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Katrelle

Allergies & Intrigue in Arden (5/5, completed16.08.18) - fantasy setting with sneezing vampire (m) + dryads and Fey

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Katrelle

OK, I am really excited to share this with you! I had the idea for this while travelling on holiday in the States this week. It's a fantasy setting that I hope people think is fun. I wanted a vampire who was breaking the mould of how vampires seem to be portrayed, but still not losing all his angst. Plus, men with babies is a *melt* thing for me, so I thought other people might like it too! I have other ideas for things, but I'm away this weekend so it may be a little while. Some of it will be 18+ (and on the adult board) and glossed over in the main bit for those who don't want to read it. But I think there might actually be plot as well! But don't get your hopes up too much, I'm pretty flakey with writing.

 

It began with a child’s giggle. Children were a rare occurrence in the Forest of Arden, and Tiffany paused in her treetop excursion to listen. She heard it again. Moving silently from branch to branch, she tried to follow the sound to its source. As she approached where she thought it had emanated from, there came instead the sound of a man’s sneeze, a forceful “Hah’tshieeww!” followed by that giggle again. Curious.

Peering through the branches to the forest floor, Tiffany caught sight of the noisemakers. In one moment she had taken in the pale, cloaked figure leaning towards the tiny blond child, and her heart began to race. She dropped lightly from the tree to stand between them.

“From whom have you stolen this child?” she demanded.

The vampire regarded her silently for a stretch before replying. “Actually, she’s mine.” His voice was deep and languorous, as though he was bored by her question.

Tiffany took a closer look. There was no mistaking what he was: the pale skin, the eyes so dark the iris and pupil were indistinguishable, he stood tall and imperious in an old-fashioned cloak and heavy boots despite the heat of the day. She turned, and a blue-eyed, golden-haired, rosy-cheeked little girl stared back at her incuriously. Her tiny chubby hands were curled into fists, and she was just old enough to toddle unstably on her bare feet. There was no sign that the vampire had harmed her; indeed, she seemed entirely unafraid of her situation. But looks could be deceiving.

She heard an impatient noise from behind her, and turned back. The vampire fixed her with a cold stare.

“Not that it’s any of your business, but I can prove it.” He looked past her at the little girl and held out his arms. “Tania, show Miss Busybody your party trick. Fly to daddy.” Hearing him say the word ‘daddy’ was almost enough proof in itself, but as Tiffany watched, the child tottered forward a few steps, beaming, then launched herself into the air. A small, round bat flapped gracelessly over Tiffany’s head, landing as a bundle of pudgy pink limbs and yellow curls in the vampire’s arms. He swooped her up and down a couple of times, causing her to shriek with delight, then planted her firmly back on the forest floor, where she wobbled a few steps and returned to her previous incomprehensible mission in the undergrowth.

“Satisfied?” The vampire quirked an eyebrow at her. “Her mother is Fey, and as you can see, she gets most of her looks from that side of the family.” He looked thoughtful and seemed about to say more, but instead plunged forward in a sudden jerk as he gave a powerful sneeze.

“Hah’tsshieww!!” From nowhere, a white, lace-edged handkerchief appeared in one hand and was applied to his nose with a dabbing motion.

“Goddess bless you,” Tiffany said automatically, and then coloured. “Or…whatever vampires say when somebody sneezes.”

He glared at her. “We don’t,” he responded tersely, but Tiffany found his coal-black stare less intimidating when given over the top of a white handkerchief. She blinked, and it was gone, vanishing as mysteriously as it had appeared.

“So are you here to find Tania’s mother?” She asked. The Fey spent much of their time in the forest, throwing parties and revels and dancing all night, but were rarely seen in the daytime hours. Dryads like her didn’t often attend, being seen as poor relatives of true Fey, their magic reduced to practical herblore and healing charms instead of powerful glamour. Tiffany had often sat in her treetop bower in the evenings, watching the dim lights bobbing invitingly in the gloam and listening to the faint strains of music drifting across to her.

The vampire snorted. “Hardly. Eloise would not thank me at all for announcing our…dalliance…so publicly.” This made sense. Interracial couplings were not uncommon, but partnerships were rarer, and even Tiffany knew the name Eloise: one of the Fey princesses, daughter of Queen Esmerelda. Her reputation was worth considerably more than a half-blood child. Her thoughts were interrupted as he continued. “I’m here because Tania was hungry. And before you ask yet another interfering question, Miss Tree, I am only half a vampire. My father is Fey.”

“So that’s why you’re here in daylight.” She had been wondering – all the vampires who regularly danced or hunted in the forest did so under cover of darkness.

