Chapter Eleven: Goodbyes


Despite knowing what Margareta was obligated to do upon her return to Italy, Nathan felt no guilt about deflowering another man's soon-to-be mate. His previous concerns over the matter had faded to obscurity in the recesses of his brain. There was a reason for that lack of response; he knew what it was – or at least suspected.

Margareta fell as wholly into the escape as he did, more desperately it seemed, begging him not to stop even when he'd spent himself – falling exhausted and satisfied onto the mattress next to her smaller frame.

In the afterglow, Nathan and Margareta lay under the simple eggshell colored sheets – the blanket and bedspread long since kicked to the floor. They were propped on their elbows, facing one another, legs still tangled together and arms running along each other's flesh. Lazy thoughts drifted through Nathan's brain, his, Margareta's – some muted and some sharp. He wondered a moment over the freedom and obligation of such a sharing.

Lifting his hand he ran it along Margareta's pale cheek, feeling compelled to confirm his suspicion. He wasn't a vampire, after all, and his guess could be totally off base.

"I should feel like a complete hypocrite about now," he whispered. Margareta started to protest, but he continued before she could push sound past her lips. "But I don't. There wasn't a thing about what just happened that felt wrong."

Margareta tilted her head. "No, nothing wrong at all."

"I knew I had feelings foryou," He glanced away a moment, "but I wasn't expecting it to be as deep as…communion." A frown lit on and then left his face. "That…that is what passed between us at the club – what led us to this moment, right?"

Margareta swallowed and then nodded. "Communion…yes."

Nathan's lips thinned. He dropped his hand from contact with her, flopping onto his back and staring up at the ceiling in the drab little room. "Well, this complicates some things."

"Nathan, I'm sorry."

His gaze lit on her. "Sorry? No…I didn't mean that. Communion isn't really a choice, not from what I've been told."

"No, it's not. But it's rare these days. Only one in a hundred or so of our kind get to experience it." She smiled brilliantly. "It's rather amazing, I think."

Nathan nodded, feeling her excitement try to lift his own darkening heart. "I'm not sorry." He shook his head. "This development merely…cements the truth of it, is all."

"Then what's the matter?"

Staring at her and tilting his head, he frowned again.

Margareta got the gist or pulled it across their strengthening mental link, and her eyes teared up. "I can't not go back."

Nathan took in a deep breath and then let it out again. He said something that he knew was right, but hurt to say none the less. "I would never ask you to."

"And you'll not leave your family."

Nathan's eyes slid closed. "It's not so much leaving family," he whispered. "I would have their blessing if I decided it was time to move out on my own. That's not it at all. Communion. Soul mates. Life mates." He ran a hand through his unruly waves, curling his fingers into the scalp on the back of his head. "How could I possibly go with you? How could I and then just be expected to stand by and watch you get betrothed to another?"

Margareta was unable to respond to his questions. Finally, in a voice that barely carried she said, "It will be no less difficult for me."

"I know…" He rolled up once again, feeling just how much of a burden her betrothal truly was. He gave her a short peck on the cheek and then he landed on his back once again. Falling silent, Nathan closed his eyes and listened to the rapid thunder of his heart. He willed it to slow back down. This was exactly what he had been afraid of – worse, actually. This was nowhere near the fling/casual girlfriend thing he'd been imagining, this turned into a commitment he would never be able to shake – wouldn't want to shake.

"You could…"

"Be a lover?" His face pinched as he gazed at her. "Do you really think your Lord would allow you a vampiric mutt for a lover?"

"There is nothing wrong with your breeding. Vadaryne are some of the most amazing supernaturals I've ever seen. I don't think mother…"

Nathan sighed through his nose, interrupting what she would say. "You'll not be in House Damien anymore. You'll be mated to a Lord whose tolerance for halfbreeds and crossbreeds may fall well short of your own House expectations. I've had too much freedom and independence growing up to be treated as a second-class citizen – by anyone."

