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--"There's a lamp that won't light in my poetry room"--


Natalie sighed as she viewed the stack of paperwork that threatened to slide off her desk.   She knew it was her own fault, she had allowed herself to get hopelessly behind.   The last few months had been hard for her, she found herself struggling with apathy towards her work, and life in general.   Somehow all colour had drained from her world, and at times just getting out of bed was a trial.

It had been almost six months since Nick had left her drained and near death on the floor of his loft.   She did not know where he was but she knew somewhere deep inside her that she would not see him again.   Since then she had been struggling to admit to herself that the man she had loved so deeply had betrayed her.   But she supposed that she should have expected it, it was not the first time that Nick had let her down, although it was definitely the most hurtful.

--"Children off playing in a big full moon, my man's barricaded there in his room, he's coming out soon."--

She found her mind starting to wander to past disappointments, all the times that Nick had refused to confide in her, wouldn't admit her into his life, all in the name of keeping her safe.   The times that he backslid to drinking blood, forgot to take the treatments she prescribed, all the little hurts that had culminated in what she viewed as his final betrayal.   Disregarding her wishes, and leaving her for dead, she angrily pushed away from her desk.   "He knew I wanted to live," she thought.   As her first rush of anger began to fade she suddenly realised that that was still true, she still wanted to live.

--"I remember when I met him he blew in like the wind, no one was more beautiful or dangerous than him, he blew through my soul like a tangerine wind he'll be coming out soon"--

Instead of driving straight home after work Natalie drove to the lake, as she watched the sky lighten she thought back to the past.   Back to her 28th birthday when a handsome blond man with glowing eyes had woken up on her table.   In the instant that she saw him she knew that the word ordinary had just flown out of her life for good.   And with the first cold touch of his hand on her cheek, had known her life would never be the same.   She wondered if she had known then what she knew now, if she would have been so eager to help him.

--"I never knew I was built so strong, my love, my heart is a boat on the sea. I never thought I was built for hurricanes, my heart, my heart is a boat on the sea."--

As Natalie watched the sun strike the lake and felt the first fingers of daylight began to warm her face she realised she had spent too long living in the dark, for the first time in months she felt a glimmer of hope.   Perhaps she could move on, regain her life.   She was still young, still had time to find happiness and love.   But still she felt an empty hole deep within her, and a part of her doubted that it could ever be filled.

--"Luxury looms on a fog bound day, I'm not alone now, and I'm not afraid, I'm clean and I'm free it's all stripped away, but that's OK"--

Natalie exited her superior's office with a feeling of relief.   After expecting a battle to get a transfer to the day shift, she had been pleasantly surprised when her boss had readily agreed to the move, commenting that she had done more than her fair share of time on the graveyard shift, and that it was time that someone else took on the responsibility.   She had planned many changes in her life, the first and most important to her was returning to the daylight world that until that morning she had not even realised she had missed.   She knew that there was a long road in front of her, but now was a time for healing.

--"I wonder if he ever looks down on the sea and thinks about the time that he spent with me. I know everything is exactly how it has to be, all's right with this world."--

Natalie stood anxiously at the door of the school and watched her son Richard walk away with his teacher, her husband Mark stood at her side and gave her hand a quick squeeze.
"He'll be alright you know, he has his mother's courage" Mark said softly.
"I know," said Natalie, "I just realised that he's growing up, he not my little man anymore."
Mark frowned at his watch, "I have to get to work, are you going to be OK?"
"I'll be fine," she replied, giving him a little smile.   "It's just hard to believe that he's five years old already, in my heart he's still my little baby."
"Well you'll have a new one to nurse soon," he said stroking her gently rounded stomach.   "You'll probably find you'll be glad for the little break you get while Richard is in school. I really have to get going, I'll give you a call at lunch time," Mark said as he gave her a quick peck on the cheek.

As Natalie walked slowly towards her car, she pondered on the changes that had happened to her in the last seven years.   She didn't feel like returning home just yet, she had decided to take the last month of her pregnancy off to relax and prepare; but relaxation was not something she had much of a talent for.   She drove aimlessly for a while until she found herself at the lake where she had watched a sunrise seven years earlier and had made the decision to rebuild her life.   As she watched mothers with their children in a nearby park she realised she had everything that she ever wanted, a loving husband, a beautiful son, and scans had revealed that she would soon have a much-wanted daughter.   But there was still a part of her that wondered about Nick, where he was and what he was doing.   As much as she loved Mark, she realised there would always be a special place in her heart for the man who had occupied her every waking thought for four magical heart-breaking years.

