Author's Note- Wow. I can't believe I'm finishing my second novel length story! Thank you so much to everyone who's been reading! Hope you've enjoyed it!
My final words were like breaking a spell. Elsandra, who had been sitting stone still up until then, intent on my story, suddenly fidgeted, moving her weight to a more comfortable position. "That's it?" she asked, frowning, in blatant disappointment. I chuckled, amused by her childish response. It was clear that she had been expecting some sort of show stopping end to my tale. I could only assume she had somehow forgotten that my story was one of real life, not fiction. Real life never had a neat, well-planned ending, especially when the story was not finished. After all, I was still alive… in a manner of speaking.
I nodded calmly. "I told you all there is to my life as of now, so yes. That's it."
"But what about the mess with Camilia and Nicolas?" For an instant I had a glimpse of now not a child, but the seventeen-year-old girl I had met ten years ago—the girl who demanded to know everything, no matter the circumstances or whether she knew it already. She just wanted it. It was a refreshing change after all the etiquette I went through for the Round on a daily basis. Even so, I wasn't about to reiterate things that she had experienced first hand.
"You know everything that happened there," I reminded her. "You lived through it—more than I did in fact. The majority of the information I have came from Nicolas, who got it from you."
"No," Elsandra gave a sigh of frustration. Apparently I hadn't understood her meaning correctly. I watched her patiently, waiting for her to explain. "What were you doing when I was fighting Camilia? Did you know what was happening?"
Ah, so that was what she had meant. I supposed that was part of the story I had left out… Not an important part though. "I was back here through your whole adventure, writing up the paperwork I needed to expel Camilia from the Round. As for whether or not I knew what was going on, I was aware that Nicolas was bringing you back to London, but besides that, I was ignorant of what was taking place until he came to announce Camilia's death."
This seemed to satisfy her curiosity because the room slipped into a comfortable silence. As Elsandra closed her eyes, processing the information I had given her, I let my eyes drop back down to the sheet music I had abandoned on the cushion next to me earlier in the evening. The top page had one of my own compositions scrawled across it, written decades earlier. Perhaps I would play it sometime later. It was always nice to revisit old work.
"So, you and my uncle knew each other,"
Returning my attention to Elsandra, I nodded. "I would say so. By the time you were born however, I wasn't visiting that often. The Establishment and the Round had come to an… understanding for lack of better words. If I came to visit, it was for social reasons, rarely business… Helping your uncle track down your parents' killers was the last thing I did for him. After that it was truly just the occasional social visit. No one wanted to mess with the Establishment… or the Round either. I don't mean to say that your parents' deaths were for a good cause, but that last battle did bring about a time of piece for everyone."
She nodded in agreement, old enough now to understand the wisdom in my words. She also was old enough to tactfully move a conversation away from an uncomfortable subject.
"So you visited the Establishment while I was growing up there?"
"Indeed, but only two or three times." I smiled at one particularly vivid memory. "I even met you once, you know?"
Elsandra's eyes widened. "Never! You did?"
I laughed. "It was a very long time ago now. You must have been three or four then. It was just after dusk and we had just sat down to our conversation when you came bursting into the office, complaining about how your nursemaid wanted to put you to bed early. I found it quite charming although Borieal hurried you off rather quickly. I don't think he wanted you to be in contact with any vampires, even one as harmless as me,"
"Harmless," she snorted, but I could see a heavy blush on her cheeks. My story had embarrassed her. I hid a smile behind my hand.
"You're right," I said, laughing. "Harmless most likely is not the right word to describe myself with. But I'm sure you understand what I meant."
Elsandra nodded reluctantly, although her blush remained. "Yes, I did."
"Good, now is there anything else you'd like to know while you're here? I believe that you were stalling your return to the Establishment with any means possible?"
A smile broke out over her face. "Yes, I most definitely am." She paused for a moment, thinking. When she spoke up again her words were reluctant, almost timid. "Did you know my parents?" She watched me hopefully, but her expression fell as I shook my head.
"No, I'm afraid I did not. Borieal might have been friendly towards me, but he made sure to keep the people he held dear away when I came to visit. He didn't talk about them much either. I might have been a powerful ally, but you must understand he saw me as an even more powerful enemy. He believed that if he ever did anything to anger me, I would come after his weaknesses with a vengeance." I frowned at the thought. While I understood Borieal's cautiousness, going after someone's loved ones was something I would never do. It was cruel.
"So, will you be my ally too then?"
The question pulled me out of my dark thoughts. "Excuse me?"
"I you're such a powerful enemy, then I'd rather have you as my ally," Elsandra explained, a tinge of her usual impatience coloring her voice. "It sounds to me as if whatever you and Uncle Borieal had were doing was working well. As the new head of the Establishment, it's my duty to make sure everything runs smoothly. Therefore it would be in my best interest to make sure we stay friendly with the Round. So, can we renew the treaty between the Establishment and the Round and stay allies?"
