddenly, he wasn't so sure that the warmth he felt and had been basking in came solely from the sun.
"You as well."
He led the way, and Holly followed easily behind, not questioning the way he seemed to be searching for something. At times, he would pause and look around before shaking his head and continuing on; this time, when he came to a stop, he looked around and nodded, before falling back into the grass.
They had lapsed back into an easy silence as they'd wandered all over the grassy slopes, but it didn't last long in the face of Godric's emotional peace and physical comfort. He felt more relaxed and at peace than he had in centuries.
It had started with a simple comment from him: "I used to do this often when I was a boy."
And the metaphorical flood gates opened.
They spoke of anything, of everything.
He told her of his life: from his childhood among the tribe, playing in the waters off the coast and hunting with his tribemates, and even his planned courting of a girl with hair the color of wheat and eyes the color of the sea; to the decimation of his tribe by the Romans and his life as a slave and the tortures he'd found at his Master's – and then Maker's – hands.
He told her things he hadn't even known he'd remembered, things he had thought long forgotten; he told her all of his doubts and hesitations and all of his secrets; he told her of things he didn't know he had wanted to share until they had spilled from his lips for her to hear.
And she listened; from the very beginning of his story to the end, where he met his death on a rooftop in Dallas, and all the long years in between.
Then she held him while he mourned – for what, he didn't know, but he grieved bitterly, on his knees at her feet and clinging to her like a child.
He arose refreshed, renewed, feeling as if he were no longer burdened by the years he had seen.
When he asked, she told him of her life, of her world.
She told him of the treatment she'd endured at her relatives' hands after the death of her parents; of the loneliness, anger, depression, the need to be loved she had felt as a child, of ten years of suffering that had left her too-skinny, too-short, too-jaded to not even be a teen yet.
Then, eyes brightened with the same wonder and awe they'd held when she'd first learned of it, she told him of magic.
She told him of the good things, of all of her firsts: her first friends, the first time she flew a broom, the first time she'd felt what it was to be full, her first crush, the first time she'd met her godfather.
She told him of the bad things, of all of her lasts: the last time she could touch someone without a split second of fear that she'd hurt them after she, eleven years old and in self-defense, killed a man; the last time she'd felt normal even among magicals; when she'd bid peace a last goodbye after the man who killed her parents returned; of the last smile her godfather ever gave her.
She told him of how she had led school children to victory in a civil war that had started years before she'd even been born, of how she'd become the youngest Head Auror ever, how she had revolutionized Magical Law Enforcement, and then gone on to take up the mantle of Minister and led her society into a golden age that lasted for decades.
She told him of how she'd married one of her best friends, had a family with him – a large one; she'd always wanted several children, and between her and her husband, they'd had several titles to dole out – and had raised her children to the absolute best of her abilities, teaching them all she knew, watching them grow, and just loving them and her life until, at the grand age of 173, she'd passed in her sleep just months after her husband, greeting Death like an old friend.
She told him of how she had united three artifacts that were thought to be little more than myth when she was but a teenager, and how Death had found her after she'd passed and told her that she would never really die, only pass through to new worlds, new adventures.
So, she'd given her husband on last kiss, changed into a pair of her favored clothes, and hopped on the train that brought her here.
"I'll be returning to life soon. I'm just lingering until Death has everything prepared for me."
She told him that King's Cross was just a pit stop for her.
She was right.
All too soon, after they had wandered back inside the station, something in the air changed.
Holly cut herself off in mid-word, and stood from she had sat, leaning against his arm.
"Time for me to head off," she announced needlessly, shrugging her jacket on and adjusting her satchel. He wondered if he could pretend to not hear her words, if she would stay if he ignored her words.
It was strange, how attached he was to her in such a short amount of time, or was it a long time? Perhaps his attachment stemmed from how easy it was to talk to her, and it was true; she had become his confidant so quickly. He had never bared his soul so completely to anyone when he was alive, though Eric had come the closest to knowing it all.
There was just something comforting about having someone who knew his every flaw, knew every terrible thing he had done, and still accepted him. There was no longer a need for him to hide away parts of himself as he had while alive because Holly already knew everything. It was so freeing.
And he didn't want her to go now.
"I am glad to have met you, Godric," she said, a hand reaching out and he lifted his to meet the gesture half-way.
But she faded before his eyes: the last thing he saw of her was the bright, warm smile he'd grown so used to, so fond of, in such a short amount of time.
And suddenly, all he wanted was to follow her back to life; he wanted it with such desperation that he actually jerked forward, hand still outstretched, as if he could catch her even now, but he grabbed only empty air.
His hand dropped back to his side.
And for the first time since he'd made the decision to die, he regretted his choice.
He had tried to go outside, but it was as if he couldn't find the way out without her there. He was forced to pace inside the station, and while the space had seemed so open and so grand before, now it felt like a cage, ever-shrinking and dim and too silent without her breathing, without her heartbeat.
He was growing angrier with every turn; more frustrated with every lap.
Was he doomed to stay in this place forever, remembering what it was like to finally have someone who knew all of his secrets and still accepted him? Was he fated to have had a friend and never see her again?
Was he damned to be the one left behind?
He turned with a snarl and froze, mere inches away from a black fabric that floated in an unfelt breeze. He eased back, senses screaming danger, and looked at the dark figure standing before him, hooded and cloaked.
"You are Death," he stated with certainty.
The figure nodded.
"Have you come to take me on?" he asked, feeling a momentary panic at the thought of it.
"A choice," It answered, and Its voice was that of many, from the grizzled voice of an elderly man to the high-pitched childish lilt of a girl at play.
"To go on and be truly dead…."
"Or go back. Go to her."
If he had a working heart, it would've stopped.
"You would return me to life? Why?" Godric questioned suspiciously, not wanting to take the deal without knowing the reasons behind it.
The air around them grew colder and Godric mentally kicked himself for daring to question Death. But he had to know, and Death answered.
Returning to life was not unlike all the times he'd woken nightly; only it was much more abrupt, and more painful, and rather than waking in his bed or coffin, he was on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.
He could feel Eric not too far away, and moving closer.
But where was Holly?
Eric was watching him.
It had been three weeks since he'd been returned to life and his childe hadn't wanted to let him out of his sight, and Godric had been unable to hurt his childe by disappearing, so he had settled in to stay in Shreveport and look for Holly through other means. But he didn't even know where to start.
She had said that Death was preparing for her arrival here and that was why she lingered in the station; but, what did that mean? Did she have a legitimate identity? He hadn't even bothered to ask her last name when he'd had the chance because he hadn't thought he would ever need to know it.
Had something gone wrong when she had returned to life? How much time had passed since she had returned? How long had it been here in the real world between her return and his?
Godric reclined more in his seat, annoyance flickering across his face as the patrons of Fangtasia clamored for his attention.
When Eric had suggested helping him out at his club, Godric had accepted in hopes that it would help ease some of Eric's fears that he was going to disappear again. It had worked, somewhat, but now Godric had to deal with hours of sitting in a throne beside his childe, playing into the fantasy of Fangtasia, and the overwhelming amount of scents and emotions being thrown around were made even more annoying by the way they dulled his memory of Holly's scent.
"Father," Eric murmured from beside him, the Old Norse cutting back the amount of people who could eavesdrop and understand their conversation. "You are anxious."
"Restless," he corrected gently. "I have lost something important, something I found on the other side," he explained upon feeling Eric's own anxiety and worry through their bond.
"What did you find?"
Whether it was sheer coincidence or divine intervention, he didn't know, nor did he care; but, at that exact moment, in the small space of silence between songs, with the crowd quieter than usual, he heard a familiar accent: British, but with a hint of Scottish brogue.
The air kicked on and with the rush of cold air came a familiar scent.
He inhaled deeply, and in between people, he could just see to the bar and there she was.
Leaning back against the bar, wearing a denim jacket over a black dress that went to her knees, Holly smiled cheekily and lifted her glass to him. She still had the same messy black hair, the same fair skin, and the same emerald eyes that glowed with a life of their own.
"Her," he answered before he was gone from the seat, across the room, and already sitting down before Eric could even begin to formulate a response.
"You are real," he breathed. "You are here." The emotion in his voice made her smile almost shyly, though when she spoke, her voice was strong.
"And so are you," she pointed out, sipping at the whiskey in her glass.
"You do not seem very surprised by this," he probed.
She shook her head with a smile. "I had a feeling you would be coming back."
"Where were you? Did I miss you somehow?" he asked almost anxiously. Could he have really overlooked her?
Here, Holly's smile turned sheepish and embarrassment tinged her face.
"I didn't actually know where you'd return, you know," she pointed out. "I've been looking in Dallas for over a month now, but when I had no luck, I remembered you telling me about the club your childe owned and I figured you'd come here eventually. And, well, the house was in need of more repairs than I thought, so that also took up a bit of my time."
"You bought a house? Where?"
He felt like a small boy with a crush as he waited for her answer; he couldn't leave Eric right now, but the urge to go where Holly did was strong enough to be a longing.
"Not that far from here, actually."
Again, the embarrassment welled up, and Holly's cheeks flushed.
