Travelling by horse-drawn carriage was something only few could afford, but it did make the trip a lot easier and less tiresome. After all, Myriam had travelled by foot and on horseback for three years when she left Nice, and it hadn’t been a pleasant journey at all.
Not that being in a confined space with a vampire for three months was a breeze, but at least they could stop and rest for a day or so in a town they’d passed.
Kol hadn’t been particularly happy when Myriam found a large field of wildflowers, excitedly exclaiming that it was hard to get herb as most crops that she had known of were burned during the summers. Verbena was beautiful, and Myriam had seen it used in protection potions and the protection of homes.
Kol stayed clear of the field as Myriam waded through it, her hands running over the flowers, no doubt the flower sticking to her clothes and her hair and he was going to have a rash until they’d arrive somewhere where he could burn her clothes, and she could have a decent scrub.
He hadn’t told her about his weaknesses. Myriam believed still that he could be killed by a stake to the heart, and that it was his only weakness, but Verbena was a real threat to all vampires. He never bothered to build up a tolerance for it, seeing as he was an Original anyway, it wouldn’t put him down for long, it just hurt like hell.
But he had to draw a line when she picked the flowers, tied them into a lovely bunch and wanted to bring them inside the carriage. “No.”
“But they’re pretty! And they’re used for protection! A-and we can use the dried stuff in potions!” Myriam countered as she tried to push past him, brushing the bundle of Verbena against his arm, causing him to recoil and his vampire face came out. Myriam stumbled back as she looked at him in awe. She hadn’t seen his vampire face before, and it looked… not as frightening as he had made her believe.
“I said no!” he cried out as he rubbed his arm and tried to calm down. “That’s vervain. Mother Nature’s clever way of creating a weakness for everything that was created against her wishes. Humans can ingest vervain to make their blood taste bad to my kind of vampire and to stop us from compelling them. Not to worry, darling, you’re a witch, and I can’t tell you what to do against your wishes; that’s also Mother Nature’s protection of beings she created to deal with my kind.”
“Easy, I didn’t know,” she said calmly, still staying away from him after throwing the bundle back into the bushes. “It’s gone now. It won’t hurt you anymore.”
“You’re coated in it!”
“Okay, calm down,” she smiled at him before she started to strip off her clothes. “There’s a stream nearby, I’ll go and wash my hair. You can burn my clothes if you wish.”
He looked at her in shock. She was standing in front of him, stark naked and she was walking away from him, towards the stream. Myriam was gorgeous and the panic that he had felt merely ebbed away upon seeing her like that. Willing to be kind, to be nice, and helpful when she had hurt him by accident. He stepped over the clothes and followed her, keeping his distance, but her behaviour fascinated him. “Darling, why are you doing this?”
“I don’t want to hurt you, and I did.”
“It’s just a burn, and it’s already healing.”
“I still have its oils on me. Don’t worry, I’ll take a dip, scrub my skin, but could you get me some clean clothes?” Myriam looked over her shoulder then, flashing him a smile. “But once I’m clean, you’re going to tell me everything about what could hurt you.”
He zipped to the carriage to gather his thoughts and her clothes before returning. “What? So you can use that to hurt me?”
“You’re a vampire, Kol. We’ve been in each other’s company for nearly nine months. Trust goes both ways. Merde,” she rolled her eyes at him before splashing into the water. “Join me. The water is nice! Let’s have a little bit of fun, wash away 30 long days of travel!”
She didn’t have to tell him that twice! He removed his clothes and jumped into the water, splashing the water in her face as he landed. “Oh, you’re right, darling, the water is nice!”
Kol had an amazing physique. She had given her body freely, and sometimes not so freely, at times to pay for things men did for her, such as giving her a horse or food, but his beautiful face matched his fantastic body and Myriam wanted it. Maybe she was going to use her demons to get what she wanted, but she didn’t want to be like some of the wicked men she encountered. No… she had to entice him.
He wasn’t certain what had come over her after their swim, but she’d been quite forward in the carriage. Showing skin, sweet words, touches. And it was hard not to act on it. He was glad that they arrived in Florence so he could get out of the carriage and get them a place to stay.
“Am I repulsive?” Myriam asked as she walked after him. “Don’t I have a great body?”
“No and yes,” Kol replied as he turned around to face her. “Darling, I believed we had a different arrangement than this. I’d teach you, and take you to see your biological father.”
“But you are doing so much more,” she smiled at him. “You feed me. Clothe me.”
“And I don’t require payment.”
