Cracked knuckles

Magic Hollow 
set the day after the new moon

It had been a rough month.

Cris had realized the cause in a moment of clarity amid a haze of stupidity.

The blood thing was a problem. Weekly was too much, and she felt like she’d been sapped of her life force, probably because... she literally was.

Googling the symptoms was embarrassing. It was all so obvious. The cold, the dizziness, the all encompassing exhaustion. She was even paler, she realized, despite having spent more time in the sun like it would be some kind of cure.

The blood donations didn’t have to stop, but they did have to slow down. She decided it best to tell this to Osvald... after the feeding so he didn’t think she was taking his dinner away when he’d planned on having it.

She also thought it safest to do in her own hotel room where, in theory, she could banish him if she had to.

For better or worse, she had a knack for trying to nail down what particular types of people in her life liked and using it to lessen the consequences to her actions. “Particular types” happened to, typically, be men who were probably grooming her toward their needs.

Whatever. She was dressed up nice, and she'd eaten a fucking fortune in room service food before this, and she was most of the way through a bottle of wine. Also, she'd showered, which honestly she'd been neglecting lately for exhaustion reasons.

Cris had even been thoughtful enough to ask for a room close to the elevator so the old guy wouldn't have to limp as far.

Above and beyond so she could disappoint the ancient vampire who paid her such good money for her apparently delectable blood. She was flopped on her back on the hotel couch, legs crossed and dangling over one arm of the thing, dozing a little. The wine bottle sat, unaccompanied by any glass but definitely open, on the floor near her.

She listened for the sound of his cane, and whenever he knocked, she'd perform her duty by calling out.

"You can come in, Osvald Westerberg."

Some stupid part of her thought that at the door might be a different and frankly kind of scarier old dude she'd encountered recently, but that was paranoid foolishness at its finest.

Fuck, she was tired.


To achieve a state of regular feedings was a grand thing for the old vampire. Expensive, but immensely soothing to have a provider willing to indulge him.

Things were moving along with the clutch, he presumed. Osvald was a background character to all the politicking, which suited him fine. No need to trouble an old man. He'd been granted his request, and that was all that mattered in the end.

He knocked on the door, and she permitted him entry in her formal way. The old man entered smiling, hobbling in, appreciative of her initiative in all of this.

"You look comfortable, Cris," he hummed, a brow rising to her posture on the couch.

Just Osvald.

He was disarming to a degree she decided was supernatural. Her nervous heart seemed to settle some, and she smiled toothily to his comment.

"I think my legs are numb, but I was committed." she said. With a quiet grunt of effort, she moved to sit more ladylike, if mostly to give Osvald space to sit. Bare feet hit the floor with quiet thuds, and she was mindful of the wine bottle.

She picked it up for a shameless sip before putting it back down on the carpet near her feet.

Cris knew the routine, even if Osvald was kind enough never to directly rush her. She rolled up her sleeve without ceremony, noting her own cold hands but knowing they were nothing compared to all the corpses in her life.

There was an air of business about her, even if she had a buzz. Well, no matter. He settled onto the seat beside her.

"Would you consider moving out here, if not Lavender Heights?" he asked, still quietly eager to pull her from the flea-ridden kennel that was Cedar Creek.

Cris appraised her reasons for staying in Cedar Creek.


Cheap rent.

The "protection" werewolves offered.

Proximity to her job.

Chill roommate.

Only the last one really felt relevant anymore. She could probably afford to live without one, especially with Osvald's help, but Cris didn't do especially well alone. While hardly a socialite, having another human being in the house helped in a way she was reluctant to admit even to herself.

"Probably not Lavender Heights," she said. "Too many college kids. Do you know... what owns this part of town? Like. Vampires or... werewhatevers."

"No one I am aware of, I'm afraid," he sighed. "My senses say not an animal, but not a vampire either."

A hum, shaking his head. He did his best to wait for her to present her wrist and not glance at it rudely.


Not an animal or a vampire? So. What... did that leave? Was there something else she didn't know about? Cool.

"I can look into it. I don't want to leave my roommate hanging," she said. Fabian was the chillest roommate. She didn't want him stuck with some werewolf fucker in Cedar Creek if she left.

