Nathaniel Graison is a wereleopard, and a stripper at Guilty Pleasures (stage name: "Brandon"). He is introduced in Burnt Offerings as a minor character, but his role in the series grows. He later becomes Anita Blake's pomme de sang, lover, and a member of her second triumvirate. He is currently engaged for a commitment ceremony with Anita, Jean-Claude, and Micah Callahan.
Nathaniel has "pretty" rather than handsome features, and a muscular swimmer's body. Descriptions of Nathaniel's hair and vanilla scent fill each book, and it is common to see paragraphs devoted to the shade of his eyes.
Height is initially 5' 6", but later he grows a few extra inches to 5' 9".
Eyes are "truly a pale purple, lavender, spring lilacs."
Hair is "the darkest of auburns," "a rich, deep mahogany," and is "thick and shining." When he is introduced in Burnt Offerings, Anita estimates that his hair is waist-length, but he grows his hair out through the series. A month later, in Blue Moon, his hair is to his knees. In Narcissus in Chains (ten months later) thru Cerulean Sins, his hair is "nearly ankle-length." In Micah (two months later) and after, his hair is to his ankles. Four years later, in Crimson Death, it is described as "nearly ankle-length" again, indicating that Nathaniel's been maintaining it at about that length. In Crimson Death, Nathaniel's hair is cut short.
Nathaniel has been reluctant to share details of his past. Anita has been able to learn that Nathaniel's parents died when he was young, and that Nathaniel and his older brother Nicky were in the custody of an abusive man, whom we later learn to be their stepfather. In Dead Ice Nathaniel says that he doesn't remember much of his stepdad before his mother got sick, but that's when the man started drinking. The stepdad was like a living embodiment of his rage when he was drunk, different from other times, and Nathaniel compares it to the first times a wereanimal changes shape and hasn't learned to control itself yet and won't necessarily remember much next morning.
Nicky protected Nathaniel at first, but also died (was beaten to death) when Nathaniel was seven, at which point Nathaniel ran away. He has blocked out most of his early childhood in order to survive, and isn't ready to tell the police (or Anita, or his therapist) about his brother's murder yet, although Anita has shared his memory of the event. He was a child prostitute on the streets by the age ten.
At some point in his late teens, Nathaniel was found by Gabriel. By that point, Nathaniel was a drug addicted prostitute, and was so submissive and masochistic that he was literally incapable of saying no to any torture proposed to him. Gabriel helped Nathaniel stop taking drugs, and did his duty in making sure his new cats didn't kill anyone before they learned control, but was unable or unwilling to address Nathaniel's other problems and simply pimped Nathaniel, restraining customers from taking too much advantage of him. Nathaniel played a role in Raina Wallis's porn movies, raping and hurting the werewolves, while Gabriel was Nimir-Raj. Yet, despite being a sexual sadist and a lot of bad things, he took better care of Nathaniel than anyone had in a very long time, and even got Jean-Claude to help in teaching Nathaniel social graces. Gabriel got Nathaniel to audition for the job at Guilty Pleasures, even if Nathaniel thought he was there to sleep with Jean-Claude.
Jean-Claude taught Nathaniel how to be elegantly sexy onstage, and then continued to teach him which fork to use and not to tuck a napkin in his shirt collar. Then Nathaniel got even more etiquette lessons at Gabriel's request, as one of Nathaniel's regulars was very rich and wanted to take him to fancy places without anyone learning that he was a hooker.
History Within Series
After Anita took control of the St. Louis pard, Nathaniel attached himself to Anita for protection. Nathaniel has been working to become more assertive and self-reliant, if only to please Anita. He is still highly submissive and is happy to take the "wife" position in Anita's increasingly large harem - cleaning, cooking, and generally providing emotional support while living with Anita and Micah (his new Nimir-Raj). In Incubus Dreams, Anita inadvertently marked Nathaniel as her animal servant, forming a triumvirate between Anita, Nathaniel, and Damian.
In The Harlequin, Nathaniel finally shows some burgeoning self-assertion, insisting to Anita that if she does not address his masochistic sexual needs, he will go elsewhere for what he wants.
By the time of Dead Ice, Nathaniel is quite self-confident and secure in his place in Anita's life, although he still isn't a dominant personality, and is well settled in his role of being the wife. He, Micah and Anita are an established ménage à trois and planning a commitment ceremony complete with rings, although they'll need to be worn in right hand because Anita's upcoming marriage to Jean-Claude takes precedence for her left hand's ring finger. Anita would marry all three of them for real, if she could, but as it is, a legally non-binding commitment ceremony will have to do. Nathaniel is the romantic one of the trio, and even if he has already agreed to 'marry' the other two, he confesses he'd still like to get a fancy proposal from Anita, Micah, or both, as long as they mean it. He'd also like to get a kid, even if only through adoption, but he isn't pushing on that issue at least yet. After years of therapy he can also finally share with Anita a relatively positive memory of his stepdad.
In Crimson Death...
Nathaniel is again in a significant role in Serpentine, where they've been invited to Edward and Donna's wedding and land in the middle of a strange case involving hereditary snake lycanthropy and women being abducted from the hotel where the wedding is being held. Not only is there (unsurprisingly) a lot of relationship content and discussions in general, but he's also immediately flagged as a suspect for having flirted with one of the abducted women. The detective in charge, Terry Rankin, seems to be particularly intent on laying the blame at Nathaniel's feet—and willing to use psychic powers in an illegal way to ensure it stays there, although Anita is able to counter that once she figures it out. Nathaniel also helps in his leopard form to find one of the kidnapped women. In the end Rankin is revealed to be attempting to cover for his family, and we learn that he chose Nathaniel as the scapegoat due to recognizing him from his old child porn videos.
