A Life Apart
Picture from Raelyn.
This was the land of his ancestors, the land he once, so
very long ago, called home.
Angelus remembered very little of his time as a human,
remembered even less of this island now called Ireland and how it once was. The
water crashed along the rocky shore below and he listened to the wild call of
the wind. If he listened carefully enough, close enough, he could hear only that
and block out all the voices that continued to clamor through him, screaming for
restitution, for vengeance, for peace.
Peace, there was a word he’d forgotten the meaning of
these long years. He knew the moment, could pinpoint the exact second he’d
lost that peace. When Buffy told him of her pregnancy, when he refused to
believe her, when he beat her mercilessly in a fit of pain and rage. Despite all
that, she was still there, Angelus could feel her; she was there, always there,
begging him to come home.
Back to her.
And he longed to. Longed to feel her once again, longed to
hold her, kiss her, and breathe in her delicious scent. He wanted her with a
need that consumed him; just to be with her once more, to let her love and
innocence and acceptance envelope him again, for her to hold him like before, as
if she’d never let him go. Angelus needed her; there was no denying that. Just
as there was no way he’d ever go back to her like this. Sullied with a soul, a
Buffy, as with all elves, possessed a soul and it was one
of the many things he loved about her. Truly, it wasn’t the fact that he had a
soul now that cause Angelus to continually evade the soldiers his beloved sent
to find him, not entirely. It was that the soul wouldn’t stop, he had a
conscious now, and it was loud, telling him repeatedly, what he’d done
wrong and that he needed to atone for those sins.
He was no longer the vampire she loved, he wasn’t the
Ancient who ruled with an iron fist, whose people somehow still loved him, he
wasn’t the man who captured the elfin princess’ heart, he wasn’t the one
who shared her bed, who shared her life for so many (not enough) wonderful
years. Angelus was different now; he was…nothing.
Nothing without her, but beyond that, now, changed as he
was, Angelus didn’t know who he was, or what.
“I miss you,” he said aloud, with only the wind and
moon for company. “I miss you so much, Buffy.”
She heard him, Angelus knew she did, and she smiled, kissing him through their bond, which even now pulsed strongly between them despite their best efforts to the contrary. Neither time nor distance changed that. Nothing, not even death, would.
When they’d married, it didn’t matter that their
marriage was permanent. He’d thought that once their initial infatuation with
each other faded, they could move on to others that no matter the vows they
took, if both were unwilling nothing could hold them to those words; that
hadn’t happened and Angelus knew he wanted it no other way. Then their bond
began to mature, to grow between them and Angelus realized that the feelings
between them had grown as well. Again, that was fine; it was as they both wanted
Now, farther apart than mere miles, Angelus wondered at
that. Every moment he craved her, craved her blood; he once thought that it was
a huge mistake to taste her blood, but then circumstances being what they were,
it was an added dimension to their relationship. Now, however, now it was an
addiction he could never overcome, one that would haunt his dreams and plague
his waking moments as much as the voices that screamed from his past.
The tall vampire couldn’t help but wonder how she fared,
without his bite, without his own blood. They’d been careful to limit
Buffy’s tasting as it was highly addictive, tasting a vampire’s blood, even
more so than his tasting of hers. But she’d drank from him all the same, and
that, too, added to their intimacy. Angelus wondered if the old rumors were
true, if Buffy would be forced to have someone else taste her or risk insanity.
Or if she risked madness because she couldn’t sample his blood.
The fact that he’d kill anyone who touched her was
irrelevant, Angelus supposed, if it kept her sane. Then again, it didn’t look
as if he was ever returning, so did it matter if she did? If she drank from
another, if another vampire drank from her, would that sever their bond? Despite
the circumstances surrounding him, despite the fact that he didn’t think
he’d ever be rid of the voices that haunted him, Angelus knew that he’d kill
anyone who dared try to touch his wife.
The wind continued to howl, the ocean continued its
inexorable crash against the shore, and Angelus stood there, allowing Buffy to
comfort him. She begged him to return home, to return to her and their beautiful
daughter, but he refused. Not outright, and they both knew he wasn’t refusing
her, but he couldn’t. Not until he figured out what he was.
