It’s been far too long. I know. I apologize wholeheartedly for that. Life…well you know, life gets in the way sometimes and with every step I get closer to my degree, it demands a little more of my attention. So if you can forgive my overly long absense, you’ll find a new chapter waiting for you below.
Here’s hoping everything is joyful and beautiful in your lives.
Secret Nerd Princess
Once More into the Swirling
“Uh Doctor, hold on a second.” I tugged at his hand as he went to open the door.
“What is it? Second thoughts? I’m not sure I can get the TARDIS to take you home, though maybe if we wait long enough…”
“No,” I replied laughing, “not at all, but remember the snow? I’m from Louisiana and we rarely see snow at all let alone several inches of it. So I need a coat of some sort.”
The Doctor looked at me startled as if shocked that the cold might affect my delicate southern constitution. “Oh! Of course. Just wait here, I’ll run up and grab you something. You might just get lost in the library again.”
I tried to do that one eyebrow raise thing that he and Eric loved so much, but it didn’t work and I just chuckled. “Well you do have a point there.”
He dropped my hand and jogged off through the winding maze of hallways and returned several minutes later carrying a beautiful, grey, wool coat, a deep green velvet high collared dress, and a pair of black and grey lace-up ankle boots.
“What’s the dress for?” I asked.
“Well it occurred to me that the one you’re wearing is from Eric and though it has been hundreds of years since he’s seen it, we can’t risk him catching on that all is not as it seems.”
I considered the thought. “Hmmm, good point.” I took the dress from him. “I’ll just pop around the corner and change real quick and then we’ll be on our way.”
I ducked into the nearest room and shimmied out of my gorgeous Eric dress and let the velvet of the newest piece of fashion slither down over my body. I had no idea how The Doctor managed to always find dresses that fit me perfectly, and this one was no exception. The jacket that completed the outfit buttoned up the front with another itchy lace collar around my neck. The lengths that women have gone for beauty amazed me sometimes. I was struck by the fact that I was glad I was born in the latter half of the 20th century when women could wear jeans and a t-shirt if they wanted. I finished up as quickly as I could and met back up with the Doctor so that we could go explore a Russian palace.
“One last thing Sookie.” He slipped a simple silver necklace out of one of his pockets and held it out to me. “I thought you could slide the ring Eric gave you onto this. We’ve been very lucky he hasn’t caught sight of it yet, but I know you would prefer to keep it close to you.”
I nodded and took the ring from my finger, lacing it through the chain, which The Doctor clasped around my neck. I closed my hand around it and tucked it underneath the velvet gown.
“Ready?” The Doctor asked eyeing the ensemble.
“Absolutely. I’m ready to go meet a monarch.” What an oddity my life has become, I added to myself. The Doctor held the coat open for me to slip my arms into and once again we headed out the door hand in hand. We stepped out into the freezing cold wind and the pelting snow.
“Snow!” The Doctor said excitedly. “Real, honest to goodness snow that isn’t from a spaceship burning up in the atmosphere.” He turned his face upwards and allowed the flakes to dot and melt against his cheeks and eyelashes. I had to admit that it was really cool and imitated his posture. Being from the south it was a treat for me as well.
We stood, faces tilted toward the sky, until The Doctor tugged at my hand and we began heading towards the palace. It was incredible. Thousands of windows and massive columns, it was the most ornate piece of architecture I’d ever seen. Some of the old plantations back home had columns, but these were different, not simply used for decorating entrances. I knew I must look like a hick tourist, but I couldn’t help myself. My jaw dropped and I silently thanked the TARDIS for this last adventure. I doubted I’d have ever seen this if she hadn’t refused to take me home. We entered through wrought iron gates and climbed the stairs to the entrance, which opened to us without knocking or ringing a doorbell or anything.
If I’d thought the outside was stunning, the interior stole my breath. Gold leaf and high ceilings, elaborately carved furniture, everything you would imagine to find in a palace had my eyes darting to every nook and cranny. Oil paintings hung high on the walls and chandeliers lit the glossy surface of the floor.
