BY : gothicdivine
Category: Anita Blake > General
Dragon prints: 1598
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction based on the Anita Blake series. All but one of these characters belong to Laurell K Hamilton and I make no money or profit from this work.

She was a goddess. A woman of great wealth and beauty, never once seen without her riches. She dressed in silks and furs, with heavy gold chains decorating her immortal, beatific vessel. She wore black on her eyes and red on her lips, ebony hair pulled back from her perfect face. The headdress she wore was made from the finest peacock feathers and gold. She laughed and smiled as she wandered through her own glorious memories and all the while, I sat her feet, head resting on her silken-clad knee, wishing I was her. My unruly dark hair foamed out around my face and across her lap and my skin tingled with the cold where it was exposed through the scratchy sack I wore to protect my dignity only. She stroked my face absent-mindedly like one would touch a pet, but this caress alone kept me sane in the twisted world I was living in. I loved her and hated her. Wanted her and wanted what she had. But I could have neither. Forever a servant to my mistress. I felt her hand brush away the hair at my neck and one manicured nail graze the pulse beating against my skin. I sat up on my knees and turned to face her. She smiled at me and her face shone.
"Now, ma rose espagnole..."
She held both arms towards me with the smile still upon her face and I climbed sheepishly up onto her lap. She turned me around to face the room and as she fed, I stared at the faces of some of her many lovers. Blue eyes stared back with a glimmer of faint amusement. Other than that, they told me nothing. The one with the golden hair smiled arrogantly at me while my mistress's teeth sunk into my throat. His eyes were a pale blue, almost silver and captured my attention like a candle at the end of a dark tunnel. His companion, the corbeau, caressed his knee whilst gracefully slouching in his throne-like chair. He too watched my mistress feed. The other, the poète, stared into the flickering flames of the fireplace, lost deep in his own mind. My mistress drew back with a sigh. I slid from her knee, back to my place at her feet and her hand returned to stroking my face. I closed my eyes and imagined a different place entirely. A place for only myself and my mistress. I let her soft touch coax me into a peaceful sleep where I dreamt of her caress.

The three maids bustled around me trying to get the material to cling to my thin frame. I stood there, motionless, with my arms out straight hoping that an overzealous maid wouldn’t stab me with a pin. After minutes of mindless perfectionism, the three women stepped back and watched as I spun on the spot.
“Belle… belle…” they said in hushed voices.
I smiled at them as I stepped down from the small platform and raised my skirts slightly. I padded over to the full length mirror and dropped the material, staring into the eyes of a girl I didn’t recognise. She was wearing wine red silk to her feet. Her small waist made smaller by the tightly laced corset. Her curled brown hair was held by silver clasps which reflected the light like stars in the sky. Her arms were covered with matching opera gloves and her face was painted with unnatural shades of colour. She looked beautiful and no matter how long I stared into those deep brown eyes, I would never believe the girl in the mirror was me.
“Come,” one maid walked towards me with her hand outstretched just as the door burst open. The blonde vampire whose name I knew as Asher, strode into the room with an arrogance that can only be achieved with the beautiful looks he possessed, wearing cream leather breeches with a golden overcoat. He smirked in my direction and turned to the maids who stood shamelessly staring at him.
“Belle would like me to personally escort notre rose espagnole to the ballroom,” his lips twitched in a smile as the once friendly maids turned to me with identical looks of hatred and jealousy in their eyes. Asher stared down his nose at me and offered his right arm. His eyes held a shed of interest as I tiptoed over to him nervously. I slid my hand into the crook of his arm and his body felt hard, as if I was holding onto a tree instead of a mans flesh. The arrogant smile returned and he swept us out of the room with an inhumane grace I could not match. My gaze flicked back to the maids once more and I saw them stood, dumbfounded, before the door swung shut, blocking my view. We walked through the candlelit corridor in silence until he laughed softly to himself. The laugh alone tightened things low in my body. I looked up at him questionably but his beautiful yet passive face told me nothing. I went back to staring at the hem of the astounding silk dress when he finally spoke.
“And how does a petite servant girl like yourself become a beautiful goddess in one night, cheri?”
He watched me out of the corner of his eye as I let out a laugh that I fear was more of a snort.
