Gone

This is the story of Camilla and what happened to her after Goth died. It is based on the show Kindred: The Embraced and I am in no way benefiting from use of these characters. Camilla went on without her mate after his Final Death and these are the events as I see them. Please read on and enjoy the story. Thanks. Reesy

What Could Have Been

Days were bitter for the life and love that were lost. Nights were unbelievably long and forlorn. An Ancient lived in pain for the one that was slain yet she never questioned the justice in his Final Death.

Those were times of the past that haunted this woman who now lived in the light of dear ones who accepted her into their lives and their homes. For this Camilla was truly grateful, but the family she found in those closest to her were more grateful.

Julian and Lillie healed with her help while Daedalus and Elaine found more rewards in sharing with her their time and learning from her experiences. It seemed that Camilla?s life was finally complete and she never complained of loneliness when with them.

Camilla was given the honor and dignity owing an older one while receiving the love and devotion her friends felt for her. She had repaid a great debt to her Prince and her Primogen and had saved their lives or the lives of those dearest to them.

The circle was complete, and it was time to find a new way in life, but Camilla really didn?t feel the need to strike out on her own yet. She was comfortable spending time with them in Julian?s mansion and sharing daily in the desires, dreams and plans of her companions.

Daedalus knew something wasn?t quite right in the situation, for although he wanted her nearby and welcomed her to his home any time day or night, he sensed there was something missing in Camilla?s life. These Nosferatu were not the type to hide things or put off what needed to be said or done so he did the typical thing. He talked to Camilla the way a guardian would talk to someone dear in his care.

"Dear Mother, you know more than any other that you hold a sacred place in my heart and if there is anything untrue there, please know that it is because it is an imperfection due to my once human state. I only want what will make you happy and I see that you are not as happy as you once were or could be again. Perhaps it is because you see the bliss my wife and I share. If this is so Camilla, I am truly sorry we have caused you pain." Daedalus spoke with deep humility for this cherished Matriarch.

Putting her hand on his she looked deep into his dark eyes seeing real love and deep respect for her. "Daedalus, I do know you better than any other, even better than Elaine and I too have deepest respect and love for you. I will not try to hide it now that you have brought it up and I admit to having pangs when I see the happiness you and Elaine share or when I see Julian and Lillie together. It is only natural for all of you to show your love for each other, and you have kindly shared it with me, but I see that it is time for me to make my own way now so I will soon be taking my leave."

This was clearly not what Daedalus intended. He was about to speak when she put her fingers to his lips and said it was best this way. He only helped her to find the courage to take this step that she had put off for so long. He need not feel bad or have regrets that he brought it up because she had known for some time that she must do something different with her life. "Dear, dear Daedalus, you and Elaine have shown me that anything is possible when it comes to love and acceptance so perhaps . . . well, maybe someday I will find it again myself."

That was it! Why hadn?t he seen it before? Camilla needed someone in her life just as he had. Daedalus didn?t really hear any more of what Camilla was saying because he was forming an idea in his mind and knew he and his wife would be visiting Julian and Lillie soon to present this to them and seek their help.

Camilla sensed that Daedalus wasn?t really listening to her now and believing he must have something more important on his mind that distracted him she took her leave of him and returned to her own dwelling. He barely knew that she had left when he set out to find his wife to ask her to join him in paying a visit to Julian and Lillie in Camilla?s behalf.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Finding Elaine was like a game to Daedalus and while he was on a mission to help Camilla, he did not hurry to find his wife. He knew she was there, somewhere, out of view and yet very near. It was one way they kept their relationship fresh and young. Daedalus had found that being married to a Toreador was at times like a mystery, bringing special delights to what would have otherwise been a droll existence for him.

She did not know his plan but she sensed there was more of an urgency to his quest this day, nothing to really be concerned about but still he sought her out. Instead of waiting for him to discover her in Julian?s study with both feet up in the great overstuffed arm chair facing the window, a book in her hands, she stealthily made her way down a long dark corridor to find him.

There were great palms in huge planters on either side of the corridor and shadows to hide in as she quietly found her way. Suspecting he would be lurking about in one of the splendid rooms they frequented Elaine ducked into the next room, peeked around but to her disappointment found no Daedalus.

From behind her out of the dark hallway came the voice that always sent a profound wave through her and made her unsteady on her feet. Then the excitement of the slightest pressure of his hand around her waist as he came from behind her thrilled Elaine as she closed her eyes and waited for the lips that touched her neck so lightly she only felt his breath like a gentle mist on her skin.

As Elaine let a breathy sigh escape her Daedalus realized she was about to go into complete melt down so he closed the door and locked it behind them. It felt daring to make love to Elaine in this room in Julian?s mansion, next to his study, above their own home yet she was about to lose the struggle to wait until they reached their home. To risk being caught in the act made it seem too risky and yet this made it more impossible to hold back.

