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Fae Restorative

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hungry, lost, and injured

 

Alucard flips a rock. Then another and another while the others look on at him like he’s lost his mind.  Trevor waves a hand at him and walks off.  Sypha kneels to inspect his creation.  Alucard sighs when he hears Sypha’s stomach rumble for the second time in so many minutes.  They’ve exhausted their meager foodstuffs and can’t find fair enough game to hunt in the landscape that’s been ravaged by demon hordes.  Trevor has been sucking on the same one piece of jerked meat for two days.  And Alucard is feeling faint with need himself.   It takes energy to exert himself magically, and that includes tolerating the sun.  He wears a heavy cloak in the daylight hours, but still his skin burns.

Hunger is one thing, but they’re also wounded.  They’re all covered in scratches and bruises and Sypha needs more time before she can heal the bigger wounds slowing Trevor down.  He’s been limping and clutching his sides but whenever asked about it he only says, “I’m fine.”  Which he is not.

Hence the idea that has wormed its way into Alucard’s mind.  But since bringing it up, they’ve only stayed put long enough to argue.  He flips yet another rock until it’s formed a nearly perfect circle.  “This is it.  We can recover ourselves for a time outside of this realm free of my father’s tormentors.  But there is a price to pay.”  

“You don’t say,” snarks Trevor from a behind tree.  He does up his pants and limps around to look at the circle.  “I’m not paying for anything.  And you’re not selling Sypha off as a virgin…hey!”  He pauses to look between Alucard and Sypha.  “What was that?  What was that look about?”

Sypha grins and Alucard takes it as kindness she doesn’t tell Belmont the truth.  But then she does.  Just by grinning some more from ear to ear.

Trevor looks scandalized and turns his back to them while trying to hobble away.  But Alucard calls out, “I’m willing to pay it.  There are conditions that must be met, but you will both be safe.”  He turns to the young woman, “Sypha, can you cast a spell to keep you both silent?  If they hear either of you speak your names, you will find yourselves under their power and under contract.  You would return with me at the same time, but in there it would be years of servitude.  And you will age there.”

Sypha stands up then and closes her eyes, focusing some energy in a glowing orb.  She nods at them both, “I don’t know how long I can hold it over the both of us.  But I understand.  I’ll be quiet even if it wears off.”

“I won’t!”  Trevor kicks one of the stones with his good leg.  “And don’t you need mushrooms anyway?  The fuck, I don’t understand any of this!”

“I’m not surprised,” says Alucard.  He looks Trevor up and down, “And you’ll have to keep that crest covered up.  They know the family Belmont and it’ll only take a short guessing game to pin down your name with it.”

“Look, Messiah, we don’t have time to go crawling under your fake fairy rings! We’re just too banged up to go looking for shelter from your creepy kin.”

“My creepy kin will give us time to restore ourselves.  Please. You must trust me in this, Belmont.  I won’t let anything happen to you, but you must heed my every order.  On the other side of the portal is a place with magic and technology that will astound you.  I can procure us rations and weapons for the road ahead.  It’s best we stay out of the coming ice storm, is it not?  And I rather not travel in full daylight.”

“So, we’ve gathered,” says Trevor while reaching out to rudely flip Alucard’s hood down.

It would be a waste of energy to respond, so he turns to Sypha, “Transportation.  Food.  Healing.”

“Education?”  Sypha looks between them, “They teach magic, don’t they?”

“At a great cost.  What I can afford, I will buy you.”  He’s already grown very fond of the young woman.  She is so like his mother.  The best that humanity should aspire to but falls short of time and again.  Righteous and disciplined and more knowledgeable than most of her ilk.  She’s been a pleasant anchor to his mission since leaving Gresit.  And far better company than their irascible third.

“Let’s go,” says Sypha with her eyes bright.  She stands over the circle of rocks and puts the stone Trevor disturbed back in place.  “I can’t wait to see it.  I’ll cast the spell now!”

“No!”  Belmont has his hands on his whip and takes up a defensive posture, “This is madness!  Are you just going take his word for it?  My ancestors would turn over in their graves if they knew I was going to do something so insane.  We can’t just walk into a damn fairy circle!”

Alucard flips another rock.  And another.  Then draws a little sigil in the center of the circle.  “We’re not walking.  We’re jumping.  And if you don’t want to come, that’s fine.  Stay here.  Time passes differently on the other side, as I said.   We’ll be clean, fed, and healthy in a matter of minutes to you.”

Sypha nearly drops her orb, “Clean?” 

“Fed?”  Belmont scratches his chin, “You’re not supposed to eat fairy food.” 

“If you don’t pay for it.”  Alucard reaches into his cloak and pulls out a what appears to be an empty leather bag.  “I’ve plenty of my father’s treasure in something like a dimensional vault.”  He reaches into the bag and pulls out a shiny coin.  “My birthright.  He hasn’t much use for the baubles collected by his demon dragon hoards over the last millennia and my mother convinced him it’s better to return it to the world.  Be it an actual inn or a fairy one, doesn’t matter.”

“That sounds dubious.”  Trevor looks into the swirling vortex of energy but Alucard is sure he doesn’t perceive what he and Sypha see.

“Well I have plenty to spare and this particular spirit prefers hard coin to souls.  Do you want to pay for your own stay on the other side?  Or are you content to stay here and battle evil on your own?”

Sypha is practically jumping from one foot to the other, “I want to go!  If we find he’s died when we return, we can just find another smelly hunter!”

“Hey!”  Belmont frowns like his feelings are really hurt.  “There are no other hunters.  I’m the last of my kind.  You need to take better care of me,” he smooths and flips his greasy hair.  “And my manly aroma shouldn’t be so off-putting.  You’re used to following men all day in caravans.”

Sypha pinches his nose with a free hand, “We bathe quite frequently when on the road, Belmont.  We store water expressly for the purpose.  Whereas, you don’t bother to get wet in the rain.”

Belmont pats his cloak, “Bad for the fur.  You want me to smell like wet dog everywhere?”

“What’s the difference,” shrugs Alucard.  He’s tired of arguing and turns his back to them both.  He jumps in the circle and vanishes within the fairy light’s vortex.

 


“Andre!!”

“That is still not my name, Dearest Aunt.”  Alucard accepts a kiss from the weasel-faced matron of the house.  The entrance to the House of Madame Aziza appears as a mist within a ring of comically large mushrooms.  Though born in Africa, her court can appear anywhere in the world and it leaves different impressions on the various people lost in her circles.  And for the moment it amuses her to dress up like a future French aristocrat.  It’s the latest fashion of her enormous time-defying court.   

The Madame pats him on the face and starts to usher him forward, her skirts swish while an oversized powdered wig wobbles on her head, “Come inside, Dearest Nephew!  I feared the worst when your gentle mother died.”

“Thank you, Madame.  But I am not alone.”  He looks behind himself and wonders if the others lost their nerve.  But a second later they appear, falling over each with their mouths open in a silent yelling match.  Alucard raises a brow and Sypha marches forward, smiling again from ear to ear.  Alucard grins down at her.  “Ah, you did as I requested?”

She nods and Belmont grumbles unintelligibly.

“Good.  Madame, these my esteemed guests.  A lady and a lordling.”

The Madame gives them a look over, “How nice.  She reaches out to Sypha, “I am Madame Marie,” she lies.  Aziza would never tell mortals her real name.  “The owner of this establishment.  And you are?”

Sypha keeps silent and Alucard steps in front of his companions, “Just the Lady will do.  Thank you, Madame.”  He rather not agitate a spirit that he’s held in high esteem since his youth.  So, he redirects her attention, “May we impose on your hospitability?”

“But of course,” says the Aziza.  She waves a clawed hand and then a shape appears in the mist beside them.  When fully formed it appears to be a young boy, already covered in bite marks.  “As a special guest, I offer the house special.  This virgin lordling!”

Belmont pulls on Alucard’s cape, but he ignores him and steps forward.  Belmont and Sypha stare on with their mouths hanging open, but he can’t refuse a gift from the Madame.  They must play by her rules in her realm.  He takes the boy’s slender hand and looks for a place unmarked and bites as gently as he can, sipping only a second or two, so as not to be rude.  Alucard stands up with a sigh, “A marvel, Madame.  And your offer is much appreciated.”  He bows to the boy and the fairy, “But I’m afraid his services won’t be required.  I have my own casks.”  He grins while the Madame laughs and slaps her skirts.

She points at Sypha and Trevor, “Your own casks!  How amusing Lord Andre!  You haven’t changed at all!”  Her look gets sly and narrow, “I do hope your purse is still as full.”  She summons a jar from nowhere and tips it forward.  “You know the price for your own stay.  Times three and whatever services you beg upon me.”

Alucard looks to the boy, “I would gladly pay, but may I ask about his contract?”

“Yes.  I suppose so.”

“Is it a willing one?”

“Yes, yes.  This little thing wanted to escape the death of his friends and family by those nasty Christians.  His contract is for twenty years.  And already he’s served eight of them.  Just look at him,” she rubs the boy on his curly head, “He’ll be a fine man when he comes out on the other side, should he choose to return.”

“I see.”  The poor child is marked and will probably choose to be turned into a vampire or some kind of monster instead of returning to the human realm.  It’s a shame, but Alucard has no place to interfere.  “And may I ask another question?”

She looks short of patience, “One more, little princeling.  But do not test me.”

“Of course, Madame.  Are there others like myself staying in your house?”

She grins, “Ahh, I see.  Staying low to hide from your papa’s distemper?  No.  No generals or viscounts grace my great residence.  For the time being.  I expelled them, just for you.  You are my favorite, aren’t you?”  She scratches under his chin like he were a cat.  “Your princely suite is all prepared.  Your favorite rooms and courtyard and bath.  Your daylight.  Your books and baubles.  All is right where you last left them.”  She holds out the urn and smiles sweetly with her sharp needle teeth.

“Excellent,” says Alucard he takes the bag and with a thought empties out the right amount into her urn.  When the last coin passes, a silver ring appears on his right forefinger.  “Thank you, Madame.”

“No, thank you.  Such deep pockets, my sweet lord.”  She takes his hand and seals their contract with a kiss to the ring.  “Do have a good time.”  Two heavy wood doors appear behind her in the mist and open.

Alucard gives one deep bow before turning on his heel and going through the doors.  He’s sure Trevor and Sypha will follow.

 

 


 

lured in

It’s tempting to keep the blissful silence up a while longer, especially when Trevor keeps opening and closing his mouth and then erratically gesturing like whatever nonsense he had in store for them was important.

But Alucard is more interested in hearing Sypha’s opinion of the rooms.  They’re only in the foyer, but she lights up to see the portraits of his mother and family hanging on the walls.  She points at the paintings and then back at Alucard with a soft look in her eyes.  He answers her with a nod and turns away before it’s just too much to think about.

“I’m going to seal this space off from visitors.”  He traces a spell with his fingertips over the handles, then swipes his hand with the ring to activate the locks.  “No one uninvited will pass through these doors.”  He turns to Sypha, “You’re free to remove the spell now.  No one can take power over your names.”

The first words out of Trevor’s mouth are, “Fuck! Fuck!  This is the most stupid thing that has ever happened to me!  I can’t believe you two idiots talked me into this!”  He pauses and looks around the hall with a displeased frown, “Why are there no candles in this place?  It’s light but I don’t see how…  Damn it's like the castle!”

“You can live without candles, Belmont.”  The sconces on the wall are electrical and he rather not explain it now.

Sypha ignores them and paces the bit of carpeted floor and looking down at her shoes, “I don’t want to get anything dirty.  It’s all so clean and beautiful in here.  I’ve never seen the like.  It’s like a dream.”

“That’s the fairy magic, right?  That’s how they seduce pretty young things like you into being their thralls for hundreds of years.”

“Actually,” says Alucard as he leads them down the long hall, careful not to look up at his mother’s visage.  “These rooms are a construct of my own design.  I pay the Madame a fee for maintaining and renting it to me in her domain.  It’s much like the rooms I grew up with and there’s a splash of the places I’ve seen in other times and other countries…”  He shows them inside to the main room, which is probably an enormous space for them both.  There’s his bed on a platform and the glass doors that lead to his private gardens.  A door that leads to the bath suite, others to his library and drawing room, and one to his training hall. 

 

easy laundry

Sypha takes off her dirty shoes, “It’s beautiful.  I love it here.”  She shucks out of her muddy cloak.  And Alucard steps behind her.

“Don’t worry about the mess.  It maintains itself with Madame’s spells.  I’ll teach them to you if you like.  Over here,” he says while as he leads them to a giant wardrobe covered in symbols and sigils and glowing with energy.  He opens the door and pulls out a hanger, then puts her cloak inside and shuts the doors.

Sypha frowns, “You would put away my filthy robes with all that finery?”

Alucard smiles and reopens the doors and pulls out the robe and shows it to her, “Good as new.  Mended, clean, and freshly pressed.”

Her big blue eyes go round and starry and she starts stripping right there, “What else!  What else!?”

Trevor groans but turns his back like a gentleman, “I don’t believe this!  Are you really going to strip naked in front us just to try out his magic cupboard?”

“It works!”  Sypha claps her hands as Alucard presents her with clean clothes.

Trevor turns just enough to see Sypha stripped down to her underthings and Alucard stripping too.  “What are you doing!”

“Getting clean,” says Alucard.  “We can put our dirty things away.  And take a nice hot bath and rest in a big soft bed for once.”  He waves a hand at his bed, “But you can’t get in the without a bath.”

Trevor sits down on a chaise across the room, still covered in dirt and favoring his bad leg.  “You think I care about beds?” 

Alucard looks around the room, his sofas and comfortable chairs and big fireplace and well-crafted tables.  He looks back at Trevor, “You can’t touch anything without a bath.”

Sypha crinkles her nose, “Don’t be such a brat!”  She proceeds to strip out of her underthings, slip thrown over her head and walks around shamelessly, while Trevor turns red.  “I’m not waiting for turns or anything.  And it’s not like you have anything I’ve not seen before.”

Alucard follows her, “We bathe, we eat, and sleep.  Why are you being so hesitant, Belmont?  Don’t tell me I bought along my own virgin cask?”

They laugh at Trevor while he makes up his mind to strip out of his muddy cloak and armor, “Fine!  Have it your way, you two giggling idiots!  Where’s this so-called bath?  It better be some big ass tub, cause I’m not sitting on anyone’s lap!”

 


 

 

“Fuck,” says Sypha breathlessly when the door opens.  “It’s big enough to swim in!  Like a Roman bath!”

Alucard loves this room.  There’s a deep center pool with perpetually perfect water, and a little nook in the back with all the little things people will take for granted in the future.  He shows Sypha the flushing toilet and running water and future toiletries.  While she’s pulling the flush cord, again and again, he sighs and steps down into the bath water.  “This was my favorite place in my youth.  Shortly after cutting free of my mother’s apron, I found freedom and safety in this place.  She tasked my father to walk the earth, and that was…,” he sighs and leans back while Sypha follows him in. 

She finds the soap and starts cleaning herself with a sad look drawn on her little face, “I’m sorry I didn’t’ know you then.  We only hear of Dracula the demon kin.  But your mother must have seen something good in him.”  She gives him a warm smile before dunking her head and coming up to soap her hair.

 

no splashing!

 

Trevor finally tires of standing awkwardly to the side and climbs in, sitting opposite from them with his arms crossed and makes no attempt to do more than slush off dirt from his hairy arms.

Alucard turns to Sypha and offers her space so he can wash her hair with conditioners.  He cups water in his hand and gently massages her scalp while she leans into him without any care about their nudity. Alucard blinks away a tear and smiles, “It was hard on me even before my father went mad with grief.  I had a happy childhood, but humans never quite trusted me.  And the few who did always wanted something.  Something I could not give…” 

Sypha tilts her head back, “Did you bring anyone back here?”

Alucard shakes his head, combing her hair with his fingers.  “No.  I met some of my father’s kind here.  I stayed with them and learned about that side of my heritage… but they were just as bad the greedy humans, looking for favors from their lord’s son.”

“Boo-hoo.”  Trevor doesn’t sound sad at all while he mocks, “Poor you.  One foot in and one foot out, eh half-breed?  I can’t say I really give a damn.”  He splashes them both with flicks of his hand, “Here I am against all my instincts indulging you pair of damn characters.”  He gives Alucard a kick with his good leg, “And don’t think I don’t know what this is.  Soften us up.  Pretty us up.  Clean us up.  You’re a vain fucker.  Can’t stand eating something when it’s hit the ground, huh?”  He smirks like he said something clever.

It stings a little, but Alucard pretends to be unbothered.  He lets Sypha up, “If you’re well enough you can heal his leg and we can lock him out in the garden for the night.” 

“Sure.”

Trevor splashes them both again.

Alucard wipes his face and in the blink of an eye, Sypha is up and across the bath trying to drown the man.  It’s an incredible sight, a tiny naked woman attacking a man twice her size.  And winning.  Alucard laughs until his whole body shakes. He simply can’t help himself.

“Don’t just sit there- ahhhh!”  Trevor gurgles and spits and disappear as he thrashes under bubbles and water.  Sypha scrubs his head and back and pinches him hard enough to leave marks.  “That’s not dirt it’s a mole!”  Sypha only seems to scrub him harder.  “For god’s sake!  You damn water witch!  Ahhhghghgghhghg….”

“There!”  She exclaims when she finally lets him up for air.  “Don’t forget to wipe your greasy ass!”  Trevor tries to retaliate but he can’t do much with his leg still aching and Sypha finally takes pity on him and when he groans about it.  “Fine, I get the message, Grandfather Belmont.  I will see to your leg just as soon as I’ve gotten my strength back.”

Trevor sits back looking stunned, “Are you serious!  You had strength enough to drown a grown man a minute ago!”

“But she didn’t,” says Alucard.  He waits until Trevor’s eyes are on him and smiles.  “You’re still breathing.”

“Prick!”

Sypha crosses the bath again, this time to sit on the edge and help Alucard scrub his hair.  Alucard finds the position relaxing.  Tempting but, nothing that needs to be more than friendly.  He leans back, arms over her knees and lets her work on detangling his hair and massaging his scalp.  It’s so good that he almost forgets they’re not alone.

“I don’t get why you offer him a free tit show while washing his hair but try and kill me.  He’s not even alive.”  Trevor kicks Alucard again.

Alucard keeps his eyes half-lidded and focuses on the pleasant attention and the warmth of her body behind him, “I’m very much alive.  And I’m not staring at anything.  You’re the one staring, Belmont.”

Trevor blushes and Sypha gives Alucard a little yank.  “That’s enough teasing from you two.  I’m hungry.”  The statement is closed with a rather loud rumble from her little belly. 

Alucard grins and turns in to give her a little kiss on the elbow, “I have many wonders to show you, but this next one is going to be unique.”

 


 

After getting out of the bath, Alucard fetches them all nightgowns from his magic wardrobe.  Sypha’s hang off her shoulder no matter what she does, so she gives up, sleeves over hands and shirttails past her calves.  Trevor takes one look at a silk shirt and tosses it aside.  “Too hot.”  He declines a linen one as well and then redresses in his now mended trousers.  He starts to retreat to the chaise when Alucard calls them over to what appears to be a cupboard near the bedroom door.

 

“This is a dumb-waiter.  In these rooms, it has a magical connection with the hostess.  I order things,” explains Alucard while opening the door and taking out a pad and quill pen.  “And they appear here in time.  So.  What do you want for dinner?”

Sypha grins, “Soup.  No, dumplings.  No!  Pheasant!”

Trevor frowns, “You want to get a fancy chicken out of a hole in the wall?”

Alucard starts scrawling away and looks up to Trevor.  “And you, Belmont?”

He looks more wary of the thing than interested in eating.  “You said the front door was warded?”

“It is.”

“And what about that?  How do we know demons and evil sprites won’t come flying out of the thing with her dessert?”

“Oh dessert,” says Sypha.  “I’ll have pudding!  Pierogi!  There a was a town we once visited in the east with a cake rolled poppy seeds.”

Alucard smiles, having an idea of what she means and writes despite Trevor’s frowning.

“Excuse me,” says Trevor.  Though he’s not actually trying to be civil.  “Never mind the free food then.  What about us?  What about him,” he points to Alucard and wags his finger, “Do you think he’s going to order up a pint of red for himself or wait until we’re good and comfortable before falling on us?”

Sypha shrugs, “I'd prefer to eat first.”

“That’s not what…!”

Alucard laughs and puts the pad away, guessing at what a meat eater like Trevor would prefer.  “I’m not pouncing on either of you.  For the moment.  But a donation would be deeply appreciated.  I am losing strength after exerting so much energy in the last week.”

“See!”

Sypha nods as if she’s finally agreeing with Trevor but then she pulls up the shirt to inspect her inner left thigh.  The little marks of their previous engagement are still there.  “True.  It’s been days since Arn and I let you feed off us while Grandfather was sleeping.  You must be so hungry.”

Trevor looks poleaxed.  “You did not.”

“I did too.  And so did Arn.”

“A ménage à trois,” says Alucard with his fangs bared.  He’s glad Trevor is educated just enough to turn red in the face.  “Of a sort.  It was deeply restorative after so long a slumber.”

“And Arn wanted something to remember me by.”  Sypha flips her hair and lets down the shirt, “He won’t be forgetting me anytime soon.”

Trevor sighs like he’s given up the fight.  “Fine.  You pair of sinners.  Why should I be should be surprised?  A vampire and a pair of wanton, godless Speakers.  This should not be surprising.”  He grins and raises his hand, “I give in.  Order me the whole right side of a cow.”

Alucard gives him a leery look but orders it anyway.  “As you wish, Belmont.”


 

 

“Shit, you actually did it.”

Everything Alucard ordered starts to arrive a few minutes later.  He takes the food out and spreads it out on the front table quickly.  Every time he closes the door, there’s a chime for another delivery.  Soon the table is full of food, including a large platter of beefsteak.

Trevor wipes his eyes and fakes sobbing, “I’m so happy right now.  There aren’t words.”

“Perhaps a prayer?”  Sypha doesn’t hesitate to sit down and dig in.  She’s licking up honey from a bun and tapping her bare feet on the floor.  “I haven’t had this in years!”

Trevor sits down at the table and looks around the room, at the bed and the wardrobe and the doors.  “Are you sure no one’s getting in here?  What about through there?”

Alucard paces the floor, “It’s safe, Belmont.  That garden is just another room.  It’s an extension of the space that simulates being outside. It was still midday when we left, but I’m tired, so the sun is setting here.  When it rises, I have sunlight that doesn’t burn.”