Sitting up in bed, Nathan plopped his hands down atop the sheets, glaring across the room. "Even if they were accommodating in that manner…I'm not altogether certain I could settle for being an aside for you."

Margareta sat up next to him, her hand on his shoulder. "I don't want you to be…"

Nathan didn't even look at her now. "But you would have to. There would be your mate's needs…there would be," he swallowed, "heirs to sire."

Dropping contact with his skin, Margareta shifted uncomfortably.

"It will pain me enough just knowing these things are happening. I don't want to be witness to it. There's only one alternative – to let you go through with your family's plans while I remain here." An ache started deep in his chest at that thought. The tightening strings of soul deep affection for her already were cutting him. "By your own account, your house needs this."

"But…" She was unable to complete her protest, and by the thoughts filtering through she understood the truth of his words. Instead she climbed over him where he lay, caging his wide shoulders with her thin arm. Her hair fell off her shoulder and swept across his chest and his side. "I don't want to be without you."

Nathan propped himself up on his elbows once more, this time to meet her lips. Passion and desperation played in equal measure in the fervency behind that kiss. Margareta's arms laced around his shoulders in response and soon they were tangled all over again.

In one relatively quiet moment Nathan managed, "They don't get you back – he doesn't get you – until I absolutely have to let you go."

He wasn't even sure if he was going to be able to do without her when she did have to go. Pushing that thought to the back of his mind, he concentrated on the now, trying to get as much pleasure out of his lifemate now, before that future came to separate them.

Tears were in her eyes again, joy and regret. "Mother will worry."

"As I recall, she gave you permission for this dalliance." He smiled down on her, trying to ease the newest burden on the princess' plate. "And she didn't give you a time limit that I'm aware of."

That managed to draw a giggle out of Margareta. "She really should be more specific."

"Then we extend our stay. We go back tomorrow night."

Worry cropped back into Margareta's face.

"It will be in plenty of time for you to get packed. Midnight's not too late, right?"

Margareta bat playfully at Nathan's chest, before he smothered her with kisses and attentions meant to make them both forget.


Despite the extension, the next evening came all too soon. Upon his rise from bed Nathan found that he had five ever more frantic messages on his net device regarding his and Margareta's whereabouts. He released a deep sigh, trying to formulate some kind of plan to explain their actions that didn't involve spilling his and Margareta's secret.

Twisting, he peered down on Margareta, still tangled in the sheets, wreathed in her mane of hair. A smile worked up on his face, and in her peaceful sleeping features he found the strength to face his folks and hers when the time came.

Nathan leaned over to kiss her upturned cheek. When he backed away an inch or so he whispered, "Princess, it's time to wake."

A smile turned up her pretty mouth even as she drew a deep breath. She rolled over onto her back lifting a blind hand to cup his left cheek. Only then did she peel her eyes open.

"Is it night already?"

He nodded. "It is."

Rolling over he settled his body atop hers, kissing her jawline and then the crook of her neck. Her fingers curled into the skin of his back even as a sigh escaped her.

"I dreamed so pleasantly," she sighed in his ear.

"You may be dreaming still."

Her arms tightened around his neck.

"Would that I could just stay in this moment." Curling his arms under her slim body and stringing his fingers through the tangle of her hair, he leaned back and opened his eyes once more. She was already looking at him.

"I've half a mind to tell my mother and her plans to go to hell."

Nathan's smile was bittersweet. "We both know that you won't."

Her expression fell, as did her contact with his skin. "I wish I was brave enough to. This is the first time I've felt alive since Dad died. I fear I'll die all over again by leaving you behind."

"We'll figure something out…eventually." He didn't succeed at keeping the doubt in that statement off his face. "Heartbreak hasn't killed us yet."

She blinked, her expression flattening out.

