Claire propped herself up on an elbow and watched the sleeping form beside
her. A mischievous smile crossed her features. Reaching out, she ran
a finger softly down his cheek. He stirred slightly and continued sleeping.
Claire frowned. She'd have to try something else. Her eyes lit up as a
wicked grin crossed her face. She peeled back the blanket carefully, exposing
his bare chest. Her hand snaked slowly toward him. Reaching out, she grasped
a few of his chest hairs and pulled. Lucien's eyes flew open and he glared
Claire giggled. "Good Morning, or should I say evening? I keep forgetting."
Have you been reading de Sade?" He asked her, rubbing his still stinging
Oh come on now," she said, her eyes alight with laughter. "It
didn't hurt that much.
Don't be such a baby."
Lucien looked at her. "How beautiful she is." he thought, looking at
her small face. "She has lost none of her joie de vivre."
His mood became dark as he thought back to that night many months ago, when he
had been forced to bring her across. She had trusted him to protect her. He still
blamed himself for failing that task.
Reaching out for her, he pulled her on top of him and kissed her. Claire looked
down at him, her brown eyes tinged with gold, and whispered. "Lucien,I love
He could feel the love she had for him. He drew her head down and kissed her.
Claire gasped as his hands eased gently down her back. He pulled her closer to
him. He needed to taste her, to drink in her soul.
Taking hold of her, he flipped
them both over, so that Claire was now below him. Leaning forward he sank his
fangs into the flesh of her neck.
Claire grasp his arm and sunk her fangs into his shoulder. Lucien gasped, he
could taste the emotion that raced through her blood. She drank deep of his
blood, willing him to do the same of her. Their minds reached out for one another,
mingling in an endless communion. Claire raised her head and whispered his
name. Lucien released her from his bite and cradled her in his arms, murmuring
of his love for her.
Claire lay in his arms, feeling a sense of peace that she had not known as
"Lucien," she asked, "Will everyday be like this?"
I hope not." he said smiling, rubbing his chest.
Claire slapped his arm and laughed. She snuggled closer to him. Turning her
face up to him, she looked at her lover. She tried to imagine him as a Roman
cruel and zealous in his service to his emperor. "I wonder what he looked
like in a toga?" she thought. "He does have cute knees." Claire
giggled to herself.
Lucien gave her a curious look, but said nothing. He enjoyed the sound of her
laughter, her childlike joy in the things around her, her insatiable curiosity.
She was eager to learn everything he tried to teach her. At last he had found
a companion to share eternity with him.
Lucien stretched his stiff muscles and took her arms from around him. "It
is time to rise, my love. The night awaits us."
Claire made a face at
him and sat up on the bed. "
I'd rather stay here, with you." she pouted.
Modern women." he said, as he walked toward the chair that held his clothing. "There
was a time when women knew their place." He turned away from her and began
Claire stuck her tongue out at him. " I know my place." she said, rising
from the bed.
She walked across to where he stood and put her arms around his neck. Pressing
her body against him, she smiled and said, "It's with you."
Lucien looked down at her and laughed. He picked her up in his arms and carried
her back to the bed. Claire made a low sound, like a contented purr, as she
snuggled against his chest. Holding her out away from him, he dropped her onto
and stepped back out of her reach.
No fair." she howled as she hit the bed.
Lucien looked at her. "All is fair in love and war my dear. Now get dressed,
there is still much I have to teach you." He turned and walked to the door.
Opening it, he stepped into the hallway. "I'll wait for you outside." he
Claire watched as the door closed behind him. Picking up a pillow, she flung
it at the door. "
Men!" she said, as she pounded her fist into the blankets.
Claire got up and padded her way into the bathroom. Quickly she showered and
dressed. Lucien was not one to be kept waiting.
Claire hurried out of the room to find her master. She liked learning the things
he taught her. She especially liked it when they practiced finding each other.
They seemed to share more than a blood bond. They were one with each other.
She could feel his mind as it reached out to touch hers. It was almost as if
shared even the most intimate of thoughts. She was learning much from him.
Even how to block her thoughts, so she could shield herself from him. It annoyed
him and she only did it as a game. He was
so much more experienced than she, and she worried that he would become bored
She loved him so. He promised to be with her for eternity, but what real hold
did she have on him? He had released Nicholas when Claire became his, but what
if he found another? Would he release her too?
Claire stood there thinking for a moment. A smile crossed her face. She knew
what she wanted, and she would have it. Stretching out along the bond that
joined them, she located him and hurried to where he stood waiting.
Running over to meet him, she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him
passionately. "Lucien," she said, looking into his eyes. "Let's
get married. I want a wedding. A big old-fashioned wedding, with a church and
a minister and a long white gown and flowers, lots of flowers, and a cake and
all the trimmings. Please?