“Ah, I see why you spent so much time here,” says Sypha with a rude amount of food in her mouth. 

Trevor is slow to pick at his food while Sypha is trusting and hungry enough to clear whole plates away in no time.  Alucard is happy to see them sate themselves and finally find some measure of peace.  He feels worn out after the week of trekking and fighting and casting the spell to summon Aziza.  Then casting spells to use his father’s magic money bag.  He’s very drawn and doesn’t see any point in staying up longer.

 


 

 

Alucard dreams of a happier time in his life.  The dreams are all hazy and filtered.  The figures are distant.  The brief moments where he feels warm he knows he’s thinking of his mother.  But there other moments when he’s cold.  Everything is very, very cold.

He wakes up in the center of this bed.  On the right, Sypha is curled tight into a ball and snoring lightly.  Alucard sits up and notices the long shadow falling on the floor and looks back to the glass doors behind the bed.  Trevor’s moved one of the cushioned chairs over to it, whip in his hand.  Still standing watch even though Alucard tried to assure them they were safe.  It’s a little infuriating.  And also brave.  Alucard swings his legs over the side of the bed and looks at him, “There’s plenty of room.”

“I’m not tired.”

“Are you going to protect us from the entire fairy court with your whip?  I don’t think it works on them.  Aziza wouldn’t tolerate a threat entering her realm.”  He gets up and stretches his legs.  He feels a little better after the nap, but the pang of hunger is still there.  He tries to distance himself from his pair of supposed donors.  But Trevor follows him.

“I looked around while you were out cold.”

“The training hall has my collection of weapons from all over the world,” starts Alucard.  He thinks Trevor will follow him for a quick tour, but he doesn’t.

Trevor makes a beeline for the library.  And for some reason that’s worrisome.  “You got all manner books and potions and things in there.  You don’t have to buy anything new for Sypha.  Just teach her some this cleaning nonsense and we can be off.  Or better yet, show her how to make chicken appear in the wall.  That’ll be handy.”

They end up standing in the doorway of the room, dark but for the moonlight from the rear of the room.  All the bookshelves and tables cast horrible shadows on the floor, and if Alucard weren’t a sane person, he’d think his father was there clawing for him.  He turns on the electricity, just to be sure and hears a gasp behind himself.

“How the fuck does that work anyway?”

“That’s a light,” explains Alucard, he points up to the ceiling where fixture holds the bulbs.  “And this room is mostly about science.  I don’t really study magic.  Not the sort Sypha is gifted with.  I really will have to pay for it.  But it’s fine.  I don’t mind, and she’ll be an even stronger ally.”

“And what if I mind?  How do we know you haven’t bargained with us after all?  How do we know this isn’t all some elaborate trick by you to… to…”

Alucard leans against the nearest bookshelf and gives Trevor time to catch his thoughts.  When he still stands there grasping for things to insinuate, Alucard asks, “What nefarious thing could I have planned for you by spending all my trust money and with my safest haven exposed?”  He rolls his eyes like a commoner and snaps, “I wish you would put away that fear.  I am your ally, Belmont.  Whatever else you think of me, I choose you and Sypha to help me in my quest.  If you’re too frightened to move forward…”

“When are we doing that?”  Belmont gives him a narrow-eyed look and gets closer, shoving a finger in Alucard’s chest.  “You said time don’t matter out there.  But what about in here?  How long are we supposed to be humbled by your graciousness, eh?”

Alucard slaps the finger away and edges forward, baring his teeth.  “Until I’m fed,” he hisses.  He restrains himself and moves back, lips curling over his teeth.  “Until you are well.  Until Sypha is healthy.  However long it takes.  But it would be advantageous for all of us to move forward fully recovered, don’t you think, Belmont?”

Trevor tosses a hand and turns away, “Whatever.  Excuse me while I stay ever vigilant.  I don’t trust you as far as I can throw you.  And you’re dead weight that’s hard to carry.” 

He stomps out of the room and leaves Alucard alone with his sciences.  His beakers and books.  His mother things.  Alucard suddenly remembers the dream and the warm feeling that turned cold.  His hope for humanity depends on saving them from his father's war.  But there’s not enough light left in the world.  Least of all with the last Belmont.

 

Chapter Text

Alucard spends the next few hours outside in the garden.  He comes in just after watching a fake sunrise over the horizon seen over the garden walls.  This space is the most magical of all.  It’s everchanging.  New lawns, new trees, and plants.  He’s found a tennis court one day, and beach vistas the next.  But he can’t waste time on such frivolity.  Or showing off to Trevor and Sypha.  Perhaps they’ll live, he thinks solemnly.  Perhaps there will be peaceful days after attacking the castle and he can bring them back.  And dazzle them both with incredible views.  But he won’t hold his breath.

When he comes inside he finds Sypha is up and dressing in her robes again.  He looks her up and down and shakes his head.  “Aren’t you tired of that getup?”  He shucks out of his nightshirt and walks over to the wardrobe and pulls out a fine suit.  He gets dressed right in front of her.  “We may as well make the best of it.  I’ll take you around these rooms first.  But later we can go out. The Madame’s court is a fashion spectacle, and I dare not disgrace it with a poor showing.” 

Sypha stares at his body with a lopsided grin, “I don’t think that’s possible.”  But his words must sink in and she turns around excitedly to the door, “The magic!”

“Wait,” says Alucard while he grabs her by the collar.  “You’re not going out there like that.  I’ll have to order some clothing.  What do you prefer?”  He has few ideas that would suit her, but he holds back, not wanting to appear overeager.  His father made that mistake once and his mother swore off corsets just to spite him.

“What do you mean?”  Sypha looks down at her robes.  She’s probably dressed like a Speaker man her entire life.  “I prefer myself.”

Alucard shrugs, “I mean what sort of costume.  Here, you can be anything you want.”  He accents this a snap of his collar and buttons up his shirt quickly.  He’s all fine, crisp, and appropriately frilly.  And he’d like his guests to match on the first day out. It’s easy to imagine Sypha in a well-crafted dress.  There’s little hope in getting Belmont to play along, but he lays out a nice shirt anyway.

Sypha frowns and looks at her newly clean shoes, “I suppose it’s still poor folk’s clothes, even cleaned up so fine…”

Alucard’s heart stops for a beat, “No, no, no!”  Alucard bends down on a knee to examine her sandaled foot.  And the hem of her skirt and robes.  He sighs and comes up, “On second thought.  What a novel experience for Madame.  A Proper Speaker Sorcerer in her house.  She will be thrilled to have you as you are.”  He extends an arm, “And I will be proud to escort you.  Please forgive me, I did not mean to offend.”

She gives him a soft smile and takes his offer.  “Thank you.  I am no real Lady, am I?  But a warrior-magician should impress anyone.”

“So right you are,” he nods.  Her confidence is a thing a wonder.  And she even looks a little taller, smiling without any care for the court’s propriety.

He gives her a proper tour of the rooms first.  He shows her the training hall and she stares up at the high ceiling.  “It’s like a cathedral.  Why is it so high?”

Alucard shrugs, feeling a little embarrassed, “I like to fly around freely in my other forms.”

They move through the hall and Sypha part from him to get closer to the portraits.  She darts from one side of the room to the other.  Alucard answers all her questions automatically.  It's easy to talk about his mother and her good work.  But he still doesn't look up for long at the paintings.  Until she hits a nerve,  pausing by the only one featuring his father.  “So, this is Dracula.  He’s so handsome.  If nothing else, I can agree with your mother on that point.”

Alucard hides a small wince with a tight smile.  “And through here,” he says opening the next door, “Is the solar.  It’s for light recreation and entertaining guests.  When I do have them.”

Sypha doesn’t seem very interested in anything in there.  “A room just for entertaining?  Do you tell stories in here?”

Alucard shrugs, “I could.  I have many books.  If you’d like I could read aloud after dinner.  Perhaps The Mabinogion?   It should put you right to sleep.”   He laughs at his own joke but Sypha blinks up at him.  “Never mind.”

They walk on to the next room.  The electric lights in the library have the same effect it did on Belmont.  But she’s not very interested in the books.  And that’s a little troubling from a scholar.  She takes an interest in his lab setup.  “Could I make magic with these apparatuses?”  She clinks two flasks together.  “Will you show me?”

Alucard is happy Trevor’s not present to tease him because he’s certain he’s blushing.  “Absolutely.” 

They move on to the kitchen.  Sypha seems annoyed that she wasn’t shown it in the first place.  She walks around the room, that is admittedly a mad grab bag of future conveniences and present-day workmanship.  Nothing quite says home like a hearth, a roaring fire, and counter full of appliances.

“What is that?!”

Alucard shows her a gift from the future, “It’s called coffee.”

“It smells delicious!”

Alucard pours her a cup and halfway through the action, regrets it.  It won’t be easy to sate a caffeine addiction on the road.  He pulls the cup away before she takes another sip.  “On second thought, it is rather bitter.  And it ages people.  You don’t want any wrinkles, do you?” 

She frowns up at his lie.  “Do you think I was born yesterday?   I know what coffee is, idiot.”

Alucard is trying to think of a reply when he hears the tinkling sound of the harpsichord in the solar.  He walks over and stares from the doorway at Belmont.  The man is actually playing a recognizable tune.  Not hammering at random on the keys.  Sypha comes out after him and sits at the gaming table. 

Belmont plays on, finishing the sad old song with a flourish.  He turns to his audience and gives them a little bow.

Sypha laughs and claps her hands, “Bravo!  You’re full of hidden talents, Belmont!”

“Indeed,” says Alucard.  Cleaned up and unarmed, his hair somewhat tamed… Belmont almost looks like a proper lord.  He must have just left the bath.  He even smells good from a distance.  “I bet you learned that from your mother.”  He says without any malice, but Belmont glares at him like he was burned.  So, he continues, “I did as well.  It’s a comforting song.  But I never really mastered the skill.  I could never play like that.”

Belmont turns back to the keyboard and lets his fingers press a few notes, “It’s not a big deal.  My mother insisted I learn to punish me once for getting laid out with broken legs.”

“You broke both your legs?”  Sypha looks down at his feet.  “That makes sense.  I thought you were a little knocked-knee.”

“Ouch.  I’m hardly that.”  He gets up to demonstrate, “Clearly I’m of the bowlegged persuasion.” 

And with that, the little moment is over and Alucard remembers what he’s dealing with. He hesitates to take Belmont along, exposing someone so crass to the gentler fairies is a recipe for disaster.  Or amusement.  Perhaps one of them will punish Trevor in a harmless way that won’t interfere with their mission.  Like turning his hair purple or giving him a giant wart on the forehead.  Alucard could live with that but still, he turns to Sypha, “Can you cast that mute spell again?  But only on him?”

“What?”  Trevor points at them both, “Don’t you dare!”

Sypha grins, “Absolutely.  And I can hold it for quite a long time.”

“What?  Why are you—”

The silence is abrupt.  Alucard tips his head, “What was that?  Oh, we’re just going to visit with the Madame.  I’d like to pay my respects and I think Sypha would enjoy it.  Would you like to come along, Belmont?  You must change out of that tunic first.  Oh and remember not to dance with anyone.”

Trevor crosses his arms and storms out of the room, only to return with his whip in hand and mouth open with silent shouting.

Sypha holds a hand to her ear, “What was that Grandfather Belmont?  Of course, you’ll come?  I’m glad.”  She loops her little arm around Alucard’s waist and leads him to the front doors while Belmont makes a silent fuss behind them.  “I’m so glad you decided to behave yourself.  I’d hate to offend on the other side of these doors.”

 


 

 

It turns out Sypha was lying.

Alucard sits with his head in his hands and watches the young woman beat the pants off a table of assorted spirits.  It turns out Speaker Sorcerers are also trained to gamble and cuss like sailors.

She’s managed to draw a great deal of attention in a short time.  Alucard stays seated midway between where she’s earning back her weight in gold, and where Trevor broods near the front door.  Alucard has misjudged the outing’s outcome. 

Aziza appears out of thin air to tease to him, “Your sweet Lady has quite the tongue on her.  But your Lordling hasn’t said a word.  Is he a shy boy?”  She pats and preens at the fur on her face, tugging her long whiskers and waving at Trevor.  “He seems in need of a hug.  Maybe a dance or two?”

“I wouldn’t chance it, Dearest Aunt.”

She laughs, “Well I suppose not.  Not with that wailing spirit so close to him.” 

Alucard tears his eyes off the commotion Sypha is stirring and looks to Trevor.  He doesn’t see anything out place.  But who knows what an immortal like her can perceive.  “His family recently passed,” explains Alucard.  "And he's experienced tremendous loss."

Aziza leans forward and grins, “Oh no, dearie.  This isn't recently departed.  Not that thing.  She is so old.  And if she would just speak a little calmer… ah.  I can almost hear her name.”

That is worrisome news, but Alucard tries not to let it cross his face.  “My Lady will be rich enough to pay for her own stay soon.”

“Yes!  Curious child.  I do like a wily magician.  They become the most interesting things.”  Every needle-like tooth in the bottom of her jaw juts forward.  “And they taste better.”

It should take more to discomfort him, but it doesn’t.  Not when the humans are his only hope to defeat his father.  And at the moment his only allies.  His father has an army at his disposal.  All Alucard has is an irritable hunter and a delicious-looking speaker.  For the sake of civility, he ignores the last statement.  “Any news of my father on the outside?  Has he disrupted your enterprise?”

“Au contraire!”  She giggles madly, “He’s making lost souls left and right!  I’m very thankful to your cruel Papa.  But what he did to you displeases me,” she drags her clawed hand the front of his fine shirt.  “One should never abuse their own kin.  Especially their own child.  And such a beautiful child, my little Princeling.  What was he thinking?  I’m very disappointed in him.”

Alucard wonders if it’s a test.  Will she come right out and ask him for his mission?  “As am I, Madame.  But I’m afraid I’m quite tired now.  I’ll take my guests and retire for the evening.”

“Oh no!  Stay!  Lord Jumanji is going to tell us about his latest game!”

Alucard kisses her hand and gives his hostess a deep bow, “My apologies, Madam.  But I must rest.”

She lets him pass and he quickly takes up Sypha and Trevor follows them back to the safety of the rooms.

 


 

Trevor snarls at them when the doors are sealed and they’re safe again.  “That was insane!  You fucking morons!  Playing cards and drinking tea with damn maneaters!”

Sypha walks past him, dragging the heavy bag she acquired from her winnings, “It’s not such a big deal.  Alucard said we’d be safe and we were.  I didn’t speak my name.  And we made sure you would not.”

Trevor shucks off the borrowed shirt, “I’m not stupid, you know.  I wouldn’t do the exact thing that would put us all in danger!”  He throws his shirt at her, “You damn sand waif!”  He storms off into the training room and slams the door.

Sypha rolls her eyes, “So rude!”  She stalks off, burdened by all her gold and winnings.

Alucard looks up at one of his late mother’s portraits.  She smiles down from the past and he feels sick to the stomach. “Look at the misery I’ve brought on myself.  But I’ll have to be strong, won’t I?”  He steps over to the picture and puts his hand just under it, “You always said the best partners acted in counterpoint.  Why drag along sycophants after all?”

“You need a minute here?”

Alucard pulls his hand away like he was burned and looks back.

Trevor stands in the doorway looking pleased with himself.  Shirtless, with just the whip hanging around his narrow waist and all his scars on display.  In the bright light, Alucard sees the bruises even more clearly, but it doesn't distract from the broad shoulders, muscled arms... he’s a very masculine picture.  But Alucard isn’t easily intimidated.  Especially by someone so short.  Trevor cants his hip and grins, “Fine looking woman, your mother.”

Alucard hisses, his hind mind acting before he can be rational.  He’s across the room in a flash, hands around Trevor’s neck.  “Do not say another word!”

“For Christ’s sake!  I didn’t mean anything!  Just a bloody observation!”  He pushes at Alucard’s chest with one hand while reaching for his whip with the other.  “Don’t make me…”

“As if you could stop me…”

“Alucard!”

Alucard drops Trevor like a sack of laundry and looks up the hallway.  Sypha stands there with her fingers poised to attack.  They’ve gotten along so well, he’s almost forgotten she could incinerate him with a thought.  He raises his hands in surrender and backs away.  “I’m sorry.  I’m tired.  And my patience is quite thin.”

Trevor points up at him, “Or sure, make me the bad guy.  He’s got his damn fangs out and everything!”

Sypha scolds them both, “I don’t care who started it!  Separate and behave yourselves!  If you want to act like a pair of children I will put you both over my knee and spank you with that whip!”  She turns her back on them and leaves them to follow orders.

Alucard heads for the Solar’s doorway while Trevor lingers in training hall’s.  Trevor snickers, “Running just caused Mummy raised her voice a little?  You really don’t have any balls do you, vampire?”

“Belmont!”

They both run into their respective rooms.  Alucard is not ashamed to say he knows when to pick his battles.

 


 

 

Dinner that night is tense.  At some point, Sypha healed Belmont’s leg and he makes a show of it, pacing the floor with his whip in hand. He's redressed in his clan tunic and looks happier for it.  He cracks the whip a few times from the center of the room, coming very close to using precious decorations for target practice.   Alucard barks at him, “If you want to play with your weapons, you can go back to the training hall!”

Trevor grins at him, snapping the thing near a collection of ornate Asian fine tea sets.  “What’s wrong?  Worried I might break something?  Is it something from your mother’s house maybe?”  He tips a vase and Alucard must catch himself from flying across the room.  Trevor tests him by dragging a finger down a fine mahogany table, “All my mother’s things are up in smoke.  But even if it weren’t, I wouldn’t be the one looking after it.  That’s a woman’s dowry, right.  You saving all these things for your future bride?”  He sneers while looking down at Alucard’s lap.  “I suppose not.”

Sypha walks in from the bath, wrapped up in one of Alucard’s robes.  “That was so good!”  She looks between them and frowns.  “Can’t I leave you to behave for a moment or two?  Honestly.  You’re worse than children.”  She sits down on the bed.

Alucard takes the opportunity to exploit Trevor sensitive values.  He moves to the dumbwaiter and places a few orders that are filled quickly and gives Sypha his prizes.  “For you.  You’ll tire of borrowing my things.”

She opens them and finds a new dressing gown and a proper nightgown just the right size.  She doesn’t hesitate to strip and change right there and it’s easy for Alucard to keep his eyes on Trevor’s blushing face across the room.  There, he thinks.  It’s rather easy to shut him up with casual nudity.

Sypha walks over to a mirror near the wardrobe, “Look at that!  I’ve never seen such a pattern!”  She twists and turns to take in the sight.  “I’ll have to be careful not to drop food on it!”

Alucard laughs and comes over to the mirror.  He brushes her hair back and pins the sides with a pair of combs.  “You look…”

“Like a courtesan.”

They both turn to Trevor.

He’s standing over the boxes on the bed and sneering, “You can’t give her shit like that.  Like she’s some court whore.”  He looks up at Sypha, disgust on his face, “And don’t you buy into it.  However free you think you are, the last thing you need is to be some kept woman for a devil master.”

Sypha starts to defend it, telling Trevor to shut up and mind his own business but the words worm into Alucard’s head.

Alucard sinks into a chair, “Is that what you think of me, Belmont?  Am I just bribing her with frivolities?  I’ve offered you the same thing, haven't I?  We can all restock on necessities here and be better prepared for the arduous task ahead of us…”

“Who fights demon hordes smelling of jasmine and draped in silk?  I never did.  And I’m not going to start.”  He shoves the box and moves to the table.  “Get on with the feeding us, monster.  Then we can make sure you’re fed.  That’s the real point, right? We don’t need to be seduced.  And then we can get the hell out of this place.”

Sypha looks uncomfortable in her dressing gown, head down and arms crossed protectively.  “Why do you have to be such an ass!  Can’t I have one simple delight before we go back to the real world?  You think I like dragging behind your smelly, broken body all day!  Mending you until the next fight, again and again!”  She sits down at the table across from Belmont.  “You speak as if you’re the only one who cares about the objective.  But I think you’re afraid.  You’re afraid to have something nice here for yourself, after what happened to your family.”  Her expression softens, “And honestly, I think that’s quite sad.”

Trevor doesn’t respond.  He turns his head down and keeps quiet, but the words ring in Alucard’s heart.  Maybe Trevor is only acting out because of his loss.  Alucard could only imagine.  Knowing how bad it feels to lose his mother, but never having an extended family like the Belmont’s.

When they retire for bed, he hopes their bellies are full.  Trevor may look fitter after his healing, but he broods in the same place he did the night before, perched like a gargoyle in front of the doors. 

Sypha sleeps fitfully in her nightgown on the edge of the bed.

Alucard lies awake.   His stomach turning with hunger while his head and body ache.


 

 

“He’s not well, idiot!”

Alucard is slow to open his eyes but he recognizes the feel of the Sypha’s hand in his hair.  He blinks up at her, but he can’t bring himself to speak.

“It’s a trick!”

“Why he would play at this?  He knows I would give it to him freely!”  Sypha pulls Alucard up into her arms and bares her neck.  She keeps combing her fingers in his hair.  “Hey there.  It’s fine for now. I’m well-rested and quite fed.  You can drink a little without hurting me.”

Alucard closes his eyes and lets his instinct drive him forward.  He bites, and after hearing her soft gasps pulls away.  “Sypha?”

“Shh,” she coos.  “Go ahead.”

He shakes his head, “No, I can’t.  I must control myself.  I must control the bleed.  I must be careful.  I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I know,” she says and pulls him close again.  “But you’re starving yourself, you fool.”  She pats his head while he licks up at the blood already flowing from the small bite.  “That’s okay.  Do you think you’ll be strong enough to get about?”

He continues to lick and nip at her neck until the feeling comes back to his body.  It’s by no means enough, but it’ll keep him from sleeping so deeply.  For a little while.  He pants while holding her close.  “Thank you, Sypha.  You don’t know what it means it to me.  Thank you.”

“Oh, bullshit.”

“Shut the fuck up, Trevor,” says Sypha while pushing Alucard down.  She hovers over him and wipes his brow.  “Don’t mind him.  He’s going to give us some space and I’m going to take care of you.  I know what you like and I know what you need.” 

She presses a soft kiss to his neck and it makes Alucard ache even more with want.  Starving from hunger and going untouched, he murmurs, “Sypha…”

Trevor throws up his hands, “You two are disgusting!”  He stomps away and the last they hear of him is the library door slamming.

