Sweeter than Heaven

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Sweeter than Heaven

Post  Ashleh on Fri Dec 06, 2013 7:55 am

Sweeter than Heaven

The Ides of March in 842 C.E.

She felt a terrible pain rip through her lower abdomen, she gritted her teeth, feeling sweat drip from her perfect brow; Claudia Tsavaras tilted her head back, “I beg of you, Father, please, let my children be born alive.” She screamed, the prayer was torn from the bottom of her heart for she knew she could not live to hold another stillborn.

She shut her eyes tight, she could feel her Caanon behind her, grasping her shoulders, pressing his comfort against her weary soul, Anathea was beside her, wiping her brow and holding her hand, and her most faithful servant, Ambrosia, acted as midwife as she had done all the times before, “You must push, mistress.” She breathed, “It’s time.” Ambrosia said, looking up at her, “Now.”

Claudia screamed through clenched teeth, pressing her back and hips against the stern wooden birthing stool she sat on, she pushed.

They were two beautiful little girls, born with a thin translucent membrane covering the opposite sides of their faces and screaming for their mother; Claudia held them to her, they had been cleaned and bundled in the softest linens, “They are so beautiful.” She whispered, feeling a warm tear slip down her cheek.

“They’re alive.” He said as he entered the room, a smile had actually graced Lazarus’ lips, he was her beautiful God, her life, her lover, her true husband, “They live.” He whispered, moving to her side as he studied every inch of the children before he blinked, “The girl has the Roman’s eyes.” He said the brief smile slipping from his face as he looked up at Claudia, “She is his.”

Claudia raised her cerulean blue eyes to his, “They were born with cauls, Lazarus, they are mine.” She said, holding them closer to her, “I’ve named them, husband, she is called Octavia and the other is our Melaina.”

Darkness crept into the man’s face, “She cannot stay, Claudia.” Lazarus said, his jaw clenching, “You will give her to her father.” He muttered, “You will do this or there will be no child, do you understand?” he breathed, his words coming out in a near hiss, making fear collapse around her breaking heart.

“Lazarus…” she whispered, her voice a near plea as she looked up at him but she knew if she fought he would make good on his threat and kill her child, she felt her throat tighten and her words died there.

Lazarus stepped back, snapping his fingers for the Roman to enter his wife’s bedchamber, “The girl has your eyes, Corvus.” He muttered, looking away from them, so much loathing darkening his handsome features.

General Valerius Corvus was a handsome man with the stature of a soldier, his thick inky curls hung around his face, and he was dressed in a fine tunic and plated lorica, a deep maroon cape was clasped to his shoulders, he held his bronze Galea in the crook of his arm as he bent to one knee beside Claudia, “My daughter?” he breathed and his violet eyes shown with love as he looked down at Octavia.

Claudia looked on her lover’s kind face, “Her name is Octavia.” She breathed, “You have to take her home with you.” She said softly, “You have to take her now.”

Valerius nodded slowly, “She will be loved and she will be safe.” He promised, putting his helmet down to take his daughter from her, the babe made a little noise, blinking up at her father before her little face became pinched and she began to cry again.

Claudia felt a sudden, deep ache in her chest, “Please, leave.” She whispered, feeling fresh tears fill her gaze as she held her other daughter closer to her.

Valerius Corvus stood with his mourning child and left.

Claudia felt her tears rain down her cheeks as she held her child closer to her, “Are you pleased, husband?” she said, glaring up at Lazarus.

The man moved, he was so sudden, she was unaware of it happening until his fingers were wrapped tightly around her throat, “As your true husband, as your Maker, I forbid you from seeing the girl, you will never hold her Claudia, she will never be yours, do you understand? Your sole purpose will be to mother our child, she is the miracle, not your bastard.” He hissed, squeezing hard before he was gone.

Claudia shuddered a breath, shutting her eyes as her tears came heavily and shifted to her side and held Melaina close to her; the woman lay down and wept.

