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Coriolis Force

Chapter Text

It was Trevor himself, of all people, who brought up the idea. Not that he had started out on intending it to be an actual idea.

“I wish Dracula was still alive.”

They were lying spread out into a circle in a pool of cooling blood, remnants of their latest finished battle. Usually someone would bitch about how much work it would be getting their clothes halfway clean again, but by now none of them were sure if they should even make the effort when they’d be ruined again soon enough.

They were all still alive, and for once without too major an injury, but it was more by luck than by design. The previous aspiring ruler of the night they fought had taken two of Trevor’s fingers, and a sizable portion of Alucard’s torso. The latter usually an injury too severe for a human to survive, and nearly too severe for a half-human too. If it hadn’t been for Sypha’s expertise, that would have been the last of the Tepes line.

Exhaustion had settled deep into their bones, going beyond the tiredness from a difficult fight and into chronic, curling up like a sleeping beast inside of each of them, growing steadily as it was fed by each battle with too little time between the previous and the next.

Beside Trevor, Alucard snorted, the uncharacteristic gesture a sure sign of just how fucking done they all were.

“Maybe we could take my father now on our own, but two years ago we only won because he hesitated to kill me. Believe me, you do not wish to fight him over these aspirers. He is so much more older and powerful than they could be.”

“But that’s exactly it,” Trevor said, turning his head towards Alucard. The movement strained against where the blood had been drying around his hair, and caused a disgusting wet suction noise as he lifted one arm to rest on his stomach. “Back in the days, no one would have dared to fuck around like it’s a free for all, because that old guy was there to herd them all in.”

“Dracula’s leftover power vacuum is going to succeed where he failed to kill us,” Sypha said with weak humor, but the words rang true too much, causing an awkward silence to fall on their little trio. They had all thought it before, but no one had wanted to be the one to voice it, like saying the words would bring them one more step forward to the inevitable.

They weren’t going to make it. The war with the night creatures was dragging on, with no end in sight. One of these battles, they would get unlucky. The first wannabe-Draculas had been cocky, believing them to be little more of a nuisance, their victory over Dracula a coincidence brought on by the once in a century kind of luck. (They hadn’t even been that wrong about that, but underestimated how their accumulating experience would tip the scales). Those had been easy to defeat, at first. But with each one they triumphed over, the leaders of the night grew a bit wearier of them, eventually beginning to single them out. “Kill the Belnades-Belmont-Tepes Team” became a fixture in every one of their take-over plans, and with each son of a bitch (of the night) they took out, that point proceeded higher up the next one’s priority list.

At least for Trevor, sooner or later getting killed by some freak of darkness was kind of family tradition. Sure, some Belmonts used to grow old, but just as many had the business end of fangs or claws sunk into too vital of a body area. While he liked living (with his two companions by his side, making this wretched world bearable), he would meet death head on when it came for him. And if he had to go down he would drag as many fuckers as he possibly could with him.

But the thought of what would happen after that hopefully glorious blaze in which he went out, that turned his stomach. By now their team acted like well-oiled cogs in a machine, two years of fighting having forged an intuitive understanding on how they each moved, a dance becoming ingrained into their instincts of when to go forward, when to step back, when to protect and when to let oneself be protected. In battle the three of them became a single unit and it was that, more than the experience and new skills they had each gained over time, that kept them alive and that made up the hair’s breadth by which they kept winning.

But if one of them died… they would be more than one manpower down. If Trevor died, he knew that Sypha and Alucard might survive the battle that saw him go down, maybe even the next one. But if there was a heaven or hell he would go to, he knew he would see them again much too soon.

And there was no one to take their place. Where the fuck was Wallachia going to find a master magician, a hunter, and a fucking half-vampire again?

After Dracula’s defeat, Trevor had let himself fantasize about rebuilding his family. Little Belmonts, running around a rebuilt mansion, poking their small noses through the old library. A new generation of hunters, no longer a lone drunkard standing against the waves, but a whole family as a united front.

But that had been before the next fucker had struck. And the one after that. And the next one after that. Each one popping up sooner after their predecessor than the ones before. By now there was no time left in between for fantasies, there wasn’t even enough time to heal properly.

“Well, we can’t turn back time,” Trevor said, taking on the shitty duty of being the first one to rise. Standing, he shook his arms, trying to get some of the blood out of where it had soaked into the sleeves of his shirt (and fucking everywhere else) and succeeding in splattering his companions with a few droplets. They both groaned in mock disgust, but by now there was blood everywhere so those few more didn’t even make a difference at this point.

Their trek out of the latest lair of evil fuckers was silent, exhaustion and entertaining the thought of a strong ale enough to stay Trevor’s tongue, even as he noted that Alucard looks more haughtily pensive than usual.

It was two days later that Alucard spoke as they sat around a fire, the remains of a monster patrol unfortunate enough to find them smoldering just a few meters away.

“There may be a way to undo what has been done,” he said.

“Undo what? The terrible haircut Trevor gave you?” Sypha said without looking up from where she was organizing their provisions.

“Hey!” Trevor protested from where he was brushing their horses. Sypha turned around, one eyebrow raised as she nodded at Alucard’s hair. One side of the long flow had been burned off by an errant firedrake, and the other side had seen the sharp edge of one of Trevor’s throwing knives to even the whole thing out. Not that one would be able to tell which was which, because they both looked equally terrible at this point.

“While I would not protest such a thing,” Alucard continued, ignoring Trevor flipping him off, “I am talking about something more than just a haircut.”

Trevor rolled his eyes at the standard half-immortal ‘I can’t just state plainly what I mean’, but he and Sypha knew Alucard long enough by now that they recognized his tone as the serious business one. They sat down in a circle around the fire next to the half-blood, their tasks forgotten for now.

“When my mother died, there was a period where my father looked into bringing her back,” Alucard recounted. “You are already familiar with a forgemaster’s ability to create the undead, but that venue was quickly discarded by him, as even if he had wanted to have a walking, rotting facsimile of her around, my mother had been burned, leaving nothing behind that could be reanimated.”

“Yeah, that stuff is fucking gross,” Trevor said, his teeth tearing into a piece of jerky. Alucard glared at him for the interruption, but continued soon enough.

“Instead, he sought ways to undo what had happened. I had already had my initial fight with him, so I only knew what I had learned while sorting through the castle and his remaining notes, but I found out that he had been looking to find the means to travel through time.”

“Travel through time?” Sypha asked, disbelief ringing in her tone. “He wouldn’t be the first to try, but no one has ever succeeded. There’re limits even to magic, and time travel is one of those. It’s just not possible.”

“Just like it wouldn’t be possible for a giant castle to travel at unperceivable speed to faraway places?” Alucard asked with one eyebrow raised.

“But that’s traveling through space!” Sypha said. “Time is a completely other dimension!”

“Actually,” Alucard replied, “they are not that different from each other. They are like sides of a coin, one expressing the other.”

Sypha and Trevor looked at him, then at each other.

“That made absolutely no fucking sense,” Trevor said, and Sypha nodded.

Alucard groaned, one hand drawing through his (shortened) hair. “Look, you don’t have to understand the metaphysics of it. Even I don’t, really. But my father did, and he managed to construct an apparatus, similar to the one that moved the castle, but with the purpose to move through time.”

“Wait, he actually built a time travel device?” Trevor asked. “Then why’re we still in this shitty situation? Shouldn’t he be off with your mom, frolicking through flower fields or some shit like that?”

“From what I’ve gathered of his notes, the device worked,” Alucard said. “But only in as much as it allowed one to detach themselves from their fixed point in time, and enter a metaspace from where they could get to the point in time my father fixed, the point before my mother’s death. However, getting out of the time stream, that was beyond my father’s abilities. It required more than occult mechanics – it needed a focused intent.”

“Intent…” Sypha muttered slowly, dawning realization painting her face. “Like… a magician’s intent.”

“Yes,” Alucard said. “With your powers… it could work.”

“’Could’?” Trevor echoed. “So, maybe we’ll get stuck in some magical dimension and die horribly?”

“Yes, the risk is significant. My father’s calculations all seemed sound to me, but there is no guarantee. In fact, I would see our chances as extremely slim for it to really function as it’s supposed to.”

“So, certain eventual death by fucking vampires, or uncertain death by fucking time travel?” Trevor broke it down.

The gathering around the fire was silent for a moment.

“Okay, time travel,” Trevor said.

“Time travel,” Sypha echoed.

“Time travel,” Alucard finalized.

 

~o~

 

One of their previous conflicts had been about the castle, an overly smart vampire seeking to defeat them with the knowledge that had been handed down from Dracula. During their brief time of peace, Alucard had shared his plans with them to open an academy in the castle, to educate people and better their lives, just as his mother had always wanted. But they couldn’t let a murderous bloodsucker abuse the hoarded knowledge, and in the end Sypha had sunk the castle into the earth, leaving it hidden, secret, but also unreachable to everyone without the power to phase through several meters’ worth of solid ground. Even now, re-appearing in the dark entrance hall, Alucard’s expression turned downcast at the reminder of this broken hope as Sypha’s flames lit the torches.

 “Alucard,” Sypha said as they ascended one of the spiral staircases. “If it’s possible to go back to the past… couldn’t we move back in time far enough to save Trevor’s family too?”

The small procession halted as Alucard stopped.

“I don’t think we can,” Alucard said quietly.

“You don’t ‘think’?” Sypha repeated. “So you aren’t sure. Why shouldn’t it work? We can still save your mother afterwards.”

Alucard turned around, looking at Trevor. “I’m surprised you haven’t asked me this question first,” he said.

Trevor let out a humorless chuckle. “Thought about it. But if that really were a possibility… I know you would have led with it.”

“You’re right,” Alucard said, his eyes lowering. “I… am not the genius my father was. I may be in comparison to most humans, but I cannot hold a candle to his vast knowledge. Maybe I could learn to rewrite his spell, but it would take me decades, if not centuries.”