Sypha takes her time, fucking him and feeding him at turns for most of the morning.  Alucard thinks he’s dreaming it at first, but she controls their pace and brings him back from that strange precipice that would have him sleep on and on until he withered away.

By the time Alucard feels more like himself, he’s sated in almost every way.  And Sypha sleeps with a well-earned, lopsided grin.  He bends down to kiss her forehead and tucks her in the center of the bed.  Then gets up to take a quick a shower.  He wonders what poor Belmont got up to, covering his ears in the next room or reading the one copy of the bible?  It’s a shame he doesn’t have Arn’s sensibilities.  He could have joined them.

Alucard pauses at the strange thought.  Imagining Trevor in the bed, laid out with Sypha.  His stupid face blushing again but from pleasure, not booze.  Blood pulsing in that strong neck.

The little fantasy shocks him, and before he knows it he’s taken himself in hand.

When Alucard comes out of the bath, Sypha is still sleeping and Belmont is nowhere to be seen.  He dresses quickly in his pants and belts and heads for the training hall.  It would be best to deal with this extra energy before he does something regrettable.  For all his mother tried to teach him, he still has problems controlling his baser instincts when presented with proper prey.  And damn it, if Trevor isn’t just begging to hunted, held down, and drained.

 


 

 

Alucard spends hours going through training paces.  Slowly and precisely.  Control and discipline, as his father would say.  It’s what separates them from the real monsters.  The mere animals of the night.  His mother taught him to love humans, but his father taught him to be careful with them.  After years of living off vials of blood, his father gave him his first young boy and taught him to take control of his instincts and let the child live.  Armand was a strangely a happy playmate despite the biting.  And Lisa didn’t like housing a snack for her son.  But Dracula insisted it was better he learned then, and not break later when there was no easy way to obtain blood.  Or when temptation was too great.

Alucard hates to think of the boy that he tried to love, but couldn’t.  He couldn’t bring himself to find anything in common with the happy, cheery little blood bank.  Not while knowing he only did it for the promise to be turned in adulthood.  It was the first and only time Alucard ever did such a thing, and he promised himself he would never do it again.

Lost in his thoughts of the past, he almost doesn’t hear the door open.  Belmont stands in the way with a wet rag, “I cleaned her up a little.  Not that you care.  If she doesn’t wake up soon…”

“Don’t come in here to threaten me, Belmont.  You’re out of your league.”

Belmont throws down the rag like it’s a gauntlet, “Oh fuck off!  You think you can do whatever you want to us, don't you?!”  He paces forward, hand on his short sword, “You think we’ll just bend over and let you feed on us in exchange for a few hot meals?  You, fucking bastard!"  He gives Alucard an angry smirk, "What would your mother think?”

Alucard drags his sword across the floor until flints, “I warned you.  Don’t talk about my mother.”

Belmont steps in and draws his sword, “Or what?  You’re going to go home and cry to your father—oh wait.  We’re on the way to kill the bastard.  What would your mother think about that?”

Alucard drops his sword with a clank and Belmont smiles like he won the exchange.  Then his eyes go round with surprise when Alucard appears directly in front of him and grabs the hunter by the neck, wrests away his short sword, and pins him high up on the wall.  It all happens in space of a second.  Alucard looks down at where their feet dangle, “Are you afraid of heights, Belmont?”

“Fuck off!”

“It’s not too late to apologize.  Or I can drop you.  I can throw you down with such force that Sypha would have to mend every bone in your body.  You’d be trapped here a long while.”  Alucard bears his teeth.  He doesn’t mean to do more than to knock the wind out of Belmont, but the man’s reaction is surprising. 

Trevor goes limp in his hands for one stunned moment, hands clutching Alucard’s shoulder while he struggles to breathe.  “Don’t,” he says softly.  “Don’t.”

Up here he’s vulnerable and small.  And for once, he smells so good.  The sound of blood thrumming is loud and panicky just under Alucard’s fingers.  It’s hard to resist.  And with all that this little hunter has said about him… well.  Just one bite to scare him shouldn’t hurt.  Just to tease him back.  Just a nibble to scare him, he thinks.  Sypha might even find it funny later.

“Don’t.  Please.”

Alucard likes the sound of that gruff voice now, all quieted and humbled.  He pulls Trevor’s collar down enough to bare the left side of his neck and hisses.  “All that big talk.  And now you’re cowering?  You really are the runt of the litter. If we only had time to train you up properly.  You wouldn’t be so quick at the mouth.  What do you think?  What would your mother think?”  He gives Trevor’s throat a squeeze and watches as he turns blue in the face.  He’s powerless to do more than hang there.  Alucard supports his weight by grabbing the man’s belt and hitch it up until he gasps with sudden relief.  He pushes his knee forward to hold him.  

But Trevor hasn’t learned anything.  “You fucking asshole!  Put me down!”

“Wrong answer.”  Alucard lets Trevor fall.  Trevor cries out, his hands reaching upwards.  Alucard catches him and slams him against the wall again.  “And for that, I think you deserve to be punished.”  He doesn’t give Trevor time to react before he rushes forward and bites down.  Alucard smiles while his fangs sink in the skin.  His knee in between Trevor's leg again and holding him up.  The bite is non-lethal.  Shallow.  Missed the major points that could cause a man to bleed out instantly.  It’s a joke.  A warning to the hunter to take more care with his callous words.  Trevor should be fighting.  He should thrash and cuss and kick.  But he’s not.  His eyes are shut, and his head is back while he leans into Alucard’s touch, his hands gripping weakly at Alucard’s shoulder.

The little bite has sent him into thrall.  And Alucard never seen such a response from a donor.  He pulls away after licking away the blood that tastes better than it should for a man who’s gone half-starved and fueled on alcohol for years.  No, says a little voice in the back of his mind.  This isn’t some willing donor.  This is real and proper prey, enthralled.  Begging to be taken.  He imagines Trevor laid out in the bed again, and the force of want that hits him is such a surprising thrill he presses closer. 

“Belmont?  Alucard?  If you don’t come out for tea, I’m eating all the sweeties without you.”

Sypha’s sweet, jesting voice pulls the veil of darkness and blood from over his eyes.  Alucard lets them both down to the floor slowly.  He steps away from Trevor and shakes his head.  “I… I don’t know what came over me.  I apologize, Belmont.”  He starts to plead for the other man to not speak of it again.

But Trevor slumps against the wall, hand pressed against his neck.  His eyes closed and murmuring softly to himself.

“Belmont?  What’s wrong with you.”  Alucard is hesitant to get closer, but he does.  He moves to Belmont and examines the wound.  It’s not so bad.  It’s the light pricks he thought he made.  There’s barely an bleeding.  But Trevor still looks dazed.  “Belmont?  Are you sleeping?  Did you faint?”  He gives the man a rough shove.

And it’s enough to wake him from the strange spell.  “Fuck!  Asshole!”  He shoves Alucard back.  “You damn prick!  I can’t believe you did that!”

“Belmont?  Boys?”

Trevor looks to the doorway and a sudden grin splits his face, “Oh you’ve done it now!  Don’t think I’m not above telling on you to Mummy.  She’s gonna to burn your ass and I’m gonna laugh and point.  If you’re lucky, I might piss in a pot and put you out!”  He starts to rush off to show off his wounds, but Alucard grabs him by the hair.

He hisses in Trevor’s ear, “Coward.  Taking this thing between a Vampire and a Hunter and running to hide behind her skirts?  I’ve chosen poorly.  We should discard you if you’re this weak!”

Trevor pulls away and straightens his collar, “I’m not weak!  I’ve killed plenty of vampires.  I almost killed you that first time, remember.”

“No, I remember you almost dying.”

“I remember telling you two not to do this!”  Sypha glares at them from the doorway with disappointment on her face.  “Get in here and drink this damn tea before I change my mind and burn your hair off!” 

They follow her like a pair of puppies and sit at the table quietly while she slams pots and plates around.  Belmont doesn’t say a word about the bite and Alucard doesn’t mention the daze. 

Sypha cools down enough to sit at the table with them and eat her cakes, “So,” she starts around a mouthful of biscuit.  “When do I learn new magic?”

Trevor scoffs, “What do you need to learn new magic for anyway?  You can do the fire thing.  Perfect against all kinds hellions.  You can do the ice thing.  It’s great for slowing shit down.  And stabbing apparently.  You can heal us.  Nice.  What else do you think you can learn from some prissy monster besides how to cook and clean?  You looking for a husband?  I thought we were trying to save the world—ah!”  Trevor mouth continues to move but he doesn’t say a word.

Alucard smiles across the table, “He’s right.  You already know everything you need to know.”

She gives him a small smile, “Knowledge is a speaker’s sustenance.  I can’t fight the temptation to know more any more than you two can go without bickering.”

There may be something to that, thinks Alucard.  He keeps his eyes down, ignoring the way Trevor hides his marks while Sypha flaunts hers.  He bites into a biscuit and tries to not think of the sound of blood echoing in his ears.

Chapter Text

Sypha goes back to bed after getting her fill.  Alucard makes sure she drinks plenty of fresh juice and gives her a supplement to help replenish blood cells.  He kisses her on the forehead and leaves her to get some rest.

Trevor sits by the doors with his shoulders hunched and face set like stone.  “I’m not telling her you took a bite out of me back there.  But you need it from the both of us, don’t you?  So, you don’t…”  He sighs while looking down at her, “You don’t fuck up and end up draining her in one go?”

“It would help things go quicker, yes.”  Alucard moves to the doors and steps out into the garden.  “Come walk with me.  I want to speak to you.”

“Fuck off.”

Alucard rolls his eyes, “Stop being such a child.  You want an honest answer, don’t you?  Come here.”  He steps out into the sun and expects Trevor to follow.  The garden lawn is full of unruly wildflowers.  He’s not sure when it happened, but it’s beautiful.  Alucard climbs up a hilly mound and sits down.  Trevor prefers to stand over him, blocking the light.

“How long will it take her to recover?”

“With the supplements I gave her, she’ll be up and ready to run off again in a day or two.”

“And me?”

“I barely even nicked you.”

“No, not that.”  Trevor’s hand fly to his neck. “I mean if you do me as well.”

Alucard gets lost in the wording for a flash.  His imagination is ready to run wild, but he shakes the thought out of his head and politely queries, “I beg your pardon?”  As if he didn’t have supernatural hearing.

Trevor throws up his hands, “You could drink more, right?  I’m way bigger than she is, for starters.  You could get your fill and we can all get the hell out of this place.”

“Oh, well yes.  However,” says Alucard.  He waits for Trevor to finally bend, knees creaking like he’s an old man, and sit down beside him.  “I think I’d have to be more careful with you.  Back there… you were a little out of sorts.  I’ve never seen it before, but I know what happened.  I rather not do so again without discussing the risks with Sypha.” 

“What risks?  You said it was safe, asshole!”

“It’s safe for people like Sypha.  My usual donor can… well, have a good time.  They have the will to enjoy it.”  He holds up a hand and counts off to make it easier on the Hunter, “I can either pay for a sterile collection or find an eager bedmate comfortable enough to let me feed.  But a thrall is not willing.  They’re pressed into submission by a subconscious reaction.  For that reason, I’ve never really hunted like other vampires.  Besides, that way leads to addiction.” 

Alucard looks at Trevor sadly, thinking of all the reasons a thrall comes under a vampire’s power.  None of them are pleasant.  And it’s not something he should entertain exploiting.  Trevor Belmont is not a normal human being.  He’s descended from monsters that hunt monsters and he’s fought vampires his entire life.  A bond between them would be dependent, soul-sucking… deceptively loving.  Something insidious and foul.  Alucard gets quiet and settles looking inward at all his reasons to maintain his distance.  He must clamp down on his wilder impulses.  Before it’s too late.

Trevor doesn’t care about the awkward silence.  He shakes his head and reaches into his shirt and pulls out an entire link of sausage.  Alucard stares with unblinking eyes as the man bites into it.  With his mouth greasy and full of food he suddenly asks, “Addiction to what?  The blood, the sex, or the weird sleepy thing?”

“How long has that been in your shirt?”

“Focus!”  Trevor gives him a whack with the meat and grins, “The blood thing.”

Alucard looks up at the sun and lets the light blind and spot his vision.  It’s preferable.  Everything is white behind his eyelids and he can ignore the thought of how slick Trevor’s mouth looks.  He lays back in the grass and flowers and moans, “The blood thing.  The sleepy thing.  Have you had any education at all, Belmont?”

“More so than some, I’d wager.”

“Do you know anything about it then?  Some vampires keep human thralls, like the Madame’s boy.  They dress them like dolls and drag them around like pets.  My mother’s influence kept that behavior out of the castle.  But I learned about them here.  Many of my father’s generals would covet a man like you, Belmont.”

Trevor shrugs off the news, “So I’m worth something at least.  I can’t remember dealing with it before with anything my family hunted.”  His eyes fade a little while thinking of his family.  And it would be so easy, thinks Alucard.  But he controls himself while Trevor continues, “What about Sypha?  Are you saying you’re not going to… use me?  Are you fully restored after that little romp with her this morning?”

“No, hardly.  And last time, I was supplemented by Arn’s donation.”

Trevor groans, “Donation.  You make it sounds like church tithes.  You fucked them both and sucked their blood, monster.”  He takes the last bite out of the sausage and throws the knotted end at Alucard.  “It’s not something clean and good you’re doing.  You’re a fucking predator.”

“And you’re prey.” 

Trevor turns red in the face and Alucard feels his statement couldn’t have been more accurate.  Trevor wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, “You don’t have some other way of ‘restoring yourself’ you tall prick?   Can’t we find someone else for you to munch on?”

“Sure.  I’ve had no problem in the past with finding willing bodies.  The problem now is time.  I can’t trust just anyone.  Not with the Night horde ravaging the country.  And some of my father’s generals employ humans as spies and agents.  One could easily be fed to me if I went looking in my usual places.  I’m invulnerable to most human illness.  And most vampire weaknesses.  But my father knows every one of my vulnerabilities.  Hence, why I declined the Madame’s offer.  I trust we’re safe behind that seal.  But I could never know everything.”

“Shit.” 

“Crude but accurate.”  They sit together for some time.  Alucard assumes Trevor is doing his best to think of a way to work around their problem.  He comes up with little on his end.  Besides the single and most obvious solution.  What he planned on before Trevor started talking so damn much.

And it seems Trevor is also out of ideas.  “I guess it’s me then.”

“Yes, of course, it is.  But I can be careful.  I don’t have to bite you at all.  There’s always bloodletting.  We have my lab.  It’s more efficient anyway.”  He gets up and brushes at his pants.  “You’d still need time to recover from the blood loss.  I’d prefer several sessions with you both.  I’m nowhere near as strong as my father.”  He brushes the scar on his chest, “And that’s in part because we feed so differently.  He takes and takes whether he needs it or not.  My reservations have stilted my power and my growth.”

Trevor shocks him with a laugh.  He gets up, bones cracking in his knees while he hiccoughs, choking on whatever it is he finds so funny.  “Let me get this straight.  You’re a Dhampir runt?”  He looks Alucard up and down, “And still almost a head taller than me?”

Alucard looks down at him and smiles.  Trevor looks less taunt.  Less likely to stab Alucard in the back and run off with Sypha to Dracula’s castle.  With the sun shining and the flowers, the little outburst is enough to lift a weight off Alucard’s heart.  He sighs and dares to reach out and pat Trevor on the shoulder, “Thank you.  But honestly, you’re just very short.”

“You’re a cunt.”

Alucard laughs out loud.  They go back in the room and tip-toe around Sypha.  Alucard checks her pulse and temperature before telling Trevor to follow him to the lab.  “In here.  If you want, we can get it out of the way.  Then you can recover, and I’ll see how I’m feeling.”

Trevor sits down at one of the tables while Alucard works around him.  He looks in a book left out on the table and reads aloud, “The gods have abandoned this road?”

“That’s in Latin.  I’m surprised you can read that.”

“You’re surprised I’m literate at all.”

“True.”

Trevor doesn’t seem bothered by the barb.  He sits there waiting, “What’s taking so long?  You’ve got a vat of leeches or something?”

“That would be counterproductive.”  Alucard fetches all his instruments and returns to the table.   “Stand up… no, wait.  Sit on the edge of the table.”

“Why?”

“Because I said so.”  He manhandles Trevor until he's posed artfully on the edge.  “Take off your tunic.”

“Ah, I see where this is going."  He pushes back on Alucard's naked chest, "Going to fuck me on the table and bleed me out in a cistern?”

Alucard makes a face, “That’s disgusting.”  Whatever else has gotten into him, he shakes off every impulse with a repulsed shudder.  “Give me your arm.  And try not to talk.  Before I wake Sypha.”

“Fine, fine.”  He grimaces as Alucard cleans his arm and ties a tourniquet but doesn’t try to move.  “You two better stop conspiring to mute me.  What if I have something important to say- ow!”

“Not likely,” says Alucard.  He sets up a needle to draw blood in rubber tubing that leads to a corked glass flask.  “Sit here until I have it filled.”

Trevor looks at the glass, “What all of it?  Isn’t that a lot of blood?”

“It’s little more than a pint.  You drop more than that in barroom brawls.”  He checks on the blood as it drips into the bottle.  Being so close, he can smell the grass in Trevor's hair.  It’s not unpleasant, given his recent bath.  Alucard catches himself before he does something embarrassing.  Like leaning in to inhale.  He steps out of Trevor’s space and sits down at the table.  “It may be a while this way.”

“I guess.  Slower when you’re not sucking someone dry, huh?”  He grins but he looks worried while staring at the glass that slowly fills up.  “What about stopping this?”

“That needle is very small.  You won’t bleed long, and I have salves and elements here to heal you.”

Trevor touches his neck, “Will it work on my neck?”

Alucard grins up at him, “Don’t need it there.  I licked you clean.  You’ll be fine.”

“Ew.”  Trevor goes back to looking at his blood.  “You are complicated company, you know that?  My father would have kicked both our asses if he knew I was doing this.  Fuck he would have staked you.”

“Are you so sure?”  Alucard looks at the whip that’s ever-present and thinks of an old bedtime story his mother told him.  “Do you know about your great ancestor Leon?  How the vampire killer got its soul?”

Trevor frowns, “Soul?  What soul?  It was consecrated by a priest named Rinaldo three hundred years ago.  It’s not possessed or anything.”

Alucard wonders at Madame’s words from the parlor, “Perhaps not.  But I would be more careful with it.  If we go back out to the parlor, leave it behind.”

“No.  And fuck you,” says Trevor just to be contrary.  He flexes his arms and Alucard reacts without thinking, swatting him on the thigh.  “Ow!  What?  I want to take this out now.”

The flask is only half full and Alucard can feel his mouth watering.  “Stop moving around so much.  You’ll excite yourself.  He gets up to inspect the needle and tubing.  After a moment, he realizes he’s between Trevor’s thighs and watching the thing he craves slowly drip into a container while the blood drums just under Trevor’s skin.  All it would take is a bite.  Fuck the waiting and testing, says a dark voice in the back of Alucard’s mind.  But then he imagines the world outside falling apart he finds it easy to disregard the evil voice.  It’s never done him favors before.

“Are we done yet?  Fuck, I’m still hungry.  You should have said you’d do it this way from the start.  We could have gotten it over with day one.”

“This is what I planned for you anyway.  I did not mean to fall ill earlier.  I wanted to test your blood for impurities and disease too.  Besides, not much time has passed,” says Alucard.  He can’t seem to pull himself away.  He leans into Trevor’s space pretending to check on his pulse.  Feeling his arm.  Touching his neck.  “You seem over-excited.  I need you to relax.”

“Can’t help it.  Shit is that all me?”  He leans forward until his head is resting on Alucard’s shoulder and he yawns.  “The fuck?  I’m really tired all of a sudden.  Is that the sleepy thing?”

Alucard swallows a lump in his throat and dares take a breath in once before ignoring certain urges that would have him flip Trevor over the table.  “No,” he says in a voice sounds strained to his own ears.  Trevor doesn’t seem to mind, getting heavier in his arms.  “That’s just the bloodletting.  It happens sometimes.  Like you said, you are bigger than Sypha.  You can afford to be more generous.”

Trevor laughs under him.  Alucard reaches out to steady him and holds his bobbing shoulders.  Trevor hums under his breath.  The flask is almost full.  “I’mma take a nap right here on the table.  Fetch me my cloak.”  He sounds drunk and ridiculous and Alucard tells him so.

“Don’t be ridiculous.”  Alucard smooths Trevor hair back and holds his head up to look him in the eyes.  “I’ll put you in the bed with Sypha.  You should be comfortable while you recover.”

Trevor gives him a crooked smile, “Taking care of me, vampire?  Like I’m a sheep or something?”  He yawns again and turns his head.  “Fine but don’t sheer me while I’m out.  I need my hair.  It’s all I ever got from my mother.  All the white-haired Belmonts like my father...  They go bald if they live to get old enough.  It’s not fair.”

Alucard chuckles and holds Trevor by the back of his neck while freeing him from the needle and tubing.  Trevor is almost sound asleep when he’s done, so he tips the other man over and carries him without difficulty back to the bedroom.

Sypha’s flipped over to the center of the bed, legs and arms flung out, hands twitching like she in the middle of a spell.  Alucard can’t manage to rearrange her and settle Trevor at the same time, so he puts Trevor on the end and hopes the man doesn’t flip over and fall out of the bed.  He smiles to himself and puts a pillow on the floor, just in case.  It wouldn’t be the first time the man woke with a bump on the head.

Even with all the moving, Trevor sleeps deeply and Alucard suspects it because he’s stayed up for so long watching over them.  He kneels in front of the bed and pushes Trevor’s collar back to look at the mark.  It’s so faint already.  It’s like it never happened.  But he remembers the taste of Trevor’s skin.  He won’t ever get another, he thinks.  But it’s better that way.  He pats the Trevor on the neck and gets up before he does something regrettable.  He has to finish his testing then consume the blood before it gets cold anyway.

 


 

 

The fire in the laboratory is roaring and all the doors to the garden are open.  The room is humid and Alucard is stripped of all his clothes. Trevor is in the same state beneath him.

“Don’t, please.”

“Hush now, Belmont,” coos Alucard.  He has Trevor pinned to the table.  He licks a fresh bite mark and nips at Trevor’s ear.  “You’re going to over-excite yourself.  Keep calm and let me take care of you.”