A sharp cry echoed on the wind, and Angelus turned to the
right, enhanced vision seeking the source of the shout. Moving quickly and
quietly, leaping over jagged rocks and all but invisible holes, the vampire
found a woman, heavily pregnant, lying alone against a large bolder.
His first instinct was to leave her. His second was to look
for whatever danger might surround her, causing her this pain. Finally, slowly,
Angelus lowered to her side, holding her limp form against him. Her face was
pale, deathly so, and the beat of her heart sluggish to his trained ears.
Brushing the few strands of dark hair off her face, he tried to decide what to
do with her. He couldn’t leave her (yes you can) he couldn’t drink her
(Priestess, when was the last time he’d had the hot blood of a human? His
normal fare wasn’t available in this cursed realm and he was forced to resort
to the ignominy of vampire junkies and animals. It was embarrassing.)
“Allen?” The word was so faint Angelus would’ve
missed it had his hearing not been exceptional. Looking down at her upturned
face, he watched in fascination as her eyes fluttered open. They were a
startling blue against the paleness of her face, a sharp contrast to the
darkness of her hair.
“No,” Angelus denied, making to lower her back to the
ground. What was he thinking? He couldn’t hold her and he certainly couldn’t
help her. He wasn’t any good at helping anyone, not even those he loved and
this woman, this stranger, was no different.
“Ah!” She cried out, clutching her large stomach and
doubling over. “Please, help me…” her voice trailed off as another wave of
pain swept through her.
Angelus had no idea what was happening, the woman was in
pain, that was obvious, but he’d never been around humans enough to know what
caused her pain. She was still clutching her middle, where it was obvious her
babe grew, panting in pain with the next wave. Oh for the love of…she was
having a child!
Now he knew he wasn’t going to be any help. Angelus
hadn’t been there for his own daughter’s birth, watching only distantly
through the bond he shared with Buffy. A bond that was opened because he was
needed, not because he was wanted. Despite occasions to the contrary, only when
one or the other consciously opened their link was that connection used; usually
they went through their days without the comfort of each other.
What made anyone think he’d be of any use
to a human?
Frantically searching for someone – anyone at this point,
a Watcher would do – he was distressed, but not shocked to see only the barren
landscape laid out before him. Naturally. Picking the woman up, he began to
walk, not entirely sure where he was going, but knowing that she couldn’t have
the child there, more importantly, he couldn’t help her have the child –
anywhere. She clung to him, but the tall vampire didn’t notice. He was too
busy cursing his fate.
Instinct made him reach out for Buffy, but just as quickly
as he did, Angelus stopped, forcibly closing the link before she sensed what he
was doing. What was he doing?
Not sure if the word came from his newfound conscious or
from Buffy, Angelus grimaced all the same. Did he want to help? Not really. He
wanted to be left alone. No, he wanted to go back to the way things were, to be
with Buffy and their daughter. Since living in the past had gotten him, thus
far, nothing but heartache and headaches, he continued his trudge forward.
Really, there wasn’t another choice.
He wanted to ask the semi-conscious woman who she was, why
she was along the shore in the first place, where the father of her child was
and why now, of all times, she chose to go into labor. He scowled again at the
thought and swore he heard Buffy’s laughter. ‘Women don’t choose when
to go into labor, my darling, the babe does.’
Angelus was not at all comforted.
He couldn’t say why he continued to walk in the direction
he chose, or how long he did before he spotted a cabin in the distance, a plume
of smoke curling up from the chimney. Perfect. He’d take the woman there, drop
her off with the tenants of the little thatch cottage, and be on his way.
Wherever that may be.
‘Back to me, love.’
Again, Buffy’s voice resounded within him, despite his
attempt at blocking her out, but Angelus stopped his instinctual response. It
was always the same; that of course he’d return to her, it was what he wanted
most. But he couldn’t. Shifting his hold on the again moaning woman, he
pounded on the lopsided wood door. It was late, granted, only several hours
until morning, but Angelus didn’t care. He wasn’t about to let this woman
stay outdoors any longer than necessary – he refused to analyze why – and
besides, he needed to find his own shelter.