“But it’s not payment,” she looped her arm through his as they continued to walk. “I liked what I saw yesterday. You’re very handsome and very… well toned. I can only imagine what it would feel like to have your hands on me, your lips on mine… your manhood inside of me… We’re both adults, aren’t we? You can teach me, clothe me, feed me… and we can have some fun on the side. All work and no play makes us both bored, and in the long run, it’s not productive.”
“You’d like to renegotiate our deal?”
“We never had a deal, you kidnapped me,” Myriam huffed. “And then you told me what you wanted to do with me.”
“If we’re going into details, darling, you kidnapped me first!”
“I’ll give you some time to think about it.”
“And what if I refuse?”
“I’ll find a random man off the streets,” she smirked as she looked up at him. Myriam knew that Kol wouldn’t like that. But she hadn’t had sex for at least the amount of time she’d been with Kol, and she had to admit, she was missing it.
“That’s not going to happen.”
“You can’t stop me from doing that, that’s not what we agreed upon,” she replied, not taking her eyes off of him. “I have my needs too.”
“I’ll think about it,” Kol said as he stopped in front of a building. “This is our family home here in Florence. It’s nothing fancy, but we tend to have a home in every major city. The last time my family was here was about 200 years ago,” he opened the door and was greeted by one of the compelled vampires his brothers kept running the place. “Kol Mikaelson,” he introduced himself. “Prepare two bedrooms please, and make us something to eat.”
“Yes, sir,” the vampire replied and sped off.
Myriam looked around the grand hallway that she and Kol were in, and from the looks of it, the floors and the walls were all made out of expensive marble floors. Kol had told her that his family was wealthy, but this was insane. It didn’t even look like a home. It looked more like a mausoleum, but who was she to complain?
Kol took her to the library where the walls were covered top to bottom by books, ancient looking books on everything and anything. “Everywhere we go, we collect books, I’m pretty sure some are about witchcraft and perhaps even Demonology.”
Myriam smiled then. Kol had admitted not knowing a lot about her craft and her pets, and only made several good guesses on how she did it. Because in his mind, what she did wasn’t a lot different from a form of witchcraft called Kemiya something they practised in Arabia. Although the way Kol described it, it sounded more like what an alchemist would do and then a little spot of magic. Because Kemiya was big on destroying the fundamentals of an object and change it to something completely different with magic, to use it as a Dark Object. Myriam merely put a demon inside a trinket to keep them safe. She didn’t change the object, at all, only enriched it. For all she cared, she could stuff her demons inside glass vials and still be able to drink out of them.
“My brother Elijah is a historian of the sort. He loves his history and the documentation of it. He always believes that what happens now has already happened in the past and it can be changed. His interest comes with a lot of books.”
“I can see that.”
“We have repositories all over the world.”
“I get it. You’ve lived a long life, and you’re able to be collectors, there’s nothing wrong with that.”
“But you practice dark magic, do you not? I don’t think we have books on that here, but you can always simply expand your knowledge with different types of witchcraft.”
“Which you’ve been already teaching me, Kol. That is enough,” she said as she put her arms around him and looked up at him. “Have you given my proposal a thought?”
“The one you offered half an hour ago?”
“No, not yet.”
She narrowed her eyes at him before letting go of him and headed to the door. “Very well, I’ll be back shortly. It shouldn’t take me long to find what I desire right now.”
“That’s blackmail, darling,” he said as he appeared before her, keeping the door shut. “You haven’t even told me your name.”
“And you will not get it unless I get what I want,” she smirked.
Kol was tired of being the mouse in this cat and mouse play. Kol wasn’t a prey, he was a predator, and he was going to take what he wanted, too. He lifted her up and threw her over his shoulder before taking her to one of the bedrooms. Instead of putting her down on the bed, he put her down on the ground and pushed her against the wall. “I am trying to impress you, darling, and you want sex?”
“So far, I’m not impressed,” she countered, her eyes dark with lust as she looked up at him. Her heartbeat calm as ever. “I’m impressed by your knowledge, your handsome face and your delicious body. Not by marbled houses or an extensive collection of books. Or your wealth.”
“Oh, by the time I’m done with you, you will be thoroughly impressed, darling,” he promised her before kissing her hard.
Oh, Myriam was impressed alright. Kol had the stamina, and while he had been rough on occasion, he also had a tender side to him that made their sex very enjoyable. It had been one of the first times that she had experienced such a great feeling and by the time it was breakfast, Myriam was genuinely satiated and couldn’t move from the bed. “I think you broke me.”
“Good,” Kol laughed. “I’m flattered.”
“But I am famished,” she looked at him and smiled. “Breakfast and then a nap?”