We were led through the bustling foyer, if it could be called that, to a smaller room that was dominated by a huge painting of, what I figured, was the Russian cavalry. It didn’t take long before we were greeted by a thick accent and I was distracted from my examination of the room.
“Tsar Nicholas II, Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias,” the voice announced and I turned around to see a dark-haired, bearded man dressed in military uniform standing just inside the room.
Crap, The Doctor and I hadn’t talked about aliases or conduct. Was I supposed to curtsey? I imagined so, considering I was standing in front of royalty and dipped into the best low curtsey I could manage. The Doctor just strode across the room as if he owned the place. Was he not intimidated by anyone? I was shaking in my boots and he was clasping hands with a Tsar as if they were old friends.
“I’m The Doctor and this is my sister Princess Sophia. We were traveling and when we realized that we were near the palace my sister expressed a wish to visit.”
Nicholas inspected us and his answering nod was brisk. “As you wish. The Romanov family is always glad to welcome those of royal descent.” Just then a young boy dressed also in military get-up burst into the room. “Alexei! What have I told you?” He glared at the child. “A Tsar does not run about as if he were a commoner. “Forgive my son Doctor, Princess Sophia, his manners leave much to be desired. Alexei, come greet our guests properly.”
“Why father? I am to be the next ruler and I should bow to no one.” His father’s face turned to stone and he looked as if he was about to hit the child.
I interceded out of fear for the child. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Alexei.”
“Dmitri,” Nicholas called out and a liveried servant appeared seemingly out of nowhere. “Take Alexei to his room.” He turned to his son. “You will await me there Alexei. Excuse me Doctor, I will send a servant to show you to your rooms. You will join us for our evening meal.” With that, we were left alone and I turned shocked to the Doctor.
“Good Lord, that poor child.”
“I wouldn’t really say that Sookie. He is spoiled and doted upon as the next Tsar, but he also has a cruel streak.”
“But he’s a hemophiliac isn’t he? If his father had struck him…”
“Oh he wouldn’t have. They fear his blood disease far too much, but do not let his youth fool you, Sookie.”
“I suppose you must know better than me, but you’ll forgive me if I don’t just take your word for it.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” The Doctor responded, his tone dry though his amusement seeped through. Another servant appeared and led us to the rooms where we would be staying which were just as ornate as the rest of the house. We shared a common room between our two bedrooms I paced as we waited to be escorted to supper. I knew that Eric was somewhere in the rooms of the palace and I was anxious to see what I might be doing here that could help him.
When the time finally came I had a hard time staying behind the servant. I wanted to run, but it would definitely not be appropriate. We were taken to a room where the walls two large portraits lined either side of the doorway and several well-dressed people, wine glasses in hand, sat at the tiny café tables passing the time in conversation. I scanned the room for Eric, but didn’t see him. Disappointment settled in my stomach wondering if the TARDIS had made a mistake.
“Where is he Doctor?”
“Patience Sookie. Enjoy your surroundings.” He took my hand, placing it in the crook of his elbow, and steered us towards a waiter passing by with hors d’oeuvres and another carrying a tray of wine. He handed me a glass and took a bite of his pastry.
“Ahhh the cuisine of Cubat, a French chef, hand-picked by Nicholas.” The Doctor handed me one of the same pastries he had just savored and I had to admit it was good despite the fact that I wasn’t there for the food. I was hungry though and enjoyed the bit of flavor that exploded in my mouth. “Quite delicious isn’t it?”
I nodded my agreement and sipped my wine. We wandered around the room catching tidbits of conversation from those gathered. They mostly spoke of the unease rampant throughout the country as well as the rumblings of the war that seemed very far away from the confines of the room we that we occupied. I had forgotten that WWI would be raging around the world at this time. A sense of melancholy settled over me. Of course the upper class would seem untouched and unfazed by war, but I couldn’t help but consider that there were people dying as I dined on French food.