“It’s alright,” Trevor said, taking a step up to put a hand on Alucard’s shoulder. “I’ve made my peace with my family’s death, as far as something like that is possible. And I don’t want to gamble away our chance at saving your mother, and thousands of Wallachians, on such a sliver of possibility.”

A smaller hand slid into his free one, and he looked back down to see Sypha giving him a sad smile.

“Let’s go.”

 

~o~

 

“We cannot be sure exactly where and when we’ll appear,” Alucard said as they stood before the finished mirror, the used roll with the spell on a table behind them. “We just have to hope that at least one of us makes it to my mother in time.”

“If we don’t reach her home together, and succeed in saving her, where should we go next?” Sypha asked. “We’ll need to meet up somewhere, Wallachia is too big to hope to encounter one another by chance, and we can’t stay near Targoviste.”

Alucard drew his thumb over his chin in thought. “The castle?”

“What?” Trevor said. “The fucking big, fucking moving castle? Yeah, great place for a meet-up.”

“Before my mother’s death, it had been centuries since the castle moved last,” Alucard replied. “You both know its previous location, and in any case as you so eloquently put it, it’s very fucking big, so that makes it easy to find. And we’ll be safe from the church.”

“But will we be safe from the esteemed lord of the castle?” Trevor snarked.

Alucard waved with one hand. “My father didn’t use to go out of his way to kill humans, only when he perceived a slight against his person. And he had been growing even more mellow with his marriage, so I think you’ll be fine.”

“Fine if we were normal people, yeah,” Trevor said, “but we’re a Belmont and a Speaker, maybe he’ll kill us anyway just to be on the safe side.”

“Either my mother or I will protect you, do not worry,” Alucard said, and considering the matter finished he turned back to the mirror.

Do not worry he says. Easy to say for someone who’s not vampire snack,” Trevor muttered under his breath, and Sypha beside him snorted.

“Maybe we should focus on the task at hand?” Alucard asked, irritated.

Trevor and Sypha straightened, turning their attention to the mirror where Alucard was tracing the runes.

“Sypha, put your hand on the mirror, and focus on the point where we want to go,” Alucard instructed, and Sypha nodded. The surface of the mirror rippled like water when her hand touched it, taking on a wavering white shimmer. Under Alucard’s fingers the runes began to glow a deep red, flowing into the mirror’s surface like blood in thin rivulets. A sharp hum began to fill the hall, shaking the floor, causing dust to rain onto them.

“I’ve got it,” Sypha said, her cloak flowing around her with the magic she had gathered.

“Ready?” Alucard asked, and Trevor stepped forward, taking each of their free hands to serve as the linkage between the two.

“Let’s do this,” he said.

The reflection in the mirror changed, showing a swirling of colors, too fast for someone to be able to tell if what was shown was real or surreal.

The light intensified, blinding the trio and engulfing them before suddenly dying out, taking their forms with it.

Chapter Text

Trevor woke with a groan, feeling like absolute shit. Seemed like fucking time travel wasn’t that smooth a ride. His head hurt, his back hurt, and when he tried to open his eyes the gentle morning light was like two daggers to the skull. His mouth tasted like it had been coated with a few years’ worth of dirt from a bar, he was nauseous, and- wait.

With the carefulness usually employed for sneaking up on one of them super-hearing vampire bastards, he peeled his eyes back open as just the barest of slits. He was greeted by the sight of grey stone walls, a muddy path that was supposed to be a street, and a pile of rotting food waste in one corner. Years of experience made him recognize the sight immediately.

It was an alleyway behind a bar. A bar he had gotten horribly drunk in, spending too much of his money on ale to still be willing to afford a room, resulting in too much alcohol in his blood when he had stumbled out of it to bother to find an unpopulated spot to sleep. He hadn’t even cared to get the blanket out of his travel sack.

At least this solved the question of whether or not they would return to their old bodies. Sucked for him that his old body had just been in for a hell of a night.

But it wasn’t all bad. He was rather pleased to have all of his ten fingers back, and his old coat too! Though when he lifted it to take a sniff he was wondering whether it would be worth the effort to try and wash the stink out, or if he should just get a new one somewhere. Contrary to some people’s beliefs he was aware that he stunk – his sense of smell was just so used to it that he usually couldn’t be bothered to go through the trouble of trying to get clean just to please someone else. Traveling with Sypha and Alucard had made the trouble worth it again, but just for himself? Eh.

He slowly got to his feet, supporting himself with one arm against the wall, until his body decided to remind him of the consequences of the kind of hangover he hadn’t had in two years.

A few minutes of throwing up later he amended his earlier claim to not minding the stink because the coat was now approaching seriously gross territory. Hopefully there was a river somewhere around here.

 

 

Now washed and feeling fucking cold thanks to the autumn weather and the lack of Sypha’s heating spells, Trevor got on the way to Targoviste. He was a few days of travel off, but if they were unlucky (which they usually were), he might be the one closest to their target. Sypha hadn’t been sure where she had during this season, what with the Speakers constantly on the move, so whether or not she was closer than him would be akin to a coin toss. Alucard, to his then very evident frustration, had admitted that he had been traveling and out of the country, and depending on their actual arrival might be as far away as Austria. At least with him being the fastest the distance became a bit less daunting.

The road was muddy from recent rain that had heralded the autumn season, but one lone wagon drawn by an old mule and filled with hay was slowly coming from the direction Trevor was heading to.

“Hey!” he called out to the wagon’s driver, an older man with the battered skin of someone spending too much time in the sun over the years. “What day is it?”

“Too much of a drink last night, eh?” the driver joked. The humor went entirely unappreciated by his audience. “Well, if you really can’t remember, it’s twentieth of harvest.”

“Twentieth of- fucking shit!” Trevor cursed, taking off into a run.

“Usually you thank someone when they answer you a question!” the driver yelled after him.

“You can thank me for going off to save your fucking arse!” Trevor shouted back over his shoulder.

The driver watched the stranger get smaller in the distance, before turning back to his mule, shaking his head.

“What a crazy, rude person,” he said, before clucking his tongue to get the mule moving again.

 

 

~o~

 

“Fuck fuck fuck shit fuck shit fucking shit,” Trevor muttered under his breath, hastening through the village. Two days was probably more than enough time for Mister Teleportato to get to his wife in distress, but for normal fucking humans it meant two days of near constant traveling, stopping only for the absolute minimal necessary amounts of sleep. And even with all that it seemed he was too late. Smoke was already rising in the distance from where he was pretty sure Misses Tepes’ house was.

Despite the obvious catastrophe happening to one of their neighbors, the rest of the village remained suspiciously quiet. Faint shines of candle light were all that peeked through the closed blinders on every house.

“I hope you all die in a fucking ditch!” Trevor yelled. The villagers could consider themselves lucky that there was no time for him to rip open every one of the locked doors and punch the people inside in the fucking face.

He was panting by the time he reached the outskirts, following a small, winded path to a brief stretch of forest, and coming out of the other side to the sight of some familiar faces.

Lisa Tepes was still alive, that was a huge fucking relief. There was some soot in her blond hair, the hem of her dress had been ripped, and the grip the two men at her sides had on her arms couldn’t be comfortable, but it was a huge improvement from being a pile of fucking ash.

There were three men in black frocks who Trevor thought he could recall from having fought in Targoviste, and why was it that it was always the cockroaches of humanity who survived the begin of the apocalypse?

And then on the steps of the burning house was his all-time favorite face to never ever have to fucking see again, the Bishop of Targoviste. He wore the same sneer Trevor remembered him having as he looked down upon them haughtily, uncaring about the destruction behind him.

“Move on, traveler,” he said, in a tone that didn’t expect any opposition. “This does not concern you.”

“Actually,” Trevor said, “you can’t even begin to imagine how fucking much this really does concern me.”

His whip uncoiled like a waking snake, and before any of the men could react it hissed through the air, striking faithfully true against the bishop’s throat. A gaping cut opened across the expanse of pasty skin, like a berry bursting open revealing its dark flesh. Arterial blood sprayed out, and the bishop tried to take one last wheezing breath before falling face-forward down the stairs.

The bishop’s acolytes stared in shock at the body, before the first one broke out of his freeze and lunged at Trevor, yelling and brandishing a knife.

A quick snap of the whip, and the man was (once again? Trevor couldn’t quite sort their faces anymore) a few fingers poorer. He fell back, clutching his bleeding hand, while the others wavered, wanting to attack but also not eager to end up like the previous two victims.

The standoff was broken by Lisa, who used the diversion to wrench free of the two hands holding her, smashing her elbow in one guy’s face, and kneeing the other in the crotch. Before they could fully recover, she had divested one of them of his dagger and gotten quickly out of dodge when the one with the facial injury tried to blindly grab her.

“You heathens!” the 6-finger guy shouted at them.

“Guilty as charged,” Trevor said, raising up his hands in mock surrender. “Look, I don’t have any quarrel with you, just take the body and your fingers and leave, and then we don’t have to bother each other anymore.”

The three men looked at him, then at Lisa who had taken up position next to him, dagger glinting dangerously in her obviously experienced grip, then back. It seemed here in the wilderness they were less brave than they had been in Targoviste, because they sheathed their weapons, and grudgingly collected the body(-parts).

“The Lord will punish you for this,” 6-fingers said as they retreated into the woods.

“Oh, he’s been punishing me alright for years by now, I don’t think I’ll notice a difference,” Trevor shot back with a grin.

Then it was only Lisa and him, and the crackling fire from the burning house.

Lisa was staring at the house with an unreadable expression, the flames painting restless shadows over her face. At least she didn’t try to run into the house like some civilians were prone to do in some naïve belief that they could still save something and not get immediately grilled by the brutal heat.

“Are you…” Okay? Alright? Bad options. “…uninjured?” Trevor asked gingerly.

“I’m fine,” Lisa replied absentmindedly, not taking her eyes away from the house. Her fingers clenched around the dagger in her hand, the knuckles turning white.

Suddenly she let out a wordless yell, hurling the dagger into the ground, where its blade sank easily through the soft earth until the hilt.

