Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
As a side note, I know that Les Catacombes De Paris and the Musée National Picasso are not really open at night, but in a Sookie’s universe, I have a feeling that everything would be open 24/7 to cater to everyone.
L’Empire De La Mort
It was raining when we woke, so when we left the hotel, Eric wrapped us both in his trench coat and took off, heading south. I was able to tuck my head against his chest, protecting myself from the downpour, but by the time we arrived at the gate at the entrance to the catacombs, Eric was dripping water. He shook his head lightly, splattering my face with water.
“Watch it, mister,” I said playfully, feeling a little guilty that I had used his body and coat to shield myself. I smoothed out the layers of my full knee-length skirt and adjusted my shirt, which always seemed to be disheveled by flying.
Eric just smiled at me and pulled his wallet out of his pocket to cover the expense. “Deux billets s’il vous plait” (Two tickets please).
The man took his money and said, “Aucune photographie au flash, ni du vol s’il vous plait.” (No flash photography, or theft please.)
“What was that?” I asked trying to pick out the words I understood, which, disappointingly out of the whole sentence was, ‘please.’
Eric turned to translate, when the man said to me in halting English, “Please no flash photography, and uh no stealing.”
I scrunched up my nose. “Stealing? Ew!”
The man laughed and then in a serious voice said, “We do searches.” He looked down at my purse to let me know he was serious. The idea of someone stealing centuries old bones was very disturbing. A line started to form behind us, so the man shooed us towards the top of the stairs.
I went first, feeling relieved that Eric was so close behind me. The spiral staircase leading down seemed to be endless, and was so narrow that I felt increasingly claustrophobic. The sound of our shoes tapping against the flat stone stairs echoed around us, and I could hear the muffled echoes of people above and below us. It was noticeably cooler and more humid as we descended, and I felt my skin cool with the changing air. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, my feet touched a flat section of ground. I looked overhead and marveled at the beautiful brickwork that supported the ceiling and gasping when I saw the year that was engraved in the brick: 1776.
“To think, my country was just being founded, and the French were engraving aqueducts and mines!” My mouth hung open as I stared at it. Eric laughed quietly.
My eyes were drawn to an arch leading into the next room, framed on either side with small flickering candles. Chiseled perfectly in the stone were the words ‘Arrête, c’est ici l’empire de la Mort’
“Eric, what does that mean?” I asked staring at the words.
“Stop, this is the empire of Death,” Eric said, speaking the words gravely. I felt a chill go up my spine, and then Eric nudged me into the room.
My eyes had plenty of time to adjust to the dim light, but there was no way I could have prepared for the spectacle in front of me. Wide columns supported the ceiling and tucked neatly against the walls were thousands of bones. I stared back into the pile until my eyes found the back wall and noticed that they were many feet deep, and that the outermost layer had been arranged artfully in layers of skulls and femurs. The room smelled wet and earthy. I tilted my face up and noticed the ceiling was less than a foot above my head. Water dripped on my forehead. I turned around and, despite the awe-inspiring piles of bones on display, I burst out laughing as I noticed Eric leaning heavily to one side so he didn’t hit his head.
“Oh shut up, shorty,” Eric huffed.
I smiled at him and turned back around, hearing voices growing closer behind us. “It’s so weird…can you imagine the people in charge of sorting the bones for the final layer?” Eric shrugged. “Well, you may feel blasé about all of this, but this is incredibly strange to me. How many people’s remains were moved here?”
“Six million, give or take.”
“Who’s taking them?” I asked remembering the no stealing policy. “Who wants old bones?”
Eric laughed, “It takes all kinds. I certainly don’t…there’s nothing good left on these ones!”
“Ha ha,” I said, shaking my head at his attempt at humor. “Oh look, there’s a heart…of skulls. How…romantic?” I added skeptically.
