Chapter 25: Unsolicited Feedback




Latimer fussed over them as soon as they walked through the door. “You did good,” he whispered as he threw his arms around Alice, “You’re alright. You’re home now.”

They looked in on Gwendolyn just long enough for Alice to confirm that she was okay. Then Vlad carried her upstairs and helped her into the shower. She swayed on her feet as he washed her hair and made his best attempt at braiding it.

“Why do I feel drunk?” she slurred before an earsplitting yawn. 

“Your adrenaline,” he cupped her face, massaging just beneath her ears, “It flooded your system, and now it’s gone, so you feel a bit off-kilter.”

“Oh,” she started to sway again, “You never asked if I did it.”

“I don’t care if you did it. Do you want to sleep in sweatpants or in shorts?”

“Shorts,” she replied quickly and then frowned and shook her head. “No, I mean sweatpants. I…I think I’m cold?”

She looked flushed, but maybe it was the shower. “Alright,” he agreed, determined to give her some agency. When he’d finally gotten free from Miko, making decisions—no matter how small—tethered him to this world and helped him keep his sanity. “I’ll get your clothes and lay with you until you fall asleep.”

The sun was shining through the windows by the time they climbed into bed.

Alice slept fitfully. At one point, she woke up, panicked. “Do you think this is happening because I’m a witch? Am I attracting bad energy? Is it because I fucked up? It is, isn’t it? I fucked up, and now my whole life is ruined. I’m going to jail, and they’re gonna take my kid because I really did hate Eliza, and I’m not sorry she’s dead!”

Vlad tried to calm her, but she continued to struggle.

“They know I’m not a good sim! I have these awful, spiteful, shitty thoughts—I’m not nice, and I’m gonna be punished for it!”

“Shhh,” he pulled her back down until her head rested on his chest. “No one is nice. Especially not me. And I will use every ounce of my not-niceness to ensure you are always safe and free.”

“How? They’ll get you too,” she rasped, and he could feel her heart beating in her chest like a trapped hummingbird. Vlad knew it was to feel haunted, and so he held her tighter, his voice a whisper meant to lull her to sleep.

“Centuries ago, a being that defies logic caught me. She locked me in a cage for five hundred years. Broke my bones, clawed out my eye, took my heart. Once, the direction of the wind put her in such a mood that she peeled back my skin with a whaling knife. She made me such a thing as to give you nightmares, and now no one, not even her, could stop me from doing anything I wish to do.”

It worked. Within seconds, Alice’s eyes slid shut, and she started snoring.

“What have you gotten yourself into?” Lilith demanded as soon as he got downstairs. “Your mortal lover is no mortal; she’s teeming with magic, and so is her daughter.”

Vlad moved past her to start the coffee maker. He should amend his statement to Alice. Plenty of beings could stop him from doing what he wanted to do. Two of them were in his kitchen. “Alice is some kind of witch, and Gwendolyn just inherited her magic.”

“She’s not,” Lilith growled, “Can’t you smell it? Witches cast magic, but Alice and her child are like the essence of magic itself. They’re like those babysitters who aren’t mortal, either. They smell—”

“Ancient,” Vlad finished. “And wrong.”

“Exactly. I killed them, but I don’t think it’ll keep.”

“Speaking of which, Alice said someone is trying to kill her,” Latimer frowned, “Not that they have a chance in hell, but what is she talking about?”

“I’m not sure,” Vlad admitted. He ran through the details of the heist and Alice’s encounter with the wand as quickly as possible. 

“I’ve never heard of a wand like that,” Lilith declared. “You invited this mortal into your house to give her and her suspect magic full run of the place?”

“She is not some mortal. She is my partner, Lilith. I—”

“Intend to marry her?” His daughter’s eyes narrowed to slits, “Tell me something I don’t know.”

“Alright,” Latimer held up a hand, “We’re getting off track.”

“No, I think we’re on track. Don’t you, Father?” Lilith’s eyes glittered. “You intend to marry this mortal when you’re not over your first marriage?”

“There is no wedding happening right now, and I am long over my ex-husband.” The part of Vlad that was broken and addicted to toxic things said otherwise, but that was his shit to figure out, not Lilith’s.

“My step-father, you mean, who stayed for the entire conference.”

“We’re back to that?” Vlad thrust out his arm. “We just had this conversation, Lilith. Yes, Ethren was at the conference. I admit that my corporeal form was not in the room. He probably hugged you after and said some very nice things before he fucked off.”

“He did. And yet you want me to forget him like he didn’t raise me!”

Rage hit Vlad so swiftly he was temporarily blinded. “Raised you?” he repeated tonelessly.

“Yes! My real parents wanted to teach me about magic, but they died before they had the chance. Ethren stepped in as much as he could, but you kept dancing in and out of relationships with him. And now look at me! I’m a mess! In fact, I don’t think I’ll ever be whole because of it.”

“What do you mean ‘never be whole’?” Vlad bellowed.

“Exactly what I said! Ethren saw it; that’s why he took me to the Magic Realm. To try and fix what my real parents couldn’t teach me.”  

Lilith’s real father had been a powerful witch. And a layabout. Vlad loathed him with every bone in his body. He never once regretted cutting the bastard’s throat and draining him into a fountain, especially when a small boy and a toddler wandered into a tavern starving, covered in dirt, and clutching the family crest.

I took you to the Magic Realm!” Vlad growled, “And picked up your toys and held you through night terrors and Ethren—”

“Vladislaus.” Latimer’s voice was a warning.

“He made me!” Lilith cried, her hands balled up into fists. “You said so yourself. You would have never been able to turn a witch safely without his help. He cares for me.”