“These… These… ignorant fools!” she shouted as Trevor took a surprised step back. “All I am trying to do is help, and then the church comes in, waving their fanaticism, and destroying the knowledge that belongs to the people! I just- Gah!” She kicked the ground, uprooting a few strands of grass.

Trevor had learned through years of experience that keeping one’s mouth shut was at times a very wise solution when dealing with enraged women, and Lisa indeed didn’t seem to mind his continuing silence.

“I have spent months, trying to earn these people’s trust, and just when I was finally getting somewhere, this happens! What use is all my skill if no one will let me use it!?”

A few locks of hair had fallen out of her braid, and she brushed them back in obvious annoyance. “Oh, we’re saving people’s immortal souls, they say! So people can spend their life in completely avoidable misery? If there’s a god, why would he want us to suffer needlessly? These cowards, hiding behind their texts, never actually helping anyone!”

By the end of her rant she was out of breath, having to take a few moments to get her bearings back together.

“I’m sorry,” she finally said to Trevor once she was breathing normally again. “I’m here shouting at you, when I should be thanking you for your help. Please excuse my lack of manners.”

“Under the circumstances, I will hardly fault you for your justified rage,” Trevor said in good humor.

“Still, thank you,” Lisa said. “Especially since I fear that your kind actions may make you a target of the church too now.”

“I’ve been excommunicated years ago,” Trevor said with a grin. “So all that eternal damnation’s already waiting for me for a long time.”

“Yes, eternal damnation…” Lisa trailed off. Excommunication usually garnered some shock from people, but someone who had literally married the Lord of the Night probably wouldn’t even think to bat an eye at that.

“Is there somewhere you can go?” Trevor asked. “Somewhere you’ll be safe from the church? Friends, family…?” A super powerful husband, maybe?

“Do not worry, there is somewhere I can turn to,” Lisa said offhandedly.

“Okay, good,” Trevor said. They stood there for a moment of awkward silence, during which Trevor usually would have gone off and left the other person to their own devices. But it wouldn’t do to save Lisa now, only for her to die a few days later when the church tried to get rid of her again.

“So, that place you intend to go to, it’s close?” Trevor needled.

“I’ll manage,” Lisa said, the first traces of annoyance in her voice. “Now, as I’ve said I’m grateful for your assistance, but I’m fine now. You really don’t have to stay.”

Trevor put a hand over his face and sighed. Why did he have to be the first one to get here. If it had been Sypha or Alucard instead of him this would be so much easier.

“Look, I know you’re apprehensive about some strange guy worrying about you,” he said. Lisa cocked an eyebrow at him. “And I’d leave you alone, I really would, but hoar frost is already coming at night and your standing here with only a long-sleeved dress and nothing else, I don’t want to go when I know you’ll probably die in the forest somewhere.”

“I’ve travelled alone before,” Lisa snapped.

“With the church snapping at your heels and without supplies?”

Lisa crossed her arms before her chest, looking unhappy with the situation but also unable to come up with any good counter-arguments.

“It’ll be at least a week worth of travel,” she said.

“I’m on the road most of the year ‘round anyway,” Trevor said with a shrug.

“Fine,” Lisa finally acceded. “If you insist, I suppose I cannot stop you.”

“Not the first to say that to me, and probably not the last,” Trevor responded, grinning.

Chapter Text

They slept in the forest that night. Trevor had feared that the church might get back on their arses, but Lisa had rightfully argued that it would take them at least a day to carry a corpse back to the next church and then return with new people, so near the house they stayed. Lisa had gotten his travel blanket, and Trevor himself had slept under his coat, and by morning the cold and clammy weather had them both awaken with shivers, but also left the house pretty well burned down, the flames reduced to glimmers.

Trevor expressed doubt when she told him that she wanted to go through the sad remains, but quickly remedied his opinion when he saw her pull out little metal boxes stashed all through the structure and filled with gold coins. She tried to make it look like they weren’t big sums, but yeah, talk about rich husband.

(He also pretended not to see her picking up a small locket, deformed by the flames, sadly brushing ashes out from the inner chamber where a picture should have been before she put it into her bodice.)

It was only half a day travel to the next village, where they could finally get Lisa a coat and other clothes for traveling, and supplies to last them for the next days. No one seemed bothered by them, even as they both kept their heads low, so the church must not have called for a wider witch hunt yet. Still they agreed to sleep on the road for the next night.

There was also the incident of the old woman selling meat eyeballing him pretty intensely when he got out his coin pouch from under his coat. For a moment he had been sure she had have seen the family emblem still stitched on his vest, but then Lisa approached with an easy smile and the woman handed over the meat without a fuss. Still, their shopping trip gave him a good excuse to wear shirts that didn’t have his family emblem, at least for as long as he was accompanying Lisa. When he had been travelling alone the occasional farmer hurling insults at him because of his heritage hadn’t bothered him, but if it would affect Lisa too, he could swallow his pride for a bit.

Traveling with Lisa was better than he would have expected. She obviously had much experience with life on the road and was more than able to pull her own load. Dividing tasks like collecting fire wood or trying to hunt for some meat (difficult with winter drawing close) were soon done with little more than swift nods. During the day she was an excellent conversationalist, her broad knowledge covering seemingly every topic, and after a bit of warming up to him she was soon eager to teach where Trevor’s rather narrow education fell short. While his family had already taught him much about which herbs were useful for wound healing or as poison in combat, Lisa told him which plants could be used to fight which diseases, and which might taste well in food.

While their discussions kept the travel from being too much of a bore, they were some topics they steered clear from. Lisa was obviously reluctant to discuss her family life, which fit Trevor just fine because he wasn’t too keen on that either. While Lisa was very open-minded, he didn’t want to test where exactly she stood with the Belmont family business. They had only introduced with their first names anyway, and if it was up to him that would be all they would ever officially know of each other until he could deposit her somewhere in walking distance of her blood-drinking husband. Where said husband couldn’t see him, preferably. He expected she probably wouldn’t want him to meet Dracula anyway. Might be hard to explain the pointed teeth to someone she would assume to be a normal, non-supernatural-knowing person.

Though he had to admit that he was curious about how someone as gentle and altruistic as Lisa fit together with someone as… Dracula as Dracula. From the rare few recounting Alucard had given them of his family life he knew that Lisa had a strong backbone, something that had only been confirmed to him these past few days. Still, Dracula reportedly had decorated his front porch with skulls impaled on wooden posts, which should be pretty off-putting to most sane people. Though he suspected that Lisa fit the ‘sane’ description just as much as he, Sypha and Alucard would.

Alucard definitely had gotten his stubbornness from her, because she had a streak that would be miles wide. She was so very passionate about bettering the living circumstances of the people in Wallachia and beyond, talking about education and teaching everyone to read and more doctors instead of blood-letters. Which was a concept that would garner lots of enemies, strong opposition from the church and its followers and just general unwillingness from the baseline population because they often couldn’t be bothered to think beyond the next meal. With such a mounting task it would be easy to get discouraged and disillusioned with humanity, but Lisa persisted despite the odds, and that more than anything else made Trevor have a huge amount of respect for her, when he had been initially so wary of the vampire bride.

He recognized much of her in Alucard, from the thick-headedness to the snap-quick humor, but surprisingly he also couldn’t help but compare her to Sypha, with her altruism that didn’t give space to naivety, but held steadfast nonetheless.

It made him miss them both terribly, even more than he did anyway. Sure, he had made it back in time alright, but he had no way of knowing if the same was true for the other too. What if it had been only him? What if they didn’t meet up near the castle, but he would only see them by coincidence in who knows how long, and there would be no recognition in their eyes? He didn’t think his heart would be able to take that. He couldn’t bring himself to regret going back in time, not when it seemed that they were well on their way of literally saving the world, but without Sypha and Alucard there would be no happiness in the victory for him.

And even if all had worked out, and they really were here, what would happen after they had safely delivered Lisa to her husband? There would be no apocalypse going on, no need for a monster hunter team. Sure, there was always the occasional creature of the night terrorizing someone somewhere, but they were all powerful enough that continuing the good fight didn’t necessitate them still traveling together. And well… Sypha and Alucard both had things going for them, her and the Seekers and their eternal mission to bring flowers and sunshine and all that shit to the next person, and Alucard and his once again family.

And then there was Trevor, who basically had no one and nothing. Just a now ex-drunkard waddling through the Wallachian pampa, waiting to happen on a purpose. With them he had found one, but there wouldn’t be much left of it once they reached the castle.

Lisa was unexpectedly good at noticing the melancholy that came over him, and even though he hadn’t done much to deserve it, she still tried to distract him and get him out of his dumb self-pity. She didn’t pry, respecting his occasional withdrawal, but she also wasn’t put off when there were times were he would only ‘hm’ and ‘aha’ as she talked. Still, he appreciated it more than he would admit, and the drive and fire she had for her self-appointed mission was infectious even if his own was coming to an end.

It wasn’t so much that Lisa was overly optimistic, but she still made him believe in the chance of a better world.

He was blaming that for getting careless and getting them into so much trouble.

 

 

It had been raining for most of the afternoon, and despite their oilskins they were damp, cold, miserable, and fucking done with fighting their way through the mud that was supposed to be a street and tried to suck off their boots with every step. So when the silhouette of a small town they had planned to dodge appeared on the horizon, they agreed to take a room for the night to get themselves warmed up and their stuff halfway dried.

No one was outside by the time they had reached the town, but windows of the inn situated in the rotunda of the town center were still alight with the warm glow of hearth fire. When they opened the door, they were greeted by warmth and a moderate entrance room outfitted with wooden chairs and a few tables. Only one of them was occupied by two men drinking ale, the sparse presence of guests probably owed to the weather. Leaning over them had been a middle-aged woman with greying hair, wearing an apron, who stood up when the sound of the door opening reached them. All three seemed surprised at Lisa and Trevor’s entrance, probably because no sane traveler would be out in this weather still.

The woman was the one to snap out of it first, greeting them with a too artificial smile.

“A room for the night?” she asked.

“Yes, please,” Lisa said, following the woman to the counter. Trevor was a step behind her, but got delayed by eyeballing the two men who kept staring at them, until they finally averted their eyes.