Moments only passed before a tall thin man, white hair
sticking out in all directions, opened the door, one hand clutching a lighted
candle, the other a pistol. Oh, perfect.
Raising an eyebrow at the gun pointed at his heart, Angelus
smirked down at the man. “You needn’t shoot me, I’m positive you have
nothing I desire in your little cottage.” The gun didn’t wavier and
Angelus’ scowled in aggravation. He didn’t need this; here he was trying to
help, and look where it got him: nothing but aggravation. Going for the truth,
he stated, “I found this woman by the shore, she’s having her babe and she
Warily backing away, the man still said nothing, his sharp
brown eyes watching Angelus even as he motioned Angelus to enter the small home.
Without thought, the Ancient stepped over the threshold and into the warmth of
the room. Seemingly satisfied, though the vampire had no idea why, the man set
the pistol down and called for, Angelus assumed, his wife.
“Where did ye find th’ lass?” The man asked, peering
at the pale face of the woman.
“By the rocks lining the shore,” Angelus said and
watched as a woman peered around a partition, also in her sleepwear.
“How far along is she,” the woman asked, coming fully
into the room. She was a short round woman, heavily lines streaking her face and
wisps of dark hear falling out of her nightcap.
“I’ve no idea,” Angelus repeated in an aggravated
voice. “I found her along the shore and carried her here.”
Looking skeptical, the man said nothing, merely motioned
for his wife to move closer to the pregnant woman. He stoked the fire and
lighted several more candles, bringing the small cottage a faint glow and sat in
one of the chairs nearest the fireplace. Angelus scowled, was this how all
humans were? Unconcerned with one of their own, mistrustful of everyone?
‘Come back to me,
my love,’ Buffy’s voice floated to him. ‘And
you needn’t worry about that anymore.’
Angelus closed his eyes against her voice, her plea, her
emotions, and turned to the round Irish wife, flittering around the again
moaning woman. “Well, if you have things under control here,” he said,
backing away from the door.
“It’s not safe out there,” the man stated, his eyes
holding something Angelus couldn’t place. “There are all sorts of…riffraff
out there at night; ye’d best stay here, this eve.”
Angelus merely looked at the old man. Did he mean there
were monsters out there, vampires and demons? Or that he knew what Angelus was
if not who and there were others out there, others who were looking for
creatures such as he? Either way, the vampire didn’t care. He couldn’t stay
here, had no desire to, and even though he preferred to be left alone, he’d
take on either demons or Watchers, it didn’t matter.
“Thanks,” the Ancient said with a cocky smirk. No
matter what the appearance of a soul he hadn’t had in longer than he could
remember had done to him, it hadn’t stopped his common sense. More, it
hadn’t stopped his facial expressions. “But I need to leave. I can’t stay
and frankly, I don’t really want to.”
Just then, the woman cried out, screaming the name
“Allen” once more and folding nearly in half with the force of her
contraction. The wife, Mora as Angelus would later learn, tried to soothe the
obviously distraught and in pain woman, but she’d have none of it. Her hand,
much to the surprise of everyone in the room, reached out for Angelus.
Not knowing what to do, having absolutely no basis for
anything like this, the vampire with a soul moved to the woman, grasping her
hand with his. Immediately she calmed, and fell backwards; Angelus caught her
before she hit the floor. Well, now. Now he was stuck. And while it was a simple
feat for him to move the woman, disentangle himself from her weight, Angelus
He could never say why, exactly he hadn’t, only that he
And several long hours later, through screams of pain and
hisses at people not present in the room, Angelus realized just what exactly
Buffy went through.
He loved his wife, no matter how his presence here rather
than there made it seem otherwise. He loved her and would do anything for her.
In the four Land years, nearly twenty Earth years that passed between his
leaving her and now, that hadn’t changed. Angelus tried to believe that Ariana
Amira Kali was his daughter, but oftentimes there was something stopping that
belief. Jealously, possibly, jealously over so many things that it didn’t
matter when it all boiled down to the fact that he couldn’t get past the
reality that vampires did not have children.
Seeing this child born into a world that was not his, never
would be his, made Angelus realize something else, too.
Ariana Amira Kali would never know her father. She’d grow
up believing whatever Buffy told her, whatever everyone else in court told her.