Trevor gives up.  He gasps and twists and makes such a pretty picture.  Stretched out and gloriously exposed and almost small without his armor and weapons.  He arches up into Alucard’s touch, “Don’t.  Don’t bite me.  Don’t turn me, Adrian.”

That enough to make Alucard salivate.  “Say it again.  Say my name, Trevor Belmont.”

Trevor keens and twists under him, “Please, sir.  Master.   Don’t turn me.  I’ll do anything…”  He shuts his eyes and spreads his legs, “Anything at all.”

“Begging suits you, my Lord Belmont.”  Alucard slaps Trevor on the thigh, and slides in between his legs, rubbing his cock alongside Trevor’s.  “Look at me.”

Trevor does as he told, his expression dewy and wanton.  “Please, sir.  Master Adrian.  Don’t turn me.  I don’t want that.”

“Oh, I would never,” says Alucard.  He pulls Trevor to the edge of the table and folds him in half without ceremony.  His cock finds an already wet hole and he sheaths himself with one smooth glide forward.  Every snap of his hips sends a jolt pleasure in his body and he stares at Trevor’s outstretched neck.  He repeats his promise.  “I would never.  It would curse you.  I love you too much, my lovely Belmont.”  Love?  Why Love, thinks Alucard.  Where the hell did that come from?

Trevor seems to be comforted by the words.  Of course, with the state he’s in, he’d believe anything told to him.   He wraps his legs around Alucard’s waist and moves with him, grabs handfuls of blond hair and pulls.  “Fuck, yes.  Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he says breathlessly.  “I want this.  I need this.  Give it to me.”

Alucard frowns as the sound in the dream, (because it must be a dream), turns muffled.  But in the distance, there’s a loud clacking sound.  The door creaks open and he can hear something dragging across the floor.  He stops and lets Trevor’s legs down to find the intruder, but there’s nothing there but shadows.

“Please, please.”

Alucard turns back to his man on the table and smiles, forgetting the menacing presence he felt.  He lies down on top of Trevor and kisses him, “I’m right here, Belmont.  I’m not leaving you.”

“How good of you, little Tepes.  How considerate.”

Alucard tries to sit up but a sudden weight on his back forces him back down.  Hands claw at his head and face.  He turns to find Sypha’s pretty face cast in unnatural shadow.  She grins at him with fanged teeth.  “Take whatever you want.  It’s your birthright, little Prince.  You have me.  You can have him.  You can everything if you but give up this quest to do battle with your loving father.  He only wants the best for you, my love.” 

Alucard tries to throw her off, but she clings to his shoulder and bites down hard on his neck.

“Fuck,” says Alucard.  “This is not how these dreams usually work.”

Trevor sits up on his elbows, looking red-eyed but sober.  “You wouldn’t be seeing things if you’d you whack off like a normal person.  You fucking moron.”

 


 

Alucard wakes up shaking.  He turns over and realizes he crept into the bed with Trevor and Sypha.  They’re wrapped around each other on the end of the bed while he lays with his hand outstretched.  Like he’s trying to catch them.  He can still taste the blood in his mouth.  He thrums with renewed energy.  Powers that laid dormant or inaccessible in his half-starved state could be summoned with a mere thought.  He feels fantastic and terrible all at once.  Not quite strong enough to reach his real form, but strong enough to fight on.

Alucard gets up and leaves the space at once.  He once sat for a lecture about blood addiction and spent the whole afternoon being slapped on the wrist.  He learned if one is the son of Dracula, one does not repeatedly answer, ‘But Papa does that!’ to anything the Master Librarian says.  Even if Papa does, in fact, do the ‘naughty’ thing.

He sits down in a chair in front of the dumbwaiter, feeling guilty.  Perhaps he didn’t really assault them both, but just feeling the power in his bones and knowing he could do so… he feels like a monster.  Alucard pulls out the pad and quill and makes some purchases, hoping he’ll cheer up his companions when they come around.

 


 

 

They wake up hours later.  Alucard watches his humans carefully.  Sypha beams, moving from one box to another, dazzled by the wrapping and ribbons.  She hasn’t even opened them yet but seems happy to have decorative boxes glittering and shining in the room.

Trevor looks at the piles of boxes on the table and floor and doesn’t move.  Ever the pragmatist he scoffs, “What’s the point of all of this shit?  We can’t carry it with us.  I’m not a fucking pack mule.  If it's not food, what the point?”

Sypha finally opens one pretty red box on the table and gasps, “Oh Trevor!  It’s wine!”

Trevor gets up and claps Alucard on the back, “Good man.  I’ve always liked you.  Practical thinker.  We need more of that.”  He takes the bottle from Sypha and settles down on the chaise in front of the fireplace, “A thousand blessing on you and your kin.  Well you know.  The ones that wouldn’t burn from it.”  He uncorks the bottle with his teeth and turns it up.

Sypha laughs and moves on to another box, “Such pretty things!”  She starts collecting the paper and ribbons in a pile.  “What made you think of this, Alucard?”

“I wanted to say thank you.  I know we can’t carry it all, but these are my rooms.  If we survive our mission, if… we save Wallachia we can come back.”

Sypha gives him warm smile and finally digs into one of her presents.  She lights up even more, “Is this is a gown?”

“A ball gown.  It’s important for mortals not to dance with the fairies.  But you could dance in here.  If you wanted.”

Sypha blushes while pulling the gown and touching it reverently, “I don’t know how.  I know to how to tell Speaker tradition and move with the story… but I don’t know any high-born dances.”

Trevor puts down his bottle, his face is already red.  “I know how to dance!”  He gets up, looking serious and determined.  “My sisters taught me!  I’m even good at it!  ‘Cause they had to have a good partner!  And father wouldn’t let anyone touch ‘em.  So it was up to me!”  He stumbles over and salutes her.  “Reporting for duty.”

Alucard chuffs out a laugh, “It’s gone straight to his head.  Sit down, Belmont.  Your blood’s too thin and you’re tired.  No more wine for you.”

“Stone up, you tall prick!”  He points a wavering finger in Alucard’s approximate direction.  “I’m perfectly fine!”

Sypha pats him on the shoulder, “You’re speaking too loud.  Stop shouting.”

“I’m not shouting!  I’m fine!  It’s just a little warm in here!”  He pulls on his collar and then falls flat on his face.

Sypha carelessly steps over him to get another box.  “Oh, shoes!  I have never worn this sort!  They look like glass!”

Trevor snores on the floor while Sypha tries on her presents and Alucard sits back and smiles.  It doesn’t make up for the bad thoughts invading his mind, but it helps to discharge the tension he was feeling.

 


 

 

Flying in circles through the rooms started as a simple exercise.  Turning into a common bat doesn’t use as much energy as his other forms for some reason.  But now, he’s having just too good a time.  If one were to examine him closely, they’d notice his diminutive tail was wagging.

“Don’t let it get in my hair!”  Trevor ducks under a table while Sypha chases Alucard with his sword scabbard.  “They do that you know!  They make nests in your hair!”

Sypha swipes at the ceiling, “They do not!  Get up from there!  And help me catch him!  Or we’re not getting dinner, remember!  He’s the only one who can use that magic pen for the wall chicken!”  She jumps over a chair and swipes at Alucard again.

Trevor tucks himself further under the table with what is his second bottle of red wine.  “I’m not doing anything to a bat!  They get in your hair and they lay eggs.”

“Bats don’t lay eggs, idiot!  They’re like mice with wings.”

“Na-uh!”  Belmont argues, “They lay the little spider eggs in your hair and then you go bald when the worms eat your brain and eyes.”

Alucard explodes in mid-air, turning back into himself and laughing hard as he floats over the bed.  “Worms?  Belmont, you imbecile.  How drunk are you?”  The fact is, Alucard can change into a single small flying mammal that doesn’t even drink blood.  How will Trevor react to the unnatural mass of things Dracula turns into? 

He looks down and sees the man has fallen back asleep.  It makes him laugh harder and he settles on the bed.

Sypha climbs up and tackles him from behind.  “I’ve got you!”

“You do indeed.” He rolls over and lets her pin him to the bed.  “And what are you planning to do with me, Lady?”

“Well, look at you.  I didn’t know you could laugh that hard.  You look good with so much color in your face.  And look!! Smile lines!  So, you’re not made of marble after all.”  She strokes his cheeks and leans forward to give him a kiss on the tip of his nose.  “I bet you’re feeling better?”

“Much.  But I shouldn’t allow you to run around like this.  And Belmont should be resting and taking the rest of his supplements.  Not drinking.  He’ll make himself sick.”  He pats her on the bottom and tips her over.  “Stay here and I’ll fetch our Hunter.”

She giggles while he turns back into a bat and flies under the table.

“AHHHHHH!”  Belmont runs from under the table and flips over a stuffed chair and nearly lands in the fireplace.  “It’s in my hair!”

Alucard shifts back and pins him down, “Don’t move, Belmont!  I’m trying to lay eggs in your hair!”

“AHHHHHH!”

Alucard yanks a handful of Belmont’s black mane and bites his ear before he can think better of it.  “Think of it Belmont, you can father Dracula’s grandchildren.  End the war before it starts.  How he can lay siege to Wallachia when he’s clutching a nest of grandchildren?”

Trevor’s gone still under him, “I don’t know.  He didn’t have much problem with ripping you in half.”

And with that, the merriment is gone.  Alucard sits up and looks down at Trevor.  He looks more sober.  A little pale and red-eyed, but very sober.  Just like in the dream.  He knows what he said.  Alucard gets up and ignores Sypha.  She doesn’t know what’s passed and is still laughing on the bed and telling Trevor she can see the nest.

Alucard walks over to the dumbwaiter and orders their dinner.  Simple broths that he can infuse with supplements and he cleans up the table.  “Here now, sit down you two.  You’ll make yourself ill at this rate.  Sit down and eat.”

Sypha comes over to the table, “What’s wrong.”  She looks around him to where Trevor still lays on the floor.  “What did you do?”

Trevor feigns sleeping, but Alucard knows he’s wide awake and hiding his face in the rug before the fire.  Alucard dresses in his shirt and coat and grabs a book.  “I’m going out.  I’ll seal the door behind me.  Don’t worry.  No one will bother you.  Get some rest.”

Sypha sits down and pouts, “We were just having such a lovely time.  Don’t go, Alucard.  I liked to see you smile again.” 

Alucard gives her pat to the head and quick kiss near her temple, “I’ll be back shortly.  I just need some air.”

 


 

 

The time he spent recovering from his father’s attack was all darkness.  And grief.  Alucard prepared his defenses and plotted his actions.  Placed himself in position to be found by worthy comrades and tried to heal.  But even with all the time he had and all the blood and the knowledge of his mother’s medicine, he was still broken.

He remembers sparing with Vlad Tepes and learning to wield his mother’s sword with all his powers.  And it was never enough.  He was never strong enough.  But it didn’t matter when he was young.  He was protected.  He was the only son and heir of a creature strong enough to enthrall death itself. 

He just never imagined all that power being turned back on him.

Trevor did more than hit a sore spot.  Everything in the future depends on their combined strength.  The last Belmont, a very young Sorcerer, and a disowned son.  He believes, at his full strength, he’s still half the measure of his all-powerful devil father.  And death is not his personal valet.

“Mon Cher,” says a familiar voice.  “You look down.” 

Alucard looks up at the spirit and smiles.  “You.”

“Me,” smiles the fairy.  She’s flutter forward and looks behind him at the doorway, “There’s something funny about this wall.”

“I’m not in the mood to play hide and seek with you, Sprite.”

“Well, how about a song?”  She shrinks in size enough to fit up on his shoulder.  Her wings leave dust on his coat and in his hair.  “A song will cheer you up, little master.”

“I rather not.”

“You troubled by illness, little master?”

“No.  Not really.  I just wanted a quiet place to read.  Please if you’d excuse me.”

She flutters off his shoulder and returns to her full size, “Don’t go.  Not with such a sad look on your face.  It breaks my heart.”  She steps up to him and kisses his cheek.  “Dance with me, and I’ll give you a prize.”

“I’m in no mood for dances, Sprite.”

She tip-toes and whispers in his ear, “I’ll tell you my real name.  And you can use it, my little master.  However, you wish.”  She gives him another kiss and backs away blushing while her hair sparkles.  She’s a beautiful sight.  But Alucard knows better than to get entangled with fairy love.

“Perhaps another time, Sprite.  I think I owe my guests an apology.  I wasn’t very courteous earlier.” 

“Oh no!”

“Oh yes. Promise not to tell the Madame?”

“I promise,” she swears with another kiss. “Go and make it right then.  I’ll be waiting for you, whenever you are ready.”

The little encounter lifts his spirit.  If the strange fairy is willing to share her true name, he could summon her when he’s in need.  And that could be useful…

Alucard shakes his head before turning back to the great doors of this apartments.  What would his mother think of him always judging people by their usefulness to him?  He enters the hall and turns out the lights to keep her visage from scrutinizing him then walks into the solar and sits down with his book and reads in the dark.  He tries hard not to think of the road ahead.

 


 

 

The next two days are very quiet.  Sypha entertains herself by wearing the lovely dresses but spends most of her time at the lab tables, with books and potions spread out in front of herself.  She asks for translations and for herbs while she prepares healing tonics and remedies for their mission.  And practices her magic.  Alucard assists her with his mother's medicine and together they start a little notebook of their combined knowledge.  He tells her how to do simple tests for diseases and shows her how to put together the apparatus he uses to siphon blood.

She takes to science easily.  And Alucard is thankful she’s so skilled at both ice and fire magic.  He finds random things iced over several times and she gives him a sheepish look before continuing her studies.

Trevor spends most of his time in the garden, moving from tree to tree.   He even started sleeping out there.

They haven’t said a word to each other since that night.  Alucard makes sure he’s still eating his supplements through Sypha.  But otherwise, he tries not to think of the hunter.  Or their potential for loss at the hands of his father.  Or the death of his mother.  Or the deaths of the innocent people in the countryside.

He fails on all accounts.  And it leads him to finally giving in.  If they’re going to fight alongside each other, they can’t be tossing barbs like that one and leave each other reeling.  They have to be synchronous and tactical and work to out-maneuver a large, but slow-moving force of immortal beings.

Alucard makes up his mind and walks out into the garden with a confident stride.  He finds Trevor up a tree chewing on some link of meat with a bottle of wine dangling from the end of his whip.  Alucard sighs and yanks the bottle free.

That’s enough to get Trevor’s attention.  “Hey fuck you!”

“I want to talk.”

“You talk too much.  Why don’t you go lay eggs in Sypha’s hair and leave me alone?”

“Bats do not,” starts Alucard.  He pinches the bridge of his nose and looks back up after a deep breath.  “Come down here and speak to me.  Man to man.”

Trevor laughs at that, “Don’t you mean man to Dhampir?  Man to devil baby?  Man to prissy-boot wearing… you know what?  I could go on but that wouldn’t be fair.” 

“Fine,” says Alucard.  He’s losing his patience, but he’s decided not to go up to meet Belmont halfway.  He might snap and push the little hunter out the damn tree.   He tells a half-lie instead, “Come down because I want to check on you.  Sypha’s healing well, but I took far more from you, remember?” 

Trevor looks over the branch and winds up his whip.  “I remember.  It’s all kind of a haze.  But I’m feeling good.  If the little mage is fine then we should be off, right?  That’s what you’re coming to tell me.”

Alucard sighs, “No.  I still need more.  Perhaps another five or six weeks.  Say, four feedings from the both of you and I’ll have the strength to face the Night Horde.  As I am, I’m not so sure.”

“Then what good are you?”

“I’m well enough to overwhelm you now, Belmont.  Don’t forget that.  You will need me and all my powers and resources.”

“Bullshit.  This whole thing is a waste of time, and you know it.”  He jumps down and lands in front of Alucard.  He wavers from side to side for a moment before righting himself and standing at his full height.  Which is still lacking to Alucard.  He walks up and pokes a finger in Alucard’s chest, “I think you haven’t the balls to face your dear old dad.”

“Not as I am.  I know better than anyone his strength.  And before that challenge, we will face a legion of devils.  I’m asking for your help and your patience in this regard.  Give me time to become worthy of you two.”

That earns him a narrow-eyed stare.  Trevor scoffs, “Who the hell taught you to lie so pretty?  Some fancy courtesan?  Does the devil employ whores in his castle?  What would your-”

“Don’t.  We’re not doing that today.”

Trevor grins, “Fine.  I won’t go there.  Who knew you undead bastards were so sensitive.  It’s like talking to a little girl.  No, I take that back.  Sypha is way more hardy than you are.”

Alucard sees an opportunity to attack and jabs with his words, “She’s not a girl.  She’s a grown woman.  A beautiful woman if you hadn’t noticed.”

Trevor tries to hide his face, but he gets red so easily.  “She’s barely more than a child.”

“She’s a beautiful, experienced, scholar.”  Alucard smirks at Trevor, “A soldier for the forces of good.  Strong enough to even take on this court of faeries, I imagine.  And in bed…”

“Don’t.  That’s just… rude.”  Trevor crosses his arms and stomps around to hide behind the tree, “You don’t talk about a lady like that.  And you don’t bribe a good woman with presents and shit.”

Alucard has assumed all sorts of things since first meeting Trevor Belmont.  Never once did he think the man was secretly chivalrous.  He rounds the tree on the other side.  “My apologies, Belmont.  I did not mean to offend your gentle sensibilities.  Who knew you were so sensitive.”

“Fuck off, prat.”

Alucard gives him a shallow bow.  “As you wish, Lord Belmont.  I’ll just go inside and let Sypha know you think she’s a girl child in need of your manly protection.”

He doesn’t make it two steps before Trevor tackles him from behind.  They roll in the grass until Trevor is on top, looking a little terrified.  “Okay two things.  One.  I’m not scared of the diminutive little witch.  And two, if you tell her, I’ll stake you in the fucking heart.”  It must take him a moment to process his own words because he looks down and suddenly laughs.  “Oh fuck.”

Alucard smiles, “Well at least I’m not scared of her.  It’s hard to be scared of someone once you have seen them climax.”

“Hey now,” says Trevor while shaking Alucard by the coat.  “I mean it.”

Alucard raises his hands, “I know.  I said it as respectfully as I could.”

“Yeah right.”  Trevor gets up and helps Alucard to his feet.  They turn back to the doors and find Sypha standing there with her arms crossed.  Trevor clears his throat and rushes past without another word.

Alucard shakes his head, “We were just talking.  Honestly.”

Sypha cocks an eyebrow and raises her hand. 

Alucard scoffs, “What?  Seriously, I am not afraid of you.”

Sypha snaps and if anyone were to ask, Adrian Fahrenheit Tepes did not flinch.  No matter what it looked like.

 

Chapter Text

Alucard feels like the room is spinning.  And then he realizes he’s the one spinning.  Things slow down and his vision clears.  His balance centers and he feels small.  But only because his partner is so tall.  Alucard looks up at his father and the dreaded Vlad Tepes looks so normal.  So bright.  Smiling with his fangs bared and all his power tucked away while he gently cradles Alucard’s face.  “That’s it.  You have your mother’s grace.  I’m proud of you.  It’s important not to give a poor showing at one of these functions.  The guests are of the highest quality and one must rise to their standards and expectations.”

Alucard rolls his eyes, “Do you know what they’re doing to that kind of classist talk in Paris?”  He hears a few of the guests gasp.  But he’s not afraid of his father.  He wears his lineage with pride and confidence.  He’s not just any vampire halfling despite the whispers and mocking.  He is beloved and cherished and protected.  Alucard smirks at the masked faces that surround them and keeps in time with the music even when the sound of laughter and chatter is drowning out the tune. 

“Paris again,” says his mother.  She and Armand are a sight, dressed in all their finery.  She's a ray of light like a living angel and Armand is a dark-haired Ganymede.  Alucard remembers this ball.  They were showing off Armand just before his turning.  He was sixteen and perfect and soon would never age.  Never hunger for food again, never cry out from sickness.  Never die.  And he smiled at Alucard while they danced around in the mixed company of the supernatural beings and the humans that covet their favor.  Lisa disapproves of the whole thing but agrees with her husband.  Alucard is both Dracula’s heir and his weakness.  He will have to know how to navigate such an existence with so many powerful forces that can turn on him.

But while Armand is ( or was) stunning, Alucard finds it hard to focus on his longtime companion.  Not with the two raucous humans waltzing in the middle of the floor.  They make a mess of the dance.  Laughing and falling over each other.  Trevor trying to lead and Sypha either misunderstanding or purposely subverting their roles and stepping where Trevor should.  Changing their hands.  Dipping Trevor. Trevor almost falls when she can’t support him, “Hey!”  They laugh and twirl, clearly having a good time.

Vlad and Lisa pull Alucard away to sit down at the head of the main banquet table.  Vlad pulls Alucard into his lap and laughs.  Alucard remembers this moment.  It was the last time his father held him like a child and he was laughed at for it.  Lisa pinched his cheeks, her voice rising above the noise of the party, “Still my baby boy!”

“And mine,” says Vlad.  “My little Adrian... dreaming of Paris.  I want you home with me and your mother.  Stay right where you are, my child.  And I will spoil you rotten.”

Lisa leans on the table, “Anything is yours.  Just look,” she points to the dancefloor.  “Anything and anyone you want.”

Alucard frowns and stares at where the crowd parts enough for him to see Trevor and Sypha finally dancing with some rhythm.  Sypha seems to be a fast learner and Trevor is just as adept as he promised.  They look beautiful together and Alucard wants to get up go to them.

But Vlad catches him by the chin, “Anything.  Anything at all my sweet boy.  All you have to do is mind.  Behave yourself.  No more running around cavalier.  You can take those two as your prize.  You can have whatever you want in a new shining world.”

And that’s not right, thinks Alucard.  He has always remembered that night fondly.  He remembers being teased and pinched.  He remembers Armand getting drunk. And his Mother taking them both home, saving them from the eyes and appetites of the darker creatures while his father hosted his ball.  And this is not what happened.

“Papa,” he starts to question this… this dream.  But his mother puts a finger to her lips and he goes silent.  But again, this is not right, he thinks.  He starts to fuss again.  “No, but we left.  Mother we left.  And Papa… Father, you stayed on.  And kept that rotten general from getting his hands on Armand.  And I… I… went home and had my first kiss.”  He remembers this night.  It was very important.  His first showing as a young lord and future general.  He was teased but he was not treated like a child.  This is wrong.  And he wants to say so.  He wants to fight back…

Vlad shifts his hand on Alucard until the net of skin between his thumb and forefinger are between his lips.  It’s something they used to do when he was a cranky baby.  Alucard takes a small bite without thinking and his father pats him on the back while Lisa combs her fingers in his hair.  And it’s wrong.  It’s all terribly, horribly wrong.