They were caught off guard, aroused by their passion, and it was more than they could stand as Daedalus picked up Elaine and carried her to a beautiful plush throw that was carelessly whisked from the divan to the floor and laid her upon it. For an excited moment they both looked toward the door, anticipating the key turning in the knob, and then when it did not their daring took over again.

Elaine had never seen Daedalus take a chance like this before and it made him more irresistible to her. They were home, in a sense. Their own home was just below them, but for Daedalus to make love to her in a locked room in Julian?s home, and without his consent was a first. The Toreador were supposed to be the seductive ones, but this new glimpse of the seducer in Daedalus brought her senses to the fore and she was ready to be drawn in by a powerful presence that left her breathless as he dominated her, not with strength but with his will.

It was his deepest desire to bring her to that divine moment when her every need was fulfilled by nothing more than the gentlest touch. Just one light touch where her pulse beat strongest and she knew the divine feeling she always had when he gave it all up to her.

It was hard to say how long they indulged their hunger for each other but finally being able to compose themselves they quietly and quickly searched the corridors to find them empty. Emboldened by their daring they flew to their own home below the mansion and Daedalus thought no more of his mission. The urgency he felt earlier for Camilla had turned to passion for Elaine. Nothing and no one was more important to him and his life was devoted to making her happy. So in keeping with the mood they found themselves in Daedalus again, gently found the way to her secret place of pleasure.

There was no mistaking it, he knew how to make her come unhinged and still he knew she would ultimately give way to her love for him, bringing him more pleasure than he had ever dreamed possible for a solitary being like himself.

Living alone and out of sight of humans Daedalus chose to exist as an outcast by them, knowing his appearance was repulsive to their delicate sensibilities. This was the reason he and Elaine had spent many months apart after their first fatal night together but the reason had long since fled and now his face was the one she desired most in the world when she woke up each day. Her life had been extended a thousand times over thanks to Lillie and yet Elaine still felt this need to cherish each moment she and Daedalus shared as if their time together might not last forever.

With this need still living in her heart Elaine always found a new way to please her husband, and with the feminine allure of a Toreador each time she succeeded in taking him beyond his wildest dreams. Each time Daedalus felt that if he died that night he would have no regrets and Elaine had once again brought him dangerously close to the edge of his own existence and lovingly brought him back to the safety of her sheltering, comforting embrace. He had questioned this once but never after that near fatal experience did he doubt her ability to save his life.

Now as they lay in each other?s arms, reveling in their sated passion, this thought came back to Daedalus. He would take his wife to Julian and Lillie and this time he would not wait until she was out of his sight, otherwise . . . the thought amused him and he stirred to look at Elaine. Her sleepy gaze made him smile and as she drifted off, he tenderly grazed her forehead with gentle kisses that gave away the gratitude he felt. A long time ago she felt real humility when he came to her and now he felt much more because he knew what she was capable of and yet love always won out. It made his heart swell to the point of bringing that human pain again, but he understood now that it wasn?t pain; it was love.

A Time For Change

Julian and Lillie had just finished breakfast when they heard Elaine and Daedalus approach the dining room in time to share morning coffee and pastry. The couples did not often share their breakfast but early that morning before anyone else had risen Daedalus found his way to the room Julian and Lillie shared and slid a note under the door. His request was that they speak later that morning before starting the business of the day.

Seeing her Childe always gave Lillie such pleasure and the doting was reciprocated by Elaine as they sat side by side at the dining table holding hands and chatting quietly, happily wondering about whatever had Daedalus so interested in talking to the three of them right away.

"We?re all ears Daedalus" Julian said waiting to hear what was so important that he must wait to take care of his business dealings until they had spoken. He wasn?t impatient but he was intrigued. He didn?t have to wait further.

"I spoke to Camilla yesterday and she is about to go her own way. She is soon taking her leave of us."

"No! We can?t let her go." Elaine cried. "I am just getting to know her well and I can?t lose her now. Please tell me you have thought of a way to keep her with us."

Lillie patted her hand and stroked her hair. "Darling we don?t want to see her leave but I don?t doubt she feels like a fifth wheel around us. We four share our lives with her but we also do not hide the happiness we have found being in love. This has to wrench her heart no matter how much she loves each of us so perhaps the answer lies in finding a mate for Camilla."

She looked to Daedalus to confirm this observation and he agreed this was the very reason he asked to speak with them the first thing this morning.

"When did she tell you she was leaving?" Elaine asked.

"Yesterday before I came to find y-- uh, yesterday." Suddenly he felt sheepish about their behavior the day before because it was meant to be their secret but now Daedalus felt as though Julian and Lillie would know why he waited until this morning to talk to them about it.

"Something happen yesterday that kept you from finding your wife?" Julian was coy.

Elaine was dumb. She would not break with him to share the reason they did not come until this morning.

"No, I found her but . . ." Daedalus swallowed and then in a rare moment his complexion almost seemed to change to a faint shade of pink. He hoped Julian and Lillie would not notice but Julian was in the mood to bate his friend a little and was more than a little amused at the predicament Daedalus found himself in.

