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P.S. I Love You

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"So, will you take on the job, or not?"

The question has been bugging V, to be perfectly honest.

And it all started when a client visited the shop that one uneventful day.

V was busy sweeping the floor ( Dante was, as usual, sitting on his favorite chair with his booted feet propped up on the desk ) when the door suddenly opened, revealing a woman in her mid - twenties.

"Welcome to,... ah,..." the poet awkwardly began as he looked up from what he was doing ( he was instructed by Dante to keep practicing his greetings as a way of helping him loosen up in front of strangers and possible clients ) and took a look at the woman, who just ignored him and walked pass him.

"Are you Dante, the Legendary Devil Hunter?" The woman asked with her low and raspy voice.

"Yeah? How can I help you?" Dante lazily inquired as he stretched his arms like he just woke up from a long, undisturbed slumber

"I need you to drive out the evil spirit that's haunting my house." The lady demanded in a very bossy tone. "I'll pay you - "

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Calm down, señorita!" The Devil Hunter, who was wide awake now due to the woman's brash attitude, held up both his hands in an attempt to interrupt his very demanding client. "This is a Devil Hunting Agency, and not some fancy paranormal shop for old wives."

The woman's eyes widened as she placed her hands on her hips, clearly annoyed at the ugly attitude that Dante just showed her. "As I've told you, I could pay you - "

"Nope! Not gonna drive out ghosts for ya, miss." Dante rested the back of his head against his raised arms once more as he settled his feet back on the desk. "And I hunt Devils, not spirits. They're just, eh. Small fry,..."

The woman closed her eyes, holding up her hands and balling them to fists as she kept her temper in check. And when she opened them once more, V saw her grab something from the pocket of her ripped jeans and carefully placed it on the desk. "If you ever change your mind, you should be able to find me on this address."

V's eyes never wavered from the woman as she made her way out of the shop, ignoring him once more and walking pass him like she didn't even see him standing there. He carefully placed the broom and the dust pan on one corner of the room and made his way towards Dante. He saw the business card on the table, picked it up, and faced the man behind the desk.

"The electric bill is due tomorrow." V reminded the man, hoping for him to reconsider. "Why did you refuse?"

Dante opened one eye and peered at him curiously. "Eh, I'm not interested in it."

"Why?"

Dante sighed and closed his eyes as he made himself comfortable on his favorite spot. "I told ya. Ghosts are just small fry. Not worth my time."

"But, the lady needs help. And she is willing to pay." V reiterated, stressing on the word pay. But, he was ignored by the Devil Hunter.

What's with people and their tendency to ignore him?

With a deep sigh, V left the man and read the contents, pondering for a while if he should accept the job in place of the lazy Dante. The simple card contained the name of the client and her address. Nothing more.

~ Avery L. Edwards ~
• No. 794 Swan Lane, Red Grave City •

He dragged his gaze off the words that seemed to hypnotize him and went out of the shop, hoping to find Avery L. Edwards.

And there she was, about to start the engine of her shiny dark bike with purple highlights.

"Miss Edwards,..." V called her attention, slightly running to catch up to her before she could drive away.

Avery fortunately ( and finally ) noticed him and removed her helmet, turning her gaze towards him and appraising him from head to foot. In fact, she looked so surprised that a man such as V was trying to have a conversation with her.

Was it his unusual appearance?

"And you are - ?"

"V." The poet answered, taking a deep breath and leaning on his metal cane for support. He, then, straightened his back and tilted his head to the side. "You can call me V."

"Oh. What can I do for you, V?"

"About the commission - "

"Stop. Right. There." Avery pointed at V, cutting him halfway through his sentence. "If you're planning to take on the Poltergeist at my home, then you're making a HUGE mistake."

Huh? "And may I ask,... why?"

"Furniture floating and smashing about. Disembodied voices in the middle of the night. And your skinny, princess ass begging to be fed and given vitamins. Are you goddamn sure?!"

Now, Dante may have sensed her odd attitude, but her wrongful assumption of him being incapable of the task did somehow put him on the edge. He looked at her straight in the eye, slightly bowing his head, and showing her his devilish smirk - a sign that he was more than ready for the simple task she originally have for Dante.

And this slightly unnerved the woman.

"I would like,... to see myself try." V simply told her.

The woman raised a scornful eyebrow. She knew that Dante was her one and only hope and choice. No other person in Red Grave could do it but him.

But, this man?

"So, will you take on the job, or not?"

"I would like to,... if you would allow me."

Avery furrowed her eyebrows and regarded him like he was some suicidal maniac begging to be fed to the lion. "Alright. I'll expect you tomorrow, then. Move into the house for a week. Bring whatever or whoever you need. You know my address."

"Would a cat and a bird do?" V innocently asked as he playfully twirled his metal cane in a display of confidence. This woman,... must be taught a lesson.

Avery pursed her lips and wore her helmet once more. "Sure. Whatever. I don't care. Just,... get rid of the ghost for me. I'll pay you. That I can assure you."

And with those words, she finally drove away.

Despite the question strangely bugging him, he was, in fact, feeling excited of this new mission. Yes, Dante might consider it as "small fry" but, facing Poltergeists was definitely a welcome change compared to his boring Devil Hunting routine. And he wanted so much to prove that woman wrong about him.

He was about to go back to the shop to pack what little belongings he have when he noticed Nico staring at him with wide eyes and open mouth. Apparently, she has been standing near the door for quite a while and must have heard the conversation between him and Avery. She almost dropped her groceries as she attempted to close her mouth and control her drooling.

Wait, did she look,... excited?

"Whoa, a paranormal investigation!" The Artisan gasped. "Can I tag along?"

"I don't - "

"Come on, man! Ya gotta let me!" Nico strode closer to him, flailing her arms about and almost sending her groceries flying everywhere. "This is like,... a dream come true for me! Okay, how about this: we'll split the pay 70 - 30. But, I'll be happy with nothing, though, if you don't want 70 - 30! But, come on, that's good deal, yeah?"

"Nico, I - "

"Please? I'll drive you on the way there. I will not be a bother."

V felt cornered. The woman looked really excited that he would surely feel guilty if he refused her.

Him, Griffon, Shadow, probably Nightmare, as well, and finally, Nico.

What could go wrong with this simple task of driving away a single evil spirit from someone's home with some comrades? After all, Avery did say he could bring just about anyone.

And what does her house look like, anyway? And what was the reason behind this Poltergeist's ceaseless haunting?

Chapter Text

"Ah - ah, ah! Ah - ah, ah! We come from the land of the ice and snow. From the midnight sun, where the hot springs flow. The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands to fight the horde, and sing and cry,

Valhalla, I am coming!"

The poet looked up from his book, unable to concentrate on his reading due to Nico's loud and obnoxious singing, not to mention her nasty habit of cigar smoking. The poor and abused speaker in the van has been blasting Led Zeppelin since the minute they left Dante's shop and it was taking a toll on both his ears, his nerves, and his sanity.

V preferred silence, honestly. He just doesn't have the heart to tell her. She was so excited upon knowing that she could tag along that she didn't even notice the bleak weather and the growing dread all over the place. And as they drove towards their destination, the lively and colorful buildings of Red Grave became fewer and fewer by the minute, the wind beginning to sound more and more like an agonized howling.

All in all, a perfect scenario from a horror movie that could be considered cliché and overused.

And when Nico screeched to the Immigrant Song for the tenth time that day, Griffon's feathers stood up and his multiple golden pupils dilated.

"FUCKING SHIRLEY! I'M OUTTA HERE!" The poor demonic bird squawked as he hastily hid back inside the poet. V's other familiar, a huge feline called Shadow, bared her fangs at the woman, hissed angrily, and returned to him as well.

V ignored the woman and his urge to slam the speaker with his cane and looked out of the window, observing the old fashioned houses that came into his view.

"We're almost there." Nico told him, her move to turn off the speaker finally blessing his ears with some much needed peace. "To be totally frank, I've never been in this part of the city before. This place has a reputation, ya know."

"Reputation, you say?" V repeated the word as he curiously looked back at his female companion.

Nico waved a single hand as her eyes rolled. "The place is nice, so are the neighbors. But, ya know, this place was rumored to be cursed. Had an endless chain of unfortunate events since the 1900s."

"Like what kind of unfortunate events?" This really caught his attention.

"Oh, nothin'. Just a few deaths here and there, rich neighbors goin' bankrupt all of a sudden, wives being left by husbands due to third party relationships, wives being left by husbands permanently, if ya know what I mean. Yeah. That kind of thing." Nico explained with slight amusement in her tone. "But, I believe none of them curses. Or in fate. It's just how ya live yer life. If ya do good, then no harm could be done to ya. If not, well," the woman chuckled as she sucked on her cigar once more, making V duck from the smoke she just blew. "... shame on ya."

A few minutes more of driving finally led them to the place they were looking for. As V came out of the vehicle, he took a good long look at the house before him: two - story, a little old - fashioned, with a little garden on the side, and very simple. He waited for Nico to come out, and when she finally did, he started making his way towards the tiny patio of the house. He faced the door, idly evading the cozy - looking knitted mat that says welcome in it, and tapped the end of his cane thrice against it.

A few moments later, the door was opened by a kindly looking elderly woman in her late sixties wearing what looked like a brown gingham that was seemingly plucked straight from the 1900s.

Who knew Avery still lived with her grandmother?

"Oh, we have been expecting you!" The kind woman smiled at them as she opened the door wider to make way for them. "Come in! Make yourself at home."

"Thank you." Nico awkwardly answered as she followed V inside.

They were made to sit on a sofa amidst numerous pastel colored cushions, and as they began to settle down, they noticed the warm and cozy atmosphere of the house. It's as if it was impossible for it to be haunted in the first place.

"And just in time for tea and cookies!" The kind grandma sang as she brought a huge plate of chocolate chip cookies from the kitchen and placed it before V and Nico.

"We have ea - "

"Of course! Of course! Thank you so much." Nico blurted out, ignoring V's scornful look after receiving a painful nudge from her.

V watched helplessly as she took a cookie and received a cup of tea from the generous woman. And as he rubbed on the spot where Nico just nudged him, he spoke to the woman. "We would not want to impose on your,... kindness. If we could talk to Ms. Edwards right now, we could handle the business,... like how she instructed me to do."

To his surprise, the woman only raised a confused eyebrow. Despite her clear confusion, the smile on her lips never left her kind face.

"I believe you have the wrong house, my dears." The old woman croaked.

Nico almost choked on her tea after hearing those words from her. "S - sorry?"

A few embarrassing moments later, V found himself staring at a very intimidating and sprawling old mansion just across the street from the old woman's house. And unlike the cozy home they've just been accidentally invited into, this mansion looked like it was teeming with all kinds of restless evil spirits with its dark atmosphere and depressing status. No wonder Avery needed all the help she could get. He looked back at the gate of the house they were at and finally noticed the number on it - 749. 749. Avery's address is 794. Freaking 794.

"The Edwards live there, although the only one left is their daughter." The old woman mentioned, and with a wave of her hand, she bid them good luck and closed the door of her home, leaving the two outside and on such a cold weather.

"Okay, let's do this one more time." Nico muttered a few minutes later as she and V faced the massive wooden door. V did the honors and knocked as hard as he could, seeing that the brass knocker ( in the shape of, of course, a gargoyle ) was broken, and almost injured his knuckles.

And after what seemed like an eternity, Avery finally opened the door.

"You're late!" The young woman nagged, making V wish he was back at the sweet old lady's cozy house.

"We do apologize." The poet said as he felt the chilly air pass through the open door to his skin. And it made his hair stand on end. The weather outside was cold but,...

... the temperature of this house should not have a reason to be lower than that.

Something was really off about the place, and V could feel it in his bones even without entering the premises. It was as if some kind of dread has made its way to his chest and clutched tightly at his heart, making it heavy and painful. His head felt like it was slowly bloating, and the concrete beneath his feet suddenly became mushy. He was not entirely sure whether Nico felt the same but, he strangely felt so sick and sad all of a sudden.

And that was before he could even enter.

So when Avery finally forgave them and let them in, V knew, deep within his sane mind and his insane subconscious, that they're in for something truly malicious and insidious,...

 

Chapter Text

Something was really off about the place, and V could feel it in his bones even without entering the premises. It was as if some kind of dread has made its way to his chest and clutched tightly at his heart, making it heavy and painful. His head felt like it was slowly bloating, and the concrete beneath his feet suddenly became mushy. He was not entirely sure whether Nico felt the same but, he strangely felt so sick and sad all of a sudden.

And that was before he could even enter.

So when Avery finally forgave them and let them in, V knew, deep within his sane mind and his insane subconscious, that they're in for something truly malicious and insidious,...

As V scanned the whole area, his emerald eyes marveled at the undeniable wonder of the old place. The interior was, in fact, well - kept, considering its age and everything that probably happened within its four, or so, corners. The dark, and squeaky, floorboards perfectly complimented the deep maroon carpet, and the antique furniture, such as the Grecian statues that stood near the grand staircase and the baroque period paintings that hung on the rich mahogany walls, gave the whole place a sophisticated feel, not to mention the soft amber light that the brass lamps on each column post were radiating.

The place was, indeed, breathtaking. And yet,...

... it suffocated V. The sensation was like a really tight vice grip around his neck, and it actually scared the living hell out of him, not to mention the deathly cold temperature of the place that gave him goosebumps.

And Nico? He just assumed that the woman's perception regarding all things paranormal was limited, even close to none at all.

"Wow! Such a nice mansion." Nico breathed, amazed at everything her eyes landed upon.

Avery smirked at her. "Yeah, it was. Oh, and welcome to (L/N) Manor, I guess,..." She scratched her temple and pointed at the hallway on the right near the staircase. "Guest rooms are that way and on the second floor. The kitchen and dining hall's on the left. Each room has a powder and bath room, and you should find everything you need on those rooms."

"How many floors are there here?"

"Four."

"Wow! Oh, I wanna see what's on the right hallway." Nico excitedly interjected as she craned her neck to the side to try and see what's there.

Avery scratched her head once more and raised an eyebrow, clearly confused of the tattooed woman's excitement upon entering a haunted place. "Well, aside from the guest rooms, the music room is there."

"Is there a piano, and something like that?"

"There,... is! But, you would not want to use it. It's kinda out of tune."

"Great! Let's go!"

The owner of the house only smiled and shook her head helplessly. "Alright, alright."

As the two women made their way to the right hallway, V cautiously followed without uttering a word. And as he was about to leave the entrance hall with them, he was sure he caught a glimpse of someone running fast towards the kitchen. Apparently, as Nico and Avery were having their conversation, V felt someone watching them, their eyes feeling almost like daggers thrown to his backside. Perhaps it was one of the servants? But, V decided it didn't matter. He will find that out later when he begin his investigation -

"HOLY SHEEP!"

V looked just in time to see Nico staring at something with wide frightened eyes. He turned around just in time to see,...

... a pair of bloodshot dark eyes staring back at him.

Now, if it weren't for the fact that it's only a life - size portrait of a man with those horrific eyes, V would've scrambled on the floor in fright. But, of course, he noticed this right away and he was able to prevent himself from making an embarrassing scene in front of the women.

V and Nico both turned to Avery as she started laughing at their reactions to the life size portrait. "Happens every single fucking time!"

"Who's that?!" Nico questioned her as she pointed at the man in the portrait.

"That - is none other than Lord Christopher Lancaster, my great grandfather." Avery introduced with a teary eye. "A bit intimidating but, yeah. He IS intimidating. Even as a painting."

"He's,... a doctor," V muttered upon noticing the frightening Lord's ensemble of white uniform from head to foot. "... from the late 1800s,..."

"That's from 1898, actually. The year he was married to - " But, even before she could finish her sentence, her phone rang all of a sudden. She held up a single finger, took her phone out from her pocket, and answered the call. "Yes, dear? I will. Yeah, yeah. I know, I know. Don't worry. No! They're harmless,..."

"Harmless?" Nico mumbled under her breath as she and V looked at her. "Us?"

"Probably." The poet answered.

"I'm sure! Stop being such a worry - wart, okay? Yes! Yes. I'm sure we - "

As they waited for Avery to finish talking on the phone, V felt it again - someone staring at him.

Slowly and cautiously, V turned around and saw a little boy curiously staring at him from behind one of the Grecian statues. The boy realized this and ran back to the kitchen as fast as he could.

"Yeah. Yeah." Avery mumbled on her phone as she slicked her blue - dyed shoulder length hair back. "Okay. I'll be right over. Bye."

Avery faced Nico and V once more as she placed her phone back to her pocket. "I'm afraid this house tour must be cut short. My fiancé is waiting for me."

"You're getting married!" Nico's face brightened at the surprising news.

"Yeah, well," Avery slicked her hair back once more as she pondered on what else to say. Like she was searching for the right words to tell them. "... we were planning to have a set up right here. It would be a simple garden wedding. But, as you can see, I have to hire you to eliminate one unwanted guest - "

And as soon as the owner of the house mentioned the word guest, all of them heard some noises on the second floor. All three of them looked up and noticed some tremors on the ceiling right above where they were currently standing. And as the noise grew louder then vanished altogether, Avery just shrugged her shoulders and shook her head. She actually looked like she was getting used to the paranormal disturbances on her own house.

"That's a pretty restless one." She told them.

"What's on the second floor?" V asked her, and as she was about to open her mouth to answer his question, her phone rang once more. Again, she held up her finger and took a look at her phone. She rolled her eyes and hid the gadget.

"It's him again. Poor guy must be really nervous right now." Avery strode towards the front door and before she could leave, she turned to them once more. "Make yourself at home, I insist." She, then, gave them an awkward smile as she opened the door and went out. "If you can,..."

Chapter Text

"It's him again. Poor guy must be really nervous right now." Avery strode towards the front door and before she could leave, she turned to them once more. "Make yourself at home, I insist." She, then, gave them an awkward smile as she opened the door and went out. "If you can,..."

And with those words, Avery finally left them inside that very cold mansion.

"That's very hospitable." Nico muttered after seemingly an eternity later of just her and V staring at the door. She, then, turned towards V and punched him ( playfully ) in the shoulder. "Hey, what's the plan?"

The tattooed poet threw his cane, caught it, and slammed it several times against his left palm. He gave the woman a sideways glance and smirked. "I'll see what I can find here on the first floor. I noticed,... something strange,... a while ago."

"Okay, gotcha. I'm just gonna get something in the van. Some things I prepared for the mission." The woman made her way to the door and as she was about to come out, she winked at V and gave him a thumbs up. "See ya."

V watched as the freckled Artisan swiftly made her way out, and when she was finally gone, he turned and -

He felt his heartbeat halt once more for a split second as he came face to face with the same boy he saw earlier.

And this time, he was unblinkingly staring at him right in the eye.

V felt his hair stand on end again and the cold creep unto his skin. The way the boy stared at him with those wide, muddy colored eyes and that distinct frown on his pale face,...

... it's as if he was searching for something beyond his eyes. It was like he was appraising his very own soul and being.

But, why?

"How can I be of service to you?" V graciously and patiently asked the boy. After a few seconds, the young one only abruptly turned away from him and hastily went back to the kitchen. And this action only led V to follow him,...

"Hey, V,..." All of a sudden, his demonic avian familiar, Griffon, materialized, his talons immediately taking hold of his shoulders, seemingly in caution. "Be careful 'round this place. I don't feel so good in here! It's like I'm bein' strangled! A - and,... it feels like this house is drainin' my energy!"

"I know." V answered at the same time his demonic feline familiar Shadow materialized.

"See? Even the house cat could feel it! Look at her!" And what Griffon said was true: the moment Shadow materialized, her eyes lit up in caution as the red marks on her jet black fur appeared. She was baring her fangs at something at the top of the stairs, and V could not even see what it was she was being angry at.

No. The way she was acting and the way her skin pulsated like she was ready to attack an any given time: V felt like Shadow was being threatened by something.

But, what?

"I have to go after that boy." He decided. "And I have to find out the cause of all this,... strangeness."

