Fandom: Angel the Series, BtVS
Warning: Cannon type violence, bastardized pagan rituals, vampires being vampires
Spoilers: "Darla" and tangentially any episode that flashes back to Angel's curse.
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em.
Summery:If China taught Darla nothing, it was that a little sentiment remained in her, like the last mouthful of blood that remained stubbornly in the vein, thick and bitter.
AN: Imbolic is a real pagan holiday, but doesn't involve killing people. The latin roughly translates to "may the spark of Brigid warm those that are lonely, whose hearts are cold and lifeless".
The weather made Darla feel ancient. Scottish winters made even the living feel dead, and the dead feel old. Darla kept the farmhouse they nested in as warm as she dare, sending the children out for firewood while she plotted the best choices for meals without raising suspicion. They ate a lot of sheep, not even fresh from the vein but siphoned in jars in the dead of night the awful taste lingering on the tongue long after she'd fed.
Drusilla acted as if in a fugue, eating only scant mouthfuls, never staying in the same room as Darla, yet whimpering whenever Darla gathered her boots and coat. Darla finally cornered the idiot boy alone in the larder, boxing his ears until he tripped over the torso of one of farm’s previous occupants. She only stopped when he told her what he knew of Dru’s behavior: nothing.
For Drusilla’s sake, Darla took to the habit of sleeping with the children in one bed; Drusilla nestled with her face pressed under one arm and the boy twisted around Drusilla. He started off the morning at one end of bed and come evening, he’d be touching Darla somehow, hands cupped around the back of her skull or bony frame curled along her side.
She didn't need their needy touches or their admiring stares. Not that Darla received it. She was the rubber teat of comfort now that Daddy wasn’t around. Taking a horse and running would be the wisest choice, the boy and Drusilla were both well into their twenties, old enough to survive on their own.
In fact, every day since they arrived, she would go so far as packing a bag and ridding the young stallion down the path. Traveling as far as the main road and stopping for long stretches of time, the horse inpatient beneath her, shuffling his hooves as he breathed in great plumes.
This night, like the past twelve, Darla turned back towards the farmhouse. Without much thought, she settled the dappled gray in the barn with the bay mare, brushed the snow out of his coat and went inside, stomping the snow off her boots and ignoring the children folding scraps of paper into little white flowers.
If China taught Darla nothing, it was that a little sentiment remained in her, like the last mouthful of blood that remained stubbornly in the vein, thick and bitter. It was a poison, softening the hand that cracked across Drusilla cheek when Darla discovered the silly girl broke every candle in two and hid half of the pieces.
The boy sneered at her as he pulled Drusilla to her feet, spitting curses at her while helping Drusilla into her coat before shaking the dust from his foul peasant coat. They both would look out of place to any passing human, Dru in her white shift and red velvet coat, earthen jug under one hand and the boy in his urchin's finest, twirling a thin metal shank in his hand; ethereal and inhuman.
They should have moved on, make the trek to Aberdeen, blended in best they could.
Darla should have moved on.
Darla should have left them in China.
She huddled in a chair by the fire with a penny dreadful in hand to distract her, only to stare in the flames lost in thought until the children returned with their breakfast.
The next night, after she settled her horse for the thirteenth time, she spotted two of Drusilla’s white handkerchiefs with the delicate embroidery tied to nails over the door frame. When she entered, the fire roared in the hearth and the broken candles blazing from every flat surface. Darla touched one of the squat candles, a little paper flower pinned under the base, drops of wax beading the petals.
This was dangerous. The light, the fire, the heady human smell of sweat and confusion and life. She would beat the both of them until their bones cracked and leave them to the mercy of the villagers.
In the bedroom, Dru and the boy were standing in the far corner, dressed solemnly in white underclothes. The threats never reached Darla’s lips as she starred at the bed. Gagged, tied to the bedposts, a crown of paper flowers on head, laid a women. A shepherd’s daughter, young and flushed and reeking of lye soap, wet wool and terror.
"Drusilla," Darla hissed. "What have you done?"
"The Queen of Cups drifts in the water, so cold. The feast is warm and St Brighid lights the way. A virgin waiting for the plow."