He nodded, but was unable to expand on any finer point of vampire lore, instead sneezing again, another wrenching, “Hah’tsshieww!!” This time, she thought she spotted the handkerchief flick from within his sleeve. A simple piece of sleight of hand then, rather than real magic. As it disappeared, Tiffany noticed that the skin around his nostrils was decidedly pink against the pallor of the rest of his complexion.

“You needn’t stare as if I were diseased,” he snapped, drawing himself up with dignity. “It is simply that everything in this repulsive forest causes me to sn- heh! – sneeze…” As though the word itself were an invocation, he was immediately overcome once more, a trio of breathy expulsions pitching him forward.

“Hah’tsshieww! Hah’esshieww! H’eesshieww!!” As he straightened up, Tiffany noticed that the whites of his inhuman eyes were also tinged pink.

“I wasn’t staring,” she answered defensively, because she had been. But not for the reasons he’d presumed. In fact, he was the first vampire she’d ever spoken to. She had been told they were intimidating, imperious, sensual creatures, dangerous to get too close to. This one seemed more uncomfortable and irritated. She was glad that there seemed to be no great mystery about him.

Tania was rooting about in some leaves at her feet, looking for goddess knew what. “Come on, little one,” Tiffany said, reaching down. “Let me show you where there’s a bush full of delicious blackberries just ripe.” She took the child’s hot and inexplicably sticky hand in hers and led her towards a nearby clearing, calling over her shoulder, “there are also rabbits if daddy’s hungry.”

Together they settled Tania down within happy reach of the blackberries. As she proceeded to cram them into her mouth with enthusiasm, the vampire set himself up alongside an obvious rabbit warren to wait. For want of anything better to do, Tiffany sat silently on the other side of the hole. She split her time between watching for a rabbit and sneaking glances at her new companion. He was so still that with his pale skin and outdated clothes he could have been a waxwork or a statue. After about five minutes, a rabbit began to emerge. Without visibly moving, the vampire became perceptibly tensed, ready to attack. As the rabbit left the safety of its burrow, Tiffany held her breath and waited for the moment of attack.

But instead, the vampire’s dark eyebrows knit together in a look almost of surprise, before he convulsed with a catastrophically loud attempt to suppress a sneeze.

Hh’NKXTCH!!” By the time he opened his watering eyes and looked around blearily, Tiffany had straightforwardly broken the rabbit’s neck. She held the limp body out to him.

“Bless you.” He glared at her, but took the rabbit, tearing into it with sharp teeth. He pulled off a hunk of meat and held it out to his daughter.

“Tania, come here.” She tottered over, blackberry juice staining her face and hands purple. She settled herself happily into his lap and eagerly began to devour the meat. Tiffany watched for a few seconds as she made short work of it.

“She has your teeth,” she commented.

The vampire looked down at his child, now beginning to curl up sleepily against his body. A genuine smile suffused his sharp features, and he ran a hand through his hair as though he couldn’t quite believe the situation he found himself in. “She does.” Something in Tiffany’s stomach twisted strangely at this tenderness.

“I’m Tiffany, by the way. I live about ten minutes’ walk from here.”

“Bastien. Naturally, I’m based in the castle crypt. Where we should be getting back to, little bat.” He stood up gracefully, spoiling the effect by sneezing violently. “Hah’tisshieww!!” Tania stirred fitfully as he shifted her to one hip, trying to extract his handkerchief.

“Here, give her to me.” Tiffany took the heavy, warm weight of the sleeping child as Bastien sneezed again.

“Hah’tshhieeww!! Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll come with you to the treeline.” They walked in silence, except for the occasional sniff from Bastien. As the trees thinned out, he reached for Tania, still fast asleep with her head against Tiffany’s shoulder. She turned back to look at the forest.

“If you look up to that rise over there, you can see a silver birch standing out.” He looked where she was pointing, then nodded. “That’s mine. There’s a heart-shaped knot of wood at about shoulder height. If you ever…” she trailed off, running out of what she had to say. “…well, if you need someone to watch Tania for you, press it, and I’ll find you.”

The look Bastien gave her was completely inscrutable. “Thank you, Tiffany. Fare well.” 

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RediChalyn

Ooooh I do so love fantasy!!!  I've never really read any sneezefics that involve a child because of the issues around minors and the fetish so there aren't many (if any) but I don't see an issue here since the kid isn't sneezing.  That's just me personally.  Anywho, I do hope you continue this or write more fantasy stuff I'm already hooked!!!

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AngelEyes

This is enchanting. Also I love the name Bastien.

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rockbell

ooooh!!! this is amazing!!!! love it already!!

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kushamisukii

I love this!! Ahhh :wub::wub:

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M214186

I really enjoyed this

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KD02

This is amazing, love it!

