CW: Blood, misgendering
“Wait, wait!” The witchling whelped, tumbling to the ground as his attacker stood over him, fangs bared and hissing. “I can make a deal!”
The assailant didn’t seem to particularly care; not much smaller than the witchling himself, its eyes were glazed over, very clearly not in a lucid state of mind. It lunged atop of the now-grounded witchling, desperately biting at his neck as he held it back in their struggle. Instinctually, the witchling uttered a curse, blackened wisps rolling off his fingers as the attacker screamed and recoiled away. Where his hands had been holding its arms back were now two scalded burns, the witchling holding his own burned hands as the two pulled away from each other, nursing their own wounds.
When he’d wrapped his hands in torn bits of his skirt, the witchling looked back to the attacker, watching the whimpering thing and wondering if he should just leave it be.
“Hey?” He approached slowly, hands held out. “Hey, I’m sorry for that. C… can I see? Your arms?”
The thing hissed at him again, fangs once more bared as it prepared to lunge, only to fall back onto the ground once more as the pain in its arms grew too great. The witchling looked it over, thinking of what could be done… before pulling out his ritual knife, gripping it in his palm then cupping his hands as he held them out towards it.
“You’re a vampire, yeah? Or… something like one. So let’s make a deal. I give you this blood freely, and you tell me who you are?”
Hate clearly rolled off of it as it looked at him, torn between the vibrant and magick-filled red in his hands and the desire to rip his throat out. After a painful pause, it finally pulled itself forward, dipping its fangs into the pool and breathing deeply as its body began to mend itself back together. The two stood still, watching each other in silence as this went on, until finally the vampire had drank and licked every drop of the witchling’s blood. For a moment, neither was sure if that would be the end of it, but in the end the thing stood, an annoyed expression on its face as the witchling did the same.
“I’m not a vampire,” it retorted. “Not… a proper one, anyways.”
“What’s that mean?”
“I’m an aberration.” It looked around on the ground, eventually finding its discarded cloak and pulling it back onto itself. “I was turned when I was eight years old. For this, the vampire who turned me was killed by her own kin.”
“I… don’t know vampire law. Is that a crime?”
“It’s abhorrent and unnatural. Vampiric magicks are hell on earth to someone that young. Nevermind the torture of having her as a mistress.”
“Oh. Uhm… I’m sorry?” The witchling blinked.
“Are you always like this?”
“Uncertain, shaky, an idiot.”
“I-… I didn’t think I’d get this far?” He shrugged. “I kinda just expected you try to kill me anyways after you finished.”
“Willing blood is enough payment for me not to drain you. For now.” It shrugged, looking up at the brightening night sky with growing concern. “You ought to leave now, witch. I have elsewhere to be.”
“I’m not actually a witch either, you know. I have eight more years, before I’m a real witch.”
“An irrelevant distinction to me. You’re… some flavor of human, you use magicks within your blood. You’re a witch.” It pulled up its hood, beginning to walk away with newfound haste. “Don’t come back here. Don’t look for me.”
“Hey!” He yelled after it, uselessly. “You still didn’t tell me who you are!”
“And what do we have here?” Four men stood over the downed witch, cornered in a back alley of a city street. His ceremonial uniform was in tatters, a blade stuck in his side, hands desperately trying to stem the bleeding. “A witch awfully far from any coven, traveling alone?”
“She’s wearing diplomat colors,” one remarked from the back. “Might be an ambassador.”
“If she was an ambassador, there’d be a whole procession of them,” another replied. “This is just some stupid witch who forgot where she was.”
The witch looked up at them, giving a weak grin as he held up a shaky hand. “I don’t have any money,” he stammered out. “I don’t have any possessions on me… but I do have a lot of magicks, if you want to make a deal.”
“If you were a powerful witch, we’d already be dead.” The leadmost thief knelt down, grabbing the handle of the knife and pushing it in deeper , eliciting a pained shriek from the witch. “Maybe you’re in this city looking to cheat innocents with those deals of yours.”
“Am… I getting lectured to by a thief who just stabbed me?”
“Fucking witches.” The man pulled the knife out with a twist, the witch’s eyes going wide as he felt the blood begin to pour out around his hand. “Maybe we can sell her body. Priests pay well for witchblood.”
“Probably shouldn’t have stabbed her in the side then, dumbass. It’s getting everywhere!”
“She’s not going bleed dry!”
The pack began to bicker amongst themselves, the witch sitting against the wall, thinking about how this might actually be the end for him. It was a good run, he supposed. Ten years past graduation. A lot of folks didn’t even make it two before a rival got them. Getting jumped and killed by common street thugs was pretty embarrassing, though.
A chill came through the air, bringing a bit of lucidity to his fuzzy thoughts as he tilted over to see its source. The shadows twisted around like smoke, until a figure emerged from the wisps, tall and lithe with inhuman skin. It was dressed in a silken suit, as if it had just come from a formal dance, holding two needle-like knives in its hands.
The thieves took one look at the newcomer and immediately ran, deciding discretion was the better part of valor. In a display the witch couldn’t fully process, now on the verge of death, all four of them crumbled before making it out of the alley. The figure stood amongst the bodies, dipping a finger into their blood and tasting it, before spitting it back out with a look of distaste. Then it turned to the witch, and he suddenly knew that this was actually how it’d end. Hopefully, at least, it’d be more pleasant than the searing pain in his side.
Instead of ripping him open, the vampire knelt beside him, a hand over his wound twisting the blood into something more solid to stem the bleeding while it tasted his spilt blood with approval.
“You’re more powerful, now,” it remarked. “Odd magicks, though… not what I’d expect from a witch of your coven. Did you go into diplomatic magicks?”
“I’m good at making deals,” he murmured, not completely understanding what was going on.