“Ethren cares for himself,” Vlad spat. “The only reason he even deigns to—”

“Vladislaus!” Latimer pounded his fist on the counter. “Don’t you dare! You cross that line, and you’ll never forgive yourself, so just shut the fuck up.”

Vlad ground his teeth together so hard he thought he cracked them.

“Your father didn’t mean it. Your step-father loves you,” Latimer said, his eyes locked on Vlad’s.

It was only through sheer physical willpower that Vlad was able to nod in agreement.

Lilith checked a look of victory. “You’re full of criticism for Ethren, but if you’re so good at parenting, why can’t you hear the child upstairs weeping?”

  • Snow ~
    Jun 28, 2023

    Loved Vlad at the interrogation XD Alice VLAD IS THE LAST PERSON WHO WOULD CARE IF YOU WERE GUILTY OR NOT. Better not have a rice bath Alice, Vlad might try to count all of the grains. XD IDK if Lilith or Caleb will ever truly come to get along with Vlad again.

    And once again I love Anastasia. Next time my dad asks me for constant favours I know what I’m gonna do. XD Ooooohohoh YOU KNOW why I’m excited about Alice’s magic being brought up again. Also IDK why but I love these ‘there’s so much you don’t know about what you’re getting into’ scenes.

    NO Vlad, that’s YOUR idea of a date, not quite Caleb’s XD Awww Gwen has a toy bnuuy! I shouldn’t be laughing at this mess of Vlad / Caleb / Lilith family, lmao, but sometimes it’s funny. OOF at Caleb knowing Alice’s surname despite Vlad not mentioning it, this should get interesting…

    • feroshgirl
      Jun 30, 2023

      Lololol 200000/10 to this comment for the Eleanor Rigsby reference.

      You know, I think we’ll just have to wait and see how things shake out with Lilith and/or Caleb. They’ve definitely got a complicated relationship, but they’ve been through cycles of this before so we shall see. I would never create a situation that would force them to confront all of their family trauma together in one place ::cue evil laughter::

      FINALLY, SOMEONE ELSE WHO LOVES ANASTASIA! Truly though, she is one of my fave characters and I love her too.

      Oh, Alice’s magic? Hmmm…I’m sure there is nothing to see there. No big deal hehe.

      gwendolyn loves bunnies (sob).

  • Yimiki
    Jul 2, 2023

    Whoa, is that Ana crying? I don’t think we’ve ever seen her cry. Gods I hope Penny comes back after her rampage fizzles out, and they have an open and honest conversation… seeing Ana of all people break hurts way more than I thought it would 😣

    Oh no, miss, Vlad did not mean a lawsuit. He meant he’d raze the place to the ground. 🤣 I love how caring and considerate he is – Alice absolutely needs it right now. Oh geez, that’s right, it was Miko that kept him prisoner in that dungeon for so long wasn’t it? So maybe she did do the same thing to Akira and Vlad. For what purpose, I wonder? Vlad’s description of Miko torturing is horrific and yet it put Alice right to sleep omg 😆

    Of course Lilith casually killed the babysitters 😆 Ben and Grim won’t be gone for long.

    Ouch. Lilith is hitting Vlad right where it hurts, there. I understand why he’s so angry over Lilith remembering Ethren as her dad that cares for her. She’s also right, though. The vampire in her, she can only get a handle on with Vlad and Ana’s help. But her witch side is something that Vlad simply cannot do anything with. Having Ethren there to teach her, yeah, of course that would create a bond. And if Vlad denies that, it’s the same as denying half of his own daughter.

    Oooh, Lilith has a point there. Caleb can help free Alice from suspicion and Ana can absolutely get them a lawyer to defend her until then. Come on, Vlad. Swallow your pride and suspicion and do it.

    [The proper way to respond to your ex-husband when he showed up after 180 years demanding a favor was to run him through with a sword. Unfortunately, it was hard to do that when he was pushing a stroller.] 😆😂🤣
    WTH Matilda, how dare you! Penny is rampaging and you know it! That’s it, one exploding potato for you 🤬🥔

    YES THANK YOU VLAD for pointing out the obvious and making Caleb realise what an idiot he was with Titania 🤣 Oh, Caleb. I know that feeling. Trying not to begrudge the kid for your father suddenly deciding to be a better parent, while knowing they did not do that for you.

    Oh my gods, Bella. You ended things with him. You guys decided to stop messing around, remember? She’s so quick to jump to conclusions in the worst way. This is exactly what led to her accusing Alice. And it’s her that’s using Caleb as a distraction from her life, not the other way around. 😠

    Man, look at this comment waterfall. I’m completely invested LOL

    • feroshgirl
      Jul 9, 2023

      YASSSS SOMEONE TO JOIN ME ON THE “JUSTICE FOR ANA TRAIN!” lololol yeah, it’s sort of jarring to see Miss Hell herself hurt and falling apart, right?

      Ha! Yeah, um, anyone who knows Vlad knows he makes very literal threats.

      Oh man, I want to tell you all my Miko plans so badly but I will resist! You are on the right track though, I swear there will be answers this time 😈

      I’m glad you have some empathy for Lilith. I was hoping this scene wouldn’t read just as her being a monster (though to be clear, she is being pretty damn terrible).

      MATILDA GETS AN EXPLODING POTATO OMFG YESSSSSS. Like, homegirl has made this situation so much worse (though to be fair Anastasia did murder a member of her pack and force her into training Penny so I guess you get what you pay for?)


      But also, so is Caleb. Vlad might be out of his mind, but even he understands why Titania was upset lololol that scene between them was so much fun to write <3

      Haha buckle up, the first part of the ride is careening towards the finish line (I clearly do not know how to avoid mixing metaphors jfc)

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