"Okay, Shakespeare. Ya know the drill," Griffon gave his little pep talk as his master made his way towards the kitchen. "You and I like to exist, so get rid of that ghost real quick, cause killin' it aint my schtick ( mainly 'cause we can't even kill ghosts )! Sorry if I don't get yer back, 'cause this whole place is just whack!"

V smirked at his familiar's quip and calmly searched for the boy. He found him right there, in the huge room, talking to someone. It was an elderly woman dressed entirely in what looked like the family's maroon uniform for servants like her. And the moment the boy realized that V has managed to follow him, he quickly ran away and went outside towards the opposite side.

"Pardon my,... intrusion." V began as calmly as he could so as not to frighten Avery's elderly housekeeper. "I came here by your lady's request for a special,... commission."

"My,... lady?" The old woman croaked.

V watched with wary eyes as the old woman faced him. And as her kind, gentle, and yet, restless, features finally registered, the tense feeling on his shoulders vanished altogether as he finally relaxed for the first time since entering the cold mansion.

The woman's eyes widened as if she was so shocked upon seeing him. If it weren't for the genuine smile she showed him, V would've felt conflicted upon making her teary eyed for a seemingly unknown reason.

"You must be the man our lady chose."

"To tell you the truth, I was not her first choice."

"Oh, why? Pray tell."

"She considered me,... upon being rejected by the man she,... originally chose,... for this job."

"Oh." The slight frown on the woman's face disappeared as it was replaced once again with her kind and gentle smile. "If you were not originally chosen as you've said, then it must be fate that brought you here, young master."

V chuckled as he shook his head. "I see. Then, I' am obliged to tell you that my companion doesn't believe in things such as fate."

"The young lady does."

V noticed the clear sadness in the way the old housekeeper said those words, and before he could even muse about it any further, she gave a slight bow and motioned for one of the chairs. "If you should take a seat, then I would gladly tell you everything I know. My name is Maria, and I have served the (L/N) household for as long as I could remember."

"Madam Maria. You can call me V." The poet returned the courteous gesture as he introduced himself.

Maria giggled as she waved him off with one hand. "Just Maria is fine, young master."

"Then, call me V,... and not young master."

"Very well! Very well! Please! Take a seat and make yourself at home. I'm making some muffins for dinner, and we have some to spare for you and your pets without ruining your appetite."

As V settled on one of the chairs facing the long wooden table, he watched the movements of the old lady as she prepared the muffins. And as he admired her hard work and effort by preparing the food and for serving the household for as long as she could in general, he couldn't help but wonder why she hasn't retired yet, given her old age.

"Hey, V," Griffon, who was still clinging unto V's shoulders with his talons, whispered. "... that cute little old lady is not even afraid of us! Is she even alright? Ya know, in the head?"

"Now, now, that is a very rude way of addressing our,... host." V answered as Shadow finally calmed down and settled next to his feet.

"Here we go. Have as much as you can. You would need all the energy you could get." Maria offered the huge plate of muffins before V, and after doing that, she settled on the chair opposite him.

"Thank you, Maria."

"Always happy to serve the lady's guests."

V looked at the scrumptious looking treats and felt it was rude to refuse, so he took one, split it in two and gave one to Griffon, who simply gobbled it without a moment's hesitation. The bird chewed as fast as he could and swallowed with much gusto, the gulping sound he made slightly embarrassing V. He, then, split the remaining half in two and offered one to Shadow underneath the table. Only then did he finally take a bite of the warm and fluffy treat.

It was,... so good.

Maria was eagerly watching V through all this, looking as though she hasn't fed someone in many years.

Which reminded him,...

"You mentioned you have served the (L/N) household for as long as you can remember. I assume it is Avery's mother's family, then?" V asked, the muffin he just took from the plate being swiftly stolen by Griffon, who seemed famished to the bone.

But, Maria didn't answer. Instead, she just held out a brave, trembling hand to pet Shadow. "The young lady used to own a cat. It was dark in color, just like this one. She used to call it Luna."

"Oh, I see." V answered, his fingers almost bitten by Griffon, who took, yet, another muffin from his hand. "This is Shadow."

"Hello, Shadow! It's so nice to meet you." Maria greeted. And to V and Griffon's surprise, the demonic feline squinted her eyes in a gesture that successfully told them she approved of the elderly housekeeper to pet her. Maria didn't waste any time and scratched her behind the ears right away. "She used to hide it from the master, since he didn't allow her to have pets. I remember I have to steal food from the cupboard for little Luna while the young lady hides her in the library. But, of course, the master heard all the mewling. So, the young lady had to part with her, the poor thing."

Who knew Avery was a cat person? "Hmm, it must've saddened Ms. Avery as a young girl. To part with a beloved companion."

Again, Maria didn't answer. This time, she was busy feeding Shadow.

V sighed. He knew he must be patient due to Maria's old age, so he took a mental note of this and proceeded.

"About this,... job,..." V carefully began, ignoring Griffon as he tried to steal another muffin from the plate. "Have you,... noticed anything,... a little,... strange,... lately?"

"Oh, good heavens! I forgot the tea. My mistake, dear. Let me get it for you."

V couldn't help but watch again as Maria stood to fetch the beverage, and when she returned with the pot containing the aromatic liquid and started pouring some for both him and her, he asked once more.

"Anything at all? Like,...sounds, or voices, or - "

"Here." Maria said as she offered V a cup of tea.

"Thank you. Any clue could help us with the investigation - "

"Oh, how time flies,..." Maria mused loudly as she settled back on her own chair to drink her tea. "When you're in here, you never actually notice the time. You sit down with a book in your hand in the morning, and when you get up, it's already twilight. Time flies,... indeed."

V looked at her, wondering whether all aging women were like her, and tried, one more time, to ask her regarding the haunting in the household.

"Are there any restless spirit around here?" V just got straight to the point.

"And sometimes, you sit down with a cup of tea, and next thing you know, a whole week has already passed by."

V inhaled sharply through his nostrils and finally gave up on questioning Maria. He decided to just do the investigation alone and without her cooperation. After all, grandmothers don't do well with creepy experien -

"The thing you seek lies right above us. And with it, all the answers you would need to get yourself out of this labyrinth you involuntarily got lost in the moment you stepped inside this house." Maria spoke in a very vague tone after sipping her tea. She put the cup down on the table and leaned closer to V, too close, in fact, that he was getting really uncomfortable with it. Her breath, which smelled of earl grey, assaulted his nostrils, but what unnerved V the most were her dull - looking gray eyes. As if she's,...

"Or was it voluntary? You don't believe in fate, do you, young master?" Maria asked, allowing V to catch a glimpse of her yellow teeth,...

And so, it was with utter bewilderment when he finally got the chance to untangle himself from Maria's scrutinizing gaze and made his way back to the entrance hall where Nico was already preparing all her things. And by the time he got back, the place was already filled with all sorts of wires, gadgets, and weird things from left to right.

"Dude, where have ya been?!" Nico questioned, seemingly irritated for no reason, at all.

"I was talking to the housekeeper." It was the truth.

"Huh. Ye really like that housekeeper, don't ya? To think you talked with someone for six full hours." Nico scratched her head in confusion. "I thought ya ditched me here, man. You scared me."

Six hours.

Six.

Full.

Hours.

He was gone for that long?! But, it only felt like an hour, even just minutes,...

Then, V remembered what Maria told him earlier:

Oh, how time flies,...

Time,... flies,...

... indeed.

Chapter Text


"Bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum. Bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum, bum,

Mister Sandman, bring me a dream. Make him the cutest that I've ever seen. Give him two lips like roses and clover, and tell him that his lonesome nights are over. Sandman, I'm so alone. Don't have nobody to call my own. Please turn on your magic beam, Mister Sandman bring me a dream.

Bum, bum, bum, bum,..."

V and Griffon both looked at Nico in utter confusion.

"What?!" The woman blurted out.

"Mister Sandman? Really?" Griffon sassed, slightly irritated at the song's cheesy lyrics.

"Hey, it's better than nothin', 'kay?" The woman answered as she went back to rearranging the mysterious wires that were scattered on the floor. "Or do ya want me to put in Zeppelin again?"

"NO! STOP! I BEG YA! PLEASE!"

"THEN, QUIT COMPLAININ' AND HELP ME HERE!" Nico screamed at the bird as she pointed a strange looking radio at him.

"AYE!" The bird obliged, swooping down on the floor near the wires to fix them.

"What is that?" V asked when he noticed the radio like thing on her hand.

Nico's eyes lit up in excitement as she looked at V and then at the gadget on her hand. "Oh, this work of art is my latest invention! It can record all kinds of sounds produced by both humans AND Demons!"

"Does it work on ghosts?"

Man, woman, and bird alike all glanced at the door as they saw it being pushed open. A few moments later, Avery and an unknown man, most probably the fiancé she was talking about, entered the threshold looking really tired and stressed.

"We'll see 'bout that. But, ya know, my inventions always get their job done." Nico proudly answered with a huge smile on her face.

"I hope so, because our wedding is next week. And you have to get rid of that - " But, even before Avery could say the word, guest, they heard the same noise that they heard earlier on the second floor. When the weird noise finally subsided, the blue haired woman shook her head in disbelief and faced them once more but, this time, with a sincere smile. "Never mind. By the way, I would like you to meet Roman, my fiancé. Roman, these are, ah,..."

"Nicoletta Goldstein." The Artisan introduced herself as she came forward and offered her hand to Roman. "Just Nico is fine."

"Pleased to meet you, Nico." Roman, who looked really shy and awkward, kind of like the opposite of his fiancée, took Nico's hand and shook it, his slight smile and furrowed eyebrows clearly betraying his uneasiness for being inside the house.

And when it was V's turn to introduce himself with a handshake, Roman's eyes widened in fright at what he saw behind him. Apparently, Griffon, who sensed the poor guy's uneasiness, noticed this and decided to latch unto V's shoulders to tease him. Poor Roman hid behind Avery and pointed at the demonic bird, who started making silly faces just to creep him out.

"¡DIOS MIO! ¿QUÉ ES ESA CRIATURA?" Roman screamed as Griffon raised his beak and swayed his head from left to right. He only stopped when V finally gave him an angry look.

"Hey, hey! Sshh! It's okay." Avery cooed her fiancé as she wrapped him in her arms. "It's harmless. See?"

Griffon saw this opportunity, raised his beak, and swayed his head once more, making Nico and Avery stifle their laughter so as not to offend the poor, frightened Roman, and making V bow his head down low and pinch the bridge of his nose, both embarrassed and annoyed at his demonic familiar's rude behavior.

Because of that, no one could really blame Roman for being too nervous and cautious in the dining hall a few minutes later as they enjoy the Chinese takeout he and Avery bought for everyone. His eyes cautiously roam and darted from V, to Griffon, then to Shadow, who was quietly staring at everyone from one corner of the room.

But, V had other things, or questions, in his mind, on the other hand: Maria, and that boy, were nowhere to be found.

"How did you two meet?" Nico mildly asked Avery and Roman as she enjoyed her noodles.

"Not without difficulty, to be perfectly honest." Avery candidly said as she raised her chopsticks. She leaned closer to the Artisan and mocked - whispered, "I made the first move, you know. Courting, confession, and all. I even took him out to Starbucks, gave him gifts, and sang to him! I have the voice of an angel, and he's just too shy, not gonna lie."

"Whoa, Roman! Aren't ya a lucky guy?!"

"I' am." The man proudly answered, blissfully unaware that Griffon was already stalking him from behind, trying to reach one of his dumplings.

"So, who proposed?"

"Me!" Both Roman and Avery looked at each other upon simultaneously answering Nico's burning question, the hilarity of the moment making all three of them laugh. Plus, it enabled Griffon to steal three of Roman's dumplings.

And as they were having fun with their conversation, V felt those cold daggers against his back once more. He carefully turned, and as all the other noises drowned out, plunging everything in total silence, he saw the boy from earlier peeking at him behind that half - closed door with those unnerving, dull - colored eyes of his.

And he looked as though he wanted to show him something, like he was beckoning at him,...

A hand suddenly went down to his shoulder, startling him and making him look up. It was Nico.

"Let's go."

V was still thinking of what happened earlier as he and Nico followed Avery and Roman towards the guest rooms. Occasionally, he would look behind him and see the boy following closely behind without being seen by either Nico, Avery, or the ever nervous Roman. And when Avery and Roman stopped at the third door from the left hallway, the boy hastily hid behind one of the Grecian statues near the grand staircase.

"Okay, we're here." Avery said as she opened the door of the room, revealing its old - fashioned interior, complete with two canopy beds, a walk - in closet, a vanity table, and a door which probably led to the bathroom. The large window was open, allowing them to see the garden outside that was being illuminated by the radiance of the full moon.

"Whoa, this looks really nice!" Nico breathed in awe as she entered the room and dumped her stuff on the first bed.

"I'm glad you like it." Avery said, then she turned to V. "Hey, man, you can also stay here if you want, or I could show you to another room."

"Nah, there's no need! V could behave, unlike Nero. Isn't that right, V?" Nico nudged the poet once more and winked at him.

"Yes, there's no need for it, Ms. Avery. After all," V replied as he playfully twirled his cane and tilted his head to the side. He smirked at them, making both Avery and Roman confused and uncomfortable. Especially Roman, who was still being stalked by the very mischievous demonic bird. " ... I won't be sleeping much in it."

It took both Nico and V almost two hours just to settle on their room. He waited for her to get comfortable enough, and when he noticed her finally snoring loudly on her own bed, he picked up his cane, motioned for Shadow to follow him, and opened the door.

"Hey, V, what about me?" Griffon asked as he flew right behind him.

"Stay here." The poet answered with a sideways glance at his familiar. "And protect the mouthy woman should something,... unexpected,... happen."

"I don't wanna get left behind with that woman! Look at her!"

V and Griffon turned and saw the very unbecoming Nico as she snored with her mouth wide open and turned several times on her bed, unknowingly throwing all her pillows and her blanket on the floor with her flailing arms and legs.

"See? Lemme come with ya, Shakespeare!" Griffon pleaded.

V just smiled at him as he finally came out. But, before he closed the door, he turned to him and spoke, "Consider it as,... punishment,... for terrorizing Ms. Avery's fiancé."

"WHAT THE F - !"

"Maybe next time, isn't that right?" V looked down at Shadow as he closed the door and left Griffon behind with Nico. "Because for now," He looked at the Grecian statue and saw the boy come out from behind it, waiting for him to join him. " ... we have a more,... pressing,… engagement."

Chapter Text

"Maybe next time, isn't that right?" V looked down at Shadow as he closed the door and left Griffon behind with Nico. "Because for now," He looked at the Grecian statue and saw the boy come out from behind it, waiting for him to join him. " ... we have a more,... pressing,… engagement."

The moment he arrived with Shadow at the foot of the grand staircase, he was met there by not only the boy, but by Maria, as well.

And they were both looking up as if they were waiting for something to occur,...

The old housekeeper turned just in time when V was about to ascend.

"Please let this boy accompany you." Maria simply told him. "It's the only way I could protect you."

The poet looked down at the boy and noticed him trembling, as if he was being forced to partake of this horrifying task. V took pity on him and smiled at Maria.

"Believe me, I can take care of myself. I have a very,... capable,... companion." V spoke as looked down at his familiar, who became wary of the what's on the second floor once more.

Maria hummed in disagreement. "Solitary makes itself known with every decision you make, I can see that." She placed a hand on the boy's shoulder and looked at V once more. "Very well, since this is your first night, I will let you wander on your own. But, please," She went closer to V and placed her hands on his shoulders. "... be mindful of everything around you. Deception comes,... in all forms." She let go of V's shoulders and made way for him. "I bid you good luck, V."

He nodded and took the first step, then the second, then the next. The evil presence in the place still suffocated him, and it made his footsteps heavier than expected. He looked behind him and saw Shadow still at the foot of the stairs, positively cowering, just like the boy. He motioned for his familiar to go back to him, and she grabbed this opportunity to finally hide from the malicious presence she was so afraid of.

Only then did he finally manage to reach his destination.

There was actually nothing much on the second floor, save for some closed doors, more Grecian statues on every pillar, and a few closed windows. The hallway was understandably dark with only a few lamps illuminating the place, and there was a distinct odor wafting around the area that made V both sick and depressed.

He looked around him, fully prepared should something attack.

The silence was deafening, the darkness, oppressing.

He took a few steps to his left with the intention of opening all those doors to have a look. The sound from earlier did come from this direction, after all. He tried opening the first door. It was, of course, locked. Then, he tried the second one, still locked. The third? Didn't even budge.

It was when he was about to check on the fourth door when he felt something move swiftly from behind him. He turned around and saw nothing.

His eyebrows furrowed, his lips slightly parted. He tried to reach the doorknob once more when he -

"I'll show you something."

He clearly heard a whisper that penetrated through the deafening silence. The hair on his nape stood on end, and his breathing became heavier. He suddenly felt the same kind of cold creep unto his skin, like the first time he stepped into this house. And then, he felt it - an overwhelming kind of sadness that drained almost all of his energy and what's left of his positive mood. The feeling took hold of his heart and made his body frigid for a few seconds. The melancholy spread throughout his body like a virus, and gave him thoughts that sent warning bells to his brain. He knew full well that it was not in his nature at all to feel like this. But, the malicious entity that resided within this house clearly wanted to plant this seed of emotion within him.

Because he suddenly wanted to end his own life.

"I'll show,"

He slowly turned around once more, and he saw, within a few feet from where he was standing, a lady dressed from head to foot in white. Her back was turned against him and she was pointing at something right in front of her.

"... you,..." she ended her sentence as her body seemed to spasm violently, showing some strands of blonde hair that escaped from her white lace veil.

Her body stopped moving, and a few moments later, she dropped her hand to the side and began walking towards the direction she was pointing at. V cautiously followed her, maintaining a safe distance away from her. He raised his cane a bit, preparing himself should this creature decide to attack him. Demons were predictable and easier to fight with, to be honest. They only want one thing from you, and that was your death and destruction.

But, ghosts were an entirely different thing, altogether.

And one can't simply get rid of them, Legendary Devil Hunter or no.

V looked down and realized she was barefooted. But, what really startled him the most was the way she moved.

Her toes were just gliding against the wooden floor. Like something unseen was pulling her from afar and manipulating her movements.

Her spasms, the way she pointed, and the way she glided,...

... it was like she was a life - sized marionette,...

She abruptly stopped moving and faced the third door to her right. She lifted an arm once more, her finger pointing at the doorknob.

This must be it. V thought. He cautiously stepped forward and turned the doorknob.

It clicked.

He opened the door wide enough and raised his cane, ready to summon Shadow should something attack him from the room.

But, there was none.

In fact, the room looked really nice. It even smelled nice, like an old perfume. He carefully stepped inside, his feet barely making any kind of noise. He stepped further and -

BAM!

V turned around and saw the door closed shut. The clicking sound that he heard right after sent his nerves to panic mode. He strode towards the door and tried to open it. But, to no avail.

He felt the tension within his skin as Shadow tried to materialize but, for some reason, she couldn't.

He clutched at his chest, his escalating heartbeat swiftly getting the better of him. He closed his eyes, trying his best to shove all the negative thoughts from his head. He opened them once more, and realized that his surroundings have drastically changed.

For the room, which was once dark and suffocating, has now turned bright, and new, and warm.

Like he was suddenly transported to a different place.

He looked around, his eyes wandering from one furniture to the next. The pastel - colored wallpapers looked relaxing to his eyes, and the French canopy bed was effectively doing its best to lull V in for a good night's rest. There were some large stuffed animals on the side and the white vanity table was filled with some cosmetics of some sort. He went towards it and saw his reflection on the wide ornate mirror. He took one bottle of perfume and sniffed it, realizing it was the sweet scent that wafted around the room. Carefully placing it back, he glanced at the window, curious as to what he would see should he part those heavy, pastel - colored curtains.

He stepped forward, one hand reaching out to move the curtain -

V turned around just in time as he heard the door open,...