Lisa paid the by the woman dictated price of four silvers. Pretty expensive, but then they couldn’t call her out on it because they didn’t have much choice anymore in where they should stay for the night.

The inn keeper grabbed a few logs of firewood before she led them up the stairs, showing them into a room populated with a double bed. Only practice kept Trevor from sputtering, but then he should have known she would assume them to be together. After all it was hardly seeming for unmarried women and men to be traveling together, and Lisa was still wearing her wedding band.

The woman lit the hearth fire, and then left them to it.

Trevor waited until they had heard her going down the stairs, before he turned to Lisa.

“I know it’s improper but you’re not getting that bed alone,” he said. Like hell he was missing out sleeping in a warm, soft bed for once.

“Oh no, my purity,” Lisa said in the most deadpan tone, and that was the end of it.

Trevor went to fill the pot hanging over the hearth with water for washing in the morning, and by the time he had returned Lisa had hung up most of their spare clothing to air out, including what she had been wearing except for the half-sheer underclothes.

Trevor had meant what he had said about not caring about propriety, but her nonchalance about him seeing her in so little clothing still had him surprised for a moment. Lisa turned to look at him and his pause was broken, having him closing the door and hanging up the pot like nothing had happened.

The rain outside was abating, letting them see the last bit of the early sunset light coming through the stained window. With the room heated up comfortably by the hearth fire and their general travel exhaustion they agreed wordlessly to turn in early for the day.

The bed was just wide enough that they weren’t necessarily touching, but narrow enough that they were feeling the heat the other gave off under the shared blanket.

It was quiet for a few minutes, before Trevor couldn’t help but speak.

“I know what I’ve said before about propriety, but really if you… I mean-“

“I’m good with this,” Lisa said, rolling over so that they were facing each other. The fire threw more shadows than light, but he could still see that Lisa’s face was open and honest. “I trust you.”

“Err,” Trevor said unintelligibly, left wrong-footed by her directness. “Erm, thanks?”

Lisa let out an un-lady-like snort. “You’re welcome.”

A moment long they were both silent.

“Besides,” Lisa continued. “I don’t think you’re the kind of man who’d try to start something with someone else while they’re still so hung up on someone else.”

“What.” Trevor’s voice was more high-pitched than he had wanted it to be, causing Lisa to laugh quietly. “How did you…?”

“Well, I wasn’t a hundred percent sure before, so thanks for confirming,” Lisa said, her eyes sparkling with mirth, before she returned to a bit more seriousness. “It’s clear to me that there’s someone you miss. I know what that looks like.” They were both quiet for a beat. “I hope I didn’t overstep,” Lisa added.

“No, it’s fine,” Trevor said absentmindedly. “Guess I’ve been a bit more transparent than I had hoped.”

“I don’t think I would have noticed if we hadn’t practically sat on each other the last few days,” Lisa said. “They must be a good person if you’re so taken by them.”

“The best,” Trevor said.

“Are they-“ Lisa began, when a sound from downstairs interrupted her.

They both went silent, their talk forgotten as they both strained their ears. For a moment Trevor hoped that they were both just unreasonably paranoid, but then they heard the tramping of too many feet for an inn at nighttime.

Quickly and quietly they got out of the bed, careful not to let the floor creak under their feet.

“Pack everything,” Trevor whispered as he threw on his overcoat, pants and weapon belt.

The door to their room swung open with only minimal creaking, and barefoot he tapped down the small hallway to the stairs that led to the main room.

He peered between the wooden railing and found his worst fear confirmed. Gathered in the room was what had to be half the small town’s population, all of them carrying either some sort of blunt weapon or sharp farming instrument.

‘Fuck,’ he mouthed silently. And just because life liked the screw him over, one of the men downstairs chose this moment to look up and spot him crouching on his vantage point.

“There ‘e is!” the man shouted and the whole mob turned towards him.

Trevor whirled around and ran back to their room, angry yells and a stampede of feet following him.

He got into their room and Lisa was ready, pushing the bed against the entrance as soon as he had closed the door.

“We need to go,” Trevor said, unnecessarily as in the next moment fists started to pound against the wooden door.

“Here,” Lisa said, throwing him his packed travel sack and then going to open the window wide. She looked back at him, motioning her head downwards, and he nodded.

Fluidly Lisa swung over the window sill, letting herself down until she was hanging onto the edge with her fingers, then letting herself fall the rest of the way. She stumbled a bit as she met the ground, but the house was built with low enough ceilings that the drop didn’t cause injury.

Trevor imitated her quickly, not a moment too soon as he could hear the sound of the bed being shoved aside by the door just when he was letting himself fall. Moments later a head poked out of the window, the light of a torch shining onto them down in the alleyway.

“They went out the window!” the man yelled as he spotted them.

“Fuck fuck fuck,” Trevor muttered, looking left and right to determine which way they should best leave the alleyway.

The decision was taken out of his hands, when around the corner of one hand the rest of the mob appeared, brandishing more pitchforks and lit torches. The townspeople must have gotten more than the average two brain cells split between them, and correctly assumed that they would try to escape via this route.

In less than the fraction of a second Trevor contemplated their options. They needed to run, but he wasn’t sure if the mob wouldn’t catch up to them. They were both tired, and he didn’t know if Lisa would be able to run fast enough. Plus, even if they managed to stay ahead, he didn’t fancy getting a pitchfork thrown into his unguarded back.

He could stay and fight, and if it had been a horde of night creatures with the same numbers he definitely would have taken that option. He knew that he was good enough, and Lisa was more than able to defend herself with the dagger he knew she was clutching under her coat, so he wouldn’t have to worry about protecting her. But these weren’t monsters, these were humans and he refused to slaughter half a town, no matter how misguided and asshole-ish that half was.

So, despite his instincts screaming at him not turn his open back to his enemy he whirled around, and ran to the other end of the alleyway, Lisa half a step behind him. The yelling behind them increased in fervor, the mob hot on their heels, and when he chanced a look over his shoulder, he saw the first people readying to throw their pitchforks or stones.

Praying to a god he didn’t believe in, he pushed Lisa forward, switching their positions so he was behind her as they ran, and readied himself for the pain.

With shouts their attackers threw their projectiles.

None of them hit.

Surprised, Trevor looked back again, just to see a wall of ice separating them from the mob. Both Lisa and he halted in their run, and he could hear her whisper a soft ‘what in the fuck…?’, but Trevor didn’t spare another moment for shock, instead looking up towards the roofs.

Like an apparition send from a heaven he didn’t believe in, there stood Sypha, her features lightened with the cool shine of the ice magic that still flickered around the fingertips of her raised hands.

From above she met his eyes, mirroring the broad smile on his own face. Elegantly she jumped from the roof, her feet sliding down an angled sheet of ice to break her fall.

Trevor wanted to take her in his arms and never let go again, but the pounding of sticks against the ice wall reminded him that there was no time for that now. Next to him Lisa still looked bewildered, but she hadn’t drawn her weapon, so she at least had to have understood that Sypha wasn’t their enemy.

“Let’s go,” Sypha said, taking the lead as they broke into a run again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Once they were a safe distance away from the town, they stopped to catch their breath.

When the stabbing in his side had stopped, Trevor straightened up and turned to Sypha.

“How did you find us?” he asked. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Lisa looking at Sypha with equal parts suspicion and curiosity.

“The church hung up Wanted posters of you in the region,” Sypha said. “And I recognized that mug of yours immediately.”

“My handsome face, you mean,” Trevor said, stroking one hand over the stubble on his chin.

“No, I don’t,” Sypha said, both of them sharing a grin. “Anyway, I was just passing through the town, when someone warned me of the evil witch and witcher who apparently turned up at the inn. Very kind of them, really.”

“Yeah, the good Wallachian hospitality remains unbeaten,” Trevor said sarcastically, and was rewarded with a snort from Sypha.

There was a polite cough from their side, and Trevor turned to see Lisa looking at him pointedly. Ah yes, she still had no idea who this supposed stranger was. He had kinda forgotten about introductions in the wake of their too-long-awaited reunion.

“Still the same shitty manners,” Sypha said from his other side.

“Like you’re one to talk,” Trevor hissed back, before straightening and clearing his throat. “Lisa, this is Sypha. If you’re wondering about the ice, she’s a Speaker Magician.”

Sypha delivered a kick to his shin, making him suck in a pained breath. “That’s not the stuff we just tell people!”

“Well, how many other people do you know who can make ice with some fancy hand waving?” Trevor shot back.

“I had already suspected as much, too,” Lisa said, intercepting their bickering. “Though I have only ever read about Speaker magicians, so you’re the first one I get to meet, Sypha.”

“Well,” Sypha said awkwardly, taken a bit off-guard by the lack of hostility. “It’s a pleasure to meet you too, Lisa.”

Lisa smiled at her. “Now, I am curious, how did you both meet?”

“I saved his ass, of course,” Sypha said, pointing with her thumb at Trevor.

“Excuse me?” Trevor said, blustering up like an offended chicken. “I saved you!”

“I think you’re misremembering something,” Sypha said, smiling as she inched closer to subtly step on his toes.

“I am most certainly not,” Trevor said, a matching albeit strained smile on his face as she ground her heel into his shoe.

“And what did you save each other from?” Lisa asked. Her questioning seemed innocent enough, but from the glint in her eyes Trevor could tell that she was a) amused by their antics and b) the wheels in her head were turning as she tried to figure them out. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Sypha shift her stance ever so slightly, and he knew she had picked up on it too.

“We were chased by another mob,” Trevor said, thinking fast. Telling the truth and mentioning a cyclops would raise too many questions after all.

“Speakers have never been all that popular, but it’s been getting worse lately,” Sypha said, not missing a beat, used enough to Trevor’s thinking to immediately understand where he was going.

“I just got caught up in it because they happened to set up camp as I was passing through the same town, and I joined them for the night. Us excommunicated people have to stick together, after all,” Trevor continued. “And then when it got dark they came at us with pitchforks and torches. So we ditched together as well.”