"Uh, you say you found her, --but?" Julian was really going to make Daedalus explain himself. "I don?t think I caught that last part."

"I did not finish my sentence and I will not finish it now either. I came to talk about Camilla and that is all." Daedalus flashed as serious a look at Julian as he could. Julian was not at all threatened by the look.

Lillie and Elaine were looking at their coffee cups trying to act as though they had not heard the remark Julian had made. It was torture sitting there trying not to show their amusement at the stupid situation Daedalus was in. The Toreador would not have given it another thought because it brought them no embarrassment to give in to their baser instincts and put off something more important to satisfy their own needs and the needs of the one they loved.

Daedalus was not at all ashamed of his relationship with Elaine or that they had allowed their passion to take over the day before but he was not prepared to share it with his friends that morning. He was a very private individual who hid himself away for years and had only started to live a more public life since the time that he dared to share a life with Elaine.

Before Julian could go further with his little jest Lillie ended Daedalus? torment, simply asking if Daedalus knew of anyone who would make Camilla a suitable mate. Perhaps someone from his own clan?

Daedalus was grateful for the redirection of the conversation and lead the discussion with renewed vigor hoping not to revisit the discomfort he felt a moment ago. He would be more careful with his words from now on sensing that Julian was not through teasing him when Lillie came to his aid. His old friend would never taunt him to be unkind. He knew Julian was the kind of friend who would give his life for him and so he let the moment pass. Still he would be careful.

"I have given this some thought and yes I believe there may be someone in my clan who would be suitable for Camilla if she would allow my intervention. She is not proud but she is a decent woman who would not want to have a man thrown at her feet. This will take some doing but we may be able to pull it off if we work together and keep her needs foremost in our minds." This last comment was meant to dissuade Julian from any further teasing. It almost worked.

"Yes I believe if we keep Camilla?s needs first in our thoughts then we won?t become distracted by, oh I don?t know, maybe" he didn?t finish his sentence but raised an eyebrow and grinned at Daedalus. It was all he needed to say or do. The point was made that he thought he knew why Daedalus waited until this morning.

The friendship of many years was too strong to end over a little teasing and Daedalus came to him and whispered something in his ear that made both of Julian?s brows go up and then with a very mysterious smile starting at his lips, he departed with his curious wife.

"What was that about?" Lillie was almost shocked by Julian?s expression and Daedalus? and Elaine?s sudden departure.

Julian still looked stunned as he told Lillie what Daedalus had said. She covered her mouth as a squeal escaped her. "In the room next to the study? Right under our noses?" She could not hide her laughter or her astonishment. "No wonder Daedalus was blushing a few minutes ago."

Julian too was astonished that his friend had done this. He ran his fingers through his hair and said, with a little laugh and a certain amount of awe, that he may have to post guards outside each room from now on.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was time to tend to Camilla?s needs. She had given so much of herself to them and they each felt in their own way that they loved her more than the others so they were steadfast in their quest to find someone new for her. While this was true, the other three pretty much agreed that Daedalus was the best one to find Camilla a mate, yet he felt uncertain of this. How well did he really know her after all?

Her first choice of a mate turned bad or perhaps there was always something in Goth that departed from the norm for the Nosferatu, and Joseph was a good man and had been loyal as well as dependable when assisting Daedalus with various duties carried out in service to their Prince. Daedalus thought of him immediately and knew he was agreeable to be with and would take excellent care of Camilla.

They worked together often so Daedalus knew his nature--that he was honest, sincere, gentle and well deserving of a reward. A reward in a mate like Camilla would truly be a prize most men would vie for, but for the fact that she had been associated with Goth. That was the difficulty as Daedalus saw it. He heard rumors that some considered her damaged goods after going the way Goth did, and then there were others that were almost worshipful of her because of her powers. What he needed to find was a man who would love her for herself.

Daedalus would approach Joseph and find out in his own precise way how his friend felt about Camilla, and if he thought highly of her, would he dare to make her his own? This was not the sort of thing that was callously carried off and must be done with the utmost consideration for the feelings of the fine woman in question. Carefully Daedalus thought this through and decided it best to get Lillie?s assistance. Wasn?t she the one who put people and events in place when she meant to bring he and Elaine together again? Who better to deal with affairs of the heart? Yes, Lillie.

After speaking with Lillie she agreed to help and Julian felt the same way about Joseph that Daedalus did. He recalled speaking with Joseph the day he called the Nosferatu together in the tunnel under his mansion and asked them to hold off seeking Daedalus when he had been away from them so long. He did not tell them and as far as he knew, they never knew why they were asked to wait until Daedalus himself came to them. He only intimated to them that their Primogen was taking care of a very important assignment for him.

If they ever discerned that Daedalus had lost the ring that held the symbol of their clan it would have been the beginning of the end for him. The ring was returned to him and none of them seemed to be the wiser and it must remain that way at all cost. There were dissenters but Joseph was one of the men who promised Julian he would keep those complainers at bay as long as he could in deference to his plea.