She’d know of Angelus only through stories and rumors and malicious
gossipmongers. Maybe that was better, considering the fact that he couldn’t
fully accept her parentage, but still, watching the as yet unnamed woman holding
her son as she lay sweaty and limp in Angelus’ arms, the vampire couldn’t
help but mourn the fact that he’d never know her, his daughter.
“What’re you naming him, lass” Iain, the old man
asked as the sun rose high in the daytime sky, though its rays never penetrated
more than a foot into the tiny cottage.
“Allen,” she whispered before falling unconscious.
A day later, she was dead, leaving Allen an orphan before
he ever really knew the term.
“We’ll take care of him,” Iain assured Angelus three
days after the mother’s death. “Mora and I raised six children and buried
four of them. We’ll take care of the lad.”
Angelus nodded and bade Iain and Mora Doyle one last
farewell before slipping into the night. Maybe he’d be back to visit the boy,
having not much else to do with his life. Just to see how the child fared. After
all, Angelus helped bring him into this world, it only seemed right…didn’t
He did his best to ignore the jealously emanating from
Buffy and the hurt that went with that. Angelus understood, though neither said
a word about it, that Buffy was more than angry with him for caring about a
human boy who was of absolutely no concern to him, while he stayed away from his
wife and daughter – ‘Don’t even give
me that, Angelus, she’s yours.’ – who needed and wanted him.
And another layer of guilt piled itself onto his broad
shoulders, though Angelus did nothing to remedy the situation.
Despite the quantity of memories she had about the hill
just outside the castle, Buffy couldn’t help but allow her only child the same
thrill she always experienced. There were days and nights where Angelus took her
riding, had Cook prepare a picnic for them, or they simply strode over the knoll
as he explained something about the kingdom to her. He never made love to her
there, despite several starts to their passion, always insisting on a much more
private place for that.
Just in case someone happened along and spotted her, Buffy
Ariana Amira Kali, Ariana as her mother called her, watched
the elfin queen as Buffy watched her. Though she was only ten, the child
understood things no one expected of her. It was a product, Drusilla and Cora
told her once, of her mother’s magicks and her father’s heritage. Ariana
still didn’t understand that fully, but she knew enough to realize that
whatever made both her parents special, transferred into her as well, giving her
an insight into them even they sometimes lacked.
And right now Ariana knew that her mother missed her father
terribly. She never said so, only brought him up to Ariana when they were alone,
but the child knew. It was in the way Buffy said his name, that indescribable
quality that held love, devotion, and longing. She didn’t know all that
happened to her father, Buffy never said exactly why he wasn’t with them, but
Ariana knew it wasn’t because he didn’t want to be there.
Running back to her mother, Ariana watched as the guards
closed in further, quietly surrounding both mother and daughter for their own
protection. While the fact that she was never alone occasionally bothered her,
Ariana knew of no other life. Since before she was born, there were people
surrounding her, seeing to her comfort and safety and just about anything she
“Can we go for a ride, mother?” Ariana asked as she
stopped in front of Buffy.
Smoothing a hand over her child’s dark hair, Buffy
couldn’t help the wistful smile. “Maybe tomorrow, darling. It’s getting
too dark out; we need to return to the castle.”
Pouting, Ariana started to protest, but stopped when she
saw the look on her mother’s face. Young though she was, the girl was already
an accepted member at Council meetings and had seen ambassadors and council
members cower under that look. Wisely keeping her mouth shut, Ariana nodded and
walked beside her mother.
Maybe she’d talk William and Drusilla into going with her
tomorrow, as Buffy had a meeting scheduled for most of the morning and Ariana
wasn’t invited to it.
Several hours later, after tucking her child into bed, Buffy returned to her own room.
Once Ariana was born, Buffy had the rest of the wing
converted to her daughter’s rooms. There was still enough privacy for the
girl, but Buffy could keep a better eye on her, no matter the guards always with
Sighing once she reached the solitude of her own rooms,
Buffy began to undress, forgoing both her maid, Celica, and the sometimes
stand-in, Drusilla. The long gown, a flowing gold, was carefully folded on the
dressing chair, missing only one button in Buffy’s haste to disrobe. Her shoes
and stockings were tossed on the gown, along with her corset. Moving to take the
long silken robe that hung nearby, she slipped it on, tying it tightly around
herself before moving to the window.