The journey home was long but General Valerius Corvus felt relieved when he reached the gates of the Corvus land, the babe hung in a sling against his chest and he had ridden slower than he had liked for her safety. His own men pulled the gates open and he trotted his horse inside, within the walls he felt a dreadful calm, something was amiss, he could nearly taste it, “Horatia?” he called, his servant girl came to him as he tucked Octavia tighter to him and swung down from his horse, “What has happened?”

The girl’s face became ashen, “Oh, my Lord, the babe Antonia, has passed, she became ill in the night and was gone two days later.” She breathed, “The mistress has gone mad with grief, she claws at her breasts, she does not sleep, and she refuses to eat.” She said, feeling tears sting her eyes.

Valerius blinked slowly, here he held his bastard girl, and the daughter he bore with his wife was dead, “Where is she?” he muttered.

“She will not leave the nursery, my Lord.” Horatia said softly, wringing her hands together when she caught sight of the babe in his arm, her eyes widened as she looked into the face of her master.

Valerius waved off any explanations he could give and kept the child close to him as he slipped into the house, he made his way up the grand steps towards the bedchambers, soon her pushed the door open to the nursery; his beautiful wife was a wraith of herself, she was gaunt and pale, her eyes swollen and bloodshot from her weeping where she sat at the window; she wore a stola dyed in a deep, unforgiving black, and she had covered her beautiful curls with her palla, “Agrippina.” He whispered, moving towards her slowly, he knelt at her feet, “Look, my darling, I have come home with a child, she will need a mother, she will need you.” He said, “Please look, she is beautiful.”

The woman blinked, turning her face to him, but it was as if she couldn’t see him and his words were mottled, confusing noise in her ears, her eyes were dead, “Make me forget, Valerius.” She whispered, tears slipping down her pale cheeks.

The strong General felt his heart break for her; he reached up to wipe a tear away with the pad of his thumb, he let his violet eyes bare into hers, “Shut your eyes.” He whispered, “When you open them once more, the burden of Antonia’s death will be lifted from your shoulders, you will remember her as Octavia and she will be yours and you will love her.” Valerius said, “Open your eyes.”

Nine Years Later, 851 A.D.

She was a small child, she had Claudia’s chocolate curls and her cerulean blue eyes, she was too still now, she was far too still. It was a deep agony, it never seemed to cease, it burned inside her for days, and it would burn for the rest of her existence. Claudia knelt beside Melaina’s body; the child was dressed in her finest clothes, her curls were placed intricately around her paled face, and she had been bestowed a diadem of interweaving gold and rubies; the woman lifted her hand, her fingers trembled as she traced down the girl’s forehead, over her little noise, and around her lips, tracing the line of the caul she had been born with, “Mine.” She whispered, tears slipping down her cheeks, “You are mine.” She said even though she knew they would come to take her away soon and put her beneath the earth. Claudia shut her eyes for a moment before she crawled onto the cold stone beside her little girl, she curled herself around her, and the woman wept.

Sixteen Years later, 867 A.D.

Claudia wrapped her fingers around his throat, “Where is my daughter?” she said lowly through her clenched teeth as her cold blue eyes darkened like the ocean before a coming storm.

Titus Romulus felt his eyes bulge in his head, “I don’t…I don’t know what you me-mean, my Lady.” He sputtered out.

“Octavia, where is she?” The woman hissed, squeezing tighter for a moment as she glared into his wretched face.

His eyes widened further, “The girl…she is in the tombs, hiding from the Sun.” he choked.

Claudia applied pressure, nearly crushing his windpipe beneath her fingers before she threw him to the floor, “Boys,” she called, glancing over her shoulder as the Valerius’ twins entered the den, “Kill your Maker.” She said before she moved, the tombs beneath Ariccia were dark but darkness had always been a friend to her.

