Chapter 9 ~ Living and Learning

/I trust you to keep that matter under control. If anything dangerous happens, let me know immediately. Remember, I am never far away, lilla dotter./

Godric lay in his bed and thought. His left arm between his head and pillow, he stared at his message to Pamela.

'What by the gods is going on there,' he wondered.

But whatever it was, there was nothing he could do about it at the moment. What he could do, however, was something else. And so he closed the message function and scrolled through his contacts instead. This was a matter that would definitely not tolerate any delay. He pressed the call button as soon as the name he was looking for appeared.

It took a full five seconds before the corresponding click sounded.



"To what do I owe the pleasure of your call so shortly before sunrise, Sheriff?"

"No pleasure, I'm afraid, Magister. It has come to my attention today that Madam Leclerq is conducting illegal business in vampire blood. What's more, she is forcing one of her sheriffs to help her with it, so that if she is discovered, she can get out of it by absolving herself of all blame."

For a moment the line was as quiet as the rest of Godric's nest at this time of the day.

"These are serious accusations. From what source are you getting your information?"

"Do not think me foolish enough to tell you. Every sheriff in Louisiana is worth twice as much as their queen. You are well aware that I am on good terms with every one of them, and therefore, anyone would come to me with such a serious matter."

"Well then, I trust your word and will investigate the matter."

"Do so. And know that I have pledged my full support to the sheriff involved."

"Noted. A pleasant day's rest I wish for you."

"Likewise, Magister," Godric spoke, ending the call.

With a sigh, he closed his eyes. As if he didn't have enough work piled up on his desk. This hate preacher, vampires who still didn't want to abide by the new policy, hardly any capable people in his immediate entourage to whom he could hand over important tasks, Ava... And now this new despicable crime from this spoiled childish queen which endangered his Eric! Just thinking about it gave him a headache. But at this moment he couldn't do anything else in this fading night.

Feeling the warmth in his room slowly rising with the awakening sun outside, he focused his senses on the one in sleep slow-beating heart in the mansion and let himself slip into the calm of the day.

He woke up with a headache and he hated it. Granted, it hadn't been as bad in the last three days as it had been in the days and weeks before, but the very fact that he got them at all for quite a while now worried him. Because normally, vampires didn't get such ailments. Slowly, he sat up and ran his hand over his face. But this gesture was not able to dispel the tiredness. Keeping his mind quiet, he stood up and resigned himself to his fate for another night. Even Dr. Ludwig, whom he had secretly asked for advice two weeks ago, had not been able to help him. Instead, she had laughed and simply thrown at him that he should work less. As if he didn't know that! She was lucky that he was no longer the same as in his vampiric childhood days - he would have literally torn her head off for this impudence. What a shame that would have been for the good doctor, especially since the blood of her kind was not really palatable...

A knock at his door interrupted his surprisingly bloody thoughts. With a low groan, he called himself to order and pulled on undergarments and a pair of pants on his way to the door.

Godric was not surprised when he unlocked the door and saw Ava standing in front of him. Nevertheless, as he did every evening, he frowned and sighed in mock annoyance.

"There's no need for you to be here, child. How many times do I have to tell you?"

"Understood, Godric. Nevertheless, I have your evening drink and schedule here," she replied cheerfully. "I also already have all the requests and letters, faxes and mails received organized by urgency and ready for you."

With a smile, she held out the drinking cup in her right hand and the folder with the documents in her left.

Shaking his head, he took the cup and held the door open a little wider to invite her in. Closing the door behind her, he went into his adjoining room and sat down cross-legged on the big fur rug from the animal that Eric had once captured just for him. Lost in thought, he let his free hand brush over it while sipping the still warm blood. When the delicate and familiar aroma exploded on his tongue, he frowned. His hand paused stroking the soft fibers of the fur, and without looking at her through the door, he abruptly focused his senses on Ava's pulse. And indeed, the altered taste of the donor's blood could be no coincidence with her heart beating this unusually fast in her chest.

"Ava, come here, child. Keep me company," he called into the other room before setting the cup down in front of him.

"Of course," came her reply, and with soft footsteps, he heard her step closer and settle on the floor beside the fur. "Would you like to look over the correspondence now?"

With a fluid motion, he turned his body so that he could look directly at her. "Isabel has done a good job of fitting you in, although it was never my wish that you become her secretary, or even mine, Ava."

"I know that, Godric," she spoke softly, nodding. "Rather, it was my wish. I enjoy it, and frankly, I learn so much more about the supernatural community by skimming the correspondence than I would if I spent hours reading about it in the ixt-ish book and gathering old information. This," her eyes gleamed, holding up the folder, "is current. What's happening around us right now. But, of course, I don't neglect my study of the other subjects. But this way I can support Isabel and also you. And that is important to me. Please let me continue to help. Especially now that Isabel has been called away for that king's project and won't be back until late tomorrow night."

"Tell me, Ava, how long have you been here in my house now?"

According to her surprised look, she had not expected this question. But he could see her thinking about it.

"Since I woke up... 5 weeks, 2 days and 22 and a half hours have passed," she answered and Godric could hear her pride and see it in her smile. And yes, that she was good with numbers, he had already noticed several times. But still, he had to put a stop to her actions and therefore banished his own smile and continued the conversation as sheriff.

"As grateful as I am for your help, Ava, I can no longer allow it. If I did, you would be encouraged to expand your activities and all vampires coming and going would inevitably take notice. Then you would be held accountable as a full-fledged member of my sheriff's entourage and would have to abide by the appropriate laws. I would have no power to protect you from our laws and that is what I am still trying to do. You have to understand that you are not ready yet."

Sighing, he put the folder aside and looked into her eyes.

"And most especially, I don't want you to mix your own blood with the others ever again. Why did you do that?"

