I never had a sister, just my brother, Gilbert, but I often feel that Aoibheann has become the sister I never had. I know I will never replace the brother she lost so long ago, back across the river, but I would hope, if she would but realise it, to be the next best thing. And now I fear for her, as I have done on so many occasions. I fear that she may be about to do something foolish. That, in itself, is not unusual. I am sure I have written those words before, but this time, it strikes a little too close to home.
Please meet me at the bench by under the rose gazybow.
P.S It’s important. You can bring Gwyn if you have to.
It was just a little note, asking me to meet her in the gazebo behind the castle. It was by no means the first time she has left me a note, but this one amused and intrigued me, as it smacked of secret assignations. Indeed, when I made my way to the gazebo and found her there, I greeted her in the manner of an amorous swain. I don’t know why, maybe for my own amusement, because it went totally over her head. I suppose I should have expected that. I somehow doubt that her life, or her limited exposure to literature, has ever included any romantic clichés like secret meetings between lovers in the bower. She clearly had something on her mind, since she checked that nobody was in earshot, and then asked me to tell her about vampires.
I was a little surprised; since it is a subject she usually avoids with me, but asked her what she wanted to know anyway. She looked embarrassed and then asked why anybody would want a vampire to drink their blood. I wasn’t entirely sure how to describe it to her, since the only time I have been fed on was when I was turned, which wasn’t exactly among the most pleasurable experiences of my life. I wasn’t quite sure how to describe the sensual experience to Aoibheann, so asked if she had ever been properly kissed, in a way that made her feel warm and tingly all over. It was a little like that, I said, a very pleasurable experience, adding that those that I fed from usually came back, wanting me to do it again.
She blushed, saying that it wasn’t the sort of question to ask a lady, but I suspect that she had been so kissed. She then moved on to what I suspect was her real question – what happens when a human drinks a vampire’s blood. I reminded her of the time when she bit me in the hospital and accidently ingested some of my blood. I explained how it exaggerates the emotions towards the vampire, and how, if you drank three times, you were bound to that vampire. I told her of the benefits, and of the cost – i.e. the binding. She asked if that was any three times, or did it have to be within a time-frame. I told her what little I knew of the process, and how there was a time-limit outside of which the process was ineffective. I also told her what I knew of how vampires use those who are bound to them. I then had to ask the big question – why did she want to know?
It was Maric, she told me. He had offered to let her drink from him so that he would be able to tell where she was at all times, and her state of health. That way, he would be better able to protect her, and she could leave the village more often because he would always know where she was. I was greatly concerned by this, thinking that perhaps he had not told her the full story of what drinking his blood would entail. I kept my concerns to myself though, as I did not wish to alarm her. I thanked her for confiding in me, which I guessed had not been an easy thing to do. Not that she has a huge choice in vampires she could ask. I said that I could not necessarily comment on Maric’s offer, as what might be true for me may not be true for him. It was a roundabout way of trying to find out if she knew he was a vampire, so that I would not be the one to reveal that fact. Apparently, he had told her, and had told her something of his past and his great age. I did learn that he had told her that he only drank from the willing, so at least we have something in common. She then also tried to describe one of his powers. After getting me to stand up and then sit down again, I realised she was talking about the power to command. A power that I suspected he had, somewhat akin to my power to impress people.
Given how I had seen Maric behave around attractive women, I asked if he had ever behaved inappropriately towards her. She greatly relieved my mind by saying he had always behaved like a gentleman and asked if vampires behaved otherwise. I told her that seduction was often a technique that we used to get close enough to somebody to feed from them. Aoibheann’s peculiar logic kicked in then as she asked why vampires should bother to seduce people since they can’t make babies. I briefly debated trying to educate her some more in the matter of sexual activity being a pleasure in its own right rather than just a means of making babies and decided against it. I told her instead that it was something people enjoyed doing together because they love each other.
She switched topics again, bemoaning how difficult it was for her being surrounded by non-humans, and how hard it was for to fit in with those and the humans as well. That much I understood. I argued that we were not so different. I was human for 32 years, and many of my thoughts, motivations and desires were no different from a normal human. I asked her to try thinking of me as a human with a specialised diet. And Gwyn, I told her, had been raised for most of her life as a human, so she was not very different either. I told her that she did not need to try to fit in, because it did not matter to Gwyn or me whether or not she was a normal human. We loved her anyway, she was family to us.
That seemed to touch her, but then there was a trace of hurt on her face. “That’s what they called me,” she told me, and then started muttering under her breath, something I could not quite hear until right at the end, when she said that she had loved them but they had just been using her for their own gain. I asked if she meant Alec and Isabella, promising her again, in case she needed to hear it, that I had no such motives. She was struggling to speak, holding back the tears. She whispered that she could not tell me, though she had nodded when I mentioned their names. She said that she believed my assurances, but then broke down and ran off, saying she didn’t want me to see her like this. I tried calling after her that it didn’t matter, but by then she was gone to wherever it is she hides in the village.
I worry for her now. I worry that she is getting herself into a situation that she would not otherwise contemplate for the sake of a feeling of security. Perhaps I am wrong, and things are different with Maric, but I do not know, and I do not know who to ask. I cannot ask him, because I suspect that Aoibheann may have broken a confidence in telling me. Giada might know, but after her experiences of late, I don’t know what her view on Maric is. And there is no body else. I hate to admit it, but there are times when I really miss Brigitte. Now is one of those times.