--"I never knew I was built so strong, my heart, my heart is a boat on the sea."--

As if they had just shared a brief psychic kiss, just as Natalie was contemplating the strangest, most turbulent time in her life, half a world away Nick was sitting at a desk in his extensive private library, reminiscing about his time in Toronto.
Nick was still following his quest, but after what had happened in his loft his final night in Toronto he realised that his path to humanity was one that he had to find on his own.   His last seven years had been spent in a strange kind of limbo, as he studied long and hard, learning all he could about biology, and anything else that pertained to his 'condition'.   He had come to believe Natalie on one thing, that his condition was a physical one; all his attempts at a cure up until he met Natalie had been a hodgepodge of wild superstition and half-baked metaphysical theories.   As a result he had moved half way across the world to New Zealand where there had been promising advances in the field of recombinant DNA research.   He hoped that somewhere in the advancing field of gene therapy there would be a solution for him.

--"I never thought I was built for hurricanes, my heart my heart is a boat on the sea"--


*30 years later*

A man with blond hair, which was just starting to show the first hints of gray, stood in a graveyard watching a burial service from a distance.   As the casket was slowly lowered into the ground his eyes focused on the party of mourners.   A woman in her late twenties and a slightly older man stood at the graveside bracketing an older woman, as if they were holding her up.   As the mourners broke up and started to walk to their cars the party of three that he had been watching so intently turned towards him.   His breath caught in his throat as he saw the younger woman was almost identical to Natalie when he had known her.   Nick then turned his attention to the woman with stunning white hair walking between her two children.   Even through the mask of her grief he could see an aura of strength surrounding her, and realized that she was not being held up by her children, but was instead giving them her strength.

--"In the cold and the dark you're the grace of my heart"-

Two months later Nick stood hesitantly at Natalie's door wondering if he had the courage to knock, and even if he could find the courage, if he should.   Several times he had come to her door just to walk away ashamed of his cowardice.   Just as he turned to leave again he remembered what Natalie had said to him that final night in his loft.   "I have faith there is a future for us, here as we are, or somewhere else."   The pain that shot through his chest almost brought him to his knees, how much he wanted to believe her words, but experience had shown him that trying to return to past was never a wise idea.   But still he wondered, now that he was mortal, if things would be different, if he could return to a happier time and perhaps find the redemption he needed.   As he debated with himself he couldn't help but wonder if it was really fair to Natalie to turn up at her door like this.   Finally he came to a decision, he had not given her a choice that night.   By walking away now he would again be making a decision for her, robbing her of all choice again.

--"In the cold and the dark you're the grace of my heart." -

The morning sun peeked through the window like a small child uncertain of its welcome.   The curtains were always open for the first rays of sun in this house.   After being robbed of the sunlight for eight centuries its occupant never wanted to miss a single moment of it again.   As the sun stole on to the bed, the light threw a hazy aura around the two figures lying side by side.   An old woman with a fragile beauty that always seems to come to those who have lived well and don't regret their choices lay with her head resting on the shoulder of the man.   His hair now completely grey, with his features relaxed into a peaceful expression that belongs to those who after an eternity of walking alone have come home and found the place they were longing for.   So still and peaceful they were.   The casual observer would be forgiven for believing they were merely sleeping.   Had they been able to see this room a mere half hour earlier they would have been perplexed at the patrician man with the military bearing who had been standing at the foot of the bed.
Grief was a foreign emotion to this man, yet the hurt now etched deeply into his features could be nothing else.
"My son, my son" LaCroix had whispered to his own pain.

After he had left Fleur, LaCroix had hardened his heart to love.   As his daughter had pointed out, a vampires' heart must be cold, to survive immortality it must be unbreakable.   But to Nicholas, to his son, he had opened his heart, believing that this paternal love for an immortal son was 'safe'.   It seemed that after 2000 years even he had lessons to learn.   When Nicholas had taken Fleur away from him, he had promised that the favour would be returned that when Nicholas had found a mortal woman who he truly loved that retribution would be his.
When he had seen his son out with his wife just a few months earlier he could see the love shining in her eyes as she looked at Nicholas, and in the gentleness of Nicholas' actions as he had assisted his wife into a waiting taxi.   In the powerful reflection of their love he was transported back to a moonlit garden where the eternal stars had stared down on him and his fateful love.
"I cannot bear to lose another love."   Fleur's words drifted across the centuries to him.
LaCroix then turned away from the revenge he had always desired, not in spite of Fleur, but because of her.   To leave Nicholas to his love and happiness, this would be his gift to the woman he had loved more than anyone.   As he had stared down at the couple on the bed, at last, he believed that happy endings were possible, after many happy years together Nick and Natalie had died together in their sleep, the love that guided them through so many turbulent times had finally taken them home.