... and in came a very beautiful girl with the most luscious set of long, (H/C) curls. She looked up, her large (E/C) - colored eyes landing right to where V was standing.

"I,... ah,..." The poet stuttered, not knowing how he would react to the situation or explain his treason to her own room. Like he was caught in the act doing something really mischievous in a lady's boudoir. "Forgive me, I - "

The fringe of her long (H/C) - colored eyelashes fluttered like the wings of a butterfly, and her little cupid, cherry - colored lips parted.

V's mouth dropped open at the sight.

She simply was breathtaking.

Unlike any woman he has seen before.

"I'm really sorry, I,..."

But, she was not even shocked at his presence there! What's more, she just closed the door, locked it, and proceeded to the bed, collapsing in it as she took a stuffed animal next to her pillows and embraced it as tight as she could, burying her face in it.

And then, as if she was upset at something, she literally screamed at the top of her lungs, her fluffy toy muffling the sound she made.

"Oh, my,..." V uttered as he watched her. "I - I'll take my leave now. I - "

The girl, then, threw the stuff animal away, showing her flushed face. Carefully removing her shoes and rearranging her white skirt, she crawled to the middle of her bed and reached for something underneath her white pillows with one hand.

Then, V saw it - a leather - bound book on her hand. She sat up, leaned against the headboard, and opened it. She took the pen next to a music box on top of her bed side table and began writing in the book.

With wary steps, he went closer to her. He gingerly sat on the edge of the bed, reached out his left hand, and waved it in front of her face.

He was right. She couldn't see him.

V sighed as he dropped his hand to his side and watched her scribble away on that journal of hers. Sometimes, she would simply stop writing and nibble on the pen, her eyebrows furrowing slightly. And oftentimes, she would brush away a wayward (H/C) lock and place it behind her ear. He found this mannerism of hers quite adorable, and when he was about to sit closer to her a few minutes later, she stopped writing, closed the book shut, held close to her chest and smiled, her cheeks turning pink once more. She, then, bowed down low, held the book against her forehead and shrieked, her feet flailing excitedly.

The poet chuckled at the sight. Well, it looked as though cupid has struck an arrow right through this girl's chest. She looked,... so in love. And blissful.

V watched a few more moments of her going back and forth on her writing until someone started knocking on the door.

The girl looked up in alarm and quickly hid the journal back beneath her mountain of pillows.

"My lady?" A woman called from the other side of the door. "Lady (Y/N)?"

(Y/N),...

Such,... a beautiful name. For a girl as lovely as her,...

"Yes?! You can come in!"

Oh, God. Even her voice sounded lovely and angelic,...

The door opened and in came a young woman with dark hair and equally dark eyes.

"What are you doing?" The lady asked.

"Nothing!" (Y/N) answered.

"What was that scream I heard?"

(Y/N)'s eyes widened as she slightly looked down at her pillows. "A scream?"

"Yes!"

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I' am!"

"Well, I heard nothing." (Y/N) candidly lied, making V smirk in amusement. How typical of girls her age,...

"Oh, never mind!" The lady, most probably a maidservant, waved a single hand. "Do come down. Your father is already waiting at the dining hall."

"Oh, shoot!" (Y/N) swore underneath her breath as she quickly scrambled off the bed and made her way towards her maidservant. She took a deep breath and brushed some invisible dirt off her white dress. "How do I look?"

"Adorable." V could not help but whisper.

"You look fine." The lady replied. "Let's go!"

(Y/N) smiled as she took the servant's hand and made their way outside, shutting the door close behind them and leaving V alone in the room.

Then, V felt the air leave his lungs as the room was plunged into total darkness. The things inside the room lost their color, and the sweet smell gradually changed into something that made him sick.

He closed his eyes, feeling the familiar heaviness in his chest return. And when he opened them once more, he suddenly found himself face to face with the same boy from earlier. The boy was peering down at him, not doing anything to help him ease the pain in his throat. And just when V was beginning to think that he was in, yet, another kind of illusion, he felt the boy's cold hand grip his right arm tightly, pulling him with much force in a gesture that managed to convey that it was time to leave.

"Wait." The poet said as he took his arm off the boy's deathly cold grip. He looked around him and recognized the same things that he saw earlier.

From the stuffed animals, to the bottles of perfume, to the curtain, to the French canopy bed he was sitting at.

This,... was, indeed, (Y/N)'s room.

His hand idly reached beneath the cold white pillows, and then he found it,...

... her diary. (Y/N)'s diary.

He took it out, felt a sense of relief to know that it was still in good condition, and stood, following the boy outside of the room. He was still looking at the curious little thing in his hand a few moments later as he went back down to the first floor when a thing so utterly frightening greeted him at the foot of the stairs.

With dark, frizzy hair sticking wildly like bushes and mouth wide open as she yawned, letting him see her tongue, uvula, throat, and beyond, he saw Nico as she stretched her limbs before him. V waited for her to finish stretching and yawning, and when her sight finally adjusted, she waved her hand at him.

"Ey, g'mornin'." She mumbled with a silly smile on her lips.

Wait,...

"Good morning?" V repeated.

Nico's eyes widened as she looked around her. V did so, and realized that it was, indeed, already morning! The sun outside looked as if it was already high above the sky and the house looked bright once more.

And an hour hasn't even passed since he went upstairs! And that was around half past ten in the evening!

"Well, yeah, duh." Nico only replied. "Where have ya been? Didn't see ya go to sleep or wake up."

"Hey!" V and Nico turned to see Avery already dressed and waiting for them at the dining hall. "Drag your asses here! Breakfast is ready!"

"Right! Comin'!" Nico answered as she walked towards the dining room like a zombie.

But, V remained rooted to the ground as realization came down upon him.

It only felt like minutes but,...

... it looked as though he was gone for more than eight hours!

Chapter Text

"So, how did your first night go?" Avery mildly asked later that same morning in the dining hall as all the occupants of the room enjoyed their fluffy pancakes, maple syrup, and coffee.

To this question, V carefully placed (Y/N)'s diary on top of the table, hoping Avery would recognize it.

"What's that?" Nico asked with her mouth full of those fluffy pancakes as she pointed at the leather - bound book with her fork.

"I believe this,... belongs to someone you know,... Ms. Avery." V simply answered as his peripheral vision landed straight onto Griffon as the demonic bird slyly landed on Roman's chair, probably with the full intention of terrorizing the man once more.

Avery's eyebrows furrowed in confusion as she took the book from the table and examined it. "This looked super old." She opened it, and upon reading the words on the first page of the journal, her eyes widened like saucers. "Damn! I thought this thing's lost! Like, what the fuck!"

"My love, what is it?" Roman curiously asked as he leaned closer to her to see what was written on the journal. At the same time Griffon managed to steal one of his pancakes.

Avery focused her gaze on V, looking really baffled, and yet, happy at the same time. "This belongs to my great grandmother who died at 1899. You see, there was, how should I say this,... ?" She mused aloud as the others, especially V, waited for her answer. She pursed her lips, her fingers drumming on the table, and looked at them once more. "Something huge, like, really huge, happened here on that year, and I believe it was the cause of her death. You see, she passed away at the very young age of nineteen."

"What happened to her?" V, who was so shocked upon learning that the girl he saw - that radiant and lovely and happy girl he just saw - died that young, asked, his voice a bit unintentionally louder than he liked.

"I'm not sure, really. Some say she died of childbirth. Some say she died of an illness. I even heard some relatives say she died due to heart attack. The only thing I could remember was: every time I ask my relatives about it, there would always be a different version of how (Y/N) (L/N) - Lancaster died. And this thing?" Avery declared as she showed them her ancestor's diary. "It's thought to be lost. Either stolen by one of the Lancaster servants on the day she died or lost in a fire. But, you found this, V. What a strange coincidence!"

"I did. Yes." The poet uneasily answered due to the fact that the things around this house were really turning too mysterious for his own liking,...

... and due to the fact that Griffon was now happily lapping away at Roman's coffee, and no one even noticed, or they're just playing ignorant about it to not make Avery's soft Hispanic fiancé upset.

"Where did you find this?"

"At the room on the second floor. The one from the left."

"Hmm." Avery hummed as she closed the book shut. "That one from the left? That's very strange." She uttered, then slid the book back to V, who received it with much care and pride like a veteran soldier receiving a medal for his years of services. "Well, I'm not really a diary kind of person, and it's useless to me, anyway, so, you can have it. Nothing's written on it, anyway. Except for her name, that is."

"For real?" Nico asked, intrigued at what she just heard from Avery. "Like, nothing at all?"

"Yep."

"V?"

The poet obliged and opened the book. He browsed and re - browsed the pages and found nothing, except for (Y/N)'s name at the first page, and the date she wrote it.

May 1, 1898

V ignored the fact that he certainly saw (Y/N) write something in it on that weird vision he saw last night and turned his attention back to the group. Maybe she ripped the pages she wrote on or something?

"Ms. Avery, would you kindly tell me about these,... strange occurrences,... you've been experiencing as of late?" V asked, carefully choosing his words while trying to ignore Griffon as the bird ate one more of Roman's pancakes.

"Ah, yes. The ghost." She answered, emphasizing on the word, ghost. "If you want, I'll show you something first, then I'll tell you everything I know."

"Of course." V agreed as he stood up and finally gave Griffon, who successfully consumed Roman's entire breakfast, the subtle angry eye.

"What in the world?!" Roman gasped as he finally noticed his breakfast, or lack, thereof. Griffon simply flew away from him with what sounded like a strange and, yet satisfied, cackle.

A few moments later, all four of them found themselves in the music room that also served as the mansion's library, and as V glanced at the whole place, and the shelves upon shelves of old books, not to mention the grand piano in the middle of the massive room, with much wonder in his eyes, he could not help but smile to himself. The whole house may feel depressing and both physically and emotionally draining but, this place? V felt happy, or giddy, in it, as a matter of fact. Excited, even. Almost as if he was in an entirely different place, altogether.

It's as if what's left of the happiness, or positive energy, in this house were all concentrated in this area, and this area alone. Particularly on that old, grand piano. Yes. He could definitely feel it.

But, why?

"I stay in here whenever things in this house get too scary." Roman admitted to him with a sheepish smile, probably in admittance that he's not the bravest soul around. "When things get too much around here, I go to this room, lock the door, and read something." Roman chuckled as he scratched his temple and gestured at the grand piano. "I can't play the piano but, I'd really like to learn how. Avery can't really teach me, to be honest."

"Well, I'm right here if you need some musical assistance." V graciously offered.

"Wait, are you serious?!"

But only as compensation for being terrorized by this little Demon. "I' am."

"Gracias! I mean, thanks!"

"No problem."

"Over here!" Avery called from the farthest corner of the room. "Here's a portrait of my great gran."

In his eagerness to see (Y/N) as a portrait, V practically rushed to where Avery was. He wanted so much to see the happy and infatuated girl in that vision he had. He wanted so much to see her infectious smile, those shiny and bouncing (H/C) curls, the twinkle in her eyes.

Yes. Those big and beautiful (E/C) eyes,...

However, the smile on V's face vanished as soon as he laid eyes on (Y/N)'s portrait.

"Ah, she looks,... kinda sad?" Nico muttered as she looked up at the portrait of the Lancaster matriarch.

It was true. The girl that V saw and the girl in this portrait,...

... they looked very different. It was like they were a different person. For the once cheerful and radiant girl full of life,...

... was somehow depicted as a sorrowful woman without even a hint of a smile. That youthful face he once saw has seemingly aged a few decades, and those radiant eyes that captured his undivided attention looked dull and hopeless. Those plump, cherry - colored cupid lips turned into one thin, emotionless line, and her flushed cheeks turned hollow and ill - looking. The positive aura she gave off was absent in her frigid state, and the healthy color of her skin has become noticeably pale. And probably the most important of all: the girl he saw may only be wearing a simple white dress but, her beauty and charisma outmatched that of the matriarch's in the portrait, who sported the high fashion of the late 1800s from head to foot.

She really looked entirely different.

V's eyebrows furrowed and his lips went down to a frown at the sight.

What made her into this,... ?

Avery cleared her throat and gestured at the painting as if she was introducing them to a real person. "I'd like you to meet gran. Lady (Y/N) (L/N) - Lancaster." She sighed and dropped her arms. "Honestly though, Roman is right. This room is the safest place in this house. Anywhere else, you'll just end up either depressed, if you aren't already, or badly injured or wounded. Things don't just float around here. They'll float, then land straight to your face without a warning if you're not careful. The last six helpers I have left this place with all kinds of bruises and wounds on their body, even injuries like broken bones. And they all blamed that one ghost who resides within those rooms on the right side of the second floor."

That's where I first checked until that specter led me to (Y/N)'s room. "What's in those rooms?" V questioned her.

"Just an old bedroom and two study rooms. Nothing too important."

"I see." V answered. He, then, crossed his arms over his chest and regarded Avery very, very seriously. "Have you, perhaps, felt something else in it? A strong feeling? Anything at all?"

Roman and Nico watched the woman as she crossed her arms, herself, thinking deeply about the question. At the same time, V's trusty familiars, Griffon and Shadow, grabbed this opportunity to snoop around the area, particularly the shelves and the grand piano in the middle of the room.

"Now that you mention it, yes, I have!" She finally answered. "The last time I slept in one of those rooms, I felt,... sad and super tired. Like I wanted to end my own life! But, I know myself. I'm stronger than that. So, I moved my things to the first floor right next to this room. I may have acquired a bruise and some scratches during my sleep on the second floor but, I don't care. My great gran has protected me since I moved down here."

Roman smiled at his fiancé and wrapped her in a gentle embrace as he planted a kiss on top of her head. And the tender gesture displayed by the two kind of embarrassed both V and Nico, who looked away just in time when Avery reciprocated with a kiss.

"So, we would really appreciate it if you could get to the bottom of this mystery for us." Avery pleaded with a tone unlike the one she used the first time V met her. "If you want to ask any questions, or want to ask for any kind of thing at all. Please. Don't hesitate to let us know. Your presence alone means a lot to me and Roman. Thank you for coming here, V and Nico."

Nico smiled and nudged V with an elbow. "Sure. We don't want a ghost crashing on your wedding day, after all. Isn't that right, V?"

The poet only smiled as he simply nodded, his peripheral vision catching sight of his familiars already waiting for him near the piano, signaling to him that they have found a sort of clue.

After all, they would need all the clues, and help, they could get.

A restless and violent spirit that has the ability to manipulate things and hurt people.

That strong feeling of depression that could overwhelm anyone into committing suicide.

That one room on the left, and those three rooms on the right.

The huge time skips when he visited certain parts of the house.

This one safe room.

That strange journal he found.

The (Y/N) he saw on the vision.

And the (Y/N) that was depicted in the painting.

Not to mention her alleged "protection" to anyone who came into this room.

Many things don't add up. The scattered and unreliable information provided by Avery's relatives regarding the Lancaster matriarch's death and the things that took place in this house in the late 1800s, Maria and her enigmatic statements, that strange boy, that veiled ghost,...

... and (Y/N)'s drastic change to that unspeakable being of hopelessness,...

V has to stitch them all up and find more clues, and he truly hoped that Avery or Nico could help him solve this mystery.

But, first, he has to speak with his familiars about that thing they just found.

And maybe scold Griffon for stealing the red handkerchief from Roman's pocket just now,...

Chapter Text

"If there are any spirits here, say HHHOOOEEE!" Nico wailed as she tried once more to communicate with the Lancaster mansion ghost. She was holding up the voice recorder she invented just for V's paranormal mission in great hopes of picking up any sounds from beyond the grave.

"As if they will answer to that!" Griffon, who was perched on top of one of the Grecian statues, mocked. "Are ya even sure that will work?"

"Yes, I' am!" Nico shrieked at the Demonic bird, almost making him fall off the statue in surprise. "Any questions, little chicken?"

"SQUAWK!"

"If you are to do that, then you might as well do it on the second floor." V suggested as he leaned on his cane, observing her actions from a safe distance. "Maybe you'll be able to,... record something."

Just a few moments ago, his familiars showed him a single photograph they found stuck in the stool facing the grand piano. It looked like a stolen photograph of (Y/N) concealing her smile behind her fan as she offered her hand to a dark - haired gentleman whose face V could not see. And when he flipped it,...

"Do you think I should go up there, though?" Nico asked V, rubbing her arms up and down as she suddenly felt goosebumps on her skin. "The ghost might kill me up there!"

"Well, ye wanna hear ghosts on that thing, yeah? Then, go to the source and get yerself killed!" And Griffon was right.

"Say that again and I'LL COOK YOU IN A STEEL POT!"

"SQUAWK!"

V made his way through all the wires cluttered on the floor and handed Nico the photograph the familiars found. Nico stopped plucking Griffon's feathers, let him go, and pushed the rim of her glasses up her nose bridge. She, then, took the photograph and studied it, herself.

"This looked, like, super old." The tattooed woman muttered as she took a good long look at the photograph.

"Turn it." The poet told her. And as she did so, she finally saw the messages written at the back of it.

May 11, 1898

The Angels bow down to your grace and beauty, my Evening Star.

And I will forever be your humble servant.

~ V ~

"V?!" Nico practically shrieked in shock. "Is that - " she flipped the photograph once more and pointed at the man bowing down to the lady. "Is V that man or - ?"

To this question, the poet only gave her the journal. She took this and opened it. "But, there's nothing written in it, is there - ?"

The woman's eyes widened. For she could clearly see, as bright as daylight, the words that just manifested on the first page of the journal as soon as V received the old photograph from Shadow and Griffon.

At first, there was only her name and the date she wrote it. But, now,...

May 1, 1898

I could not believe what father said earlier this day:

He invited Victor Blake to our annual summer gathering! THE VICTOR BLAKE! My favorite writer, and also the best poet who ever existed in this world!

My heart...

I just could not stop the rapid beating of my own heart! I feel so excited! I wanted so much to meet him in person! For I thought for such a long time that I could only see him in my dreams, and hear his voice in my head. Now, I finally have the chance to actually talk to him!

My chest feels so painful right now, but with a happy kind of pain! ( Is there even a kind of happy pain? ) What should I wear for the month - long gathering? Would pastel suit me more, or dark palettes? What would I tell him when I finally get the chance to talk with him? I cannot just stutter in front of him! ( Which I do a lot when I'm nervous. ) What would he tell me? Would he quote some poetry for me?

I'm over thinking, I know! But, I'm just so, so excited! I could not contain it! I wanted to scream my excitement at the top of my lungs!

This is the happiest day of my life!

P.S.

I hope Victor Blake turn out to be the same man in my dreams. For if he does, then I could finally die with a large and silly smile on my face

Someone's coming!

"Victor Blake?! So that's the V who wrote on that photograph, I assume?" Nico mused out loud as she closed the journal and gave it back to V.

"Must be."

"Wait, wait, wait a second here!" The woman grabbed fistfuls of her hair as realization came down on her. And some more questions. "Did those words just pop out on that journal like a pimple or somethin'?! Because if it did, that's totally crazy!"

V didn't answer her question. Instead, he related to her every single thing that happened to him on the second floor last night, of the locked rooms on the right, of that ghost bride, of being locked in (Y/N)'s room, and of him actually seeing her in person.

"... and it only led me to believe that this lady," V pointed at the photograph on Nico's hands."... and (Y/N) are the same person. And that she, indeed, was able to meet Victor Blake that 11th of May."

"So, if this is (Y/N), then who is that woman in the portrait that Avery showed us?"

"They're the same person." V admitted with much bitterness in his voice. He just couldn't accept the fact that she changed drastically for an unknown reason.

"Damn!" Nico swore as she collapsed on a chair facing the monitor she set up earlier during the day. "Avery said (Y/N) died in 1899, right?"

"She did. Yes."

"Then," Nico went silent for a while, and when she finally gained the courage to speak out her mind, V could not help but agree to what theory she came up with. "... that tragic thing, whatever version that was, that led to her death happened a year later! The journal and that picture said 1898! And whatever tragic reason that was, it also led to that clear change she went through as a young adult! Either that, or the artist they commissioned just did a really bad painting of her."