In the pitch black of the tombs she could smell her, “Octavia.” She breathed, she could feel her so close to her, she could her heart beating among the dead; the woman moved again, curling her fingers around the lid of a stone sarcophagus before she shoved, heaving it away easily, “Sweet girl.” She whispered, feeling the twitch beneath her skin as she drew her fingers gently along her arm, “Do not be afraid, I am here.” She said, lifting the young woman from the coffin as if she were still her babe.

She brought Octavia into the moonlight and sat with her, the girl had Valerius’ inky black curls, knotted and unruly around her beautiful and bruised face, she was thin, and Titus had dressed her in ripped garments soiled by the tombs, there were bite marks along both sides of her throat, and dried blood on her inner thighs, marks that might fade from the body but never from the soul, “Oh, my girl.” Claudia whispered, running her fingers over Octavia’s hair.

The young woman’s lids fluttered, “The…sun…will rise soon.” she breathed out, turning her face away from the sky.

Claudia swallowed hard and ran her fingers along her cheek, “Do not fear the sun, Octavia, one day it will be yours.” She said softly, “Let me be your mother in darkness and the moon will be yours too.”

Claudia had braided her hair and dressed her in the finest pleaded tunic of deep burgundy, embroidered with golden thread; Octavia laughed softly, spinning beneath the stars in the night sky, “Are we going to feed?” she breathed, turning to face Claudia and walk backwards, her violet eyes shimmering with excitement and hunger.

“Of course, my darling, we are vampires.” The woman breathed, smiling as she watched the girl, “Do you know how we hunt them?” she muttered, “We draw them to us with our beauty, it is our weapon as women.” She said, tilting her head at her, “You must know, Octavia, no mortal man can hurt you now, you are stronger than them, faster, they are your prey.”

She was allowed a month with her and then it happened one night that she heard the screaming, Claudia woke suddenly, seized by a fear so deep it cut her down to her soul, “Octavia.” She breathed, moving to leave her bed when a hand wrapped her throat and she was pulled back into his chest.

Lazarus buried his nose against her hair, “You brought her here, Claudia.” He breathed, “I forbid you from seeing her, ever, and you still brought her here.”

She swallowed hard, “What are you doing to her?” she whispered, feeling an uncontrollable heat behind her eyes.

“Not I, wife, you are having your guards drag her from our palace, they will tell her of your vanity and let’s not pretend you aren’t vain, Claudia, they will tell her she must be punished because men have called her more beautiful than you.” He said his lips at her ear now, “They will lock her away into a dark coffin and they will chain it down with iron and throw her into the cold sea where she will die.” He hissed.

Claudia shut her eyes for a moment, “And Valerius’ boys, what will you do to them?” she said, her jaw tightening.

“I think you will have them crucified like their father before them.” He replied, tightening his fingers around her throat for a moment.

Claudia swallowed hard again; she felt something breaking deep inside of her and she tore herself away from him, “I don’t love you anymore.” She whispered, reaching up to touch her throat as she turned slowly to face him, “There is no love between us anymore, Lazarus, I do not care if I must spend the rest of my life alone, I will not spend it with you.” She said through her teeth,

His eyes darkened, she watched his face change, and suddenly he was on her, wrapping both of his hands around her throat as he tilted them over onto the floor, “You are mine.” He hissed, releasing one of his hands to push her nightdress up before he forced himself inside of her.

Lazarus tried to kiss her when he finished but she turned her face from him, her eyes were cold to him, they were filled with something he had never seen before, at least not towards him, “You hate me?” he whispered and he let her go, stumbling to his feet, for a moment, a brief moment, she saw the hurt inside of him, she felt it echo inside of her, but it was gone, back behind the rage, “You are the Mother of Whores, Claudia, I release you from our marriage, you are free of me.” He hissed and was gone.

Claudia shut her eyes, trembling as she sat up, she could feel her Caanon there, sudden and silent as he always was, he bent down beside her to lift her up but she waved him off, “Leave me,” she said, “Save the children, Caanon, let them believe these lies, and take them far away.” She whispered, curling up on the floor of her bedchamber.

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Ashleh
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