 


 

 “Damn you look even paler than usual.”

Alucard opens his eyes to see Trevor hovering over him. They’re outside under a tree.  When he started his nap, it was an oak tree, but now it’s a cherry blossom in full bloom.  He blinks away a few fallen petals on his face. 

“Are you okay, you tall prick?  You look like you died in your sleep.”

Alucard sits up, “It feels that way.  I was having a nightmare about my parents.  And about the past but things were twisted.”  He looks up at his false sky and frowns, “I wonder...  My father’s powers are so far-reaching.  Do you think he’s trying to influence me here?”

Trevor sits down beside him and looks around like an alerted guard dog.  He turns back to Alucard with a hand on his whip, “I don’t know.  Are you saying you might be spying on us for your dear old dad?  Or holding us here under his orders?”

Alucard tenses, “No.  No that’s not right.”  He shakes the thought out of his head, but the suspicion has Trevor on edge.  Alucard takes a deep breath, “I would know.”

Trevor laughs, “Sure you would.  You know everything.  Young Master Adrian.”

Alucard freezes.  “Please don’t call me that.”

Trevor frowns, “I was just joking.  It was written down on that bible.  To Young Master Adrian, remember to laugh.”

Alucard does laugh then, “The Master Librarian.  He was one of my father’s servants in the castle.  I wonder if he’s still there, minding all the knowledge.  He gave me that book when I first went out to follow my mother’s teaching on my own.”  He can’t help smiling thinking of the old creature, “It’s the only free thing he ever gave me.  He has a strange sense of humor.”  Alucard looks down at his wrists, “All is fair except when it is not, as he would say.”

“Right, sounds like a fun guy.  Hope we don’t run into him.”  Trevor gets up and stretches.  Everyday Sypha and Alucard dress from the wardrobe in whatever delights them.  And everyday Trevor dons his family tunic and armor and cloak like he’s ready to fight.  Alucard wishes he could see him in just about anything else, but Trevor refuses to indulge him.

Alucard sighs, “Where’s Sypha?”

Trevor grins, “Inside.  She reads fine, but she’s practicing her writing.  She thinks if she can mimic your fancy hand she’ll be able to order her own food with your magic quill.”

Alucard grins right back at him, “That’s not how it works.”

They go inside and find Sypha on the floor, stretched out on her belly with a mess of ink and paper before her.  Several of the sheets say ‘egg’ and ‘ham’.  And Alucard forgets all about the bad dream, preferring to help her through the letters.  She makes wonderful progress despite years of repression from Speaker tradition.

 


 

 

Later on, Sypha looks through a collection of vials and shakes one sample.  She squints when she reads the label aloud carefully, “Iodine?”

“It’s a heavy element that can clean wounds,” explains Alucard.  “And it occurs naturally in mine and my father’s saliva.”  There’s actually a great deal going on in his mouth.  Anticoagulant proteins to stimulate bleeding, another protein with healing elements.  The high iodine is just the tip of the iceberg and Alucard is almost too happy to share the science of it all with an interested party.  But then the irascible hunter makes a face.

“Ew,” says Trevor.  “You letting her handle bottles of your spit?”

Sypha doesn’t hesitate to open one and pour a sample onto a glass slide.  She’s mastered the microscope in a short time and looks down through the eyepiece.  “It’s a crystal?”

He goes on to demonstrate how to sublimate it and then collect it in liquid form.  Trevor seems curious about the whole process but keeps his distance.  He’s convinced they are dabbling with forces that will result in catastrophe.  And wasting precious time when they could be doing any number of things like eating or drinking or sparring.  But he gets quiet with every demonstration and starts asking questions that reveal a somewhat educated man.

Hours later they’re all in the kitchen and Sypha is entertaining herself with the coffee maker.  “I heard of it from caravans of speakers that traveled through Asia and Africa.  They often trade in coffee.  But I never had it before coming here.”

Trevor tries some, “My father said eastern men could tell fortunes from cups of coffee.”

Sypha frowns, “You must mean tea leaves.  These little beans don’t have any divination power.”

“He’s right,” says Alucard.  “There are some that believe that.”  He pushes his cup over to Trevor, and teases, “What do you see, Belmont?”

Trevor takes the cup and looks down in it seriously, “I see an ass.  Being kicked.  It must be your future.”

Alucard stands up and grins, “Then let’s get to it then.  I’d hate to make you late.  You coming to watch me kick his ass, Sypha?”

Sypha shrugs in a distracted way and turns back to the counter space.  “You said this little thing is some sort of instant oven?  Can I put bread in it?”

“It’s for bread.”

“Interesting.  I’ll stay here.  You two have fun torturing each other.”

 


 

 

Clang, clang, clang!

Trevor tries to snatch the sword away with his little trick again, and Alucard catches the whip.  It burns, but he quickly yanks it forward enough to pull Trevor across the room.  “Try something else, Belmont.  The forces we’re dealing with will not be so easily dispatched.”  He lets go and reveals his healing hand.  “My father's top generals will be full of your countrymen’s blood.  Healing a little scratch will mean nothing.”

“Shut up,” says Trevor.  He circles and Alucard thinks of that training he boasted of earlier.  He does move like a dancer in reality, fluid and aware of the surroundings.  With all the open space he keeps his distance and he’s making use of the high windows and the rays of light, letting them shine in Alucard’s eyes while he strikes out with the whip.

Alucard is unsurprised that he loses his sword, even aware of Trevor’s tactics there would be little to do against the burning whip.  If he keeps playing fair.  He gets a proper sense of what fighting a Belmont at the top of his game should feel like, and it’s no wonder lesser creatures perished under the whip.  Alucard runs the floor and draws a shorter sword from the wall.  “Keep up, Belmont.  No one else is going to go this easy on you.”

“I’m sorry, I thought I was winning?”  He cracks the whip after Alucard, “Aren’t you the one on the run here?”

“Run?”  Alucard grins before exerting himself enough to disappear and reappear behind Trevor.  He reaches out and grabs him by the neck, “But I’m right here, Belmont.”

“You.  Tall.  Prick!”  Trevor throws the whip behind himself and catches Alucard by the neck.  He flips them both over, rolls and ties the thing around Alucard’s neck, “Yield before I rip your head off.”

“Well done,” says Alucard.  “But I have a secret.”

“Yeah.  Another shiny sword hidden away?”  He slides his hand down and brings the whip to a closed loop that burns Alucard’s neck.

“My mother was not a typical Christian.  She taught me about Christ and how to say my prayers at bedtime.  And to give thanks for every day that I was alive.  Can you guess what that taught me, Belmont?”

Trevor looks puzzled, “Vampires don’t say prayers, asshole.  And they’re not forgiven.  You have to ask for… ah, fuck.”

Alucard grins and yanks away the whip.  It burns his skin at the surface, but it’s superficial.  A mere byproduct of his cursed lineage.  But he himself is saved.  His mother made sure of it.  He heals quickly without much effort and flips their positions, tying the whip around Trevor’s neck.  “Our father thou art in heaven…”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.  That’s cheating.”

“My father may have sold my soul to the devil in my making—”

“What?!  What?  Who does that??”

Alucard laughs, “At least that what his court would say.  But I assure you, even tainted with his curse, it’s still my own.  And I have never shied from the light.”

Trevor thinks about it, “Funny way of putting it, Messiah.”  He shoves Alucard back and looks up at him, “The sun seemed to bother you enough.”

“The sun is hot and I’m very, very pale.”  Alucard shrugs it off, “Most of the time.”

Trevor grins, “Then all you really need is a few Hail Mary’s and a good tan.”

They end up laughing together on the floor.  It’s a strange and carefree moment, unmarred by their mutual dislike and suspicions.  Trevor allows Alucard to help him up and because he’s still a little shit, he taps Alucard’s bare hand with the whip.

“That’s not funny, Belmont.”

“No.  I think I just improved on an old game.  You ever play tag as a kid?”

“My childhood was unconventional.”

“So was mine.  This fits right in.”  He taps Alucard again and soon they are running circles, the aim of the game pointless but for causing Alucard some irritation while Trevor laughs at his expense. 

 


 

 

One would think two men making the ruckus they did was the height of calamity and mischief in their little magical corner.  One would be wrong.

Sypha sits primly in the solar while smoke wafts out of the kitchen.  She looks up as Trevor and Alucard walk in but then quickly ducks her head.  “All done with the fighting then?  Sure, you don’t want to take another crack at each other?”

Trevor rubs the back of his neck, where finger-shaped bruises are already forming a ring.  “We’re almost finished.  Taking a break to piss and drink and probably piss again.”

Alucard raises an eyebrow, “I’ll have to test you for a urinary tract infection before the day is over.”

“What’s that?”

Trevor ignorance and probable infection are almost enough to distract Alucard from the plumes of smoke and the guilty looking girl at the table.  Almost.  “Never mind, Belmont.  I’d like to know what happened in the kitchen.”

Sypha shrugs, “Things have a way of getting out of hand.  And then you set them right.  So, it’s no big deal.”  She takes a sip of her drink and grins.  “You have to try some of this.  I call it a Frozen Coffee.  It’s delicious with cream and sugar.”  She takes a messy slurp out of the cup and looks up at them while batting her eyelashes.

Trevor laughs and stomps forward to pull open the door while Alucard tries to maintain his composure.  “Uncanny.  I would swear I was at the mouth of a volcano in the winter.”

Sypha ducks her again, “I’m sorry, Alucard.  I’ll clean it up, straight away.” 

Alucard hazards a look for himself.  Surely, he thinks, it can’t be so terrible. 

He’s wrong.  Half the counter is covered in ice and char.  And his prized coffee maker lays in ruins.  Alucard leans heavily against the doorway, feeling almost faint.  “How in the world did you manage such destruction?”  Sypha twists her hands and Alucard realizes it’s the first time he's ever seen her look ashamed of her magic.  He backpaddles from expressing dissatisfaction.  He can’t have their prized War-class mage feeling put down.  He covers his reaction with a laugh, “And here I was thinking Trevor would be the one to wreck the place.  But fortunately, everything will clean up after itself.”  He shuts the door and knocks three times.  When he reopens it the smoke is gone, but so are the remains of his beloved coffee maker.

Sypha gets up to stare, “It’s all gone?  Amazing!  Show me how you did it.”  She shuts the door herself and knocks then opens it.  Then shuts it again and presses her ear against the door.  “How exactly does this blasted fairy spell work.”

Alucard shrugs, “We’ll have to pay for the knowledge.  Are you sure?  I’m merely a tenant.  If you want it to work outside this realm, we’ll have to trade something very precious to Aziza and her court.”

Sypha pouts and it’s the prettiest thing Alucard has ever seen.  With unshed tears in her eyes, she turns to Trevor, “Did this man not tell us he would pay anything and get us what we needed?”

Trevor nods, suddenly supportive of her goals.  “He did at that.  And now reneging?  That’d make him a liar.  An evil vampire liar.”

Sypha turns back to Alucard with a raised arm, “You promised!”

Alucard sighs, “I did.  But can it wait?  It makes more sense to bankrupt me after we’ve gathered essentials.  And I’m not strong enough to return just yet.”  He turns to Trevor, the traitorous dwarf.  “Several more sessions, I told you.”

Sypha drops the act, “Fine.  That’s a reasonable way of putting it.  I thought for a minute there, that if I cried actual tears, that you’d give in.”

Trevor nods, “I was ready to give in and I’m flat broke.”

 


 

The next few days are relatively peaceful.  They orbit each other and there’s little friction when they all come together.  Alucard teaches them how to play tafl in the game room.  Sypha shows them how to play tabula and Trevor shows them how to cheat at chess.  They spend hours in the solar at first teasing and goading each other.  The games begin to migrate into the kitchen and main room and even the training room.  (Where Sypha acts surprised to find Alucard and Trevor concentrating over a board instead of tearing into each other.) 

Time is funny in the fae realm.  Alucard loses track of it easily with the sun rising and setting with his moods.  While he feels in good health, the days seem to go on and on.  It’s on what he thinks of as their ninth day there, that they move the chess board onto the bed. 

Sypha grins, “Times up!  Earthquake!”  She hops and shakes to disturb the pieces in their variant game.  Trevor tries to save the last of his remaining pawns and Alucard uses his psychokinesis to steady his pieces. 

He smiles and slides his queen forward, “Checkmate!”

Trevor takes a deep steadying breath, “Fine.  I can lose like a man.  Fine game, my friend.  Fine game.”  He stretches out his hand to Alucard, “Best out of five?”

It’s a trick.  Alucard knows it’s a trick.  By the way Sypha is falling over, laughing and clutching her sides, she knows it’s a trick.  Alucard takes the hand anyway and isn’t surprised to be flipped over and smothered with a pillow. 

Alucard has never had such good friends before and he can’t remember being happier.

 


 

They all share a bath that night after dinner.  This time Trevor stays close enough for Sypha to wash his back and hair.  Alucard carefully announces, “Your blood tests look good.  We could do another siphoning.  I won’t have to bite either of you and it’ll be more efficient."  He keeps his head down while they whisper to each other.

Sypha turns, “I don’t mind it, but you don’t have to deprive yourself with me.”

Trevor huffs, “You say it like you want to be bitten!  I don’t want to do it either way.”

Alucard sinks into the water, “I know.  Only a few more pints from the both of you and I’ll be strong enough to face my father.”

They all turn quiet with the reminder of the mission ahead.  Sypha smiles at him gently and slides over to help with his hair.  “I know what’s at stake.  But I remember what you told Arn and me back at the house.  You can sustain yourself but holding back the impulse to act like a vampire makes dark things stir in your mind.  I rather not leave you susceptible, Alucard.  I trust you can control yourself.”

Trevor splashes them both, “Trust?  Look it’s not about trust.  He’s… he’s a monster and eating people is just what they do.  There's no way to sugar-coat it, dearie.”  He doesn’t look as boastful as he did in the beginning.  He's just stating a fact that he knows as a Belmont.

Alucard stops Sypha before she can attempt to defend his honor with a backbrush handle.  “You’re right, Belmont.  But so is she, in a way.  I’ll have to think about it.   We’ll deal with it in the morning.”  He gets up and leaves them both in the bath, and dresses quickly in a plain shirt.  His head is full of conflicting thoughts and desires and impulses.  He doesn't look forward to a night of hazy nightmares, but he welcomes the thought of having Sypha nearby with their own personal gargoyle standing watch.  

When Sypha comes out of the bath, she tosses on a simple shift gown that’s almost see through and sits on the edge of the bed.  She holds out a hand, “I rather you sate yourself now than get out there in the real world and maul some innocent maiden, you know.”

“I would never.”

“That’s not what Trevor thinks.  And don’t think I didn’t notice the mark on this neck before.  Something happened between you two and you’re not speaking of it.”

“No.  I rather not.  I was out of line.”

“Come here and tell me what happened.”

Alucard looks to the hall that leads to the bath.  “Where’s Belmont?  You didn’t drown him this time?”

Sypha shrugs, “He’s sitting with his balls out by the fireplace.  Don’t worry.”

“I’m not worried,” lies Alucard.  He shouldn’t have to worry about either of them here.  They’re safe. Or at least they should be.  A bad feeling nettles at his nerves and so he goes over to kneel at her feet and rest his head on her lap.  “I just have to be more careful with you two.  You’re the only ones to come looking for an answer in that tomb.  You’re the only ones willing to fight back against the darkness.”

It's a problem with Wallachia.  No one bothers to try to change, they’re all content to take orders.  Don’t bathe because it passes the plague.  Say your prayers for fear of God.  Marry your cousin for purer lines.   It’s all the sad result of ignorance and Lisa tried.  Dear god, thinks Alucard.  She tried.  And he here he is, trying in her place.  But he’s found something soft and safe and fears he’ll lose himself in the comfort.  Even in something as simple as resting his head on Sypha’s knee while she brushes his hair back.

Sypha's not shy about spreading her legs, “You know, I owe you for the broken machine in your kitchen.  Oh, woe is me.  How would I ever repay such a rich and handsome lord?”

Alucard smiles and turns his head enough to trail kisses up her thigh.  “How indeed.  I imagine you’d set someone’s hair on fire for demanding such a thing.”

“Damn right!”  She swats his shoulder with the hairbrush.  “Best not to let this opportunity pass then.  As I’m an admirer of your beautiful hair.”

Alucard nods in agreement and kisses her higher up and nips just an inch away from the line between leg and pelvis.  He teases her and backs away enough to bite her knee and earns another swat.  “Are you sure you’re not part succubus?”

The look he gets isn’t really an answer.  He climbs up, distracted by the sight of her nipples looking perk and rosy just under the sheer white linen.  He sucks one and then the other while Sypha writhes and moans.  “Quickly.  Quickly before the old nursemaid comes back.”  She leads his hands to her naked skin under the gown and part the folds of her vulva.  He needs little prompting and starts to rub the sensitive nub and hood of her sex before curling his fingers into the wet opening.  He keeps his mouth on her breasts, suckling through the cloth.  Before blowing gently and relishing her full body tremors.

Sypha falls back sighing, “You can wait until tomorrow to feed if you really want.  But like this… oh god yes, there!  Oh like this, I don’t mind one bit.  It feels so good, Alucard.”  She scratches her nails in his scalp and tugs him upwards for a proper kiss to his mouth while rolling her hips and chasing climax on his fingers. 

Alucard pulls away long enough to take off his shirt and throw it to side.  He takes her by the waist and hoists her up the bed with little effort, pulling the gown up until they’re chest to chest so he can feel her heartbeat directly.  The rhythm leaves him feeling drunk and he slides inside her before he can think any better of it.

They’re so busy moving together, fucking and kissing with eyes only on each they don’t notice their irascible third coming in from the bath.  “Seriously?  In front of my whip?”

Sypha laughs and turns her head but makes no move to free Alucard.  In fact, she does the opposite and pulls him down to hide his face in her neck, “I thought you were warming your chestnuts?”

“I’m good and roasted, lady.”  He scratches his rear end and sits down at the foot of the bed.  “Aren’t you two done yet?  I thought he couldn’t feel anything down there.”

Alucard rolls his eyes and wills himself to stay hard if only to prove the interloper wrong.  “I am more than capable of feeling, Belmont.  Why don’t you go chase squirrels in the garden?  Or read something in the library.  Or play around with your knives in the training hall.”  He makes the mistake of looking back at Trevor and shudders at what he sees. 

Trevor looks at them with naked want, hand knotted in the sheets while the prettiest flush spreads from his neck and cheeks.  Sypha moves on it first, sitting up with a wide grin.  “You want to join us, you callow thing?  You could just ask?  I wouldn’t mind having the both of you beautiful boys.  It's far better than what awaits us on the road.”  She pushes Alucard to the side and holds out her hand.  “Come here.  Kiss me, idiot.  Before I change my mind.”

Trevor looks to Alucard like he’s asking permission.  Alucard shrugs and climbs off their little mage.  She moves to sit between his legs instead and holds her neck to the side.  “I’ll have you both at the same time.”  She arches her back and Alucard runs his hands up her sides then pulls the little gown up over her head and tosses it to the side.  He fists her hair and kisses her neck.  He doesn’t need his cock touched, not with the thought of having her while she’s having Trevor is almost enough to make him come.  His imagination runs wild with it but it seems reality is quick to catch up.

Trevor crawls over slowly, “Seems overcomplicated to me.  Can’t he just wait his turn?”

Alucard snaps without knowing why, “I was here first!”

Sypha chuckles, “Idiots.  Both of you.  My pretty men.  Come here, Belmont.  Make love to me.”  She reclines in Alucard’s arms and spreads her knees.  Trevor hesitates before coming forward and giving her a soft kiss on the lips.  She deepens the kiss while wrapping her hands around his neck and pulling him close enough to whisper, “I’m not going to repeat myself.”

Alucard swallows, being close enough to kiss Trevor himself, but missing his chance when Trevor sits back on his heels and lifts her knees up higher.  He lays a big hand on the flat of her taut belly and slides in, entering her with a smooth glide.  Alucard keeps his eyes between their bodies, seeing more then they do and feeling her tremble.  He can see the red-hot outline of Trevor’s cock sliding inside her channel, pulsing with blood under the skin while precum leaks the tip of his head that slides in out from under its foreskin.  Before long Sypha is shaking apart, spasms racking her body while she reaches back and pulls Alucard’s hair.  “Now, now.”

He looks up at Trevor and sinks his teeth in her neck.  They lock eyes while he does the one thing Trevor is terrified of and Sypha arches and twists.  He drinks enough for his senses to be open wide.  The smell in the room is overpowering with the natural scent of their sweats and sex mingled.  It’s like being drugged with an aphrodisiac.  He grabs Sypha by the waist and pushes her forward unsettling Trevor until he’s flat on his back.  Sypha goes with it and kisses down Trevor's tan body until she wraps his lips around his cock.  Trevor throws his head back and Alucard almost loses control.  He nearly tosses her aside to fall on him and bite and take and take and take.

But he doesn’t.  Instead, he redoubles his effort to come in the willing body under him.  Sypha moans and hums while sucking down Trevor, her ass in the air for Alucard while he slams forward, every snap of his hips making Trevor shake as well.  He pulls her up when Trevor comes in her mouth and holds her neck with one hand while squeezing her breast.  Trevor takes the invitation to come forward and suckle on her tits while Alucard rocks up into her. 

When he finally comes they all collapse together, a tangle of limbs.  Panting to catch their breath with raspy voices.  Sypha nods off with a smile and her fingers curl in Alucard’s hair while Trevor drifts away slowly with a surprised but languid look on his face.

Alucard hides his expression in the back of Sypha’s head.  He’s happier than he has any right to be.

 


 

 

Sypha sleeps deeply and at some point, they arranged themselves under the sheets.  The fake moon was high in the sky but Trevor didn’t take up his usual place in the chair beside the bed.  Instead, he lays on the edge, feigning sleep for a good long while.  Alucard lays quiet, waiting until he hears the hunter breathes slowing down and turns over. 

Trevor is curled up on the edge of the bed, as far from them as he can be with his back turned.  Alucard reaches out before he thinks better of it, turning him over to look at his sleeping face.  He's careful not to disturb either of his sleeping humans.