I was shaken from my thoughts when The Doctor tugged on my arm. He nodded in the direction of the entrance. I turned my head and there was Eric in all his stunning Viking glory. Dressed in a high collared three-quarters length black jacket with gold tassels and black breeches, it took every ounce of The Doctor’s grip to keep me from flying over to him.
“Patience. It would be unseemly for you to throw yourself at a stranger. You will have your chance, just wait.”
I knew The Doctor was right, but I couldn’t help myself. I was beginning to feel like a moth. Eric made his rounds, speaking to several of those in attendance, but by the time we were called into dining room for the meal, I still hadn’t had the opportunity to speak with him. My forced patience was rewarded however when we were placed across from Eric at dinner.
He rose as The Doctor held my chair for me. “You must be The Doctor and Princess Sophia, I am Eric Northman.” Eric’s intense blue gaze almost knocked me over. He seemed to be studying my features and I worried for a second that he might be in the process of recognizing us from Scotland. Eric noticed my discomfort. “Excuse me my stare Princess. You look like someone I knew long ago, but never mind. Please be seated. The Tsar asked me to sit with you for the meal and keep you company.”
“Pleased to meet you Mr. Northman,” I stuttered out. How was it that he managed to disorient me every time I “met” him again?
He made a slight bow to me and gestured to the man sitting next to him. “This is Appius Livius Ocella.”
I had no idea who the man I had just been introduced to was, but I got a shiver of fear when he looked at me with his empty, dark eyes. I could tell from the slight shimmer around him that he was also a vampire, but beyond that I was at a loss. He had dark hair, a classic Roman nose, and was thickly muscled, but he seemed short since when Eric sat back down Appius’ head only came to Eric’s chin.
I nodded my head at the introduction and went back to trying not to stare at Eric. I studied Appius with my peripheral vision, terrified to let him see me, and wondered what connection he had to Eric. He’d never mentioned Appius before, but that didn’t really signify anything since we had never really spoken about his past. A little in passing when he had amnesia, but not enough to give me a clue who this new vampire was. He was old, I could tell that much from the power rolling off him.
The men made conversation with each other while I snuck glances at the two vampires seated across from me. I caught Eric studying me in return, but every time he did Appius brought Eric’s attention back to him. I sensed Appius’ building irritation and fearing that Appius might turn that antagonism towards me I focused on my meal and listening to the mental conversations of the guests. Unfortunately much of the silent thoughts were of petty considerations: whose dress was six months out of style and the like. Outwardly they pretended to worry about the state of the world, but inwardly they were shallow and callous. I was feeling seriously disappointed and confused as to why the TARDIS had brought us here when I was ripped from my mental eavesdropping.
“Is something wrong Princess?” Appius sneered in my direction. “Is the company nearest you uninteresting?”
“Huh?” I stuttered out. “I mean, no, of course not.” I didn’t know how to respond since Appius was making me nervous.
“Have you stared enough at Mr. Northman then and found him lacking? Should I send him away?” His gaze bore into mine and I fought the urge to run. Whoever this vampire was to Eric, I didn’t have any desire to know him any better.
“No, I’m sorry. I was just enjoying the splendor of the dinner. Please forgive me for staring earlier, I am naturally curious.” I had no idea what to say or how to get his attention off of me. Luckily The Doctor drew Appius back into conversation and I sat pushing food around my plate having lost my appetite.
The meal passed without any further issues and the gathering moved into a ballroom. Continuing the theme of the rest of the palace, the room was gorgeous in gold and a soft antique white. Three chandeliers dangled from the ceiling, the light reflected like tiny fairies across the marbled floor. It reminded me of the way discos balls brightened up any dance floor. My mood revitalized at the thought of dancing. I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but I loved dancing and I was actually good at it. The orchestra swept into sound and the royal family took to the floor first until one by one couples slowly began to join them. I held out hope that Eric would ask me to dance, but although he was next to me, he was deep in conversation with The Doctor and studiously avoiding my gaze. Shoving down my more morose feelings I watched instead as the couple swirled in glorious, shimmering color, which was why I was startled when I felt a hand on my arm. I turned, thinking that it was Eric and came face to face with Appius who stood only slightly above me.