“Sounds like a plan, darling, you’d want to be fully alert when we pay a visit to your family. Perhaps while you’re napping, I’ll find out who the bastard is so I can take you right to him.”
“Oh, yes,” she nodded as she breathed out when Kol’s hand touched a sensitive area on her skin. “Stop that.”
“Why?” he teased her as he did it again. “Too much?”
She nodded. “Way too much.”
“Very well. Darling, it would help if you’d give me the name of your mother and her occupation, it would make my search a lot easier.”
“Her name was Veronique du Mer, and she was a courtesan.”
“Du Mer? Did she give you her last name too?”
“Don’t be silly. I only have one name,” she rolled her eyes at him before stifling a yawn.
“I’ll be back shortly,” he kissed her before getting out of the bed and headed out of the room, still unclothed, to find one of the servants to get his companion something to eat. He then took a shower and got dressed, finding his witch passed out on the bed with a meal on the nightstand.
After Myriam woke up and had her meal, she took a shower and got dressed before locating her bag and counted her trinkets. She let out a relieved breath when she found them all still in place and took one demon from its imprisonment. “Find Kol Mikaelson and keep an eye on him,” she commanded him. “Do that, and I shall free you once he returns safely.”
“He’s a vampire, milady. He can take care of himself.”
“You will do as I command you to or there will be consequences,” she said as she pointed in the general direction of the door. “Find Kol and keep an eye on him. If he even spills one drop of blood, I want to know. I’m supposed to deal with this, not him.”
“As you wish,” the demon bowed and shimmered out of existence. The demon was one of the first Myriam had pulled out of the other dimension to serve her, as she was building her tiny army and one of the weakest. She could get a more powerful one in its place.
Myriam then went to the library, merely to have a look around and marvel at all the knowledge. She hadn’t been impressed by it when Kol showed her, and she still wasn’t, but perhaps there was a book that she wanted to borrow for more spells for her magic. Or perhaps… yes! She managed to get the big book off the shelf and dusted it off, and happily sat down in one of the chairs with it to read. It was a book on herbs, and she wanted to know more about those, and Verbena, Vervain, in particular.
While she couldn’t be compelled as she was a witch, didn’t mean that she was safe from vampires biting her and draining her dry. Even Kol could one day decide to do this to her, and she wanted to live a normal, happy life. Would it be possible for her to create her own mixture of herbs and make it into a tea, to protect her blood? Would it clash with Wolfsbane? Kol had told her about werewolves too, and how they didn’t particularly like that herb. Wouldn’t it be nice that should a beast take a bite out of her that they’d die a long and painful death?
Would the tea be a problem for Kol? It would be inside of her, and she could keep it in a new satchel for protection towards him. Perhaps he wouldn’t even like the idea, but she was going to talk to him about it seeing as most of the herbs she thought would protect her from the inside was growing on the way between Italy and Spain, to begin with.
“What’s the look on that face?” Kol’s voice sounded, making her look up only to see him smile widely. “Oh, herbs!”
“Yes,” Myriam nodded. “Did you find him?”
“Good,” she smiled at him as she broke the trinket her demon had been attached to. “Can we go and visit him now?”
“If you want,” he smiled at her before pointing at the book. “Any interesting thoughts?”
“Actually, yes,” she said carefully. “And I don’t want you to be mad at me for saying this, okay?”
“I know that you won’t take a bite out of me. But, you told me that there are more vampires and that there are werewolves in existence too, and they could harm me if I’m not fast enough with a spell or commanding a demon to protect me. I was thinking I would make a concoction of herbs we found along the way to Italy. The Verbena, the wolfsbane, the lavender and the wolf lichen. Perhaps some ginger and rosebud for taste. Would that protect my blood from both species?”
“It’d sure pack a punch, yes,” Kol cocked his head. “Why would you think I’d get mad for you wanting to protect yourself for when I’m not around?”
She smiled then. “You won’t always be around, I bet that once you’ve taught me all that you know, you’ll abandon me for better pastures. I was worried about the Verbena.”
“Well, if you keep it away from me and are careful how you pluck the flowers, I’m not offended or panicking. As you trust me in not killing you, I trust you in not hurting me,” Kol squeezed her knee then. “Before I take you to the Medici court, we both need to have a change of clothes. We need to look more regal. Fancy dress, darling! I’m sure that this house has some clothes you will fit!”
The dress felt like nothing as if she wasn’t wearing anything but it was quite big to move around in, and with one of the vampire servants doing her hair, she felt like royalty. Like a princess. “I don’t even recognise myself.”