“And that’s when I saved his ass,” Sypha said, getting the last word. Trevor rolled his eyes. Sometimes, battles were not meant to be won. Especially not against Sypha.

“Back to the present,” Sypha diverted the topic, “you seem like you’re in pretty deep trouble. Again,” she added with a glance towards Trevor.

“The church wanted to apprehend her because they are once again confusing knowledge with witchcraft,” Trevor explained, more for the benefit of Lisa’s belief than Sypha actually needing the information. “I happened to notice them burning down her house, I killed a guy, now they’re mad.”

“That’s what happens when you kill people Trevor, I keep explaining that to you,” Sypha said.

“It doesn’t help that the one he killed was the bishop of Targoviste,” Lisa said, amused.

“They were gonna kill you, y’know,” Trevor grumbled.

“I know, don’t worry,” Lisa said, patting his arm patronizingly.

 “Also, did I see that right that you were sleeping in one bed with a married woman, Trevor?” Sypha asked, pretending to gasp at the sight of the golden ring glinting on Lisa’s finger. “How scandalous!”

Trevor, who knew that Sypha’s reservoir of the fucks she gave about propriety had long run dry, gave her the stink-eye, while Lisa giggled.

The Belmont heir looked back at all his life choices that led him to being caught in between these two women, and wondered if this was the punishment for all his sins.

 

 

Lisa didn’t put up much of a fuss when Sypha said that she would join them for the remainder of the trip, to the relief of Trevor who had feared another long discussion. Sypha had justifiably argued that they might deal with another threat again where her powers could come in handy, and he knew that the possibility of fleeing from another misguided mob without harming them was appealing to Lisa, but still. Compared to how she had reacted when he had first asked… maybe in her books it didn’t matter if she had to hide the vampire-ness of her vampire husband from one or from two people.

They recalculated their route to walk larger berths around the remaining villages. Though with winter closing in and wild game becoming rarer, they wouldn’t make it to the castle without another pitstop. With Trevor and Lisa more hunted than before, and Sypha probably added to the list (not to mention her being a Speaker and a single, young woman traveling alone making her just as suspicious as the rest of their group), inconspicuous was not them. They really could have benefitted from someone normal, but their only other ally still out there was a pale half-vampire with long hair who liked to run around with a huge cleavage, so not much chance.

They put enough distance between the mob-town and them until Trevor’s paranoia was halfway abated, and then made camp for the night. Sleeping once again in a cold forest and on lumpy ground seemed even worse after having felt the warmth and comfort of a half-decent bed, but that was life for them it seemed.

In the morning they split up, Lisa in search of the last few berries and edible weeds she could find this late in the season, and Trevor and Sypha to refill their waterskins on the small nearby river they had encountered during their walk in the previous night.

The first two hundred meters they walked in silence, first listening to the sounds of Lisa getting further away from them, then only the slight noises of whispering leaves and small animals in the underwood.

They stopped when they felt they were far enough, turning towards each other without saying a word.

Sypha was for once faster than him, throwing herself at him with enough momentum that he stumbled for a second, his arms automatically coming up to circle around her waist. A faint tremble ran through her form, and he relaxed even as she tightened her grip, delicate fingers burrowing into his shoulders as she hid her face against his chest. Trevor in turn let his cheek rest on the top of her head, closing his eyes and breathing in her scent, the familiarity of it finally uncurling the knot of anxiety in his throat that had been choking him for the past week.

They must have stood there for nearly a minute, slowly coming down from the high of the delayed relief, their subconscious fears only now appeased by physical contact.

“You don’t stink as much as you used to, back in our time,” Sypha finally mumbled against his chest.

“Thanks,” Trevor said, his tone dry.

They separated, both not commenting on the other’s misty eyes.

“So, you saved her from the church, but she’s still on Wallachia’s most wanted?” Sypha asked, wiping a long sleeve over her face.

“Got there just as they were grabbing her,” Trevor said with a sigh. “Travelled day and night, and still only made it by the narrow. I think the world just hates us sometimes.”

“I’m just glad that you were there and that she’s still alive, at least that gives us something to work with,” Sypha said, gazing around the forest in thought. “I was too far out for any chance to make it.”

“How did you really find us?” Trevor asked.

“I intercepted your route from where she had been to the castle, but you were either already gone or you had skipped that town. So I decided to follow along your most likely path, to eventually catch up with you.”

“I hope Alucard manages to find us too,” Trevor said with a frown.

“If he made it back,” Sypha added quietly.

“He better,” Trevor scoffed, trying to play over his own worry. “If we both did, then I’m sure he’s also here.”

“Yeah, he wouldn’t let himself be shown up like this,” Sypha said, just as much trying to convince herself as Trevor was.

Still, she reached out and grabbed one of Trevor’s hands, squeezing it in her smaller one. The empty space of their team were Alucard should be was upsetting them both, a vital part missing and leaving behind a feeling of wrongness even with the two of them reunited.

Alucard, you better find us soon, Trevor thought as he squeezed Sypha’s hand back.

 

 

Even with that worry still clouding over their heads, there was an undeniable spring in their steps as they made it back to the camp, one Trevor was glad Lisa didn’t ask about even as her sharp eyes took notice of it. Though maybe he had counted his chickens too soon, because the moment they were both alone, she struck.

“So, Sypha,” Lisa said, as she and Trevor were obscuring the traces their camp had left in the forest clearing, while the woman she had mentioned was scouting around to make sure they didn’t have anyone on their tail.

“What about her?” Trevor asked, bracing for another argument. Maybe thinking that Lisa’s suspicious nature wouldn’t rear its head again had been premature.

“She seems like a very capable woman,” Lisa said neutrally.

“Uhm, yes, she is,” Trevor said, his head cocking slightly to the side.

“She seems to like you,” Lisa continued in that same tone.

“Yes?” At this point Trevor was well confused as to what Lisa was playing at.

“And you like her too?”

“Yes?” Trevor repeated, his voice pitching higher. If confusion could materialize into reality, a multitude of question marks would be floating around Trevor’s head by now.

“Hm,” Lisa said, turning back to her work like nothing had happened.

“Wha-?” Trevor started, but snapped his mouth shut when he saw Sypha walking towards them through the trees.

“I think we’re good,” she said, “no one’s in the vicinity. Are you done here?”

“Yep,” Lisa said, clapping her hands together to get rid of the dirt on them. “Let’s get going.” She walked off to grab her own stuff, leaving Trevor to stare after her.

“What are you standing around for, Trevor?” Sypha asked, snapping him out of his daze.

“Nothing,” he hurried to say, busying himself with shouldering his bag.

“Bed bugs didn’t let you sleep? I keep telling you to replace that old blanket of yours,” Sypha said, cuffing his shoulder and making him roll his eyes.

“Will do, if you pay, Miss Fancyrobes,” he shot back, Sypha’s indignant squawk and the resulting continued banter making him forget about Lisa’s weird line of questioning.

 

 

He approached the cottage through the woods, mindful to not be seen by any humans. A bit of secrecy was a small price to pay for Lisa’s safety after all. And sometimes it could feel good to leave the human-made streets and settlements, and take a moment to feel the nature around them, remember how it used to be hundreds of years ago. While travelling could be just as wonderful as Lisa always claimed, he generally preferred to keep social interaction with strangers to the minimum.

His steps slowed suddenly, as something caught his attention, something that shouldn’t have been here. His head moved ever so slightly from side to side as he scented the air, his face pulling into a frown.

It was probably nothing, he tried to tell himself, even as his steps hurried. A lightning strike into a tree perhaps, or some human-made bonfire. But the closer he came to his destination, the more the smell intensified, and the disquiet grew to panic as his steps turned into phasing.

He arrived at the clearing, and found his fears confirmed.

The house Adrien and he had built for Lisa was gone, what was left behind only ash and blackened, crumbling stone walls, with charred beams of wood collapsed over it all.

He surged towards the ruin, as if there was still something he could do, as if he wasn’t far too late, as if he didn’t knew before his finger tips touched them, that the ashes had already gone cold.

“Lisa,” he whispered, his fingers leaving small trenches in the ash. “Lisa!” he yelled, getting back to his feet, looking around in some delusional hope that she might just be hiding, that in a moment she would step into the open from behind a wall or a tree, greeting him with a smile, safe, sound and whole.

No one came. Not when he continued to cry for her, not when he upturned fallen stone and wood, not when he sifted through the ashes.

Breathing heavily, more from emotion than any actual effort, he leaned against the last upright standing beam with one hand. The chittering of birds drew his line of sight upward, in the direction of the small pathway that had been carved into the woods, where the trees were getting less tall. And above their tops, wisps of white smoke curled in incorporeal pillars against the grey sky, evoking imageries of warm hearths and savory food. Of civilization. Of humans.

He straightened, his eyes not wavering from the target even as the claws on his fingers elongated, leaving deep, long marks as they cut over the surface of the hard wood like it was butter. The last few bird cries went silent as he took his first steps down the path that led to the village.

 

 

In the village’s puny center a market had been erected for today. The soon to be very dead inhabitants were scurrying about like vermin, collecting their scraps for the winter like filthy mice carrying grains around in the dirt, hoping to stave off their inevitable deaths for yet another year. They needn’t have bothered, not anymore.

Their incessant babble was silenced when he stepped into the town square. All eyes were on the stranger in the long, immaculate dark coat, his groomed features and fine cloth making him seem like royalty, but the expression on his face had them all taking back a step not in veneration but in fear.

His voice was measured and quiet, but it echoed across the market like a shout.

“Where is the woman that lived in the cottage?”

Not one of them dared to move, the words met with stunned silence as they stared dumbly.

“Where is SHE?” Dracula roared, and the whole crowd flinched, the reaction of prey in the face of a predator. The obnoxious stench of their fear lingered in the air.

“A man came and took her,” someone said, and his bloodred eyes zeroed in on an old woman, pushing her way to the front. “Ran through this village like a madman, shouting, and then towards her house. Some priests went to stop him, and next we knew the house is on fire, a priest is dead, and the both of them are gone.”