Trevor opens his eyes and sighs, “That’s not at all creepy, staring like that.”

“You’re awake.”  Alucard tips his head, “What remarkable control you must have.”

“You learn a lot of things hunting vampires for a living.”  Trevor sits up on his elbow.  “How are you feeling now that you were, what she called it, fulfilled?  You less incline to ravage us both after a little fucking?”

Alucard comes closer, despite it being a bad idea.  He can hear that Belmont blood calling out to him, now that it's not hiding with a sluggish thrum.  “I feel much improved.  Dark impulses somewhat quelled.”

“Somewhat.”

“Yes.”

“Sypha thinks if you just had me, you’d feel better.  No more mystery to it right?  Maybe that weird spell would be broken.  Who's to say she’s wrong?”  The look he gives him makes Alucard wonder if he’s already being affected by the thrall again.  Trevor lays back, hands up by his head like he’s in surrender.  “Maybe just the one time will be enough.”

“No,” grunts Alucard.  He keeps his distance with some effort, but he feels his cock hardening.  In the dim light with his heightened senses, the way blood flows under Trevor’s skin nearly glows.  So much of it redirecting with desire…  “No.  I can’t trust what you’re saying.  You don’t mean it.  And I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Well what about the opposite,” Trevor sits up on his elbow and slides over, close enough to breathe in Alucard’s ear.  “What if I have you.  You think that might break the spell on my end?”

Alucard leans forward, lured in by the voice and the promise of skin, “Perhaps.  No… no.  I still can’t trust what you’re saying.  You don’t want me, Belmont.  You usually loathe me.  But there’s a place inside of you that’s so empty, you’re vulnerable to this power for the first time in your life.  You’ve no one left to teach you better.”

Trevor's eyes go from faded and cloudy to wide awake.  “Fuck you!”  He shoves Alucard down and climbs on top of him, straddling his legs.  “I’m not weak, Monster.”  He hisses and turns to look at Sypha, “There’s nothing different about us.  Not really.  I can take it.  And I know what I want.  I’m tired of this feeling nagging between us.  Let’s just get it over with and you’ll see.  I won’t be fainting again anytime soon.”  He shoves a hand between their bodies and pulls free his cock. 

The slide is tacky and not slick enough.  Trevor raises his palm and gives it one long lick before wrapping his hand around the both their cocks.  Alucard tries and tries to keep still.  Tries to keep his hands to himself and let Trevor take what he wants while Sypha sleeps on unaware beside them.  But he can barely resist.  Trevor leans down and gives him a chaste kiss on the lips and all the breath in Alucard’s body rushes out.

“Like that?  Here.”  Trevor kisses him again.  And again.  And then bites a little on his bottom lip.  “I wonder,” he murmurs while working his hand and rolling his hips.  He bites down again Alucard hands fly up to push him away.  “What?”

“Don’t.  It’ll curse you.”  Alucard’s heart is already beating rapidly, the pleasure being pushed by the anxiety, “Please, I couldn’t bear it.  Cursing the last Belmont.”  He whispers and turns his head to look at Sypha.  “I couldn’t stand it, tainting either of you with something so foul.  Please don’t.”

Trevor eyes him carefully and shifts in his lap, laying between Alucard’s legs while coming forward to suck on his neck.  Alucard isn’t used to the sensation and the novelty is enough to bring him close to coming.  It seems he has little defense or resilience when dealing with either of his little humans.  He clutches at Trevor’s back and feels him shake with a chuckle.  “See?  I’m no victim here.  I’ve got plenty of will.  And I can still take what I want.”  He bites on Alucard’s neck fits them together close enough to rut against each other bellies.  “I’m fine.  You’re the one falling apart on me.”

Alucard nods agreeing, “You’re right.”  He wraps a hand in Trevor’s hair and turns his face to kiss him again.  He moans into the kiss, feeling it down to his toes, their cocks still working in tandem.  He spreads his legs to give Trevor more purchase and the thought of being used, of being pinned down while the vampire hunter reasserts his fragile dominance is thrilling.  “I certainly am.”

Trevor comes soon after that and collapses on Alucard’s chest, trapping both cocks until he’s too sensitive.  He rolls over, panting, “Fuck.  Fuck.  I guess I needed that.  I haven’t been with anyone since… hell.  It was months ago.  And she thought I was a sheep farmer or something.”

The admission startles a laugh out of Alucard.  He tries to control his breathing and body and set himself back to rights, but Trevor reaches and takes him in hand again.  “Don’t.  Like you said.  You're no thrall, Trevor Belmont.  I was mistaken.”

Trevor grins, “Yeah.  But I’m not one to leave a partner unsatisfied.  Even if you are another man.”  He looks down at his hand with some concern, “I’ve never… um.”

Alucard salivates at the thought, “Don’t say it.  I won’t be responsible for my actions if you do.”

Trevor laughs, “Fine.  But it’s odd.  I ran in on some servant boys in a hayloft once.  I could never figure the appeal.”

Alucard holds him close and kisses him again, “Of course, you’re taught that it’s evil.”

Trevor nods, “And men in this country will fuck anything.  Believe me, I know.  So, I hold myself to something better than that.  I’m a Belmont man.  We don’t fuck animals, we don’t fuck our sisters or other men.  Or monsters.  We definitely don’t fuck monsters.”  His eyes get cloudy, “But now I’m the last one.  And like you said, there’s no one left to teach me any better.”

“Don’t be like that…” He hates the look in Trevor’s sad, sad eyes.  He kisses him on each eyelid and combs his fingers in the unruly dark hair.  “I want you to be completely happy Belmont.  You and Sypha are precious to me.  I don’t want you to feel so much sadness.  You’re not alone anymore.”

“Yeah okay,” says Trevor like he’s waking up from a dream.  He smiles up at Alucard.  “And what about you?  What do you think will make you happy?”

Alucard doesn’t have to think hard about it, the answer already in his heart.  “Having you both completely when all this is over.  Defending the land.  Taking care of you both… for the rest of your days.”  He's careful to say such a thing.  Knowing if they should all live in the coming battles, that he will outlive them both.  Cursing them with vampirism isn’t even an option.

Trevor stops working his wrist and pretty blush crosses his cheeks.  “Um… you want more?”  He confuses Alucard for a second before turning to his side and holding up his thigh.  “Just there.  If you want.”

Alucard sees red, he wraps an arm around Trevor’s broad chest and pulls him close while fitting behind him and slipping in between his legs.  He rides the tight press of thighs until he comes and before he can think better of it he bites down on the back of Trevor’s neck.

Trevor reaches back, but his whole body is still and limp.  His eyes shut and Alucard is almost too excited to stop himself.  But he does.  He licks up the new wound he made and kisses Trevor at the temple.  “Thank you, my lovely Belmont.  Thank you.”

 


 

 

The next morning, Alucard wakes up with an armful of sleeping sorcerer.  Sypha yawns and wiggles closer, hiding her face in his chest and goes back to curling her fingers in his hair.  Alucard rubs her back and wakes her gently.  He looks around the room, “Do you smell that?”

“Bacon!”  She leaps out of the bed and stops to look down at her own naked skin.  She looks back at Alucard when he clears his throat and points at the wardrobe.  She rolls her eyes and stomps over to pull out her dressing gown and wraps up.  “I could eat in the kitchen in the nude if I want!”

Alucard doesn’t know how to reply.  But he figures he must draw the line somewhere.  And eating in the nude in the kitchen is just not up for discussion.  Yet.

They both turn when Trevor comes in baring a wheeled cart.  He’s all smiles and relaxed while wearing nothing but one of Alucard’s long nightshirts.  He sets up their breakfast on the table, “Bacon.  Eggs.  Oatmeal.  All the good stuff.  Eat up, you little goblin.” 

Sypha doesn’t need to be told twice.  She digs in while Trevor walks over to the bed.  His head a little to the side and showing off the fresh mark in the morning sunlight.  It makes Alucard hard all over again, but he minds himself.  “Busy this morning?  Have you already eaten?”

“I’m perfect.  I’m completely happy.”

The phrasing is odd and Alucard looks him in the eye, expecting a lewd joke to follow.  “Are you now?”

Trevor kneels down the floor and cants his head.  “You have to feed again to keep your strength up.”  He touches himself under the shirt and looks at Alucard with hooded eyes.  “I’m completely happy, Master Adrian.”

Sypha’s fork clanks while she stares at them, “What did you do?!”

Alucard shakes his head weakly, afraid to answer.  He’s never been more brokenhearted.

Chapter Text

Alucard is up and pacing the floor while Sypha tries to shake some sense into their hunter.  “Trevor, please.  Tell him you’re only jesting.  You’re taking it too far.  Please.”

“I’m fine, Sypha.  Really.”  He gives her a slow blink and a soft smile.  “Nothing is wrong with me.  I’m completely happy.”

Alucard turns his back to them and dresses quickly.  He may need the madame’s help.  God, he thinks.  He needs something.  Trevor keeps his place, kneeling on the floor in front of the bed.  Alucard finally snaps at him, “Get off the floor before you catch a cold!”  It’s nothing serious.  The room is warm and comfortable, but Trevor gets up and obeys instantly.  He towers over Sypha, but he looks so small.

Sypha leaves Trevor to face down Alucard, “What is this?  Is this why you didn’t want to bite him before?  Fuck, fuck.”  She pulls her own hair and shakes her head, “I thought it was just carnal attraction!  I told him… no never mind what I told him.  Is it a spell?  Break it, Alucard.  We do not have time for this.  Even here.  Please.”  She wraps her arms around her middle and steps further away from them both, “It feels strange.  I think I can see darkness between you two.  Like a rope.  No, like a noose from your hand to his neck.”

Alucard can’t perceive it himself, but he knows she’s right.  “He’s a thrall.  I’m sorry.  If I knew how to undo this, I would in an instant.”

Sypha stomps forward and shoves him, “Then ask for help.  Ask Aziza.  Ask any fairy.  Read your books!  Do something!”  She tires of yelling at him turns back to Trevor.  “Come away from there, idiot!  Move!  Talk!  Do anything at all, just stop acting like a statue!”

Alucard sighs, thinking all is lost for them now.  The last Belmont has been reduced to something other and weak.  There’s no point in taking him to the castle now.  He turns to Trevor to apologize again and stops himself before the wrong words are thought of and spoken carelessly.  There is something else to this.  Something he knows in his bones that could be useful, but he doesn’t know how to utilize.  And as Trevor said last night, there’s no one to teach him.  “Belmont?  Can you hear me?”

Trevor gives him a flat look.  “Of course, I hear you, Master.  Unless you want me to stop.”  He covers his ears.  It's such a simple gesture, but it means so much is wrong. 

Sypha starts sobbing.  “Stop it, idiot!  That’s not what he meant!”

Alucard pulls her close and wraps his arms around her.  She beats his chest but goes still enough for him to rub circles on her back while she cries in his shirt.  Alucard clears his throat, “Trevor.  Sit on the bed.  And rest.  Sleep for now.”

Trevor nods at him and obeys.  He lays on the edge and folds his arms like a corpse, shuts his dull grey eyes and sleeps. 

Alucard takes Sypha by the hand and leads her out to the garden.  “I’m so sorry.  I don’t know how I let this happen.  He said he was fine.  Last night he said he could… but I should have known better.  There was darkness in his eyes, but I indulged myself and this is the result.”  The grounds are full of hedges and he walks her into the mouth of a party maze.  He almost wishes they could get lost inside and never face the thing he made again.

“Stop.  Slow down.  I’m barefoot, remember.”  Sypha tugs back until he pauses.  He helps her up on a white bench and kneels at her feet to inspect them.  She pats his head while he does so.  “You called it thrall?  I know some lore says a vampire’s gaze is like moonlight on the darkest night.   That’s the what the Speakers say in warning against it.  But how could this happen?  He’s a Belmont.  He says he’s faced plenty of vampires.  I can’t believe you’re the first to try such a spell on him.”

“He’s empty inside and lost.”  Alucard focuses on her little feet.  They’re undamaged but he dare not look her in the eye, knowing what he did.  “He’s vulnerable and I took advantage with a power I haven't any skill in using.  I was wrong.  I knew better.  I’ve been dreading it since that first bite.  There’s no way to plan for such an outcome.  There’s no way to move forward.   Not with this kind of thing.  It’ll pervert me as well.  And I rather die than…”

“No!”  She pulls her foot away and lifts his chin up, “Look me in the eye.  You’re one the smartest creatures I have ever met, Alucard.  You know what I do about magic.  Yes, it has a price that demands to be paid.  But It is always thought, action, and conclusion.  It’s science and elemental.  And spirit!  We can understand this and break the spell, just like any other.  I know we can.”  She gives him a warm smile and a kiss to the forehead.

Her hope buoys him when he’s ready to sink in self-hate. “You’re right, of course.  I’ll try.  We’ll all try.”

 


 

 

They settle for getting to the business they planned for the day.  When they return to the room they find Trevor gone from the bed despite the order.  Alucard and Sypha start to frantically search but soon find him in the main hall standing in front of one of Lisa's portraits.  

Trevor turns back to them while chewing around a link of sausage, “Morning.”

Sypha cries like the spell was discharged, “I feel like tying you to a mast!”

Trevor frowns, “What’d I do?  I just woke up?”

Alucard sighs in relief.  “Then it was temporary.  Or the effects aren’t long-lasting.  We can work with that. Perhaps break it where it’s weak.”

Sypha smiles and claps her hand, “Yes!  That's- oh no!”

She covers her mouth just as Alucard feels the change.  The spell is reaching out and casting the shadow between them again.  Trevor looks sleepy-eyed and docile under the picture frame.  He sways a little and leans forward.  “What is up with you two?  Standing over there with your mouths hanging open?  You look like someone died?”

“Sit down, Belmont.”

Trevor slides down to the floor with his eyes hooded.  Then looks at down at his own feet, “The fuck?”

Sypha runs over, “Come on into the library.”  She tries to pull him up, but he doesn’t budge.  She gives up and looks to Alucard.  “Please, just to get him out of here.”

Alucard feels like the control over Trevor is a living thing snapping away at his own hand.  If he lets it, this thing will warp him too.  And change Trevor’s being permanently.  If he drinks from him again it’ll make things worse.  He sighs and whispers, “Get up, Belmont.  Follow me.”

Trevor gets up like a soldier and follows.  Sypha helps him sit down on a bench in the Library and when Alucard keeps his distance, she starts the process, preparing him.  When Trevor is settled she leaves and dresses in her speaker’s robes and comes back with a determined look on her face.  She starts pulling down book after book and practicing spells on a nearby table.

Alucard takes a seat next to Trevor and tries not to apologize again.  It won’t help anything.  But he can’t help but feel sorry.

After a long while with so much quiet tension, Trevor yawns and Alucard tries not take offense.  It’s not the man’s fault this is happening.  The siphoning is almost over.  He sinks into his seat and yawns again, “If she sticks her nose any farther in that book, it’s gonna break off.”

Alucard cracks a smile in what feels like the first time in days.  “She’s trying to help you.”

Trevor scoffs, “I don’t need helping.  I told you.  I’m fine.”  He looks down at the collection, “How much of this you need anyway?  Could you just put it in a barrel or something?  For the road.”

“There will be no road going forward if we can’t free you from this,” says Alucard.  He imagines what Sypha described.  A noose from his hand to Trevor’s neck, but he can’t see it or feel it out.  So, he can’t break it or put it away.  He shrugs, “In a way, I will.”

“What?” says Sypha.  “The whole point of this will be wasted if you let that go cold.”

“I must.  There’s an ice pantry in the kitchen.  I will store collections from both of you there until I have enough.  Another ten pints should do it.  And the ice will keep the blood viable until then.”  He sits down by Sypha and sighs, “If I drink again now, I’ll only get stronger.”

She puts it together, “And so will the bond.”  She looks between them and grimaces, “It’s so terrible.  I didn’t notice before, but now I can’t unsee it.  I wish I could.”  She goes back to her book, “I will find a way to free you both of this, I promise.”

Alucard shakes his head, “I doubt the answers are in here.  You were right.  I must ask for help.”  He checks on Trevor and finds him nodding off on the table.  He quickly dissembles and cleans his equipment then packs the blood away.  “I’m going out to the parlor to ask for help.  But I must play it carefully.  No one would understand why I would want to break such a spell.  Especially with such a fine specimen.  Rest, Belmont.”  He strokes Trevor on the face and lets him down gently on the workbench.  “See that he doesn’t fall off and knock any more sense out of his head.”

Sypha commits to the task and Alucard leaves her alone with their poor Belmont.

 


 

 

Alucard starts up a conversation with Sprite and two of her lessor cousins over a game of backgammon.  He charms them with a few toothy smiles and dazzles them with a little exhibition, changing into his bat form and flying off to collect the powdered wig of a troll patron.  He returns and leaves the goods in Sprite’s lap and they all have good laugh.

Sprite puts the thing on, “How fashionable!  And look!  You have a new admirer!”

She points to a table where small animal spirits are wagering on some kind of snail race, and among them, a Bat spirit stares at Alucard with a confused expression on his beady little face.

Alucard sighs and covers his face, “Oh not again.  I know him well.  He thinks I’m female in that form for some reason.”

Sprite laughs harder, “Who’s to know?  Have you actually checked, my love?”

All the fair creatures at his table poke and tease him for what feels like hours.  Alucard tires of keeping up the act and tries to subtly get to the reason he’s here.  “Have you ever seen a proper human with any of the other vampires?  I bet my lovelies are the first,” he boasts.

There’s nothing a fairy likes more than being contrary.  Sprite leans forward, “Hah!  Hardly.  I’ve seen lots of human pets come and go.  That nasty warlord, the one with the thing!"  She points to the stolen wig and laughs, “The one who thinks he’s so handsome.”

The other fairies laugh, “But he’s not!”

“He’s really not!”  Sprite leans forward and touches Alucard.  “Not like you and your father.  You are so beautiful and well-bred, my little master.  A proper specter, just like your beautiful and monstrous father.  But that mean old general was ugly when he was turned, and he’s ugly now.”

“True,” nods and speaks her cousins at the same time.

Alucard takes a drink of his wine and pretends to be affected.  Seeing him pretend to be drunk on the Madame's special wine always amuses them.  “I know who you mean.  He can’t have ones as fine as mine.  That’s not possible.”

Sprite snickers, “Well no.  Not without his glamour.  Who knows what he looks like when takes them.”

Alucard leans forward and whispers, “Do you think I’m lovely enough to break such a spell from another vampire?”

Sprite laughs, “One look at this gorgeous face and instantly any heart would be full of want.”  She strokes a hand down his chest, “No glamour necessary, my young lord.”

He never knew or understood how it worked on the victims before.  He thought it was a kind of hypnosis.  “They see what they want?  Is that how it always works?  Or is it more?  I don’t think I’ve ever had to do such a spell.”

Sprite comes closer and leans on him, “Of course not.  You are what anyone would want, my young lord.  But he does the worst thing to his bloodsacks when they’re without a will.  He takes their hearts and twists them until they’re only an extension of himself.  That nasty-looking ogre must think highly of himself.  Those poor souls.  And all to be drained when they wrinkle up.  How sad for them.”

Alucard wonders aloud, “The glamour and binding are like holding up a mirror then.  But what if there’s no reflection?”

Sprite shrugs, “There’s no longer a person.  Only a shadow of what used to be a person.  Desperate things that covet creatures with real hearts.  And die sad and lonely.”

The twin fairies sniffle, “Sad.”

“Yes very,” agrees Alucard.  He puts his glass away and gets up.  “I’m afraid I’m tired now, ladies.  And I miss my companions.”

Sprite pouts, “Better to take me along and introduce us, don’t you think?”

“Hardly.”  He kisses her hand, “The day you come in that room, I’ll be dead and buried.”

The twins laugh, “For a dhampir, that can be a Tuesday night.”

He leaves the spirits laughing around their card tables and dancing to their music. 

He hasn’t learned much, but as Sypha said.  It’s better to understand it and move forward.

 


 

 

There’s nothing wrong with me!”  Trevor throws up his hand.  “I’m tired of insisting.”

Sypha looks worn down when Alucard comes back.  She has Trevor in the kitchen and held up at knife point, “Stop arguing with me and come here!”

Alucard raises his hands and approaches them both cautiously, “What is going on in here?”

“She’s crazy!  She thinks she can cut something off me!  There’s nothing wrong with me!”  He pats himself down.  He’s dressed back in his Belmont hunter clothes with his whip on his side.  His eyes are clear even with Alucard returned.  He takes a step back, “Tell her to put that away before I break her damn hand!”

Alucard tries to approach her, “Easy now, both of you.  Sypha please explain yourself.”

She waves the knife at Alucard, “Then you come here.  I’ve tried something.  This blade is ensorcelled.  I can think I can cut away the dark magic binding you.”  She looks at his hand frowns.  “That’s odd.”

Alucard stares at his hand, unseeing but not feeling the tug from before.  “It’s gone now?”

Trevor sighs and leans on the counter, “What’s gone?  There’s nothing else in the room!  Nothing to cut away and no reason brandish knives at me!”  He points at Alucard, “But if you want to let her cut you, go ahead.  At least you’ll heal up, Messiah.”  Trevor grabs a bottle of wine, “I’m going outside for some air.  You two shit for brains can stay right here.”  He stomps past Alucard and slams the kitchen door shut behind himself.

Alucard frowns, “Is he really okay?”

Sypha sighs and sinks down at the table, “I don’t know.  He was acting strangely for the longest time.  I tried to put him to bed, but he went to the wardrobe and grabbed his things.  Once he was dressed, he was himself again.  And he didn’t believe me about this morning.”

“A wailing spirit then.”

“What?”

Alucard takes her by the hand and leads out to the main room where they watch as Trevor stomp out the doors and moves to climb up a tree.  He stumbles and falls down but manages to save the bottle.  Then tries again and climbs up like a long-limbed ape.  Alucard watches the tail of the whip come undone and nods his head, “A wailing spirit came between us.  He didn’t have it on the first time either.  Perhaps the Vampire Killer is protecting him from the thrall.”

Sypha lights up, “Interesting.  Perhaps you right before, and this will wear off on its own soon!”

Alucard walks closer and watches Trevor try to drink away the morning.  “Or he’s somewhat protected.  But I still feel ill at ease.  I dare not risk either of you.  I’ll put the blood collections on ice until we’re ready to go.”