I smiled. "Of course, it would be my honor to renew the treaty? Besides, it was never official. It was more like… an agreement between two friends. I always enjoyed my visits with your uncle and I believe it's safe to say he enjoyed seeing me."
"Then you should come visit me," she replied firmly. "I certainly wouldn't be upset to have the company. And you better show up more than two or three times in seventeen years. Truthfully, I don't think that would be acceptable at all."
"I think I can manage coming a little more often than that," I promised. We smiled at each other as the room slipped into a comfortable silence. It was good to see Elsandra again after all this time. I wondered why I hadn't come to see her the moment she had taken over for her uncle. I hadn't even sent condolence message. I inwardly sighed. I had assumed Elsandra's past with the Round already would continue the treaty without me having to do any sort of work to maintain it. Sure, it might have worked with her, but what about her successor? It was better now that I had told her of my communications with her uncle.
Elsandra sighed. "As much as I hate to admit it, I really should be returning home. Mark will know not to worry, but I'm sure other people will, especially the lower level Slayers who are in charge of my schedule and such. It's just what they do." She laughed tiredly, shaking her head. "But it's been good to see you, really."
"And it's been wonderful to see you as well. Your visit was a pleasant surprise."
We stood up, heading toward the door. "Come visit me when I have my baby. I want you to meet her… or him," she added. "Come and meet Nicolas and Aden. Mark too. I'm sure the boys would be thrilled to meet you. I've told them stories about you,"
"You have?" The news surprised me. Borieal had raised Elsandra without even a mention of me or the Round, but she had no problems telling her own children about us. Could that be the beginning of a new era between vampires and humans?
"Well," Elsandra laughed. "Perhaps not stories. But they love to hear how I met the Elder of the vampire Round. My adventure with Nicolas and Camilia is their favorite story. But now I can tell them all about you as well… if that's alright with you?" The hopeful look returned to her face. Clearly she was dying to pass on my story to someone and who better than her sons?
I nodded, smiling. "It's more than fine with me,"
She smiled back. "Wonderful," She reached out and grasped my hand in hers. "Will you promise to visit soon?"
"I'll see you then," With a final nod, she let go of my hand and left.
I stood there for a while, thinking about the visit that had just taken place. It was clear that I had accomplished something by telling Elsandra my story. Although I doubted that vampires and humans would ever be able to fully live together in peace, perhaps the banding together of the Establishment and Round would improve some relations between the two. And if Elsandra would share my story, even just with her sons, maybe a few more people would understand that just because my race drank blood, it did not make them all monsters. But I could only hope.
Giving a sigh of my own, I turned back to the couch and collected my sheet music. Placing it on top of the already present piles on the piano, I made my way over to the door that went further into my apartments and paused as I opened it. A small smile crept over my face as I continued my journey through my rooms and finally to my bedroom.
Daren looked up from the book he had been reading and gave me the most innocent smile he could manage. "Only by a few years,"
I scowled, leaning against the doorframe. "I wouldn't call five years 'only by a few.' I thought something happened!"
"Isabelle," He chuckled and closed the book, standing up. "You know that nothing could ever happen to me. You're always worrying for nothing." It only took him a moment to close the space between us.
His words did nothing to lesson my glare. "I've got every right to worry when you say you'll be home within a decade and then you're half a decade late! What were you doing in all that time?
Daren shrugged as he slipped his arms around my waist. "Exploring, having a good time, seeing the world. Just the usual. Was that a human you were just entertaining in that sitting room of yours?" He looked down at me inquiringly. The expression wasn't disapproving or judgmental, just curious. He had always been open-minded when it came to just about everything.
"You'd know who she is and why she was here if you had come home on time,"
He sighed. "I know, and I'm sorry, now who was she?"
"Elsandra Enderson, Borieal's successor. He passed away a few years ago. And she's the one who killed Camilia."
"Is she now?"
"Yes, she is. She named her first son after Nicolas, Daren! Do you know what her openness to our kind could mean for us? Imagine! The head of the Establishment friends with vampires! She wants me to visit her and meet her family! This could be the dawn of a new era! It could mean peace! It could—"
He cut me off with a long, deep kiss that left me breathless. "Isabelle?" He let his lips brush over mine as he voiced my name.
"Yes?" The word came out as a gasp. I hadn't been expecting such a kiss at that moment at all. And oh, how his touch made my skin tingle with anticipation! I unconsciously leaned forward, craving more of his attention. It had been far too long…
"Aren't you glad to have me home?" Once again, his lips just barely brushed mine. I stifled a moan as he tightened his hold on my waist, pulling me even closer to him. I gazed up into his beautiful blue eyes.
"Then kiss me now and tell me all about your visit later,"
I laughed as he pulled me towards the bed.
Author's Note- And that's a rap! Thank you to everyone who's reviewed throughout the whole story!
Hime- Yeah, Borieal is definitely BA. I love him.
vballgurl- Haha, yeah, you should have heard all the jokes about the Establishment being established that I was cracking to myself as I wrote the chapter... it was kind of pathetic. Haha...