He saw how she swallowed. Felt through their meanwhile very thin stretched bond, that a strong nervousness gnawed at her. But there was nothing but determination in her eyes.

"Is your headache gone, Godric?"

Frowning, he focused on himself for a moment and noticed that it had indeed subsided. Surprised at the lessening intensity, he muttered a soft "Ha" as his body lost a bit of its tension.

"I wanted to test something, and apparently, I was right to do so. I found an old text describing that fairy blood can have a healing effect, depending on whether the blood was given willingly. It wasn't much and don't worry, I wouldn't do something like that to any other vampire. Except Isabel maybe..." She muttered the last words and Godric noticed that the tension had taken possession of him again. "But you're not like any other vampire for me. And it has nothing to do with your blood, with which you saved my life," she added quickly, when he took a breath to bring that very objection. "In the last few weeks I've read countless texts and writings and in none I ever found a word about vampires having physical infirmities like humans. This isn't normal and I'm worried about you! And yes, you can deny me doing any organizational work for you or Isabel after nightfall, but that won't stop me from doing my best to support you during the day."


"I'm not done yet, Godric," she interrupted him energetically, having talked herself more and more into a frenzy.

With a raised eyebrow, he returned her gaze, feeling amusement and anger fighting for dominance within him.

"You and Isabel were the first in my life who not only paid attention to me after my mother died, but really helped me. I'm so, so immensely grateful to you for that, Godric, that I can't really put it into words. Not only did you get me off the streets, but you gave me the opportunity to build a good life for myself in this society that I would have never gotten into otherwise because of who I am and what I had. Now I'm doing well, very well in fact, and I see no reason not to help others as well. And if I can start with you, that makes me happy."

He shouldn't have looked her in the eye. Those ice blues reminded Godric too much of Eric, whom he could not refuse anything when he looked at him with that gaze. Maybe Stan was right and he was really getting soft in his old age.

But was that really a bad thing? Just by the way he fulfilled the work of this sheriff's post, he had managed in recent years not only to make peace with the local werewolf packs, but also to get the demons to cooperate on a friendly basis. And no vampire before him had ever managed to do that.

Lost in thought, he turned his hand upward and felt Ava place hers in his. Could he really believe her words that she would only be so trusting toward him and Isabel? In the past few weeks, she had made tremendous progress in everything they had put in front of her. She literally absorbed knowledge like a sponge absorbs water...

With her theoretical knowledge and practical skills, she was ready to be released into the human world, if that was what she wanted. Faster than he could have imagined five weeks ago.

But when Isabel had asked her that very question a few days ago, his undead heart had contracted painfully before she had laughed softly and said she had no interest in living a human life. And that she still knew too little of the supernatural world to be fully integrated into it.

How right she was.

But was it selfish of him to be glad that she did not want to leave? Had he already become too accustomed to her? To her light steps, her quick-to-impress heartbeat, which set a tune he liked to hum to? To her songs, that greeted every sunrise with the sounds of her guitar and lulled him into his day death? Of her fine scent which by now he could no longer get out of his nose and forced him to drink regularly since he did not want to run the risk of eventually pouncing on the girl himself with hunger.

Sighing, he ran his fingertips over her skin, feeling the gentle magic that lay dormant within her. A magic that he, that any vampire, could brutally extinguish in an instant. She was too young. Too inexperienced. But she was also a strong and free personality that he could not, and would not, command or imprison.

"I am not going to tell you to stop what you are doing," he finally said as his thoughts slowly formed into a plan. "But if you really want to continue with this, really want to be part of my entourage, then I will give you a different training from now on."

"Whatever you have for me, Godric!" Ava agreed immediately, her eyes gleaming with excitement.

Slowly, he put her hand on her knee and looked at her seriously. "In two nights I will take you to someone who will teach you to fight. With and without weapons."

"A vampire?"


"What behavior will you expect from me?"

"I will introduce you as who you are. No secrets. The vampire has my absolute trust."

Her eyes grew wide, but when she opened her mouth, Godric quickly shook his head. "Do not speak it. Not even to Isabel. She will draw her own conclusions. But no one else shall know where you will be. I will tell you everything else on the flight to him. For now, I recommend that you go swimming."


"Everything you have acquired so far is fine, Ava. But if you really want to go through with it, you cannot be afraid to confront what is inside you. I am ready," he promised her softly and meant it. "Trust me when I tell you that I'm going to fish you out as whatever you come swimming up as."

"A fish joke, really?" Grinning, she shook her head, then sighed. "What… What if my instincts go back to me behaving like..."

"Little one, I think by now we have developed such a deeply felt father-daughter relationship that something like that won't happen again. And if you should go after Stan instead, I can assure you that I will definitely prevent that. But don't you dare tell anyone." Briefly, he let the corners of his mouth turn upward before becoming serious again. "Especially not to your new teacher…"

"I never had any siblings, but thanks to the journals you entrusted me with, I have an idea of what your relationship to him is like. Don't worry, Godric. I will act as your protégé, not as your daughter. He will have no reason to be jealous."

"Good, now go." Sighing, he took what she had prepared for him. "Be glad that water awaits you, and not a packed folder."

"If you say so." With a wink she got up and left his little private retreat.

"Perhaps in return for him showing you his skills you could teach him how to do office work effectively. He hasn't managed to learn that in his many years nearly as well as you have in a few weeks..." he slipped another quiet sentence in before she left his room to show her how proud he actually was of her.

For a moment she paused and he felt a warm feeling welling up inside her as she looked back at him with a soft smile. And when silence fell around him again and he let his fingertips brush over the light fur once more, Godric knew he had to get Eric to teach her every fighting skill he somehow knew. For true death shall come to him if he allowed her to stumble around unprepared in his world and become a victim of his kind!