Sypha nods, “I’ll continue my research.  I’ve never seen a thing like that shadow before, but I think found references to your kind of ‘thrall’.  I’ll keep looking.  Did you learn anything in the parlor?”

Alucard shrugs, “A few new details.  But it’s hardly helpful.  I’ll ask for some books on the subject.”  He moves to the dumbwaiter and writes out a list of books he knows that were published about the supernatural.  Then he gets the idea to write in a favor to the Master Librarian.

After a moment the goods arrive, and he smiles to see the stack of tomes he requested on the top.  He hands them over happily to Sypha, “This might do.  Let’s get to work.”

 


 

 

Hours later, Sypha yawns while staring at Alucard like he’s grown a second head.   “What’s that?”

Alucard hands her a small box and watches her open it, “It’s a timepiece.  You’ve been working all day.”  He takes it out and winds it while staring outside.  “It’s not really accurate.  I learned my first stay that the clocks in this place have a mind of their own.  But this one is easy to wind and helps keep track of time, at least for a while.  If you keep an eye on it.”

“What’s the point.”

“As I said, you’ve been working for hours.”  He kisses her the head, “And I think its time you rest now.”

“Mother hen.  I don’t have to go to bed just because you said so.”  She yawns and shakes her head.  “That’s not funny.”

“I didn’t make you yawn.”

She slams a book, “Yes you did.  You yawned first.”

“I did no such thing.”  He takes her by the hand leads her away from the books and shuts out the light.

Trevor is fast asleep in front of the fire and they walk past him quietly.  Sypha mumbles while leaning into him, “We have to do something.  We can’t stay here.  Trevor was right.  We should have left earlier.”

Alucard helps her strip out of the robes and slip into a short sheath gown.  He tucks her into bed afterward, “You think coming here was a mistake too?  I’ve failed you both.”

“No,” she sighs.  “It’s just… I don’t know what to do.  I feel like my grandfather would know the answer.  He could whisper it in my ear and maybe I could be strong enough…”

Alucard pushes her hair back and kisses her head.  “Get some rest, Sypha.  We’ll try again in the morning.”

She gives him a nod while her eyes flutter shut, the exhaustion sending her down before Alucard can even stand upright.

Alucard takes up the place in Trevor’s seat by the back doors and stares outside.  He rests his head on the glass and wishes he knew what to do next.  Their only other option is to call on Aziza directly.  He cringes to think of it.  Owing so much to a voracious fairy is not healthy.  But what choice does he have?

 


 

 

Alucard wakes up to sound of something clacking on the floor.  He opens his eyes and finds Sypha dressed in a pair of his trousers with her hair tied back.  White shirt, blue embroidered vest, and thigh-high riding boots.  She makes quite the picture.  She’s obviously spent some time tailoring it to fit because the cut and shape is perfect.  She looks to be rethinking her choice to strap on his mother's sword to her side, as it's almost longer than her body.  She gives him a swishy bow and stands up straight, “What do you think?  Would I get a lot of attention from your landlord today?” 

“Absolutely.”  The look gives him a thrill he rather not dwell on.  He’s seen women in trousers before.  His own mother often preferred it for riding and adventuring.   But to think Sypha’s led her whole life comfortable with dressing as a man at a drop of hat for her own protection… well.  She wears it differently from his mother.  After she gets the sword off, she walks with confidence and swagger that reminds him of the young beautiful lords who were willing to lay with him over the years.  Alucard wishes he could take a photograph and then gets up and hurries to the dumbwaiter.

“What’s wrong,” says Sypha with her voice pitched low.  “I’m good at getting answers dressed like this.”

“I don’t doubt that,” says Alucard breathlessly.  “Just wait a moment.  I’ll take you to the parlor.  But I want to remember this.” 

“You’re so odd.”  She teases him, “You have time for a quick sketching?”

“No, but I will in the parlor.  There’s a spider spirit that is brilliant with oils.”  He writes out his order and sends it along in the dumbwaiter, “I’ll have a portrait commissioned.”

Sypha laughs, “You’ll hang me up out there with your mother?”

Alucard feels his face heat, “No.  Not with my mother.”

Sypha slides a hand down her pants legs, “I was going to cut up Trevor’s, but he’s so much thicker than you.  He’s got legs like tree trunks.”

Alucard’s face reddens even more, thinking of the other night and coming between those thighs, “He does indeed.  Um, where is our Hunter?”

“Sleeping again.  In the lab in front of a fire.”   She runs to the table, “I wrote him a letter to explain things while we're out.  He’s sleeping a lot.  Do you think it’s the spell?”

Alucard sighs, “I don’t know.  Let's just hurry to Madame and ask for yet another costly favor.”   He starts to offer his arm to escort her, but she slaps his hand away.  She raises her arm and he has to bend to accept it, but it works.  He lets the little mage escort him out the doors.

 


 

“Oh my what a pretty!  Is this still your lovely Lady!”  Madame rushes over to Alucard and Sypha as they come in.  She curtsies when Sypha bows, “What a jewel!”

Sypha reaches out and takes the fairy’s hand.  She kisses it and introduces herself anew with a deeper tone, “You may call me Cipher Fernandez.”

Madame visibly trembles and giggles hard enough to shake her wig, “Ohhhhh!  What a star!  Cipher is it?  What a truly lovely star you are Cipher!”  She’s slow to pull away her hand so Sypha kisses it again.

Alucard clears his throat, now worried about Sypha’s boldness.  “My Lady wanted sport today and it’s only right I indulge her, is it not?”  He grins and tries to wrap an arm behind Sypha’s back.  But she’s having none of it.  Instead of accepting his protection, she steps closer to the Madame.  And suddenly they are surrounded by starry-eyed fair-folk.

Alucard hangs back, accepting that he’s not the novel jewel at today’s gathering.  He tries to keep close in case Sypha gives up something dangerous, but she’s careful.  She doesn’t misspeak or reveal herself.  She kisses the fairies and cheats them from dances.  She wins at cards and guessing games.  She keeps Alucard on her arm like he’s the prized maiden.  And Alucard lets it go on, almost forgetting their mission while feeling the eyes of the court burn on him.  Jealous and spiteful creatures try to lure Sypha away, but she dodges their clumsy attempts. 

Madame praises her around a billiards table, “A creature so unique and bold, my love.”  She pats Alucard on the back, “You’ve done so well for yourself.  Here I thought your partners were mere thrallings.  But this one is so much more.  Is she not?”

Alucard starts to answer but Sypha beats him to it, “I am no thrall, Madame.  I am still the Lady.  And such a creature would have little appeal to me or my lovers.”  She kisses Alucard on the cheek but turns to the table and winks at the fae women.  They all swoon over her and she continues, “What is a creature without a will?  I asked my lovely Lord about this earlier.  If we acquired such a thing, could we bring it back to its senses?”  She leans against the table while making her next shot and Alucard is dizzy with the sudden want to claim her right there in front of everyone.  Or rather the need to lay down on the table and let her take him.  Sypha wins the game and smirks, “Imagine what pleasure could be had if we steal away from lesser things.  My lord says you have a boaster.  Imagine me taking his prizes right from under him with a mere look.”

Madame fans herself dramatically, “I imagine you could, Sweet Cipher.”

Sypha undoes the top buttons of her shirt and lets her down with an artfully done flip.  She turns to a server and takes a drink and swallows down wine before smashing the glass to the floor, “Enough games!  I need more entertainment!  I need magic!  I need a thrill!”

“Oh, that can certainly be arranged,” says Madame.  She steps away from the table and the game room disappears.  The mist turns to forest greenery and in her place is a naked young African woman with long braided hair.  She pulls Sypha close, “Come and let me show you such wonders.  All you have to do is whisper your true name against my sweet lips,” she kisses Sypha.

Alucard has lost his voice.  He should be shouting but he can’t.  He can’t seem to say a word and he realizes too late that Sypha’s muted him.  All he can do is watch as they kiss and whisper to each other.  Sypha’s not shy about touching the curves of the young woman’s body and stealing kisses from her.  There’s more whispering and suddenly the idyllic copse disappears, and the young woman is again their weasel-faced host.  She stands in front Sypha, swaying and looking dazed while the fairies murmur around her.

Sypha looks triumphant, rumpled and wholly indecent when she takes Alucard by the arm and leads him back to the room.

She takes the spell off his voice once the doors are closed and the first thing he says is, “What?

“My apologies, Alucard.”  She marches onward to the solar and collapses on the couch in front of the fireplace.  “But I couldn’t risk you trying to rescue me.”

“What,” says Alucard again.  He joins her on the couch while his mind tries to put everything in order.  But he’s having such a difficult time.  All he manages is another, “What?”

“I had to see it for myself.  I researched it in all those books and tried it.  I enthralled the fairy madame.”

“What!?”

“Don’t look at me like that.  It worked, didn’t it?  She did what I asked, and I think she saw what she wanted to see.  I exerted my will over hers and got what I needed to know.”

“Which is…”  Alucard frowns, “I don’t believe it.  You learned monster magic in a day and used it on a nearly omnipotent being?!”

Sypha pouts, “It wasn’t that hard.  It’s all charm and charisma.  It took as much skill as rolling a dice with a high enough number.  I’m very adept at doing both when it suits me.”

“So, it seems,” he frowns and looks her up and down.  “Are you sure you’re not part succubus?”

“The point is, I think I understand what happened to you and Trevor.  And I don’t think we can undo it.”

“Oh no.”

“I think we can guard against it.  Weaken it.”  She leans forward and Alucard holds his breath, waiting for a kiss or a saucy wink.  All he gets is his hand taken up and inspected scientifically.  “You thought it was the whip warding you off before.  But it could be the crest or any number of the Belmont artifacts he carries around.  We’ll have to test them all.  And when we have a conclusion, we’ll… we’ll powder it!”  She lets him go and smiles.  “And he’ll have to wear it always, but it’s a small price to pay for his autonomy.  Don’t you think?”

Alucard nods, finally catching up to her logic.  And he likes it.  “I understand.”

“There’s one thing though.”

“What?”

Sypha raises her brow, “The addiction on your end has to be managed.”  She combs a hand through her hair, “I swear I can still hear her human voice in my head.  It’s sweet and honey-filled.  I want to go back to the parlor and claim her in front of the whole court.  Do you feel that way about Trevor?”

Alucard nods, “…Yes.”  He admits meekly, “And about you as well.”

“Huh,” sighs Sypha.  She doesn’t look offended but pats him on the cheek in a pitying way.  “It’s a dark magic.  I don’t normally dabble in it, and it’s not running in my veins.  I think my wanting will fade.  My control was more precise.  But you are, as Belmont said, a monster.”  She gives him a sad look, “For all that you walk in the sun, the darkness is a part of you.  You have to promise me you’ll be strong, Alucard.  This is your will being perverted into something other.  You have to fight to make this work.”

Alucard promises he will, swears it on the soul of his mother that he will try.  They get up and move to find their hunter.  He’s up in the garden, whip out and cracking away at targets.  He’s had time enough to cut down and fashion tree limbs into a rack and spread out rows of crystal.  Alucard screams at him, his voice high with indignation, “BELMONT!”

Trevor chuckles, “I got bored.  You two left me behind.  And whoa now!  Sypha is that you?” 

Sypha steps into the space between them, “I had business to take care of, but that’s no excuse.  You know his things are important.  How would you feel if someone ransacked your house for target practice?”

Trevor shrugs, “I wouldn’t care now.  My house is in ashes.”  He winds his whip up, “Besides.  I think these are yours.  I got them out the boxes.”

Alucard goes still, “Oh no.  You’re right.  Her presents!”

“My presents!”  Sypha marches up to Trevor and doesn’t hesitate to punch him I the nose.  “Idiot!  Here I am worried about you and putting my own soul on the line, and you’re out here destroying my things!”

Trevor holds his face with one hand recoils, “Well we can’t take vases and shit with us on the road!  They were just sitting there!”  He backs up in a panic when she snaps her fingers but it’s not enough for Sypha.  The soles of his feet spark and the hem of pants catch fire.  He stumbles and stomps to put it out.  “Come on now, Missy!  That’s overreacting!  Stop it!”

Sypha narrow her eyes and with a gesture leaves him stuck to the ground, frozen in creeping ice cycles. 

Alucard covers his mouth.  It’s all he can do to not bend in half laughing.  They have serious matters to work out, but this is the funniest thing he’s ever witnessed.  All at poor Belmont’s expense.

Sypha huffs, “Back to the issue at hand.  I need a bit of everything your wearing that was consecrated.”

Trevor looks brow-beaten and just shrugs out of his cape, “Whatever.”

Alucard excuses himself while Sypha and Trevor work on their warding charm.  He decides to take a nice long hot bath and soak away all his stirred up feelings.  But thoughts of Sypha and Trevor makes things hard.  And he works it out on his own before going to sleep.

 


 

 

Alucard used to imagine taking up a partner and living full-time in a sprawling estate.  Traveling the world when he felt like it and doing the good work of his mother when not at home.  He opens his eyes in another dreamscape.  Annoyed to feel the tug at the back of his head. Someone short is pulling his hair.  He looks back and finds a small dark-haired child.  Then another and another.  Tiny little moppet creatures appearing out of nowhere.  Alucard looks around in alarm until he hears Sypha’s voice, “Children!  Leave Alucard alone!  Go fetch your father!”

They’re inside what appears to be an overcrowded and odd-shaped farmhouse.  She comes down the stairs, warbling from side to side as her belly protrudes.  She’s more tan, her hair is long and messy, and she looks tired.  But happy.  Alucard stares while the children start to make sense.  The children are happy to run to her skirts and scream for attention.  Sypha picks the smallest child up, “Enough Justin.  I can’t get any work down if I’m carrying you all day.  Go outside and play with your brothers and sister.”  She looks up at Alucard, “Be a dear and entertain them.  I have so much work to do today.”

She hands over the rose-cheeked baby and the others follow his heels while they're sent out the door.  Under the sun, he squints.  Trevor is talking to an older white-haired child while stretching out his whip.  Alucard sighs and leads the rabble to their father.  He shouldn’t be surprised.  Knowing the Belmont’s line will have to go on, it seems his subconscious has already made up the prophecy’s conclusion. The Speaker and the Hunter. 

But where does that leave him in their future?

The children clamor around Trevor’s feet and tug for a chance to handle the whip while he barely manages to control them.  Alucard sighs and walks away from the sight, sitting under a tree to take it all end.  “Some job you’re doing Belmont.  That’s five and two more on the way?”

“Papa!”  Alucard frowns and looks behind the tree to see three beautiful little fair-haired girls.  They grin and march up to him while dragging one of the little dark-haired boys behind them.  “We caught him!”

“Let him go.”  He wonders if all Sypha’s children call him Papa too, but these girls seem different.  They move and smell different from the other little spawn.  “Wait, what are you doing over here?”

The oldest little girl steps up to him, “Rhea caught him!”

“Yes, but it’s Tatiana’s idea!”   Says the second girl.  The third girl pinches the boy.  And Alucard reaches out instinctively to separate them all.

“Go back to your father.”

“But Papa,” says Tiana.  “You’re our father.  We don’t like to play with the bloodsack babies.  You know that.  And we did what you said.  We caught him, so now he’s ours.”  They push and pinch the little Belmont child, “And we’ll keep him on our side of the property!  Tell mother that!” 

They look like little demon-eyed monsters and Alucard tries to save the Belmont boy, but they bite at his hand.  The smallest girl snaps, “Fool!  What did you think!  Of course, you cursed her with monsters!  You cursed them both!”

  


 

Alucard wakes up shaking with his heart feeling cold.  It’s as if it stopped beating.  He sits up in the darkness and looks around the solar.  He’s alone and strains his ears to listen for his humans.  Belmont’s heart is beating strong nearby and he guesses the man is doing exercises in the training hall.  Sypha feels distant and soft and he guesses she’s asleep in the bed.  He sighs and leans back into the seat. 

“Tatiana.  Rhea.  Arete.”  He pinches the bridge of his nose, “I know them.  I could know them.  Bless me father, for I have sinned.  I can’t even imagine something as simple untainted offspring.”

He gets up and realizes he fell asleep fully dressed and it’s uncomfortable after so many nights wearing nothing or little at all.  He heads for the wardrobe and starts to strip.  The issue of these nightmares continues to unnerve him.  Alucard suspects that despite the protection of his wards and Aziza’s magic, something dark is touching his mind and take advantage of their misfortune.  Alucard is trying to shake off the thought when he hears the clangs of swordplay down the hall.  He sighs, and leaves his pants on, walking barefoot to the training room door and stares at Belmont.

Trevor runs around, swinging a short sword while his whip is left on the floor nearby.  Around his neck is Sypha’s charm.  Alucard walks in, “What did she settle on?”

Trevor pauses but restarts, chopping at a dummy form.  “Scrapings from my whip and charred pieces of my family tunic.”  He lifts his shirt, “But she put in the magic closet and it was good as new.  I’m just mad she burnt it while I was wearing it.”

Alucard comes closer, quietly and cautiously.  “How do you feel?”

Trevor reels on him, “Stop it!  Shit!  I haven’t been crippled by some vampire love spell!  I told you both that!  I was just dizzy or something.  I’m fine now.”  He points his sword at Alucard, “I wouldn’t take orders from you!  Master Adrian, my ass.  You half-blooded piece of shit.  And don’t think I’m going to let you bite me again or…. Anything else.  The experiment is over.”

Alucard rolls, “Fine talk from someone with no will.  You understand all this bluster isn’t helping things?  I think we must heal you to really break the enchantment.  And it won’t work if you keep putting up this façade.”

“It’s not fucking façade, asshole!”  Trevor cuts off the dummies head and kicks it at Alucard, “I was drunk.  I was horny.  I was maybe a little jealous of you for having the sorcerer all to yourself.  But I’m not weak!”  He points his sword at Alucard, “You’re a damn villain, you know that.  All of this… all of this is just you.  You’re too scared to face a bigger monster.  You’re a fucking coward!”

Alucard is very calm when he raises his hand and with a thought, pulls free the little charm around Trevor’s neck.  It sails through the air and he snatches it while trying to tell himself, it’s for the best.  “You have to be reminded.  You’ve deluded yourself, Belmont.”

Trevor gasps while the bond takes hold again.  Alucard still can’t see it as Sypha does, but he feels his will supplanting Trevor’s.  He feels himself being drawn forward but keeps his place.  Trevor goes still and sleepy-eyed but still manages to cuss, “Fuck.  You tall fucking prick.”

The best thing, no thinks Alucard sharply.  The right thing to do would be to return the damn vial and hand over the whip.  He should let Trevor arm himself.  It would protect them both from dire consequences and irrational actions.  But, says a small needling voice in the back of his head, Trevor is so hard-headed.  So reckless.  So vexing and spiteful.  Alucard has thought before there might be a way to utilize this unfortunate circumstance.  He tosses the charm, using his powers to keep it safe while pushing it out the doors.  Then the whip slides out with it and the doors are sealed shut.  Alucard smiles, “One more lesson, my lovely Belmont.  Kneel.” 

  

Chapter Text

Alucard is quiet and careful while doing the ‘naughty thing’.  He’s a Dhampir of exceptional class, and short of his father, there’s not much that scares him in this or any other world.  But what he’s doing is wrong and against every lesson, his mother ever taught.  He moves like a ghost and things between himself and Trevor are kept hush in a dark recess of the bath suite.

He has Trevor up on the wide sink counter in the back, looking doe-eyed and listless.  “Don’t move,” whispers Alucard.  “Don’t say anything.”

Trevor gives him a weak nod, assenting or something like it in his state.

Alucard kneels and completes his shameful deed.  Tying the laces of each heeled shoe before getting up and looking at what’s he done.  He feels wildly satisfied with his endeavor.  “Gods.  Just look at you.”  Trevor almost folds over and Alucard admonishes him, “Ah-ah.  Sit up straight.”

At the command, Trevor sits up, hands in his lap and back a perfect line.  “You want me to look in the mirror?”

Alucard tilts his head, “In a moment.  I want to savor this a little longer.  He steps away and wishes again he had smuggled the photography equipment out his father’s castle.  The cost of pulling things out of time is just too much for their current budget.  But it might be worth it, he thinks while smiling.  Trevor dressed up and shiny like a proper lord of his class.  A beautiful red doublet over a gold shirt.  High fur-trimmed collar.  There’s a lovely overgown too, but Alucard likes this better.  The tailoring, and the richness, Trevor unable to ruin it all with his foul manners.  “You look delectable.”

Trevor sighs and crosses his legs, “You want to bite me, sir?”

Alucard covers his face and waves off the sudden desire to do just that.  “No, no.  This is fine.  But I wonder… if I risked a quick trip to the parlor to have this painted…”

“Alucard!”

“Shit,” says Alucard with a cringe.

The game is up.  Sypha stares at them with the warding vial dangling from her outstretched hand.  She starts to raise her voice again but stops and takes a good long look at Trevor.  Then a smile cracks on her face.  Then a giggle escapes her lips. 

Alucard sighs, feeling safe with her good humor.  “Well, I couldn’t resist.  He wouldn’t cooperate.”

Sypha dissolves into a fit of loud and frankly unbecoming laughter, pointing at Belmont while snorting, “You look like a stuffed pillow!”

Belmont gives Alucard a sleepy-eyed look, “Is that a good thing?”

Alucard grins, “It’s preferable to your usual unwashed rogue-thing.”

 


 

 

“There must be rules going forward.”  Sypha paces in front of the bed while Trevor stands there.  Alucard sits at the side table, trying to sketch as much as he can.  He simply can’t let this fade with time and the forgetfulness of a long life.  The humiliation must survive, he thinks.  Sypha hovers over his shoulder, “You forgot the little hairs there.”

“He doesn’t have them,” says Alucard.  He points to his muse, “I asked him to shave and he did it properly this time.”

Sypha rushes to Trevor’s side to inspect his face, “My goodness!  I had not even noticed!”  She gives the man a slap on he face, “It’s so smooth and soft!   He doesn’t have any pocks or pimples or anything!  He was hiding such fine skin under all that scraggly hair!”

Alucard continues drawing and Sypha pinches and pats Trevor until he’s uncomfortable.  “Ow.  Is there… ow.  Is there anything you want from me, master?  Anything specifically?  Because I can… ow.  Please stop that.  Unless it makes you happy of course.”

Sypha pulls away as if she was burned, “Don’t do that.  Don’t include me in this.”  She points at Alucard, “He’s the one with the noose!  I’m just an innocent bystander.”  She looks back to Alucard, “See what I mean?  There just has to be rules.  We can’t just exploit him in this state.  We’ll never get anything done.  Right?”