Looking out at the landscape, Buffy couldn’t help the
memories that assaulted her. Over the years, she’d tuned out most of them,
doing her best to live in the present for both her kingdom and her daughter. She
tried, oh how she tried, to block the bond that joined she and Angelus as well,
but that was harder. An addiction she couldn’t quite quit.
Buffy knew that Angelus also tried to close the bond
between them, but it was harder for him, surrounded by things not familiar. Was
it easier to keep their bond closed, to block everything the other did and hope
it was enough? No, Buffy admitted, it wasn’t because she tried that and
always, always, found herself
reopening the never-fully-closed link between she and her husband. Often she told herself that it was just to see how he fared, just
to make sure that he was healthy, well, alive…
She didn’t believe it, no matter what she told herself,
or how many times she said it.
So much changed in the decade since Ariana’s birth. For
one, Aurelius and Rezov signed a binding and long-term alliance on Ariana’s
first birthday, using that sacred day to seal the pack. Cuman was now a constant
at Buffy’s court and his Ancient, Gavrie, made the trip to Aurelius, signing
the agreement himself in front of Buffy. It was definitely a sign, though many
thought it more dark than light; the other lands threatened war over the
alliance, but none dared cross the Continuum, and that august body approved of
the alliance a little too enthusiastically.
Still, the alliance was cause for celebration, and it did
quell many of the younger vampires who thought that the Continuum was too old
and unwieldy to maintain for much longer. It did have the opposite effect on
many others, however, and there was always the constant threat of rebellion. Lir,
the Seer from the High Priestess’ temple, and her Rezov counterpart, Danica,
assured both Buffy and Garvie that this was but a prelude to something bigger.
It was debatable, and both Buffy and Garvie debated it, on
whether that something was for good or ill.
All anyone knew was that Ariana played a bigger part in the
future of both kingdoms than Buffy liked to admit. Ariana was her little girl,
her only child, and the last tangible evidence she had to link her to Angelus.
Turning slightly to listen for any sounds from her room, Buffy couldn’t stop
the smile as she thought of her daughter.
The girl looked like her father anyone could see that. And
that wonderful fact crushed any and all rumors to the contrary. She was already
tall for her age, though as far as anyone could tell there were no other
Elf/Human/Vampire children anywhere in the Lands. Still, it was clear she was
going to have her father’s height in addition to his dark hair and vampiric
golden eyes. She had his temper, too, though Oz often teased Buffy that her own
temper was nearly identical to her husband’s.
Her parentage was not in doubt, her succession sealed, and still, Buffy was constantly worried for her safety. She wanted to protect her child from every harm that threatened her but refused to let Ariana not see what truly went on in their kingdom. It was a fine balance that Buffy constantly questioned herself on and one that, more than once, she’d tipped in favor of one or another.
At the age of ten, one should never have to worry for one’s life. But that
didn’t matter here, and it was better, Buffy knew and Oz and Gunn assured her,
that Ariana learn early on how to take care of herself. Buffy sincerely hoped
her daughter never needed to, but knew that to be a fruitless prayer.
Watching the night guard change, Buffy wondered where
Angelus was now, what sights he saw, who he talked to – if he did, Buffy
wasn’t sure of that – and how he was surviving. The light doused from the
parapet, signaling the official change in guard, and Buffy turned from the
window. She had a long day tomorrow; it was mere months until Ariana’s
official announcement, on her eleventh birthday, into court life, Garvie was
sending his favored childe and heir for a state visit, and Darla needed to be
officially recognized as a member of Buffy’s house once more.
It wasn’t that the elfin queen wanted to do so to the
vampiress who helped to bring about near ruin to the kingdom, but Darla proved
herself, time and again, to be loyal and trustworthy. Buffy wasn’t so blind
not to test that loyalty, having been burnt too badly once already by the
vampiress. But every test she, Gunn, and Oz devised for Darla, the blonde
passed. Not always easily, but she definitely changed.