"Seems like the former, as much as I want to deny that fact." V replied distastefully.

Nico's eyebrows furrowed in confusion at the poet's clear discomfort with the topic. "Hey, ya looked bothered. Wanna spill the beans fer real? Ye looked like ye're hiding somethin' other than (Y/N)'s journal."

V chuckled as he sat on the chair next to her. "There are no beans to spill and no other secret to reveal, I assure you."

"And I assure ya that I can tell ye're lyin'!" Nico answered as she booted up the PC.

"I'm not. Well,..."

"Well?"

"The first time I met her, she looked radiant, and happy. She was clearly in love." V confessed, feeling a strange lump growing in his already dry throat. "And she was,... the most beautiful girl I have ever seen in my entire existence. To see her like that - depressed, and sick,... and hopeless, it just," The poet paused as he let out a deep sigh that seemed to rattle his very core. "... it felt wrong. It felt sad. Whatever happened to her, she doesn't deserve it. That death of hers, I must know about it."

Nico hummed as V finished talking. "The most beautiful girl, eh?"

"Yes."

"Then!" Nico slammed her palms against the table and turned towards V, her face leaning uncomfortably close to his. "The reason you stayed up so late!"

"What?" V simply asked, getting more and more confused with the woman's odd behavior.

Nico smiled mischievously as she pointed a single, perfectly - polished nail at him. "Ya fantasized 'bout her!"

"I,... come again?"

"Admit it! Ya did the thing while thinkin' of her!" Nico teased even more.

"What thing?"

"Oh, come on, man! No need to be shy 'bout bein' horny for a young and beautiful gal! Just admit it!"

"Admit what?"

V truly has no idea what Nico was talking about, so Griffon flew down next to her and joined in the teasing. "My, my, V! Don't tell us ya don't know what jackin' off means!"

"Jacking,... off,..."

"Yeah, ya know!" Griffon teased even further as he cleared his throat. Making his voice sound small and ridiculous, he recited, "Ya look so good, (Y/N)! So beautiful! Hmm, hmm, hmm!"

"Such beautiful face! Such curvaceous body! I want you,... AH,... so much!" Nico joined in as she made lewd sounds and inappropriate gestures with her arms.

"Oh, my beautiful, sexy (Y/N)!" Griffon imitated Nico's moves and started caressing his own feathery body with his wings. "YE'RE M - M - MI - AAAHHH - NNNEEE!"

"AAAHHH! OOOHHH!"

"HHHRRRMMMHHH! OOOHHH, YYYEEESSS!"

All of a sudden, they heard a really huge explosion outside the house, and a few seconds later, Roman came crashing in the house.

"¡DIOS MIO!" Roman howled.

"Roman, sweetheart, what is it?! What happened?!" Avery called as she came running immediately from another room.

"THERE'S A HHHUUUGGGEEE ONE - EYED GOLEM IN THE GARDEN!" Roman screamed as he pointed at the said thing outside. "RUN! ESCAPE! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE! IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD!"

"One - eyed,..." Nico muttered.

"... golem?" Griffon stuttered.

And to their complete and utter horror, they realized V's hair has turned white and his left hand was raised up, his fingers in a snapping gesture.

But, the most dangerous of all was the poet's eyes that changed from soft, emerald green to bloody, murderous red. And he was staring emotionlessly down at them,...

"Hehe, s - sorry here, Shakespeare. I mean, M - m - m - master!" Griffon cowardly apologized thirty minutes later when V's rage diminished and when Nightmare finally went back to where he came from.

"Okay, okay, I get it. You're not in love with (Y/N)." Nico cautiously said as she opened some programs on her PC.

"I' am not." The poet answered, stressing out each word.

"But, surely ya must be at least smitten by her! I mean, to think of a girl you haven't actually talked to or met like that?" The woman was right. Maybe he was infatuated with her, after all? But, then again, how could he not? How could anyone not? "Lucky for ya, though. Ye won't have to deal with her super creepy husband."

"Husband?" Griffon asked as he landed back at the Grecian statue.

"Yeah. Mr. Christopher Lancaster? Duh."

That Doctor. I almost forgot about him. V thought as he slightly glanced at the hallway where the intimidating Doctor's life - size portrait was located.

"There we go!" Nico happily announced as she finally gained access to the videos of the security cameras she set up on all corners of the entrance hallway. And as V and Griffon came closer to her to have a look, they saw themselves at that exact moment.

"Hey, that's us!" Griffon exclaimed, astounded upon seeing a live feed of himself. "Wait, why are there no sounds?"

"Duh. That's just a security cam. Call it a spy cam, if ya like." Nico answered. "Now, setting the date to yesterday!"

The woman typed some words and numbers on her keyboard, and a few seconds later, they saw V on the monitor as he was about to go up the stairs.

"That was last night." V confirmed as he saw himself call back the frightened Shadow.

"Now, let's see what else happened." Nico spoke as they all watched V ascend to the second floor.

And after staring at the screen for more than fifteen or so minutes, they realized that nothing was, indeed, happening.

"I should be back around ten or a few more minutes." V said, his confusion growing ever so strongly.

"And you came back down in the morning." Nico answered. "Let's set the time to about, hmm, seven - thirty, then." The woman did the same process, and when the video fast - forwarded to the time she set, they saw V finally going back down to the first floor and met with the frizzy - haired Nico. "See? Told ya ye're gone for a long time."

"But, that's impossible!" Griffon yelled, turning back to V. "Didn't ya say ye're only gone for a few minutes?”

"And now you believe me." The poet simply answered.

"Alright! Alright! So, the ghost could not only manipulate things, it could also stop or control time, or something like that." The tattooed woman happily declared. "How very fascinating that is!" And she was, once again, getting more and more excited.

"I need to go back up there." V told her. "But, I'm not sure how long I'll be gone. A few minutes may mean a few hours up there."

"Ye're right. Hmm,..." Nico mused as she tapped on her lips. After a few seconds, she stood up, went over to one of the speakers she set up yesterday, and opened it, letting Mister Sandman on again. "How 'bout this: V, you do yer thing and investigate the second floor, and I'll be pulling an all - nighter for ya down here to monitor yer movements. I'll even make sure ya don't get lost for too long."

"How do we do that?" The poet asked.

"Simple!" Nico answered as she gave V the radio she was holding on to yesterday. She, then, pressed something on the speaker, and when it finally went quiet, she pointed at the radio on his hand. "Can ya turn it on?"

V complied by turning the dial on the radio clockwise, and a few seconds later,...

"...then tell me that my lonesome nights are over! Sandman, I'm so alone. Don't have nobody to call my own - "

"That song runs for two minutes and thirty - six seconds." Nico said as V and Griffon listened to the music on her radio. "I'll sync that song there and play it for ya for every hour ye're up there. Kinda like an alarm clock. Ya can also turn the voice recorder on to record any sound. And lastly, if anything goes wrong, like anything at all, and ya can't call yer familiars," the woman came closer to V and pointed at the red button at the lower right corner of the radio. "... think of nothin' else and press that button. Do ya understand?"

"I do. Yes. Thank you." V answered as he nodded several times, actually grateful for his decision to let Nico tag along with him.

And when the woman was finally satisfied with his answer, she cracked a toothy smile and suddenly took Griffon off V's shoulders, hugging him and twirling him around like a stuffed animal.

"PUT ME DOWN, WOMAN!"

"Aren't we the best paranormal team around?" Nico happily asked. "Like, Red Grave's Finest Paranormal Team ever?"

"WHATEVER YA SAY! JUST PUT ME DOWN! I CAN'T BREATHE!"

"Sorry." Nico apologized as she let the bird go. "So, ready for another night?"

"Ready - " V was about to stand when he collapsed all of a sudden.

"Hey, V! You okay?" Griffon flew down and helped him to his feet by clutching onto his arm with his talons.

"Ya look like ye need some rest. Ya haven't actually slept!" Nico suggested as she came and helped him as well by grabbing his other arm.

V could not agree more. "A nap will do. Thanks."

Chapter Text

When V arrived at the entrance hall that evening ( after having enough food and rest ), he found Nico staring up at the staircase, her arms crossed over her chest and one of her booted feet tapping impatiently at the ground beneath her. And when she heard V's movements ( or his cane's, for he has really light footsteps ), she turned around, waved, and smiled at him.

"Hey," she greeted. "... ya ready?"

"I' am." He answered, then turned his gaze up to where she was staring at. "You look like you're waiting for something."

It was not a question. Still, it successfully elicited an answer from the woman.

"Yeah." She placed her cigarette between her dried lips, sucked at it, and blew, the obnoxious smoke making its way to V's nostrils. She, then, used it to point at something at the staircase. "He should be finishing up by now."

"Who?"

Nico didn't waste any breath to answer his question as Griffon flew down from the upper floors a few moments later, carrying what looked like an old rucksack on his talons. He flew down right next to her and handed the old rucksack back to her.

"How long was I out?" The demonic bird asked her, his voice hoarse and breaking as if he was catching his breath.

"Roughly forty - five minutes." The woman muttered as she went back to her chair in front of her PC.

"Whew! Thought I got lost back there."

"Looks like you're the only one getting trapped up there, V." The Artisan mentioned as she gave him a sideways glance. And as V went closer to her to inspect what she was doing, he saw, in his peripheral vision, the boy from yesterday. He was actually hiding on one of the rooms, and every once in a while, the boy would slightly open the door and take a peek at them. Maria, the housekeeper ( whom he haven't actually seen since last night ), must've figured out, or at least expected, that he was going up again, so she sent the poor boy once more to watch over him. But, with both Nico and Griffon's intervention with the mission, he can't actually come out. Was he simply being shy, or something?

"There." Nico simply announced as she opened the program that let her view her spy cameras. Only this time, with each click of her mouse, the program showed her other parts of the room that they haven't actually seen.

That must be what Griffon has been doing during his absence: he was installing more spy cameras on the upper floors. And he didn't disappoint. From the second floor, to the third, to the very dark and dusty - looking fourth, they now have eyes on all corners of Avery's mansion.

Nico clicked the mouse one more time and the program gave her a nice view of the second floor from six to eight different angles. V's eyes wandered to the one on the upper left corner and landed right to the door of (Y/N)'s room.

"That was the room." He confirmed.

Nico clicked on it and it zoomed, showing them a better view of the door. She hummed. "Nothing strange happenin' yet." She turned and looked up at V. "Alright, then. It's your turn. And don't forget! In case of emergency, don't hesitate to push the button."

V nodded as he received the radio from Griffon's talons. With Nico's thumbs up, he went up once more to the second floor, leaving her and Griffon behind. And when he was finally out of earshot, she turned towards the bird. "Now, I have somethin' for ya,..."

*

A few moments later, V found himself back to the door of (Y/N)'s room. He half expected that something would happen once more but, the way things were going, with all the spy cameras scattered about the place and Nico's close watch with them, he knew he wouldn't see anything this time. He opened door, stepped inside, and closed it once more,...

Nico's eyes widened as she looked a bit closer to one of the angles where V was. She clicked on it and went back a few seconds. And when she played the video, she confirmed it: he really just vanished into thin air. He didn't even touch the door knob, nor took a step closer. He just disappeared.

"What just happened?" She mumbled, then turned towards Griffon, who was paying close attention to what she was doing. "You're up."

The demonic bird, who's now equipped with what looked like a headset installed with a very small camera of some kind, ruffled his feathers and flapped his wings, taking off from one of the chairs he was perched on. "Alright! Alright! Sheesh,..." He, then, took off and made his way to where V was.

Nico went back to her screen and clicked another option which showed her the view from Griffon's camera.

"Alright! Time to - "

But, even before she could do something else, the screen went blank, all of the lights went out, and the house was plunged in total darkness.

Her skin crawling and her eyes trying to adjust, she stood up and grabbed the radio that was only right next to her monitor. With shaking hands, she turned the dial and waited for the static to stop. And when it finally did, she pushed the record button and raised it high above her head.

"Hello?" She called once. No one answered. "Is anybody here?" She asked, being totally aware that no one else was around ( Avery took Roman out after the Nightmare incident to calm his nerves and just decided to spend the night in a hotel in the city ) except for her and her team. She inhaled deeply and tried asking once more as she exhaled. "If there are," She began, then gulped, feeling the sudden drop in the atmosphere. " ... any spirits here, say HHHOOOEEE!" Nico waited for an answer but, still, there was none.

She left her spot and started walking around, taking great care to not step on any wire on the floor. She cleared her throat, the simple sound of it piercing through the deafening silence. She cleared it once more, mustering all the courage she could, and spoke. "If there are any spirits here, say - "

"Hhhhhhooooooeeeeeeeee,..."

A small and airy - sounding female voice answered just behind her, making the hair on her nape stand and her eyes widen in utter fear. The radio was still recording and she was a hundred percent sure that the voice just now was captured by her gadget. She wanted so much to turn around and face the spirit but, she really couldn't. Heck, she wanted to make a run for it and escape but, it looked as though she was rooted to the ground, effectively trapping her with the unwanted visitor.

"Hey," it whispered so closely to her ear, its voice sending tingles up and down her spine. " ... wanna see me do a trick?"

Nico slowly turned around.

She regretted doing it.

*

Meanwhile, Griffon flew aimlessly around the second floor as he looked for the place in which V disappeared at. The sudden darkness was not helping, at all, and the utter silence of the room was too deafening in his ears -

"GAH!" He shrieked in shock as he sent out an electric attack to the unknown creature that suddenly went past him, cackling and seemingly mocking him. He turned around as he heard the same cackle once more and he saw it go through a door right before him.

The demonic bird puffed out his chest, ruffled his feathers, and shook his head as he tried to push away the feeling of utter terror that was swiftly taking over him. He shouldn't have accepted this task from that mouthy woman! But, they're a team, they're all in this together, and they must see this through the end.

He inhaled and ruffled his feathers once again as he exhaled. "Whew! Okay! Okay! I'm a Demon, for Shirley's sake! Nothing can ever frighten me - !"

"Psst, hey!" Something whispered behind him. "Wanna join us?"

"HELL NO!" Griffon screamed at the top of his lungs as he hastily flew towards the door where the unknown creature from earlier went through. In his own escalating fear and panic, he waved his wings and sent out a strong electric attack that tear the door down. He entered the room,...

... and found V standing motionlessly in the middle of it.

"Oh, V! Am I glad to see ya!" Griffon told his master but, he got no answer. "Hey, uhh, V? You okay?" He flew closer towards the poet, the feeling of dread still not leaving his system. He looked at the man and noticed his eyes transfixed at something on the ceiling. He took a closer look and finally noticed that the man's eyes were completely white instead of green and that his mouth was wide open. He looked as though he was being hypnotized by something. "V, what are ya starin' at? Hey! Snap out of it - !"

"Mister Sandman! Mister Sandman!"

The radio on V's hands suddenly went off, signaling that an hour has already passed, despite the fact that they have only began the mission fifteen minutes ago! The sound suddenly became distorted as it seemingly fast forwarded, and when it reached the final note, it abruptly stopped, plunging the whole place into silence once more.

"Okay, Shakespeare! We better hurry! Something's really wrong about this place! I can't - "

"W - wait! P - please,..." He heard V stutter under his breath.

"Wait, what?"

"(Y/N),..." V muttered, his voice hoarse and broken. "Please,..."

"What the f - ?!" Griffon drew back, confusion now taking over. He slowly and cautiously looked up to where V was staring at and found, attached to the rotten ceiling like a spider waiting for its prey,...

... a woman with long blonde hair dressed in completely white.

For a few moments, Griffon was stuck where he was, unable to form coherent words or even make a sound. But, the moment she slowly turned to look at him, his eyes widened and his beak dropped open and it took him a few more seconds to finally make a move and grab V by his collar.

"FUCK!" The demonic bird howled in fear as he carried V away from the room and the menace of that blonde creature, who just dropped on the floor and went after them in all fours, its speed frightening the hell out of the, otherwise, powerful familiar. "FUCK! FUCK! FU - !"

"Mister Sandman! Mister Sandman!"

"FUCK! TURN THAT THING OFF!" Griffon howled helplessly as V's radio alarmed with the distorted song once more. Again, another hour has passed. "V, WAKE THE FUCK UP! WE'VE GOT A CCCRRRAAAZZZYYY WOMAN TO BURN! VVVVVVEEEEEE!"

Griffon turned around and noticed the freaky woman gaining speed and catching up to them. He turned back and focused on the hallway and saw it stretching before him into a seemingly endless path. He closed his eyes shut and opened them once more, hoping for this endless nightmare to end -

"Mister Sandman! Mister Sandman!"

"NICO! ANYONE!" Griffon called. "HELP!"

 

Chapter Text

A few moments later, V found himself back to the door of (Y/N)'s room. He half expected that something would happen once more but, the way things were going, with all the spy cameras scattered about the place and Nico's close watch with them, he knew he wouldn't see anything this time. He opened door, stepped inside, and closed it once more,...

"Lady (Y/N)!"

"Wait a second!" That sweet and familiar female voice called as V found himself plunged once more into (Y/N)'s past. But, this time, he noticed a change in the atmosphere: it was much livelier, and he could feel the excitement going about the place.

Then, to V's utter surprise, the girl, herself, came out of the bathroom with nothing but a towel draped around her body. She ran hysterically towards the rose wood cabinet and practically threw the doors open in search of something decent to wear.

And as he fully expected, (Y/N) removed her little towel and let it fall on the ground next to her feet, revealing her naked form in all its breathtaking glory.

With a wildly racing heart, wide dilated eyes, and an uncomfortable feeling of warmth that was rapidly building on his crotch, he quickly turned away from the lovely sight. But, the sound of soft fabric grazing against her skin and the overwhelming scent of her favorite floral liquid soap tempted him and lured him to look once more.

And when he couldn't resist it anymore, he gave in to his desires and human needs and laid his eyes onto her beautiful form.

For a few moments of pure torture and ecstasy ( mostly caused by the sudden hardness in the middle of his pants ), he watched her as she put on some clothes: a (F/C) dress that was most probably all the rage in the late 1800s and a pair of matching shoes. She, then, went over to her vanity table with the ornate mirror and sat down on the chair. And as she took her brush and began going through the tangles in her (H/C) hair, V could not help but stare at her and be closer to her.

With gentle eyes full of adoration, he watched her as she carefully brushed her hair and put on some very light makeup. He even felt his body relax as she sprayed some perfume on her neck, its floral scent filling both the pastel - colored room and his nostrils. She looked truly mesmerizing.

And when she got up, he followed her, and it led both of them outside the room.

"Mister Sandman! Mister Sandman,..."

V heard a familiar song in the distance but, unfortunately, he unintentionally ignored it as he saw the huge change in the second floor. The once dark and dusty hallway was now very much alive with the red carpet that adorned the floor and the colorful paintings that hung on the wall, not to mention the lights that illuminated the place and made everything bright.

(Y/N) turned to her left and started walking.

"W - wait! P - please,..." V stuttered as he held out a hand towards her. Almost forgetting that she couldn't hear him, he just followed her downstairs where a group of people has already gathered for some nice talks. He tried his best to follow her but, this place seemed to make his body feel heavy, and it terribly slowed him down. He saw her navigate her way through the crowd of formally - dressed ladies and gentlemen, and V did his best to catch up to her. "(Y/N),..." He called once more. "Please,..."

"Mister Sandman! Mister Sandman,... "

She made her way towards the library and music room where more people were gathered. However, V noticed that most of the guests here were female. As she stood on her toes to try and see through the crowd of excited females, V craned his neck to see what's the fuss all about.

Standing next to the grand piano was a single male who was surrounded by blushing females of high fashion who kept asking him questions but, he couldn't hear his voice, at all, due to the sea of excited chatter by these females, and some disgruntled noises coming from a few group of men who seemed jealous of the man in the middle of it all.

"(Y/N), why are you late?!" A dark - haired female, who was as short as (Y/N), shoved a few blushing teenage girls who wore too much rouge that made their cheeks look like overripe apples and made her way towards her at the back.