“Gone. Where?” Dracula bit out, each unnecessary, babbling word grating on his paper-thin patience.

“I don’t know,” the woman said, her bravery slowly dissipating when Dracula’s demenaour didn’t change. She took a step back when Dracula sneered at her, revealing the white, glinting fangs. “B-but the man, he was a Belmont! I saw the emblem on his vest when he was buying from me, swear to the Lord!”

Dracula’s eyes narrowed to slits.

“Belmont,” he said to himself as he turned to the side, rolling the word around his tongue, his face grimacing at the vile taste the name left. “A fucking Belmont.” The unnatural eyes shifted back to the villagers. “Where did they go?”

“East!” a man said, nearly stumbling over his own tongue in the haste to get the information out. “They went east! Saw them on the market at Donton’s village!”

“I hope you speak the truth,” Dracula said, his magic gathering around him as he prepared to teleport. “For now I will spare you, for her sake. But if I find out that you lied to me... there won’t be any place where you will be safe.”

A pillar of light shot up into the sky, and the Lord of the Night was gone.

The collected village was left staring at the patch of scorched earth he had left behind, no one daring to move yet.

“Well, time to move somewhere else,” the old woman said.

Chapter Text

Lisa and Sypha got along like a house on fire, leaving Trevor equal parts amused and afraid. They were both women with sharp wit and sharper tongues, and just as likely to discuss medicine as they were to throw barbs at each other. It made their tedious journey less boring as their travel was either livened up by debate, or spent in companionable silence. Lisa fit in well with the two of them, though Trevor’s chest ached whenever she used a turn of phrase he had become familiar with hearing out of Alucard’s mouth, or argued for a standpoint similar to his.

As their journey progressed, the landscape around them turned rockier, more mountains and less easily traversable roads. The worsening weather forced them to spend a day in a cave while an autumn storm raged across the land. The paths were rain-sodden and slowed their pace.

Still, they were getting close, the mountain range where Dracula’s castle sat less than a few days’ worth of travel away. Which was sadly no use to them, as their proviant was still empty. They had made camp in a coniferous forest, and woke with growling stomachs in the morning. While Sypha and Trevor had used the early hours to scout for game, they returned empty-handed. And pushing on while starving in the wet weather and with potential pursuit in the form of the church on their heels just left them susceptible to disease and injury.

So necessity forced them to stock up in the next village. Which sparked the first real fight in their group, when Lisa insisted that she go. Alone. She was the only one of them who could imitate the local dialect, she argued, and wouldn’t be immediately recognizable as Not-from-here, because she had lived here for years. In theory her going wouldn’t have been too bad, hadn’t it been for the fact that people were already searching for her and Trevor as a pair, and Sypha couldn’t accompany her because her Speaker robes were too recognizable. So they would have to see Lisa go just by herself.

They wasted probably half an hour arguing, before Sypha and Trevor had to concede defeat. They all knew that Lisa was right, but that didn’t mean they had to like it.

They did threaten her that they would be coming after her shouldn’t she return before midday, which she bore with an eyeroll.

Anxiety stirred within Trevor the moment Lisa was out of their sight, and next to him Sypha wasn’t doing much better. With a sigh they both settled down onto the trunk of a fallen over tree. Around them the woods rustled with the wind, a faint birdsong echoing through the branches.

“What did you tell the other Speakers?” Trevor finally asked, before he seriously started to gnaw on his fingernails. When Sypha sent him a questioning glance, he elaborated: “They must have been wondering why you’d just go up and leave, right?”

“I may have hinted that I gained some foreknowledge, and that I needed to act on it. My grandfather, and the other more faithful siblings accepted that easily.”

“You indirectly told them about time travel?” Trevor asked, baffled.

Sypha eyed him from the side. “Not as much as you probably think. That physical time travel exists… I think that is a secret that humankind is better off not knowing. But I already told you back in Gresit – for us Speakers, time is less of a rigid structure. Though I never would have believed actual time travel possible, wouldn’t I have lived through it, knowledge penetrating through the veil of time is something we have lived through. You too, with the tale of the Soldier.”

“I still find that one pretty sketchy,” Trevor said, scowling.

Sypha rolled her eyes in exasperation. “If you insist.”

“I do,” Trevor said haughtily, earning an elbow jabbed into his side.

They were both silent for a moment.

“Wasn’t it difficult to leave?” Trevor asked, quietly. When Sypha made a querying noise, he continued: “The Speaker group you were with in Gresit… you were many more before Dracula’s war started.” It wasn’t a question, in quiet hours in another time Sypha had told them of members of her family lost to death, just as many by the hands of a supernatural creature as by human ones.

“I cried a lot once I was out of their sight,” Sypha said wistfully, her face raised towards the sky. “But I knew I had to go. And there is no reason to believe that our paths won’t cross again.”

Will you rejoin them when we have delivered Lisa, Trevor wanted to ask the question that was burning on his tongue, but before he could scrape up the courage, something else tingled in the back of his mind. The paranoid part of him, the Belmont part that had sharpened its senses through centuries of monster hunting, was ringing the alarm bells.

He stood up, one hand going to the sword at his hip, trying to discern what it was that had set off this feeling. Next to him Sypha was rising as well, sending him a questioning glance but otherwise staying silent, knowing that as soon as he knew what it was he would speak.

The presence of something was always easier to discern than the absence of something, so it took him a second longer to notice that the birdsong had stopped. That all sounds created by the small animals in the underwoods were gone.

A predator was here.

 

 

Lisa was carefully looking over the cured fishes the fisher was offering her, trying to determine how many she could take without raising too much suspicion. Even for the sparse season the prize he wanted was still daylight robbery, but she didn’t want to haggle too much and draw attention. She settled on getting five, each of them enough meat for one portion.

The sun in the sky was getting higher as she stepped back into the street, but by now she was confident that she had enough, and then some to give to Trevor and Sypha so that they wouldn’t starve on the way back into more populated areas. She would have offered them shelter in the castle, but she wasn’t sure if Vlad was already far enough into accepting humans to look kindly upon a Speaker stepping foot over his home’s threshold. And whatever Trevor was. Someone who was excommunicated, obviously used to battle and friends with a Speaker? Even though the Belmonts and other big hunting families had been either massacred or cast out of Wallachia, there were still people without their blood in their veins who had taken up the profession of monster hunting to make a living.

And deep down, Lisa herself wasn’t entirely sure if she would like for them to share accommodations with her husband. She valued both of them as good companions, but she also wasn’t naïve. Someone appearing just in time to help her, first Trevor with the church, then Sypha with the mob… both of them just so happening to be proficient in fighting, and going so far out of their way to accompany her for a week-long journey without being promised any payment. Of course it could simply be good fortune on her part. But it just as well couldn’t, and she didn’t fancy acerbating the risk.

“And if I tells ya, he saw it with his own eyes!”

An argument that was getting more heated averted her attention for a moment. Two men were leaning against one of the houses in the village’s center, one of them wildly gesticulating.

“Ye cousin isn’t all right in the head, it’s what I tells ya,” the calmer of the two grumbled. “Fancy he had taken an ale too many and got some crazy dreams.”

“But the next day when we wen’ out an’ looked where he saw the man standing, the earth was all scorched up!”

“What, so some fellow is just standing around at night, yells at people to tell ‘em about blond-haired women passing through their village, and then leaves. Could be just some really confused man. Or gotten some bad ale.”

“But his eyes! Me cousin said they were glowing red! That ain’t have been normal! And then he vanished in a burst of light, you can’t explain that!”

“Aye, but how drunk was your cousin?”

“He’d only drunken two ale, that’s like nothing for him!”

“And I tell ya, old William’s brew just hasn’t been tasting right lately. Some moonshine that is.”

“That’s just you not wanting to pay back your tab, admit it!”

“Mother!”

A shout interrupted her eavesdropping, and she whirled around to where the voice had come from. A tall figure was running towards her, pushing past villagers and ignoring their dirty looks.

“Adrien?” she whispered, dropping the pack with food she had been carrying in shock.

Her son reached her and pulled her into a fierce hug. Belatedly she reached up to hug him back, growing worried as she felt his shoulder trembling beneath her hands.

“Adrien,” she repeated when he pulled away. “I- what are you doing here? I thought you were in Austria!”

“I felt you were in harm’s way,” Adrien said, his hands brushing over her shoulders like he somehow had to ensure that she was real. “I came back.”

Lisa anxiously noticed the chatter of the village growing quieter around them, the people not so subtly eyeing them. She reached for Adrien’s hand and picked up the pack, pulling the attention-drawing blond towards the exit of the village.

“How did you find me?” she asked once they were out of earshot. Not that she wasn’t glad to see her son, but they had been so careful in taking the less traveled paths and not leaving too many tracks.

With a mischievous grin, Adrien tapped against his nose. Lisa only barely resisted the urge to hit her forehead with her palm. Of course a supernaturally transformed wolf would be able to pick up a familiar scent even with the rainy weather, especially if he knew what direction she was most likely to be heading in.

“Where are your companions?” Adrien asked. So his wolf nose had smelled Trevor and Sypha as well.

Lisa was just about to answer, when a loud noise echoed from the woods she had been about to point to. They both turned around to see a flock of birds flying away as the tree they had been sitting in fell.

She didn’t want to assume the worst, but the worst also happened to be the most likely explanation. Adrien had to have thought in a similar line, as he wasted no time in waiting for an explanation, instead picking her and the proviant up in a bridal carry, and sprinted them into the woods.

 

 

He felt his fangs lengthening as the scent of his prey got stronger, the predator in him coming to the surface, and for once he didn’t fight it down. Today, he wouldn’t bother with empathy and other human traits. These people did not deserve mercy. Today, he would feast on those who would dare and harm his family.

He took to the trees to avoid being prematurely spotted by his targets, silently moving from branch to branch with little more than a rustle of his cloak. A frown stole across his features as he noticed that while their scent was getting stronger, Lisa’s was slowly fading.

Had she gotten away? Or had they…

No. It couldn’t be borne to even think about that possibility.