It angered Buffy that she had. It angered her more that she
owed Darla her life and that of Ariana’s.
Since giving her blood, since helping to bring Ariana into
the world Darla was noticeably changed. She dotted on the new child, telling her
stories of both Angelus and Buffy, of the magickal creatures in the Dragon and
Beasts Lands, protecting the girl on one memorable – and terrifying –
occasion when a member of the kitchen staff decided that Ariana wasn’t the
true heir to the throne, and that an elf shouldn’t sit in a vampire’s
Covering the shaking child with her own body as flames
spread across the kitchen, Darla managed to save Ariana and not kill the
would-be-murderer – that was not her position but Buffy’s as Ariana’s
mother – before collapsing from her injuries. It’d taken Marcus, the
physician, a week to fully heal her, and Darla another three before she was back
to full strength. After that, even Gunn admitted that she may have –
marginally – changed.
Ariana adored her, much to Buffy’s chagrin, and everyone
else’s amusement. But even to Buffy, it was clear Darla loved the child. It
was, the vampiress admitted, the first honest and good thing she’d ever done
and Ariana was the first being she truly loved.
Ade-Aman stamped his approval on her, once more stating how
she was useful in the future, referring Buffy to Drusilla or Lir for
confirmation and details. They were sketchy on those details, but Buffy gleaned
enough to understand that the stability of Kingdom Aurelius depended on Darla
being on Buffy’s side. She hated it, much as she hated the vampiress, but she
Now, several years after all this, Buffy still didn’t
fully trust Darla, though she admitted that the other woman was good for several
things, not the least was amusing diversions.
Turning to her large and empty bed, Buffy’s last thought,
as she pushed all those of Darla, alliances, and tomorrow out of her head, was,
predictably, of Angelus. She couldn’t help it, despite knowing what a weakness
this was. Silently seeking out the link that bound them, no matter what her
waking self wanted as her eyes drifted closed, she grasped the bright light,
tugging gently to gain his attention.
‘You’d be so
proud of her, love,’ she told Angelus, and though he didn’t acknowledge
her Buffy knew he heard her. ‘She’s
beautiful, strong, brave, and proud. She’s going to make a magnificent warrior
and an even better Ancient.’
There was no response, but Buffy sensed his interest as she
fully drifted off to sleep. Maybe it was her imagination, her longing to hear
the words once more, but she thought she heard, ever so faintly, Angelus
whisper, “I love you.”
It wasn’t obvious to those who didn’t really know her, and despite the fact that she was queen of the kingdom and in constant attention of all, very few realized it.
But then Buffy was a marvelous actress, and worked hard at
keeping such things as gossip at bay.
She changed, not only mentally, but physically, too. Oh,
she’d had a child, and that changed all women no matter who they were. Her
body wasn’t nearly as toned as before, though she still worked hard to
maintain her physical prowess. But the curves that showed now, were much softer,
much more noticeable if one compared.
Her smiles rarely reached her eyes, and when they did,
there was a wistful sadness there that haunted all who noticed. She still
visited her towns, held celebrations for the people of Aurelius, and promoted
trade as much as possible. Buffy actively took part in all aspects of running
her kingdom and reminded anyone who dared forget, that Angelus would return; do
not doubt it.
At the moment, she was more nervous than she’d been since
her wedding day.
Garvie of Rezov’s favorite childe was visiting and Buffy
had a bad feeling about that. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust the Rezov
Ancient, so much as she didn’t know what to expect, and didn’t like
surprises. This visit was one, though they’d had a month to prepare; but there
was something in both Ambassador Cuman’s tone, and in Garvie’s missive that
Oz was stationed to the right of her throne, Gunn to the
left, as Drusilla sat with the council, at a special request from them. Several
of the members relied on her visions or feelings for things relating to the
running of the kingdom, and often asked her to sit in on meetings. It was almost
superstitious the way they acted when it came to making important decisions, and
Buffy couldn’t help the sardonic smile that briefly graced her face.
The great council of the noble Kingdom of Aurelius, looking
to a crazy seer for advice. No one outside the Continuum would ever believe
that. But then, no one outside the Lands would believe much of what the fierce
and vicious vampires were capable of.