This man seemed reliable and only interested in serving the needs of his Prince and his Primogen. Such a man was not that easy to find in most clans and for him to be closely associated with Daedalus was a real plus. This meant he was someone Daedalus felt comfortable with, a man after his own heart and one he respected. They began to put their plan together.

To Find Love

Lillie made a call on Camilla one fine evening knowing where the little cottage was that she and Goth had shared when they returned to San Francisco. It was quaint, with the musky aroma she had become accustomed to being around in Daedalus and Elaine?s home. It seemed to happen naturally from being underground, or in the case of Camilla?s home, part way under the ground. The doorway was really at ground level and there were steps to descend that led to the main living quarters. Vines and moss grew over most of the dwelling giving it the look of another world where magic and myth inner-twined and made one think of mythical creatures.

Camilla thought Lillie or Elaine might come sometime soon now that she had told Daedalus she was planning her departure. She supposed they would be coming to say goodbye and was prepared to keep a stiff lower lip and not give way to her emotions. Leaving these dear friends was going to be difficult but she needed a life of her own and felt like an encumbrance to them.

"Lillie, I am sure Daedalus has told you of my plan and I assure you I have given this much thought so there is no use to try and talk me out of it. I must start to live again as I am and this is not possible for me in my present state. I do not mean in my physical state, but rather I speak of my mental and emotional condition."

"You mean since Goth passed you have not been the same?" Lillie was trying to seem surprised.

"I have seen you and Julian and your Childe and Daedalus together and it is the natural order of things. We were meant to share our lives with another. I did this for a very long time and it ended badly for me. Now it has been a couple of years since his passing and I find it more and more difficult to go on alone."

"Camilla, surely there is someone in your clan who would make you a suitable mate. Have you considered this? I wish you would. I know your solitary nature so it seems to me that one of your own would be more appropriate for you." Lillie was slowly planting the seed.

"I have not considered this because of the way I left the clan to be with Goth. Most probably view me as a outcast and would never want a woman who followed such a disrespectful man as Goth."

"That might be true of some but don?t your actions also show that you were true to your mate and were willing to follow him to the ends of the earth to make him happy? To me that seems very self sacrificing, not to mention loyal. What man wouldn?t be pleased to find such a mate? Camilla, I think you sell yourself short." Lillie was making a good point.

"I had not thought of myself that way before."

"Not only that but there is the fact that your Prince made sure you were taken care of by giving you to Daedalus for a while. Your clansmen respect Julian and Daedalus and this caring for you should say something to them. If you were not valuable to them they would not have served your needs in this way."

The more they spoke, the more Lillie was glad to be instrumental in this quest. The words were her own but they sounded almost foreign to her. She spoke from her heart but she had not known fully the love she felt for Camilla. Lillie would say and do whatever she could to persuade her age-old friend to stay, and yet unlike past times, the words and deeds came from pure motives rather than cunning.

"What you say is true Lillie but I know of no such man who is willing to accept me for what I am. Perhaps some appreciate the powers I have with the magic, or some may even find the disobedience to Julian enticing, but I do not want anyone to have me for those reasons. I am all too aware of my appearance, which is a direct effect from following Goth in his lack of respect for the Masquerade. It is true that I followed him because he was my mate, and that was for life no matter where it led us. but still I can not expect another to accept me this way. I made my choice and now I have to pay for it." Camilla?s humility and honesty were hard for Lillie to take without raising objections.

"I still have to believe there is one man within your clan who would find you desirable but it?s possible none have come forward because they are probably not sure whether or not you are still mourning your loss. Perhaps they don?t know that you would like a new mate. How does one in your situation make this desire known to the others?"

"I really know of no way to make such a desire known to the rest other than to make a public announcement or to have it spread through the clan by word of mouth. There is no delicate way to handle it so I would rather not. I do not wish to have the others talking about me behind my back more than they perhaps do already, and I will not humiliate myself by stepping up to the proverbial auction block, if you will." Camilla said with pride.

"Certainly there is no need of that and I quite understand your not wanting others spreading the word that way. You deserve to be treated with real dignity and neither way you mentioned would give you that. I do see your predicament, but is it necessary to separate yourself from the ones who love you most? Please, Camilla, why don?t you wait a bit. Leaving will only take you farther away from your clan and the ones you know so well. This could only bring you more pain than solace."

Lillie appealed to Camilla?s love for her and the others and touched a tender spot in her heart so Camilla agreed to hold off her departure a little longer. Lillie made her promise she would not speak of this to anyone yet and she would not make any plans to leave just yet. This was, at least for the present, good news for it would give Daedalus time to go to work on Joseph.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Daedalus made a call on Joseph, his long time friend and trusted companion. Joseph took his repose in a little place that was half way between Daedalus? home and Camilla?s. It was much the same as Camilla?s except that it was a little smaller due to the fact that he had always lived alone. There was no need to find a larger dwelling or to decorate it with nicer things than a man would find suitable. It was stark yet cozy somehow, perhaps because of it?s size. There was one tiny light for reading and two chairs that were not particularly comfy but suited a solitary man like Joseph.