Settling with her back against the couch, she brought the wine up from the floor, offering out her wrist as she poured probably slightly too much wine into her mouth. She managed to swallow it without choking probably only because she'd already consumed most of the bottle.

"Bon appetit," she said, wiggling her fingers... uh. Tantalizingly or something. Blame the alcohol.

Hmmm. She presented her wrist, gave a little flourish that he appreciated. Still, as he held it in his hand, he answered her first bit first before he'd get to the reason he was here.

"You can always convince him to move with you."

And then Osvald would get two to feed from.

He lowered to her wrist to drink, saving any responses to anything she had to say for after.

His hand was cold, but... less cold than usual, which was maybe a little telling.

Did vampires get extra hungry any time around the new moon, or just before? Was it like PMSing?

Cris shrugged some to his answer. Rent was more expensive here. She could probably cover more of Fabian's share, but that was weird and maybe would look desperate. Even though Cris, as a person, was pretty routinely desperate.

By now, she'd managed some basics of Osvald's powers. Too tired to go showy this evening, she decided on a light drizzle, something she could hear as she closed her eyes and tried to relax into it, breathing slow and easy.

She wasn't sure how much time passed. Maybe a few seconds, maybe a few minutes. But at some point, it was like her heart awoke into a panicked fervor. Her eyes opened, consumed by her pupils and pulling in what felt like too much light even in a dimly lit room.

The fingers of the hand he held twitched, and she had every intention to say something. Stop. Quit. That was enough. She turned to face him a little, mouth opening as the rain stopped abruptly.


Close, but not quite, and she slumped unceremoniously and face-first toward his shoulder.

He should likely have relaxed on the feeding. But anticipation had a way of making a man greedier, and she had so nicely wrapped herself up and delivered herself to him today.

It was eagerness that drove him, the uptick of her heart only stirring him that much more into it.

And then she slumped, and he realized all of it was hitting him, the high. Wondrous as colors sparked in his vision, and he pulled back to lean against the sofa.

A hand reached around her, unable to reposition her more carefully, but all the same enjoying her near, like a daughter from centuries past.

It was a swimmy, fluid kind of unconsciousness. She felt her face hit clothing, something solid like a shoulder, but even wide eyes offered only darkness.

Eventually they did close, mostly, rolling back as she seemed to leave one world for another.

Her brain whirred, trying to restart. Come back. Move. Something shifted around her, and somehow she was aware of that, distant and cold and far away.

She gave a few strange, huffy breaths, twitchy at her extremities. It would be a few minutes before the small fit seemed to fade, and her body worked slowly to wake her again.

He should have felt shame over it. An aged man with a girl collapsed against him. Rather, he was focused on her warmth, and on the memory trip in his mind.

What had been her name...

"Linnéa," he murmured in his Nordic accent, a whisper to a ghost dead for centuries. Yes. He'd killed her, he remembered, and his hand trailed up from around Cris' shoulder towards her neck.

Perhaps he'd kill her again.

She came around slowly, and her first thought was that she was cold. Freezing. The nearness of another person was apparent, obviously Osvald, but it was hard to put that together right now.

It wasn't until something moved along her shoulder, finding a spot where there was bare skin, that she seemed to jerk into awareness. A long-held distrust of men, a familiarity of touch when she couldn't fight it.

One hand shot up toward his, crossing her body and grabbing at it clumsily.

Cris couldn't find words for her threat, but she did find something else.

Lightning struck close enough that it rattled the windows on an otherwise clear day, setting off car alarms in the street. Breathlessness was of little concern right now, though she wheezed some anyway, trying to bring up her knees and curl up into a ball beside him despite some desire to get away.

There was peace, there was a trip into memory lane, a fond killing he was reliving...

And then there was a sudden jerk at his side, and lightning out the window, and a sudden rattling of the window. There was Osvald, caught in a moment of vulnerability, of lack of control.

There was his hand suddenly beginning to jerk and crack into a new form in her hold, the skin stretching taut over his bones. The finger tips sharpening into points. The jutting out of his jaw.

The unholy hiss.