We don't see Nathaniel in person in Sucker Punch, but when Anita sends a group text message back home to assure them of her safe arrival in Michigan, he replies with a slightly pushy text message of his own, not-so-subtly reminding her about her promise to call if she isn't back home yet the next day, which annoys her. As a semi-direct interaction that covers half a page that can technically be counted as an appearance even if he is in St. Louis and Anita is not. He's also mentioned several times throughout the novel (as well as their upcoming wedding in general), especially during Anita's phone calls with Micah, but is onstage during the first call , and the second time the call is cut short before Nathaniel's whereabouts are mentioned . His desire to get a baby is mentioned again after Anita interacts with one and finds it unexpectedly pleasant, but for that particular occasion the reference is just 'one of [her] fiancés'.
Stripper at Guilty Pleasures, Anita's first Pomme de Sang and later a member of her second triumvirate as her animal-to-call. He also starred in a number of pornographic films made by Raina.
Character Associations and Ties
- A very low-ranking, submissive leopard who was pimped out by Gabriel and later by Zane before Anita took control of the pard.
- A dancer at Guilty Pleasures.
- Nathaniel thinks he is a true BDSM submissive and craves to be dominated. He also enjoys some pain. (BM, NiC, ID, DM) Later he learns he isn't quite that submissive outside of bedroom after all. (DI)
- After Anita took over the pard in BO, Nathaniel couldn't understand why she wouldn't have sex with him. He couldn't understand someone giving him something without wanting something from him. (BM)
- He must be watched when out at clubs, as he doesn't truly know his limits and seems unable to use his safe word when being hurt. (NiC)
- At Anita's demand, he has become more self-sufficient.
- He has learned to drive and got his license less than a year before CS.
- Even though he lives with Anita and sleeps in her bed, and is her pomme de sang for the ardeur, he does not actually become Anita's lover until ID. This is because Anita feels like she is taking advantage of him.
- Anita finally admits to herself and to him that she loves him in ID.
- In ID, when he shifts, he has 'hands' for the first time in his half-form.
- He lives with Anita and has a knack for 'home-making' activities, functioning sort of like her 'wife'.
- Turned tricks on the streets before Gabriel found him, and was a drug addict. (BM) Has a record for solicitation as a minor (15), he was arrested twice. (ID)
- He was seventeen when he was turned. (Incubus Dreams, chapter 24.)
- He gains some muscle and grows a little taller as the series goes on. (ID, DM. TH)
- His age is stated as 20 in TH, and we are told that his birthday is in the spring (March to June) and that he would be twenty-one. Laurell K. Hamilton indicated in a blog post that his birthday is in March.
- In TH, we learn that the vanilla scent that Anita associates with Nathaniel is partially the result of his bath products and cologne
- He is seven years younger than Anita. (TH)
- He keeps changing Anita's cell phone ringtones (for example 10cc-"I'm not in love" in ST) until she learns to set them herself.
- He really enjoys looking after Matthew (D), and would like to get a kid of their own, either biological or adopted (DI).
- He doesn't like driving at night. (DI)
- He was spotted as a toddler at the YMCA and recruited into gymnastics, so is probably naturally more coordinated than most people. (DI)
- After his mother got cancer, his aunt still took him to gymnastics for a while, but after his mother died his stepfather moved Nathaniel into baseball with his brother because gymnastics wasn't manly enough. (DI)
- Was never any good at sports involving hitting a ball. Could catch but not throw, so in baseball practice was showed off into far left field where the likelihood of needing to do anything too demanding was smaller. (DI)
- Inconsistency: In DI it's said that Nathaniel is 23, and at that same discussion Anita is said to be thirty. However, elsewhere in the book Anita is told to be 31, so Nathaniel should likewise be 24.
- He is double-jointed. (earlier, DI)
- He is nervous around cows, and says he's had a bad experience with one, but doesn't go into more detail. (DI)
- Jean-Claude's nickname for Nathaniel, mon minet ("my pussycat" or "my kitten"), is originally used of Micah in Narcissus in Chains, but in subsequent books that nickname has always been a reference to Nathaniel whereas Micah is sometimes called chat ("cat"). (Af)
- His Lavender eyes may be a mark of Fey ancestry. (CD)
Powers & Abilities
- Superhuman Strength - He is significantly stronger than humans while in human form. His strength increases in his leopard form to the point where it rivals a young vampire and is sufficient to lift cars with ease.
- Superhuman Speed
- Heightened Senses - His senses are heightened to the point where he can hear whispers from some distance away, see in the dark, and tell a person's emotional states from their scent.
- Accelerated Healing - He is extremely difficult to harm. Wounds from most objects, even bullets, heal in seconds without causing him any seeming discomfort and can regenerate severed limbs.
- Silver - The touch of silver causes him extreme physical pain like burns and any wound caused by silver will heal at a human rate and leave scars.
- Master Vampires - Master vampires with control over felines can influence him, although he is able to resist With the force of his human mind.
Burnt Offerings (first appearance), Blue Moon, Narcissus in Chains, Cerulean Sins, Incubus Dreams, Micah, Danse Macabre, The Harlequin, Blood Noir, Flirt, Bullet, Kiss the Dead, Affliction, Dancing, Jason, Dead Ice, Crimson Death, Serpentine, Sucker Punch.