"I am glad to find you at home this evening, Joseph. May I share some of our Prince?s finest with you?" he asked as he produced a bottle from Julian?s wine cellar and two wineglasses. This was not the first time Daedalus had come calling on his friend with a fine offering like this and Joseph took this to be just a social visit so he did not suspect the motive behind it.

"As always Daedalus you are more than welcome in my humble little home and your kind offering is what will warm me this night." Joseph said this with a fading smile.

Daedalus had probably seen it before but never took much note of it until tonight. "You sound as though your nights are often less than warm and agreeable Joseph. Please tell me what is behind this saddened countenance I see in you."

"It is really nothing. You know, being the kind of creatures we are, we made the choice to leave the world outside and reside alone, away from society. Sometimes I just fancy it would bring me some pleasure to entertain a companion? . . . or two." he added quickly so as not to imply that he only wished to have one companion in his home.

Daedalus was more in tune this evening than he usually was. His kind were always very aware of things or conversations, but when a person or a place is so familiar you tend to lose a certain consciousness and take these for granted. He was not taking anything for granted this evening. It was good that Daedalus visited Joseph and he began to perceive a little depression in him.

Daedalus knew about depression. He went through a terrible depression after Elaine rejected him that night and he had seen what Camilla felt after the Final Death of her mate. He thought he saw it in her still so now was the time to act. "Joseph, have you ever thought it might be time to find a mate? You have lived so long alone, tending only to the needs of our Prince and the needs of everyone else but your own."

"How can I ask another to share my little home when there is barely room enough for me. If I had thought it would suit me, I would have found a place that would house two or more people but as it is, I have no where to find another home. You know as well as I that many of our clan live in smaller homes than I do so what hope do I have of finding some place that would suit a new mate?"

"I understand your predicament, but if you would allow me to search for you, I might find just the perfect situation. As it is, I happen to know of a home that may soon be vacated and it would truly suit a couple. Please allow me to inquire for you and find out if indeed it will become vacant soon. I will not, of course, mention your name." Daedalus hoped this would plant the idea in Joseph?s mind that finding a mate might really be the answer to his loneliness.

"Very well my friend, if you will inquire into this I believe I would be agreeable to considering finding a mate. The next question is this--Do you know of any who are seeking a mate and would even want to share their life with someone like me?"

"Someone like you? You say it as if you think you are grotesque to your own kind. None of us is pretty to look at and yet my own darling has proven beyond all doubt that a creature such as she can look upon us and see true beauty. Why the first time she met our dear friend Camilla she was enchanted and formed an immediate bond. She calls her Sister and would be broken hearted if Camilla never came to visit her again. So even one who has the appearance she does is a desirable companion." Daedalus took the step and hoped Joseph would open up about his feelings for Camilla too.

"Camilla is a desirable woman and I have profound respect for her but even she would probably find me a droll and uninspiring substitute for Goth. He was a fiend but he had passion that no doubt kept her at his side despite his wayward wanderings. I have no hope of taking his place in her--" he could not finish the sentence. What was wrong with him? He felt ashamed of his own thoughts just now for he never thought of Camilla this way before and still he felt a sudden flush at what he had just said to Daedalus.

Wanting to seem as though he did not notice the change in Joseph?s features Daedalus took a drink of his wine and poured more for them both. Being off handed was the way he felt he could reach Joseph now. "You underestimate yourself my friend. I know Camilla well and if you think passion and excitement were what held her to Goth then you are mistaken." He said the words kindly and patiently, not wanting to embarrass Joseph.

"Camilla is an ancient woman who has seen and done much and yet her greatest pleasure comes from doing for others and bringing them happiness. Another reason she went with Goth was that she is loyal, much the way you are to me and to Julian. She would have followed Goth anywhere and did because she was his mate and she meant to be for life, but that life ended one night and I know personally that since then her loneliness is great. Perhaps greater than your own because she has known love and it was taken away from her."

"I, I did not mean to speak of her disrespectfully." Joseph felt a real flush this time and wished he had not said what apparently had been in his heart but was unknown to him until the moment it escaped his lips. There was no place, no shadow to hide in now. His home was so tiny that it was barely big enough for the two men to sit and there was just a small bed, really more like a mattress on a platform of sorts. He really lived a spartan life and a woman like Camilla would never consider living in his pathetic little hole in the ground. He wished Daedalus would leave and never come back because of the shame he felt flooding into his neck, his face and his ears. What an awful predicament to find himself in.

Daedalus acted like he saw none of this and yet he knew exactly what Joseph was thinking but not wanting to prolong his agony he said it was getting late and he was sure his wife would be wondering when he would be home. A smile came to Daedalus? lips as he spoke the words he was sure other married men had uttered a thousand times before him. It helped break the tension and Joseph was grateful for the promise of solitude now. He often hated it and yet tonight he would relish it. The men said their good-byes and Daedalus flew to his home and his wife.