He would simply get Lisa’s whereabouts out of them. Maybe while he slowly tore them limb from limb. It was simply unlucky for them that Lisa wasn’t near, or there might have been a limit to the brutality he would now all too gladly go to.

He landed on the last branch, the vantage point giving him a good view on the two humans in the clearing. It seemed the talk of the villagers and the rumors he had overheard had for once not been exaggerated. A Belmont and a Speaker.

He was still taking in the scene, when the Belmont suddenly stood, the Speaker following him quickly, both of them slipping into a battle-ready stance. Annoying humans and their trained senses. Still, they may have made a formidable enemy for most supernatural creatures, but they wouldn’t be a match for his powers.

In the fraction of a second he had taken to observing them, the Speaker spotted him. No surprise attacks then, but it wouldn’t matter. He jumped, landing to their side and swiping his razor-shape claws towards the Speaker’s face. She wouldn’t need her eyes anymore once he was done with her anyway.

To his surprise his attack was blocked, not by the Speaker but by the Belmont, who had drawn his sword. Dracula snarled at the Hunter, applying more strength as the man huffed from the exertion.

“Could you wait just a second-!” the Belmont grit out. The only answer Dracula gave him were bared fangs, ready to embed themselves into his arm.

He shouldn’t have left the Speaker unaccounted for. A flare of heat was the only warning he got before he had to give up his assault and jump to the side to dodge the fireball she had thrown at him.

Not just a Speaker, but a Speaker magician. Of course, why not. He took to one of the trees again, forming a wind blade to unleash upon the clearing, but was distracted by the Hunter lashing out with his whip towards him, disrupting his attack. Dodging cost him a precious second of concentration, and the Speaker was ready with her spell before he was, a sharpened slice of ice cutting into the tree, forcing him to abandon it as it fell.

The Belmont was there before he landed, going for middle-ranged attacks with his whip, apparently smart enough to know that he would get crushed in close-quarter combat.

Rage flit through Dracula. The feeling of being put on the defense against two measly humans was to him like oil poured into a blazing fire. With a flick of his hand he summoned four magma spheres, throwing two each at his enemies. It forced them to stop their assault as they had to take cover, first from the projectiles and then from the explosions when the spheres collided with something solid.

The attack had forced them away from each other, and Dracula quickly pressed his advantage by going in for a physical attack against the Belmont.

For someone who shouldn’t be used to the speed of a vampire the Belmont was way too fucking good at dodging. At least Dracula’s constant barrage didn’t give him enough time to draw his sword again, and as close as they were he didn’t have enough room to swing his whip. A powerful kick from Dracula was blocked with two raised arms, but enough to cause the Belmont to stumble backwards.

A sharp whistle had him stopping his attack to dodge the icicles the Speaker had thrown at him. They flew by close enough to catch on the hem of his tunic, ripping away a piece of the fabric from his side. Dracula growled, spheres of dark light gathering around him before they shot as rays towards the Speaker. She managed to dodge most of them, but two got close enough to touch. They didn’t cause more than a shallow graze, but it was enough for them to drain a significant portion of her energy. The Speaker gasped sharply at the sudden loss, her magic power flickering away for a moment.

The disruption of her magic also meant the disruption of her defense, and with a flick of his coat Dracula summoned his magma spheres once again, intent on sending all of them at the weakened mage.

“No!” the Belmont shouted, throwing himself against Dracula and grabbing the arm he had been using to aim, causing the shot to miss.

But the Belmont’s intent on saving his partner had left him wide open, just as Dracula had hoped. It was easy to turn the tables on the Hunter, landing a solid punch into his torso with enough force to send him flying until he hit a nearby tree.

When the Speaker tried to help her partner the vampire summoned a charge of flameballs again, forcing her to create an ice wall to protect herself.

Enough time to get close to the Belmont before he could completely get his wits together. He had already drawn his sword, but Dracula simply grabbed his lower weapon arm and slammed it against the tree trunk.

A satisfying, loud pop of a bone breaking echoed through the forest, followed by the pain-filled shout of the Belmont. The sword clattered uselessly to the ground.

“Trevor!” the Speaker cried out, the blue light of her ice magic already flaring around her hands.

Keeping the grip on the man’s broken arm, Dracula reached out with his free hand to seize his throat, the sharp claw of his thumb coming to rest precariously against the soft skin that stretched over the windpipe. The Speaker stilled, smart enough to understand the unspoken threat.

“Where. Have you taken. My wife,” Dracula asked, carefully enunciating his words.

“We didn’t take her anywhere!” the Speaker shouted.

Dracula’s eyes narrowed to slits. “Lies,” he hissed. So he would have to beat the answers out of them. “Fine, have it your way th- ARGH!”

A burning pain interrupted his sentence, and he looked down to see the Belmont pressing the hilt of his whip into his side where the Speaker’s previous ice attack had ripped away the cloth. The flesh underneath the wrapped leather was smoking and bubbling, rapidly turning black. A fucking holy whip. Fucking Belmonts.

The unexpected wound had caused his grip to loosen enough for the Belmont to pull out of it before he could rip out his jugular. Dracula wanted to set after his prey, but the Speaker unleashed another ice wall, separating the two men. The few moments it took him to shatter it were enough for them to regroup, and they once again faced him standing side by side.

But they were both tiring rapidly. The Speaker’s magic prowess was impressive for a human, but her reserves were getting lower and lower as she was forced to resort to more powerful spells. The Belmont was holding his whip with his left hand in a sure grip, but blood was soaking through the right sleeve of his shirt and dripping down his arm which hung limp at his side, indicating that the broken bone must have pierced flesh and skin. His breath was coming in shallow bursts as he tried to power through the pain.

There was no way they could still win this, and they all knew it.

Dracula’s magic crackled around him like static as he summoned the dark light spheres again. His two enemies tensed, no doubt preparing to dodge, but they would only be delaying the inevitable. He was just getting ready to unleash his attack when-

“STOP!”

 

 

Alucard arrived with Lisa in his arms to chaos. Scorched earth, fallen trees, ice shards embedded in wood, and the smell of blood in the air.

While he was still trying to grasp what was happening without panicking, his mother was quicker on the uptake, shouting at his father before they had even fully come to a stop. She wiggled out of his slack grip, and stomped over to Dracula, who was looking at her with an expression stuck between relief and utter confusion.

“What on earth do you think you’re doing?” he heard his mother yell, making him wince even when it was someone else her fury was directed at.

Deciding that his mother had that situation well in hand, and that no more threat would be coming from Dracula as long as she was present and not in harms way, he turned towards Sypha and Trevor.

Trevor was currently in the process of sitting down without falling down, with Sypha keeping a steadying grip on his uninjured arm. He hissed when the broken arm was jostled when he finally hit the ground, and the sound was enough to break Alucard out of his trance and hurry over to them with long strides.

“And who might you be?” Sypha asked coldly when he got close, making him stop in his tracks. It couldn’t be- they couldn’t have forgotten him, could they?

The scare passed when Trevor rolled his eyes. “It’s fine,” he said, his lips quirking up in a faint but familiar smirk. It was enough reassurance for Alucard, who knew that the Trevor he had first met in Gresit would have been attempting to hit any unknown vampire coming this close with his sword even if he could only barely swing it.

Now it was Sypha’s turn to roll her eyes, obviously exasperated with the two men’s callousness towards keeping their secret. Trevor quirked an eyebrow and subtly tilted his head to where Alucard’s parents were still arguing and mostly oblivious to everything else that was happening.

“My name is Adrien Tepes,” Alucard said, mostly to appease Sypha, but also because it would make actual sense to anyone not knowing that they were already acquainted. And too much carefulness probably wouldn’t hurt. “Son of Lisa Tepes. I mean no harm, I only want to help.”

“I’m Sypha, that’s Trevor,” Sypha finished their bit of lip-service towards plausible deniability, before she turned back to Trevor. While the hunter was obviously trying to keep up a carefree attitude, the way his pallour was rapidly turning more and more ashen all too easily belied the pain that was emerging from beneath the fading adrenaline.

Alucard kneeled down before them while Sypha got out a small knife, beginning to cut the sleeve of Trevor’s broken arm while careful not to move the limb unnecessarily.

“If you’re here for some blood, you can have what I left on the ground free of charge,” Trevor said with a look at the half-vampire.

“Contrary to you, I don’t eat things that have lain in the dirt,” Alucard replied with a haughty tone. With his body blocking the potential view of his parents, he put a comforting hand on Trevor’s leg, earning a small smile. It quickly transformed into a grimace of pain though when Sypha began to peel back the cloth that was sticking to the wound.

“Sorry,” she whispered, sending him an apologetic look. Her and Alucard’s expression turned even more troubled when they surveyed the damage. The bone had broken with a slight slant, and stabbed through the skin on the opposite side of where the force had been applied. It couldn’t be more than a centimeter that peeked out as a sliver of white among the red, but compound fractures could all too easily become infected. At least the bleeding was only sluggish, so no arteries had been pierced.

“Oh, that’s nasty,” Trevor said, the levity of his words belied by the way his breath came in shallow gasps.

“We need disinfectants and pain relievers as soon as possible,” Sypha said with a worried frown. “I don’t have any yet though, and we’re far away from any of the major towns that might have some of the ingredients we’d need.”

“I know where we can get all of that,” Alucard said slowly.

“Why do I get the feeling that I’m not gonna like this,” Trevor mock-whispered to Sypha, which Alucard ignored in favor of turning around to his parents.

They were still standing a good ten meters away from them, with Lisa nearly standing on her tiptoes while she continued to berate an appropriately cowed looking Dracula.

“Mother!” Alucard yelled. The woman whirled around, an impatient “What?” already forming on her lips, but she snapped her mouth shut when Alucard stepped aside to reveal Trevor’s bloodied arm. With a frown she marched over, her expression turning more troubled when she saw that what she had first thought a deep cut was actually a much more extensive wound.

“Damn it,” Lisa muttered, a hand stroking over her chin. “This is not good.”