We passed by wall after wall of bones, arranged around plaques engraved with, what I assumed were, details about which church they were from. The curved walls glistened with the rounded ends of humerus, tibia, and femurs decorated with rows of skulls, their empty eye sockets staring out at us. The pile tucked against the wall in front of us had settled and I could see the tiny stalactites forming on the ceiling, which were dripping onto the piles, coating the closest skulls with a fine layer of olive green algae. Skulls were in the shape of crosses, Xs, and more traditional skull and cross bones. The fine gravel that coated the floor slipped under my feet as the water dripping from the ceiling seeped through, making its way back into the earth.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Eric asked in a quiet voice. I nodded, amazed at how the dim lighting glinted off the glossy remains, the sheer magnitude of which was completely overwhelming. The care that was taken to organize and arrange all of these bodies was unbelievable, and filled my heart with a deep appreciation for such reverent people. The display was stunning, something that generations of people had oohed and aahed over. And yet, I felt conflicted. Here I was, surrounded by death, and it made me grateful for every moment of life I had, and even more grateful that my bones would never be on display.
The group that had been hanging back a considerable distance, suddenly surged ahead, surrounding us with their raucous laughter. They were American teenagers, and as I listened to them, I found that they were all here on spring break together, and that they were drunk. One of the girls lunged towards the collapsing wall of bones and reached her hands out to touch one of them. She wanted to take one, thinking ‘it’s a tiny bone, no one will ever notice.’ I cleared my throat and smiled politely at her, hoping she would get the hint. She rolled her eyes and laid her fingers on a delicate radius bone. Her friends stood back, wide-eyed, mouths hanging open. Her best friend had dared her to do it over dinner, and she was speechless watching her go through with it, especially since it was in front of strangers. I touched Eric’s arm and then rushed forward standing in front of the girl.
“Don’t even think about it,” I said, keeping my voice even and calm.
“What are you, a cop? No one will ever notice,” she said flippantly, not removing her hand.
“No, I’m not a cop. Just someone that will change your mind. This is a graveyard, have respect for the dead.” She laughed and I could see that talking rationally to her was getting me nowhere. In a quiet voice I added, “Or…we could trade.”
Her brows knitted together, “What are talking about?”
I put my hand on her outstretched arm, touching her lightly. Her friends were oblivious to what was going on, losing interest in our ‘discussion,’ and instead, turning to another wall of bones posing for inappropriate pictures. “What I mean is, if you want this bone, I could exchange it with yours.” She gasped and relaxed her hand until it slipped off the bone.
I led her over to her group of friends. “Hold hands,” I commanded, never releasing her forearm. Four faces whipped around to challenge me. I growled and they all snapped into line, holding hands and looking mighty uncomfortable. “Listen, I can’t stop ya’ll from being dirt bags, but I will not stand by and let you rob a grave. Do we understand each other?” In unison the five teenagers nodded numbly. “Give me your phones.” Three phones were thrust out of pockets immediately. I threw them, one at a time to Eric, “Will you erase the pictures, please?” He smiled and nodded, happy to help. I returned the phones to the group, and sneered as I said, “You are going to leave running, and if I hear you stop, you have lost your chance.” I gave another growl to prove my point before releasing my grip. “Go!” I demanded, sending them fleeing. I heard them run, stumbling along the way until the end of the tunnel, followed by a cacophony of feet slapping steps.
I turned and faced Eric, who was still hanging back where he had been during the whole event. His face pulled into an uneven smile. “You are a amazing, I couldn’t do that for centuries.”
“Couldn’t do what?” I asked, tilting my head to the side.
“Glamour a group of people. Glamouring is one of the hardest abilities to master.”
“I suppose my telepathy has given me an advantage…”
“Yes, I’m sure that has something to do with it, but you’re an extraordinary vampire, just as I knew you would be!” Eric said, beaming at me. I shrugged, brushing off his compliment, and then kissed him to stop him from talking. I held his hand, walking slowly through the remaining section of the tunnel.
Knowing how long it would take to get back up to the top, I wasn’t thrilled to see the bottom of the stairs. I glanced behind me, and admired the awe-inspiring sight we had just experienced. “That is amazing.”