A relieved Joseph was not sure whether or not Daedalus noticed how uncomfortable he was but he was definitely feeling new things tonight. These thoughts came back to him each time he woke up in the night. Why was it suddenly such an important subject to him? He had never looked at any of the Nosferatu women this way and of all the women to dominate his thoughts now, why did it have to be someone who was so far superior to him?

Daedalus had said she was the kind of woman who found pleasure in doing good deeds for others the way he does, and she stayed with Goth out of loyalty to him. Yes, a loyal woman would be someone he could love. There was her appearance but he knew her well enough to look beyond that and if Daedalus felt she was a worthy woman then who was he to question anything in her character or her appearance? He was not handsome and yet he was a creature with a heart and mind that felt the pang of loneliness like she did. For tonight he must stop thinking of Camilla and try to sleep. It did not come and he resigned himself to fitful sleep and dreams that were unearthly.

Seeds

The seeds had been planted and now the hope was that Camilla and Joseph would allow them time to grow. The next day Daedalus went to Camilla with a request he felt would not go unfilled. No one, now that Goth was dead, knew the ancient art of alchemy like Camilla and Daedalus wanted to learn what she knew. It was a bold request but being the Nosferatu Primogen he felt it was a reasonable one. After all, after she left he should know something of these things.

She saw the sense in his request but also felt the need to caution him. "Do you fully understand what you ask of me Daedalus? These are dangerous elements to deal with and if you are not well trained and do not understand their import disaster is awaiting you."

"I have once or twice made use of this art. Once was a total failure but the other time it was a total success. I need to know what I am doing or I will experience more failures. You put the idea in my head yourself when you used your magic to give Elaine and I your gift months ago and I realized I wanted to--no, needed to understand them better. I was putting it off but now I see that you wish to leave us and the moment is upon me so I ask this if only to protect our clan and more important, the Masquerade."

"Very well. You have made a good point so I will train you. While you learn these things well, you will want an apprentice to assist you. Do you know anyone who would serve you in this capacity and would respect the art so as not to bring danger to you?"

"Yes I believe a friend of mine, Joseph, would make a fine apprentice. When I am comfortable and competent with these elements I will engage him."

"Joseph is a fine person and not being worldly he will undoubtedly give this his full attention. I approve your choice Daedalus. You need not wait until you have completed your training to bring him into your confidence. He can benefit early on if you truly believe he will join you in this occupation."

"I do believe he will want to learn and assist so I will ask him to accompany me soon but for the present I would like to begin to learn from you now."

This was easier than Daedalus thought it would be but he would have to be sure of Joseph before bringing him on as his apprentice. It might be better to have him do the fetching and delivering of items Daedalus would need to accomplish his mission. That mission being, Joseph and Camilla thought, learning the art of magic.

Joseph carried out his services to Daedalus with great care knowing the seriousness of handling these objects and elements. One must be careful not to accidentally slip or drop these earthen treasures and fragile vials. He tried to keep out of sight of Camilla whenever possible because lately he had begun to think more and more of her and if she ever became wise to his preoccupation with her she would no doubt shun him and then his existence would be unbearable.

For Camilla?s part this new interest was just what she needed to preoccupy her own mind and she found she had less time to dwell on her own pitiable life. Having these two men come to her home and learn from her something she had always had a passion for was exhilarating and she began to form a fondness for Joseph. Camilla was already quite fond of her Primogen but she did not know Joseph as well and this time they spent together seemed to fill a void in her life. She did not really think about it but Daedalus did and he involved Joseph as much as possible to keep the growing friendship they both seemed to be developing alive and interesting.

"Joseph, I need something from you today. I was planning to learn the next step to building the components needed for the project we have been working on with Camilla but Julian has called me away on urgent business so I must ask you to fill in for me."

Joseph was ready to object, knowing he did not want to be alone with Camilla but Daedalus stopped him saying there was nothing else to be done because Julian?s business could not wait and the experiment they were working on could not wait either. He needed Joseph to complete the next step as Camilla showed them yesterday and then Joseph would be able to explain it to him later that evening. He was sorry to have to ask this of Joseph but there was nothing else to be done about it. That was that.

This was going to be a real test for Joseph but he would do his best for Daedalus. This was his Primogen requesting his help and in the service of his Prince, or so he thought, so he found his way to Camilla who was already waiting for his arrival.

Daedalus had stopped by her home earlier and informed her that she and Joseph would have to work together on this because his absence was beyond his control. He assured her he would never leave today if it were not absolutely necessary and if his Prince did not require it. She understood and told him that Joseph could handle it. After watching him these last couple of weeks she saw that he was the kind of man who paid close attention to detail and it was obvious that he was the type of person who would do his best in any situation. A very important quality in an apprentice so she was happy to teach him and he would be able to pass his knowledge on to Daedalus upon his return.