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shadows45

This was so well written, and a bit of fantasy is a nice change from the normal more realism-based fics on here. :)

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Ariel

Ooohhh this is really good. Are you going to continue it? 

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Katrelle
Posted (edited)

Thanks so much everyone for the replies - it definitely seems like there is plenty of interest in fantasy stories! I have written a next part, and hope to continue it a bit longer, but I'm writing fairly slowly at the moment. There will also be a sex scene in the adult area of the board - I'll link once I've posted that as well. Thanks so much for the lovely comments, and I hope you like where it goes. 😊

 

In fact, it was several weeks before Tiffany saw her intriguing acquaintance again. One of the great annual events of Arden was the Midsummer Solstice revel. The dryads built a huge arbor amongst the oldest trees, prepared food and wine (and other drinks), and prepared for music and dancing. It lasted from sunset to sunrise, which wasn’t long, so many attendees began in mid-afternoon and left closer to midday. All the Fey were present, and Tiffany was looking forward to seeing naiad friends and relatives from White River, a day’s journey away from the forest. And the vampires from the castle would be there during the brief hours of darkness.

Tiffany couldn’t help looking forward to the revel; all her family and friends had thought of little else but making preparations for it, and she had put particular care into her appearance. Faeries had few qualms about brief love affairs, and she had had her fair share of fun at such events before. She was looking forward to rekindling old friendships and dancing the night away with new interests. She brushed her waist-length ebony hair until it shone, plaited it and coiled it up onto her head to keep it out of the way. Her dress was pale green and fawn, diaphanous as cobweb, and cut away at the hips to reveal her mahogany skin. The evening was warm, but not oppressive, and for a while Tiffany enjoyed drifting through the bower, calling greetings to cousins and aunts, nephews and friends, exchanging a few words here and there, drinking it in. As night fell properly, the first few coaches of royalty arrived. Queen Esmerelda and her daughters emerged, followed by the tiny Prince Tybalt, only four years old. Behind the silver and gilded carriages, Tiffany caught sight of a cloud of black bats silhouetted against the moon and starlit sky. For a moment, she watched them, wondering if Bastien was with them, but turned at a shout of her name.

“Tiff!” A naiad cousin, Peronelle, was waving from across the glade. Tiffany ran over to embrace her friend, all thoughts of the vampires forgotten as they swapped stories of the summer and memories of past exploits stretching back to their girlhood days. The music began now that the most important guests had arrived, and soon couples were weaving about the clearing, and the sound of laughter and clinking glasses could be heard.

As with all revels, the musicians played a mixture of group dances, performed in sets of six or eight, and partnered dances in couples. Tiffany quickly fell in with a familiar group of naiads and dryads, swapping partners and dancing as a set, with one or two standing by drinking or resting from their exertions. Bowing to her partner at the end of a reel, she looked up and saw Bastien for the first time. He was speaking to an elegant Fey woman she didn’t recognise, too far away for her to hear their conversation. And as she watched, she saw him turn away from his partner and cup a hand over his mouth before trying to stifle a sneeze, the strangled noise of which caused several other guests to turn his way.

H’NNXTCH!!

Raising his head from his hand, Bastien blinked and looked straight at her, black eyes catching her gaze for a long moment. Tiffany felt a stab of warmth in her belly, as though something secret had passed between them.

Several dances later, as she enjoyed a cool glass of wine, her unspoken wish was granted.

“May I have the next dance?” Bastien stood in front of her, one hand out invitingly. She agreed immediately, and he led her into the centre of the clearing. He had also dressed up for the occasion, in a loose white shirt with lace collar and cuffs, and a velvet tailcoat so darkly purple it was almost black. He had pulled back his black hair in a plait like a sailor’s queue and tied it with a matching purple ribbon. Only a slight pink tinge at the edges of his nostrils and dark smudges under his eyes made the effect less than immaculate.

Tiffany prayed that the band would play a partnered dance, so they could dance alone together, but when they obliged she felt a thrill of apprehension. The music was for a dervish, the wild, whirling, frantic dance that challenged even accomplished faeries and would have quickly exhausted a human. Bastien took her right hand in his left, then placed his right hand on her waist, just where her dress was cut away. His hands were very cold, and Tiffany felt her heartbeat quicken at the touch of him on her skin. She hoped he was a good dancer.

She needn’t have worried. Moments into the dance, she realised Bastien was the best partner she had that night. He led her smoothly among the other couples so that her part seemed effortless. They moved as one through the difficult steps, ornamenting as they went, until she felt her feet could fly and all she knew was the firm pressure of his hands on her body, his feet propelling her, the beat of the music in her ears. When the dance finally ended, and they had twirled to a halt, she found herself very close to his chest, her heart pounding. She curtseyed as he bowed as was proper at the end of a dance, then stood back.