May we?" she
Lucien stood there staring at her. Surprise was written all over his face.
He looked down at this smiling female wrapped in his arms. "
You want what?" he ask her, his face emotionless with astonishment.
Claire felt as if a cold hand had suddenly seized her heart. Blood tears began
to form in her eyes.
Lucien." she whispered, taking her arms from around his neck. "Don't
you want to marry me?"
Weddings are a mortal notion. We have no need of such things." LaCroix
said matter of factly. "I have promised you an eternity together. Is that
not enough?" He could see the hurt in her eyes.
You must learn to let go of your humanity. You are no longer mortal."
Love is a mortal notion too. If we let go of our humanity, does that mean we
must deny our love as well?" Claire wiped the tears from her eyes and looked
up at him. "Don't you love me?"
This not the same. What we share is deeper than the mortal idea of love. We are
bonded to each other, that is not possible for mortals."
But I was mortal when you said you loved me. You are not mortal, yet you feel
love. We were not bonded when you promised me an eternity with you. Doesn't that
prove that love is something more than just a mortal notion?"
It proves nothing." he said flatly. "Weddings are for mortals. We are
mortal. We shall not speak of it again." Lucien turned and took to the air. "Come." he
called out to her.
Claire stood there, looking up into the sky. She watched as his image grew
fainter and more distant. Slowly she walked back into the house they shared.
Walking into the sparsely furnished kitchen, she opened the refrigerator and
took out a
bottle. She poured some of the contents into a goblet and took a long swallow. "
He just doesn't want to understand." she said sadly. Claire drew back
the heavy curtains and gazed out of the window as a tear fell down her cheek.
were many things she still did not understand about him. Lucien had proven
to be a patient teacher and a passionate lover, yet there was still a part
that resisted her, a part she could not touch. She knew that there were memories
he held back from her. She felt their shadowy presence, hovering just out of
like whispers, that flashed to the surface and retreated as quickly.
She had freely, willingly, given herself to him, withholding nothing. Yet he
only promises, and would not open himself completely to her. "Who are these
faceless names?", she wondered. "Are they why he is so reluctant to
share himself?" She longed to wrap him in her love and protect him from
them, if only he would let her.
LaCroix stood looking at the progress that had been made in reconstructing
the Raven. Claire had expressed a desire to remain in Toronto and he had allowed
her to convince him that the Community required his presence there.
His Nightcrawler broadcasts had continued sporadically, many of which he taped
in advance, so that he could spend more time with Claire, teaching her, loving
her, surrounding himself with her love. Walking through the skeleton-like structure
of the new construction, he found himself in what had once been his office.
In his mind's eye he could see the blast which had ended Claire's life as a
Closing his eyes, the guilt and anguish he had felt that night washed over
him. He felt the anger sweep through him, the desire for revenge, the desperation
as he brought her across. "You must learn to let go of your humanity." he
had told her, yet now he found himself struggling with his emotions as his
own humanity tried to resurface. He had always maintained a tight control on
such things, held these feelings in check, yet now he found himself powerless
to contain them as they threatened
to consume him. The centuries of loneliness and pain had taken their toll on
him. He had dropped his guard for one instant and Claire had stolen into his
Power comes with the absence of love. Love drains us of our strength." he
had once said and yet he now found himself enslaved by it. "No!" he
growled. " I am the master here." Turning quickly on his heel, he left
the building and took to the air.
Claire walked out to the water's edge. The house felt so empty without him.
She stood there looking out on the lake, her mind miles away. She heard him
feet touched down lightly behind her. She heard the sound of dry grass and
leaves under his feet as he walked up to stand behind her.
Lucien put his hands on her shoulders and drew her closer to him."
Lucien" she asked, turning her head to look up at him. "Who are Divia
and Fleur, and why does their memory cause you such pain? Are they why you are
so reluctant for a wedding?"
He gave her a shocked look. "Who told you about them?" he asked her.
Then they are real. I sensed them in your mind. You try to shut that part of
your mind out to me, but I can feel them lurking there. Who are they?"
They are but shadows from the past." he said angrily, "Shadows that
will remain in the past. You wanted a wedding. Come we have preparations to make." he
said as he took Claire by the arm and pulled her along. Claire struggled to release
his grip. "
Lucien, where are you taking me?"
LaCroix said nothing. He merely scooped her into his arms and took to flight.
Claire was puzzled by the change in him. He looked angry and said nothing to
her until they reached their destination. He landed silently and set her on
her feet. Looking down at Claire, he said quietly. "You wanted a large church
wedding. Will this do?"
