Characters: Ruby, mentions of Dean & Sam & the demon crowd
Warnings: Not so much, unless you fear descriptions of the bubonic plague and/or mentions of paganism. ;)
Spoilers: Any ep with Ruby in it
Word Count: 1274
Written For: lunabee34
Prompt: "I love this character. I want to know more about her back story. What does Ruby really want? What's her agenda? What's happened to her in the past to make her who she is today?"
Author's Notes/Summary: Set in between when Dean was dragged off to hell and when he came back. Thanks to tinylegacies for the beta! And thanks to the floral holiday season finally ending and letting me finish this. ETA: Aaaaaaaaaaand Jossed the day I posted it. Is that a record? ;)
They were coming for her. She could hear the barking of the hellhounds. They were getting closer, and she didn't have the strength to run anymore. "Please!" she cried to the heavens. "Help me, my lady! Don't let them take me!" But her goddess remained deaf to her pleas, just as she had foolishly believed ten years before.
1350 CE, 10 years earlier....
The goddess had abandoned her. She was dying, and no spell could save her now.
For the past year the Black Death had ravaged Provence, and word that arrived from the rest of Europe brought equally grim news of deaths in the hundreds and thousands. Half the population of the city of Arles, it was said, had perished.
Spells and potions had kept her healthy for many months. She had been afraid to offer assistance to others who contracted the illness, not for fear of catching the plague herself, but out of fear of being accused of causing it. Foreigners, beggars, and Jews had all been accused and persecuted, singled out because they were different. She had heard stories of more than one woman being accused of witchcraft and killed by a frightened mob. Ironically, those women were likely entirely innocent of the charge against them. Real witches carefully guarded their identities from the followers of Christianity, even though most of them practiced no magic that would do harm to another.
She dismissed the headache she woke with one morning at first, thinking it just a normal ailment. But the following day her joints were aching and she was tired and nauseated. The headache spiked to a fever, and by the next day, she could no longer get out of bed. Painful pus- and blood-filled swellings appeared on her neck and under her arms, unmistakable signs of the plague.
As soon as her fellow villagers discovered she had contracted the plague, she was dragged to a cart and taken to the nearby convent, where the nuns would tend to her in the few days she had left. The irony almost made her laugh. If they knew she was a witch, they would toss her out like garbage. Or perhaps they would hang her and put an end to her suffering.
But they did not know she followed a god that was not their own. At least she had until she fell ill and cursed the name of her goddess for abandoning her. Now she could do nothing by lay on the straw-covered floor, listening to the moans around her, counting the hours until she died.
A nun moved among the sick, offering water. The woman placed a cool, damp cloth on her forehead and pressed a tin cup to her lips. "Drink, Rubetta," she said soothingly. "It will make you feel better."
Even swallowing hurt now. So did talking, but she managed to rasp, "Nothing will help me now."
"There is a way to relieve your suffering, my child," the nun said. She used the cloth to dab at Rubetta's face, then returned it to her forehead.
"Too late for that, Sister," Rubetta croaked. "I am damned."
"Not yet," the nun said, a faint smile crossing her lips.
"Your god can't save me," Rubetta said. "No one can."
"Let me tell you a secret," the nun said, bending her head to Rubetta's ear. "I don't serve god, either."
Rubetta started to speak, but had a coughing fit instead. "What are you talking about?" she finally managed to say. "Who are you?"
"You may call me Tamara," the nun said. "And Rubetta, you can die now, in agony, or you can let me take away the pain."
"At what cost?" Rubetta demanded.
"Your soul," Tamara said smoothly. "But you will get ten more years of life. Ten glorious years of living your wildest dreams. And then you will serve me."
Rubetta closed her eyes, struggling with the decision. Tamara must be a demon, and to make a deal with her was something to be shunned as dangerous and foolish. But she did not want to die, and it seemed the goddess had turned away from her. Fear and bitterness led her to a rash decision.
"I don't want to die," she whispered. "Help me."
Tamara's smile grew, and a triumphant light shone in her eyes. "I will," she said, moving her head to kiss Rubetta's lips. "Ten years, and you're mine."
She had thought it all a dream at first when she recovered from the plague. But her magic grew dark, requiring sacrifice and blood to work, often with harmful results. Still, on the surface, her life was good. The second son of the daughter of the count of the lands sought her hand in marriage, and while she was certain she could pursue a more lofty-ranked husband, this man was handsome and wealthy enough to keep her content.
As the ten years drew to a close, she could no longer convince herself it was her fevered imagination that had conjured Tamara. She prayed to her goddess, but realized she had been tested, and she had failed, and she would find no help there. She sought spells to protect herself and ran away from her home, hoping she could not be found. But the hounds found her trail. Exhausted, she huddled in the abandoned ruins of a castle, and she barely had time to even scream when they came upon her and tore her body to shreds and dragged her soul to hell.
She resisted becoming a demon servant at first, but succumbed after months of torment. Tamara was not the only one who tortured her; she shared her with other demons like Alistair and Lilith, who were even more vicious. Her body was abused in every way imaginable until her spirit broke as her flesh had already done. After that she served obediently, burying the memories of another life. She killed and tortured and lost herself in orgies of blood and violence.
The memories stayed with her over the centuries, however, much as she tried to forget them and her human life, and they were given even more life when she heard of the Winchester brothers and the plans for them. She struggled then with a new decision -- would it be possible for her to aid Sam and Dean, and in some way atone for all the evil she had done? Would the goddess forgive her and take her back into her arms? With all the blood on her hands now, was that even possible?
There was only one way to find out, of course. She had to find the faith she had lost when she'd become ill with the plague. Her goddess had not abandoned her then; she had abandoned her goddess.
She felt a kindred spirit in Dean, despite his animosity toward her. His motives for striking the bargain, however, had been much less selfish than hers. Then Dean was gone, claimed by Lilith, and she was left to piece Sam back together and make him strong enough to face Lilith. It required blood magic to do so, and for that she hoped she would eventually be forgiven. The ends justified the means, she reasoned. Lilith had to be destroyed if she had any hope of wiping her slate clean. And Sam wanted that just as much as she did.
And she selfishly wanted Sam as well. She couldn't call what she felt love, not yet, there was still too much demon in her to remember how to love. But the desire was there, and she was willing to go to any lengths to protect him and help him destroy Lilith. If she could restore her faith, then anything was possible.