Alucard raises a brow, “Are you asking or telling?”

“I’m telling!”  Sypha stamps her little socked-foot.  “We need to bottle this for the meanwhile.  Especially when things get serious.  We need our real Belmont, not a puppet.”

“I couldn’t agree with you more.  Like I said before, I still need several more pints, but I’ll resist drinking until we’re ready to leave.  We’ll make him swallow the warding vial if we have to, but in the meanwhile…”

Sypha grins from ear to ear, “Make him dance with me!  No, wait!  I want to wear fancy things too!  Help me get ready!”  She hurries over to the wardrobe and pulls out a long burgundy gown, with a high back and little gold shoes. 

Alucard does as he’s told and at some point, they agree, it’d be more fun to have a lucid Belmont.  Sypha presses the ward into Trevor’s hand.  The effect is instant and he responds by exclaiming, “You pair of fuck-faced tits!  Shit for brains!  Assholes!  You’re both fucking pricks!  Bastards!  Absolute bastards!  I hate you both and hope you eat shit and die you pair of… what the fuck am I wearing and why is it so damn tight!”

Sypha gives him an insincere looking pout, “My apologies.  We both apologize.  Don’t we Alucard?”

“I don’t.  I told you.”

“Alucard!”

“I told him!  He needs to understand just how bad this can get.  Fun and games aside, I don’t want to compromise you, Trevor.  You’re an asset as our Hunter, not a thrall.  And we have to manage this.  You have to acknowledge it and fight it on your end.”

Sypha blinks, “That was actually rather insightful, Alucard.”

“Of course, it was.  I know what I’m doing.”

Trevor clears his throat, “And dressing me up like some damn ponce…”

“You should be comfortable.  Lord Belmont, it’s all the rage in your homeland.”

“Fuck.  You.”


 

 

Trevor indulges Sypha with a few dances while Alucard plays simple songs in the solar.  But they turn back to the serious matter shortly after.  Trevor is changing back into his old clothes and staring at his socks from the wardrobe, “I admit I’m gonna miss this.  I hate patching up holes in my own shit.  It’s a waste of time.  Especially socks!”

Sypha makes a face, “You should know how to darn your own socks, idiot.”

“Why?  If you need new socks, you go to an old woman’s house and borrow ‘em, buy ‘em or steal ‘em off her clothesline.”

Sypha smirks, “…Are you wearing an old woman’s socks?”

“…No.”

Alucard gets up and stretches, “That sounds like another commission.  But my hands are getting tired.”  That’s a lie, he could draw embarrassing pictures of Trevor all night and day.  But he can hear Sypha ’s stomach roaring away about tightness.  It’s time to feed his humans.  “Aren’t you two tired of playing around?  I’ll order another feast…”

Trevor holds the sides of his belly, “No.  No more.”

Sypha looks back, “Seriously?  You’re objecting?”

Trevor sits and down and holds his head, “Rich eating never really agrees with me.  It’s alright once and while, but I’m already over-full.  Anything else and you’ll be rolling a boulder not a Belmont up to Castle Dracula.”

Alucard’s eyes drift to Trevor shapely legs, hidden under the trousers now.  “I imagine it all goes to your legs first.”  He idly licks his lips and sits up straighter, “I bet you were a fat, rosy baby, Belmont.”

“Asshole, don’t sit over there thinking of eating me as a baby!”  He wraps a hand protectively around the back of his own neck, “Sypha tell him to keep his horrible imagination in check.  I’ll end up of having nightmares.”

Sypha frowns, “Speaking of which, how are you feeling Alucard?”

Alucard blinks up at her, “Excuse me?” 

Sypha comes over and they both ignore Trevor muttering on his way to the kitchen.  She kneels in front of Alucard and pats his knee.  She whispers, “I mean it.  Sometimes when you call out in your sleep, I wonder what could be so terrible.  Do you want to talk about it?”

He feels completely sideswiped.  She means well.  Alucard knows that, but the first thought he has is about lashing out.  Maybe ripping her tongue out so she never offends him again.  But that’s a base and terrible thought and he is better than that.  And he’s better than any subconscious torment or ghosts or doubts that plague him.  He gives her hands a pat.  “I’m fine.”

Sypha raises a brow, “That is universally recognized in every language since the time of Adam, as a lie.”

Alucard laughs, “Perhaps.  But it’ll have to do.”

“What you said about Trevor was right.  But we have to examine both sides.  The man wearing the noose and the man holding on.”  She gives his hand a squeeze.  “What are you afraid of, Alucard?”

It should be a simple thing to tell her the fears.  It would probably help things along.  Still.  Alucard bites the inside of his cheek and turns away, “I’m fine.”

Sypha punches him in the shoulder, “Idiot!”

Trevor chooses then to walk in while gnawing on a leg of turkey from the icebox.  “Hey!  Can’t we keep the good meat separate from the jars of blood?  I find it a little unnerving.”  He’s recovered his whip and wrapped it around his waist.  He walks over to the table and settles in a chair and puts his boots up on Alucard’s drawings.  Trevor takes another bite and stares at them both, “You two look like you’re fighting.”  He grins around the leg and takes yet another bite.

Sypha clears her throat and stands up, “We’re not fighting.  We’re having a conversation about going forward.  Like reasonable adults.”  She gives Alucard a pointed look.  “But it can wait.  You’re a bigger problem.”

Trevor pouts, “Me?  What’d I do?  He’s the one biting people and casting spells.  Whisking us away to this little witch pocket of weirdness.  I’m starting to think I should have gone home instead.”  He sinks into the seat, “I could have sat in the ashes and waited out the end of the world with a good bottle of something that burns on the way down.”

Alucard and Sypha sit up, turning at the same time to examine Trevor closely.  Alucard looks at his eyes and sighs, “Poor Belmont.”

“So sad,” adds Sypha.  “Do you feel the spell working now?”

Trevor quickly wipes away a tear before it can fall.  “I don’t feel anything.  I’m tired of telling you two to fuck off about this spell business.”  He drags his feet across and ruins one of the sketches, “And that don’t look nothing like me.”

Alucard clamps his jaw shut and looks to Sypha.  He's angry for various reasons, Trevor’s manners are just a catalyst and he feels himself about to erupt again.

But Sypha is better at erupting.  “You big buffoon!  You nearly ruined it!”  She slaps at his leg until he puts them down.  “Feet on the floor, idiot!  I lived my entire life on the road, and I know better.”  She gives him a hard pinch to make sure he minds, “And that looked exactly like you.  Very, what was your word for it?  Ponce.”

Alucard calms down enough to take a fresh sheet of paper and start again.  This time with two runes drawn up in the corner.  Time passes and he leaves all his work unguarded to check on the blood keeping cool in the kitchen.

He stops and smiles when he hears shouting through the doors.  “’Sypha’s not the only one who can set things on fire.”

 


 

 

Passing time is harder with a taboo hanging over them.

There’s no fun and games when Trevor is pacing outside, hands clutching his ward and wearing his whip around his neck.  Sypha distance from them both to read and practice writing fancier script. A whole day of this tenseness passes before she comes to Alucard blushing with her head down, “May I… may I have a journal?  To write in?”

“Are you sure?”

She gives him a shy nod, “It’s not that Speakers are wrong about everything.  But I think… oh, fuck it.  We’re wrong about everything.  Passing our knowledge down by word of mouth and misremembering who knows how much… I’m sick of it.   I know a great deal.  I want to chronicle what my people have learned and saved our histories.  Who knows what good will come of it if we only share the knowledge.”

Alucard feels like his heart is inflating and about burst out of his chest.  “You have no idea, do you?  You sound just like my mother.”

She grins and raises an eyebrow, “Don’t confuse me for your mother.  Speaker tradition passed on the tale of Oedipus.  Do you want to hear it?”

Alucard laughs, “No I’m familiar.”  He takes her to the dumbwaiter and orders a special book.  A magic book that will never run out of pages.  It comes down with a chime and he hands it over with a fond smile.  “Here.  My father writes in tomes like this.  Though, his are usually bound in the skin of his enemies.”

“Ew.”

“Yes.  But yours is merely leather.”

She spends hours in library scribbling away on scratch paper before copying her own words into the journal neatly.  Alucard is content to spy on her work for some time, smiling while she looks down at her book proudly.  "Do you think you could draw illustrations for me?

"I certainly could," he says with a smile.  "Whatever you want.  For a commission."

She throws a cork stopper at him but keeps at her work.  After a time she sits ups and stretches, “Gods in heaven!  My hand aches!  How do monks manage to do this all day in their dreary monasteries?”  She gets up and claps snaps her fingers, sparking magic while she loosens her fingers.  “I need to relax.  I know!  Do you think I can get Belmont to sleep with me?”

Alucard blinks twice then slowly raises a brow, “I hardly think he’ll need convincing.”

“Good!  Oh, Trevor!  I need you to have a look at something for me!”  She marches out of the library with a determined look.

Alucard leaves them alone to make love and takes a long walk.  He couldn’t stand the temptation, having them both again when it’s clearly a problem.  So he lets himself get lost outside.  He walks the changing landscape until his legs tire.  When he returns to the bedroom, he finds Sypha snoring ass-bare on top of the covers.  And Belmont face-down at the foot of the bed wearing one of Alucard’s shirts shucked up and with one arm out of the sleeve.  His back and chest are covered in marks and scratches.  And there's drooling, crooked smile planted on his face.  Alucard huffs out a laugh, “Good for you, Belmont.”  He swats Sypha on the ass and she moans and rearranges her limbs to take up more space before peacefully snoring again.  “And good for you, Belnades.”

He makes his way to the fireplace and settles on the floor in front of the heavy chair.  He feels himself nodding off and doesn’t mind, knowing his humans are safe, sated, and nearby.  The questions of what to do with their problem can wait.  And wait and wait.  

 


 

 

 

Alucard looks at his hands and appraises them, the memory being smaller and thinner is hazy.  But he was tall and nearly full grown only six years ago.  Even knowing it’s another dream, he takes the same path.  He rushes to his parents' room and finds his father sleeping in the darkened place.  Alucard loved mornings.  Dracula detests being bothered so soon after finally closes his eyes.  So bothering him was Alucard’s favorite game.  He can’t help smiling, catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror, long white legs creeping in an oversized nightgown.  He climbs up on the bed and sits on his father’s chest.  “Papa.”

“No.”

“Papa!”

“You’re too old for this, Adrian.”  Dracula exerts little effort to upend him, but Alucard knows how to hold on while pestering his father.  He wraps his arms around Dracula’s neck and his legs around his waist.  Dracula sighs, “You’re too long and too heavy to still act like a toddler, Adrian.  Go away.”

“It’s my birthday.”

“So, it is.”

“Mother always makes me a breakfast.”

“No.”

“Papa!”

“Fine!”  Dracula rolls over and nearly crushes Alucard under his weight.  He laughs when Alucard wheezes and struggles under him.  “Stuck now, are you?”

“Papa!  Please!”

“Yes, fine.  Fine.”  Dracula sits up, his hair in disarray while Alucard clings to him.  He tries to shove his son away and is bitten on the palm.  He sighs, “Sometimes I think you’re going feral.”

“I want my presents!”

“Spoiled, feral, over-long.  What on earth am I to do with such a child?”  He gets up with checking on Alucard on his back.  He knows better than to turn his head.  He’ll be bitten again.  Alucard would never tell anyone but he went through a phase.  Biting his father to assert his dominance in their family was... well fun.  He grew out of it before it could too bad.

Dracula walks them over to the mirror and yawns while scratching in the spell.  It glimmers and settles on the image of a busy kitchen in their summer home outside of Braila.  “Darling.  I have need of you.  I’ve contracted parasite.”

Lisa laughs on the other side, “Again!”  She moves to the mirror and wishes he could he reach in time and warn her.  But it’s a just a dream.  A memory.  Still, he smiles when she sends her gifts through the mirror.  They hover in the air until Dracula takes them.  “There we are, my beautiful boy. Put him down, and let me have a good look at him, my love.”

“Gladly.”  Dracula taps Alucard until he’s free and shoves the covered dish into his arms.   “I’m going back to bed.”  He walks away slowly and collaspes on the bed with a loud thump.

Alucard laughs as he did back then.  He stares at the mirror, knowing the connection will break soon.  He wasted it before talking about Paris and boats and visiting universities.  Now he just stares at his beautiful mother.  “I miss you.”

Lisa sighs, “Eat your breakfast, take a good hot bath, and be nice to your father’s court.  I’ll be home soon.”  She blows him a kiss and the connection breaks.

Alucard sits down on the floor and looks at his present.  A good hot breakfast of eggs, pork, little crème filled pastries, fresh fruit, a cup of cider, and a small shot glass of blood.  His mother’s own blood.  Alucard sips it and holds back tears, “I will miss you.”

Dracula groans on the bed, “Get out and mind yourself, Adrian.  The others will be here soon.”

Time jumps are strange in dreams.  One moment he’s eating that breakfast and the next he’s standing in the grand hall.

“This is my son, Adrian.”

Alucard was not impressed with most of his father’s generals.  But this was different.  This was a human man walking through a vampire court with no fear.  He wasn’t a familiar or one waiting to be taken or turned.  It was interesting.  Alucard stretched out his hand accepted a firm grip from a stranger.  The man pulls him and quickly kisses both of his cheeks and smiles at Dracula, “The son of my dearest friend is like a son to me as well.”

Alucard frowned, “I beg your pardon, sir?  I don’t know you…”

“I am Isaac.  A forgemaster alchemist.”  He pats Alucard on the hand he’s still holding, “Odd.  You really are so opposite.  So fair and young.” 

Dracula barks out a surprising laugh and claps them both hard on the back, “Are you calling me old, my friend?”

“Well.  You are.”  Isaac and Dracula wall off laughing quietly while the court rallies around the celebration.  Alucard was only fourteen in human years.  But he despised it when they talked over him.  He hated hearing whispers from the finely dressed ghouls that haunted the castle during these events.  But the older he got, the more determined he was to strike out on his own.  And distance himself from the protection of his mother and father.

And for the most part, that worked fine.  No one would dare harm a hair on his head.

But there are other dangers in the dark for a young dhampir to suffer, and even the son of Dracula was plagued by it. 

The first time one of the court tried to test him, Dracula was entertaining his friend, and Lisa was practicing medicine amongst the humans.  And he was distracted by dreams of exploring the world.  He finds himself standing on a balcony with no memory of how he got there.

“Do you see the stars?”

Alucard sighed, “Of course I do.  I study them quite intently.”

“Do you see me, little master?”  Alucard had stared at the strange man.  He seemed overdressed, even with the standards of the court.  He was perfumed and wearing high heels booties that hardly elevated him.  He was still a head shorter than Alucard.  So, this small man stinking of rosewater asked him again.  “Do you see me now?”

Alucard frowned, “Of course I see you.  I remember introductions.  Baron Dominik.  If you’d please excuse me.”  Alucard had tried to brush past the tiny man but a strange feeling had tugged on him.  He was sent into a sleep.  He knows that now, but in the dream,  he sees with open eyes as his body is moved from the balcony and carried off to an alcove in the library.

He remembers this scene, this moment.  Coming too with the strange monster trying to get into his clothes.  He also remembers the Master Librarian, coming forward and knocking the Baron unconscious with a heavy tome.  The horrible man would later be a public demonstration of the forgemaster's powers.

But now, in this hellish dream, Alucard relives the moment with his eyes open.  His body paralyzed.  And no rescue in sight. The vile little Baron coos and whispers obscenities into his ears.  He has the gall to press his lips to Alucard’s neck.  “You will be mine.  And not even your father can object to what you freely ask!  No one will interfere!”

Alucard struggles to wake up, not wanting to live out a nightmare like this.  “No,” he thinks.  “This is not what happened.  Wake up!  Wake up, damn it!”

The baron takes Alucard's hand up and bites him on the pulse point.  He pulls away with red teeth, “That’s it, my pet.  See me.  See me as your one and only.  See me and no one else.”

Alucard manages to hiss, feeling something in his bones move… some feeling.  He can fight this, he thinks.  He is certainly no one’s thrall.  There’s nothing in this universe strong enough to force him to bend over and take this.

Baron Dominick snickers and covers his face with his hands, “Peek a boo!”

Alucard glares, manages to speak aloud.  “I’m not an infant, you moron.”

The hands fall away and Trevor face stares him with dull grey eyes.  “Peek a boo!”

Alucard weakly flails, “What is this?”

“Do you see me!”

“Stop it!  Stop it!”

The Not-Trevor presses his hands on Alucard knees, “Do you see me!”  He hisses rushes over, biting Alucard on the neck.  And then everything goes black and red.

 


 

 

Alucard sits up with start.  The snatches of a dream or nightmare already fading from memory.  He’s alert to some kind of danger but remembers nothing can harm them in this place.  Instead of devils or vampires, he finds Trevor in front of the fire, staring at the flames with the little vial in his hand.  He doesn’t look up at Alucard but whispers, “I’m tired.”

“I bet you are,” says Alucard.  He’s thinking Sypha rode the Hunter a little too hard.  “Get some sleep.  And I’ll make something simple for breakfast in the morning.”

Trevor keeps his face turned to the flames, “Morning?”

“Belmont,” says Alucard.  He starting to worry and moves to Trevor’s side.  The man still avoids his eyes.  “What’s wrong?”

“I feel strange.  As if…”  He brings up the little ward, “I don’t know about this working.  Really working.”

“Of course it is.  You should see yourself when it’s not on you.”

“I do,” whispers Trevor.  He sits the between himself and the fire and stares.  “I see myself.  Giving in.  And being held.  And being wanted.”

“Belmont,” says Alucard carefully.  “You’re starting to scare me.”

Trevor gives him a self-deprecating smile.  “I’m scaring myself.”  He looks back to where Sypha is stretched out in the bed.  “I’m terrified she might be on to something.  If all I have to do is look inward and find my… she said whatever’s anchoring me to my fear of being let go.  God.  I think she is right.  I’ve fought monsters and demons my whole life without flinching.  But this…”  He turns back to the fire and wraps his arms around his knees.  “I want to go home.”

Alucard bites down on the reaction he feels.  He wants to shout to the rafters, “Belmont you are home!  Sypha and I want you and will take care of you!”  He keeps silent and stays in place.  He could get up and move away.  It would be better for them both.  Instead, he whispers, “I want to go home, too.”

Trevor looks keeps his hand out by the fire, “Tell me about that.  Dracula is like Satan himself to most of this country.  I can’t imagine him marrying and raising a child.”

It feels strange, thinks Alucard.  Sharing confidences by the fire.  Whispering like they’re afraid the secrets will be heard and judge.  But with Trevor fighting back that the grey-eyed stare, fingers turning the ward by the chain just in front of the fire.  He looks so lost.  So Alucard obliges, “I don’t know what normal is for others,” he starts.  “But for me, it was morning lessons.  Experiments.  Learning science and medicine.  Playtime.”  He smiles at a good memory, “I told you I had an unconventional childhood.  Tag was easy with mother.  But my father cheated.  But sometimes... sometimes he would let me win.  When I was very small, and learning the world by smell and touch and taste.  Everything was made of them.  Dracula is not a monster to me.  He’s my dearest Papa.  He’s my protector and teacher and…” Alucard chokes back a sob and looks away.  “But I will do what I must.  My mother’s memory demands it of me.”

Trevor keeps his eyes on the flames and mumbles, “My father was a bastard.”

Alucard gets the nerve to come closer and wrap an arm around Trevor’s back.  And he looks to the fire for whatever is haunting Trevor in the embers but doesn’t see anything.  Even with his gifted sight.  “And your mother?”

“My mother was a bastard too.  That just how it goes with old families.  Inbreed and pompous assholes who spend all the money mixing in with bawdy and rough assholes who make all the money.  You get a family of… well."  He throws up his hands, "Assholes.”

Alucard sighs and leans into Trevor side.  “Siblings?”

“Yeah.  Some sisters.  A handful of bastard brothers.  Actual proper bastards, I mean.  They were fun to play with.  Well, I played, they mostly just beat me.  All older than me.  I think Lord Belmont stopped fooling around on my mother after she finally made him a son.  And they were all white-hairs too.  Would have been bald in the end, you know.”

“I can’t tell if you’re babbling or being sincere.”

Trevor sighs, “I am sincerely babbling.”  He gives Alucard a look, “Feel like biting me now?  I really am just the runt of the litter.  Not much to satisfy yourself.”

“Don’t,” says Alucard.  He hushes Trevor while holding him closer.  He’s not sure what to say that.  But he doesn’t want to push Trevor further into darkness.  “…I …I.” He scrambles thinking of the right thing to say and settles on revealing something he’s only told Sypha in confidence.  “I’m only nineteen years old.”

Trevor's head snaps around.  “What was that?”  His eyes are big and round with surprise.

Alucard sighs, “I simply grew up faster than I believe is normal.  I was nearly full grown when I was twelve.  My mother thought I might still be growing.  Yet, I’m still leagues shorter than my father.”

“Fuck.”  Trevor covers his eyes and bends over, “We’re really fucked.”

That surprises a laugh out of Alucard.  “Well yes.  We already know that.”

Trevor laughs with him, and some of the color comes back to his cheeks.  “I’m really tired.”

“I’m not surprised.  It takes superhuman stamina to keep up with Sypha.”  He offers his hand and helps Trevor up to his feet.  They walk across the room and back to bed.  Alucard tries to put the bedding in order, throws back the covers and arranges Sypha in the middle.  Then helps Trevor slide in beside her.  He sits at their feet and smiles, “Good night, my little humans.”

“We’re not pets, you tall fucking prick.”

“No,” grins Alucard.  “You’re better than pets.  I don’t have clean up any shit.”

Trevor kicks out and Alucard laughs before getting up.  He leaves them, warm and settled in bed.

But the sight of Trevor questioning himself at the fire still bothers him.  He walks outside and finds the night air chilled with water from a vast lake.  Alucard sits under one tree and looks up at the fake moon.  “I’m lost.”

The moon doesn’t answer so he looks down to water.  What kind of power must the faerie goddess exert to create one illusion after another just for his entertainment?  Magic is a process.  And according to Sypha, it’s intent.  And will.  Alucard does not have Death itself enthralled, but he has a Belmont.  And to their enemy that’s as good as death.  He smiles at his reflection while it ripples in the unnaturally still water.  He looks into the illusion of depth and sees a solution to all their problems.