"I, um, actually, I thought you might want to stay with me? It's just… I rather missed your company these months I've been back, and I made the house light-tight, and, of course, you'd want to check it yourself if you do decide to move in, and you don't have to, I just mean – What?"
He was smiling at her, he knew it; one of those fond smiles he'd often directed at Eric, and he tried to wipe it from his face before she noticed, but given the way she suddenly cut herself off and directed a suspicious look at him, he didn't think it worked.
"I am not sure what I was expecting to find when I died, but you weren't it. But… I am very glad to have met you, Holly," he said instead.
She smiled, bright and warm enough to rival the sun.
** This description was pieced together from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when Harry is in King's Cross meeting with Dumbledore.
Whenever I imagine Eric or Godric sitting on a throne in Fangtasia, I always picture BIGBANG at the end of the "FANTASTIC BABY" MV...
Chapter 2: Holly
Death had a sense of humor.
And if you asked Holly, there were few things worse than an all-powerful being with a sense of humor.
When she woke to her new life with the image of Godric – eyes quietly frantic and pleading as his hand lifted to meet her own but not fast enough – seared so deeply into her mind that she could still see it with every blink, she did so with the impression that she had woken up in, or at least very close to, the year that Godric had died.
So, ignoring the little voice in the back of her mind insisting that something was off, Holly rose from where she lay in the middle of a field, feeling a vague hint of familiarity for her location, brushed off her clothes, and apparated to the town she could just see in the distance.
After all, she had a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in.
Clutching at the newspaper with enough force that her knuckles went white, Holly could only stare at the printed date and struggle to decide whether she should start laughing hysterically or swearing violently.
She really should have known better.
She was a Potter after all.
She'd expected she would be in for a bit of a wait before Godric returned; after all, time moved differently in the real world than it did in King's Cross, and Godric had to decide if he wanted to return or not (and she was rather sure he would).
She just hadn't expected it to be a minimum of eleven years.
She clenched her eyes shut until the black behind her lids spiraled into color and the colors moved like they were being twisted in a kaleidoscope; only then did she open her eyes to once more frantically examine the newspaper, as if expecting the characters to have rearranged themselves into something new.
But they still read the same thing.
Friday, March 27, 1998.
Death had dropped her in the past.
No, in a way, Death had brought her back to the beginning: to the day she had disarmed Draco Malfoy and gained the loyalty of the Elder Wand, completing the set of Hallows.
Death had brought her back to the very day she had become Its Master.
… That bloody bastard.
Death had been thorough when He'd made a place for her in this world, even going so far as to give her a second set of memories to call upon, as if she really had lived in this world for the past seventeen-almost-eighteen years.
Her life in this world was like looking in the funhouse mirrors at a carnival: the image wasn't changed so much as it was warped and distorted, all while keeping the major details the same.
She was still Holly Potter, daughter of Lily and James Potter, with her father's messy black hair and her mother's emerald eyes.
Her birthday was still the 31st of July, 1980.
She still bore the same lightning bolt scar on her forehead, though in this world, it was said to be the result of a rather nasty tumble from a tree when she was four years old, rather than a mark of her having survived the killing curse.
And she had still been placed in the care of her Aunt Petunia after the death of her parents. It was –rather ironically – a car crash that had taken them from her in this world, rather than a murderous Dark Lord.
Holly returned to the Dursley home with no small sense of reluctance; a prison is still a prison, after all, no matter how well the inmates were treated or how pretty the facility.
And she was treated well.
Though there was no love lost between them, Holly's life in the Dursley household had certainly been better in this world compared to her original world. Here, without the fear of magic, only jealousy fueled her Aunt's dislike and, rather than see Holly as a burden and neglect her, Petunia had seen raising Holly as a way to finally one-up her perfect sister for good.
Instead of life-threatening adventures and magic, Holly's upbringing had been strict and filled with lessons. Petunia expected high achievements and demanded perfection in all things, determined that she would raise her sister's daughter to be the Perfect Lady.
Perhaps, most surprisingly, – excluding the fact that she was back in 1998 – was the easy friendship that had developed between her and Dudley.
The amount of attention Petunia had dedicated to her quest to turn Holly into the Perfect Lady had caused quite a bit of tension for Holly and Dudley in the early years; all a five year old Dudley saw was that his mother was paying more attention to his cousin rather than to him and it had led to several years of insults that had ended in physical fights on more than one occasion.
However, Dudley's hatred and jealousy of his cousin mellowed once he'd found his own niche until he could truly see just how much his mother's demands took out of Holly. By the time the cousins were thirteen, Dudley had started running interference with his mother to give Holly a break once in a while, and the pair settled into a close and easy friendship that they maintained even now.
So, as Holly eased into her chair at the dinner table and prepared for what was going to be one of her top ten strangest dinners ever, she couldn't quite stop the amusement she felt that THIS was what really drove home the fact that she was in an entirely new world.
If there was ever a characteristic that Holly possessed that was a double-edged sword, it was her capacity to love.
Perhaps it was something she had inherited from her parents, or perhaps it was a result of her childhood in her original world where things such as love and affection were kept from her, but when Holly loved someone, she loved deeply.
When she loved, she held nothing back and gave everything she was. When she loved, she did it with her whole heart, her whole soul, with her entire being.
Dumbledore had called it her greatest strength, and it certainly was a strength, one that had helped her defeat Voldemort.
But, it was also her greatest weakness.
Holly knew she was weak when it came to those she loved.
Because there was nothing she wouldn't do for those she'd claimed as her own.
She would kill for them, and had.
She would die for them, and had.
And Godric had become one of those people during their time in King's Cross, had found his way into what her husband had once laughingly called her 'Inner Circle.'
The people she would burn the world for, and regret nothing.
Two long years of losing herself in the bustle of life at University, burying herself in assignments, tutoring other students, and letting the voice that sounded suspiciously like Hermione's browbeat her into submission about how she couldn't look for Godric because 'what if she messed up the timeline' and 'awful things happen to those who meddle with time'.
She lasted two years before she gave into temptation and booked a flight for Dallas for the first few days of winter holidays, telling herself that she just needed to check up on him. She wouldn't befriend him, or even speak to him. She would just look in on how he was doing, and then return to England.
A girl could hope, right?
Finding Godric was easier than she'd thought it would be, especially considering the time restraints she was under.
She'd landed in Dallas early in the evening of the 20th, made her way to her hotel – sadly, not the Hotel Carmilla, which didn't even exist yet, much to her dismay; she'd hoped to stay there before it became a well-known hub of vampire activity – and had barely managed to finish her dinner before she fell into bed to sleep until nearly four in the morning.
Godric had mentioned that he'd grown fond of wandering the city in the years before his death, so rather than try to find him as he moved around, Holly had used the hours until sunrise doing her holiday assignments, lingering over her cup of tea, and browsing the pamphlets left in the room that advertised nearby attractions.
Once the sun was high enough in the sky that no vampire would be awake, no matter their age, Holly left her room, got a map from the front desk, and proceeded onto the busy streets of Dallas. She'd ducked into a nearby alley, cast a Notice-Me-Not charm and, through liberal use of various tracking and detection spells geared for the undead, tracked down Godric to his current nest on the outskirts of the city.
She'd marked the location on her map and had wandered back into the city proper to find a late lunch, browse the shops, and otherwise kill time before she could follow Godric on one of his walks and put her worries to rest.
Her resolve to not interact with Godric was far weaker than the resolve that had kept her away for two years once actually faced with the vampire she'd befriended in death.
For two nights – the 21st and the 22nd – she followed him from the moment he entered the city until he returned to his nest and what she saw only made her worries grow.
Godric looked miserable.
There was a sense of fragility to him and the way he moved that shouted at her until she could barely understand how no one else could notice it.
The slouch of his shoulders wasn't from laziness, but dejection; the hands he kept tucked in the pockets of the jeans he wore to blend in as he wandered didn't come across as casual, but defensive; he moved slowly, as if exhausted and weighed down.
And his eyes…
Godric looked at the world around him with a numb apathy that reminded her of what she had felt before she had walked to her death; he watched the world around him as if he were surrounded by thick glass, able to see the world passing him by, but unable to connect.
The next night, as the clock ticked over to one in the morning, Holly cursed her Gryffindor nature, even as she did the glamour charms that made her look as average as average could be. There weren't a ton of people out this late at night, but there were still enough out doing late night Christmas shopping that she could easily blend in and get lost in a crowd when she had to make her escape.
Dirty blonde hair, hazel eyes, lightly tanned skin – what could be seen, at any rate – with dark jeans, a gray hoodie, and a pair of worn trainers.
It'd do its job well enough, she nodded in approval.
Then she took a deep breath, removed her notice-me-not, and stepped from the store she'd taken refuge in as she waited – running directly into Godric.
"I am so sorry! I wasn't looking where I was going; I was so distracted. Are you alright?" Holly babbled, expression twisting into blushing mortification, her voice was higher pitched than usual from tension. She hoped he only took it as another sign of her embarrassment.
The distracted frown of confusion he gave her as her hands fluttered uncertainly near him, as if she wanted to check him for injury but didn't want to invade his space, had her mentally holding her breath.
Honestly, it was like he had forgotten how to interact with people on a regular basis!