“Yes it is, and safe for another day, thanks to my vigilante wife.” Eric winked at me, and I felt like I could have blushed at his compliment. “Although, I think next time, you should rip her arm off…to really prove your point.” I gave him a disapproving look and he laughed. “Shall we?” Eric gestured to the stairs, leading the way.
I willed myself to lift off the ground, and focused intently on hovering up the steps. Eric noticed my lack of footsteps and glanced back at me. “Show off,” he said putting his hand on his head, showing the finger-width gap that kept his head from hitting the bottom of the stony steps above us. He was too tall to hover.
“Looks like you get to walk the whole way,” I said sticking my tongue out. He huffed and moved quickly, leaving me behind. I couldn’t help but laugh and remained focused on hovering so I didn’t hit the walls of the stairs. When I got to the top, Eric was leaning casually against the wall waiting for me.
Eric glanced down at his nonexistent watch and said, “Took you long enough…” I smacked his chest playfully and then kissed him. The guard at the exit inspected my purse. He smiled and moved to let us leave.
“Mm, I’m hungry. Those True Bloods we had earlier didn’t do much for me,” I said.
“Me either,” Eric said pushing me out the door. “Dine in, or dine out?”
“Out…but where?” I asked looking around as we walked down the street. Thankfully, it had stopped raining, but the streets glistened in the dim streetlights. Occasionally, the street intersected with shadowy narrow alleys, surrounding us with the sounds and smells coming from the next street over. My hand tightened on his as the smell of warm humans filled my head.
“There…” Eric said pointing to a café oozing live jazz music and bustling with locals. “I’ll be right back.”
I waited outside, and true to his word, Eric came back out only minutes later. His skin was glowing and he flashed me a bloody smile before pulling me into the little alley we had just passed. My hunger and lust grew exponentially at the promise of having Eric in a dark alley.
“I met a very agreeable young man in the bathroom,” Eric said as he pushed me towards the rough brick wall, lifting me off the ground and pinning me in place while our hands busily worked together to push up my skirt and open his pants. Eric ripped off my panties as I wrapped my legs around his waist, feeling the silky smooth lining of his long coat rub against my shins.
“Would you like a taste?” he whispered.
I nodded, feeling my hair snag on the brick as my head moved. “I need you first,” I breathed into his mouth, stroking his lips with my rigid tongue, thrusting gently, willing him to do the same. My tongue picked up a hint of blood from the man he had fed from and my mind opened to images of being hunched over the handlebars of a motorcycle, the wind whipping my face and someone gripping my waist squealing with delight. I smiled and then gasped and sighed as his slippery cock mimicked my tongue, sliding between my wet lips, bringing me back to reality. His fangs cut my lip at the exact moment his cock pushed inside me. I screamed as I came, filling our mouths with a pool of blood.
Eric licked greedily, cleaning my lip and moaning. “You taste so good, I have missed you.” I felt his desire pulse through our bond, intensifying the pleasure already building in me again as he continued to thrust. He pulled his mouth away from mine and he offered his neck. We both moaned as my fangs sank into his skin, and I drew from the wound hungrily while he fucked me relentlessly against the wall. I shook against him as I came again and he filled the small space with a deep guttural growl as he joined me.
I was licking the already healing wounds in Eric’s neck when a group of people walked by. One of the women saw us and giggled since she knew what we were doing. I couldn’t pull away from Eric, happily floating on a cloud of satisfaction.
Eric nuzzled the side of my face and pulled me away from the wall, swiftly lifting me and setting me on the ground. He put his hand on my back and sighed, “Sorry Lover, you might have to retire this shirt.” Before I could ask, he wiggled a finger through the material touching my skin.
“Oh well, I guess my shirts don’t heal like my skin does!” I said, resigned to the idea that when I was with Eric, I ruined a lot of clothes. “Thank you for dinner, he was delicious.”
Eric smiled at me, “Where now?”
“The Picasso museum?”
“Right this way…” Eric said, opening his arms so we could fly across the Seine heading for the heart of the quiet city.