“You’re quite the dancer,” she remarked, smiling.

“I have had time to practice.” He took a step towards her again as though to add something, but the next moment had turned aside from her, a white handkerchief appearing in his hand to muffle a sneeze.

H’MPPFF’shieww!!” As he straightened up, both of them heard an imperious voice crying his name.

“Sebastian! Where have you been hiding tonight?” Princess Eloise stood before them, her gold dress shimmering in the torchlight, hair piled high on her head glittering with jewels. She held out a hand for him to kiss, and he obliged. Then she turned her gaze on Tiffany, who curtseyed obediently. Before Eloise could enquire who she was, however, she saw her escape in a passing friend a naiad whom she had met the previous summer.

“Jonty, promise me the next dance!” Tiffany slipped away with her arm through his, not looking back. Better not to draw more attention than was necessary from important Fey. And besides, she and Jonty had had fun together last summer, and he was a good dancer. As he led her through the much easier steps, she felt her heartbeat begin to recover from the excitement of dancing with Bastien.

The night passed all too quickly, and soon a pre-dawn glow was visible in the eastern sky. The vampires and older faeries began to collect cloaks and call for their carriages. Tiffany’s heart sank. And then there he was, standing in front of her. Very close to her, in fact.  He looked as if he had enjoyed his night of dancing: several of his buttons were undone at his throat and he had rolled up his sleeves to his elbows. Quietly, Bastien drew her aside to the edge of the clearing, where all around them various faeries were kissing or giggling or talking in whispers.

“I enjoyed our dance,” he said, his voice a low purr. “And if you are interested, I would like to see you again.”

Tiffany nodded. “I would like that.”

He produced a black card embossed with an ornate silver S. “Bring this to the castle gates at dawn tomorrow and the guards will show you to my rooms.” She took the card, slipping it into a pocket in her dress. Bastien straightened to take his leave, but emboldened by the freedom of the revel, Tiffany took his bare forearm in her hands and pulled him towards her, her back against trunk of an ancient elm. She raised her face to his, and he obligingly bent his, their lips meeting in a kiss that sent shivers down her back. Bastien ran a cool finger lightly down the skin of her throat and Tiffany deepened the kiss, pressing her mouth to his, warmth meeting cold. Then he stepped back, dropping his hand.

“Goodnight, Tiffany. Until tomorrow.”

 

 

Read the next (18+) installment here https://www.sneezefetishforum.org/topic/74127-allergies-in-arden-18-scene/ 😉

 

Edited by Katrelle

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AngelEyes

Fantastic setting of the scene. I can totally imagine it. Such liveliness. And the interaction between Tiffany and Bastien is hot!

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rockbell

😍😍😍😍😍😍

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Katrelle

I'm glad people are still enjoying this! With some trepidation, I'm afraid I'm going to change the tone a bit...I got some inspiration but it got a bit dark and will veer much more heavily into my well-trodden hurt/comfort themes. If you've read any of my other stuff this will be a familiar trajectory. There's very little sneezing in this part but there will be more in future ones (and more angst too, sorry). And as always, do comment if you like it!

 

 

“I should go,” Tiffany murmured sleepily, her head resting against Bastien’s cool shoulder. “It’s getting light outside.”

Bastien grunted, pulling her closer to him. “All the more reason to stay right here.” He kissed the top of her head, and she felt his body shudder beneath her.

“Heh’tshieww!

“Bless you,” she purred, but reluctantly sat up as he rolled away from her.

“Hah’tsshieww! Oh, for hell’s…” He sniffed and rubbed hard at his nose and eyes before turning back to her, a wicked smile on his pale face. “You, Tiffany, are very bad for me.” He reached for her, drawing her face towards his to kiss.

She smiled coyly back. “How kind of you to say so, my lord. But I really must go.” She paused, considering something. “Is the opposite true for you? Are you about to go to sleep because the sun has risen?”

He shrugged, wearily. “Having a decidedly diurnal daughter makes that a little difficult. The truth is I hardly sleep at the moment; the castle is only active at night and she refuses to sleep in the day. In fact, I am sure she will wake and begin crying very soon.”

“That sounds exhausting.” And it explained the dark smudges under his eyes. Tiffany dressed quickly, collecting her things.

“Perhaps I could take her out in the mornings from time to time – I mostly gather my herbs and plants early. We could spend a few hours in the forest and come back before noon. That would give you a few more hours at least.”

Bastien looked surprised. “That is a very kind offer. I would be most grateful.”

“I’d be glad to. It would be nice to have some company.” She was almost ready to leave but leaned down to kiss him. “I enjoyed this morning.”

