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Braids and Bread knots

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There is a grace about him that Alucard can’t hope to match, can’t begin to follow. As Lyudmil braids ropes of dough together with deft fingers, Alucard finds himself simply stopping to admire him. The way he has such a gentle air about him, such a softness that brings to mind the image of a softly glowing pixie, Alucard can not look away.

There is nothing ostensibly inhuman about Lyudmil, because in truth he is undeniably human. He is warm and solid, tangible, and while he may exert a practical aura around him there is nothing else beyond that. Not a drop of blood, not a vein of magic, not a hair on his lovely head that is anything other than human.

From the way he moves, holds himself, Alucard still questions it sometimes. He wonders how any human- any creature could ever be so immaculate. Lyudmil outwardly appears so adaptable, in tune with his surroundings and his internal feelings.

Alucard himself is not the same way, not as in tune with himself, not as content. He is still very much so confused and uncertain about himself, about where he lies in the mess that is life without his family. It is, truthfully, an insecurity he does not express to many, or basically anyone for that matter. He has no intention to.

“You’re staring.” Lyudmil says suddenly, not looking up from the dough-braids he’s still working on.

Shame washes itself over Alucard, and even though the embarrassment consumes him, his skin does not gain heat or color. One of the many signs of his inhumanity.

“Apologies,” Is all he says back, looking down at his hands and away from the flour smudged on Lyudmil’s cheek. Alucard’s currently covered in flour up to his elbows, sleeves rolled back and still covered in fine white powder. The braid he is working on is not a braid at all. Its keeps falling apart, the ropes of dough not sticking and forcing him to just knot the whole thing. Absolutely abhorrent.

By Alucard’s side, Lyudmil stirs, peaking closer and stifling a laugh. “Having trouble there?” He starts to roll out more dough. “You do know how to braid, don’t you?”

“... Would you laugh if i told you I can’t remember how?” Embarrassment is just carving out a hole in Alucard’s chest and living there now, coiled into a ball that leaves his hands nearly shaking. It takes concentration to keep them level, so much so that he can’t look Lyudmil in the eye right now.

As the words leave Alucard’s lips Lyudmil begins to laugh right beside him, answering his question in full.

“S-sorry,” Lyudmil says, a flour covered hand lifts to his chest and flecks it onto his shirt. It is perhaps a good thing he wore white. “How do you not remember? I saw you with a braid just yesterday!”

“Yes, because you were the one who did it for me, remember?” It’s Alucard’s turn to laugh in earnest while Lyudmil’s face dusts with color. It’s endearing, the way warm red floods up for a moment and disappears against his perpetually pale skin.

“... Right, I forgot about that.” Silence lapses over the two of them for only a moment before Lyudmil is sliding his work closer to Alucard’s. “Do you want me to show you? I detest to say it, but I can’t exactly put that into the over. It won’t bake right.” He makes a vague gesture at Alucard’s sad knot of dough, and with a flick of the wrist he pulls it back towards him. He’s kneading the dough, not shying away from Alucard when they bump hips only slightly, and again when the movement is deliberate in a more jubilant manner.

The contact is so minimal, so much so that Alucard should pay it no mind, but he finds himself craving more. Playful, unreluctant affection, he wants that like a man in a desert wants water. This is a feeling he does not voice, and when Lyudmil bumps his hip again Alucard does not return the gesture.

“So once you have it coiled out,” Lyudmil begins, subtle flirting forgotten and bread dough back on the brain. “Start it out like this, press the ends together, just like that- Good!”

Alucard is, to the best of his abilities, following Lyudmil’s adept movements with his own coiled out dough. Once they weave everything together, his first braid is less than perfect, uneven and sure to be the ugly duckling of the batch. Lyudmil already has the other dozen done by the time he’s finished. It brings back that embarrassment, it’s crawled out of Alucard’s chest and it is finally seating itself against his neck. After hours of feeling completely lost, he only now shows signs of embarrassment, of being flustered. In a strange sense, Alucard supposes he should be grateful.

“How long are you setting them in for?” Alucard manages, tugging at the back of his shift without thinking off all the flour he’s getting in his hair.

“Hm? Oh, we’re not there quite yet! We have to let these prove for at least another hour.” Lyudmil is already cleaning things up, wiping flour into a sizeable pile on the counter. He’s so neat, and Alucard almost wants to do the clean up for him now. Instead, he’s trying to just form sentences.

“Prove meaning…?” to rise. He wants to say, because he knows but for the love of God he just feels so out of his element. He isn’t even nervous, he just can’t form any words. Something is tugging at the back of his mind, at the back of his head. He needs something, and as his eyes burn he can’t tell what it is. It isn’t humiliation that’s carved its way into his chest this time, it’s something that makes his eyes burn.

“Rise, basically until they’ve doubled in size...” Lyudmil says, and only starts to trail off the closer he gets. “Alucard? Are you okay?” he leaves the cloth on the counter, and the hand he reaches out only brushes Alucard slightly, so slightly, but that’s all it takes. In the blink of an eye Alucard goes from looming over Lyudmil, tall and sturdy, to falling into him as if the wind knocked him over.

Embarrassment claims Alucard once more as he realizes he hasn’t slept in almost seven days.

~~~~~

Alucard is not looking forward to crawling back out of his coffin.

He’s been awake for some time now, doesn’t know for how long, but he does know he doesn’t want to leave. He can’t remember much about what lead to him curling up against satin walls and stiff cushions, but he knows it must have been embarrassing.

The last thing on his mind was baking, Lyudmil, falling, baking with and falling on Lyudmil. Whoops.

That couldn’t have been fun for the poor boy, and suddenly Alucard wants to sink deeper into the coffin’s moth eaten padding. Lyudmil was so excited to do anything with Alucard, even something so mundane, so domestic. He was excited too, but of course he had to forget to sleep, and now Lyudmil is probably busy worrying himself sick instead of enjoying himself. Alucard knows, he’s certain.

He knows. He knows.

He overthinks.

Lyudmil must be worried about him, or perhaps very he’s very cross. He is always the one telling Alucard he needs more rest, needs to take care of himself more often, that sleeping for five days and then not sleeping for a week is bad for him.

As much as Alucard values the opinions of his loved ones, he can’t help but think of those words as absolute rubbish. He’s never operated on a normal sleep basis in his whole life, never, and he doesn’t intend to.

He doesn’t intend to leave his coffin soon either, but he knows he has to. He pushes off the heavy lid, hears it clatter to the floor, and braces himself for the guilt about to hit him in the face.

It does not make contact.

Lyudmil forgives him, and he expresses this in an almost completely unspoken manner.

He communicates it through gentle touches, through the softest caress of Alucard’s cheek, through nimble fingers combing through his hair.

“You need sleep,” he murmurs, “get back in that coffin. Prince or no prince, I won’t hesitate to carry you and throw you back in it myself.” his voice is calm, humourous. He speaks his words and they bounce around Alucard’s head like butterflies, just formed.

Alucard wants to say no, he wants to step up out of his soft cage and make Lyudmil smile like earlier, but sleep is chasing him down again. When his hands lift to grab the coffin’s edge, they’re gently shoved away. “No no, I’m serious. You almost crushed me a few hours ago my prince, I’m not letting you try that again!” The title catches Alucard by surprise, enough so that he lets his hands drop and his head fall against Lyudmil’s chest. It’s more of a nickname, but it still leaves him stunned.

He’s being laid down again, and not even once do Lyudmil’s soothing motions stop. Not the fingers through Alucard’s hair or the humming Lyudmil resumes, not even the gentle caress that follows Alucard’s decent.

He’s content, and Lyudmil is smiling. It’s enough.