Daedalus suspected that Joseph avoided Camilla?s company whenever possible because of his growing interest in her, but he also felt this would be overcome if the two had time to work together and see that they were already forming a bond with each other.

"Good day Joseph! Please come in. No need to stand on ceremony here." Camilla spoke to him as he hesitated outside her door this evening trying to find the courage to enter and yet failing to master the art of putting one foot in front of the other.

"Uh, Hello Camilla."

"Daedalus informs me that you and I will be completing the next phase of our experiment. This will not take too long and because you already know the elements we are working with I see no reason that you can not complete the portion of our work for the day. So if you have no objection I think it would be best to get started soon, but first allow me to share some refreshment with you."

"Thank you for your kind offering." Joseph said with downcast eyes. He really was humbled in Camilla?s presence but more than that, he was coming to appreciate her gentle nature and kind ways. She was not arrogant over her abilities with the alchemy nor did she seem to find him disagreeable. He still felt unworthy of any feeling she could have for him but this kindness she showed him gave him the faintest ray of hope. Hope he would never have the courage to act on if not for a moment later that night when they finally completed the work they set out to do in Daedalus? absence.

They worked often quietly and together, elbow to elbow, shoulder to shoulder. Although they worked so closely they seldom touched, but the few times it happened there was an uncomfortable heavy silence that passed between them. Joseph tried not to let it disturb him but once he almost dropped a handful of herbs she passed to him. It was not a monumental mistake and he did recover the few that landed on the floor, but this was the reason he wished fervently not to be alone with Camilla. He felt so clumsy in the presence of someone who was so masterful and natural at handling these things.

"It is alright Joseph. No harm was done." Was all she said patiently, helping him pick up the herbs and then allowing him to place them in the receptacle reserved for storing them. He did not speak, as if he could, but he was grateful again for her kindness. If he could just finish this day?s work and not make more mistakes he would be a happy man.

They worked for a couple of hours and then she served a bit of food, a small amount but sufficient to keep him going until they finally finished. When they completed this phase it was time to leave but she asked him to stay and visit with her for a while.

"Joseph, this time we?ve worked together has given me time to reflect on some things I had shared with Daedalus a couple of weeks ago. I doubt he told you of my plan and I even promised I would not share my plan with anyone for a little while, but we have come to know each other better and I do consider you my friend too now so I see no reason to keep it from you. The reason I am teaching Daedalus this ancient art is because I have been planning to take my leave of San Francisco and travel far in search of what has seemed to be out of my reach."

Joseph gave a little start and almost knocked his cup off his saucer at the news that Camilla was planning to leave. Why had he been drawn into this situation to lose his heart and now to find out it was all for nothing! "I, I did not know." It was all Joseph could say. He was stunned.

"I say I was planning to leave but--Joseph? Are you all right? You seem preoccupied."

"No, I am listening. I am sorry to give the impression that I am not interested in what you have to say. It is just so sudden!" Now he began to flush again. Why did he have to do this now? And in front of Camilla of all people? He stood to make his escape when she stepped in his path. There was a new look in Camilla?s eyes. All evening she had been sensing something more than Joseph?s friendship and now it intrigued her so that she stopped him from leaving.

Joseph was about the same height as Camilla and when she stepped directly in his path he was almost eye to eye with her. He took a deep breath from a chest that was almost heaving and let it out uncontrolled, as though he was about to expire. He had never felt such intensity before and it was alarming to him. To Camilla it was something she had seen before and it aroused her compassion for Joseph as well as her own emerging feelings for him.

"Please Joseph, do not leave this way."

She put her hand gently on his arm and the moment overcame him. Joseph felt as though he would pass out and indeed his knees were wobbling so that he reached for the nearest piece of furniture to steady himself. It was the table they were working on and it overturned from the force of his weight.

"Oh no, I am so sorry my darl--" Joseph?s eyes rolled Heavenward as he realized what he had just said. What could have possessed him to call her that? Now he really must flee her home and her presence. She must surely loathe him for taking such a liberty.

"It is alright Joseph. It was only an experiment. We can redo it later." She looked directly at him but he would not return her look. He was too ashamed.

She put her hand under his chin and made him look at her. What he saw was not a rebuke or disdain, but again kindness and a gentleness that he now could not turn away from. Locked in her gaze, Joseph submitted to her kiss.

At first the kiss was sweet and comforting, but it slowly became more passionate and was the kiss he had dreamed about. He had never kissed a woman before other than his mother over a hundred years ago and certainly not like this, but it was so natural because the woman now was the one he had imagined kissing and holding and making love to.

They did not consummate their love but the feeling that they had was in their hearts and was seen in their eyes as Daedalus returned at an unexpected hour. He did not mean to interrupt them but as he knocked he heard the impassioned sound of two people who were finding each other for the first time, when they finally let their desire speak to each other in a frenzied way.

"I apologize for returning at this late hour but I thought you would be gone by now Joseph and I wanted to catch up with Camilla." Daedalus acted as though he had heard nothing when he knocked. He hoped he was convincing.