Bastien returned the kiss. “As did I.” He stretched out, leaning back against the pillow. “You could always stay…”

Tiffany smiled but continued putting on her shoes. “I’m afraid not; I have an early appointment at the court.”

Bastien sat up at that. “At the court? Why?”

“My work: I’m an apprentice herbalist. I spend the mornings collecting ingredients in the forest and the afternoons working with the masters in their rooms at the Fey court. And now, I really must be off.”

Tiffany’s days settled into a contented new routine as summer began to fade into autumn. A few days a week, she would receive a message from Bastien, inviting her to visit him in the castle at dawn. After their time together, she would collect Tania and take her gathering in the forest, sometimes in the company of the vampire, more often leaving him to get a few hours’ sleep. Her afternoons continued unchanged, with one difference. Whereas before she barely ventured out of the herbalists’ rooms, it seemed as though every day now there was some task or other that brought her into the company of Fey. Someone had a headache, someone’s fire needed perfuming with sweet herbs, someone had a question about a particular mushroom they had found growing wild. And more often than seemed coincidence, Princess Eloise was there as well, always apparently unaware of Tiffany, but nevertheless a forbidding presence in every room. But this small, uncomfortable change was outweighed by the continued excitement of seeing Bastien, and of attending occasional dances and soirées at the vampires’ castle on his arm.

As the season turned fully, the leaves of her home tree, a silver birch, became a riot of red and gold, and the occasional frost silvered the grass and leaves when she awoke in the early morning. The days grew colder and wetter, and Tiffany saw less of her little helper. Neither Tania nor Bastien liked the cooler weather and rain, although dryads were relatively immune to its discomforts.

So she was confused when she was woken in the darkness before dawn by someone pressing the knot on her home tree. Its bond to her transmitted the emotions of anyone in physical contact with it, and this person filled her with their panic. Disorientated, Tiffany pulled on a robe then, hearing the hammering of rain on her roof, a cloak as well. She lowered herself through the branches by feel in the darkness, her heart beating fast. She couldn’t imagine why anyone would want her at this time on such a bad night.

As she dropped to the ground, her eyes adjusted to the light and the black figure standing in front of her resolved into a man. Bastien, but looking more dishevelled than she had ever seen him. his usually immaculate clothes were plastered to his body by the rain, his hair hung in wet ropes across his face, and his eyes were wild.

“Have you seen her? Have you seen my daughter?” He demanded. The world spun sickeningly around Tiffany.

“No,” she whispered. “Oh, Bastien…”

“I’ve searched everywhere. She must have taken her. Eloise.” He snarled the name. He grabbed her hand, almost dragging her off her feet as he strode through the trees. Soon they came to one of the fairy rings, the portals to the Fey realm. It wasn’t the one Tiffany usually used, which was reserved for tradespeople and servants, but the main entrance, large enough to contain a carriage and four or an honour guard. Only when he reached the edge did Bastien drop her hand. He stepped over the daisies and shouted frantically into the rain and wind.

“Lord Sebastian of the Ancient Ones demands an audience with the Princess Eloise!” Nothing happened for a long second, and then there was a bang and a flash of lightning. Bastien was thrown backwards out of the circle, landing in the wet grass. He scrambled up, brushing himself off angrily. Turning, he caught sight of Tiffany, seeming to notice she was there for the first time.

“She will come,” he grunted. “This is some kind of sick game; she won’t pass up the opportunity to see it play out.” He paused, then continued awkwardly. “It would be better if you were not seen, it might…complicate matters.”

Tiffany nodded, and at the same time the air inside the fairy circle began to glow purple. When Bastien turned back to her, a tall birch tree stood in her place, leaves dripping in the rain.

This is my forest. I don’t need to hide to not be seen. Say whatever you have to to get Tania back, the leaves whispered in the wind. Then the Faerie princess stepped out of the ring. Her hair floated around her face like a golden cloud, and she was wearing a sheer silvery nightgown. The rain did not touch her, and her slippers were not soaked by the damp grass.

“Sebastien,” she purred, and her voice was low and musical, enticing. “How nice of you to come and see me. It’s been so long.” Her lilac eyes watched him amusedly.

“What have you done with Titania?” Bastien growled, his fists clenched. “If you have hurt her…”

“Hurt her?” Eloise scoffed. “Why on earth would I have hurt the little thing? She is mine as well, remember. I carried her, I bore her…”

“And then you washed your hands of her, and of me! Told me you wanted nothing to do with her, and swore you’d never acknowledge her as your own!” Bastien was shouting now. He took a step towards the fairy ring and there was a flash of light as Eloise gestured sharply with a hand. With a yell, he staggered back against the tree which was Tiffany, clutching his right hip where the light had hit him, breathing heavily. Desperately, Tiffany tried to reach him through their touch. Stay calm, she begged him. Please.