She felt it.

Cris opened her eyes, blearily but startled in a rush of adrenaline. There was only one panicked instinct, muddled briefly by a few others as she spent milliseconds hoping for humanity that was not showing up here.

"Osv- st- leave!"


The magic was as instant as his attempt to swipe his claws for her arm, to drag her to him and devour the danger.

He managed only to drag his claws along the length of her arm, struggling with wild eyes against the rush of magic that sent him suddenly hurtling out the door. The door which... swung open, sending him a tumbling, screeching monster, and promptly shut tight on him.

She would hear the bloodshed as he turned his enraged attentions to an unfortunate member of the staff, though the man would not keep his voice long.

And then, silence as the old man collapsed in an ashamed heap against the wall, messy with the blood of another.

He'd left his cane inside. His coat. His hat. But he could not return until she permitted him. If she would.

It was the most horrifying thing Cris had ever witnessed.

How could she ever have been so stupid as to trust a monster. She fell for it again and again, in one form or another, and always came back with bold stupidity.

Her skin sliced easily, pouring out blood that had become immensely precious. Not even a scream broke free of her lungs, only strangled terror as she struggled to even breathe.

She had intended to rise to slam the door after him, but it seemed to happen on its own.

The noises that followed were nightmarish, and she fell onto a heap on her side on the couch, bleeding considerably as her heart thumped erratically. The smell of wine was dizzying, the bottle having fallen over and spilled.

At some point in the process, she'd found his cane and clung to it with a child's desperation.

If she called 911, would she end up in jail? For letting a man into her hotel room and letting a monster out. But she had to call someone as blood ran down her arm and between her fingers.

The sound had stopped.

Cris used the cane, humiliatingly, to get herself to the door. To stare out of the viewhole and into the hallway.

Some seconds later, the door would open just long enough for her to throw an object at him, and miss, naturally. She left it open a crack.

A folded pocket knife, splotched with reddened fingerprints.

"Give me your blood. And I'll let you in."

He was in something of a regretful stupor by the time the door opened. The little pocket knife landed by his outstretched leg, and then she spoke from the door way. The blood. Right.

He smelled her blood as well, and if he had not just glutted... ah well.

Osvald reached for the knife, looking at it in his weathered palm. "The cut will heal too soon if I do it here," he said quietly, voice in itself an apology. "If you have a cup..."

The body of the man was an unfortunate detail. He would have to attempt to convince the hotel manager that the murderer had been someone else.

She was dying.


Cris was literally dying, blood dripping from her arm to a shocking degree. The room was a horrifying mess. She was a horrifying mess. There was a corpse in the hallway. Was she an accomplice or a victim.

"I’ll lick it off the fucking knife," she hissed. Her legs trembled almost comically, wobbling, and she recognized herself to be at his mercy for the next few seconds.


She sounded terrified because she was.

He hardly seemed to realize how weak she was until she actually pleaded. Distantly, the lurking brainlessness of his bloodlust whispered that he should just snap her neck.

Instead, he looked to her, unfolded the knife, and sliced the blade fiercely across his wrist. Then he turned it over, letting the cut press loosely against the blade as he brought himself up along the wall.

With both hands occupied, he made his way to her door leaning against the wall, dragging himself the whole way, and would hold it out to her in hope that she would take it.

She winced as he just fucking went at it, slicing himself open like some kind of horror movie effect.

Osvald looked immensely old, now. Older than she’d ever seen him. How could he be so weak and so inhumanly strong at the same time.

Her hand would come out to take the knife, and she was mindful not to use the arm covered in her own blood. (Though this one was hardly totally clean.)

She lapped at the blade of the knife like her life depended on it because it did. The taste was rank, but that didn’t fucking matter.

Because immediately, she could feel a warmth so intense that she actually gasped a little.

In her face, her arm, her legs, her... like. Everywhere. Was it blood... growing back? Blood didn’t grow. Blood just reappearing. Her arm itched intensely, the wound beginning to close on its own.

Cris was at a crossroads.

"You can come in in thirty seconds."

Did it work that way?

Probably not. Either way, she opened the door just far enough to slide his cane out, utterly damp with blood but otherwise unharmed.