"My mom told me that." Nathan shrugged and sat up, pulling her up with him. Automatically her arms encircled his waist. "I'm beginning to wonder if she saw something. It would explain some things."

"Saw…?"

The pep talk, steering Margareta his direction…so much more of that "encouragement" made sense when filtered through such light. Perhaps she knew how far it would go – that it would end with the two of them on opposite sides of the earth and torn about separating.

"Precog…she and I both. Though she's much better at it – more accurate."

A flush moved into her cheeks, as she picked through what he was thinking.

"Anyway, I was going to get the shower going. Would you like to join me?"

"But of course." Margareta perked up quite a bit at that, what she thought he had in mind slipping across the link between them.

"If you insist." The three words answered both her spoken and her unspoken statements.

Following their lengthy shower, the two of them quickly dressed. While Nathan was waiting for Margareta to finish with her hair, he took the moment to send a quick text just to let the house know that he was alive. Things are fine – net died. Be home soon. Nate.

When he was sure the message had sent, he shut the device off. Chances were his mother was hovering over her device by this point and he would get a ring back he wasn't prepared to answer.

As he was pocketing the device, Margareta emerged from the bathroom.

"Well," she sighed, "let us get the coming inquisition over with shall we?"

He kissed her temple as she laced her arm across the small of his back. "You put that so delicately."

"Are we going to tell them?"

"Do you think that would be wise?"

Margareta fell silent for a few moments, brushing a stray strand of hair out of her face. Finally she shook her head in the negative.

"Neither do I."

"Mother would think I've done this on purpose, somehow – one more in a line of willful acts against her. She will not take the news at all well."

"I'm not sure my parents would take it any better. Not for the same reasons perhaps – but still. This is going to be stressing enough without them adding to it."

"Then the question becomes can we school ourselves enough to hide it?" She smiled brilliantly up at him. "Just being around you is…"

Maragareta fell silent, unable to come up with the words to describe the feeling.

"Electric," Nathan provided.

By the time they'd reached this point in their discussion they were out of the hotel and wandering down the street. Nathan watched as Margareta wistfully glanced around at the neon lighting the street as if it were some kind of psychedelic dawn. Focusing on their newfound link, Nathan tried to see the town he'd grown up visiting through her eyes. Her wonderment gave a fresh wash to the sights he was so used to seeing and interacting with. It was as if he was seeing it for the first time all over again.

He hugged the vampiress tighter to his side, resting his chin for a moment on her crown, before releasing her.

"What was that for?"

Nathan shrugged, smiling down at her. "Nothing really."

Her quizzical look deepened but she didn't press him on the matter.

Their trip back to the Dome was done in silence. While Nathan couldn't vouch for all of Margareta's thoughts, he was mulling the possibility of getting raked over the coals when they returned. His parents were pretty used to him at least giving them word that he wasn't going to be back the same evening as he left. That he didn't probably set off alarms with Miranda and Cabal. They were too well programed to disregard the silence as anything else but trouble.

And he was very right.

Immediately upon their arrival, Margareta was practically dragged away by Lady Dahlia and flanked by The Devil's Own and The Crimson Death. A heated argument ensued immediately between mother and daughter and slowly petered out as they entered the main dome and disappeared.

Of course he had no more pleasant a time trying to explain the previous night without divulging facts they need not be aware of. He was currently on this third round of said explanation. "I'm sorry for not contacting you." He ran a hand through his hair in very real exasperation. "We were having such a good time at the bar, I lost track of time. I was drunk, I was tired, and Margareta doesn't know how to fly the Mandalay. We decided it was best if we got a hotel room. The idea of dropping you a line on that change of plan kind of slipped my mind."

Nathan was more than glad they didn't ask what obviously had occurred to them. He wasn't sure he could keep that to bare minimums, to make them believe it was the casual fling they certainly were considering.

Cabal was eyeing him, probably reading him for any lies. The expression on his father's face was pretty stoic, and his voice was that even, controlled sound he used when he was really upset. "Considering your company, Nathan, I would have thought your protocols would be more closely observed, not disregarded all together."

