The Fae Worlds

Henry Wakes

The Other Vampire

Sleeping had been an impossibility. Anne knew it was going to be, but that hadn’t stopped her from trying. She changed into something different, an old dress she’d only brought with her due to the memories held within in, and tidied her hair. Henry probably wouldn’t wake at sunset exactly and it gave her a little time to get from her room to his in order to be there when it happened. If it happened. The very thought of him being one of the few who didn’t wake seemed so unlikely she shouldn’t be thinking it, although there was a part of her that hoped he might not… and even that part knew it would be a major issue if he didn’t. He didn’t have an heir. There was only the Princess Mary, and no one would want her to claim the throne. She was ‘just’ a woman. Nothing more.
Pushing away those thoughts, because it wasn’t going to do any good, Anne prepared herself mentally for what she was going to be dealing with. Henry being a vampire would make things a hundred times more difficult than they already were, but she knew she’d made the best choice she could. Turning him herself meant she could be there to guide him through the process, and she still believed, even after a long day of thinking, she was the best person to do that. She watched the sun set before she left the room. Doing her best to seem like the person she’d been before her life had changed, because she didn’t want everyone to know how much becoming an Immortal had affected her, she made her way through the halls, to Henry’s room. It was a relief to see Charles there waiting for her.
“Any sign?”
“None so far, Mistress Boleyn.”
“Thank you, Your Grace.” Their eyes met and she could see the understanding within his. “It would be best if I’m the one to enter the room first, because there is a chance he may already be awake, and if he is he’s going to throw himself at anything with a pulse.”
“You’re certain you’ll be able to deal with him.”
Anne smiled. “I’ve been an Immortal for longer than he has, and I’ve come to learn both my strengths and my limitations. He hasn’t. He won’t know how weak being hungry will make him. The strength he believes he has will have drained with the change, and that’s something he will understand in the future, but it’s going to take him far more time than he’d like.”
Charles offered her the key. “Call me if you need anything at all.”
“I will.” She wanted to say more, but she knew she couldn’t where others might be listening. “I didn’t want to say this before, but there is a chance he might not have survived the change, and I want you to be as ready for that as you can be. To me it seems unlikely, as I know how stubborn the King is. That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.”
“Did you mention that to the King?”
“We both know telling him wouldn’t have changed anything. He is who he is. He would have pushed me to do it, because he wants immortality more than he’s ever wanted anything else. It really is as simple as that.”
“You are, of course, right.” Charles shrugged. “Be careful. We’re going to need you expertise in the future and I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you.”
“Nothing will happen to me. Like I said I know what to expect.” She put the key into the keyhole, wondering if she really did know what to expect after turning Henry into a vampire, and told herself she had to appear certain of herself to everyone else. No one could know she wasn’t certain she was doing the right thing. No one could know she doubted the choice she made. “There’s someone ready to feed him?”
“Everything is prepared.”
Nodding, Anne opened the door and stepped into the King’s bedroom. There was a body in the bed, but she couldn’t tell if he was breathing or not, which worried her more than she wanted it to. Slowly, not wanting to startle him, she made her way over to the bed, doing her best not to panic. If the King was dead she would have been the one who killed him, and she knew what would happen to her. Whether or not that was a bad thing was something she was yet to decide. As she got closer she realised she could see the rise and fall of his chest. He had survived the night. That should mean he was an Immortal. She didn’t think there was any possible way for him to have shared her blood and not become Immortal, unless there was some sort of potion he might have taken in order to protect himself from other Immortals. Could something like that exist? If it did would the King, of all people, be willing to use it? Shaking her head she sat down beside him. Soon enough he would wake and then she’d know.
It seemed to take hours. Then again Anne had never been particularly good at waiting, and it had been one of the longest days of her life. Finally, moving far faster than she expected, the King sat up, and looked at her. “Good morning, my love.” She smiled at him, her courtier’s smile, because it was what she was best at. “How are you feeling?”
“That’s not a surprise.” She stood. “Charles said he’d have someone waiting for you.”
“You’re immortal, Henry. Your life has changed and you knew that would happen. In order to stay alive you now need to feed off blood. Remember us sharing blood last night.”
After a few moments he nodded. “I thought last night was a dream, but then how could it have been when you’re here.” He smiled at her. “I am ready for this, Anne. Thank you for what you did for me.”
“You’re welcome.” The King of England was going to live forever. Henry Tudor was going to live forever. As she thought that she was thankful for the darkness of the room, because she knew she wouldn’t be able to hide the mix of emotions she felt. “It’s going to take some time for you to come to terms with the changes.” Unfortunately it was time she wasn’t entirely certain he was going to have. “The best thing we can do is make sure you’re never hungry, otherwise you will make mistakes.”
“I promise I will listen to you at all times.”
Anne didn’t believe that for a moment, but it was a nice thing for him to say. Her old self would have said exactly what she was thinking, that he shouldn’t make promises he was never going to be able to keep, and she was grateful again for the person she’d become. “I would appreciate it if you could.” She glanced back at him. “I have been through the transition myself, and it’s not easy to deal with. However I was alone. You aren’t, and you never will be, so this should be much easier for you.”
Fortunately she’d opened the bedroom door before he could ask any questions she really wasn’t ready to answer. “Your Grace, the King is awake and he’s hungry.”
“Good.” Charles stood. “You aren’t going to be happy about this, but I was thinking a lot about who it would be best for the King to feed from first…”
“We both know I’m right. Nothing you say is going to change my mind on this.”
“He’ll never forgive himself if he hurts you.”
