Perry was irritated. The girl he was Fated to be with forever was terrified of him. How on earth could he protect her like he was supposed to with her screaming her head off at his fangs?
His strict education caused him to be mildly annoyed that he was a Predetermined Preternatural Partner in the first instance. Why him? Humans were there to be fed off of, not kissed and cuddled - at least, not in the context of love.
Why did shapeshifters love it so much? He always heard proudly told stories of how they'd impressed their new girlfriend or boyfriend by turning into certain animals or bitten them so that they could "roam the lands together". Even the majority of witches only really relished the opportunity of a person they could repeatedly practise magic on. Most people would become suspicious if a stranger kept visiting them (the forget potions required to complete what a small spell could only start could be fatal if taken too regularly, and witches liked to have the same guinea pig again and again), but in these circumstances, the witch could claim a desire to see "the love of their life" and the human sometimes even wanted to be part of the witch's experiment.
But vampires were different. What could they do with their human that they couldn't do with anyone else? Mind control was unlimited and infallible. If Perry's race wanted to take over the world, they could. Why didn't they? Too much convenience. Ready-made slaves were boring. Perry's kind hated the idea of never having to use its powers again. Also, where was the fun if it was tolerated?
Perry sighed as he read Maeve's mind and flew to her house. Fate would frown upon him obliterating the last hour from her memory. Plus, despite him having told Maeve he would leave when he had told her everything, it was illegal for him not to spend a little time with her every day.
And Maeve had a right to know everything.
Perry was adamant he was going to try to respect her. He remembered the sadness he had felt earlier at the prospect of wiping her memory. The truth was that, despite every word he could say in anger against the girl, he had been intrigued by the concept of being destined to love someone. He had floated seamlessly into the character he unwittingly took on at night: in fact, he had been feeling like his night-time self ever since they had arrived in the Meadow of Azure.
He had found his Fated Lover and he didn't want to let her go. Perry's thoughts softened completely.
He gently landed on the flat roof of the porch which jutted out from the rest of the house and glanced through the window. At once he could tell it was Maeve's bedroom. The walls were grass green, there were posters of animals, a writing desk stood beside her chest drawers and there was a tiny black and white kitten curled up on her bed. He wouldn't be able to get in this way, however, without breaking a window.
Perry woke Maeve up but took over her mind so that she would obey his every instruction and not ruin everything by screaming. Already they were in danger of her parents phoning the police since she had been out so long.
Perry put his arms around Maeve's waist and flew her down before the front door. He told his wings to retreat - the summoning and dismissal of the Great Wings of Darkness was the only magic a vampire could perform - and, upon finding that the door was locked, rang the doorbell.
Maeve's mum came to the door. She looked a lot like Maeve but about thirty years older, frown lines etched into her brow and hair starting to thin and grey. She frowned at the sight of Perry but in an instant he had taken control of her mind and was instructing her not to notice him, to forget he had been there in the first place and to be totally unsuspicious of Maeve's late return. He released her mind, careful to keep controlling Maeve.
"Hey, honey," Mrs Petch said, smiling. "Did you have a nice walk?"
Quickly, Perry made Maeve say "Yes, I did, thank you", and her mother walked through into the adjoining room.
Perry made Maeve step inside and, after entering himself, closed the door behind him. He sighed with the exertion of using so much mind control and, removing his and Maeve's shoes because the family kept footwear in the porch, walked inside, just telling Maeve to follow him.
The front room was a living room, containing a TV, a sofa and a coffee table. The man sitting on the sofa, who had greying dark hair and was watching a programme about cars, was Maeve's dad.
He glanced up at the pair and his expression grew serious at the sight of Perry. Perry quickly used yet more mind control to give him the same commands as Maeve's mum, almost wondering at the success of them. His fangs began to ache and he realised he hadn't been able to retract them for a while. He supposed it was because he had stopped drinking Maeve's blood so abruptly at the park. He hurried upstairs, Maeve trotting along after him like a dog, and led her into her room, shutting the door behind them.
Then he did a dastardly but necessary thing. He numbed the parts of her brain that meant she could feel pain, sank his teeth into her neck and began to drink her blood.
He instantly relaxed, her life force invigorating him and making him feel happy.
He looked down and saw the kitten gazing up at him.
‘Um, ... meow?' he thought in its head, not really good with animals.
It rubbed against his leg, purring, apparently unfazed by the fact he had entranced its owner and was drinking her blood.
Feeling awkward, Perry told it to go get some rest. It obliged, returning to Maeve's bed.
Perry stopped drinking Maeve's blood, tingling with energy. He picked her up and laid her on top of her duvet - the kitten moved out of the way and snuggled down in another part. He forced himself to sit down on the chair in front of her desk, positioning himself so he was facing her, and gently released her mind.
Maeve blinked. Then she stared at Perry. And stared.
Eventually, she whispered "I hate you. You're unearthly and evil and you don't belong in my world." She rolled over and was silent. Perry watched as her shoulders started shaking and realised she was crying.
He switched on the lamp which was clipped onto the headboard and sat beside her.
"I didn't mean to hurt you," he murmured.
"You drank my blood," she replied indignantly, still refusing to look at him.
"I had to," he explained, his tone lacking any emotion. He was still stung by her comment about him not belonging in her world. "I would have turned into a monster otherwise."
She laughed bitterly. "Like you already aren't."
"Do you think I can change what I am?" he asked, suddenly angry. It had been a very long evening and he wasn't in the mood to be reminded that he was a terrible creature.
"I think I'd rather die than accept my fate if I were a demon," she muttered.
"Well, you can kill yourself when someone turns you," Perry retorted.
She misinterpreted him. "Don't you dare!"