"I'm sorry." He pushed the two words through clenched teeth.

"Lady Dahlia has been, to say the least, upset." His mother threw in. Her arms were crossed tightly over her chest, her fingers making dimples in her own skin. "And to make matters worse, their flight has been moved up! They need to be at the airport in an HOUR!"

Nathan's face fell. "W…what?"

"You heard me, Nathan Arturo! If they miss their flight, it's on your head."

When they finally released Nathan from his inquisition and moved to finalize departure preparations for their guests, the vadaryne made double time towards the guest suite. Wanting one final moment to say his goodbyes, Nathan was willing to risk Dahlia's wrath.

His bravado gave out when he reached their door. Sure enough Margareta was there, looking over already packed bags, looking worried that another's hands might have missed something. She must have sensed him there for her eyes shot up. Before either of them could say a thing Dahlia exited the room. Just behind her were the dhampir and the vadaryne.

Nathan fell mute, straightened stiffly as the three others eyed him. While the escorts didn't seem all that upset over the delay in Margareta's return, Dahlia looked furious. Her glare lit on him, gaining heat at seeing him anywhere near them.

Dropping his eyes, he said something that he didn't originally intend. "My apologies for the delay in return, Lady Dahlia. I wasn't aware that the timeline had been accelerated for your trip home. I did not receive the word until this evening, as I did not check my communications device."

Dahlia drew up to her full height, a brow lifted. As yet, she looked too livid, such that she seemed unwilling to attempt speech.

"I would like to offer my services – help escort you and your things to the transports?"

That regal blonde brow rose yet higher. After a moment she nodded back towards the pile of suitcases lined outside the door. "Do not think that his earns my forgiveness, Mr. Arturo."

Well she hadn't hissed out "vadaryne" this time, so conceivably she wasn't as upset as she let on. Again he remembered she had "allowed" Margareta to pursue a fling with him and perhaps she was just realizing that permission now.

"No, Lady Dahlia, I wouldn't expect that so soon."

As the line of them moved up towards the cross hall, Nathan stole glances up the line towards Margareta. Her head kept turning, ever so slightly as if she wanted to turn to meet his gaze, but kept stiffening and catching her desire.

Nathan was made to relinquish his baggage by a crew people loading the limousine. He fell back behind his mother and father, behind Blaine and Lorna even as the two parties made their formal farewells. His eyes were only for Margareta who stood shoulders slightly slouched, her head up but eyes down.

Margareta. He tossed the thought forward, longing and regret laced through the single word.

Nate… Tears littered her thoughts. I don't want to go anymore.

I know…

I feel I will die a little all over again…

Heartbreak hasn't killed us yet. My love, the other part of my soul, we will find a way.

I love you.

Staying only long enough to watch the limousine and Blaine's escort ship slip out the gates and into the deep moonless night, Nathan took leave of his family. Storming through the rest of the house, up through the commons, the vadaryne slipped out the front door. Throwing himself against the tall standing stone, Nathan slid down its face until he was crouched in the sandy drifts gathered at the pillar's base. He buried his face in folded arms.

The further the distance between them, the more his chest seemed to hollow out, the more the pain seemed to deepen and spread, the more the black hole where Margareta had been in his head seemed to widen.

How was he going to function until he next saw her?

In that moment, he couldn't answer his own question.

END


A/N: WHut? Yeah, finally finished this one! YES! It was pretty fluffy, but as I said I don't really do straight up fluff! Can't. Don't know how. so you get the semi-fluff...hee! And now that this one is finished, I can roll out the next story: All Legends Die

I see your questioning looks...and I really seriously have a feeling if I were setting myself up for hate mail, this next story will be the one to bring it out.

Anyway, enjoy the current chapter, let me know what you think of the story overall, and in general have a great week!