"Camilla and I worked on the experiment and then shared some refreshments and talked a little." Joseph somehow found the courage to speak to Daedalus as though nothing had happened. "It is perhaps time to be taking my leave and let you get your sleep Camilla."

Daedalus and Joseph were about to leave when the overturned table came into view. It was suddenly impossible to hide the truth from him now and Joseph feared that his friend would be angry thinking that he had taken advantage of Camilla and done something dishonorable.

"I, we, . . ." Joseph was at a loss for words when Camilla spoke up.

"Joseph was about to leave when he stood up too quickly and lost his equilibrium and knocked the table over. It is nothing important. We will reconstruct our work. That is all."

It sounded so innocent and it was sort of the truth but would Daedalus buy it? She wasn?t sure and while she did not want to lie to him, she did not want to divulge what had really happened. Not yet and certainly not in detail. Like Daedalus, she was a private person and had her dignity.

Daedalus remembered his discomfort a couple of weeks ago when Julian put him on the spot and did not want to visit the same on Joseph and Camilla so he just shrugged and said he would be glad to help them with it again tomorrow. He was thinking the ruined experiment was a small price to pay for the results he hoped he had achieved, bringing these two together.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Time truly does heal all wounds, at least the wounds suffered by Camilla and now she found more than comfort, she found real love. Perhaps it was real love for the very first time. Yes she was Goth?s mate for an extremely long time and she found much gratification in supporting his efforts as they made their way in the world. It was the wrong way but she was there for him at every turn and now she was going to be mated to a totally different kind of man.

Joseph was everything Goth was not. The differences were striking though he felt inferior somehow because Goth was mighty and he commanded respect, or was it fear he inspired? Whatever the case, Camilla followed him faithfully and now she was ready to go a different path with a more worthy man, Joseph.

Camilla wasn?t exactly sure about Daedalus? involvement in bringing she and Joseph together but she had an idea that would help her find out. This time it was her turn to pay a visit. She chose the more innocent of her friends to test this out on.

"My dear I hope you are well and that Daedalus is treating you like the treasure you are."

"He is the same today as he was the day we first met and we could not be happier." Elaine confided to Camilla. "I understand there is a new connection in the clan." She teased Camilla a little.

Camilla put her arms around Elaine and squeezed her a little and said how happy she and Joseph are. "It has been a very long time since I have found this kind of happiness and I know I have all of you to thank for this. You knew of my pain and no doubt you all put your heads together to find me the perfect mate, someone who would ease my loneliness, someone dear like Joseph." She gave Elaine a broad smile that made her believe she knew this to be a fact.

"Oh Camilla, I hope you weren?t upset with us for interfering but we just couldn?t let you walk away from us. You are so important to us and after all your sacrifices and gifts, we felt you were leaving because you found it so hard to be around us. Hard because we four are so in love and it must have been difficult to be around us."

"What is this? A bit of trickery used against me in my own home and using my own wife?" Came a dead serious voice from out of the shadows. It was so unexpected that Elaine jumped when she heard his voice. Then when he looked most serious she caught a glimpse of amusement in his eyes.

"Dear one, you are too young and innocent to know the cunning of this ancient woman who has drawn you in and made you tell all of our plan." Elaine?s eyes suddenly widened and she covered her mouth knowing she had just confirmed that Daedalus had set them up.

"It is alright child. I was fairly certain of it but he would never say. I suppose it was not fair to approach you about it but I only wanted to know who to thank for bringing Joseph and I together." Camilla stood to face Daedalus as he approached her and said, with a false irritation in her voice, she would never have thought he was the type to interfere. They looked into each other?s eyes a moment and then a warmth in her heart for him gave her away as she took his hand and kissed it.

Daedalus knew this feeling and yet it never failed to overwhelm him the way it did Julian. With a lump forming in his throat he would not attempt to speak but the love in his eyes for Camilla was fairly obvious.

The moment passed and he was able to compose himself. "We four would have moved Heaven and Earth to keep you with us Camilla. Though I am your Primogen you have always been like my own Mother and you know how Elaine loves you so."

Elaine came to Camilla and put her arms around her and her head on Camilla?s shoulder. "It is my fondest wish that you remain among us dear sister so please accept our plea to not leave us." A tear was on the verge and Camilla smiled at her newest friend and said that same Heaven and Earth could not take her from them now and that she and Joseph were going to live in her home. She paused a second and then corrected herself. "We will live in our home." This with a gentle, grateful smile.

The seeds were planted by two people and watered by two others. The result exactly what was hoped for as when a gardener plants and the rains fall to produce the perfect flower. It brings the gardener great satisfaction to produce the perfect flower and it was this way with the four friends who planted the seed, watered it and nurtured it until it blossomed into a real beauty.

The lonely woman, who pined and almost faded from what could have been, found the love and loyalty that would last a lifetime. With the help of true friends and the patience and devotion of a new mate Camilla would never again look back with regret. Love found a way to keep her in the lives of those who loved her most.