Assuming he’d take it, she would fumble her way to the opposite side of the hotel room, deliberate in putting as much distance as possible between them.

She was a mess of blood, having touched her face in panic. Dressing up seemed so fucking stupid now.

Cris would wait for him to come in, ready to send him out again if he so much as sneezed threateningly. An easy idea in her mind, but as she trembled more with shock than anything else, she found that she didn’t have a next move beyond that.

She swiped it unceremoniously, but he could not expect that from her in her state.

What a mess. Perhaps he could convince her to call up room service, have the help clean under suggestion that they not mind the carnage.

He did not know if her request was backed by magic. But he would be obedient, unwilling to test the unexplainable barrier that kept her safe. He took the cane, noting the stains she'd given it, certain that removing them would be... difficult.

Osvald crossed the threshold once he felt safe to, but did not move to sit.

"I am sorry that you had to witness this," he said quietly, his face very much backing up his words.

Of course he was fucking apologizing. For what she witnessed. As if that was her primary concern here. He’d nearly fucking killed her, and that didn’t even go into the touching of her neck that she’d woken up to.

Hopped up on apparently brand new blood, she stared him down with everything she could. This wasn’t someone she could take a swing at, but she had one hell of a scowl.

"This is the second time. In two days. That I’ve been attacked by some old man."

And then, anger crackling into something else, her voice broke as she continued.

"I’m going to go to jail. They’re going to put me in jail for this. They’re going to put you in jail for this. There’s a- there’s- someone is dead out they’re and you’re sorry about what I w-witnessed?!"


There was hardly time to respond to the first bit before she was yapping away at him with the second bit.

He frowned as she stared him down, but met her gaze easily.

"Please trust me to handle this," he compelled her, but again, it was not strong enough. He could feel it. Could he compel another or was he simply too weak?

Perhaps he'd call Beauregard for aid.

"Tell me of this other person who attacked you."

Trust him.

Fucking trust him.

"There’s a corpse in the hallway," she hissed, voice lower because there was a corpse in the hallway.

"We can do story time fucking later. What am I supposed to do? Should I-"

He was so fucking calm about this. What the fuck could he do that she couldn’t besides... the obvious. Was he just going to rub money all over this?

"Do we need to bring it in here? Him?"


A minute ago she was dying and now she was hopping around trying to involve herself. She was dangerous, and his eyes greyed with greater effort.

"You will trust me to handle this alone, Cris," Osvald compelled. There. That had to work; it felt far more encompassing than the last attempt.

"As I will trust you not to share a word of what happened tonight."

That last bit was not compelled, but he'd see what she had to say before that.

You will? That was pretty fucking commanding.

But his certainty was relentless. And who the hell else did she have to deal with this.

Handle it alone.


She pursed her lips, brows furrowed.

"I’m not going to tell anyone," she said, quiet but utterly sincere. This wasn’t supernatural gossip. This was... actually suddenly making her kind of nauseated. Osvald would handle this. He would. But that didn’t change the fact that he’d murdered someone and also tried to murder her.

Standing with her back basically to the wall, she was left at a loss.

"So. What do I do now."

She spoke uncertainly, very much in need of guidance.

There. That was worth the effort, to see her quiet it down. He offered a glance around the room.

"Call room service. Tell them you spilled your wine and need someone to change the linens. I will handle the rest."

He spoke riding a high of confidence of his success, but he had his plan laid out very carefully already.

It paid to be a vampire.

Her brows furrowed.

That seemed... like a really bold choice. Osvald spoke with such easy confidence. Was he going to eat room service?

She had to crawl over the bed to reach the phone, and she did so with an obvious wariness, eyes on Osvald the whole time save for a few seconds spent glancing down to see what numbers she had to press.

"Hi. I spilled wine on my bed and need new, uh. Sheets."

A pause.

"Yep. Can I also get another bottle of wine?"

She needed it.

"Um. The second one. Yep. Bye."

Hanging up, she would retreat slowly back over the bed and away from Osvald, looking to him for some degree of approval.

He wondered if there would be another argument, but it seemed she would spare him.