"Are you alright?" she repeated when he remained silent, only staring at her with that same puzzled look in his eye.
Just as she began to worry that he saw her actions for the suspicious ones they rightly where, a slight smile slid into place on his face, like he'd just donned a mask.
"No harm done; I am much stronger than I look," he assured her, already starting to move around her to continue on his walk.
She panicked in her mind and blurted out: "No, not that, I mean, um… You just… Well, you look sad. I'm sorry, that was silly and invasive – "
Godric aborted his action, seeming to freeze in place at her side, looking taken aback by her words as she rambled and gestured, trying to salvage the mess she was sure she'd just made.
He was staring at her.
She cut herself off abruptly and shifted her weight from one foot the other, the weight of his amused gaze and genuinely fond smile rendering her hesitant. After a second, she brightened and turned her attention to one of the bags on her arm – she really had bought several things; this had to be believable! – and dug through it until she pulled out a small black box tied with a green ribbon.
She flushed shyly and averted her eyes before she pressed the box into his hands.
"Happy Christmas!" she exclaimed in a rush, almost stumbling over the words in her hurry to get them out; she smiled brightly at his baffled look and took off down the street before he could think to stop her.
The tension in Holly's shoulders didn't ease until she was in the air above the Atlantic; then, she let out a gusty sigh of relief and slumped in her seat.
She would check on him again next year.
He had considered opening the small box the moment he returned to his nest, but something had made him wait until it was Christmas day before he loosened the emerald ribbon.
Perhaps it was the sincere wish of "Happy Christmas!" or just that it was a gift given to him without any ulterior motives attached like many he had received during his tenure as Sheriff of Area 9.
Whatever the reason, he had left the small black box sitting at the edge of his desk, tempting him and drawing his eye throughout his meetings and the various papers he had to sign and sort until he finally deemed it time to open it.
He upended the box and a small stone, no bigger than a fifty-cent piece, dropped into his hand. It was a bright, sea-blue with black words etched into the glass and would fit rather well with the collection of sea-glass he had.
To get through the hardest journey and continue living, we need to take only one step at a time; but we must keep stepping. – Chinese Proverb
He kept the stone at his desk for months, pulling it out and idly rubbing his thumb over the words, wondering at how it had found its way to him just when he needed those words the most.
In 2001, Holly once more returned to Dallas for the first few days of winter break.
When she tracked down Godric, she was pleased to see that he looked a bit better than he had last year; at the very least, he seemed less numb and more involved in watching the world around him.
Unfortunately, this made it more difficult for her to give him his gift; he would get suspicious if another girl ran into him and gave him another stone, so she had to find another way.
As Godric strolled past where she sat at a small café, she let the stone drop before a seven-year old boy who'd been playing nearby her table; when the child picked it up, wondering where it had come from, Holly had pointed to Godric and said that it "must've fallen from his pocket; you should return it!"
She'd watched from behind her book as the little boy had chased Godric down and given the stone to him; she couldn't quite stop the smirk when the vampire, upon seeing the stone the boy held, accepted it despite the confusion of where it came from.
The life you live is the lesson you teach. Live well.
Before their deaths in this world, James had been a professional football player, and Lily, despite her young age, had been a chemist with a lucrative, if secretive, job. Between their paychecks, their life-insurance policies, the restitution from the lawsuit over the crash that killed them, and the already sizeable Potter family fortune, Holly's inheritance was nothing to scoff at.
Indeed, a week after turning eighteen, when the entirety of her inheritance was released to her, Holly was left reeling over the fact that she didn't have to work a single day in her life if she didn't want to.
Death had been very thorough in ensuring His Master's place in the world.
Despite that she didn't have to work, Holly had gone to University to get degrees in both Business and Design. During that time, she'd also decided to invest in several things, most of which had ended up paying out quite well so far, so her already substantial fortune only grew during her time in University.
So, when in the midst of end-of-term exam frenzy, she had an idea – though she was unsure if it were crazy and a result of sleep deprivation or a stroke of sheer genius – she checked her accounts and started haggling.
In July of 2002, Holly finished University in the top fifteen of her class. With degrees in hand, she packed her essentials and moved to Dallas on a semi-permanent basis.
By November, she closed the deal for a building in downtown Dallas, once filled with offices.
Renovations for the soon-to-be Hotel Carmilla were due to begin in January of next year.
If she laughed herself silly as she filled out and signed the papers to make the building hers, no one had to know.
You have all the tools you need to do the things that must be done.
The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us. – Voltaire
Apparently, the fact that she named her hotel after a book about a vampire did more than just amuse her: it caught someone's attention.
The letter arrived on a Monday, with her name and address written in beautiful calligraphy; the kind one usually only found on wedding invitations, or in Holly's own hand.
The envelope was sealed with red wax that glinted like freshly spilt blood in the light of her apartment with an elaborate V pressed into it; the letter itself was written on heavy parchment.
Miss Holly Potter,
You are invited to attend…
She had been hesitant to attend, that conditioned paranoia of one who had seen and lived through war that never quite faded rearing its head and whispering that this could be a trap.
So, she took precautions, even going so far as to visit the location where the meeting was to be held beforehand and making note of escape routes.
When the day came, she donned her chosen armor – a charcoal pantsuit with an emerald blouse, heeled boots, and minimal jewelry – and set out for the meeting that would either end her life or change it.
Perhaps it was callous of her, but when she saw the thirty-some other people that were attending, a part of her was grateful; if this were to go bad, that was thirty other people with the chance of being attacked before her, giving her a better chance at escaping.
She entered the large room and mingled, making friends and connections, handing out and receiving business cards in turn, until it was time for the real meeting to begin, at which point, she took her seat in the middle of the crowd.
Within the next hour, she was officially let in on the secret that vampires were real, and that they were planning to fully reveal themselves within the next few years.
She was among those chosen to be let in on the secret early in order to help with the vampires' integration into society.
And then she learned why she'd been chosen.
"Your mother worked on the TruBlood project for a time," Roman Zimojic confided. "She truly had a talent for it, as well; there were more breakthroughs in the two years she worked for us than there were in the decade before. I was disappointed when she died; if she had lived, perhaps we would have been able to reveal ourselves earlier."
"My mother was a brilliant woman," Holly agreed easily. "If I am honest, I thought it was what I chose to name my hotel that earned me the invitation, but I am glad that there was more behind it than just my being cheeky."
"Well, it certainly drew my attention. Why did you choose to name it Carmilla?"
"Hotel Dracula didn't have the same ring to it."
Upon leaving the meeting with the Vampire Authority, Holly had agreed that when the vampires revealed themselves, Hotel Carmilla would be the first ever vampire-friendly hotel in the world, one designed specifically with its undead guests in mind.
As she left, Roman handed her a slip of paper and informed her that she should consider contacting the sheriff of Area 9.
Godric, he said, would be happy to answer any questions she might have about making a building safe for a vampire to rest in.
To: Godric, Sheriff of Area Nine,
Guardian Roman Zimojic has referred me to you for any and all questions I might have in regards to making the Hotel Carmilla safe and welcoming to vampire guests…
To: General Manager Potter,
Your initiative in ensuring the safety of your future guests is as impressive as the sheer amount of questions you have regarding it. It is my pleasure to work with you on this task…
Do what you can, with what you have, with where you are. – Theodore Roosevelt.
Though the correspondence with Godric became less and less about the precautions she should take and the amenities she should provide and more about philosophical debates, the letters were kept to a minimum and Holly never let on that 'General Manager Potter' was actually a woman.
She relished in the ability to contact him almost without restriction, and often found herself having to double check any and all messages she sent in order to make sure she wasn't bringing up anything that she wasn't supposed to know.
Though the restriction grated on her, Holly only had to remind herself of the times that Godric had looked at her without knowing her to strengthen her resolve to not interfere with his life beyond these small liberties.
If she wanted her Godric back, then this one had to die.
The years marched on.
To: Godric, Sheriff of Area Nine,
I found this stone and was reminded of one our previous discussions on the nature of happiness. Merry Christmas, Sheriff.
Happiness is someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. – Chinese Proverb.
RING IN THE NEW YEAR
AT THE HOTEL CARMILLA
The grand opening of her hotel had two hundred and fifty attending, with at least fifty of said attendees being vampires.
Including Godric and several members of his nest.
Holly skipped out on attending it and claimed that she was needed back in England.
It wasn't time for her to meet Godric yet.
June 1st, 2006.
The Great Revelation had happened the day before.
Curled up in her favorite chair, Holly clutched at her mug of tea and watched the various news programs.
The Marauder in her reveled in the chaos of the vampires revealing themselves; the rest of her only cared that she was that much closer to finally seeing Godric in person once more.
Within a month of the Great Revelation, anti-vampire groups numbered near a hundred in America alone.
The most vocal of these was The Fellowship of the Sun.
Holly had a special kind of hatred for that church; but then she'd never been fond of anyone who persecuted others for something that couldn't be helped.
Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win. – Jonathon Kozol.
You cannot change anyone else, you can only change yourself.
Everything is okay in the end. If it's not okay, then it's not the end. – Unknown.
29 July, 2009
I am to head home to England for a short vacation in celebration of my birthday, but I would be glad to meet with you upon my return to discuss this topic further.