“A goddess… there is only one goddess here and I call her my mistress.”
I watched for his reaction and what I saw in his eyes surprised me. Something passed through them that I could not explain. It was almost a recoil. A denial as such. If I didn’t know any better, I would say my dismissal of his compliment hurt him.
“I-thank you… Asher.”
Once again, his face became passive as we strolled down the endless corridors towards the ballroom. Not another word was spoken between us and eventually I found myself being led by this man through the extravagant ballroom, where vampires from around the country had gathered. Beautiful beings danced and laughed all around me while others stared me down, disdainfully. Asher led me to Belle’s side and she ran one hand down my arm, her nails dangerously scraping the thin material of the glove.
“Ma, ma, whatever has happened to put that look upon you face mon chardonneret?”
I looked at the man in question, and Asher dropped his gaze to the ground, unhooking my hand from his arm.
“Excuse me.”
He bowed his head in my mistress’ direction, glanced at me once more and disappeared into the crowd. I’m not even sure I saw him move. When he had vanished from my sight, I looked at the beauty before me. Belle was dressed in black silk, that displayed her ivory white skin so well she almost glowed. I could not help but notice the amount of décolletage she showed before dragging my eyes back up to meet her gaze. She smiled sinisterly at me, as if she knew exactly what I was thinking before turning me with a hand on the small of my back.
“Come now, ma pomme…”
She led me up three golden steps to where a large banquet table resided. I noticed Asher had made his way there and was sat next to two empty chairs. Jean-Claude, the corbeau, sat on the other side of the vacant seats. Belle ushered me over to the empty seat next to Jean-Claude, who stood and pulled out the mahogany chair for me. I timidly looked up into his face, expecting amusement. Laughter in his eyes directed at me, but I saw only compassion and politeness. I nodded at him with a slight smile as I tucked my skirts behind my legs and sat. Belle took my hand and rested it on the white silk tablecloth as her lovers returned to their seats. Her thumb stroked my knuckles gently and I watched as she studied the crowd beneath her. I spared a glance at Asher, who was imitating Belle’s actions. I turned to Jean-Claude and my heart stopped for a moment when I saw his midnight blue eyes staring into mine from mere inches away. I mouthed words soundlessly and he smiled. I dropped my gaze as my face began to redden and was rewarded with a perfect view of his chest. His white skin gleamed through the lace of his dress shirt and my eyes began to trail lower to the bulge in his black breeches. I closed my eyes harshly and shook my head with a frustrated sound escaping my lips. I opened my eyes to find Belle looking at me questionably. I smiled an apology and looked back at Jean-Claude. He hadn’t moved one muscle. I could do nothing but either stare back or look away once more. I studied the tablecloth avidly and tried to ignore those beautiful eyes to my right.

The party dragged on. Guests came and went. Everybody seemed to have something to say to my mistress and I faded into the background happily. Earlier in the night, I had risked a look in Jean-Claude’s direction and was relieved to find his mind - and eyes - were elsewhere. Now he sat to my right tapping his finger lightly on an empty wine glass, seemingly fascinated by the process. Belle and Asher were still to my left, talking between themselves. Last I saw, Belle was twirling a lock of Asher’s beautiful golden hair between her fingers. My attention was now fixed on Jean-Claude, who offered me a polite gesture once tonight and I suddenly saw him as human. Words cannot explain why. His eyes held sorrow and I couldn’t imagine what had caused such pain. Before I even knew what I was doing, my hand was on his forearm, squeezing gently. He turned to me slowly, unfocused, like a man waking from a dream. His gaze held mine and flicked to my comforting hand. He slouched backwards in his chair suddenly, pulling his arm away. The look on his face was condescending and he smiled arrogantly. It even reached his eyes.
“Is there something you want, cheri?”
There was an element of scorn in his soft voice that surprised me. Why were these beings so difficult to understand? My face held a frown as I shook my head and turned to Belle who was stroking my bare shoulder.
“Come,” she said harshly. One look in Jean-Claude’s direction told him he must come too. We left the heavily ornamented table and I was led back through the crowd into one of the side rooms, where a selection of Belle’s guards were watching over a single vampire. Only three candles lit this miniscule room and I struggled to see with my mere human vision. My mistress’ voice ricocheted off the stone walls when she spoke.