“Yeah, we already figured that much,” Trevor snarked, earning a swat to his uninjured arm by Sypha.

“We should bring them to the castle,” Alucard said.

A resounding chorus of “What!?” by Lisa, Dracula and Trevor respectively was his answer.

“If what I just overheard you telling father is true, then they did save your life,” Alucard said. “We owe them. And in the castle he can make a speedy and complete recovery, unlike nearly everywhere else in the country.”

“Well, I mean, you’re right,” Lisa said, a bit baffled. “I was about to suggest the same, but I wouldn’t have expected you to offer what is also your home so freely.”

Alucard crossed his arms before his chest. It was true that he had been a bit… hesitant towards other humans before Targoviste and Gresit went down, but surely he hadn’t been that bad. “Without them, you could very well be dead. They helped you when neither father nor I could, and so far we’ve only repayed them with injury. Treating them is the very least we could do.”

“Absolutely not!” Dracula thundered behind Lisa. “I will most certainly not let a Belmont Hunter into my castle!”

“You should have thought of that before you broke his arm,” Lisa hissed, turning around to glare at her husband.

“Oh, it’s not like he’s so innocent,” Dracula snapped back. “He burned me!”

“Hey, I did that after you broke my arm!” Trevor yelled. “And you were about to rip my throat out at that time!”

“Well, if you had just-“

“Enough!” Lisa shouted. “We are taking them to the castle, it’s two in favour against you, Vlad, and I will not accept no for an answer!”

Dracula still looked like he had bitten in a lemon, but he also didn’t dare argue further with mother.

“Fine,” he muttered under his breath, raising his hands and beginning to form the teleportation circle around all of them. “But as soon as he’s healed, they’re both going to get kicked out.”

 

Chapter Text

Trevor had seen his fair share of sick beds. Ones he had stood besides, and ones he had lain in himself. This had to be his most bizarre one yet though.

Dracula had taken them directly to what had to be the laboratory inside the castle – which he was on the inside pretty grateful for, cause moving or being moved with freely hanging broken bones fucking sucked. Not that Dracula was ever going to hear that thought though. Even with his advanced knowledge about the arcane and the scientific, Trevor probably couldn’t name half of the stuff that was in the room. Giant windows let in the last light of dusk, but overhead lamps were already flickering to life without the spark of flame.

With Sypha’s help, he laid down onto a bench Lisa indicated, and with that had the front row… seat? Bed? To the thick tensions running through the room.

Out of all of them Lisa was probably the most relaxed, even if she was moving around the room like a miniature whirlwind, collecting bottles and medical equipment. She had enlisted Alucard for help, who went without complaining but still kept a vigilant eye on his father. It caused him to nearly pour some of the boiling water he’d had to prepare over himself, which Trevor would have usually teased him for hadn’t they been in such unordinary company. Sypha had been left standing at the head of his bench, perched there like a hawk watching over its chick.

On the opposite side, always carefully keeping himself between where Lisa was preparing her tinctures and their duo, was Dracula. If looks could kill, the broken arm would be the absolute least of Trevor’s problems. Sypha was glaring back just as fiercely, one hand demonstratively resting on the shoulder to Trevor’s uninjured arm.

The staredown was intense enough that it felt like metaphorical sparks went flying where their glares met. In any other situation it would have left Trevor too restless to lie still (and wanting to stand next to Sypha to combine their glares into the mightiest stink eye imaginable for humankind), but the pain was leaving him delirious enough that he just couldn’t give a fuck.

Lisa had finally managed to gather everything she needed and pushed it over on a small table to which wheels had been attached on the feet. She took up the spot to Trevor’s side with the broken arm, and began by pouring some alcohol over her hands, coating her skin thoroughly.

Silent as a shadow Dracula slid over the floor, coming to stand just behind Lisa’s shoulder, not stopping in his glaring at the intruders even once.

“I’ll need to clean your wound with this,” Lisa said, unaware of the looming presence behind her as she focused pouring some more alcohol onto a cloth Alucard had boiled. “It’s going to hurt, but it’ll significantly reduce your chance of getting an infection.”

She looked at him with the cloth ready, and belatedly Trevor nodded. He was already well aware of the procedure, what with his training and the two people he had been travelling with before, but for the average person, pouring a drink on a wound may not always have been the logical choice.

The cloth was dabbed carefully onto the bloody mess that was his arm, and even with knowing what was coming the pain of the broken limb being touched made him reflexively try to grab with his healthy arm for what was causing the hurt. Even though he reigned himself back in quickly, the aborted movement was enough for Dracula to growl warningly.

“Vlad, cut it out,” Lisa snapped, not taking her eyes off the wound she was treating. “He’s not a threat to me.”

“He is a Belmont,” Dracula hissed. “And he took you from your home.”

“He didn’t take me,” Lisa argued, “I went with him out of my free will.”

“I heard quite a different story,” Dracula said.

“What did you hear, father?” Alucard asked, coming around to stand on Trevor’s other side, opposite to his parents. “Mother already told you that they didn’t harm her.”

“I was told,” Dracula replied in a haughty tone, staring accusingly at Trevor who was really not giving a fuck at the moment because someone was still (gently) pressing a cloth onto his broken arm and the pain got fucking priority, “that this man killed a priest, harassed the villagers your mother was living with, burned down her house and abducted her!”

“I did harass the villagers,” Trevor said. When Sypha sent him a disbelieving stare, he tried to defend himself: “I just told them to go fuck themselves. They were assholes.”

“I don’t think that is the part he has a problem with,” Sypha whispered to him.

The church,” Lisa interjected while continuing to work around the wound, “sent priests to my house to accuse me of witchcraft. They set fire to it, and were about to drag me to Targoviste, when Trevor killed one of them to free me.”

“And judging by how not helping her neighbors were when her house was burning down, I’d bet my arm on them being the ones who brought the church to her,” Trevor said with righteous indignation.

Dracula was quiet for a moment. Trevor nearly began believing that they had left that rough patch behind them and could now metaphorically frolic in a field of flowers and butterflies, until he saw the white glint of lengthening fangs peeking out from under the vampire’s snarling lips.

“They lied to me,” he growled. “Those cowardly bastards… I will rip their limbs from their bodies and leave them to bleed out where the animals may feast on their corpses!”

“And how is that supposed to change them in their ways?” Lisa finally had enough, throwing the bloodied cloth onto the table and turning around to face Dracula directly. “Your actions will only breed more resentment, feeding an endless cycle of hate!”

“They rejected your help and repaid you with violence – they made their choices, so they should also meet the punishment befitting them!”

“Their choices are misinformed! With actual knowledge, they could come to see their error!”

“And would you still be alive to see that actually happening?”

“Ahem!”

Trevor made the loudest fake cough he could possibly manage in his situation, earning him twin glares from the couple, but also some blessed silence from the steadily-escalating-to-shouting argument.

“I’m still bleeding quite a bit, and I would appreciate some bandages. If you want you can just hand me some and Sypha and I can manage, and you can continue that discussion, yes?”

“No, I-…” Lisa let out a groan. “I’m sorry about getting sidetracked, I’ll take care of your arm. We’ll talk more later,” she said with a glance at Dracula, who wrinkled his nose, but otherwise stayed quiet, while Lisa continued working.

A few minutes and a barely suppressed scream, because setting broken bones – was – fucking – great, later, Lisa finished wrapping the bandages around the now splinted arm.

“There,” she said, ending her work with tying a sling around Trevor’s neck to hold the arm in place. “Try to move it as little as possible in the next three weeks.” She haphazardly tossed the dirty cloths into a pile, brushing a few loose strands of hair out of her face.

“You should rest, mother,” Alucard stepped in. “I’ll take them to a room where they can stay.”

“Thank you, Adrien,” Lisa said with a sigh.

Trevor would have gladly continued lying on the bench and just going the fuck to sleep, but the atmosphere in the room still seemed to be hanging on with two fingers on the precipice of the next argument, so making himself sparse might be worth the tremendous effort he’d have to spent. Sypha seemed to be of the same opinion, as she was doing her best to half drag, half push him first off the bench, and then out of the room, while Alucard hovered awkwardly in their orbit.

The thick oak doors closed behind them, but they only dared to breathe a sigh of relief once they were out of supernatural earshot, and thereby out of the range of feeling obligated to intervene should another argument start.

“I’ll carry you,” Alucard said, and picked Trevor up into a bridal carry without waiting for a response. There wouldn’t have been one anyway, as Trevor had already been more falling into each foot stepped forward than actually walking.

“Your hair is dumb,” Trevor grumbled, because he had to put up some form of token protest, and because Alucard’s hair really did keep brushing into his face as they continued down the hallway.

“I’d rather say that it is your face, which is dumb,” Alucard said in the most over the top posh tone he could muster, causing Sypha to snort.

“I’ll have you know,” Trevor said, imitating Alucard’s tone while the dhampir opened one of the many oaken doors, “that this face saved our collective arses.”

The door swung open to reveal a large room, half of it filled with an extended cushioning of some sort like a giant bed without a frame and legs, and warm furs decoratively strewn across all of it.

“Yes, it did,” Alucard said quietly as he lowered Trevor onto the soft cushioning, making the hunter refocus onto his face. It was a dangerously emotional looking face, and in a quick thinking maneuver, Trevor wrapped his unbroken arm around the other man, preventing him from getting back up and instead pulling him down into a weird but obviously very needed half-hug.

“I also helped, y’know,” Sypha said from above.

“Sypha’s dumb face also saved our arses, yes,” Trevor said. “Now will this dumb face get down here and help me hug the vampire bastard.”

Trevor couldn’t see it with his line of sight obscured by shiny blonde hair and dhampir body parts, but he felt the cushion beneath him bounce, and then one of Sypha’s slender arms joined his on top of Alucard.

“My face is not dumb, it’s the prettiest,” Sypha mumbled sleepily from behind Alucard.

“That’s true,” Alucard said, in a tone both placating and honest, while Trevor couldn’t muster more than a yawn he tried to inject with some hum of agreement.

Content at last, the group drifted off to their well-deserved rest.