I look forward to meeting you in person.
See you soon.
Holly spent her twenty-ninth birthday in a small house on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, not that anyone would believe her age by looking at her.
When she met Death after passing in her original world, she had not appeared in King's Cross as her 173-year-old self; instead, she'd woken up, back in her teenage body with all the scars she'd gathered up until then.
A witch's connection to her power grew stronger as she aged until, upon hitting majority, it stabilized and the witch essentially came into her own magic. Thus it should be no real surprise that witches (and wizards) aged slower than non-magicals; their power was constantly moving with them, boosting their immune system, slowing their aging, repairing the damage the everyday damage that would add up over time.
And the more magical power one had, the stronger a connection, the longer-lived one would be.
Holly had already been considered powerful for her age, if not the most powerful of her age group, and that power had not faded, not even in death.
When that already potent power combined with the Deathly Hallows, Holly's aging was slowed to a crawl.
In the eleven years she had been in this world, she had aged mere months.
Before the Great Revelation, Holly had been forced to do her hair and dress in a manner that would age her; even then, she employed light glamor charms to help make her look older than barely eighteen. Despite that, she still had issues being taken seriously; now, with the vampires out of the coffin, Holly had been slowly easing up on the glamour charms, had started dressing the way she preferred, and, within hours of setting foot in the United Kingdom, Holly had shorn her hair until it was back to the pixie length she preferred.
When she heard the report of the bombing of a vampire nest in Dallas, Holly packed her things and headed back to the States.
August ended before Holly started her search in earnest. She knew neither where nor when Godric would return to life, so she started her search in Dallas, radiating outwards from the hotel.
Unable to use tracking or detection spells simply because she had nothing to use to have the spells focus only on him, Holly searched the city by hand. It took her a month before she finally concluded that he simply wasn't there.
Oh, he was definitely alive again, but he just hadn't returned to where he had died.
With a weary sigh, Holly dropped into her favorite chair and stared out at the Dallas skyline.
If Godric wasn't in Dallas, then where was he and why hadn't he returned where he had died?
Death had returned her to life on the same day and in the same location as she had been when she became His Master, but then, she'd had no real ties to this world.
Was it possible that because Godric had a childe, still had a tie to this world, that he had been resurrected near that tie?
But where was his childe?
"My childe, Eric, owns a vampire bar in Shreveport. He uses it as his seat of power and rules his area from there; but, I have always preferred a house."
Brightening with realization, Holly grabbed her laptop from the side table and opened a web browser as she settled deeper in her chair.
Godric would likely wish to stay near his childe, especially after the pair of them had been parted by something as permanent as the True Death was supposed to be.
Her apartment in Dallas simply wouldn't do anymore.
The farmhouse she purchased that was an hour's drive from Shreveport required some repairs on top of the usual upgrades that she would need to make the house safe for a vampire.
She had workmen come in to repair the actual house during the day while, at night, she turned what had been just a crawlspace beneath it into a whole new level of underground rooms and, with no small sense of wry amusement, put the entrance to the underground level in the storage cupboard beneath her stairs.
Three weeks later, with the majority of the work finally complete, Holly grabbed her denim jacket and made the drive to Fangtasia.
She took one look at him on the throne and felt the tension leave her body, felt relief and affection flood her at the sight.
She had finally found him.
Chapter 3: Eric
Godric had been born into a tribe whose religion centered on the sea. Though his time as a human had been short, especially in comparison to the long years he'd lived as a vampire, those years had left their mark.
Godric had a weakness for water, not that Eric would have known that upon first meeting his Maker. The already millennia old vampire had been a wild thing when he'd killed Eric's remaining men and knelt beside him on his funeral pyre, looking like something from a child's nightmare with his eyes black as coal, blood dripping down his chin, and fangs glinting in the firelight. His hair had been caked with dirt and blood, strange tattoos showing through the layer of grime on his skin, wearing what looked to be a stolen pair of leather pants and boots, and a necklace with Thor's hammer as his only decoration.
Was it any surprise Eric had mistaken him for Death?
It had been something of a surprise to discover that Godric, for all of his ruthlessness, all of his cruelty, all of his cold calculation, had an ulterior motive for always endeavoring to be near a source of water. For many years, decades really, they had almost always stayed near water; not just because the humans gravitated to it, but because Godric had a bit of a soft spot for the element he had grown up worshiping.
(Eric reasoned that it probably didn't help that Godric's sense of humor was just the slightest bit off and, thus, he enjoyed the irony of the element that his people believed to be the beginning of life so often led to the deaths of those who sought it at his and his childe's hands.)
But as the humans began to migrate into their cities, the vampires had been forced to follow, and while Godric would never admit it, Eric had seen that the constant distance from the ocean – which Godric favored over rivers or lakes or other variations thereof – was taking its toll on Godric. In his own way, Godric missed it.
When Eric was a boy, his uncle had died right in front of him. Simply there, alive and laughing, one moment and gone the next. The sudden death had left its mark on him beyond the nightmares that came with seeing his favorite uncle killed before him.
Eric realized it could happen to anyone at any time. And even at such a young age, the knowledge that he had a finite amount of time to walk the Earth had burned at him.
It had lit a fire in him, lit a bonfire in his heart, and he had thrown himself at life with all the confidence and recklessness of one who knew he wouldn't fail because he was a Prince and being given a deadline, even if it was one from the Gods, enraged him and damn if he wouldn't enjoy this life while he could before it was all taken away.
It had been one of his closest kept secrets as a human, the rage he felt at being given a time limit to exist. And as he got older, the anger only got worse because how could he afford to live as he wanted when he had the responsibility to find who had killed his family?
And then it had finally happened. He hit his deadline.
And even on his deathbed, all he could feel was that rage at being denied more time.
"Could you be a companion of Death? Could you walk with me through the world, through the dark? I'll teach you all I know. I'll be your father, your brother, your son."
"What's in it for me?"
"What you love most: Life."
Eric knew that he could be overly dedicated to his Maker, sometimes to the point of seeming fanatical, and he also knew that it couldn't really all be blamed on the bond between Childe and Maker. Not that he would blame it on the bond; Eric knew himself far better than that and would never resort to lying to himself in such a manner.
To him, it was all rather simple.
Godric had saved him, had given him new life, had given him eternity. It was, perhaps, the last that had earned more favor than the others.
Not only had Godric answered that secret plea Eric had kept hidden his entire human life, his Maker had kept to his promise, teaching Eric all he knew about this new form of living in death, gave him the tools he would need to survive and to thrive.
He was dedicated to his Maker in a way many were not: wholeheartedly, giving his all to the man who had given him that most precious of coin, time.
Because of this, he had been unable to just sit back and watch when Godric grew upset with the lack of his favorite element in its purest form; in the city, even water became tame and quickly grew polluted, and it became clear that Godric felt that way as well when forced into a city for too long.
So, Eric set about trying to find a way to alleviate the homesickness his Maker felt at the distance between him and the sea. At first, he'd just insisted on frequent trips back to the coast, back to where Godric could stand and stare out at the vast ocean to his heart's content. But the both of them knew that that wouldn't be a viable option forever.
It was only fair that if he could not bring his Maker to the ocean, then Eric would bring the ocean to his Maker.
As many things did for Eric, it started with death.
And in a brothel.
In the room of one of his favorite prostitutes, he'd found a collection of glass. He'd thought it pitiful that the human was so desperate to have something sparkly that she would find and keep broken bits of glass.
But then one of the pieces had reflected in the candlelight and it was the same shade as the sea under moonlight on a clear night.
He felt no guilt about pocketing that piece, but apparently the prostitute had been a bit annoyed at him for rifling through the bits of glass and not paying attention to her.
In the end, he'd killed her and taken the whole collection with him and had picked out only the pieces that matched the shades he could recall the water being, and then he'd given them to Godric with the same enthusiasm as any child giving their parent a gift.
So started Godric's collection.
The collection grew over time, as all things do, until Godric kept only his favorite pieces – many of them gifts from Eric – in a simple box that the carried with him. If Godric ever planned to settle somewhere for longer than a few weeks, he made sure to transfer his favorites into a vase or bowl and would keep it in his bedchamber, where he could pick up and look at the colorful bits of glass to his heart's content.
Even when they parted ways, Eric continued to send Godric these bits of the ocean in solid form.
Not unlike the death of a human, after Godric had met the sun, Eric had been given all of Godric's worldly possessions to do with as he saw fit.
Most of it he put in storage, unable to deal with going through everything when his Maker's death was still so fresh, when the pain of the void where Godric was supposed to be was too strong.
He kept only one thing, retrieving it from Godric's underground bedchamber himself, where the bowl of ruby-red, emerald-green, and sapphire-blue stood out for the sheer fact it was the only color in the room at all. Everything else was cool neutrals, varying shades of white and gray and the random hint of black.
He kept Godric's most prized possession, with its strange little stones and a single printed off copy of an email tucked in the bottom of the bowl, in his own room.
When Godric was returned to life, he returned the bowl to its rightful owner gladly.
When Eric had felt the bond between him and Godric snap back into place one night as he lounged in his throne at Fangtasia, he had been stunned.