Eloise carried on as if their altercation hadn’t even happened. “You have been so missed at court, Sebastien,” she wheedled. “I have sent you so many invitations, and you didn’t even reply. How else was I to see you?”

Just lie, Tiffany whispered, tell her what she wants to hear. She felt Bastien pull himself up against her branches and take a deep breath.

“I…I was hurt. The idea of seeing you like that…dancing with other people...happy without me. I couldn’t bear it.”

Eloise smiled beatifically, as though she had always suspected it. “Oh, darling. But surely you have found happiness again?” Her smile became sharp. “With some revolting dryad, I hear, to share your coffin. She has even been seen with our daughter in the forest together.”

Bastien gripped a branch of the tree that was Tiffany harder. “I think your enemies at court are poisoning you mind against me. The girl is a nursemaid for Titania, nothing more. I can hardly be expected to watch her every second of the day and the night.” He paused, then carried on lightly. “And if I occasionally take her, or anyone else, into my bed, it means nothing. Really, my lady, how could anyone ever hope to compare to your magnificence?” He even afforded her a brief bow, his hand never leaving the branch.

The Fey tossed her hair delightedly. “I’m glad to hear it. That’s settled then. You will come to court the next time I invite you. I can’t allow you to pine away in that freezing castle any longer.” She turned to go, and Bastien made a choking sound in renewed panic. At the last second she turned back. “And you have told no one that the child is mine?”

“I swear I would never do anything to endanger Titania. I have no interest in sharing her parentage with anyone. I want only to keep her safe and with me.” Bastien’s voice shook.

“Fine!” Eloise threw up her hands. “I merely wanted to see that she was being properly looked after. I am satisfied that she is quite well. Until our next meeting then, Sebastien.” The fairy ring glowed purple again, and she was gone. Instead, where Eloise had stood a second before was a diminutive chubby figure, sucking her fist.

“Daddy!” She toddled forward. Bastien sank to the ground, his arms open, and hugged his child to him as though he would never let go. He leaned back against the trunk of the tree, which became Tiffany the dryad again, and she wrapped her arms around both of them. He was shivering convulsively, with cold or relief or exhaustion, or all three, she couldn’t tell.

“Daddy, it’s wet,” Tania complained. Tiffany quickly took off her cloak and helped Bastien to wrap it around her. They stood up, the rain still pouring down through the canopy.

“Thank you.” Bastien shifted Tania’s weight as they began to walk towards the edge of the forest. He was limping badly where Eloise’s magic had hit him, but Tiffany knew better than to try and help. “I’ve always found it hard to keep my temper with Eloise. She knows exactly how to provoke me.”

“Will you be alright?” As they reached the treeline, dawn was just starting to break on the horizon. In the grey light, Bastien just shrugged. In that moment he looked ancient and defeated, his eyes blank. Then he turned and trudged away.

 

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AngelEyes

Oh no! Poor Bastien! Not a fan of Elouise! Loving this story though!

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M214186

I do not like Eloise...... 

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starpollen

Awww this is wonderful!  I’m looking forward to the next chapter. :yes:

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Katrelle

Thank you!! I bring you more angst

 

 

 

Days passed, and Tiffany waited anxiously for word from Bastien, but none came. She tried to be patient, but by the fifth day she could bear it no longer, and early in the morning she set out for the castle, determined to find out news.

She was met by a guard who might as well have been carved from stone. “Lord Sebastien is seeing no one, miss,” he repeated for the third time, as she stood at the main door, imploring.

“But…”

“Who is there?” Another voice asked from behind the huge man. Law, the castle steward, appeared in the deeply-shadowed doorway. A vampire himself, he had known Bastien since he was a child, and recognised Tiffany at once. “Let this visitor in at once, you oaf. How dare you leave her standing on the doorstep!” Chastened, the man moved aside to let her in, muttering. Law ignored him.

“Come with me, miss, I will take you to Lord Sebastien’s rooms.” He gestured for her to follow him down the darkened corridors. Tiffany walked behind him nervously.

“Is Bastien alright? The guard said-“

“Lord Sebastien has been indisposed. He has not been entertaining visitors, but I am sure he would want to see you.” They reached the imposing wooden doors to his chambers and Law knocked, then opened the door to the dark antechamber and called.

“Lord Sebastien, Miss Tiffany to see you.” He gestured that she should enter.

Tiffany saw Bastien’s silhouette in the doorway to his room as she approached down the dim corridor.

“Tiffany. Come in.” His voice sounded strangely thick and muffled. Tiffany felt suddenly embarrassed to be imposing.