"Daniella! How long have you been in here?" (Y/N) screamed in response so she could be heard.

The girl named Daniella just rolled her eyes. "I'm a simple girl. I get wind of a celebrity visiting my best friend's house and I immediately run to get there to meet him. Anyway, let's get you there! He must definitely see you! These simpletons are killing me!" She grabbed (Y/N)'s left arm and they both made their way through the crowd as she shoved more ladies aside to make way for the both of them.

"Mister Sandman! Mister Sandman,..."

V made a huge effort to go after the two girls, and as he got closer and closer to the mystery guest, he felt his body getting more and more heavy. And then, he heard it,...

"Mr. Blake, are you related to that English poet, William Blake?" A curious gentleman, who got weird looks from the ladies around him, asked the guest.

"I' am pretty sure I'm not." Mr. Blake answered.

"Mr. Blake, can you, please, quote something from William Blake?" An excited lady beside the curious gentleman requested.

V heard him chuckle as he was getting closer. He, then, heard the man as he cleared his throat and began reciting through memory alone.

"I curse,… my stars in bitter grief,... and woe,... that,... made my love,... so high,...and me,... so low,..."

"Oh, my God, that seductive voice! He's such a charmer!" Daniella breathed her admiration. She turned to her friend and dragged her once more as other ladies started requesting Mr. Blake to recite more poems. "Come on, let's get going!"

"Mister Sandman! Mister Sandman,..."

"Can you quote another one, please?"

"Of course, my fair lady. As the air to a bird,... or the sea to a fish,... so is contempt,... to the contemptible,..."

"How about a poem of love?"

There was a moment of silence from the man, and as he was about to speak, Daniella bravely called his name.

"Victor!" She called. "Victor Blake!"

And then, V finally saw him as he turned.

Wavy shoulder length hair as dark as the night. Gentle, and yet deep and intimidating, eyes that gleamed like a pair of emeralds. Hollow cheeks that formed dimples when he opened his mouth in awe of what he just saw.

It was him.

The supple lips of the poet named Victor Blake formed a mischievous, and yet endearing, smirk as he left the group of women who was barraging him with a lot of requests and questions to make his way closer to where V, Daniella, and (Y/N) were.

And as he playfully twirled a familiar - looking metal cane with his long and slender fingers and made his way to them, he began quoting.

"The modest rose,... puts forth a thorn,... the humble sheep,... a threat'ning horn." He recited, his voice pure honey to everyone's ears. "While the lily white,... shall in love delight,... " He, then, stopped right where (Y/N) was as he looked down at her. " ...nor a thorn nor a threat,..." The women squealed in delight while some snickered in envy as Victor Blake kneeled before (Y/N) and gently took her dainty hand in his huge and calloused ones. " ...stain her beauty bright." And as he ended the poem, he placed a chaste peck on the back of her hand, making her cheeks red and her eyes widen.

"Mister Sandman! Mister Sandman!"

"WAKE THE FUCK UP, V!"

V's eyes flicked open as he felt a jolt of electricity run through his body. He realized he was lying on the floor while Griffon was flapping his wings hysterically above him.

"F - FINALLY!" The demonic bird practically screamed at him, his voice seemingly cracking. "Now, ah, I know it won't be too much of a bother but, CAN YA DO SOMETHIN' 'BOUT THAT DAMN WOMAN 'CAUSE SHE CAN'T BE FUCKIN' KILLED?!"

V looked ahead just in time as he saw the horrifying face of the blonde bride he saw last night who was now crawling towards him like a huge demonic spider in pursuit of its prey. He drew back in terror as his eyes widened in terror at the look on her face: murderous, distorted, and outright unspeakable. He held out his cane in an effort to summon Shadow but, she just won't come out!

"THE HOUSECAT WON'T COME OUT NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES I CALL HER! THAT WON'T FUCKIN' WORK!" Griffon shrieked as the woman came closer and closer.

And then, V remembered,...

"And don't forget! In case of emergency, don't hesitate to push the button."

He felt the radio in his right hand and held it up. And with the last ounce of strength and bravery he had, he pushed the red emergency button and waited for something to -

"I'm lying alone with my head on the phone, thinking of you ‘till it hurts. I know you hurt too but what else can we do, tormented and torn apart?"

V cringed with the obnoxious sound that came out of the radio, and it startled both Griffon and the woman.

"I wish I could carry your smile in my heart for times when my life seems so low. It would make me believe what tomorrow could bring when today doesn't really know, doesn't really know! Ooh!"

V stood up and held the radio before the horrific woman like a Priest wielding a cross in front of a possessed maiden, making her stumble and cover her ears in fright of the horrible voice coming from Nico's gadget.

"I'm all out of love, I'm so lost without you. I know you were right believing for so long. I'm all out of love, what am I without you? I can't be too late to say that I was so wrong!"

The woman opened her mouth and shrieked at V and the abominable thing in his hand and finally scrambled away from them in fear. Like the spider - like thing that she was, she crawled back to the room she came from and the moment the horrible singing was over, the hallway went back to normal and they saw the first glimpses of the early rays of sunrise peeking through the windows.

And as everything went back to normal, V collapsed to the ground in exhaustion. Griffon swooped down close to him to assist him.

"You okay, V?" His now calm familiar asked him.

"I' am." He simply answered. And just when Griffon was about to help V on his feet, they turned to their left and saw Nico making her way towards them as she ascended on the stairs. Her hair looked frizzier than ever and her clothes were torn in many places like she just escaped some maniac who was trying to kill her.

"What happened to ya?" Griffon asked her as he finally helped V up to his feet. "Ya looked like ya just went to hell and back!"

Nico sighed and pushed the rim of her now broken glasses to the bridge of her nose. "Don't ask." She said, then took a bent and worn - out looking cigarette from her pocket and tried to light it. And when she finally had a smoke, her body relaxed and her shoulders slumped. "What time is it?"

"How should I know?" The bird replied. “And who was that singin’ that horrible song on the radio?!”
“That’s Nero.” Nico confessed nonchalantly. “I recorded him while he was singin’ in the shower. Thought his singin’ might scare off the rats in the orphanage. Guess I was wrong. It scared off somethin’ much bigger.”

Nico looked around her, her bloodshot eyes roaming around the now bright area. She sighed once more and gestured for them to come down with her.

A few moments later, she placed an old wooden box on the table in the kitchen.

"And that is?" V mildly asked her.

Nico opened the box and what's inside it surprised all of them. There were a lot of old photographs,...

... of (Y/N), and,...

"V?! Is that,... you?!" Griffon questioned as Nico took the photos out of the box, scattering them on the table one by one.

"I stumbled upon these when I was hiding in a cupboard somewhere in this floor." She picked up the picture that the bird was referring to and showed it to them. "What can you say about this, V?"

The poet took the photograph from her hand and took a good long look at it, albeit hard.

And there's no use denying it. From his hair, to his face, from his posture, to the way he held his metal cane.

It truly was him.

Victor and him,...

... were the same person.

And that cane he was holding onto? That one he stole from an antique shop a month ago and used to kill off Demons?

It was the same cane on Victor’s grasp.

The cane in V's hand,..

... once belonged to Victor Blake.

And (Y/N)? She seemed to have fallen for him in that very recent vision he had.

Just like how he was beginning to really feel something truly unexplainable about her,...

***

Chapter Text

Later that day, Griffon was staring too hard at Nico ( who was holding an ice pack against her head ) as she rewinded again and again at a certain video that one of the spy cameras captured last night. V ( who was idly waving off the cigarette smoke that wafted too close to his nostrils ) was on another table nearby studying the photos that she found.

"What are ya doin' now?" Griffon asked the woman for the third time that day as she furrowed her eyebrows in confusion at what she was trying to capture.

"Will ya shut yer beak for a while? I'm tryin' to concentrate." Nico answered as she clicked harshly on her mouse once more.

It was the same for V. He studied the photographs ( or what was written on them ) and read (Y/N)'s journal ( which, by the way, manifested another entry ) over and over again but, the dots doesn't seem to connect, at all.

Yes, the two looked like they were very much in love. Yes, they met during that summer gathering that May of 1898. However, he just couldn't see what their connection was with the ghosts that were haunting this mansion.

And most importantly, he just couldn’t see the reason why (Y/N) would change into that emotionless matriarch in the portrait.

If she’s truly happy, then why would - ?

Unless,…

V took a photograph of Victor reading something to (Y/N), who was sitting right next to him. He turned it and read the simple writings at the back.

I wish we could stay like this for a while.

V's eyes narrowed at the message. The name of whoever wrote in it, whether it was (Y/N) or Victor, was not indicated, and the feeling of dread that he suddenly felt in it spelled something entirely worse in his mind.

"Shit!" Nico muttered as she slammed on her table, startling Griffon in the process.

V looked at the other photographs and found similar looking shots of the couple looking very happy. And as he rightfully suspected, they all bore the same vague messages at the back.

I love you. So much.

I missed you. So badly, it hurts.

I hope you're happy, wherever you are.

That last message startled the poet. "I hope you're happy, wherever you are." He read again, this time, out loud. He turned the photo and saw Victor holding hands with (Y/N) as they looked at each other with content smiles on their face. She was wearing what looked like a lace veil on her head and they were both wearing similar rings. There were people cheering for them on the background and he even saw (Y/N)'s maidservant throwing petals at them.

Wait. Is this,... their wedding?

He looked once more at the photograph. It can't be a wedding since the "event" merely took place in the library / music room. He looked harder once more,...

... until he finally noticed something strange. It was only a very little detail but, he was certain of it. On the left corner of the photo was a male figure standing away from the others. It was really hard to see his face considering the poor quality of the old photo but, V was a hundred percent sure that he doesn't look happy for the couple.

He took another photograph from the box and saw the same group of people ( the couple was now kissing and looking absolutely happy ) and the same, strange man, his face still unrecognizable. He grabbed the pictures he was looking at and realized, to his utter horror, that every time (Y/N) and Victor were involved in a single photograph, the strange one would invade the scene like an unwanted visitor.

And he still couldn't see his face.

He needed to see more. He needed to -

"Holy hell!" Griffon exclaimed, now startling V and putting him out of his concentration. "V, look at this!"

The poet obliged and left his temporary workplace to look at what Nico and his familiar were doing. Nico waited for V to arrive, and when he finally did, she showed him a clip from the video she trimmed. She even slowed it down several times, and the result was mind - blowing.

All three of them stared in disbelief as they saw V making his way to (Y/N)'s room, and when he vanished a few seconds later, something materialized on the place where he stood. It was only for a split - second but, it was unmistakable: they saw a man clothed in white,...

Both Griffon and Nico shrieked in fright at the top of their lungs as they heard a loud banging on the front door. V, being the only ( slightly ) sane person left, stood and opened it. He was greeted by a group of middle - aged women smiling at him like nobody's business.

"What can I do for you?" He politely asked, his low voice giving the women some chills of the unspeakable kind.

"Is this the Lancaster residence?" The woman asked, her wide smile giving V some creeps of the unspeakable kind.

"Why, yes. It is."

V's eyebrows shot up to his hairline as the middle - aged women giggled and shrieked and slapped each other in the arms at the same time.

"The groom is charming!"

"He's such a hottie!"

"Lucky bride!"

"AAHH!"

"Groom?" Nico questioned as she joined V at the door. "What are these hags doin' here?"

"I have no idea." V answered. He cleared his throat and addressed the women. "If you are looking for - "

The leader of the group, who wore the heaviest makeup among all of them, took V's hands and shook it over and over in excitement. "I would like to inform you that today is your lucky day, Mr. Francisco!"

"I believe you have the wrong person - "

"And you must be Ms. Edwards! Oh, my! It's so nice to finally meet you."

"We're not - "

"So, can we start the planning for the layout of the wedding of the century now?"

"I'm sorry but - "

"AHEM!"

All of them turned to see the real Mr. Francisco and Ms. Edwards just behind the women, giving them weird looks with raised eyebrows.

"You're looking for us?" Avery asked as she crossed her arms over her shoulders.

*

"We definitely have to solve this problem soon." V told Nico and Griffon a few minutes later as Avery and Roman brought the wedding planners to the garden to have their meeting regarding their upcoming event. "The wedding is in five days."

"I get ya." Nico, who finally ditched the ice pack, agreed. "So, any other leads?" V showed Nico the photographs where the strange man appeared, and as the woman picked them up and studied them very, very closely, she nodded her head in agreement. "Yeah. I'm positive of it: this man," she uttered, then pointed at her PC with her left thumb. " ... and the one that showed up after you're gone are the same. Heck, he may be our main ghost here but, we have to be sure. All that’s left for us by then is to drive him out and let him know he’s not invited to the wedding.”

"But, how is he connected to all of this?" Griffon questioned as he, too, took a good long look at the photos that were scattered on the table.

V let out a sigh as he took out (Y/N)'s diary from his pocket. Then, he opened it and turned to the page where some writings recently materialized. Nico and Griffon went over to his side to read the new entry along with him.

May 11, 1898

I finally met him! The man of my dreams! The one and only Victor Blake! I just can't believe it! He IS actually IN THE SAME HOUSE AS ME RIGHT NOW! And what's more,

He even quoted poetry as he looked at me! He even kneeled before me and took my hand in his!

And, oh my God! He kissed the back of my hand!

I honestly thought I was going to die but Daniella brought me back. And when she said later that Mr. Blake likes me, I just felt that I could die right then and there with a smile and go to heaven!

Victor Blake - liking me?

My wildest dreams must be turning into reality! I mean, there are a lot of other beautiful women out there but,

HE CHOSE ME!

Oh my God, I simply can't believe this! I really am going to die and go straight to heaven with this!

Oh, God forgive me...

I know I must be exaggerating. But who cares? Daniella might be wrong about her assumptions but I still like him. No. I love him. And that's all that matters. He can ignore me and I will still love him. Until the day I die.

P.S.

My father just announced that all the important guests would be staying here for three months! And that includes Mr. Blake!

P.P.S.

I can't sleep knowing that he's just literally below me on the first floor, sleeping or reading or writing maybe. He may be writing. Books and poems and proses. I wonder what they're all about?

"That girl surely fell hard for ya, V." Nico mused, and when the poet just raised an eyebrow at her, knowing full well that (Y/N), in fact, fell for a different kind of V, she just smirked. "I'm jokin’!"

"Well, ya can't just follow an infatuated brat around and get ourselves attacked like that again!" Griffon screamed at V, who was still looking at the writings on the journal. "It's just suicidal! Plus, it doesn't really help us with the mission."

"Maybe." V finally spoke up. He slammed the journal shut and hid it once more as he gained the attention of his two companions. "But, this man," he said, then pointed at the said man in the photographs. " ... was connected to both (Y/N) and Victor. And I must find out everything about this,… connection. I will not rest,… until I do.”

"Ugh! Count me out, please! I don't wanna go back there!" His demonic familiar pleaded.

"We don't have a choice." Nico answered as she left for a while to pick up the radio from her own table. "We started this. And we have to see this through."

V nodded in agreement as he received his radio from her. "I'll go back there tonight. I'll be relying on you to watch everything from here to the highest floor."

"As if I have a choice!"

"Nico, you - "

The woman waved her hand at him. "Yeah, yeah. Keep yer panties on. I can endure another night here. Besides,..." She held up her radio, pressed a button, and after a few seconds, they finally heard what she recorded in it last night.

And it truly frightened them.

"Hello? Is anybody here? If there are,... any spirits here, say HHHOOOEEE!"

"What is that,... ?" Griffon questioned as they heard some strange whispers after Nico stopped talking.

"If there are any spirits here, say - "

"GET OUT! GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN! HE'S AFTER THEM! AFTER ALL THIS TIME! HE'S GOING TO KILL YOU! RUN! RUN AWAY FROM HERE! RUN AS FAST AS YOU - !"

"SHUT UP!"

"AAAHHH!"

V covered his mouth as he waited for the shrill and unearthly noises to subside. But, it only gradually worsened as it got more and more distorted that Nico had to turn it off.

"I heard a different voice last night, and I do not remember hearing anything like that." Nico confessed as she put the radio down to light another cigarette. "After that, this strange entity with big red eyes started chasin' me around until I have to hide. It's when I found that box containin' those old photographs." She sighed and shook her head as she bumped her forehead several times with her fist. She looked up once more and faced her companions. "So, ready for round two?"

Nico didn't have to tell him.

He will definitely solve this mystery. He must.

Chapter Text


"Okay, so, listen up!" Nico announced later that afternoon as she faced all the occupants in the dining room, including herself ( who was at the head of the table ), V ( who was standing next to the fireplace away from the others, arms crossed over his chest, and Shadow lying on the floor next to his feet ), Avery ( who was sitting next to Nico on her right ), Roman ( who was sitting very close to his fiancée, feeling nervous and frightened ), and Griffon ( who was perched on Roman's chair and making the man much more nervous ). "The wedding is in five days, and we need everyone to participate in this. Ya don't want any frickin' ghosts photobombin' on yer wedding pictures and worse, yeah?"

"We'll gladly help." Avery asked as she took Roman's hand in hers and began squeezing it.

Roman, who bravely nodded and placed a hand on top of hers, spoke, his voice sounding admirably resolute. "How can we help you?"

Nico looked at V's direction and nodded at him, gesturing for him to come forward, and a few seconds later, (Y/N)'s journal, the old wooden box of photographs, and the radio containing all the voice recordings were scattered on the table for everyone to see.

"During our investigation, we managed to find these items that, we think, are vital clues to what's really happenin' here." Nico explained, then opened the wooden box to let the couple see the various photographs in it, especially the ones where (Y/N) and Victor were involved.

With furrowed eyebrows, Avery took some photographs and stared at them in disbelief. "Hey, this is great gran! I didn't know I still have these!"

"This man looks like V!" Roman added as he pointed at Victor in the pictures. "Why is he with her? I thought she's married to Doctor Lancaster in 1898!"

"That's exactly what we have to find out." V answered as he opened the journal and showed them the writings in it, which baffled the couple. "Apparently, Ms. Avery, your great grandmother was in love with someone else. She's in love with a man by the name of Victor Blake."

"Shut the fucking door up!" Avery exclaimed as she took the journal and read (Y/N)'s entries in it, herself. She, then, looked up at V and gave him a scrutinizing gaze as if he was telling them lies. "So, you're telling me that this man, this Victor Blake, is a third wheel, or something?"

"We're not yet sure. That's why we have to investigate further into this matter. Because," V said as he pointed at the strange image in one of the photographs showing (Y/N) and Victor's wedding. " ... something else was at play there."

"And because of that, we believe that we finally have a suspect." Nico added as she threw another photograph at the table. It wasn't an old photo, though. It was a printed screenshot of the strange man in white who materialized last night. And when Avery and Roman looked at it, the two felt shivers run up and down their spine.

"Oh, my God!" Avery exclaimed.

"It's the same man from the pictures!" Roman observed.

"And we're not done!" Nico said as she took her radio and played the recording in it, which made Roman's skin go pale. She turned it off before it could make the poor man faint.

"That strange man, these hauntings, and great gran's connection to this Victor." Avery hummed as she pondered for a while with all the available clues in front of them. "Something doesn't connect! It doesn't make any sense, at all!"

"We have our own,... suspicions. However, it would stay as that - suspicion. Unless we do something to uncover the truth. Only then,... can we put an end to these,... hauntings." V replied.

"So, here's what we need to do." Nico relayed, her tone as gravely serious as it can possibly be. "We need to split up into three teams. V, of course, would investigate on his own. Each team would have a radio and a spy cam, just like that one that the little chicken is wearing. The plan is simple, we just need to find more clues such as these. Along the way, we should also record every single thing with these gadgets. We might find the recordings useful later on."

"Saying that we need to split into groups, do you mean to say that we also have to check what's on the upper floors?" Avery questioned as she took one radio for herself.

"Exactly."

"Okay. I would go upstairs with V, then. I have access to the other rooms, after all." Avery offered as she stood up, determined to help with the investigation.

"No."

All the occupants in the room stared at Roman as he held his fiancée’s arm. He stood up and took one radio for himself. And with a brief nod and a sigh, he said, "I'll do it. I'll investigate the upper floors."