For about three seconds.
That was all it took for him to recognize that the void left in the wake of his Maker's death was filled once more with the familiar feeling of Godric and telling him that his Maker was relatively nearby.
Eric had vanished from his throne, from the bar, and taken off in the direction of Godric without a second thought.
And when he'd found the younger-looking vampire standing in a clearing, as if waiting for him, Eric had been so overwhelmed with conflicting emotion that he'd done little more than fall to his knees before his Maker and stare up at him in disbelief.
Then Godric had given him that familiar slight smile, the same one that he'd worn the first time Eric had given him a bit of sparkly glass because it looked like the sea, and it had meant more to Eric than even hearing the words 'I am sorry; I have missed you, my childe,' from his Maker.
There had been no shortage of genuine joy and affection in their reunion, but not even Eric was able to ignore the emotions lurking beneath that happiness for long. Because Godric was happy to be reunited with Eric, to have the chance to meet and get to know Pam.
But there was something that continued to distract him, continued to draw his attention in quiet moments when he thought no one would notice, continued to make him restless and longing and keep his eye on the door of Fangtasia as if looking for a way out.
Godric could not hide that from him; not when Eric had insisted that the bond between them be left open so that he might revel in the return of his Maker's presence.
It was only the sight of that bowl, sitting proudly on the dresser in the room Godric had taken upon his return to life that eased the knot of tension (of fear) in Eric's chest.
Godric was not leaving him behind again.
A week later, Eric learned that Godric kept an eye on the door to Fangtasia not because he was looking for a way out, but because he was hoping for someone to walk in.
There was nothing of note about her, nothing impressive or eye-catching to explain why she had captured Godric's attention so thoroughly in a room full of people. Really, if not for Godric's interest, he would have written her off completely, she looked so normal, so average.
Which, considering it was Godric and he couldn't abide boring people, couldn't be true.
She was shorter than Godric, who had barely reached five foot six before his turning, with black hair cut short, green eyes, and an odd scar on her forehead. Her skin was pale, her face average, and she was wearing perhaps the most normal outfit his bar had ever seen.
More importantly, there was something off about her, something not quite right.
(He ignored the voice that insisted he was just jealous that the mere sight of this human had erased the restlessness and wistful longing that had plagued Godric since his return while Eric had tried and failed for weeks.)
The next two weeks passed slowly, agonizingly so, which was saying something considering Eric was a millennia old vampire and time had started to lose its meaning to him around the one hundred year mark.
If he were being honest, the two weeks he'd managed to feel something like gratitude and benevolence towards the miniature human was a bit of a record; his tolerance for breathers, especially of the female variety, tended to run out quickly, even when he was using them for blood or sex.
Still, this was the woman who'd returned his Maker to him, leading him from the dead back to the world of the living; the least he could do was play nice, especially since Godric wanted him to do so.
Much to Eric's unending horror, Pam got along surprisingly well with the girl.
He'd walked out of his office one night to find his childe discussing china patterns and proper tea-time etiquette with the ebon-haired annoyance.
And then within seconds, the conversation had turned into some kind of strange competition of who could come up with the best (or worst, depending on how you looked at it) insult and even Godric, who had been thoroughly bored by the previous topic, joined in with an almost childish glee, sending the two females into hysterical laughter when he pulled out one involving goats and bad-singing.
Two nights later, Eric finally discovered the reason why his Maker was so enthralled with the pint-sized irritant.
She had magic.
Magic unlike any that either of them had previously known of or experienced before. It was not of the variety that allowed for the creation of vampires, not of the kind that the Fae held, or even what the witches he had run into before possessed. It was similar, holding familiarity to all of them, but it was still something completely other. Tinged with death and overwhelmingly powerful.
It was not a gentle introduction.
Unable to ignore the awe and contentment emanating from Godric any longer, Eric had stalked off to where the pair had disappeared into the backrooms earlier. He had opened the door to his office –
- And stepped onto a beach at high noon, the waves crashing upon the shore like thunder, the air smelling of sea-salt, his boots sinking into white sand.
And there Godric stood, face lifted to the sky, eyes closed, ocean breeze whipping his white linen clothing around his frame, basking in sunlight upon his skin.
For one long horrifying moment, Eric had a flashback of the morning in Dallas not so long ago when Godric had met the sun, and he'd choked on a distressed sound that was part whimper, part sob, and all grief because what if Godric was doing it again?
And she stood there gazing out over the turquoise water, uncaring even though she stood close enough to touch Godric's hand, stood close enough to be burned when the vampire inevitably went up in flames.
As his maker turned to face him, the illusion – for that's what it was; a very strong, very real illusion – faded and the three of them were left in his office.
As Godric explained, Eric couldn't shake the feeling that something within felt fragile, felt on the verge of shattering, and when he was to look back on this moment weeks later, he would realize that this was the moment when he, for the first time in ages, doubted himself. This was the moment a part of him realized that things would never be the same, no matter how he wished it.
Because she had brought Godric the ocean when he could only ever bring him glass.
The third week was when his tolerance started to run out.
Where before his gaze had been merely curious as he studied – no, he wasn't staring! – the interaction between Godric and the woman, now it was sharp with mistrust. Before, he had at least looked away at times, but now his eyes stayed focused on every move the woman made, looking for any hint as to what it was about her that left him feeling so on guard because she had to be doing something to cause it, this was not all in his head.
And no, no matter what Pam said he was NOT acting like a girlfriend suspicious that her boyfriend might be cheating.
When Pam joked that next Eric would start stealing Godric's phone to check his text messages, Eric suppressed the embarrassment that tried to creep up on him because he'd already done that and damn it, he couldn't figure out the passcode to get in the fucking phone.
Everything was fine.
It was perfectly fine that his Maker seemed to always want to spend time with her.
He was perfectly okay with that.
Godric and the girl shared some kind of bond that he couldn't fathom or even hope to touch, one formed in the afterlife through their shared experience there.
Eric had made his peace with that because he also shared a bond with Godric that the girl couldn't reach.
So he'd dealt with how Godric would disappear to spend time with her, how she would almost always show up at Fangtasia on the nights Godric came, the disappointed sulking his maker did when she didn't, and the secrets the pair shared with one another but not with him.
(At least he thought he had)
No. Hell no.
He was not letting Godric move in with the human and leave him.
Oh, he knew that Godric wanted to; he had felt the emotions – the flare of surprise and hope, the welling of affection, the longing to accept – when she had made the offer the first night she'd blackened their lives. He'd felt that same longing from his Maker each time Godric returned to their shared home.
"Why?" he managed to demand around the fury that was starting to choke him.
"Eric," Godric sighed wearily – and wasn't that annoying? Ever since she'd appeared, his Maker had seemed exhausted by him!
"It is my fault," Godric continued. "I underestimated, or perhaps forgot, the notice that my interest in Holly would draw. She has received... Undue attention."
Eric felt his rage calm slightly. This, at least, was a reason he could understand; Godric felt responsible that the human was being noticed, that his attachment for her was putting her in danger, so he wanted to protect her by moving in with her. But Eric couldn't allow that, wouldn't allow that, so the Viking swallowed his resentment.
"She can stay with us."
Unwilling to have the human in the house he'd owned for decades, Eric bought a new one roughly twenty minutes from Shreveport. He didn't bother doing much to it beyond installing the usual protections for his, Pam's, and Godric's rooms. He hired a housekeeper, had some furniture moved over, and dusted his hands of the affair.
It wasn't like it was a permanent residence; it was just neutral ground. No need to go all out when they likely wouldn't be staying there long.
What could go wrong in such a short time?
October 31st. Halloween.
It was simultaneously Eric's least and most favorite day of the year.
On the one hand, there was no shortage of women dressed in skimpy attire willing to donate some blood to satiate a vampire lover's thirst in return for a good fuck and the chance to boast to their friends that they'd taken a walk on the wild side.
On the other: there was no shortage of women dressed in skimpy attire willing to donate some blood to satiate a vampire lover's thirst. Somehow, their reckless, thrill-seeking nature always seemed to send their already low sense of self-preservation into the negatives and he had to somehow keep these idiots alive as best he could while maintain a good business with both vampire and human.
Either way, Eric was already in one hell of a temper when he felt an overwhelming sense of shock, bafflement, and disbelief from his Maker and he'd vamped closer to where Godric was in the house just in time to hear him speak.
"Ms. H. Potter," Godric said slowly, as if unsure of the words as he lifted his eyes from the envelope in his hands to look at the woman standing before him, her expression resigned. "Somehow, I never figured General Manager Potter to be a woman."
"That was rather the point," she admitted quietly, reaching out to take the envelope from Godric, who released it easily in favor of scrutinizing her.
"That first night, you said 'these months I've been back.' You never said how many months."
"Holly, how long have you been in this world? How long have you been waiting on me to return?"
A drawn out silence as the pair stared at one another, the woman tapping the stack of letters against her hand in thought. After another moment, she nodded and dropped the letters on a nearby table.
"Eleven years. I've been waiting for your return for eleven years."
No doubt, there was more that needed to be said between Godric and the girl, but Eric could only hear those two words – "eleven years" – over and over.
She had been in this world for eleven years.
