This fic is dedicated to @Rodania ♡ and @Mu11berry, whose rants about T/G causes me to have the dream that inspired this fic. This is...definitely not the kind of pairing or story I usually write, and it turned out kinda OOC, but I hope the fans of this pairing enjoy it anyway.
On the Nature of Marriage (and Vampires)
Summary: Set AV2-era. Te'ijal and Galahad work out some problems in their relationship.
Afternoon sunlight dappled through the windows of the old Sedona mansion. On the threshold stood a couple - a lady in red and a knight in tarnished armor. The woman swung open the doors, turning the ornate handles with a moonlight-pale hand adorned with polished ruby fingernails. She briefly considered asking her husband to carry her over the threshold, as she once did many years ago, but she already know what her answer would be. Instead, she sashayed grandly into the house, leading her partner by the hand.
"Here it is. The house we shared with Rhen Pendragon over a century ago. Galahad, do you like it?"
Galahad remained a pillar in the center of the grand foyer, ignoring Te'ijal's attempts to lead him around as if they were in a ballroom. "So this is what you were doing when you went to the Overworld," he observed.
"Yes, and it was quite a bit of trouble, too. This estate has been the summer home of the Pendragons for centuries. A man named Uthar Pendragon was willing to sell, though. With a bit of bribery, of course." Te'ijal grinned, showing off fangs that sparkled in the sunlight.
"Uthar is a respectable man. I hope you haven't slighted his family."
"It was harmless, my dear. I paid him a respectable sum, not that he needs it anyway." Te'ijal ran along the perimeter of the room, opening curtains to flood the room with light that reflected off the gilded banisters and light fixtures. "Look at how bright it is!" She reached up to remove the broad-rimmed sun hat she used to hide her preternatural features from mortals. Stray locks of ruby red hair sprang loose from their updo, glinting in the sunlight as they fell. Te'ijal smiled, a genuine smile of joy that was so different from her usual mischievous smirk. Galahad had to look away.
"It certainly is beautiful," he mused. "Thank you, wife."
"I'll get our bags from the carriage," said Te'ijal, and she flitted out the door. When she returned after unpacking, she found Galahad in the dining room, tracing the corner of the table that was much too large for two people.
Te'ijal placed a hand on the shoulder of Galahad's armor. "I remember when we were first married, and I would chase you around this table for hours," she laughed. "But we don't have to eat here anymore, if you wish. Is something the matter?"
Galahad turned to face her. "Look at the table." Te'ijal looked, seeing the gold-plated edges, the polished wooden surface, and the plates and silverware set up for a meal, probably by the servants that used to wait on the Pendragons. "I can barely even see my reflection in it," Galahad noted bitterly. "And you - you're not even there at all." He turned away again, not wanting to face his wife, his maker, the woman who had given him all this but could never give him back his life.
"I'm right here, Galahad. Why does it matter if we can't see our reflections? All we need to see is each other. I thought this is what you wanted - to live under the sun again."
He suddenly slammed his fist on the table, causing the dinnerware to clatter. Te'ijal flinched, but only slightly - she was a warrior hundreds of years old, and her husband's temper was nothing new to her. "Look at me!" He thrust his hand in front of her face. "My skin is already starting to burn. I can never truly live in the light, not after what you did to me."
Galahad stalked off to one of the bedrooms - the bedroom they had shared after they were married. Te'ijal knew how to battle, but comforting others was something foreign to her. She thought she had finally done something right to please him. Through years of ranting about his moral code, Galahad had taught her that marriage was about sacrifice. Leaving her home in Ghed'ahre wasn't easy, but she did it for him. Te'ijal had sacrificed a fair bit, but she couldn't sacrifice her very nature. Was that what he wanted her to do? After so many centuries, her humanity was nothing more than a distant memory. Except, of course, with Galahad. Being around him made her feel foolish human things, like anger, and love, and stinging guilt that didn't use to bother her but now pricked at her eyes and heart. She wanted to run after Galahad, to apologize, to tell him off for being so irrational, to show him that he had hurt her too. But all she did was wait for night to fall, as if the moon held all her answers.
The next morning, Galahad woke to birds chirping and sunlight filtering through the windows. It was a feeling he hadn't experienced for a hundred years. The sunlight warmed his soul for a blissful, ignorant moment before he remembered he didn't have a soul anymore and that the sun would burn him if he didn't apply his morning sunblock. He reached over to wake his wife, and then the memory of last night's argument came back too, along with a pang of guilt for having acted so ungrateful.