“That’s exactly why it should be me. He’s much more likely to be careful if he knows he might end up killing his oldest friend.”
“You’d better not be wrong about that.”
“I’m not.” He smiled. “If I am I trust you to get me out safely.”
All Anne could do was stare at him as he walked towards her, wishing she’d been able to admit to him how scared she really was about what she’d done, but it was too late for that. He believed in her. Why did he believe in her? It didn’t make any sense. They’d hated each other. Hating each other was normal. Knowing he trusted her to protect him from the newly changed King… breathing deeply she stepped back to let him into the bedroom. She had to protect him, no matter how hard it was, because he wasn’t the sort of person who’d have said what he had if he didn’t truly believe it.
By the time she turned Henry was already out of his bed, wearing his night clothes. He was staring at Charles in such a way she knew he was smelling blood for the first time, and that was one of the hardest parts of it all, so she was by his side in seconds. “You need to remember that another person is standing in front of you. I know what you’re smelling, Henry, because I went through it myself, but if you do something stupid you’re going to end up killing someone. That someone is your closest friend.”
“Your Majesty.” Charles bowed to Henry. “I am proud to be of service to you.” Even though he seemed totally calm Anne could see the panic he felt. It was the same panic she felt. “How do we do this, Anne?”
“The safest way is for you to offer your wrist to Henry. Henry, I want you to promise me you will never bite someone anywhere other than the wrist, at least to begin with, because it’s far too easy to kill someone if you do that.”
Henry was silent. “Is that really how blood smells?”
“It is to us.” Anne could smell Charles too, and she reminded herself Henry wasn’t the only person who needed to feed. “Focus, love, otherwise this is going to go very wrong. Tell me who that is in front of us.”
“What do we not want to do to Charles?”
“Kill him.” Henry grabbed hold of Anne’s hand. “How do I feed without killing him?”
“Remind yourself you can stop.” She studied Charles. “This is the man you least want to hurt. If it was a servant I know you wouldn’t care anywhere near as much as you do now, because they mean nothing to you, but you have to teach yourself how to make them mean something. You need to care enough about yourself to make them mean something, as killing them is going to have an effect on your rule.”
“Yes, it is. Anne, I’m going to be the King of England for the rest of time, aren’t I?”
“That’s true, and it’s why you need to be careful. Although they’re rare there are humans out there who would be willing to end your life, because of what you’ve become, and that’s the last thing we want. What we need to do is prove that we aren’t dangerous.”
“Feeding from me safely is the first step.” Charles looked between them. “Henry, if you can feed from me safely I can tell the world you aren’t dangerous.”
Nodding, Anne smiled at Charles. “He’s right. Every person you feed from without causing any harm will be able to put out the word that there’s no reason for anyone to be afraid of you.”
“I just need to do this first, right?” Unusually Henry sounded worried. “All I have to do is feed from Charles without hurting him.”
“There’s nothing for you to worry about. This is going to be easy for you.” She squeezed his hand. “All you need to do is be gentle and stop when I tell you to. We don’t actually need that much blood to be able to survive, so a few gulps should be enough for a little while, but, as you’re young, it’s going to be little and often. I can, if I have to, go for several days without feeding, although the length of time is different for each of us.”
“I can do this.” Henry took a couple of steps towards Charles. “I can do this.”
“You can do it.” Charles offered Henry his wrist. “I believe in you, Henry, and so does Anne. She wouldn’t have changed you if she didn’t.”
Biting hard on her lip Anne made the decision the best thing she could do was let Charles do the talking. If she had to she would step in, but she didn’t think she would. She was almost certain Charles would be able to stop Henry from going too far. It was different for her. Being a woman meant she was a lesser being, so Henry might say he was going to listen to her, and she might want to believe it, but that didn’t mean he actually would. Charles was Henry’s peer. They’d been close for far longer than Anne had been a part of Henry’s life and if there was anyone she trusted to help with the difficult job of teaching the King what he’d become it was Charles.
She watched as Henry took hold of Charles’ wrist. It was an intimate thing, and something she normally wouldn’t have wanted to watch, but she knew she needed to be there. Charles shared a look with her as teeth pierced flesh. There was no pain in his eyes, just understanding. Moments later Henry’s grip had increased and Anne nodded to Charles. They still had time to get Henry to remember who he was and why he had to be so careful with what he was doing.
“That’s enough, Henry.”
“You taste so good.”
“I’m sure I do, but if you kill me there’s going to be problems.”
“You are the King of England. The immortal King of England. You have to remember that. You aren’t some person on the street who can kill whoever they want. You have to be careful.” Charles shrugged. “I also wouldn’t put it past Mary to try to kill you if you were to hurt me.”
Laughing, Henry took a step backwards. “Thank you for that reminder.” He looked back at Anne. “I did it.”
“This was just the first time.” She smiled. “Being able to step away the first time is a good sign, but like I said it’s going to need to be little and often.”
“I’m fine with that.” Charles was wrapping something around his wrist. “It didn’t hurt.”
“You can’t feed Henry more than once a day. If you feed him more than that it’s entirely possible you might become addicted to the bite, or he might become addicted to you.”
For a long time the two of them stared at her. “I believe you said there was no one to teach you what you were, Anne.” The expression on Henry’s face made it obvious he thought she was lying to him. “How do you know all of this?”
“Give me some time, sweetheart, and I will tell you, but I’ve had to learn a lot about what I am alone.” She ran her tongue over her dry lips, wondering what the two of them might be able to see in her eyes. “That hasn’t been easy, or painless.”
Nodding, Henry stepped towards her and wrapped his arms around her. “You can have all the time you need. I never realised things had been so difficult.”
“You’re lucky. You have the two of us to look out for you.”
“I know.” He kissed the top of her head. “I now have my job to do. I’d like you have you by my side, Anne, if you think you’d be comfortable with that.”

Introducing James