After having met Godric for the first time in the afterlife, she had been placed in the world long before Godric's death had ever occurred.
She had spoken with him and the whole time, she had known.
She had known of what he would one day do and she had done nothing to prevent it, instead setting back and letting it happen.
Eric doesn't even make it halfway across the room before he is intercepted by Godric and tossed through the air to slam into the couch. He and the couch both are sent tumbling into the nearby wall and even though his recovery is made within seconds, it is not big on dignity, which only makes him angrier.
"You –, "he snarled before he is cut off.
"Are not involved in this conversation," Holly cut him off, emerald eyes hard as she stepped from behind Godric, who had stood himself in front of her. Even then, one of his Maker's hands twitch as if he is about to push her behind him once more.
(Eric can't decide which made him angrier: the idea that she might linger behind Godric, using him as a shield, or the fact that she didn't and instead stepped out to face Eric on her own. How dare she be so brave? How dare she act the same as him?)
"This conversation is between myself and Godric; I have no doubt that I can't stop you from listening, but the least you can do is sit silently and not interject," she added as if he were an unruly child interrupting a conversation between his parents; it is only the reprimanding glance from Godric that has him withholding the insults that burned at the tip of his tongue.
Again, he thought to himself, again he takes her side and the knowledge is a bitter pill to swallow, the rage and disappointment and the jealousy making it harder still.
Eric turned on his heel and left the room.
"All of those times we interacted; why didn't you tell me?" Godric asked, sounding only mildly curious.
"I'm selfish, Godric. It's true I could've saved you, could've done something to prevent you from killing yourself. I could've become your friend, could've done more than leave you those silly little stones as gifts. But I didn't," she answered, something weary and forlorn in her voice.
"Because it wouldn't have been the same and I couldn't stand to see you looking at me without knowing me. And you wouldn't, not really. Not like we know each other now. Think about it: would you have told me everything about your life if I'd met you before King's Cross? Every triumph, every sin, and all the things you suffered at the hands of your master? Would you have bared your soul to me in life as you did in death?"
The slightest movement of air as Godric shook his head in answer to her questions.
"And neither would I have told you about me. If I'd approached you then, I would never have told you of my world, of my life there because you would never have believed me. Do you see why, now, I let you die? You would have never known my truth and I would've never known yours." A long pause and when she next spoke, her voice is low, but confident, as if revealing a secret.
"I let you die so that you could live again."
Later that night in Fangtasia, Eric couldn't keep his eyes from darting to constantly check on Godric.
The bond between them was open completely, but it was clear that Godric's mind might as well be an ocean away as he turned the information he'd learned over and over in his head.
Godric was just to the right of him in his own throne.
He was only a foot away; but suddenly, twelve inches felt more like miles.
Two weeks passed in which Eric waged a Cold War against the Black Haired Menace.
Two weeks of leaving rooms when she entered, of avoiding any section of the house she was in, of limiting his time with his Maker because she would always show up; two weeks of tense, uneasy silence filled with glares and mental threats broken with three words.
"Isobel called me."
Godric left for Dallas the next night, catching a flight on Anubis airlines. He would be gone for four nights, helping his previous second-in-command with a few questions she had after taking over as Sheriff, including some lingering concerns over the Fellowship of the Sun, as well as retrieving a couple of his things from storage.
He only requested the house still be standing when he returned.
Eric had glanced at the green-eyed pest. She looked at him.
"No promises," the pair of them chorused.
The first night was peaceful.
He took his sweet time leaving for Fangtasia that night, relishing in the fact that she remained in her room so long as he was there. He played with the idea of taking the night off just to keep her in the room, but remembered quickly that he had other things to concern himself with.
He had just hired a rather pretty new waitress who just so happened to be his favorite blood type…
The second night did not go nearly so well.
The bane of his life was in the kitchen when he awoke, in the midst of cooking a rather large meal that he had serious doubts of her finishing. She had glanced at him when he had appeared, then gone back to adding seasoning to the tomato sauce she had simmering in a pan.
He hadn't been able to resist. He'd been sitting on these thoughts for weeks, from the very moment he had learned that she had been in this world long before Godric's death, had known of what was coming for his Maker and had chosen to stand by and let him die.
"You could've saved him."
Her shoulders – small and somehow frail beneath the over-sized burgundy sweater she wore – tensed, but she remained silent.
"You could've saved him," he repeated, temper flaring at the lack of reply. "You could have, but instead you let him wallow in depression and self-hatred until he killed himself."
Once he started, he couldn't find it in him to stop.
"You had eleven years to find a way to fix him! Eleven years to save his life! But you did nothing! You let him die!" he roared, slamming his hand down on the bar with such force that a section of it shattered and fell to the floor.
She gently set down the wooden spoon she'd been using, the movements slow and weary, and for a second, he almost rejoiced because finally, finally he had been able to break that damn stubborn refusal to feel anything but confidence in her decisions that he had faced for weeks after he'd learned of her situation.
Then she turned around and she wasn't broken, but pissed off.
"I'm sorry, I wasn't aware you had extensive experience with time travel," she said icily, green eyes glaring at Eric across the island. "Please enlighten me."
"Of course I haven't."
"Then you have no ground upon which to stand while you make accusations and tell me what I should and should not have done. I have had experience with time travel before and, thus, am currently the most knowledgeable on the subject in this room. So you, mate, can take your complaints and fuck off because I know. I know that if I had interfered more than I did, then I ran the risk of making things worse. I ran the risk of Godric killing himself earlier than he did, of potentially saving him only for his depression and self-recrimination to grow worse. All you can see is that I didn't do what you wanted me to, when I did what I could without risking making things worse!" She finished, yelling by the end of her rant. She bit her lip as if to hold back more words, and instead took a deep breath, holding it then releasing it in a weary sigh.
"I'm not hungry anymore," she said, turning off the stove and then walking from the room. Eric listened to her heartbeat, followed it as she returned to her room. Then, with an angry sigh of his own, he left for work.
When he returned the next morning, she was gone.
She didn't return.
The third night was peaceful.
On the night Godric was to return, Eric woke to her heartbeat in the house once more.
He emerged from his room to find her in the living room, curled up on the newly bought couch, on the phone with his Maker. He lingered in the hallway, listening close enough to hear Godric's voice through the phone.
"My flight will land around eleven; it should not take me long to drive home. Perhaps we will even manage to get in a few hours of our show before we must rest, but before that…" His maker's voice trailed off teasingly, drawing a questioning hum from the black-haired nuisance.
"I have a gift for you. It is not quite a hotel, but I think you will like it," Godric chuckled.
"Honestly, I would be happy with some Chinese food," she smiled before the expression grew solemn. "Come back safely, alright?" And something in her voice caught Godric's attention.
"What is wrong?"
"It's nothing. Just a bad feeling. Maybe I'm just imagining it," the witch shook it off.
The conversation continued, but Eric returned to his room to shower and get ready. Fangtasia wasn't going to run itself, and he couldn't stand to listen to the affection in his Maker's voice any longer.
Unfortunately, the midget's "bad feeling" had been contagious.
From the moment Eric had arrived at Fangtasia, a part of him insisted he should turn back and return to the house, insisted that something would go horribly wrong if he remained at his business.
To ease the feeling, he kept a close eye on Pam, texted Godric to ensure all was well with him, and even forced himself to send a quick text to the annoyance left at home, checking that she was alive and relatively well.
But the feeling didn't go away. The unease became like an itch beneath his skin, the feeling reminiscent of what he'd felt the night his family had been killed.
By the time a spike of unease and suspicion came from Godric's end of the bond, Eric had lost himself in the pretty new waitress he currently favored.
He ignored the buzzing of his cell phone signaling incoming texts.
From: The Black Plague
Godric's flight been delayed.]
From: The Black Plague
Arrival now expected to be ~11:45]
From: The Black Plague
Did you call in a pizza?]
From: The Black Plague
Friends of yours?]
MISSED CALL FROM The Black Plague
MISSED CALL FROM The Black Plague
VOICEMAIL FROM The Black Plague
"Oi, Neanderthal, since when did you give free invitation for everyone and their mum to just –"
To: The Black Plague
You have reached the voicemail of Holly Potter, please leave a message after the tone. BEEP.
To: The Black Plague
Answer your phone.]
To: The Black Plague
Stop ignoring me. Answer your phone.]
To: The Black Plague
On my way back. Better call before I get there or I will kill you.]
Eric knew there was something wrong before he'd pulled up at the house.
He had kept his phone in hand the entire drive back, waiting – hoping – for it to ring. For all that the baby menace lived to make his life a misery she would never ignore a call or not return one as soon as she could; not when the pair of them agreeing to look out for and keep in contact with each other was the only thing that had left Godric confident enough to travel to Dallas in the face of the 'undue attention' their friendship had garnered.
Not all of the attention was bad, of course. Many who came to his bar to observe the unlikely pair did it out of genuine curiosity, attempting to understand how and why such a close friendship had developed between the pair and, it seemed, so quickly. They wanted to know, just as Eric himself did, what it was about the human woman that had captured Godric's attention and friendship so thoroughly.