"But, sweetie!" Avery complained.

"Sshh, sshh. It's okay. It's time for me to prove I'm not always this poor scaredy - cat man you knew. I'll do it. You investigate here."

"Oh, sweetie!"

Nico and V awkwardly looked away as the lovers began smooching in front of them. And if it weren't for the tattooed woman clearing her throat, the two won't stop showering each other with kisses.

"I'll go with you, then - " Nico began but, she was interrupted as Roman's hand went up. Really showing off now, aren't we?

"I'll take the bird with me." The man announced, which made Griffon's eyes widen in shock and his beak drop in awe. "If you would allow me, Mr. V?"

The poet saw the horrified look on his familiar's face as the poor bird shook his head over and over again, probably in a gesture to not allow Roman to take him along.

Unfortunately for Griffon, though, V was moved by Roman's decision to finally man up and actually face his own fears.

"Of course." V answered, making Griffon almost fall off Roman's chair.

"Alright then. You go with me, Ms. Avery." Nico decided as she also stood up.

"Umm,..." Avery began. "Can we take the big black cat, V?"

V looked down at Shadow and nodded at her. The familiar understood this and went over to the ladies.

"So, good luck to all of us, then." Avery said as she took her own camera.

Nico turned to V as she playfully punched him on the arm, just like that one time before all the hauntings messed up their life. And with a sweet smile that V hasn't seen from her in a while, she said, "See ya later, V."

*

Strangely enough, Nico's words seemed to leave behind an impression on V. Over the last two days, he realized how reliable she was and how friendly she actually was compared to Dante, who just bossed him around. While he did survive the Qliphoth incident, he's still learning to live as a free man without having to worry about dying, or being judged by others due to his physical appearance and his unique personality. And Nico was actually the first person who welcomed him as a new member of the Devil May Cry squad. Not Dante, and not even Nero. It was her. She even went to such lengths to help with this mission of his, albeit with personal agenda of delving more into something paranormal and not demonic for a change.

But, still. Nico extending some extra effort with this,...

She deserved a token of appreciation. After all, they're kind of like friends now. When they see each other in the morning again, he would tell her that he agreed on splitting the pay in half. And maybe surprise her with a little gift after the mission. A new toolbox, maybe? Or a new hammer? Would she like that?

These things were still in V's mind as he made his way to (Y/N)'s room, and as he was about to enter the room ( there's no door now since Griffon destroyed it last night ), he heard a very pleasant noise that was coming from the first floor.

It was,... a piano? And a trumpet?

V turned and noticed that he was, once again, plunged into the past with the sudden change in the atmosphere. And as he searched for the source of the music, he noticed that there were few people in the place unlike the last time he went for a visit. He made his way to the library / music room and found a small group of people gathered there as they listened to some musicians performing some sweet and soothing music.

He turned to his right and actually noticed Victor Blake standing alone in one corner of the room, leaning on his cane, and looking intently at something in the distance. V followed his gaze and saw (Y/N) sitting in one of the plush maroon sofas. The beautiful evening gown she's wearing and the way her hair was styled suited her perfectly, and she was holding a fan just like the rest of the distinguished females in the room.

Yes, everyone else looked beautiful. But, to V, (Y/N) simply stood out among others. And Victor seemed to think of the same, as well, as he slowly made his way towards her. The girl noticed this and looked shyly away as she covered her blushing cheeks with her fan. And when the poet arrived and kneeled before her once more, she finally gave in and held out a gloved hand, which he proudly took and kissed. It was the actual scene from the first photograph of them he ever saw.

Then, the music slowly changed as the atmosphere around him seemed to morph, as well. And a few moments later, V found the two sitting in front of the piano. Victor played the instrument as (Y/N)'s angelic voice filled the room.

The atmosphere morphed once more and V saw them sitting together in one of the maroon sofas. Victor was now reading something to her, and as she listened with a look of wonder in those beautiful eyes, the poet looked at her with much more. It was deep, and, in a way, possessive. Like his eyes refused to leave her for even a second. Again, this was one of the scenes from those old photographs.

The surroundings around V changed and morphed several more times, showing him how Victor and (Y/N) grew close with each other, until it led him to the part where they were surrounded by other people, by very close and loving friends, who were trying to push them together to stand on a makeshift platform made of pillows. Daniella placed a veil on (Y/N)'s head and her maidservant gave her a single stem of a deep red rose. A man, who was standing in front of them, cleared his throat and began reading something from what looked like an encyclopedia. He fished out something from his pocket, making the others laugh, and produced two rings. He gave one to each lover and went on reading his book.

V smiled to himself as he watched the couple speak their vows and how they slid the ring on the other's finger. And when the people began cheering for them, Victor cupped (Y/N)'s cheeks and gave her a very sweet and gentle kiss that lasted for at least a minute.

The atmosphere changed once more and V saw (Y/N) dragging Victor upstairs towards her bedroom. He followed closely behind them and noticed the girl taking a folded stationery from her pocket and giving it to Victor. She, then, pressed a kiss against two of her fingers and pressed them on the note on Victor's hand. She smiled, stood on her toes, and gave the man a chaste peck on the cheek. She waved good night and opened her door, went in, and gave him another smile before finally closing it.

Victor didn't wait a moment longer and unfolded the note, and what he read there made his eyes widen. He abruptly knocked on the door, and when (Y/N) opened it, he hastily engulfed her in a tight embrace.

V felt his heart swell as the lovers shared a very passionate kiss.
Hands caressing and exploring. Lips moving in a rhythmic pattern. For a moment, V saw himself as Victor.

For a brief moment, he saw himself passionately kissing and caressing (Y/N).

The girl stepped backwards, leading Victor inside but never breaking the sweet kiss. After a while, V's eyebrows shot up to his hairline as he saw Victor's, his, metal cane flying from the room to the hallway, along with his cravat and one of (Y/N)'s shoes. Victor came out a few seconds later, looking so in love and excited, to retrieve the items. Then, he entered the room and closed the door.

Then, everything went quiet. V was about to turn and leave when he saw (Y/N) dragging Victor once more to her room. They kissed. They embraced. The cane flew once more. Victor retrieved the cane. They laughed.

Then, the same thing happened for several more times. Of them kissing. Of them embracing. Of the cane flying.

And after a few moments, everything went silent.

However, V didn't see the two of them again.

All of a sudden, a hand swiftly went down to V's shoulders. He turned around to see Maria, Avery's old housekeeper, looking worriedly at him.

"Young master, you've stayed too long! We must go!" She told him, took his arm, and dragged him away from the room. "Your friend needs you! You must hurry!"

"My friend?!" V felt like he was suddenly punched in the stomach upon hearing the words from Maria and immediately went down to see for himself.

No, no, no,...

This can't be! It can't happen! It can't -

V's shoulders dropped as he saw Avery, Roman, and Griffon looking down at something on the floor with pained looks on their faces.

"She was attacked, V." Avery told him. "I'm sorry, I couldn't do anything,..."

V ran to where they were and saw, in his utter shock, Nico's unconscious form on the floor. There were slashes all over her body but, what stood out the most was the wound on her right palm, looking as though it was intentionally put there. He took a closer look at it, and finally saw what it was.

The wound,...

... was in the form of three digits.

749

Chapter Text

"I think we should cancel the wedding, after all."

It's what Avery told V earlier that morning after rushing Nico to the hospital.

But, of course, the poet refused, telling them that Nico wouldn't want it to be cancelled. Therefore, he made a solemn vow to solve the mystery and drive out the evil spirit in their house as soon as he can. He even strictly instructed the couple to stay out of the house and wait for him to solve the case so nobody else could get hurt.

And a few hours later, he's back in the kitchen with his own familiars, reading and rereading (Y/N)'s journal, which manifested three months' worth of entries in a single day, as well as the strange writings on the photographs.

While (Y/N)'s entries on the diary itself bore the same stories of how she and Victor fell in love during those three months, the writings on the photograph were a different case entirely. Bearing messages like, I wish I'm with you right now, I wanted to see you so much, I wish we could read books together again, and Please, forgive me, V could not help but speculate that something happened between her and Victor that most probably tore them apart as lovers. And based on what he has seen the other night, with the way Victor and (Y/N) spent the evenings together? He actually came up with another speculation, a theory, suggesting another thing that could very well change the way Avery looked at her ancestor.

Oh, God, if it is true, then,...

"Young master, you should eat. Or you'll lose your vitality." Maria told him motherly as she patted his shoulder to get his attention.

V looked up from the photographs and saw the kind housekeeper offering him a plate of the most delicious - smelling cherry pie he has ever laid eyes on. "You and your grandchild should have stayed away from here just like your employer. Or you might get hurt."

"My grandchild?" Maria's eyebrows shot upwards at what V said, and when she realized who he was talking about, her face lit up with a smile and then slumped once more into her usual melancholic look. "Oh, that little boy! We're not related in any way." She told him as she placed the plate of pie on the table in front of him.

"If he's not, then,... ?"

"He was a lost little boy who couldn't get out." Maria vaguely confessed, giving V another issue to have a headache on. "Ever since then, he has stayed with us."

Us?

V sighed as he reluctantly took a slice of the pie. He took a bite, letting its wonderfully complimenting flavors explode in his mouth. Then, he took a few more bites, finishing the slice in less than a minute. Overall, it was a really fine meal. Avery really was lucky to have her as a helper,...

"You have not answered my question." V told her a few moments later, almost forgetting it because of the amazing pie. "Why did you choose to stay here despite the danger that is lurking in this place?"

To this, Maria only smiled as he offered him a glass of warm milk. "I have a duty to fulfill to the young lady. I can't leave until it is resolved."

"I see." V replied as he watched her take a seat on the chair next to him, just like on the first day he met her.

Maria nodded, then, all of a sudden, her mud - colored eyes widened as she stopped moving. "And I almost forgot!" She exclaimed as she fished out something from her pocket. She held it out to V. "I think you dropped this last night."

"I'm sorry - ?" Confused, V looked at the slightly crumpled noted in his grasp. He carefully unfolded it and revealed the message in it.

July 27, 1898

My dearest and humblest poet, Victor,

I will never forget the very first time we met. You kneeled before me, took my hand, then you kissed it, reciting to me a very sweet poem as you looked into my eyes.

I will never forget the days after that, of our little talks, of our how are yous and how's your days, of the way we embarrass each other when we caught ourselves looking into each other.

I will never forget the first time I sang for you as you played the piano, of the sweet melody that conveyed how I felt towards you. I will never forget the days, and nights, we read poetry together. I will never forget those mornings we have to sneak away from father to have little chats and laughs in the garden.

And most importantly, I will never forget those nights we wrote to each other and passed those notes through that crack in the door as you sat just outside my room while I waited on the other side.

Such little trivial things that other women might have done for you that I will always remember. You may forget me in the future when you meet others more memorable than I' am. You may tell them amazing stories as you did for me. You may find other reasons to laugh and smile with another as you have laughed and smiled with me. You may play the piano for another belle who would sing willingly for you. You may find more pleasure reciting and reading poetry for someone else. You may call another your "Little Wanderer", "Evening Star", "Beloved Muse", "Little, Innocent One", and "Little Lamb".

And most importantly, you may exchange little notes in the middle of the night with someone else.

All of these may happen when you finally meet the one for you, and you may fall for them just as easily as I have fallen for you.

I'm aware of all these things. How could they not love you? How could anyone not offer their heart to you?

We will part ways within a month, maybe a week, as my father has decided to enroll me in a boarding school in Paris. But, I want you to know how honored I' am to have met you. Of how grateful I' am when you indulged my foolish fantasies.

Of how thankful I' am that, in a very short time, you have made my dull and unhappy life meaningful and filled with hope.

Please, don't forget me, my dear, humble poet, and of those times we spent time together.

I will cherish those moments for as long as I live.

I will never forget May 11. I will never forget I have met the most wonderful man in the whole wide world.

I will never forget you for as long as live, V.

Yours truly,

(Y/N), your Little Wanderer, Evening Star, Beloved Muse, Little, Innocent One, and Little Lamb.

P.S.

I Love You

This letter,...

The one she gave Victor that night before she lost her innocence to him,...

It's the same one! It's -

"Such a curious little thing." V heard Maria say. He looked up and saw her holding his metal cane in her trembling, old, wrinkled hands.

"Maria, give me my cane back." V told her as he stood up, holding out his hand to her.

But, Maria wasn't listening to him. "To have witnessed such happiness, such tragedy,... such unspeakable horror. No wonder it draws out equally unspeakable powers of its own." She, then, looked at him and pointed the tip of his cane at him. "No wonder it has awakened the past." After a few tensed seconds, she finally gave the cane back to V and took the empty plate on the table. And before leaving, she looked at him one more time and spoke, "I think you should stop dwelling on the upper floors and explore other places here. You may find something worthwhile." And with a smile that truly unnerved him after those very vague words, she finally left him.

Her gentle, and yet sick, smile was still on V's mind as he walked around the very quiet ground floor that evening. Despite Maria's weird statements and his growing suspicion of her, he trusted her. After all, she's the one who gave him a clue regarding the second floor and the one who pulled him out of the vision last night.

And now, V was wondering whether he would actually see something on the ground floor -

He almost got a panic attack as he turned to his right and saw Doctor Christopher Lancaster's live - size portrait once more. But, compared to the time he first saw it that morning, the doctor's features somehow looked more sinister and intimidating now. His eyes looked realistically wider and more bloodshot, and the creases and veins in his face looked embossed from the painting, that if he so much as put one finger on it, he would definitely feel the warm blood rushing through it -

V was taken aback as the doctor's eyes unmistakably landed on him. And what startled him even more was when the doctor in the painting turned towards him and stepped out of the rectangular frame, leaving only the empty canvass where he formerly stood. The doctor strode with much resolute steps and easily went through V like he was smoke, feeling the freezing cold that emanated from him from his instant contact with him. He turned and saw the doctor discreetly making his way to the second floor.

V followed suit, and when he caught up with Lancaster, he saw Victor embracing (Y/N) as she cried, his hands going up and down her back to comfort her.

"Sshh, it's alright. I'm here. I will never leave you." Victor whispered to her. V turned to his right and saw Lancaster hiding just in time behind one of the pillars. He was eavesdropping. But, why?

"Father will take me away! He doesn't want me to be with you! He thinks you're too poor to marry me. He - "

"Sshh, now, now,..." Victor gently hummed as he cupped her cheeks and brushed her tears away with his thumbs. "Did I not promise you to give you everything in the world? Now, do you trust me?"

(Y/N) nodded as she laid her hands on his, feeling their warmth and drawing out the energy she needed from them to prevent herself from collapsing.

"Well, then, let us run away from here! Go with me to England, start a family of our own away from these aristocrats!"

"What if father finds out? He will have you thrown in a cell! And worse!"

Victor wrapped her in his arms and held her very close to his heart. "I will die before anyone could lay a single finger on you. This may sound unbelievable but, I have strong connections in Europe. Once we get there, no one here in America would be able to go after us."

"And what about the others? And Daniella?"

"We'll inform them beforehand so they could escape. I'll keep you and the others safe, I promise."

(Y/N) nodded once more as she and him shared a passionate kiss. V looked away just in time when Lancaster narrowed his eyes at the lovers planning their elopement. And when their lips parted, he cupped her cheeks once more.

"Let me know as soon as you have made your decision. I will contact my brother to prepare everything for us. Understood?"

"Yes, V."

"I love you, (Y/N)."

"I love you, V."

"You should take a rest, for now, the moon claims you.”

She nodded and after one final kiss, the lovers parted for the evening.

And so did the doctor.

V swiftly followed after him as he made his way back to the ground floor towards the drawing room where several men were having a conversation. The doctor cleared his throat and caught the attention of the gentlemen.

"What brings you here in this ungodly hour, Lord Lancaster?" The oldest of the gentlemen questioned.

"Your daughter, Lord (L/N)."

The gentleman Lancaster referred to as Lord (L/N) sat up straight and regarded him more seriously now.

"And what about my only beloved daughter, (Y/N)?"

"The impoverished poet is planning to take her away to England. He claims that he has powerful connections there and that he would kill you if you so ever lay a finger on your daughter."

"My God!" Lord (L/N) exclaimed. "I never expected to have a murderer under my roof! Let alone someone as deceitful as Victor Blake!" He thundered, bringing down his fist against the glass top table that trembled beneath his wrath.

Lancaster came forward and went on with his lies even further. "Victor Blake is a traitor, a madman, and, as you have surmised, a murderer. And as we speak, he is shamefully having his way with the pure and innocent (Y/N). He will use her over and over again, and when she's worn out and he has finally become tired of her, he will toss her aside like garbage in the fires of Gehena and look for a new victim."

"And you have proof of this?"

"I do. Roselle?" Lancaster called and a few seconds later, a petite blonde maid stepped forward and curtsied before the gentlemen.

The blonde woman in white,...

The gentlemen's eyes widened as she undressed before them and showed them multiple wounds and bite marks all over her body. There were some ugly bruises on her thighs which looked like they were caused by a blow of a really hard object.

Was it,... from the cane? But, no! It can't be! This is impossible! Victor will never do something like this! He - !

"Victor Blake did this?!" (Y/N)'s father bellowed as the frightened maid put her clothes back on.

The maid didn't say a word and only nodded as her own shame made the tears fall from her tired eyes. Lancaster dismissed her and turned once more to the gentlemen, especially the Lord of the house.

"I beg you before anything like that happens to sweet (Y/N)." Lancaster pleaded. "Allow me to marry her, and then I will protect her. I give you my word as an honorable gentleman."

Not even a few seconds have passed when the oblivious father nodded. "Very well. Then, you shall have my daughter's hand in marriage, Lord Lancaster."

V's eyes widened as the things unfolded right before his very eyes. He closed his eyes and suddenly, he found himself standing amongst the small crowd in the entrance hall of the mansion. The Lord of the house was standing in the grand staircase, and as he loudly cleared his throat, successfully calling the attention of his very few guests, he raised a glass of wine and smiled at them.

"For this evening, we shall all celebrate! As our little summer gathering comes to a close, allow me to partake with you of a very wonderful announcement that would put a smile on your face for many years. Doctor, would you kindly do the honors?" Lancaster came forward, joining Lord (L/N).

The doctor looked at the guests before him, his sinister eyes purposefully lingering at Victor and (Y/N) who were blissfully whispering things to each other, laughing and not paying any attention to him or the Lord of the house.

He, then, smiled, just as V's eyes narrowed and his eyebrows furrowed in anger of the manipulative man.

"As you wish, my Lord. And I will not falter. It is of great honor to announce that my beloved (Y/N) has agreed to finally join me in the altar to proclaim our wedding vows."

To this, the smile on Victor's lips vanished, and there was a look of utter shock in (Y/N)'s face. He dropped her hand, feeling the intensity of her supposed betrayal come down upon him like a rocky landslide.

"(Y/N)," Victor breathed in disbelief. " ... why?!"

"A cheers for the newly engaged!" Lord (L/N) announced, finally downing his wine as the others followed suit.

And right then and there, as the last drop of wine made contact with the greedy Lord's lips, he convulsed, collapsing on the stairs and dying in an instant, foam coming out of his opened mouth.

"Father!" (Y/N) called, unable to believe the chain of unlucky events that were crashing down upon her.

As everyone in the room shrieked and panicked, V's surroundings changed once more and he was transported to another room where (Y/N) was talking to the maidservant named Roselle. She and her personal maidservant were both wearing black.

"Roselle, I order you! Tell me what truly happened! Please!" (Y/N) pleaded, her eyes red and worn out due to the many tears she has shed. For her father who mysteriously died of poisoning, and Victor, who was still furious with her.

The poor blonde maid, now with more wounds on her face than ever, cried before (Y/N). "It's Lord Lancaster! He forced me to lie about young master Victor so your father would agree to have the doctor married to you!"

"Why?! Why didn't you tell me about all this?!"