Claire looked up at the building before her. It was a large cathedral, its
spires reaching toward the sky. "It's beautiful." she said. "Oh, Lucien,
it's perfect." Without thinking she ran up the stairs and flung open the
door. The scent of candles filled the air as she stepped inside. Claire stood
in the foyer, peering through the glass in the door at the stained glass windows
that filled the sanctuary.
She closed her eyes and imagined herself walking down the long aisle toward
the altar. She could hear herself saying the words that would bind her to Lucien
for eternity. Slowly she opened her eyes and reached out to open the second
set of doors.
The door handle felt warm in her hands, but she dismissed this and pulled open
one of the large, heavy doors. Stepping quickly into the sanctuary, she was
hit with a sensation as real and as powerful as the explosion which had changed
her life. She felt her breath coming in short, quick gasps. The room began
to swim before her eyes and she could feel the walls closing in on her. A sudden
her as pain, like a hot knife, seared through her chest. She struggled to reach
the door. "Lucien!" she screamed, as she stumbled toward the doorway. "What
is happening to me? Help me!"
Claire made her way to the door and threw herself against it. It flew open
and she found herself sprawled on the floor of the foyer. Claire crawled to
door and clawed at it, trying to open it by sheer force of will. "
Lucien!" she cried, tears rolling down her face. The outer door opened
slowly and she made her way out onto the steps. She could sense him standing
over her, but she felt so weak she could not raise her head
to look at him. "
Why?" she sobbed.
His heart ached for her, her pain becoming his. Reaching down, he gathered
her in his arms. Claire turned her tear-stained face up to him. "
Why?" she asked again. "Why didn't you tell me this would happen."
Because my dear, some of life's lessons, no matter how painful, are best learned
experience" he said. "If I had told you, would you have believed
me? You would have thought it an excuse not to give you what you wished. Now
see why this wedding is impossible." Claire laid her head on his shoulder
and sobbed quietly as he helped her down the stairs. "
Come." he said, "It is almost dawn. We must return home. You need
Claire slept fitfully, calling out for Lucien several times. She opened her
eyes and looked at him. "
How tired and drawn he looks." she thought. "Lucien," she whispered, "Have
No." He said quietly. He had lain awake all day watching her sleep, not
daring to close his eyes for fear she might need him, drawing her into his
arms when she called out,
and comfort her fears.
Lucien searched her face. He had knowingly caused her pain. He was sure he
would find anger in her eyes, yet there was none, only a sadness that he could
understand. Claire reached out for him, pulling him closer to her. Gently she
laid his head on her chest and began to stroke his hair. He could feel a sadness
in her that had not been there before.
You must sleep." she said, "I will remain here until you do."
Lucien gave her a puzzled look. "Are you not angry with me," he asked, "For
causing you pain?"
Claire closed her eyes, trying to shut out the memories of the pain. "
No," she said bluntly, "Life is full of both pain and joy. In order
to appreciate the joy, you have to experience the pain as well." Lowering
her head, she kissed him. "You are my joy." she said as she released
his lips. "If this is the price I must pay for an eternity with you, then
I will pay it."
Lucien looked up at her. There were tears in her eyes, yet she said nothing.
Claire slid herself down the bed and hid her face against his shoulder.
Placing his hand beneath her chin, Lucien gently turned her face up to his,
his lips taking possession of hers. Claire moaned softly as Lucien's hand lazily
made its way down her side. Releasing her lips, he began scattering kisses
her throat. Lucien raised his head and looked at her. She was so beautiful.
He was suddenly struck with the realization of exactly how much he loved her,
how much a part
of him she had become. Drawing her closer to him, he made love to her. Afterwards,
their passions spent, she lay enclosed in his arms. Lucien closed his eyes
and drifted off into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Lucien woke to find himself alone. He had slept soundly for the rest of the
night and all the next day. It was just after sunset when he woke. Throwing
blanket, he called out her name, only to be greeted with silence. Walking to
the window, he pulled back the heavy curtains and looked out. Claire was standing
by the water, staring out over the lake. Quickly he dressed and
went out to join her.
Claire stood silent and unmoving as he approached her. She gave no sign of
recognition as he came up behind her and gathered her into his arms. The same
had felt earlier, still hung over her like a cloud.
What is it?" he wondered. "Is she mourning the loss of her humanity?" The
spark of life had left her eyes, her childlike laughter gone, replaced with a
sad resignation that he could not understand, nor dispel.
Claire sensed his uncertainty. She could not explain to him what she felt,
there were no words. She loved him achingly, and she knew he loved her, but
long. He had told her they were bonded. What did that mean? He still would
not open himself to her completely. How could she tell him about the doubt
that were in her heart.