But the fact remained that Godric had enemies. You couldn't live for two thousand years without making some and considering that his Maker's first millennia had been spent essentially whittling down the vampire population any time they were stupid enough to come after him, Godric had his fair share of enemies. Those who didn't want to kill him or see him suffer wanted to use him, seeking power over 'The Boy, Death' and what better way than through the fragile human whom he had become so close to?
Eric hoped he was wrong, hoped that maybe her phone had somehow broken or perhaps she'd fallen asleep with it in another room, hoped that the uneasy feeling that gripped him was wrong.
But the shattered front door said otherwise.
Time was immaterial.
Every vampire reached a point in their new life where time ceased to have the same meaning it had before the transition, where the weight of years fell away and the frantic fear of mortality became little more than a passing thought because what need was there for fear of sickness or age when you were immortal?
For Eric, it happened a century after Godric had turned him. He'd emerged from his grave with the realization that he quite literally had forever, that he no longer had to fear his body giving out from age, that time would pass, kingdoms could rise and fall, but he would remain. After that, years began to pass by like sand slipping through his fingers.
Decades passed in a blink. A century passed in a week.
Now, as he moved through the house, it was the opposite. Seconds felt like centuries, minutes like millennia.
And all he could think of was all the harsh words he'd said to her, all the times he'd treated her with disdain or rebuffed her attempts at being civil. All the times he had taken his Maker aside and questioned his trust of the magic user because what if she had ensnared him with some kind of vampire enslavement spell? What if Godric's trust in her was really something forced upon him?
He recalled the building frustration on Godric's end each time Eric had done so, the 'why-must-you-do-this' clear in his Maker's eyes, the desire for the two of them to get along, the sheer affection and contentment that welled within the Ancient vampire each time she appeared.
The uneasiness that burned beneath his skin turned to ice that crawled up his spine, encased his heart, dropped a rock into his stomach.
All the times he had wished for her to disappear, wished that she had never darkened their lives, Eric had never before considered what such a thing would do to Godric, what his Maker would be like without her around.
"Holly?" he called, hoping-wishing-praying foolishly for an answer.
Because there was no heartbeat, only the scent of her blood in the air.
Her bedroom door was shut, as if she or Godric had just closed it behind them as they walked out.
Somehow, it made everything worse because it was not simply pulled to, but had instead been badly propped up in its frame. Part of the door jamb had splintered when it had been forced open and it was connected by a single hinge.
He didn't want to open that door. He didn't want to know. He didn't want to see.
Because there was no heartbeat behind that door and this was the only place the trail of battle had led to. And it had been a battle; as Eric had moved through the house, the path of destruction and his years of experience told him of how she had struggled.
She had killed one attacker in the entrance hall before taking off further into the house, flinging spells over her shoulder – there was the mark on the wall where one spell had missed to prove it. She'd held her ground here for a few minutes, killing three more of her attackers in a row, their ash piles mixing together, but then something had gone wrong and she had been forced up the stairs, taking one more along the way.
A part of him marveled at it; she was a tiny thing and, magic or not, that she had killed five vampires on her own was impressive. But, a part of his mind mused idly, Godric had never suffered defenseless fools; he would never stand for her to be unable to put up a fight.
And she had put up one hell of a fight, even forced to retreat as she was.
… Until she'd reached the bedroom.
He didn't want to open that door.
He found her on the far side of the bed, between it and the bathroom door. Green eyes stared sightlessly at the wall, her head having been forced to the side to expose her neck – and the gruesome wound on it where someone had quite literally torn into her throat.
One arm was outstretched, reaching for the silver knife that lay just out of reach.
Eric dropped to his knees, a hand stretching out to touch her, but never quite made it.
Holly was dead.
Godric answered the call with a smile, relief filling him. "Holly, I am almost there, truly; I can only drive so fast consid—"
His smile dropped, his hands tightened on the steering wheel until it creaked in protest as dread filled him as quickly as the relief had. All evening, from the moment Holly had first mentioned having a bad feeling really, he had been filled with tension. That tension had grown into unease when his flight had been delayed; such things rarely happened with Anubis Airlines because delays could quite easily turn into life-or-death situations for their passengers. But the delay had not lasted long and when both Eric and Holly had assured him they were fine just before take-off, he had allowed himself to relax.
But then he had felt a spike of unease from Eric within minutes of his flight landing, then his childe's end of their bond had faded until he could barely feel anything at all.
"Eric, what has happened? Why are you calling from the house phone? Is Holly alright?" A choked repeat of his name cut off his questions. "…I am almost there."
He hung up and pushed the car to its limits, cutting the remaining drive from ten minutes to two. He was out of the car and moving towards where he felt Eric before the car was even at a full stop, the dread and fear rising once more.
It couldn't be true; he refused to believe it to be true.
Holly had become such a pivotal part of his life that he couldn't imagine it without her, didn't want to imagine it without her. From the moment he had met her in King's Cross Station in the afterlife, something about her had fulfilled a need he had always known was there but could never really name.
Their friendship and the sheer ease and depth of it had become one of the brightest parts of his life, their bond as important to him as his bond with Eric. That she lived at all was precious to him; that she chose to share her life with him, had made him a part of her life in this world before he even really knew who she was, was something he could never repay her for, but would gladly spend lifetimes trying to.
And that was the problem, he had mused to himself before Isobel's request for help had called him away to Dallas; it always came down to time. He knew that he would have longer than the usual amount of years with Holly, that she could easily live for close to two hundred years as a mortal because of her magic, but… He'd found himself doubting that he would be satisfied with that amount of time.
And he'd found himself considering it, considering turning her. He just hadn't had the chance to bring it up to her yet, to gain her opinion on it, on if she would like to try it; he'd told himself that he would ask as soon as he'd returned from Dallas.
He hoped he would still have the chance to.
"No," he breathed when he found them. He sped over, a hand dropping to touch her neck as if to feel for a pulse. "Please tell me she will be in transition. Eric, please," he begged uselessly.
He already knew the answer.
He could not sense any of his or Eric's blood in her. "Please…"
"Father, I am sorry. I was too late. I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Eric apologized, fingers digging into the floor as he felt the entirety of Godric's grief through the bond.
Godric was silent as he gathered Holly's body to him, shuffling until his back hit the wall and he sunk to the floor once more, Holly's body cradled in his lap, his face buried in her hair.
There was no sound to give away the fact that he was crying; only the faint scent of blood as it left Godric's eyes and soaked into Holly's short hair.
Few things could compare to the pain Eric felt, both at his own at his failure and that from Godric's grief, as he watched his Maker rock back and forth, clutching at the lifeless form of the woman who had become something more to him than just his guide back from the afterlife.
Eric wondered if he was going to lose Godric again, if Holly's death would push the Ancient once more over the edge. No matter how often Godric had insisted to all and sundry that he and Holly were only friends, Eric knew his Maker, and the grief he could feel through their bond was not just that of someone mourning the passing of a friend.
Godric cared deeply for the small human, more than he had ever cared for any before, rivaling only the care Godric felt for him.
It was… A revelation that was both startling and yet not. Because it was true, wasn't it? Godric cared for the both of them equally, didn't he; had never once looked at either of them with less care than the other, his affection differing between them only in the slightest of ways.
Because Eric was his son, his brother, his father; but, Holly was his equal, his touch stone, his ocean.
Why, he asked himself, why couldn't he have realized – accepted! – this sooner? Why had he so adamantly refused the friendship she had offered him in the beginning, so ruthlessly squashed any and all benevolent feelings she'd inspired in him whenever she had made Godric laugh, whenever he had lingered outside a room to listen to the sound of his Maker's happiness?
(Jealousy, his mind whispered. Jealousy that she had been able to fulfill a need in Godric that Eric hadn't even really known had existed until it no longer did. Fear. Fear that after a thousand years, Godric would find something lacking in Eric, would find a reason to regret ever giving that Viking who lay on his deathbed but refused to give in a second chance.)
His Maker had begun to mumble into Holly's hair, the words following a rhythm as if they were a chant or a prayer, though Eric couldn't understand them.
Eric felt regret. Guilt.
And he hoped for a miracle.
"Back again so soon, my Master?"
"You know how it is, My Old Friend. I can never stay out of trouble."
Laughter like the crackle of leaves blowing across pavement, like the soft sigh at the end of a life well-lived, echoed, quickly joined by the sheepish chuckle of a relatively young woman.
"You may choose once more, my clever Master: go on or go back?"
Holly Potter returned to life with a choked gasp, her body kicking back into fight-or-flight mode as if only seconds had passed.
One hand went to cover the wound on her neck, stymieing the blood flow that had restarted with her heart; the other clawed at the arm around her waist as she jackknifed, struggling to escape the tight hold around her shoulders and torso.
"Holly," a familiar voice said. "Holly, it is just me. It is Godric," the voice soothed, the hold on her not relaxing in the slightest, but tightening if anything.
Godric, Godric who? Her mind repeated wildly, memory scrambling to make connections other than 'Gryffindor' to the name.
Godric a small part of her mind breathed. Godric who she met in the Place Between Living and Dead, in King's Cross; Godric who had lived for 2000 years, had been worn away by life, like a stone in water, until it had become too much; Godric whose love for the ocean was so deep it was rivaled only by the love he had for his son; Godric who played board games with her just because they made her smile, who cheated at cards just to see her perform ridiculous tricks with her magic; Godric who watched awful telly programs and mocked the people in them with her; Godric who had kept every little gift she had ever given him, even when he didn't know it was her.
