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Once More With Feeling

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Vergil disappeared to... wherever he disappeared to after they made their promise leaving Dante alone with his thoughts. It seemed the Sons of Sparda needed time to adjust to this new reality and no one could really blame them.

This place was so full of memories that Dante was almost overwhelmed by them. Before long he found himself standing in front of the shuttered white wardrobe again, hearing the echo of fire and his mother's cries for Vergil followed by her death screams ringing in the back of his skull. He could remember the blazing fire and it's heat on his skin, the horrified tearful face of his mother that haunted his nightmares for years.

Dante was so preoccupied, he didn't notice the sound of footsteps down the steps but the familiar creak from the second-to-last step that snapped him from his revelry. He looked up to see who it was.

Expecting to find Vergil coming back, Dante couldn't hide his surprise when he saw it was his mother. More specifically, he was gobsmacked at what she was wearing.

Eva's long blonde hair was pulled back into a braid that sat over her left shoulder, a few strands of hair left hanging over her brow that reminded Dante way too much of Vergil's hair style. She wore a hooded Victorian-Gothic long sleeved jacket, golden embroidery coiling over every inch of black in intricate designs that mirrored the ones on her favourite gown. Underneath was a pale button-up blouse, accented by a black and gold vest that again matched the neckline of the same gown and maroon red trousers tucked into knee-high heels boots.

At her sternum was a smooth onyx fixture, a kind of locket with an eye symbol etched in gold. The symbol of the Umbra witches and the same emblem that earmarked the spell that propelled them back in time.

"Dante, are you alright?" Eva seemed just as surprised to see him standing in the foyer.

Dante just blinked up at his mother, "Uh… Wow - Mum, you look like you're about ready to kick some serious ass."

"Language." His mother put her fist on her hip wielding her disciplinary tone like a brand, then gave a brief conciliatory nod after about five seconds. "Thank you for the compliment, but mind your language young man. We don't speak that way in this house."

"Yeah, well - it's been a few years since I've been in this house. Sorry if I've forgotten a ground rule or two." The jest was meant as simply that - a morbid joke at the circumstance but neither took it as such. Eva's face fell fractionally and she offered him sympathy.

"I'm sorry Dante. Force of habit. I see you and it's just - I suppose you could say this morning's tale hasn't quite sunk in yet," She sat herself down on the steps and beckoned Dante to join her. He did with an obvious spring in his step. "That being said, would you mind trying to curb your language? Believe it or not, young boys shouldn't talk like crass uncultured vagabonds."

It was ridiculous for a grown man to be so eager to simply sit by his mother, but perhaps this child's body was messing with Dante's head more than he realised. He noticed that Vergil was having issues too. Not being able to summon his typical stick-up-his-backside stoic demeanor. Then again this was the first time in three and a half decades he'd had to speak to the woman whose memory he borderline worshipped. Of course he was eager to spend as much time with her as possible.

Dante plopped himself down next to his mother, swinging his legs out in front of him as he grinned cockily. "Yeah, but I'm a forty-three year old man, Mum. Even if brother and I have taken this literal jaunt back through the ages."

"And I'm six hundred and eighty four. What's your point my little devil?" Eva had smirked at how the admission completely wiped the expression right off his face, leaving slack-jawed astonishment in its wake.

He almost didn't register the same smirk Vergil was so fond of wearing when he upped his twin in their competitions. It was amazing that for all of Vergil's issues, he really seemed to take after their mother's character quirks more than Dante ever did.

"I, uh…" Dante whistled and Eva chuckled at his reaction, "I'm kinda fresh outta those right now. You're really - wow. Gez, mum, you don't look a day over thirty."

Eva ruffled his mop of hair. "And you don't look a day over seven, you little flatterer."

Dante let out a long loud belly laugh at that one. He smiled up at his mother. It was odd to speak to her like this. To speak on some relatively even terms and he found he didn't mind it one wink. His icy blue eyes found the locket on her vest.

"So you really are one of those Umbra Witches, huh?" He pointed at it, a child-like curiosity in him beckoned him to touch it but he managed to rein that impulse in pretty quick.

Eva touched her fingers to her pinned watch. A curious expression that Dante couldn't quite place flickered over her face, but it was gone in a second replaced by a certain pride. "Yes I am. Did you think any old witch could craft temporal-"

"That means you'll end up in hell if you bite the dust." Dante cut her off abrupt and it turned whatever levity his mother was about to offer to ash.