“I’m sorry for coming here without warning, it’s just…” She reached the familiar firelit room and stood, awkwardly. Bastien stood leaning heavily on the back of an armchair. He looked terrible –dark circles stood out like bruises under his eyes, while the skin around his nose was tinged pink.

“No, I should have sent word how we fared.” Bastien said. “Time seems to have run away from me; I’m afraid I have…been unwell,” He gestured to an armchair. “Please, sit down.” He lowered himself stiffly into the other chair, keeping a hand to his right side as though it pained him.

Tiffany sat, feeling like an unwelcome guest. Looking around, she was shocked by her surroundings. She had never known Bastien or his chambers to be anything other than perfectly-turned out, but there were discarded trays of glasses, crumpled handkerchiefs, and blankets scattered around the room, and he was wearing nightclothes and a heavy robe that had seen better days.

“How is Tania?”

“She is well.” He smiled thinlly for a second. “She doesn’t seem to have suffered any ill-effects. She is mostly in the care of the kitchen staff at the moment, while I…” He trailed off, reaching for a handkerchief, before hunching over with two enormous, bone-shaking sneezes.

Huh’assshieww!! H’AAASSHIEWWW!!” Wincing, he sat up, dabbing at his nose. “I apologise. I think the stress of recent events…excuse me…” He sneezed again, the harsh noise wrenching itself from his throat. “H’attshiewww!!” Sitting up again, he looked so miserable that Tiffany’s heart ached.

“Oh Bastien…” she tried to take his free hand, resting on the arm of the chair, but he withdrew it. Even in that brief touch, she could feel that it was warm. It was hard to know for sure, but she suspected he was running a fever.

“It is good to see you.” Bastien said, formally. “I’m afraid I’m not the best of hosts, but would you care for a drink?” He sat forward, but stopped quickly, gritting his teeth and breathing slowly, his hand to his side again. To Tiffany, he looked like someone just barely managing to hold himself together. She spoke quickly.

“No, please, there’s no need. I should go and let you rest.” She stood up, the space between them awkward and strange. “Please don’t get up, I know the way out.”

Bastien opened his mouth as though to protest, then shut it again. Tiffany could see what even that small concession of weakness cost him. She couldn’t bear it. “Will you send me word how you are in a few days?” She asked, her voice small.

He nodded, but when he spoke his tone was emotionless, unreadable. “Of course. Fare well, Tiffany.”

Edited by Katrelle

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AngelEyes

Sad! I feel like he wanted her to stay but thought she was disgusted so didn't want to ask.

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rockbell

waaaa love it!!!!!!

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Katrelle

Done! For now and the foreseeable future I think. I hope you enjoyed it :)

 

 

 

Five interminable days later, Tiffany was walking home from her afternoon at court (thankfully, Eloise seemed to have decided she was below her notice) when she felt someone touch her home tree. Someone small, and happy, and excited. She walked faster. It was a glorious sunny autumn day, with no breeze to chill it, and the trees around her were every shade of orange and red and yellow.

Bastien stood by her tree with Tania in his arms. He looked almost exactly as he had when they had first met, except for the addition of an elegant silver-topped cane. He smiled as Tiffany approached and, awkwardly shifting Tania, who was squirming to be put down, drew out a crown of late-flowering roses.

“It seems rather foolish to be giving a dryad flowers,” he commented, offering it to her. Tiffany put it on, delighted.

“It’s beautiful, thank you. How are you?”

He shrugged. Close to, his face was drawn and thin, but his eyes shone brighter than when she had last seen them, and he was still smiling. “Mending. Slower than I would like. But vampires can heal almost anything, given enough time.” Sighing, he gave Tania her wish and planted her on the forest floor. “Thank you for the things you sent.”

“You’re welcome.” As soon as she had returned home, Tiffany had parcelled up her most useful herbs and teas and sent them in a package to Law at the castle, labelled for pain, for fever, for sickness. She was glad they had been of use.

“Look! Look!” Tania was shouting at her from the ground. As she watched, the little girl launched herself into the air, fluttered aloft for a few seconds, and then landed, sprawling, on the scattered leaves and twigs. Tiffany clapped her hands in delight.

“The other youngsters have been teaching her tricks,” Bastien said. “Soon, I’ll need to attach reins to her to keep up. But we were both going mad cooped up in the castle, so I promised her a walk; it is good to see the sun again. Are you busy?”

“No, and I know a place we can go.” She set off slowly, careful to match Bastien’s pace, who was still favouring his right leg and leaning heavily on the cane. They soon came to a sunlit clearing with a little stream cutting through the middle. Bastien lowered himself gratefully onto a warm patch of dried moss.