Lucien pulled her closer. Claire tipped her head backward and rested it on
his shoulder. Looking up, she could see the stars, shining like diamonds against
the black velvet of night. "Aren't they beautiful." she said. "Their light is so reassuring,
Lucien felt a stab of longing and loneliness. Claire seemed to be slipping
away from him. She had begun to close off parts of her mind to him. The thought
losing her haunted him. Stretching out along the bond between them, he tried
to touch her mind with his own, only to be shut out. She had become so strong
in such a short time. Placing a hand beside her head, he drew her to him and
sank his fangs into her neck.
Claire made no effort to resist him. Once again her memories flooded his mind.
The sense of doubt and fear rose to the surface as he struggled to understand
what she felt. Suddenly he knew what he must do, how he could dispel the cloud
that surrounded her. Releasing her from his bite, he turned her around to face
him. Claire sensed what he wanted her to do. Holding him close to her, she
buried her fangs into his throat. Lucien opened his mind to her, and the bittersweet
memories of Fluer flooded her mind. Drinking deeper, she sensed a foreboding
evil that had been long buried. Images of Divia floated to the surface.
sinister images of an evil stronger than she had ever known. Claire cried out
as she released her grip on him. "Lucien," she sobbed,
placing her hands on either side of his face. He pulled her into his arms and
placed his cheek against her hair.
"I wanted to sheild you from these memories, this guilt," he said softly.
They stood holding each other for a long time. Lucien released her from his
arms and they walked back to the house in silence.
It had taken much time and effort, but at last the day arrived. Lucien had
gone on ahead to make last minute preperations for the grand re-opening of
Claire had remaind behind at the little house to take care of the rest of the
packing. They would spend tonight at their new home.
She was going to miss this house, but she would be glad to be back at the Raven,
where they had met and fell in love. Claire moved quickly about the house,
gathering up the last of their possessions and placing them carefully into
the empty boxes
by the door.
Walking into the bedroom, she was suprised to find a large white box lying
on the bed. Attached to the lid was a handwritten note. Picking up the paper,
looked at the signature. It was from Lucien.
"What is he playing at?" she asked out loud.
Carefully she read the note;
"I would like to see you wearing this tonight,for the opening. It holds many
Claire smiled. She had never known him to be so sentimental. Opening the box,
she gasped as a flash of blue caught her eye. Pushing away the tissue paper,
she found herself staring at the dress she had worn that night, so many months
ago, when Lucien had realized he loved her. Inside the box were the shoes and
the purse that matched the dress. Lying beside them was a single, perfect rose.
Claire could feel the tears gather in her
eyes. How had he managed to save this, and why had he kept it?
Hurriedly she finished the packing and dressed to meet Lucien at the club.
Picking up the rose, she raced out the door and literally flew to the Raven.
Entering the front door, she was met by Lucien, who offered her his arm. Claire
laid her hand on it, and he drew her into the darkened club. Looking around
her, she saw masses of flowers, of every size and color. Candles cast a soft
around the room.
Members of the Community were seated on either side of a center aisle spread
with a golden carpet. She saw Nick and Nat seated together, near the front.
At the head of room, in front of the bar, stood a solitary figure. Lucien led
her down the aisle to stand before this man. He turned to Claire and took her
hand in his. Gently he raised it to his lips and gazed into her
to our wedding my love." he told her.
Claire could hardly believe what she was hearing. She looked up at him, her
eyes wide with suprise. Nick walked up and stood beside LaCroix. "
It's true." he whispered, smiling. Nat went to stand beside her. Placing
her hand on Claire's shoulder, she leaned over and kissed the bride's cheek.
We are here to witness the joining of these two in love." the man started. "They
have come to pledge themselves, before this community, to each other throughout
Lucien, still holding Claire's hand, turned to her, his eyes looking deeply
into hers. "
You have brought something into my life I never hoped to find again." he
began. "The pain of endless centuries has been wiped away by your presence.
This heart of mine, too long cold and unfeeling, quickens with a passion inspired
by you. In you I have found a companion, a lover, a kindred soul. My life is
yours, for all eternity." he vowed, as he slipped a ring of gold onto
Claire's eyes were filled with tears as she looked up at him. "Lucien," she
said, her voice full of emotion. "I pledge myself to you for all time. You
are my life, my joy, my peace. In you I have found a teacher, a lover, a friend.
All that I am, and all that I shall become is yours."
Be it known, from now through all time, that these two are pledged and bonded
to each other." the man told them, "Let none stand between them."
Lucien looked down at her, the spark of life and laughter had returned to her
eyes, the fear and doubt were gone. He pulled Claire to him and kissed her.
Claire was so happy, she poured her joy into that kiss, willing it to last