She put an arm around his shoulder and pulled him close. "That's the price of our power and that's the contract we've upheld since time immemorial."

Dante sighed, deep and melancholic. "... Yeah, it's a tough break though, right?"

"We knew what we were getting into and we accepted the fact long, long ago," Eva explained sombrely. "Still, Hell has its place in the grand design, one world can't exist without the other and someone has to keep the two in balance."

"Hmm… " Dante hummed. The question he wanted to ask, the real question was if she were such a witch - then why did she die so easily that day? But he supposed neither was the time and place for it. Instead, he focused on something more innocent. "So can I ask what's with the get-up? You goin' somewhere."

"You could say that. I've decided to throw myself back into training. I'm out of practice and I could very much use a bit of exercise," she explained with her kind smile but there was a mischievous little twink in her eye that Dante recognised from own reflection in the mirror, "I retired from my craft a long time ago, so I need to reacquaint myself with a few tricks of mine. It won't be too difficult. like riding a bicycle."

Well that answered that question. But it only replaced it with another, if father had disappeared then why didn't she opt to train the first go around and use her power then? The second question was one he'd likely never get an answer to, so Dante pushed the macabre thoughts aside. He was speaking to his mother and didn't need something so bitter to distract him from the simple pleasure and joy of this conversation. Instead, he kept his excitement going. "... does that mean you have some kick-ass-"

"-Language."

"-butt guns?"

Eva took a moment before pressing her finger to her lips to hide an unladylike like snort, repeating the phrase 'butt guns' under her breath with a giggle. Dante sniggered at his own turn of phrase and was delighted to remember that his mother shared his rather crass sense of humour, hidden as it was under social propriety.

"Hey, that was your fault, not mine. And I thought I was supposed to be the kid here." Dante joked, grinning up at his mother.

"Yes, yes. I concede, that was entirely my fault." Eva waved it off, "And yes, I do have my own weapons Dante."

"Luce and Umbra?" Dante guessed and pouted when Eva shook her head.

"Those are your father's handguns, though he rarely uses them. He prefers to use a sword, considers it the 'Gentleman's way of Battle'." Eva punctuated herself with a rather accurate impersonation of Sparda which made Dante cackle.

"Yeah, that's where Vergil got it from."

"No, No. My precise four are the Four Seasons." Eva explained and Dante laughed as if she'd just delivered the best joke in the world.

"Antonio Vivaldi, I should have known. You always loved his stuff."

"Can you fault a woman her fine tastes?" Eva replied, pushing herself off the stairs and Dante couldn't help but feel like he lost something precious when he took her warmth with her, "But at any rate, I need to be off. I have quite a bit to revise and the sooner I get started, the better off we'll all be."

As Eva rose from her seat, Dante contemplated a stray thought before practically leaping to his feet. "Hey mum?"

Eva paused and turned to face him, "Yes, sweetheart?"

Dante rubbed his neck awkwardly unsure how to phrase his next statement. "Vergil… um, he grew up thinking you didn't love him. Thinking you had abandoned him to die at Mundus' bastard horde."

Eva looked heartbroken and Dante felt a sting of guilt. He knew how fundamentally stupid it was to ask a mother to look out for her son but he felt like he needed to tell her what happened. "I'm just… I thought you should know. Vergil and I lost a lot of time as brothers because of that, and - well, I just don't want it to happen again. I just got him back, ya know?"

He could feel the sting of tears at the edges of his eyes but put on a smile for his mother to hide it. Eva took a deep breath before mustering up a kind smile that didn't quite reach her eyes. He knew she knew he was faking the cheer and brushed his cheek with her thumb. A touch of sadness flickered across her face. "Thank you for letting me know Dante."

She pressed a kiss to his crown and Dante threw his arms around her in a crushing hug. He smiled bitter sweetly, drinking in the warmth he thought he'd never feel again in his lifetime.

"Be a good boy and don't torment your brother while I'm gone." Eva parted the embrace and cupped his cheek which he leaned into while wearing his cheeky grin.

"Aw c'mon mum, that's half my fun!"

"Don't." She said with finality but there was a playful glint in her eye. "I'll be back this evening, Dante. I'll see the both of you soon."

With that, Eva had left her son in the foyer and Dante watched her disappear behind the front door. A treacherous thought in the back of his mind told him it would be the last time he ever saw her but he rebuffed it coldly.

"No chance in hell we're losing her again," he whispered to himself, feeling his anger and determination rise in equal measure. "Not a fucking chance in hell."