"Wife?" he called. The shout echoed through the empty house. Pressing down a feeling of hurt, Galahad got out of bed to check the other rooms. "I'm sorry for my outburst last night," he said, hoping that she'd appear to accept his apology. His calls became more frantic as he searched the house. It was only by accident that he discovered a note left on the dining room table, written in his wife's flourishing penmanship.
The house is yours. I've gone to the Underworld to think some things over. I'll be back soon.
The humid night air soothed Te'ijal's skin instantly as she crossed into the Underworld. As much as she loved her adventures in the land above, the realm of darkness was her true home. People like her husband couldn't understand the appeal of the darkness, of the everlasting night and shadowy corners full of twisted and wonderful things.
She enjoyed the long walk to Ghed'ahre, pausing by her old house near the front of the city. But that wasn't why she was here today. The library loomed large at the edge of town, with several floors dedicated to preserving centuries' worth of books. It was a common misconception of the living that the undead were also brain-dead, but since most of them were hundreds of years old and didn't concern themselves with the time-consuming chore of surviving, it was only natural that they often developed academic interests. The Ghed'ahre library was the largest in all of Aia, second only to the Elvish library in Delamere.
The main lobby was milling with undead creatures of all sorts. Ghosts visiting from Casket Hill rifled through books, possibly hoping to find information about a lost loved one. A group of darklings was hovering near the highest shelf on the bookcase, poring over a large volume and whispering about a prophecy (word on the street was that the prophecy wouldn't come to pass for hundreds of years, but it was never to early to start preparing). Te'ijal approached the vampire at the front desk, a stout, bald man who was one of the oldest in Ghed'ahre. "Could I speak with Gyendal Ravenfoot, please?"
"Professor Ravenfoot is currently occupied with his research. Please come back later."
"He can't make an exception for his own sister?"
"Te'ijal? You're back so soon," said the vampire, taking off his glasses. "In that case, you'll find him on the third floor."
Te'ijal wasted no time in racing up the stairs. The third floor was nearly empty, save for one cloaked figure tucked away between too bookshelves. "Gyendal."
The vampire looked up from his reading. "Te'ijal!" Gyendal threw down his book and enveloped his sister in a crushing embrace.
"Sister, how long has it been?"
"Too long. Almost fifty years."
"Ah, yes, I've been traveling in the Overworld."
"You know, I live there now. Just got the Pendragon's old place in Sedona."
"The Arishta Isles? I prefer the Mainland myself." Gyendal pulled out two chairs and sat down. "So, what brings you here? Besides wanting to catch up with your little brother."
Te'ijal joined her brother at the table. "I have a...problem, that may require magic. And no one I know is more skilled at magic than you, Gyen. Galahad-"
Gyendal rolled his eyes, not even trying to mask his reaction. "That human again? You've been obsessed with him for a century. Humans aren't pets, Tei. They're vicious creatures that would like nothing more than to murder the lot of us."
"Coming from someone who spent the last half-century in the Overworld," Te'ijal scowled. "Besides, this one's my husband. Will you help me or not?" Gyendal sighed, and nodded in assent. "Thank you, brother. I...I need to know if there's any way of turning a vampire back into a human."
Gyendal stood up suddenly. "You can't turn into a human, Te'ijal!"
Te'ijal followed suit, slamming her hands on the table as she did so. "Not me, you idiot! I did think of it at first, but I could never give up this - immortality, inhuman strength, Ghed'ahre. It's entirely too much fun. There are some things you just can't sacrifice. But Galahad," Te'ijal lowered her voice and sat down, pushing her white-streaked bangs out of her face. "Galahad will never be happy as one of us. He doesn't love me, so nothing I give him will ever be enough."
Gyendal pondered for a moment. "There might be something I can do." He led Te'ijal to a bookcase full of dark magic-related items. "During my travels, I learned of a recently deceased human sorcerer named Mordred Darkthrop," he began, pointing to a diagram of an orb in a textbook. "He's creating a set of orbs, one of darkness and one of light. But there is a rumor that he created another orb, one which can make the undead live again. I've begun researching more about these orbs, but I haven't found their location. When I return to the Overworld, I'll make every effort to find it for you."