Her words tickled Darla’s memory. So many rituals used virgins and all those rituals blurred together in her mind, yet the flowers reminded Darla of her sire, twisting white hot-house lilacs in the hair of a girl subdued in a bed of straw. A sharp memory of the cloying scent of crushed petals mixed with tallow candles, a low note to the smell of fear rising from the girl's body while vampires dressed in dark robes chanted a round of Latin and Sanskrit, weaved a spell around the lair. Her sire beckoning Darla forth while he traced the path of the girls tears down her round face with one long nail.
Here, only the wind and the rapid beat of the girl’s heart made a sound, the idiot boy quiet for once, chin on Dru's shoulder and arms loose around her waist, watching the girl on the bed with heavy lidded eyes.
Telling enough what happened to the girl's family, tenderized and bleed dry, too tempting of a meal for the children to leave be after nothing but sheep. A bit of Dru's sweet affection too by the languid possessive way the boy draped himself around Drusilla.
The girl on the bed screamed though her gag as Darla’s face changed, shaking the wooden bed frame so hard that it rattled, but Drusilla’s knots held fast. Darla crawled over the girl, caressed her through the ripped nightgown of rough-spun cloth, the girl's body slight and soft, hardly into womanhood. Darla wrapped her fingers around the long dark braid, slick with sweat and tugged the girl’s head to one side, her neck unmarked with the self control she assumed neither of the children had.
“Feast, grandmummy,” Drusilla said. “Ut scintilla Brigida calida qui sunt sola, cuius cor frigus et informis.”
Darla glared at Drusilla over her shoulder, then tightened her knees around the struggling girl and struck. The first mouthful tasted divine, grass and goats-milk and mead and spring nearly forgotten in the cold. The second mouthful was moonlight and stream water and horse musk after a long ride. The third incense and linen and the moth-light kiss from her sire. The girl stopped struggling, her heart slow as autumn snowfall as Darla drank; the final pull from the girl’s veins tasted foul, of bitter finality, of her darling boy, her Angelus fleeing into the night with a babe in his arms.
Darla sat up, blood oozing from her corner of her mouth. Dru was still chanting in Latin, the same line over and over her voice rising and falling. It swaddled Darla in a calm she hadn’t felt in ages, before China, before Romania, before the deaths of the soft voiced boy and the cursed girl. It’s not the magic of witches, or her sire’s cult, but something older, more subtle and unknown. Darla turned to look at Drusilla, still chanting, softer now, and a queer light flicker in those golden eyes, knowing and ancient and she wondered who Drusilla invoked, Bridget or an entity far older. Darla never believed in the gods of her sire, not truly, but she felt something
The idiot boy broke the spell. “You cured now?” the boy asked. “Because if I’ve spent three days folding paper flowers for nothing-”
“Quiet, Spike,” she said, and he did. It’s the first time she’d used his new name. “I’m fine,” she said softer, beckoning them over.
Spike snorted like a offended colt, but comes, crawling over the foot of the bed, kicking the girls carcass to the floor. Darla's too sated to tell him to drag her to the larder. Drusilla slides in the bed on her right side, dipping her head down to lath the blood from Darla’s chin. Darla kisses her softly on the lips, catching her lower lip with her fangs, slitting the corner of Drusilla’s mouth. Dru giggles.
"Suspect we'll have to leave now," Spike said, flopping down on his back, "before anyone finds the mess."
Darla murmured in agreement, laying down beside Drusilla and stroking the side of her head, careful not to disturb the delicate paper flowers woven into her hair. Spike curled on arm behind his head and reached over her to take Dru’s hand in the other, trapping Darla between them.
It was early evening and no one has extinguished the candles, but on such a heavy meal after a long fast, they slept.
The farm didn’t burn, though the smell of wax and scorched wood clung to Darla’s clothing when she packed her things the following dusk, Spike and Drusilla folded around each other in the space she left behind. She rode the stallion at a steady gallop through the snow, away from the nearby village, where they were no doubt sharpening their pitchforks and killing knives. She didn’t worry, not with the sleepy knowing look Drusilla gave her as she crept from the bed.
The smell of burning pitch and wood drifted on the wind and Darla cinched her heels tighter in the horse’s side, urging him into the night.
They’ll be fine.
She’ll be fine.