Cris performed quite well given the task she was given. She was believable. It was good. He offered her a smile.

"Perhaps you might rinse off your face and arms a bit," he said, calmed by himself. "Again, leave everything to me."

Osvald turned to leave the room, to meet the help at the elevator, and have them handle the rest.

She looked down at her arms since she couldn't look down at... her face.

Right, you fucking idiot.

Cris nodded, still feeling great reluctance to be near him. She headed toward the bathroom, watching him like a wary animal as he left. Wasn't he covered in blood? What the fuck was he going to do out there?

He had this. Somehow. Maybe the charm was supernatural after all.

Stepping into the bathroom, she was legitimately shocked by the sight. Blood on her arms, and her neck, and her face, and her clothing. She brought her hands up to her face, stunned and... for the millionth time tonight, horrified.

Osvald had tried to kill her. Right? That had happened? He'd shredded her arm like it was nothing, and he'd... he'd been trying to grab her. Drag her out. Murder her in the fucking hallway. She closed and locked the door behind her, shaking again and not from the cold this time.

Cris had not forgotten whatever it was she'd been waking up to. There was a chance, sincerely, that he was just trying to wake her. Or check for a pulse. She wanted to believe that, But she knew how men were, and where their minds went. Did they ever get too old for that? She didn't trust that they ever would.

Was it too late to call the cops? Her phone wasn't in here, anyway. Cold water cleaned blood best, but she didn't want to shiver anymore than she already was, so she waited for it to reach a warmer temperature and started with her arms, frowning at the red that puddled in a sink fairly slow to drain.

This all probably had to end here. No more feedings. No more undead friends.

No more money.

There were so many ways she could have died in this process. He could have just drank her dry, and what would she have done to fight him. He could have denied her the blood that had literally saved her life.

She was nauseated again over all of it as she rubbed at scabbed skin. It was still healing, actively, and she could feel the itch. Maybe she could just trade blood with another vampire. But no one was going to pay her, or frankly, treat her like Osvald.

The comforting presence. The concern for her wellbeing. How much of it had been a trick. How much of this had been an actual accident. Why the fuck had he attacked her.

Rubbing blood from the creases in her knuckles, she wondered if she'd get a chance to question him. If it was wise to.

The story he spun was utterly ridiculous, but who could deny it after successfully convincing the maid to "fully believe everything he was about to say."

The corpse? Deserved it. Attempted to rob him, so Osvald fought back with all he had. He'd been in the militia many years back, you know. Still could hold his own when it came down to it.

Every spot of red in the room she was about to enter was spilled wine. All wine.

The door was locked from the inside, though, and so she had to knock first before she could handle the mess.

"Room service," the maid called cheerily.

She was most of the way through washing her face when she heard the voice at the door.

Brows furrowing, she looked herself in the mirror, tapping into her power to get a sense for if Osvald was still around. Outside, the faintest puffing of clouds.

He hadn't left. But what the fuck was he doing? What would this room service woman think when she came in and found zero wine on the bed, a ton on the floor, and blood elsewhere?

"Come in," she called out, rubbing her face on a white towel and... getting the remnants of blood all over that. Great. She re-emerged with hair dampened around the frame of her face, peering out from the bathroom and feeling very childlike. That was enough for her to realize that the room was locked, and so she followed it up with a quick "Um, just a second" before scurrying to the door, opening it, and finding...

A normal looking woman, not covered in blood, with her bottle of wine and obvious cleaning supplies nearby.

She took the wine directly out of the bucket of ice provided, finding it loosely corked, and retreated back toward the bathroom, obvious and intense confusion on her face as she stared into the rest of the room.

The sight was gory once she entered. Osvald lingered outside, uncertain if his welcome had been rescinded, and again unwilling to test it.

The maid came in and tutted at the wine everywhere, and got to work unnecessarily removing the sheets after apologizing for the incident involving her coworker. In broken English, unfortunately, though she did repeat "Your grandfather is okay," several times.

She'd work the rest of the actual mess with a steam cleaner.

Said "grandfather" was looking down at his cane. If he had taken his coat, he might have called Beauregard or Greta, but... as of yet, that was still inside as well.