“You look absolutely stunning, darling,” Kol smiled at her. “How do I look?”
“Handsome as always,” she looped her arm through his. Kol liked being complimented, he was very vain in that aspect, but she didn’t mind giving him compliments because she wasn’t lying. He was handsome in every single way.
As they were seated in the carriage, Kol started to tell her about what they were going to walk into. “They’re having a ball tonight. A lot of important people are going to be present, but I was told that your father is attending too. Hence why we had to look the part, otherwise we would have never been allowed entry, or we would have stood out too much.”
“Fancy dress, some dancing, some food… drinks… loads of idle chit-chat and… perhaps some mayhem,” Kol smirked. “I do love my balls.”
“Which one? The ones attached to yourself?”
“Those too,” he barked out a laugh. “But there’s nothing wrong with gatherings like these, I always make sure that everyone is having a great time… no wait, I always make sure I have a great time.”
“And what about me?”
“I don’t know, we’ll just have to see how well you fit in with me,” he smiled a knowing smile. He was curious how Myriam’d react to his kind of party, but in all fairness, she was also an unknown element, and she had a lot of rage inside of her. Perhaps she would be the one to start things off. “Do you have your army with you, darling?”
“Of course,” she gently patted her small clutch bag. “But I’m still not sure why you wanted me to bring them.”
“Oh, in case you want to oppress someone or curse someone…”
“What! At an important ball like that?”
“I never said it was important, merely that there were going to be important people attending, including your father. You don’t have anything to worry about, darling. I’ll keep you safe.”
Myriam’s brow rose as she gave him a sceptical smile. “I’ve come to learn in my time with you that safe with a vampire often tends to be conditional.”
“I’ve told you many times before, we tend to be fickle,” he mused. “Hence why it’s a good idea that you want to make yourself a tea blend you’ll drink every day. In case I forget that I may want more than just a small sip from your pretty neck while in bed.”
Myriam laughed then, shaking her head. “Cochon.”
“And proud of it, darling!”
They rode in the carriage for about ten minutes when it came to a halt, and after Kol helped Myriam out of it, she was in awe of the building in front of her. It was enormous. The stone masonry was incredibly detailed, the carvings utterly enchanting and the whole building was quite intimidating.
“You haven’t seen anything yet,” he whispered in her ear as he gently took her arm and guided her to the two wide-open doors leading into the courtyard.
Two soldiers were standing on the door’s side to make sure that everyone going in was a friendly face, and of course, they were stopped by one of them. “Kol Mikaelson,” he said as he compelled the soldier. “You’ll find that my family’s name doesn’t require an invitation.”
“Indeed, your family’s name doesn’t require an invitation,” the man repeated with a nod. “Enjoy your evening, Mr Mikaelson.”
“Grazie,” he said before pulling Myriam along with him into the wide open space. The building looked like something his brothers would have built. Perhaps it looked a lot like their home in Rome, without the courtyard. No, as far as Kol knew the only home with a courtyard was somewhere in Spain. “All those important people,” he whispered in her ear. “Would be such a shame if harm would come over them.”
“I thought this was a ball and not a gathering?”
“Once it’s time, the other doors will open, and everyone will be spoken to by the man of the house, and invited to join him for a dance in the ballroom before we’d all be allowed to scatter and roam the property. There will be servants telling us where we’re not allowed to go if we stray too far,” he explained as he took a glass of sparkling wine from one of the platters and handed it to her, before taking one himself. “There’s a painting in this home that I think you’ll love to see.”
“I don’t care, I want to see who my father is,” she said as she took a sip of the wine and scrunched up her nose because of the taste, it wasn’t anything like she’d tasted before, and took another one, that was better to her taste buds.
“Relax, enjoy yourself. I’m certain the man will introduce himself to you before we have a chance to find him.”
“And why is that?”
“You’re really impatient, aren’t you?” He laughed. “Or perhaps you’re nervous?”
“And so what if I am?”
He let out a breath as they walked around the courtyard. It was adorned with statues and had pillars all over, creating a lot of opportunities to do whatever the hell he wanted without being seen. “Tonight, we’re both predators. I already told you that he will find you, first. These people won’t know what happens to them until it has already happened. And you know what predators do; they observe their prey first and then strike at the most opportune moment. It’s the thrill of the chase.”
“No need for doubt, darling. Tell me what you see, who will be the weak? Aren’t some people more influenced by your demons than others?”