"Thank you, brother." Te'ijal turned to leave, and paused. "I still don't know what to do about Galahad. Even after all this time, he still acts like a human. I don't understand..."
Gyendal scoffed, lost in a passage about the Orb of Darkness. "Humans, so sentimental. I'm sure you'll think of something."
A heavy feeling of guilt weighed down Galahad like a second suit of armor as he traipsed through the forest surrounding Ghed'ahre. He had chased his own wife away to the Underworld with his petulant temper. A century ago, such an abhorrent act would have been unthinkable to him. Contrary to her infernal nature, his wife had been...kind. Galahad would never have thought a demon could learn to love, but maybe he was wrong. Or maybe his wife wasn't a demon after all.
"Te'ijal?" He called. The woods didn't even give an echo in response.
A scream pierced the night.
Galahad's sword was drawn in an instant, ready to defend. He ran faster through the forest. When he saw the victim, his sword dropped.
His wife lay on the ground, blood staining her pale skin, a stake jammed through her ribcage.
He rushed to her in an instant. "Te'ijal." It was the first time he'd called her by her name in...he couldn't even remember how long. His hand moved to the stake in her chest, but he was no healer. It settled behind her head instead, cradling it as he lifted her into his lap. "Te'ijal, I'm so sorry."
The eyes and lips that were usually so bright and full of fire were now faded to a hue weaker than that of the dried blood. Her lips twisted into a serene smile, one he'd never seen on her before. Even as her life bled out in his arms, Galahad couldn't help but think she was beautiful. He wanted to ask who did this to her - chase after them, make them pay with his sword - but he feared she didn't have many moments left. A hot tear pricked at his eyes. Galahad blinked it away in surprise, but another one only fell in its place. He thought vampires couldn't cry, but the tears had come anyway.
The voice didn't come from the woman in his arms, but from several feet away. It sounded like...but no, it couldn't be.
"Galahad, I heard your voice. Stop hiding."
Galahad had lived twice as long as most humans, but the sight of the woman who was currently dying in his arms running up to him was both the most relieving and the strangest. "Husband, what...oh."
Te'ijal reached for her bow and arrow, and fired a shot into her own chest. The woman in Galahad's arms morphed into a small blue darkling, who snickered and jumped away before Galahad could stick him with his sword.
"I overheard you in the library, Tei...just wait til I tell the Professor about this!" The darkling cackled and skittered away into the night.
Te'ijal reached a hand out to her husband, who, too shaken to stand up on his own, gladly accepted. "Galahad, are you alright? Did that pest hurt you?"
"No, it didn't do anything," Galahad shook his head. "Actually, yes. I thought you were dead. I almost had a heart attack!" Galahad was in serious danger of either shaking his wife in frustration or grabbing her by the shoulders and kissing her passionately, so he instead enveloped her in a fierce hug.
Te'ijal didn't know how to respond. Galahad hadn't hugged her in...well, ever. So she did the only thing she could do - she hugged him back, gripping him like she really was dying and he was the only thing anchoring her to the world.
"Foolish husband, you know vampires don't have hearts."
As they stood there holding each other, each of their faces tucked into the other's necks so neither could see the tears running down their faces, both decided to ignore the inaccuracy of that statement.
"Husband, I have a gift for you," Te'ijal said as she joined Galahad for breakfast. Neither of them actually needed to eat, but they had found it was a routine they enjoyed to help pass the time in their new home. A glass of cow's blood for Te'ijal, coffee for Galahad, and toast and star peaches for them both.
"Is it another house?" Galahad joked.
Te'ijal merely raised her eyebrows cryptically and presented him with a small box. "Open it," she encouraged. Curiosity piqued, Galahad complied.
Inside was a necklace with a glowing pendant. It was the same one that his wife had worn around her neck since before they'd been married. His fingers were pulled to it, almost magnetically.
His wife had given him his soul back.
"Do you like it?" Te'ijal asked, feigning nonchalance. "I got it from a lovely Necromancer's shop. I was thinking of keeping it for myself, but I thought it matched so well with your lovely eyes, and-"
"Te'ijal," he cut her off with a hand over hers. "Thank you."
Galahad turned the pendant over in his hands. The contract binding him to Te'ijal had technically been voided when she married him, but she'd still worn his soul around her neck. After all these years, his soul was once again his own.
He leaned over and fastened it around her neck. "But I think you'd better keep it."