“Even unintentionally, apparently.” The vampire’s hand lit with a bluish fire, the witch hissing as the vampiric magicks did their work to begin stabilizing him. “You’re an even bigger idiot than I thought back then.”
“When you fed a hungry vampire whelp your blood eighteen years ago, you made a pact, idiot.” It sighed, free hand manipulating the spilt blood into vials on its waist. “You asked who I was, and I accepted your freely-given blood. Your magicks made the pact, and mine sealed it. So now, whenever you’re in danger and the pact is at risk of being broken… I appear.”
“Huh. Would think I’d have seen you before now, then…”
“You always seem to come out ahead without my intervention.” It shrugged, lifting the witch to his feet with a groan. “Until now. You’d have made an embarrassment of me; dying in front of a court, because some idiot pact-holder was taken by surprise by common human thieves.”
“Couldn’t you just… tell me your name? Be done with it?” The witch felt his side, an blotted scar now hiding where the knife had gone in. He could feel his own magicks fighting with the vampiric magicks now in his blood, enough to make him sick from it alone. “If I did that when I was twelve… it couldn’t have been that strong of a spell.”
“This is the problem with you witches; always thinking about the strength of your magicks, and not the rules of nature, of fate.” The vampire rolled its eyes, rolling the witch’s torn blouse up to observe the scar better. “You didn’t make a pact for my name. You made a pact for who I was. Specificity is important. Intent is important. The idiot child that made that pact wanted to know much more than just my name, the same idiot child who came to an abandoned castle to investigate a vampire sighting. And now there is an idiot witch in front of me, wondering why a vampire that could simply kill him has not done the shockingly obvious thing of telling him its name.”
“Well, hey, you’re calling yourself a vampire now.” He leaned against a wall, watching as the vampire worked a finer magic with the tips of its fingernails around his wound. “But, uhm, if you could just kill me… wouldn’t you do that?”
“And admit defeat?” It scoffed. “Admit that I’ve been pact-bonded with an idiot witch, and my only way out of it was to drink his blood and hope that cancelled the pact? I’d sooner burn alive than admit to the court that a charlatan of a witch has barbs in me.”
“Then… what now? Do you just leave, and we pretend this never happened?”
“That’s exactly what we do. You, stop getting into trouble. Do what the rest of you witches do. Settle down, make dolls, stop getting into fights, let me attend to my immortality in peace.”
“I don’t really have the touch for that; always failed my dollmaking classes. This is how I make my living, doing little magical odd jobs for humans.”
“Find a new living.” It pulled its hood back up, scowling. “You should have that wound looked at by one of your sisters. Your body’s going to reject the graft within a few days, and you’re really not going like it when it does.”
The witch attempted to speak up, but the vampire had already slipped back into the shadows, vanishing once again from sight as quickly as it had appeared.
The witch sat on the side of his bed, looking out the open window at the waning moon. Beside him, a makeshift doll was tidying the sheets, while another was dusting the surfaces of the room. There was an unusual stillness to the air, as though the world was holding its breath, ever sound dampened and dispersed.
“You’re in my head.” The vampire sat next to him, a silk robe gripping its form snugly. The bedside doll looked alarmed at the noble’s sudden appearance, but quickly resumed its work nonetheless. “For some reason, I can’t get you out.”
“You kept my blood,” he shrugged. “I kept yours.”
The vampire blinked, looking over at the witch with confusion. “You did what?”
“Your magicks. You sealed my wound with them with the intent for them to be removed, but when my sisters tried to excise them, they had already begun to bond with mine. Probably because you kept my blood for your own.” He glanced over looking at one of the vampire’s hands, flickers of magic sparking under its skin. “Couldn’t resist the taste, huh?”
“That’s… not actually possible.” The vampire seemed properly confused. “Unless it somehow affected the pact… oh. Oh fuck.”
“Yeah.” The witch laughed quietly. “I’ve done my best to contain it for the past year, and I imagine you’ve done the same, but… we have each other’s magicks, now. The pact is being fulfilled, in an incredibly inconvenient way.”
The two sat in silence for a time, staring out the window as they both considered what this meant. The dolls continued their quiet work, a gentle breeze coming through the room, the two unmoving, until finally, the vampire spoke up.
“Do all witches modify their bodies, like you have?” It inquired, avoiding the topic at hand.
“A lot do. Glamours are one of the first things you learn.” The witch smiled softly. “Eventually, you learn how to transmute your own body. The magicks for it are expensive, but, small price to pay to be comfortable I suppose.”
“It’s confusing to me. You’ve made yourself conform to your sisters’ standards, but… that makes you comfortable?”
“Aesthetics, I suppose. You could always reach deeper in and find out for yourself.”
“And expose myself to your idiot thoughts?” It scoffed. “Absolutely not. The fact that I can feel them is bad enough.”
“What now, then? We’re both here, and we’re both stuck with each other, short of finding someone skilled in both vampiric and witch magics to break the connection.”
“I’ll consult my court. You should do the same with your coven. Maybe some sort of agreement can be made to collaborate on this.”
“Witches and vampires, collaborating?” The witch laughed again. “I’m pretty sure they’ll kill us both before considering that.”
“What other option is there? We can’t stay like this. It was torturous enough when I could feel fate’s strings tugging on you, but to have your thoughts bleeding into mine as well?”
“As if yours aren’t getting into my head too.”
“That’d be an improvement, witch.”
“There’s… another option, maybe.”
“We collaborate.” He looked up at the vampire, a new glint in his eyes. “My sisters, the courtiers, they’d never cooperate. But we could. We could work on this, together. Explore old ruins. Figure out what we need to do, to break this pact.”
“…hmm.” The vampire was clearly torn on it, but its decision was already made well before it finally replied. “Only until this is done.”
“Only until it’s done.”