For a while they stood, unspeaking, looking at each other with centuries of memories and shared dreams orbitting around them like the dust under the lamplight. For the first time, Nicolae had no words for her. How has she found me? I thought we would never...
"You shouldn't be here, Silena," he said, hardening his voice to sound cold, refusing to let any slight of joy shine through. "How...how are you here? And why?"
"You left me in Paris," she answered matter-of-factly, stroking her sister's hair and pulling gently. "Fled before I had a chance to track your blood, leaving me at the top of the Eiffel Tower, might I add. Too many questions for me to scale my way back, so I took a shortcut - down. After that I had no choice but to make the mortician... disappear."
"You need to go back," said Nicolae as she rose, sliding the unconscious girl's head from her lap. She stuck out like a sore thumb, her exquisite Victorian dress appearing faded purple, draped around the skirt and gathered at the bustle. Fabric flowers adorned the tight, revealing bodice in a trail from her neckline to her waist, and her black boots clicked on the paving as she walked forward, stopping a couple metres away from him. "You don't belong in my life anymore."
"A couple of centuries ago, you would have begrudged me ever leaving your side. I miss those days, Nic, now you have tainted my memories with times of abandonment and...recklessness." She glanced behind her, to the girl lying still on the bench, then back to him with a gaze like frozen blood. "This is how I find out that I have a sister. A misleading blood bond, the stupid girl was drawn to me, she tried to bite me in the middle of town. Reckless, not to mention that I would never dream of blooding with her."
"What's the problem?" he scoffed, "you don't like her? I thought she was rather nice at the time -"
"That's not what I -," she snapped, then seemed to choke on her own words. Her head low, she murmured, "you don't understand..." wishing that he didn't hear, but he always would.
"So what do you plan to do?" he asked. "You were always so good at blending in...I don't understand what you plan to accomplish with this." He motioned to her, and she skimmed her hands down her skirts fancifully, her slender hands within fingerless lace gloves, the rotting black of her nails disguised well with white polish.
"This is all for you, Nic," she smiled, her fangs sliding amorously down onto her bottom lip. "Do you remember the purple dress?"
Nicolae's body tensed with remembrance, his fingers tingling with the memory of corset ribbon running through them, trailing kisses across her rose-oil scented neck, in the moments that love was stronger than hunger.
"I remember its...brief existence," he said, trying to stifle a smile. "But to wish for those days to return is futile. Two centuries have passed, I am different, you are not. After what happened -,"
He was interrupted by her soft laughter, she held a hand over her mouth delicately, and when she had finished, her fangs had receded. "You think too highly of yourself, Nic, as always. You assume that for three years, I have yearned for you." She giggled at him, and his eyes narrowed, blazing red. "The reality is, you are my Master, and I am your progeny. Your blood in my veins is all that sustains me, and it is losing its power. If I had not found you sooner, I may have begun to dessicate. I am your responsibility, whether you like it or not -,"
"I have no time to delve back into past lives," said Nicolae coldly. "I am in the middle of very important negotiations -,"
"Ah yes," she replied, "I am aware. "The big reveal", the others are calling it. Controversial, amongst other things. Tell me, how did you quell the rebels that are so notoriously outspoken?"
"I have...methods," he said, his tone edged with meaning. "Surprisingly, the ancients have come around. The most backward of all the clans are finally co-operating."
She smiled again, her boot heels clicking on the paving as she strode forward with an air of confidence. "I remember the ancients rather well. You ordered me to infiltrate them enough times. I like to think that by my efforts, you have the power of today."
He sighed, "I concede, you were always...valuable. I thank you, Silena,"
"Oh, I don't wish for your thanks. You will bid me away otherwise. Instead...I want you to owe me."
Nicolae looked surprised, his pale-haired brow furrowing. "No, absolutely not," he said, shaking his head, his voice hard. I will not be indebted to anybody, especially her. I can't be.
Silena smiled, swivelling playfully, her skirts spinning around her. "You think me more dastardly than I am, Nicolae. I wish only for my survival. You can begin your repayment by offering me homage in Sky Valley."
He scoffed, "you do not belong there -,"
"I belong at your side," she snapped, there was a glimmer of sadness in her eyes that he missed. "Was that not your purpose for blooding me? 'Until only death can break us apart...isn't that what you swore to me?" She took another step forward, until they were a foot apart, she much shorter and frailer than him, silhouetted in the light whilst darkness seemed to swarm around him, buried in his greatcoat, his hands nonchalantly in his pockets. "I know you, Nic," she said, her voice laden with familiar softness. As she spoke, her scent reached his nose - rose oil - was she trying to annoy him? "I know you better than you think I do. I know that for all of our life you've wanted power, so much that you've never considered what to do with it. I can see it in your eyes...you're bored. You hate those subservient to you. Think about it, despite your compulsion, when did I ever truly do as you said?"
With vampire speed, she dashed to the bench, throwing her blood sister across her back, and stopping ahead of him along the way back to Sky Valley. She grinned at him, and he couldn't help but notice how unnatural she looked. A dainty, noble lady, who he had first seen at his father's New Year celebrations, who had worn shimmering blue amongst reds and whites, who had worn her hair so that a curl fell at the nape of her neck, one that he had twined in his fingers as they'd kissed on the moonlit terrace, in front of the glass where she knew all could see.
Now, she was a vampire, by his own creation, dead inside, a shade of what she had once been.
"Come on, then," she called, strolling through the empty streets towards the abandoned centre. There was no persuading her now, Nicolae thought grudgingly, Silena was back, that was that. She span around lightly and teetered on her toes, in the same way she had when they'd shared that first kiss at New Year, all affection and innocence, ignorant to what was to come. All of that was gone now, and as Nicolae buttoned his greatcoat all the way, the collar hiding the two pinpoint scars on his neck, he looked ahead at Silena, his once-beloved, and loathed her, because she brought everything back. The memory, the sentiment, the lust.
All but the love.