Cris was not sticking around here for this. There was some kind of mindfuck happening and it was working on her, too.

"Yeah. No me gusta to everything," she replied in what she thought might have been Spanish for "I don't like it" or something.

She wanted out of this room, right now, and forever. She would take her wine with her. All that Cris had taken in the first place was a small backpack, and so it was easy to move to grab her belongings. Thumbing the cork deeper into the bottle, she grabbed her bag and shoved the alcohol inside.

Slinging the bag over her shoulder, she grabbed Osvald's jacket and put his hat unceremoniously on her own head for reasons she couldn't even entirely put together. Maybe some struggle for lightness.

Pushing out the door, she would approach with the coat offered out ahead of her toward Osvald, hand shaking.

There was the corpse here in the hallway, and her gaze went decidedly up so she didn't have to look at it. Thankfully, the old guy was tall.

"I can't be in there or I'm going to freak out," she said very plainly. "What do I do now."

"Why on Earth would you freak out when I told you to trust me?" he asked very calmly, offering her a gentle smile.

Truthfully, he would like to be rid of this child for enough moments and in possession of his phone that he might be able to call his associates to aid him in his mess. But she clung like a weed, and he hummed thoughtfully.

Best not to alienate her if she wasn't terrified of him.

"We could change your room if you wish. Or step outside for a while, if you would like to stroll the premises."

That was valid. But.

Even if she trusted him, that didn't change the fact that all of this had just happened. And that he'd tried to murder her. That reminder sent her stepping back a little.

Cris' shirt had bloodstains. So did, unfortunately, several bits of her skin she hadn't fully cleaned.

Glancing back into the room, to the maid cleaning like it was no big deal, she was keenly aware something was up. There was a corpse in the hallway and no one screaming about it.

The room had been a safe place she could kick him out of. Outside, or in another room he purchased? There was no such thing. Going back on her own previous words, she frowned.

"I'm going to hide in that bathroom until she's done. We need to talk. Later."

Cris didn't even know what the fuck she wanted to talk about, but they had to. Looking to him somewhat ruefully, she would turn to head back into the room and make a beeline for the bathroom to lock herself into it.

And keep the hat, as if that was any insurance for him coming back.

The sudden change of her mind was a minor annoyance, and it aroused suspicion as well.

"Of course. Let me know when to come back."

He'd have to handle her when he returned.

"Whenever. You're done with."

Her eyes danced briefly to the human body that somehow... looked more corpselike, despite the fact that only a few minutes had passed.

"All of that. Or in an hour. Whichever comes... not first."

The nausea came back at the thought. What the fuck was she doing. How had casual vampire murder seemed almost charming before?

She ducked away then, wondering how much of her involvement in all of this had been caught on camera. She'd leave the door slightly ajar, only for the cleaning lady, and this time actually lock herself away in the bathroom to start on the wine and consider a shower.

The conversation with Beauregard done, he sighed. He would likely be served best if he erased Cris' memories. Or simply killed her if that did not work, but then she had had his blood, and would simply come back.

Damn her. He should have just left her after feeding. He could barely even remember his own thoughts in the afterglow.

His powers of suggestion had a limit, and he felt he could only muster it up one more time tonight. So.

Phone in his pants pocket, he'd have to wait until Beauregard made it or Cris invited him back in or came out for something to do other than exist in this hallway. He could not leave the corpse for someone else to find.

Osvald would not receive his invitation in, not yet anyway.

Cris finished the remaining bit of wine in the fallen bottle, stared at by the maid for taking it, but what the fuck ever.

Then she drank nearly the entire additional bottle, huddled in the corner of the shower that she ran as hot as she could stand to burn away the blood and shame.

The vampire would fix this, she knew. There was a deep sense that this was one area that she could trust him fully. But everything else felt utterly awry.

Osvald had been a tamed danger in a mutually beneficial interaction.

Katya had been a normal human who made the world simple.

And now here she was, feeling with great certainty that there was no one to talk to about this. Fresh out of friends. Osvald had been apologetic, seemingly sincerely so, but there was no missing the strangeness of all this. Maids didn't step around corpses to clean up blood stains without a question. Even if the woman had been paid off, surely she would seem nervous.