“What is happening here?”
Asher and Jean-Claude moved from either side of me in one movement to circle the cowering man. They both had a feline grace and seemed to glide across the floor. But still, both managed to look terrifying. One of the guards stepped towards my mistress, bowing his head.
“This man has a request that could not wait until the end of our ball, ma reine.”
Belle suddenly looked down at the man, whose light brown hair was pulled back with a ribbon. He was dressed in a deep green waistcoat with golden embroidery, which matched his overcoat. His shirt was a simple white and his breeches were black. An emerald cravat held his shirt together at his pale neck. Before tonight, I could not imagine a vampire trembling, but here this man was, shaking with pure trepidation. I took a step forward before remembering my place and standing motionless. He looked up at Belle.
“My mistress…”
Belle blinked once.
“Yes Alaric?”
The man I now knew as Alaric swallowed and I could see his throat struggle from where I was stood. Asher glanced at me from the other side of the room and I caught his gaze. As beautiful as he was, my interest was focused on the scene playing out in front of me. Alaric came to his knees at Belle’s feet.
“Ma déesse, I have admired you for some time now. Ever since I first joined your kiss. At night I dream of your embrace… ma cheri… Belle…”
The man stood and I held my breath for him, for he was voicing the thoughts which lurked deep in my heart. He looked Belle bravely in the eye.
“I do not think I could exist in this pitiful world if it wasn’t for your presence. I know I am not a powerful man, but may I be so bold as to ask of you some time alone. I believe I could please you in a way no other being could, and I beg of you for the chance. Please ma cheri… s'il vous plaît.”
I fought the urge to smile for Belle. Yet another man made helpless by her beauty. Another man to admire and love her. Another to make her happy. I cursed myself for not possessing the courage this other had. I looked at my mistress who had not spoken since his declaration. She stared at him with empty eyes. Hesitantly, I averted my gaze to Jean-Claude and Asher. Asher leant against the far wall, smirking while Jean-Claude looked at the back of the Alaric’s head with what I can only describe as horror in his eyes. When Belle barked his name, he looked startled.
“Jean-Claude!” He quickly covered up his shock with a blank expression that told me nothing of his feelings. He sauntered over to Belle’s side, eyes passing over me for a second.
“As our younger friend here has been so arrogant as to demand a place in my bed-”
To my horror, I watched as Belle grew terrifying at being interrupted. I could see the bones of her face working underneath the delicate skin that had become fragile and thin. The pupils of her eyes disappeared in a deep brown fire and she snarled with inhumane teeth protruding from her mouth. She stepped towards Alaric and even I felt her power tickle my skin. I unconsciously retreated and jolted when strong hands held my shoulders. I turned to find Asher looking down at me, with the smirk still upon his face. I didn’t even bother to wonder how he had crossed the room without my knowledge. He spoke one word to me while turning my head gently with one hand.
Alaric had been backed into a darkened corner by Belle’s power. She stood about a foot away from him, staring down her nose at him.
“How dare you talk over me? How dare you make demands of me? I am your queen and nobody has any right to ask anything of me! Jean-Claude! Show this pathetic excuse for a man what happens when I am disrespected!”
Belle spun on her heel and stomped to my side, watching as Jean-Claude approached Alaric. His arm moved faster than I could see and before I knew what had happened, I was wiping blood from my eyes. Without thinking, I rushed forwards and peered around Jean-Claude’s broad shoulder. Alaric kneeled upon the floor, clutching at a throat that wasn’t there any more. Blood bubbled from his mouth as he tried to plead for help. Jean-Claude calmly flicked goblets of flesh from his hand and his face showed no remorse for what he had done. A finger trailed down my neck and Belle rested her head on my shoulder. She spoke softly and in the dark room it was almost intimate.
“He will heal. They all do. Come. The ball is over.”
I walked in a daze with Belle back to her chambers, my mind racing with what I had just seen. This man… Alaric… punished for his love of my mistress. Suddenly, I was overcome with sorrow at the thought of a life without Belle. The man was right. I could not exist in this world without her either.

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