When Bonnibel first saw Marceline, she thought they were the same age. One night, just like any other night, she observed the constellations through her grandmother's telescope. Noting patterns and changes, she logged down all she learned in a small notebook she kept by her side. It could have all been avoided if she didn't get that urge to turn her telescope down, at just that moment, to see if anything equally interesting was happening on the ground.
There, floating in the apple orchards, was a child. She was scrawny, her little frame making the T-shirt she wore look like a tent. Fascinated, the young princess watched the girl by the light of the full moon, watched her snatch an apple off the tree and take a bite only to just toss it aside. Miffed at her audacity to not even eat what she stole, Bonni just kept watching, noticing when the girl's hands flicked up and caught something that was flying by. It was alive, and wriggled in her hands, and Bonni saw her smile and whisper to it. Refocusing the telescope in excitement, she saw the girl laugh and release the bat in her hands back into the night sky. Then the girl tensed, turning around. Dark yellow eyes met hers through the telescope, and even though she was miles away, Bonni knew the girl had spotted her. Afraid, but mostly curious, Bonni gulped and kept her eye trained on the grey little girl.
There was a gust of wind, a tangled mess of flying black hair, and then the girl disappeared.
Disturbed and melancholy, Bonni couldn't focus on the constellations after that. She went to bed wondering if the bats were the only friends that little girl had.
Marceline was an oddity among vampires. It might have been because she was already half immortal before being bitten, with a soul-sucking dad who tried to ruin her life. Or maybe it was because she had no interest in their undead politics. Either way, she made her point clear as the years rolled by that her business was just to have fun, not to involve herself in any power games. She dropped out of her gang, dumped Ash, turned her weapon into an instrument. Like a breeze, she fluttered in and our of mortal people's lives, relishing the way they burned so hot and fierce that it seemed this world simply wasn't capable of holding them for very long. They faded away too quickly, all of them, eaten up by the tired earth.
And the daylight. She had a very love-hate relationship with the daylight, while other vampires settled for simple hate. She was an early riser, and enjoyed watching the sun dip below the horizon and creep back up again.
Tonight, the night after she knew she had been spied on, Marceline wondered if she should return to the Candy Kingdom. She wandered the darkness in the shape of a harmless little girl on purpose, to send a tacit message to other vampires (I am no threat to you). It could easily be misinterpreted as weakness and vulnerability, though. And then these creeps would descend, thinking she was an easy target, and then there would be all that blood and death and ugh. Loneliness was a state she could handle, even if she didn't like it very much, and the idea of being watched gave her the tingles.
Finally deciding not to risk any chance encounters tonight, the thousand-year-old little girl flew off in a different direction from the Candy Kingdom and their delicious red apples. She would leave the orchards alone- tonight. Tomorrow though, when the sun fell again…
Well, who could say?
Peppermint had brought her grandmother unfortunate news almost two weeks later. A strange plague had hit the apple orchards, and whole sections were found grey and lifeless, the fruit scattered around the base of their trees. It had started, Bonni soon realized, the night she had spied the strange girl wandering alone. It had only grown worse since then.
Standing quietly next to her grandmother, she learned as she listened. It was technically her curfew right about now, as she was only allowed to stay up late once a month to stargaze. But if Granny wasn't going to cause a fuss, neither would she. However, Granny had a very strange reaction to the news their butler brought her. Bonni waited to see how she would handle this situation. Trying to keep her hands from fidgeting, she kept quiet and listened.
Granny sighed, laughing under her breath. "Leave it, Peppermint," she said. "This is no plague. Leave her alone, and she'll leave more than enough apples for us, you'll see. Besides, soon she'll be gone from these realms for another few decades. Marceline the vampire rarely stays in one place for very long."
A vampire! That little girl was a vampire? All her senses prickled as Bonni willed her Granny not to notice the time and talk more about this subject. Of course, she wasn't that lucky, and soon it was off to bed for the little princess. Not that it did any good. Sleep was hard to come by that night, and the night after that. Finally realizing that the reason she kept staring out the window was because she wanted to look outside it, she hopped out of bed three days later and pulled her telescope out of the closet.
She couldn't properly stargaze from here, but she certainly had a good view of the apple orchards.
Night after night she scoured the ground for signs of the vampire, recording the changes and patterns of her movements as steadily as the stars. During the day she would scour maps of her lands, copying down notes and recognizing that yes, there was a pattern to her series of strikes. If one wanted to find the princess in those feverish few days of preparation (preparation for what? She asked herself, but the answer to that question remained grimly silent) one would find her in the library. Secretly researching vampires, their strength and origin and weaknesses, whether they were really alive, whether they should be allowed to be alive.
More and more complaints arrived from farmers, sometimes relayed through Peppermint, sometimes in person. Granny would just shake her head and smile and say "Let her be. She's harmless."
Bonni grew more and more certain that this was not the case.
And then one evening, it hit her. Closing the book she had been rifling through with a decisive snap, everything became clear. Granny wasn't going to do anything. No one was going to do anything. And when would the vampire decide that candy apples weren't enough? Who would stop her before she moved on to living targets, as her kind were so notorious for?
Bonni knew what she had to do.
She would confront this creature head on, and if it wouldn't leave, she would destroy it.