"He threatened to kill me and my family!" Roselle kneeled in front of (Y/N) and clutched at the lacey helm of her black skirt. "Forgive me, my lady, please!"

"YOU, BITCH!"

V heard a furious howl from a distance at the same time the atmosphere around him changed. And as he opened his eyes, he saw several men in white taking away a body covered in a white blanket. It was lying in a stretcher, blonde hair coming out of the thin sheet.

Then, V saw (Y/N) reel in with pain, her face contorting in sheer torture. She held her stomach and kept one hand on her mouth as she ran away from the scene.

And before he could even catch up to her, the atmosphere changed once more, and he saw Daniella and Victor facing (Y/N) in another room.

With a black lace veil covering her face, she turned towards the two most precious people in her life and smiled at them.

"(Y/N), tell me you're lying!" Daniella begged her friend. "Tell me you won't marry that Lancaster! He has a reputation and,… he will kill you!”

"I have made up my mind. I will marry Christopher Lancaster." (Y/N) told them without so much as a pause or a tremble in her voice.

This made Victor inhale sharply as he turned on his heel and walked away from (Y/N) and Daniella. Not a minute has passed when (Y/N) went after him and called his name.

"Victor, please!" She begged as she collapsed on the floor and took hold of his cane.

"PLEASE, WHAT?!" Victor looked down at her, hurt and anguished beyond possibilities. "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME, (Y/N)?! WHAT IS IT?!"

"Listen to me! Please!" The girl pleaded as she cried and clung to his cane. "Let me explain! I - "

"SHUT UP!"

And then, the unmistakable happened: as Victor forcefully pulled the cane from (Y/N)'s grasp, it hit her face, making her fall sideways and hit her head quite badly.

And as her maidservant came to her, helping her on her feet as she wiped the blood off her nose, Victor left her there.
And (Y/N)? She cried and called him over and over again, begging him to not leave her.
But, he still left.
He left her.

"MR. V!"

He heard a familiar voice from a distance. And when he opened his eyes, he found Roman staring worriedly down at him. He sat up, his eyes stinging, his chest feeling heavy.

"Mr. V, are you okay?" Roman asked him as he and Griffon helped him.

"It's him." V whispered, feeling the pain in his chest increase.

"Who?"

The poet clutched at his chest, feeling his own tears come down his face at what he just witnessed. He looked at Roman and Griffon, and with an anguished voice, he spoke,

"It's Christopher Lancaster. He was the one,... behind (Y/N)'s suffering. And Victor,” V inhaled deeply as he clutched at the metal cane in his hand, his anger overwhelming him and taking over what’s left of his sensible reasoning as he began seeing red in utter madness and hatred. “He,… DID NOT LISTEN TO HER! HE,… LEFT HER!”

Chapter Text

"Mr. V, are you okay?" Roman asked him as he and Griffon helped him.

"It's him." V whispered, feeling the pain in his chest increase.

"Who?"

The poet clutched at his chest, feeling his own tears come down his face at what he just witnessed. He looked at Roman and Griffon, and with an anguished voice, he spoke,

"It's Christopher Lancaster. He was the one,... behind (Y/N)'s suffering. And Victor,” V inhaled deeply as he clutched at the metal cane in his hand, his anger overwhelming him and taking over what’s left of his sensible reasoning as he began seeing red in utter madness and hatred. “He,… DID NOT LISTEN TO HER! HE,… LEFT HER!”

With all of his might and anger, he threw away the cane that hurt (Y/N).

No. He threw away the cane that belonged to the man who hurt her.

Griffon squawked as he flew over to the thing to retrieve it.

A few moments later, Roman was going through Nico's files in the computer, trying to find something. Fortunately, the woman has woken up according to him but, she didn't linger and fell asleep once more a few moments later.

But, not without telling an important message first.

And whatever that was, Roman was frantically looking for it amongst the files, recordings, and videos they were able to record for the past two nights.

V, on the other hand, still felt indignant. He still couldn't believe what Victor did to her that he refused to take the cane from Griffon's waiting beak.

Other than that, he couldn't do anything else at the moment but wait for Roman to finish his research. He knew that some writings have manifested in (Y/N)'s journal. He just didn't have the heart to look at them given the current situation.

"Dios mio,..." Roman breathed as he slapped his forehead for seemingly the tenth time that day. Just like how Nico was two days ago, the Hispanic guy couldn't seem to find exactly what he was looking for. "What does 749 mean, anyway? Ms. Nico kept saying it over and over again before passing out. Do you know, Mr. V?"

"No."

"And the way she pointed at her mouth as she mumbled those digits! She looked like she wanted to eat something.”

"Hmm,..."

"And look at this! Someone just entered the first room on the right."

V felt electricity run through his veins as he quickly stood and made his way towards Roman to view the PC.

"Would you kindly show that to me?" He told Avery's fiancé. The poor guy obliged and one click of the mouse later, a video popped out, showing a man clad in white from head to foot enter one of the rooms on the second floor.

It was the one of the three rooms on the right, which was previously locked.

With a deep sigh, he turned on his heel and made his way towards the second floor. But, not before instructing Griffon to stay put with Roman should anything happen. And Shadow? Let's just say she's been out of commission since the incident with Nico. It really seemed that she couldn't fight against whatever creature attacked the Artisan.

He should be safe, right? After all, it's broad daylight,...

He strode towards the said rooms and didn't hesitate to fling open the first door. And he was right. It was unlocked.

But, how and when?

The room looked pretty decent, actually. It was a simple bedroom that looked the same as the one for the guests on the ground floor, but only with one canopy bed. He stepped within it, hoping that no creature in white would attack him. Then, he began searching every nook and cranny for some more clues, notes, photos, heck, even newspaper clippings, anything. He looked under the bed, behind the closet, the side table drawer, even behind the heavy maroon curtains. But, there was none.

That was, until he began looking underneath the sheets and pillows.

V's eyes widened as his hands came into contact with what felt like long, thin threads, and when he took them out from underneath the pillows, he realized they were human hair.

Blonde human hair.

V dropped them almost instinctively as yesterday's horror came back to his senses.

That restless spirit of the maid named Roselle,...

He knew that Christopher Lancaster was the one who murdered her and (Y/N)'s father. And (Y/N)? It was pretty obvious to him that she only married him because she didn't want the sinister doctor to kill anyone else who was close to her.

And Victor? Apparently, he wasn’t able to understand anything because he didn't listen to her that day! And he even hurt her!

"I would never hurt you, (Y/N)." He whispered as if he was talking directly to her. "Never."

All of a sudden, he heard some noises from the other room. V cautiously made his way closer to the source of sound, and as he pressed an ear against the wall, he heard it: shrieks and cries and pleas of a woman.

The poet drew back in terror as he hastily made his way out of the room towards the next one, practically kicking it open and revealing the neat office that probably belonged to that evil doctor.

"Please, stop! I beg you!"

V heard the voice once more, and when he entered the room, he finally saw the source of the pleas.

And a few tense minutes later, he, Roman, and Griffon were looking down at a very old device back in the entrance hall.

"I think that's a phonograph." Roman mused as he examined the antique device that V brought along from the doctor’s office. "Like a very old record player. Professors or even doctors used these for their studies."

"Doctors?" V asked him.

"Exactly. You know, like for documentation purposes. Or experiments."

Experiments? "That screaming lady in the record. I think it's one of Lancaster's patients."

"Patients?" Roman chuckled as he crossed his arms over his chest. "More like victims to me. Look, if - "

V's eyes narrowed as Roman's voice seemingly drowned in the music that was coming out of the phonograph's horn.

His eyebrows furrowed, his sight getting blurrier and blurrier. V pinched the bridge of his nose, the melancholic music forcefully invading its way to his head and giving him a feeling of nausea.

He closed his eyes, wanting so much to chase away the feeling of depression that suddenly took over his whole being. And when he opened them once more, he found himself seated on a pew amongst the crowd of aristocrats wearing white. The music was still playing on the background, and as he looked at the front, he saw two people exchanging wedding vows before the officiating minister.

The man unveiled the bride and V saw her,...

While other women might consider their wedding day as the happiest day of their life, (Y/N), for understandable reasons, was not at all joyful with the event. And while she may be wearing a very beautiful gown made entirely of the most delicate white lace, silk, and satin, her sad and tired eyes clearly showed those endless days and nights she wept for all the things she lost.

And as Dr. Christopher Lancaster gave her a chaste kiss on the lips and as the crowd applauded in celebration, she abruptly turned away, tears pouring out of her eyes once more.

V turned away, the pain in his chest overtaking his whole being once more. He turned back just in time as (Y/N) collapsed in Lancaster's arms.

Panic settled over everyone. He was about to go after her when the surroundings before him got wiped out like painting on a canvass against turpentine. Darkness and silence engulfed V, and when he was pulled back into the light, he saw Daniella and (Y/N)'s loyal maidservant talking to her, arguing with her, pleading with her.

"Get rid of it!" Daniella begged (Y/N) as tears flowed down her face. "He will kill you!"

"Young Master Victor will never accept this!" The maidservant added. "Please, my lady, heed lady Daniella's wishes and rid yourself of this burden!"

(Y/N), who now have dark circles beneath her once radiant eyes and hollow cheeks that were once pink and plump, looked at the two ladies as she protectively placed a hand on her belly.

"This,... is what remained of Victor's existence in my miserable life. Of the love we once shared." She told them, her voice resolute, and yet it trembled with each word she uttered, especially when she mentioned the name of the man who hurt and left her. "Victor may not accept this as his own but, I will raise this no matter the cost!"

"But, Lord Lancaster will never allow this!" Daniella argued as she kneeled before her friend. "I beg you! Please! Do this for your own safety."

(Y/N) inhaled sharply, then she closed her eyes and looked away as her shoulders shook with her sobs. "I have made my decision,..."

"YOU, BITCH!"

V heard the unmistakable howl once more as his surroundings changed. And as he heard the clatter of silverware from a distance, he went after the light that beckoned to him.

However, nothing in his own miserable life, not even his experiences as a Devil Hunter in the face of real danger in the hands of his enemies, prepared him for what he saw.

Standing next to (Y/N) as she sat on a chair facing the fancy table was the doctor, himself. He somehow looked more intimidating than ever, and his stance alone made the servants in the room cower in fear.

But, (Y/N) was an entirely different story, altogether. Her belly, its size now clearly grown, showed, and as she gently rubbed on it with her now skeletal hands, she looked at it as if it was the most precious thing in the whole wide world.

And this infuriated the doctor even more.

"LISTEN TO ME, YOU, BITCH!" Lancaster howled as he grabbed the back of her head and brought her face down to the bowl of porridge on the table before her. "YOU DO AS I SAY AND OBEY ME! YOU DO NOT DISHONOR ME BEFORE OTHERS! YOU DO EVERYTHING I TELL YOU LIKE THE GULLIBLE BITCH WHORE YOU TRULY ARE!"

V has had enough. He was about to summon his familiars but, it proved to be useless in this realm. And as his eyes stung with the unspeakable scene before him, he wrathfully strode towards Lancaster and tried to strangle him.

But, of course, it didn't do anything.

When Lancaster let go of (Y/N)'s head, she howled in pain, her now slightly burned face a mess. And not even a second has passed when Lancaster grabbed the back of her head once more and did the same to her face to the now empty bowl, breaking the porcelain, its shattered pieces wounding her face.

"FOOLISH WHORE!" Lancaster howled once more as he let go of her head and spat at her once lustrous hair that V has come to adore.

V kneeled before her, unable to do anything, helpless in front of an enemy he couldn't slaughter. The poor woman silently cried as her loyal maidservant came forward to clean her wounds and the mess on her person.

"My Lord." A servant came forward and handed a white envelope to Lancaster. The doctor opened this and read the contents.

Then, after that, a sick, sinister smile showed on his features. He went to (Y/N) once more, and as V braced himself for another onslaught of violence, the doctor only gently touched the woman's face as he placed a kiss on her bloody forehead.

"Clean yourself. Get dressed." The doctor told her. "Our presence is needed."

With those last words from the sick and evil doctor, V's surroundings changed once more, its colors getting more and more twisted as he descended upon the most painful memories of (Y/N)'s life.

And when he found himself back on the same church, sitting on a pew amongst aristocrats, he found her sitting just next to him. Her hand clutching her chest, and her veil covering her wounded face, she wept, her tears staining her once beautiful and lively features. He looked at the altar and saw, in his utter shock, Victor Blake, the man who was the cause of all this misery, exchanging wedding vows with another, younger and more beautiful woman.

Please, don't forget me, my dear, humble poet, and of those times we spent time together.

I will cherish those moments for as long as I live.

I will never forget May 11. I will never forget I have met the most wonderful man in the whole wide world.

I will never forget you for as long as live, V.

Yours truly,

(Y/N), your Little Wanderer, Evening Star, Beloved Muse, Little, Innocent One, and Little Lamb.

P.S.

I Love You

(Y/N) stood just in time as Victor lifted the veil and kissed his beautiful bride. And as half of the guests celebrated, including the doctor, who probably do not consider Blake as a threat now, the other half watched in shock as the woman the poet once adored walked away from the church,...

... and collapsed, her pain - streaked voice piercing the cheers of everyone else inside the building.

Daniella, who also wore the same veil as her, came for her and noticed the blood staining her immaculate white dress. She turned to Lancaster and to the other guests, her face contorted in fright.

"It's coming!" She screamed just as Victor came forward and saw how the woman he once loved bled.

V didn't do anything as his surroundings morphed.

He didn't even do anything as he watched (Y/N) give birth, her arms and ankles tied to the bed posts to keep them in place, her mouth gagged to suppress her screams.

He didn't lift a finger when the beautiful babe was taken away from her by force.

He didn't do anything when Lancaster closed the door of their shared bedroom as he removed his cravat and unbuttoned his shirt.

However, the moment he heard her voice, he trembled and opened the door, revealing (Y/N), now reduced to a skeletal form of herself and with more wounds and bruises all over her body, talking quietly to the loyal maidservant who stayed with her all throughout her life.

The only actual person who stayed with her despite the risk of being murdered by Christopher Lancaster.

And as V watched how she hurriedly talked to the woman who took care of her, he felt the tears go down his eyes as he covered his mouth to stifle the sobs. No amount of self control could stop his own heart from weeping for the once radiant, beautiful, and beloved girl.

That's how he knew that he -

"Take this. Hide this. Do everything you can to keep these memories safe." (Y/N) said as she handed her own journal, the journal that V has in his pocket right now, to her most trusted servant. "And when I die, I want you to go to Victor and tell him everything. Give this to him. And go away from here. As far away as you can."

"My lady, let's just run away from here!" The servant pleaded as she held the journal close to her heart. "Take the child with us."

(Y/N) only shook her head as tears fell down her face. "I can't. I will die here. I know. You take care of my child. Raise her as your own. Do it for me, please."

"Day twenty - one: Bloodletting and purging."

V heard Lancaster's voice in the phonograph a few seconds later as the atmosphere around him changed one more time.

And what he saw next made his stomach turn.

Three nurses wounding (Y/N) on both arms with a knife as she was restrained on a metal chair inside a sickly bright room, letting her blood stain the perfect white floor. He turned and saw Lancaster speaking to the cylinder of his phonograph as the poor girl screamed in pain and begged him to stop.

"Please, stop! I beg you!"

"Internal biochemical relationship was behind mental disorders. Bleeding, purging, and vomiting will help correct these imbalances in the body and would help heal the physical and mental illness.”

"I'm not insane! Please! Pl - !" (Y/N) screamed before one of the nurses stifled her howls of pain with a gag.

"One trait of mental illness is denial. The patient often finds itself unable to grasp what's truth and what's not. At times, they would even go as far as hurting the people they love. And worse, themselves."

V looked away, wishing the visions to stop plaguing him, to stop showing him these painful memories,...

"Day forty - six: Hydrotherapy."

The poet looked once more, and this time, he saw the nurses tying the girl's hands and feet and throwing a sheet over her head, twisting it roughly around her throat so she would not scream. They, then, put her in a bathtub filled with what looked like ice water.

"This turn of the century technique proved to be highly effective in reducing the patient's agitation by submerging it in cold water, especially during manic episodes. I will keep her submerged for extended periods of time, instructing my assistants to add more - "

"ENOUGH!" V howled as he chased the visions away.

And with just one blink, he's back to his own reality.

" ... and with the way they treat patients with mental illness is just horrific, it gives me the chills! Hey, Mr. V, are you okay?" Roman asked as he gave the poet a concerned look.

"I - " V began but was interrupted when he saw something going down the stairs.

"Mr. V? Are you - ?"

"Ssh!"

Roman looked behind him and saw the same thing with his own eyes. It was a girl carrying (Y/N)'s diary.

Her loyal maidservant.

With eyes wide with shock and mouth opened wide, the two men watched as the girl quickly made her way towards the huge heavy door. She opened it and made her way towards the house across the mansion without looking back.

Then, V finally remembered,...

The numbers on Nico's hand, the way she pointed at her mouth as if she wanted to eat something,...

... the number 749,...

She was pertaining to No. 749 Swan Lane.

Chapter Text

"... I mean, it could be anywhere! Does it have a specific - ?"

"Wait!"

Nico held out a hand to stop Avery from talking. The Artisan looked at the woman and gestured for her to stay put for a while. Her companion nodded and braced herself as she hid behind one of the Grecian statues.

As she made her way towards the library, blatantly ignoring Christopher Lancaster's intimidating portrait, she heard the sound once more. It sounded like someone was sobbing,...

Nico followed the voice, the feeling of dread clawing its way to her heart. She turned around a corner, her radio held up, one finger ready to push the emergency button that would summon Nero's awful singing should something come out of the shadows and attack her.

However, no monster showed itself to her. Instead, she saw a girl sitting on the far right corner of the hall, her arms hugging her knees, her shoulders trembling with every sob she let out.

But, there was something strange about her, and that's her choice of clothes,...

... which looked like it was plucked off the late 1800s.

Nico made her way towards the girl without dropping her guard and knelt beside her, still trying to record every sound she could.

"Yo, you okay?" The Artisan carefully asked the girl, who looked up and finally revealed her face. "What are ya doin' here?"

"I can't come home." The girl simply answered.

"Oh. Where do ya live?"

To this, the girl pointed to the direction of a certain house across Avery's.

Wait. There's only one house across the street! And that's -

Nico furrowed her eyebrows as the girl spoke once more.

"I,... can't come home. I,... can't." She sobbed. "He trapped all of us here."

Trapped? Here?! "How many of you are in here?"

"There are s - six of us h - h ere."

Six?! Nico thought as she sighed and placed a hand on the girl's shoulder, which felt really cold. "No worries. We're gonna bust ya outta here. What's yer name?"

The girl sniffed as she wiped her tears with the sleeve of her shirt. "D - daniella."

"Okay, Daniella. We're gonna help ya. But, ya have to help us first. Tell me who keeps you here." Nico urged as she went on recording their conversation. "Who is he?"

"Him."

"Sorry?"

"Him. Him."

"Umm, who is he? Who - ?"

"Him. Him. Him! Him! Him!"

Daniella went on saying the same word over and over again like a broken record until Nico couldn't take it anymore. She stood up and drew back from the girl, who was still screaming. And the moment she looked to her right to the window, she saw the house,...

... the house that Daniella was pointing at.

The house she used to live at,..

And when she looked back at Daniella, she saw -

"Hey, wanna see me do a trick?"

***

The gentle old woman gingerly made her way towards the door when she heard the sound of her equally old doorbell ringing once more.

"A moment, please! Ah! Rheumatism,..." She mumbled under her breath and stretched. Then, after that, she opened the door and saw two gentlemen waiting for her outside. The first one, she hasn't seen before. But, the other one,...

"Good evening." V greeted politely as his eyes automatically latched onto her soft, green ones.

"Yes, what can I do for you, gentlemen?" Her eyes wandered at the thing V was holding. A small wooden, antique box.

"We would like to ask you something very,... important."

