Happy Hump Day!
So I’m in dire need of motivation. Much to do, but no inclination to get it done. Among my list of things to do is working on my fanfiction, Dark Side of the Moon (feel free to check it out and push me forward!). I thought I could avoid slumps on that particular story since I have an outline, but no such luck. An outline and summary has not saved me from TOTAL LACK OF MOTIVATION (caps courtesy of antics by boyfriend to distract me).
Thankfully, the occasional prompt keeps me going. Today’s post comes from one such prompt – Our Write Side’s Master Class series. As you can tell from the title of the post, I’m choosing the “Natal nuances” prompt. It’s given me the perfect opportunity to delve a little deeper into Niklaus’ background.
Neither one of us mentions the kiss, but he doesn’t let go of my hand during the entire walk back to our room, our fingers laced together. I’m suddenly shy, unsure of how to behave. My lips tingle with the ghost of his, and I need to resist the urge to touch them, to make sure that really just happened. We’ve crossed a boundary that we’ve both apparently been very careful not to up until this point, and there’s no going back. It’s silly, considering that we’re married, and I want to laugh at how ridiculous we’re being.
Then I remember the encounter with his parents – I have every right to be nervous and he must have had his reasons for his reluctance. His parents clearly want him to turn me. They’re desperate enough to force him into losing himself to do it. Why?
I want to ask – I have more questions than I can count – but I can’t bring myself to speak. It’s almost dawn, so Nadya will probably be turning in for the day, too, leaving me with no choice but to follow suit. Alone in the room with Niklaus, the air takes on a whole new quality. There’s a tension there that, while always present, wasn’t acknowledged before. After that kiss, there’s no ignoring it anymore, and I can’t help but feel nervous again. Niklaus interprets my nerves as fear.
Once we’ve crossed the threshold, his hand releases mine and he takes a step back. His eyes burn with the question – are you afraid?
Instead of saying anything, I try to act normal, go about our routine as if he’d never left. He takes the hint, and as I look for a set of clothes in which to sleep he follows suit and heads for the washroom. By the time he emerges again, I’ve already changed clothes and slid into bed. There’s that tension again. Maybe the kiss was a bad idea, if we’re just going to be uncomfortable around each other now. Niklaus climbs into bed and pulls the curtains closed, plunging us both into total darkness. Instead of pulling me close like he used to, he keeps to his side of the bed, though he still turns to face me.
As my eyesight adjusts, I become hyper-aware of his proximity, my mind wandering to how his body felt against mine when we kissed. We’re both too alert to fall asleep.
His voice makes me jump. “Ariella?”
“I know what you’re going to ask. My answer hasn’t changed.”
“You’re lying.” His voice is soft, understanding lacing his words instead of accusation. “I saw it – right when I attacked you. You were terrified of me.”
“That wasn’t you.”
“It was. That’s my true self, Ariella. No matter how hard I try, I can’t guarantee that won’t happen again.” By now, my eyes have adjusted, and I can make out his fist between us, clutching the bed sheet. I slide my hand over his knuckles, and he stiffens under my touch.
“You hesitated, remember? You were able to hold yourself back long enough for Nadya to act.”
“Barely.” The word is loaded with venom and bitterness, but I’m not sure who he’s angry at – himself or his parents. “I came so close to…”
“Don’t-” I slide closer to him, pressing my lips to his fist. “It didn’t happen, and I don’t want you to dwell on it. Please.” My hand moves to his cheek, brushing some hair out of the way. He closes his eyes, sighing a shaky breath. For a moment, I think he’s dropped the conversation, and let my eyes droop closed.
“Did Nadya tell you?” He whispers the question, so low I almost don’t hear it.
“She just said human blood makes you lose control.”
“It turns me into a monster.” He spits the word in disgust. “Did she tell you why?”
“No…” It’s clear the conversation isn’t making things any better, but he clearly has no intention to stop. My curiosity doesn’t let me stop him, either.
“The circumstances of mine and Nadya’s births were unique.” That’s not where I was expecting the conversation to go, but I stay quiet, giving him all my attention. His hand brushes a lock of my hair behind my ear before he continues. The contact sends a jolt of electricity through me, and I have to force myself to focus on his words. “When our parents met, my mother was a human. She’s actually the first of the human brides – their relationship is the reason the ritual was instituted. Relationships between humans and vampires were forbidden, but that didn’t stop my parents. They kept it a secret long enough for my mother to become pregnant.”
“Your mother had you as a human?” I didn’t even know that’s possible.
“No – when my parents were found out, she was to be executed. To save her, my father turned her. They didn’t know what that would do to the pregnancy. They weren’t even aware she was pregnant until after he turned her.”
“She had you after becoming a vampire?”
“Yes. Did you know pureblood female vampires are infertile? The only way for a female vampire to give birth is if she was a human first. Like my mother was. They didn’t know until after my mother gave birth. I was born first, then Nadya. I came out a human, my sister a vampire.”
“You were human?” I try to imagine what that might be like – a human Niklaus.
“Yes – sort of. For a while, that was fine, until I started displaying vampire abilities without the need for blood. I could go out during the day without being burned, seemed to be aging at the same slow pace as Nadya.” That anger sneaks back into his voice again, but it’s clearly not directed at his sister. “My parents and the council saw me as a threat, so they made the decision to turn me. My first taste of human blood resulted in the deaths of over thirty people and ten vampires as they struggled to bring me under control.”
“They turned me into a monster. And they want me to embrace it?” He isn’t in the room with me anymore, his voice far away in a place lined with hurt and betrayal. Niklaus turns to lie on his back, gaze trained on the canopy.
I need to comfort him somehow, but all I can think to do is close the distance between us and rest my head on his bare shoulder, arm laying across his stomach. “You’re not a monster.”
“And they want me to turn you.” He shifts back onto his side and pulls me into his arms. “They think my loss of control is a good thing – and that you’d inherit it if I turned you. I can’t…can’t do that to you.”
“Don’t worry.” I place a kiss on his neck and his body trembles before I pull away slightly. “It won’t happen. We’ll figure something out. We have to.”
His fingertips glide along my jaw. This close, I can see the very real fear in his eyes. He’s terrified of himself, of what he can do. My chest hurts with a sense of uselessness I’ve never felt before. If his parents are desperate enough to risk setting him completely lose like that in order to change me, there’s no telling what else they might do.
And there you have it – a very loose background story for why Niklaus is the way he is. It came to me in a sudden rush, which was pretty cool. Only a matter of time before there’s plot holes, but I can plug those as they come! The important thing is I’m writing.
Friendly reminder: Round 5 of #TuesFlashFicTrain is well underway! What are you waiting for?
As always, think happy thoughts!