First, though, she would need supplies, and a few hours alone in Grandpa's old dusty lab. She got her chance the next day, gathering all the materials she needed and the references that would help guide her. She snuck out of the castle that very night, disturbed at how easy it all was. With a large heavy basket on one arm and a yellow flashlight in her hand, Bonni traveled down the familiar pathways and roads to the orchards, which hadn't seemed so far away on the maps and through the telescopes.
It seemed almost like a different planet in the dark, but Bonni had her flashlight and her burning desire to see this through to keep her from doubling back. Not too long later, she found her first drained tree. Contrary to the reports she had heard, however, it seemed perfectly healthy- just barren of fruit. The leaves were thick and glossy, and the bark and stems seemed solid. She couldn't smell or see any rotting or infection, but then again, her night vision wasn't the best. Still, the fact remained that thief was at large, and Bonni was going to deal with her personally.
Remembering that she generally didn't see the vampire girl until late at night, Bonni traveled to where her maps and charts said the creature was most likely to strike next. The princess would lie in wait there, and then this girl would see what kind of monarchs the Candy Kingdom had to offer.
Settling down at the base of a healthy tree, she waited.
It didn't take long.
She heard it at once. The area became quiet, all the night time noises holding their breath. So did she. Then, a sharp crack of a branch breaking behind her caused her heart beat to spike. Standing up and whirling around, she found herself face-to-face with the most hideous monster she'd ever seen. Heat radiated off of it's fur, that disgusting protein-based fuzz which coated so many animals living outside her kingdom. Yellow eyes trained on her, and a bright red tongue lashed within a foaming mouth full of sharp white teeth. Then the beast snarled at her, taking a step closer.
It spoke in a grating voice, harsh and terrifying. "You're far from home, little candy girl," it growled, licking its chops with a hungry grin. "Run away, before I decide I'm hungry."
The beam of illumination from her flashlight flickered and jumped from being held in her shaking hand. "A-are you the one d-doing this?" she asked, desperately staving off frightened tears. "I w-won't let you- let you steal- from my- my people-"
Though she had no idea how she had the presence of mind to notice this, notice this she did: the creature was wearing the same ratty grey t-shirt as the little girl. All the words she'd read about vampires came rushing back. They were known shape shifters, and the knowledge that this creature was the one she had come all this way to confront gave her strength. This was definitely a vampire, a vampire who had directly antagonized her kingdom, and by extension, herself.
She was ready for this. She wouldn't back down.
Summoning a reserve of willpower she hadn't even known she possessed until that night, Bonni flicked off her yellow flashlight and set it down. She would need both her hands for this. Reaching into her basket, she pulled out a large, clunky object and faced her opponent.
The vampire actually started laughing, able to see perfectly in the dark what the princess had in her hands. "Where'd you find that, kid? A museum?" Kicking off the ground, she began to float even closer. Bonni waited, knowing that the less distance there was between them, the less chances she would have of missing. "Listen. Scram, kid. Run away with your little toy gun and maybe I won't strike you dead where you stand."
"It's not a toy," Bonni said, sounding calmer than she felt before she aimed the antique crossbow and pulled the trigger.
Nothing could have prepared her for the recoil of shooting such a large weapon. Knocked onto her back and completely winded, she heard the vampire shriek in pain and mentally applauded herself. Her intent wasn't to kill the vampire, after all, just let it know who was boss, and if she'd hit the heart then the vampire wouldn't have even had time to make a noise before it crumbled. No one came trampling around the Candy Kingdom threatening her people.
She had aimed for Marceline's pelvic bone, hoping to shatter it because it would take the longest time to regenerate. Quickly sitting up, knowing she wouldn't have enough time to reload grandpa's crossbow if Marceline weren't temporarily crippled, Bonni reached into her basket for her last resort weapon. Her ace in the hole. Tiny pink fingers wrapped around what she was looking for just as she ran out of time. A hand yanked at her hair, lifting her back on her feet. a noise of pain squealed out of her, much to her shame.
"You deranged little freak!" Marceline hissed, holding onto a gash on her outer thigh that was healing far too slowly. That would be the garlic and silver infusion Bonni had coated the crossbow bolt in, working its magic. The vampire had changed shapes again into a fully adult human form, and somehow Bonni knew that this was the real face of Marceline the vampire. Yellow eyes had turned black, and her mouth bulged with rows of suddenly sharp shark teeth. "I'll drain you grey, punk."
While she didn't fully understand how killing her would turn her grey, the princess knew a threat when she heard one. Clutching her last resort close to her chest, she snarled right back at Marceline. This actually startled her, quieting her long enough for Bonnibel to build her courage up again to speak.
"I am Princess Bonnibel Bubblegum," she said, "Not a punk. Leave my land at once before I am forced to take a more violent approach."
Convinced that whatever Bonni had planned wouldn't actually work, Marceline laughed. "Oh yeah?" she asked, giving her a little shake. "Just go ahead and try it, Sugarcane."
So Bonni turned on her UV flashlight, distinguished from her regular one by having a blue case instead of a yellow one, and blasted the vampire with the full fury of the sun.
Marceline squinted, blinking in the sudden light. She frowned. "You know only real sunlight hurts a vampire, right?"
Bonni's heartbeat slowed, and then stopped. At least that's what it felt like.
This is probably the moment to start panicking, Bonni realized as the vampire started to grin.