The pieces all clicked back into place and she sagged in his hold, a wheezing whisper of his name escaping her before she started choking on her own blood.
A wrist was pressed to her mouth; coppery liquid that was somehow richer and more potent than what already coated her tongue pouring past her lips and filling her mouth until she had no choice but to swallow or choke once more.
"Drink," Godric commanded firmly. "You need to heal."
There was a tremor beneath that order, a tiny shudder that wracked his body and betrayed his emotions, revealed to her a grief deeper than the kind he had shared with her before.
So she drank.
After the wound in her neck had healed, Godric had carried Holly from the bedroom to one further down the hall, one that didn't reek of her blood, of her fear and desperation. He'd set her on the bed carefully, as if one wrong move would send her shattering into a million pieces, and then had fetched a wet cloth. He'd hesitated for a split second, as if considering cleaning her up himself, but had eventually handed the wet cloth to Holly, who had set about scrubbing her face, neck, and hands free of blood and vampire remains while he lingered at the end of the bed.
When she was as clean as she could be without a bath, she met Godric's eyes and intended to say something, anything, to try and wipe away the lingering grief in his eyes when he lunged.
She yelped, nearly tumbling over the edge of the bed, but Godric's arms caught her and pulled her close, then he was peppering her face with kisses: her forehead, her cheeks, the thin skin of her eyelids. All the while, he was whispering in a foreign language, his voice so full of gratitude and relief that she didn't need to know the language to understand the meaning.
She returned the affection easily, running her fingers through his short hair, rubbing his back, pressing a kiss to his temple when he laid his head on her chest to listen to her heartbeat. She held him as they lay there, silent as Godric matched his breathing to her's; then, her eyes caught on Eric as he hovered unsurely in the doorway, torn between entering or leaving them alone.
For a moment, she debated ignoring him, considered sending him away, and thought of any number of ways to hurt him. The vulnerability in his eyes stopped her; the raw, sincere regret and grief that aged him.
If she had been younger, if she had still been the same teenager that had been thrown into a world of magic on the brink of war and floundering beneath the weight of millions of lives, if she hadn't managed to make a life after it had ended, hadn't manage to have a family and a chance to live and to grow… If she had still been that person, she would've lashed out at him, would've kicked him while he was down.
Instead, she held out her hand in a silent invitation for him to join them.
He vamped over, one moment at the door and the other sitting on the edge of the bed, cradling her hand in both of his, fingers resting on her pulse.
For a time, they remained silent, the two vampires listening to her heartbeat and matching her breathing, as if by copying the action, her lungs would continue to work.
Then, Godric's voice broke the silence. "How is this possible?"
"I still had a tie to this world. It wasn't very strong, but it was enough for me to have the chance to return rather than move on," she answered.
Godric looked up. "A tie to this world?" he repeated.
Holly's expression became sheepish. "Ah, was rather hoping you wouldn't question that bit. I, uh. That night I cut my hand on a knife while I was doing the dishes, I kind of… Well, I sort of conveniently bled into the TruBlood I gave to you. It wasn't much, barely a mouthful because any more and you would've noticed something was off, but it was enough to form a tenuous connection. Because some of my blood was still in you, I still had a tiny handhold in the world, so when I was given the chance to return, I took it. But, I'd rather not test this out again; I'm not sure Death would like being circumvented again, even by me."
"The next time you die, it will be for the transition," Godric swore fervently, his hold of Holly tightening as he realized just how close he had come to truly losing her. He hadn't drunk much since that night a week and a half ago; his instincts had protested against it every time he had considered it, insisting that if he got too much new blood in his system, something would go wrong.
Holly blinked and met Eric's unsurprised gaze, but said nothing.
They ended up in Godric's chambers; by the time they had surfaced from their relief to consider moving to a safer place, the sun was on the verge of rising and they had no time to get to any other safe houses. Godric had asked Holly if she couldn't just teleport – Apparate, she'd corrected– to her home, but the witch had grimaced and shook her head.
"They got me with some kind of magic suppressant; it's why they actually managed to kill me. One of them injected me with it before I killed them there on the stairs; I was able to summon a knife before my magic was completely out of reach, but it still hasn't quite recovered yet. If I were to try, we'd likely get splinched, or end up in a meadow with no place for you two to hide from the sun."
Eric felt the weight of guilt on his shoulders grow heavier; of the three of them, it was only he who had mentioned – complained – about her magic in a public place. One more thing to lay the blame for at his feet. It was his house she had been attacked in, his housekeeper who had invited the vampires in, his negligence at getting the house signed over to prevent such things.
So, for one last day of rest, the three of them had locked themselves in Godric's chambers and curled up with Holly lying between them.
Some things changed, but some also remained the same.
They moved out of the house that Holly had died in; not only was it a risk to remain there, but neither Godric nor Eric could stand to be near the room she had lost her life in. Instead, Godric, Eric, and Pam moved into the house Holly had bought not long before reuniting with Godric at Fangtasia. Not only had the witch provided them with the usual top-of-the-line protections that they used to protect them as they slept, but there was bonus protection in the wards she had around her land, the runes carved into her home, and even in the secrecy of the underground rooms. (Really, until she'd told them that the entrance to their rooms was through the storage under the stairs, they hadn't been able to see through the overwhelming amount of illusions and notice-me-not charms.)
Eric's mistrust and outright dislike of Holly had faded; in its place came a mixture of guilt, caution, and almost-fondness. He no longer glared from a distance, attempting to sit her ablaze through will-power alone. Now, he hovered, lingering on the fringe of her perception until he bolstered his courage and approached. He hadn't reached the same level of easy friendship with her as Pam had, nor did he have the close intimacy she and Godric shared.
Nor did he want it, thank you very much; she was Godric's and Godric was a possessive little fucker on good days. Eric was not about to give his Maker anymore reason to want to maim him, not when he could still feel the aches of the royal ass-kicking the Ancient had given him when he'd learned that Eric had ignored Holly's texts.
If Eric were brutally honest (and on the verge of death and had sworn whoever he was telling to secrecy), he'd admit that Holly was becoming like a sibling to him. They fought like siblings, the insults like those he had once tossed back and forth with his sister so very long ago, and they still barely called the other by name. Eric continued to pull out various ways of calling her short and annoying; Holly returned fire with various insults to his intelligence, calling him a dumb blonde and a Neanderthal, and asking if the nutrients meant for his brain had gone to making him tall instead.
It was probably odd, building their friendship on insults, but it worked for them.
His growing friendship with Holly was only aided by the fact that there was a common enemy for them to unite against.
The common enemy being everyone that wasn't them, Pam, or Godric, as it turned out.
The attack that had taken Holly's life, that had put Godric's happiness at risk, had been a combined effort of both humans (supporters of the Fellowship of the Sun) and members of the Supernatural community that had long held a grudge against Godric.
And while Holly had done quite well for herself in the fight, she hadn't been able to kill all of those who'd been sent after her. Some of them had gotten away, had whispered of what they had seen in the fight, of how she had wielded sunlight in the dead of night, how five vampires had died before they'd managed to kill her.
And then she had appeared at Fangtasia three nights later, as if she hadn't had her throat torn open and hadn't been drained of blood until her heart stopped. She had seemingly returned from death just as Godric had.
And in that act, it was revealed to the supernatural community that she was not just the "interesting" human they had assumed she was. She was something more, something to be wary of. Something dangerous.
Of course, questions were asked.
None were answered.
He wasn't sure where things would go from here, didn't know what the next night would bring.
But as he heard the board game Holly and Godric had been playing in the living room hit the floor, followed by a breathy moan and his Maker's husky laughter, he couldn't help but grin wickedly.
He wasn't worried about what the future had in store for them.
They'd find out together.
To be honest, I'm still a little unhappy with this chapter just because I didn't feel like I really portrayed Eric as well as I hoped to. As a person, I feel he's remarkably good at burying his head in the sand when it comes to feelings and, when it comes to Godric, he maintains a bit of childish possessiveness and adoration that makes him very defensive when he feels his relationship with his Maker is being threatened.
His feelings towards Holly were much more complex than he would let me show. Once you've decided to dislike someone, everything they do somehow becomes offensive to you, so while Holly was likely just doing her own thing and not actually doing something to bother Eric, he would see everything she did as an annoyance. But I think he found himself somewhat liking her anyway, finding similarities between them, which only made him more annoyed. Both were leaders, both were responsible for large numbers of lives, both can be stubborn, impulsive, reckless, and both feel things deeply. Holly was, in a way, tempered by having lived out her life in her world - she found peace, I suppose you could say.
Holly eventually got fed up with continually trying to play nice because I can't see her ever quite getting over how quickly opinions changed about her in Hogwarts, so she felt Eric's dislike and started returning it on principle. Things are by no means perfect between them, and I can't ever see them having a nice friendship; instead, they'll be the kind of friends who are constantly insulting one another, arguing, and heckling but get furious when anyone else does it. More like siblings than friends then.