Somehow I doubt that Wm. Shakespeare had vampire sects in mind when he wrote that, but it seemed appropriate. I had a further conversation with Sophia last night. She came by the tavern while I was standing outside jawing about microwaves and magic with Aoibheann, Mitternacht and Wren. She said she had something to show me, so I suggested we take a walk, which we did, down to the viewing platform above the harbour.
What she showed me was Vyktorya’s last letter to her. There were some mundane details regarding legal provisions for Sophia, but the meat of the letter concerned her wish that Sophia find me and pass on her final message to me.
The main part of the message, that she had remembered what had occurred between us that night in her carriage, I already knew. She also wished me to know that she bore me no ill, and why I had to keep it a secret. She also apologised if she had ever treated me ill, and for speaking ill of me to her kin. She laid the blame for that with McTaggart and the hatred he had fed her and her kin for me and those of my kin.
I find it difficult to describe how I felt on reading this letter. A wild mixture of love and regret is all I can say. A surge of love for the fact that she felt it important enough that her dying wish was to make sure I knew, and regret for what might have been, had not the enmity of our respective kin come between us. That enmity may have been somewhat more ideological than that which divided the Montagues and Capulets, but I still felt kinship with the Bard’s hero and heroine and the way they must have felt.
There was one last element of sadness. The closing paragraphs indicated that these were indeed her last words, for in them, she instructed Sophia to come find her remains in the garden, as she intended to give herself to the fires of the sun, praying that there was enough of her soul left to be saved and forgiven. For all that I have little faith in any religion; I echoed that prayer silently, in the hope that she found peace and salvation. Sophia told me that she and a priest, he unaware of her nature, buried her remains privately. So, perhaps there was a chance.
I felt the burden of my secret easing, but before I could lay it down, I had to tell Sophia, since I could not confess to Vyktorya. I told her briefly how I had become what I am and then I told her what befell when I came to Richmond in search of Katharina. How I had seen a glimpse of red hair and followed the carriage. How I had found that the person I saw was Vyktorya, not Katharina, but had stayed anyway, enchanted by the music. I told her how I had attended several times and then plucked up the courage to introduce myself. And finally, I told her what happened on that fateful carriage ride and asked if she could forgive what I had done.
Sophia was very gracious, granting that forgiveness, even if she thought it unnecessary, and added that she was sure that her mother bore no ill for it either. There was one small confusion though; my tale gave her the impression that I was her mother’s sire, instead of, as she had thought, McTaggart. I told her that this was not so, adding a brief explanation of what I understood to be the manner of the embrace. I also said that I was fairly sure that McTaggart had not been her sire, based on what little I knew of what went on within their circles.
We parted then, with that question unanswered, her to get some more rest and me to remain there on the lookout, contemplating what I had learned. There was much more we needed to discuss, I am sure, but for now I was content to have found peace at last. It was a tragic end for one who, to me, had always been a beautiful soul, but at least now I knew it was over, that enmity and ill-will had been laid aside in the end, and perhaps we could both be at peace. That was a great comfort to me as I sat there, gazing out to sea, long, long into the night.