She sighed as they kept walking around the courtyard, sipping their wine. “The women hold no power. Women are invisible but not to those in their own circles,” she muttered. “It’s likely that when things do get bloody, no one will believe them and will put them away in a poor house for suffering from hysteria.” Every single human in that courtyard looked immaculate. Spotless. Wealthy. “They all look important and wealthy. Healthy, too. Some men who are shorter than others look stronger than their friends. But I’d have my demons always go for the stronger men, as they’re more dangerous.”
“Of course, but sometimes you can hold more power by influencing the less strong,” he agreed. “You have nothing to fear from these people, but I do wish to take a bite out of someone later on. However, you could use your demons to influence someone into signing over their wealth to you for when we eventually go our separate ways. Although I have to inform you that I’m not tired of you yet, nor willing to let you leave.”
She smiled at him then. “I’m always thinking about the future.”
“Good, then add this to the list; one day, this place will be yours.”
Myriam looked at him and shook her head as she laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous!”
“You, like me, have the power to take what you want. Or to take what you don’t want. It’s all a matter of careful planning and patience,” he countered. “You are powerful, Myriam, and you shouldn’t have to hide it. You should take what is owed to you, or take when the current owner is not worthy of it. So believe me when I say that when I’ve taught you everything I know, you will be more than equipped to take this home as your own.”
She shook her head as she took another sip of her wine. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard.”
“Sure,” she shook her head again. “Sometimes you’re a strange being, Kol Mikaelson.”
“I like to keep people on their toes,” he winked at her before nodding towards the doors that opened. “Ah, it is time.”
“Good evening well-esteemed ladies and gentlemen,” the man spoke, his voice projecting through the courtyard. “I welcome you all into my home here in Florence. I hope you’ll enjoy your evening, but first, let us open this ball with a traditional dance from our lovely country in our ballroom! Follow me, please!”
“That is Giulio d’Medici. Supposedly this house was sold on to a different family after the lower ranking Medici’s didn’t want to live here anymore,” Kol informed her quietly. “But his entire family, brothers, sisters, parents, wives, children, lives here. Your father is his brother.”
She narrowed her eyes at Kol before looking at the retreating head of her uncle. “I have a big family then?”
“At least on your father’s side, yes.”
“He should have never dismissed my mother. He could have made her a permanent fixture even when I came along! Mother would have had such a better life!”
“And you, don’t forget about you, darling,” he reminded her. “You’re everything left of your mother’s side of the family.”
“Perhaps I should decimate his family so he can feel what it’s been like for the last 19 years of my life!”
“Patience,” he put his hand on the small of her back as he guided her into the ballroom. “Look up, there’s a beautiful painting on the ceiling which depicts the Apotheosis of the family.”
“Flying cows?” she muttered as she looked up. She wasn’t really knowledgeable about the Roman Gods, but something didn’t feel right looking at the rest. “What’s that on the sides?”
“Ah…” he ran a hand through his hair. “Nothing important.”
“Kol. You wanted me to see this. Tell me.”
Sighing, he looked up. “That’s the God Neptune who’s wedding Amphitrite and on the other side… That’s the Goddess Proserpina who’s being seized by the God of the Underworld.”
She looked at him, blinked at his choice of words. “You could say rape, you know. My mother wasn’t raped. She was in service willingly.”
“But you never were willingly in the service,” he pointed out.
“I never told you that!” Myriam hissed as her nails dug into his arm, eyes glancing around the room with rising suspicion. “And I wasn’t in any service!”
“But you were a woman alone, travelling from Nice to Spain. By yourself. Young. Surely men took what they wanted from you when you weren’t willing,” he calmly explained to her. “I know that rape can be a sensitive subject.”
“Not to me! So don’t you baby me when it comes to that, do you understand?” she furiously replied as she let go of him and walked out of the ballroom, Myriam needed to calm herself down, take a deep breath and collect herself before she’d do something irreversible. And somehow, she couldn’t help but find a strange parallel between herself and Proserpina, although Kol never took anything from her that she hadn’t offered.
Her knowledge of the Roman Gods was slim, but she knew that Proserpina had to do something with the underworld and Kol basically was the underworld or something similar. Kol’s words of ‘what happened in the past is bound to repeat itself’ echoing through her mind.
How could she allow herself to get so worked up over something as insignificant as this? Yes, men took what she didn’t want to give to them, but she had resigned her fate and was now feeling ambivalent about it, it happened, and she got over it. She had adapted by being the first to ask for something and then give them payment; the enjoyment of her body. It felt less dirty that way.
She found herself circling the fountain in the garden, her fists balled to her side as she tried to release the tension in her body and to quieten the war inside her mind. She was here for a purpose, and she was getting distracted.