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The Needle in the Hay

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His hands are still coated in Allen's blood, his trailing scarf stained with the same. But still, he knows when he finds her. He can still smell Allen lingering on her.

Lingering within her.

She's locked away.

To protect her? Or to punish her? Both, perhaps.

Had he not tried to do the same to Allen? For Allen?

These foolish children. They had no idea what they had caused.

They would never know.

He entered the building that held her, a simple house. Wooden, two stories.

There was another woman in the house; a guard, he assumed. It did not matter, she was not his concern. He tossed her easily against the wall, and she did not bother him further.

The door to the idiot girl's cell proved as helpless against his onslaught as the first.

“Girl.” He hissed, advancing on her where she stood beside the window, staring out. “Maribelle.” The name flew from his lips like an insult.

She turned. One hand rested over her heart, the other over her stomach. How far along was she? How long before the abomination was to be born?

Dhampir.

“No.” Her voice was soft, pained, pleading. Edged in tears. She actually turned away from him, back to the window. Her head tilted back, angled to one side.

The stars.

Of course.

“I tried to stop them.” She turned to look at him again, her eyes wide. “You're Krauss, aren't you? The teacher at his school. He talks about you... all the time.”

He hissed again, at the... the brashness of her words, the audacity.

The pain they caused.

She did not shrink from his venomous anger. He could not destroy her with a thought. She was disgustingly, purely, and truly human.

This is not to say he did not try.

“Please...” She reached a shaking hand towards him. He scowled at the gesture, but she did not let her hand fall. “Please tell me he got away.”

He did not answer, so she continued. “If he got away... I swear, I swear I won't go near him again. I'll do anything to keep him-”

“He's dead, girl.”

This broke her composure at last. She crumpled to the floor, choking on a scream, a sob.

Krauss stared down at her, his voice cold as shattered ice. “Your people killed him. His crime was loving you. I will destroy them all.” He paused, let these words settle around her like snow, or ash.

“I should destroy you too.”

She shuddered on the floor, still trying to swallow her sobs. But he sensed no fear from her. Only sorrow. Despair. Grief.

He swept nearer to her, crouched down, grabbed her shoulder with a clawing hand and held her up, stared into her face, her eyes.

“Did you love him, girl?”

She stared back at him, confused. Uncomprehending. He shook her sharply to disperse her pain and snapped his teeth, his fangs, in her face.

“Girl! Did you love him?”

She took a shaking breath, wet her lips, and spoke.

“More than my life.”

Krauss growled and threw her away from him, spinning and standing in a single motion. His robes flew around him, but his scarf caught. He turned his head.

She was holding the fringed end, pressed the stain of Allen's blood to her cheek. She was crying again. His eyes burned, but the glare had no effect on her.

He hissed again, moved closer to her once more. Grabbing her by the back of the neck, he hauled her to her feet.

“I should kill you. The fault is as much yours as it is his, and you have not the excuse of Metamorphosis. You stupid, foolish child.”

She cringed, but she did not refute his words. How could she? He was right. Even she knew it.

“But.” He whispered, soft enough to command her attention. “This.” His free hand moved forward, pressed against her stomach. “Will not live if I kill you.”

She swallowed. He could practically feel the motion of her throat. It would be so easy to kill her. To drain her blood. To claim her life in payment for his loss.

No.

“This is all that is left of him.” He said, flexing his fingers. “And so, you will live. You will protect his legacy.”

He moved then, dragged her by the neck to the splintered remains of the door, shoved her out onto the landing.

“Go, girl. Run. Protect that child with your soul. Leave, now.”

She stared at him. Her mouth worked soundlessly for a moment, and then she spoke.

“What are you going to do?”

“That is none of your business.” He growled, snarled, snapped. He lunged at her and she stumbled, managed to stop before tumbling down the stairs at her back. “Go. Go now, before I change my mind.”

“Please.” She whimpered, one hand on the banister, the other on her stomach. “Please, tell me what you are going to do.”

He didn't owe her anything, but...

He smiled. His fangs felt heavy against his lower lip. Her eyes widened. Perhaps Allen had never shown his fangs to her.

His eyes might have glowed, embers, a portent of what was to come.

“This village will burn. You would be wise to leave now.”

She did not consider this over-long. She turned and fled down the stairs. Out of the house.

Away.

Before long, he could no longer smell the lingering scent of Allen's life in the dhampir brat, or of Allen's love on her skin. All that was left to fuel his fury was Allen's blood, on his hands and scarf.

The humans were returning. Flush with victory, drunk from their successful siege on the castle.

His home.

He could smell them, as they flooded back into the village. Blood and ash. His brothers, his sisters, his children. His life, his world.

He moved down the stairs, past the unconscious human woman, into the village square.

These devils would not see the sunrise.