“Go and play with Tiffany for a minute, little one, and let daddy rest,” he encouraged her, smiling indulgently. Tiffany was happy to oblige, holding Tania’s hand as she practised flying over the stream and back again. When theg turned to look back at Bastien, his eyes were closed, and he seemed deeply asleep, his black cloak wrapped around his body.

Eventually, once the sun had drifted low enough to leave the clearing in shadow, and the air was starting to grow cooler, Bastien roused himself. He shivered, rubbing his arms to get warm. Tiffany and Tania were happily ensconced in a tall oak tree across the clearing, counting acorns and dropping them onto the ground. Stiffly, he stood up and stretched, then sneezed.

“Heh’tsshieww!! Eh’tchieww! Tschiewww!!” Sighing, he produced a handkerchief from a sleeve with a flick and dabbed at his nose. “This forest…”

“Bless you. Shall we warm up with a cup of tea before you go back?” Tiffany was carrying a tired Tania, who was still clutching a handful of acorns.

“That would be very welcome. I’m sorry not to have been any help – I certainly didn’t mean to sleep so long.”

“It’s been great fun. Come, my home is just along here.” They reached her home tree, and Tiffany prepared to climb the branches, then stopped. “Will you be alright getting up?”

Bastien raised an eyebrow, and then Tiffany was confronting a sceptical-looking bat. She climbed up with Tania and opened the door. Her house was on two levels, a living room below and a bedroom above, cunningly nestled in the branches of her home tree and constructed of wood. There was a fireplace with a range, but no chimney or kindling. Instead, she used a magic-infused stone to heat a kettle of water in one corner and settled Tania, who was sucking her thumb and blinking sleepily, in an armchair near the warmth. Bastien had returned to his usual form, cane mysteriously still in his hand, and taken a seat on the other side.

“Tea?”

“Please.” Bastien looked around appraisingly. “I have never been here before.”

“It’s not much to look at, but it’s home.” Tiffany took the kettle off the heat as it began to whistle. Bastien watched Tania, who was now soundly asleep, until Tiffany handed him a wooden mug.

“Thank you.” He took a sip, then asked, “Do you know if there are dryads in the Great Forest, a day’s flight south of here?” His tone was light, but he watched Tiffany carefully.

“Of course there are. I have cousins and an uncle and aunt who live there. I visited often when I was a child, seventy years or more ago now. Why?”

“My parents live at the Fey court there – my mother chose to live there when I was small, and forsake the company of other vampires. She wanted me to grow up among other children.” Bastien stared into his tea thoughtfully. “I have been considering the wisdom of her choice, in trying to decide how I can keep Tania safe. It was foolish of me to believe that I could stay here, so close to Eloise, with no danger.”

Tiffany tried not to let her feelings show. “You are leaving,” she said quietly. Bastien nodded. “When?”

“Well, that rather depends on you.” She stared at him. “I was rather hoping you might come with us.”

Tiffany was speechless. Immediately, all the reasons she could never leave Arden flooded her mind. She took a sip of tea, then a deep breath. She looked at Tania, still asleep in her home, and Bastien, who was watching her with only a hint of nervousness in his impassive expression. “Yes,” she said. “I will.” She leaned towards him and took his hands, drawing him towards her. When their lips touched it was like fire and ice meeting and, for a moment, Tiffany stopped thinking altogether.

Once they had finished their tea and stopped smiling stupidly at each other in silence, Tiffany said, “There’ll have to be a leaving party, you know. It’s a dryad tradition. My parents will be thrilled.”

“I look forward to it. Although I doubt I will be dancing any dervishes for a while longer.” He glanced at his cane.

“Dancing can wait. Will this mean I will meet your parents? Will they mind, about us, I mean?”

Bastien rolled his eyes. “They flouted all tradition in raising their family, and they’ve accepted Tania even though her mother refuses to publicly acknowledge her existence. I doubt they’d expect anything less than extraordinary from me. And you are certainly that.” He went to stroke her cheek, but spoiled the effect by having to sneeze, quickly turning the movement into retrieving a handkerchief.

Hheh’tsshieww!! Eh’tsshiewww!! Ah’tshieww!!” Bastien sighed, rubbing his unruly nose with a knuckle.

“Goddess bless you.” Tiffany had a thought. “Does the Great Forest make you sneeze less than here?”

Bastien raised an eyebrow, still sniffing. “No, it does not,” he replied, wearily. “If anything, it is even worse.”

Tiffany leaned forward to kiss him again, whispering in his ear

“I can’t wait.”

Edited by Katrelle

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starpollen

I would welcome more stories with these characters. :yes: This was lovely!

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AngelEyes

This was adorable!

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rockbell

im in love!!!!

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