Osvald could do more than he let on. Something that Cris couldn't borrow. Like an empath, or a... something more than an empath. Someone who could control minds.

Her brain swimming in wine and uncertainty, she'd changed out of her blood-spattered clothing and thrown it in the trash. Jeans and a black t-shirt, because everything was black, was all she'd packed to change into, so she did.

To her utter horror, she found the maid still cleaning, this time the splattering of blood off the back of the door. The woman huffed with effort, shaking her head, and Cris only stared.

"That's probably good enough," she mumbled, but the woman didn't seem to understand her.

Cris sat on the bed with her wine and sighed.

He had minutes to work with at best and this blasted door was still closed.

So he knocked.

There was the knock.

Had it been an hour? Fucked if she knew. She glanced briefly to Osvald's hat sitting on the bed as if it might have some kind of advice to offer before looking to the maid.

"Okay. Like. Leave. Vamanos,"

Did that mean leave? The woman seemed to get it, huffing as she gathered her supplies and made to open the door. Cris would seek eye contact with Osvald in the hallway, uttering a not entirely enthusiastic:

"Come in."

In a moment, Cris. He smiled to her, and then to the maid who was beginning to wheel her cart out of the door.

He held it for her, and then would let the door swing closed while he attempted to tell the new story unless Cris came yipping into the hall. Successful and worn out of suggestion magic for the evening, he now had to deal with her.

Except. The door. Was. Automatically locked.

So he knocked again.


He. Left.

She frowned, chewing at her nails, but the smile admittedly helped.

Then he knocked again, and in spite of herself, she just...

Laughed a little.

"Oh my god, Osvald. Just come in."

And then she realized that he couldn’t. Oops. Rising reluctantly to open it, she looked him over as the door swung in.

"You should wash your face. You look terrifying."

She’d back away to the bed assuming he didn’t murder her.

Laughter suited her better than whatever it was she spoke with before. He was ready to protest, but he could hear her rising up.

She opened the door and made her suggestion and he smiled. What on Earth would he do with this girl. She would make a terrible vampire if he killed her.

"Thank you, my dear, I will take that as a compliment," he said as he stepped in, and hobbled to the restroom area to rinse his face in the sink.

He'd emerge a mostly cleaned up man a few minutes later. There was the sound of shuffling, someone approaching in the hallway. He had the nerve to hope it was Beauregard's drunk.

Osvald moved to sit at the newly cleaned couch, angling to face her.

"I am sorry, again, for earlier."

She felt disgust at... herself over how quickly she felt endeared to him again. What a fucking thing to say after he’d murdered someone.

He came back out looking more human.

"Why did you try to murder me," she began, one hand rubbing at an arm that had entirely scabbed over by now. "What were you doing when I passed out."

She couldn’t decide on one question, so she went with both. The second one bordered on accusatory.

He frowned at her questions. The first was an easy enough answer, but the second...? He looked to the floor, head tilting, confusion evident on his face as he made an effort to remember.

"I don't recall doing anything in my stupor," he said, quite honest. Osvald had drunk so deeply, and been so far flung to the other end of his existence.

He'd been thinking of... something. Someone.

"Of the demon I became — that is an unfortunate risk I run into when startled, uncontrollable until sated. I can assure you, I had no desire to harm you."

The demon. He was the demon. It wasn’t some separate creature.

"You were touching my neck."

And he’d put his arm around her. She twisted the wine bottle on the bed, feeling swimmy. Her cheeks were reddened with the alcohol.

Cris wanted some answer of him, but she had a sense she wouldn’t receive one.

Outside the room, something was shuffling. She glanced briefly toward it.

He opened his mouth, visibly disturbed by it. So much so in fact that he could not actually say a word at first.

He paused. And struggled. And started again.

"I– do not know what to say. I did not intend to do a thing to you."

He truly didn't even remember moving. Barely remembered thinking. He'd been thinking of something fondly, and that was all.

Osvald felt growing unease, wishing he could attempt to suggest the memories away.

"If you wish, I can leave."

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