Nodding to the guards at the door, and the herald banged
his staff twice before announcing the vampire. “Andre Vladimir, prince of
Rezov, heir to the Ancient’s throne, holder of the…”
Sitting through several minutes of introductions, Buffy
watched the vampire before her. He was handsome, tall, and muscled. His nose was
long and straight, his eyes a dark blue that contrasted nicely with his darkened
skin, nearly the color of Buffy’s. His hair was nearly black and brushed his
shoulders, Buffy noted, as he stood patiently and quietly just outside the
His blue eyes pierced her, trying to discern, Buffy
fancied, all her secrets. Not bothering to even smile at that, the elf returned
his look with her own calm one, revealing nothing. At the end of the herald’s
words, Andre waited another moment for Buffy to nod at him before moving into
the audience chambers. Well, she certainly couldn’t fault his manners.
“I bring greetings from my Ancient and King,” Andre
said with a slight bow, “Who wishes you to know that the power of Rezov are,
as always, behind you.”
Buffy allowed a small smile. “Welcome, Andre Vladimir of
Rezov, favored childe of the Ancient of that noble and proud kingdom. I bid you
greeting and hope that your stay here will be prosperous and amiable to all.”
Bowing again, Andre raised those blue eyes to Buffy and she
wondered if everyone agree to anything he said just by the power of his gaze. It
was a bit disturbing, but interesting. Buffy got on well enough with Garvie and
Cuman, as well as expected for leaders of countries and their official
ambassadors, but this vampire was something else. There was a reason Garvie sent
him, one, Buffy now wondered, that may have had more to do with her than
Surely, that Ancient didn’t think to join their kingdoms
Keeping her new suspicions to herself, Buffy introduced
Andre to the head of her council, waiting as Theophilus introduced him to the
rest of the members. She watched as he bowed to the men and, in a rare show of
courtly manners, kissed the women’s hands. When he was presented to Drusilla,
kissing the back of her hand as he had the others, the dark haired vampiress
smiled, her eyes ticking to Buffy before anyone but the elfin queen noticed.
Two hours later, after Andre was shown his rooms, after the
council went over more for Ariana’s official introduction into court, and
after they worked through all the problems that seemed to arise overnight, Buffy
finally had a chance to speak with Drusilla. She still sat in the audience
chamber, decked in both jewels Angelus gave her and the official Aurelius seal,
back stiff from sitting so long. Gunn and Oz were still next to her but it
didn’t occur to Buffy to ask them to leave.
They probably wouldn’t have, anyway, knowing them.
Besides, whatever Drusilla was about to tell her, Buffy didn’t doubt she’d
eventually tell them as well. Somehow it all worked like that with the three of
them, Nicholaus, William, Drusu, and yes, even Darla, knowing everything anyone
of them discovered. It’d be more annoying than it already was, if Buffy
didn’t realize two things.
One was that they were only doing it to protect both she
and Ariana, and two, that they told her everything, anyway.
“Andre Vladimir is part of it,” Drusilla said as she
stood in front of Buffy, head bowed in respect. “He’s part of the cycle,
destiny’s wheel, bound to the child of that destiny.”
Glancing at both Oz and Gunn, seeing that neither knew what
she meant, Buffy nodded. If everything went as it usually did, eventually
someone would figure out what Drusilla meant. Hopefully, it’d be sooner rather
It was much sooner than Buffy suspected and, when she
realized what Dru meant by it, much sooner than she liked.
Later that day, at the formal dinner welcoming Andre of
Rezov to the Aurelius Kingdom, Ariana met the vampire. She hid it well, using
the poise and composure both inherent and taught to conceal her interest in the
good-looking vampire. But as her mother, Buffy knew.
Her only child, the ten-year-old heir to the Aurelius
throne, was smitten with the so very much older heir to the Rezov throne.
Immediately seeking Drusilla out, Buffy wasn’t at all surprised to find her
standing next to her.
“So young is she, so keen, already knowing who and what
she wants. Much like her mother,” Drusilla smiled at Buffy as she said that.
“Fate does not halt, destiny does not thwart, prepare her as you will, but
know that it will all work as it will.”
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