“You will dance with me,” he commanded and I didn’t dare refuse. He gripped my waist and forced me into immediate motion. He glared at me for our first few turns around the room until he finally broke the silence. “You will not set your hopes on him.”
“Excuse me?” I retorted forgetting for an instant my place in this society.
“You are beneath him and are not a suitable mate. I have plans that do not involve a pretender Princess.” I tried to remove my hand from his, but he only squeezed tighter, refusing to release me.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Inside I was terrified and trying to figure out what had given me away.
“I can smell your desire for him, do not try to lie to me. He is destined for much greater things that you.” My eyes flickered over to Eric’s rigid frame as he watched the scene play out.
“I believe that is his choice,” I replied with a confidence I did not feel.
“No, it is not.” His eyes seemed to ice over and bore into mine. I could tell he was about to attempt to glamour me, but luckily my telepathy protected me. “You will stop this foolish attraction to Mr. Northman. There is nothing for you to gain, nor will I allow a peasant masquerading as a Princess to persuade him otherwise. You will forget him or I will reveal you and your companion to the Tsar. They would not look kindly on your deception.”
I murmured along in repetition, pretending that his influence was working until he released me suddenly and I tripped over the bottom edge of my dress, stumbling right into Eric’s waiting arms. He swept me swirling back into the fluid movement of the dance. I was shaking so fiercely that he took notice.
“Princess, what did Appius say to you?” His eyes slivered and focused on the man striding away from the two of us.
“It is nothing Mr. Northman. It was the almost fall that startled me, nothing more.” I was a terrible liar and was pretty sure that Eric knew it, but there was no way I was causing an issue between the two of them. Appius would certainly see me before a firing squad if I revealed that he had threatened me. The smarter portion of my personality knew that I should end the dance between us, but the other part was swooning over the way our bodies moved together effortlessly.
I felt the swell of the cello rippling through me. I could tell that Eric wanted to push me into telling him the truth, but he let it go and instead focused on making the rest of the room disappear so that it felt that we were the only two. His body commanded and mine willingly obliged. Alone, dancing under the glitter of the chandeliers, I felt at home. It occurred to me that I always felt like I was home when I was in his arms. My heart stuttered over the thought and I could tell that Eric took notice. Too soon the music ended and I snapped out of my daze when Eric made a small bow in my direction and I dropped into a curtsey.
“It was a genuine pleasure Princess Sophia. One I hope to repeat.” He took my hand and placed a soft kiss on the back of it before turning and heading away from me. I couldn’t help but glance wistfully after him.
I crossed the room, sidling up to The Doctor, slipping my hand through his arm and leaning my head briefly against his shoulder. “Doctor, I’m going to head back to our rooms now.”
He turned his face towards me, tiny wrinkles appearing between his eyes. “Are you okay?” He studied my face. “Never mind, I can tell you’re not. Allons-y. We’ll go together and you can tell me what’s bothering you.”
I shook my head. “Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I’d rather not. I’d prefer to be alone now, if you don’t mind.”
Melancholy flickered across his features, but he nodded and leaned down kissing me on the cheek. “I won’t be long.”
I withdrew my hand and slipped out of the ballroom, feeling Appius’ eyes following me every step of the way. I pulled the necklace with my wedding ring on it, clutching it in my fist. I didn’t dare chance one more glimpse of Eric and with every step my heart resisted. I had become too reliant on the strength of him; the idea that nothing could stand in our way. I wondered briefly if Appius was still alive back in the 21st century and I shuddered at the thought that he could stand between us once I returned home. Tears pressed against my eyelids and I didn’t care who saw: I ran all the way back to my room.