He laughed coldly. "Why would I want to see you forever?"
She began to cry harder, actually making noises.
He stood up. "You be nasty to me, I'll be nasty right back at you. I had a right to ensure I wasn't arrested by the police, and you know what? For the first time in years, I felt bad for using mind control. And drinking your blood was an awful thing to do but I'd rather drink my soul mate's blood than become so thirty that I lost control of myself and came back to my senses to discover I'd slain half a dozen people."
"What do you care?" Maeve asked, seeming to have closed her ears when Perry had implied she had awoken his conscience.
"I've never killed a human in my life."
He stormed out and she heard his footsteps down the stairs.
Could he be telling the truth? Could there really be such things as vampires with consciences? It seemed highly unlikely. But Maeve felt cold inside at what she'd said to him and longed desperately to apologise. He really wasn't evil.
‘Perry,' she thought quietly, hoping he would hear her. ‘Perry, come back.'
He didn't appear so she guessed it hadn't worked. Unless he was ignoring her.
Maeve curled up into the foetal position and cried herself to sleep.
Oh, he had heard her alright. Perched on the roof of her house, he had ignored her whispered calls and continued to gaze numbly into the night. Unseeing, unhearing, unfeeling. Even his thoughts had switched off - or so he thought until a distant part of his mind told him Maeve had fallen asleep.
He sighed. Time to go back. He had apologies of his own to make.
Tap tap tap.
Maeve awoke suddenly. Something was tapping at her window.
‘Maeve, open up. It's me.'
She sighed in relief. Jumping out of bed, she opened her window so she could pull it far inwards like a door (you could either open it so the top and the sides came in or the top, bottom and right side came in). Perry clambered in, having been standing on the porch roof. Once he was inside, Maeve closed the window and surprised herself by hugging him.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
Perry was stunned. Nobody had hugged him for years. In fact, he couldn't even remember the last time he had been hugged. He stood there, motionless, until Maeve let go, stepped back and looked up at him anxiously.
He gazed back wordlessly for several seconds before murmuring "I'm sorry, too."
"Oh, no, no," she said hastily. "I don't deserve that."
"Yes, you do," Perry replied, not taking his eyes off of hers.
Maeve blushed and tore her gaze away. Perry heard her thinking about hypnotism, chiding herself and then wondering if she'd end up enchanted rather than entranced and do whatever he said anyway.
Perry chuckled quietly. "Well, hypnotism doesn't work that way. I can't tell you about your own reaction to me, though."
Maeve's mind said she could die from embarrassment.
"Sorry," Perry told her. "I shouldn't."
‘No, you shouldn't,' she thought at the same time that she said "Oh, don't worry about it."
"I'm not bothered either way."
He blocked out her thoughts as she considered this.
"Hmm, what if I need to call you again?"
It was Perry's turn to be embarrassed.
"Um, I ... I don't intend to leave your side again."
"What, ever?" Maeve asked, amused.
Maeve burst into laughter.
"Oh, Perry. That's so sweet. Utterly ridiculous but sweet all the same." She suddenly sobered up. "Are you going to tell me why?"
"I guess. I mean, you are due an explanation. But you're going to have to have a very open mind."
"You're a vampire," she pointed out. "If I weren't open-minded, I'd be hysterical or insane right now."
"That's true. Well, shall we sit down and get comfortable before our legs collapse from fatigue?"
Maeve flushed, particularly embarrassed by the image which had just appeared in her mind, of two lovers standing silhouetted against the moonlight, leaning in towards each other to share a kiss.
"Good idea," she said.
They sat on her bed, Maeve against the headboard while Perry sat further along, still a little unsure of Maeve's feelings about his species despite how comfortable the atmosphere seemed.
"So, er, how d'you want me to tell you? Orally? Mentally? I could send a series of mental images if you wanted?" He grinned. "I could even sneak a few humans we've never met before into your house and get them to act it out."
Rather than amused, Maeve was shocked.
"You mean use mind control on them?!"
Perry frowned. "Well, that's the general idea..."
"We're not your puppets," Maeve whispered, all romantic ideas having completely dissipated.
Perry averted his eyes.
"Sorry," he murmured, without agreeing with her.
"Weren't you human once?" she asked, noticing the evasion.
"No; I was born this way. And all vampires are taught that humans are inferior: it's not just me."
"We're not, though." Her tone was sad. Perry could tell she had thought he was nicer than to say things like this.
"Aren't you?" he asked, his voice barely audible. "We're stronger than you are. Faster. We can give ourselves wings. We have better eyesight, better hearing, better scent. We're amazing predators. Plus, we're psychic. Look, I'm sorry to say this to you, Maeve, but vampires could take over the world if they wanted to."
"Why don't they?" she mumbled, clearly upset.
Perry hesitated. He didn't want to go in-depth and make her feel like a lower being.
"Too much convenience."
Maeve lay on her side. "I think that's enough for tonight," she said. "I need sleep."
"Can I make it up to you?" Perry asked, anxious that he had permanently jeopardised his future.
"Do what you want," she answered shortly.
"Well, I hope you mean that because I'm about to enter your mind and cleanse your thoughts so you don't have a nightmare."
"You think that taking it away for one night will make it all go away?" she asked scornfully. Great, they were back to her bitterly resenting him.
"No," Perry replied patiently. "I just don't want you to have a bad dream."
And before she could protest, he reached out with his mind, cleared every bad thought from her mind, also sending her off to sleep. He went into her parents' bedroom. There was a cupboard in the corner of it which contained towels and bedclothes and the like, and he found a comfy-looking blanket. He returned to Maeve to drape it over her and then lay beside her, watching her, feeling quite protective of her, until his eyelids grew heavy and he fell asleep himself.