The old woman's kind features contorted as her eyebrows furrowed and her wrinkles creased even more with her growing confusion. "Oh. If you're looking for - "

"We're not looking for someone." Roman cut her off, albeit politely. He felt his arms going numb from carrying the phonograph for too long, and he felt his feet getting colder and colder as the minutes where they were outside in the harsh weather passed.

"Oh! I see. Well - " the old woman began but, something made her stop abruptly.

That old wooden box. That antique phonograph,...

It,... can't be,...

IMPOSSIBLE!

"If you do not mind us prying," V went on with his inquiry. "... we would very much appreciate it if you would allow us to make some,... inquiries,... regarding - "

"Forgive me, gentlemen. I do not accept solicitations of any kind."

"Solicitations?!" Roman began but he was immediately cut off.

"Thank you so much for your time. Good evening."

And with those words, she closed, no, slammed, the door on their faces.

The poor old woman clutched tightly at her chest as she leaned against the door. Her hands positively trembling, her eyes starting to burn, she never expected that this day would come. She has buried that past along with some distasteful memories when he died. And now that she was reminded of it once again, the memories, along with his pained, old face, started going down on her like a landslide.

She whimpered, covering her eyes with her cold and clammy palms as that familiar sense of dread and melancholy took over her body.

"I implore you. We need to talk." She heard V on the other side of the door. Now that the painful memories were back, she realized that V's face looked very much familiar as much as she wanted to deny it.

That face,...

It’s the same as his.

"Please, go away!" She cried, unable to suppress her feelings any longer. "I can't help you! Please! Leave me alone!"

"Listen," V spoke a few moments after her initial outburst. " ... we are aware that you know something of great importance to us."

"I know nothing! I know nothing!"

"Our friend was hurt." V went on. "And soon, people will perish if we do not take action. Innocent lives will be lost if you do not help us. So, please,..."

V and Roman waited for at least another minute, and yet, she would not open the door. It's as if she didn't want to listen to them or see their faces, at all.

And this only made the poet more convinced that she knew something deeper, and probably darker, than what he initially thought.

As he was about to knock once more, he was surprised to see the door finally being opened by the woman. And when they saw her tear - stained face and her conflicted expression, they could not help but feel guilty.

"Come in." The woman simply said as she finally invited the two men in.

A few moments later, as they sat on the sofa in the living room, the woman placed some things on the table, which were some old, yellowed notes, an album, and a small box. And as she sat across them on another sofa, she tried to relax herself by slowly letting out the pent up tension within her in the form of a long and deep sigh.

"Now, I see no reason why I should remain silent about this for a bit longer. I know what you came for, and to tell you honestly, I dread for the coming of this day. But, now I know that I have no other choice but to face this." She gravely told them, her emerald eyes still glistening with the tears she just shed. "And I do not want any lives lost because of my cowardice."

"You are not a coward." The poet told her as Roman agreed with a nod. "You chose to help us, and I' am thankful for that."

"Very well, then. I do not know if the information I have could help you but, I do hope that you will get enlightened of some things regarding the Lancaster household."

At the sound of the surname, the two men, most especially Roman, sat in attention, fully prepared to receive whatever information they would get from the woman.

The woman cleared her throat, and she finally began.

"If you should know the truth about the matriarch, Lady (Y/N) (L/N), then, yes: she did die in the year 1899. But, not of childbirth, or a fire, or anything else. She died due to unspeakable acts of torture performed by that lunatic doctor, Christopher Lancaster. A few from the clan knew this truth because the doctor, himself, tried to bury it with falsehoods."

"How do you know such things, if we may ask?" V questioned but, deep down, he could sense the answer, all along.

To this, the woman gave them a strange look, followed by a guilty smile and a shook of the head. She went on with her story.

"My mother was taken in by her best friend when she was only two months old. She raised her as her own, fed her, and provided only the best for her. And because of the woman who raised her, she grew up as the most wonderful woman I have ever known.

"And how did she lose her parents? Her mother died due to inhumane mental illness treatment complications, while her father died at a ripe old age, a lonely and miserable man. Their names were,...

"(Y/N) (L/N) and Victor Blake."

A tense and dreadful silence settled on the occupants of the otherwise warm and inviting home as Victor and (Y/N)'s grandchild opened the old album and showed it to the men. And surely enough, they saw the carefully compiled photographs of the couple, together with their closest friends, Daniella and the loyal maidservant in particular. They looked really happy in the photographs, with smiles on their faces and mirth on their eyes.

It's as if the photographs contained their bliss and showed the happiest days of their lives away from their troubles.

However, happy or troubled, the lover's grandchild and her photographs only raised even more questions than answers.

"Avery is not aware of this." Roman uttered as he took a closer look at the photographs. "You are related to her, and she didn't know this! Why didn't you tell her anything?"

"It was never my own choice to share the truth." The grandchild answered. "Miss Avery Edwards is the grandchild of my eldest sister, who was the only one who claimed territory of the (L/N) mansion. Or was it called the Lancaster mansion now? I can't really tell."

"Would you kindly tell us why?" V carefully asked her, letting Roman browse through the old photos for a while.

"Of course. As you may have very well guessed, my mother doesn't want anything to do with the history of the mansion, and the mansion, itself. Or rather, it was the wish of the woman who raised her - Lady Daniella Carrizales. And I would not have known about all of this unspeakable tragedy if it weren't for my, should I say, constant meddling regarding the things that my mother and Lady Daniella were hiding for such a long time.

"That fateful night, my grandmother's loyal servant escaped Lancaster's clutches and went to Lady Daniella to tell her the news of the doctor's crimes to her best friend. At first, she refused, as she was too afraid to stand against the infamous doctor. But, she had no other choice. She, then, rushed towards Victor Blake's American residence near Red Grave to ask him for help.

"It really seemed like a mistake, for the English poet had already settled down with the American woman who he was married with after his and my grandmother's separation." The old woman cleared her throat, feeling very uncomfortable with the tale she was sharing. She sighed, and went on. "You see, by the time my grandmother and Lancaster were married, Victor Blake burned all of the letters and photographs that reminded him of his old lover. The little notes, the scribbles, everything. He really loathed her for her decision to marry Lancaster.

"But, Lady Daniella would not be swayed despite this. Something made him change his mind. And when he finally went back to the mansion to see her, she was,..."

The old woman stopped talking. She bowed her head, her chest heaving due to the heavy breaths she's taking as if she's hyperventilating.

"Are you alright?" Roman worriedly asked her.

The woman held up a hand and nodded, successfully making them know that she's fine and doesn't need help.

"I' am perfectly fine, thank you." She breathed a few moments later. "When Victor finally saw her, he decided to take her out of the house away from Lancaster. You see, she's still alive by then, however, she has become a different person entirely. Gone was the woman he fell in love with. Reduced to a skeletal, malnourished, wounded, violated, and tortured state, it seemed as though her soul was taken out of her. Taken by the evil man who manipulated his way into her life.

"He and Lady Daniella were about to take her when Lancaster intervened. There was a fight between Victor Blake and Christopher Lancaster, the ugly fight that resulted into the English poet's permanent disability as the bones on his legs were broken. Still, Victor prevailed, using his metal cane to gravely injure him.

"A trial was held after that gruesome event, and Victor willingly went to prison for harming the doctor. But, he didn't stay long. The authorities have abruptly released him, following the unearthing of really disturbing things regarding Christopher Lancaster."

To this, the old woman opened the box, revealing its contents, which were mostly newspaper clippings and some old documents which looked worn and ripped in many places due to age and rough handling. She continued as the men studied the contents of the box.

"With Lady Daniella and the loyal servant's testimonies, the court has proven that Lancaster manipulated many people in the past, both in position and not, in order to gain his license as a doctor and a metaphysician. His chambers and offices were investigated and ransacked, and they have found a huge amount of evidence of his cruelty and torture, which also pointed to the murder of another servant by the name of Roselle Velez, the (L/N) household's former master, and the son of the gardener who served that house for a very long time. Lancaster was stripped off his license and his credibility and was sent to prison with a life sentence. Lady Daniella took my mother and brought her to this house to raise her as her own, and cut her ties with Victor Blake. She denied for a very long time to have known the poet out of spite until right before her very own death when she finally revealed the secret to my mother."

The blonde maid named Roselle. That little boy,...

They were all,...

"What happened to Blake after the incident?" V asked her.

"As I've told you, he died at a ripe old age a lonely and miserable man. The day my mother finally told me and my sister the truth about their relationship, I went out and sought him on my own. I found him there, in his old English residence. And when I introduced myself to him, he just,... cried and,..."

The old woman sighed once more as she wiped the tears that unwillingly escaped her tired eyes.

"This poor and lonely crippled man, who, then, could only move with a wheelchair, welcomed me into his own home. He was a really kind person who never hid any secret from me. He told me everything that Lady Daniella refused to tell my mother when she was still alive. Victor gave these to me.”

The woman picked up the yellowed notes and gave them to V, who looked at them and realized they were old letters from Lady Daniella, herself.

And the notes didn't sound friendly, at all.

January 13, 1900

Please, I beg you. Leave me alone. I do not want anything to do with you anymore. I do not want the truth and your ugly secrets taint the growth of (Y/N)'s daughter. I want to raise her without knowing what happened in the past. I want her to grow up away from you.

May 11, 1900

For the last time, I implore you. Leave America. Go back to England. You have a family of your own. Leave me and the child alone. In exchange, I will make sure that she gets the best things in life that you would not be able to give and provide as a father. I will give her my own name. I will make sure that she grows up healthy and unaware of everything. I will give her the life you once promised to my dearly departed best friend. The one promise you were never able to fulfill.

June 12, 1900

Farewell, Victor Blake. And I promise you this: it would be like you have never existed.

"These letters," V began as he looked back at the poet's grandchild. " ... Victor,... tried to get your mother back?"

"Indeed. He told me he wanted to raise her and give her the life she once promised to (Y/N). But, as you can see, Lady Daniella refused. Victor admitted to burning and discarding all of (Y/N)'s mementos in the past but, he regretted it later. Lady Daniella, on the other hand, hid everything, including those documents and the old photographs. She may have refused Victor his very own child, but she refused to burn the last remnants of her best friend's happiest memories on earth. She showed them to my mother before she died.

"And those letters you have in your hand? They were the only things left that reminded Victor of his relationship with (Y/N) and the child born out of their love. That was,... all he had,..."

The woman wiped her tears once more and went on.

"So, I made it a point to bring these photographs the next time I visited England. I showed them to him, and for the very first time, he looked really happy and emotional. He refused to let go of these photographs. He told me everything that happened between him and his beloved (Y/N), of those little letters passed in the middle of the night, of the times they played music together, of those times when they read poetry together, of that one time she confessed, of that very first night he shared with her. He told me all of those with tears, and he told me that he regretted every foolish decision he has made in his miserable life, of leaving her, of hurting her, of marrying another just to forget her.

"He had his marriage to the American woman annulled just to take his beloved under his wing. He took her to England. Despite his own disability, he took care of her, fed her, bathed her. He did everything he can to make up for his own mistakes. But, due to her own disability due to a lot of complications and trauma, she was never able to reciprocate. She died in his arms a month later in the year of 1899. He became even more depressed and crippled with pain and regret and guilt. He slowly lost the ability to walk, and he lost his fame as a writer due to the Lancaster scandal that was forever linked to him. He died without even seeing his daughter in person."

V and Roman watched with difficulty as the old woman wept for her grandfather, and V actually felt sorry for the poet. He may have hated him for what he's done, but he realized that all his life, Victor did everything he can to make up for his mistakes.

But, he knew that the poet was too late.

And now, despite finally knowing everything about (Y/N) and Victor, the single, and most important, piece of the puzzle was still missing.

"But, that wasn't the only information you came for, is that right?" The woman told them. "You came to know about something sinister in that house, didn't you?"

V only nodded, and to this, the old woman continued.

"The evidence of Lancaster's crimes weren't the only things that the authorities found that day. Apparently, there was evidence of Demon worship in his chambers, of a particular evil entity he prayed on for success as a doctor. Lancaster never denied any of this. He even left a conspicuous message before dying. Something like, one more soul. He wrote it in his own blood before committing suicide.

"The authorities may have abandoned his case after his death but, I pressed on and did my own research regarding Lancaster's Demon worship after my grandfather's death. And I have found something truly terrifying."

She took one last thing from the box and showed it to both V and Roman. It was a booklet written in a different language, and when V opened it, he saw that it contained disturbing images of a ritualistic sacrifice that could, apparently, grant the Summoner everlasting fame and fortune.

And from the macabre illustration, alone, V saw that the sacrifice required seven innocent souls, emotionally tormented and brutally tortured as a way to prepare them for the Demon who would grant the wishes. The person would, then, keep the trapped souls in a container, as clearly stated by the art.

Roselle, that little boy,...

(Y/N), herself,...

"Bedlam." The old woman pronounced. "It is the name of the Demon that Lancaster worshipped. One of the three Demons who served under a higher evil entity called Mundus. Pandemonium of Destruction, Maelstrom of Calamity, and Bedlam of Insanity. Lancaster was able to sacrifice two souls using the servant called Roselle and the gardener's son. He died without having to complete the ritual."

"But, you said he wrote one more soul." Roman interjected. "Does that mean that he was able to sacrifice more before his death other than those two?"

"No. He was able to take one more." V interrupted as he finally opened the phonograph, letting them hear Lancaster's awful voice as he performed the inhumane mental illness treatment on (Y/N).

"My,... God!" The woman breathed, eyes wide with disbelief at the disturbing sounds coming from the phonograph.

Before things could get really traumatizing, V turned off the antique device and proceeded with his own investigation. "Lancaster tormented (Y/N) through means of this torturous treatment. She may not have died instantly back then, but I think he was able to get her soul. Roselle died of torture, I know this for certain,... for I have seen it. Other than that," V paused, his heart racing due to the fact that the missing pieces were finally being put together in place. He could finally solve the mystery and end Lancaster's torture. " ... I have seen this boy several times during my stay in the mansion. I have no clue as to his death, but I know for a fact that he's one of those souls. Nico was able to escape the clutches of death but, if she didn't, she would've been the fourth soul."

"Dios Mio,..." Roman exclaimed as he put a hand against his forehead.

V exhaled and went on, looking at the woman straight in the eye. "Victor Blake's disability was caused by Lancaster, himself, am I correct?"

"Yes."

"If I may ask, how did Lady Daniella die?"

The old woman's eyebrows shot up to her hairline as realization finally kicked in. "I remember she mentioned she's having nightmares and evening frights before her death. I think she actually went to see a Psychiatrist regarding this but, it didn't help. I think it's what actually made her reveal the secrets to my mother. It's because she thought she's guilty, and this guilt and regret would go away if she revealed the truth."

V nodded, then braced himself.

He knew who the sixth soul was! He knew!

"May I ask,... the name of the loyal servant who stayed with (Y/N)?"

"Oh, that girl. Her name was - "

But, she was interrupted as Roman's phone suddenly began ringing. The man held up one finger as he took his phone out from his pocket and answered the call.

"Sweetheart, how are - ?"

"Very funny, Roman!" V heard Avery's voice from the phone.

And then, all of a sudden, he felt shivers run up and down his spine.

"Are you alright, sweetheart?"

"What is this surprise, hmm?"

"Surprise? What surprise?"

"Huh? You just called me and told me to come back home because you have a surprise for me! There's no one here! Where are you right now? Are you with someone else?"

V snatched the phone from Roman's hand. Deciding to talk to Avery, himself, he said, "Miss Avery, it's me."

"V? Where are you right now? This is not funny! It's too dark in here! It's - "

"Listen, if you can get out of that house, then do not hesitate to do so now. We'll get back immediately and - "

"You are too late, Victor Blake."

V almost dropped the phone as he heard the unmistakable voice of Christopher Lancaster on the other end. And this made Roman go into full panic mode. He snatched the phone from V and started screaming at it.

"YOU, MONSTER! DON'T YOU PUT A SINGLE FINGER ON HER, OR I'LL - !"

"You cannot win against me. Now, if you want her back, I suggest you come over here and play. We have a score to settle, remember? Or have you forgotten about your dear, old friend? Come here, and let us end this. Is that clear, Victor?"

And with that cold and subtle warning that seemed to come straight from the grave, the phone died.

***

Little Phineas had no idea what he got himself into that day when he saw Lady (Y/N)'s fiancé and Roselle doing something,... strange,... in one of the guest rooms. The door happened to be slightly ajar, and being the curious little thing that he was, he took a peek,...

... and saw Lord Lancaster on top of Roselle. He was not wearing pants while she was totally naked. They looked like their bodies were connected as they seemingly trembled like they were trying to shake the bed, or something.

He was so confused, and despite this, he didn't tell anyone what he saw.

Then, one day, Lord Lancaster approached him with a smile on his face.

"Good boy. Little precious boy. Come over here." The older man beckoned as he kneeled before him. "Do you want a treat for being such a good boy?"

Well, what child would refused that?

With a smile on his face, he excitedly went towards the room that the doctor told him to get his treats,...

And then, darkness.

When he opened his eyes once more, he saw strange people in the house, particularly that man who looked like the poet Victor Blake. His clothes looked strange, and he has some strange dark markings on his skin.

"How can I be of service to you?" The man asked him.

 

Chapter Text

(Y/N) and Victor's grandchild closed and locked the door after the gentlemen left. She, then, turned to look at the old wooden box which V left on the table for her. She sat on the sofa and opened the thing, revealing its contents. And when she saw the amount of photographs that were in it, the emotions flooded her chest once more. As she took the photograph that showed her grandparents' wedding charade, she simply let her tears flow freely.

Despite those tears clouding her sight, she didn't wipe them away like what she did before. Instead, she held the photograph close to her chest, imagining how happy her grandparents must be during those trouble - free times.

She turned to the side table, carefully placing the precious photograph next to the small framed picture of her one and only grand daughter who was in Paris. She, then, sighed, letting her eyes roam from her grandparents to her grandchild.

Finally lingering on her grandparents' image, she whispered, "Please keep those people safe."

"What do we do now?" Roman asked V as they made their way back towards the mansion.

"We must find the container where their souls are hidden," V answered, his voice and his sight as resolute as ever. " ... then, we'll set them free."

"What about Avery?"

"We'll prevent Lancaster from sacrificing her."

"And that monster?"

V stopped and looked down at Griffon, who was waiting for him to go back home, the metal cane, which he abandoned, still on his waiting beak. The poet didn't hesitate and took it from his familiar, who flew and landed on his shoulder.

Then, he faced the door of the mansion one more time.

"We'll send him to where he belong," He answered. " ... to Hell."

***

Both V and Roman were fully expecting something to attack them the moment they step foot inside the now dark and desolate place. However, all seemed normal.

Strangely normal, given the dire situation they were in.

"Aren't there any monsters here that would attack us?" Roman questioned, making both the poet and the familiar look at him with raised eyebrows.

"You seemed,... rather eager." V answered him as he threw his cane and caught it with his other hand.

"I - i'm not! It's just,... the silence is too suspicious. You know what I'm saying?"

The man was right. It was too quiet. "We should not underestimate our enemy." V uttered in a low voice as he took a few cautious steps forward towards the grand staircase, still half - expecting Roselle, or that still unknown creature that tried to kill Nico, to come out of the shadows and make its move. "This is Christopher Lancaster we're talking about, after all."

"Alright." Roman said as he pulled out his red handkerchief from his pocket and wore it around his head like a headband. He inhaled through his nostrils and shook his shoulders, making Griffon roll his eyes. "I'm ready!"

V only gave Avery's fiancé a sideways glance and a grin as he made his way to the second floor. At least, someone's excited to take on that Demon,...

Never letting their guard down, the Summoner, the familiar, and the human made their way towards the second floor. However, no creature of any kind made itself known, the entire floor was void of the heavy feeling that once taunted V to do suicide, but most importantly,...

... he was not being pulled into another timeline.

What,... is happening here? V thought as he led the way straight towards the accursed third room, still expecting for anything to happen or to attack them. He turned the brass door knob and pushed the door open, bracing himself for what was to come,...

"AVERY!" Roman howled as he sped past V and Griffon and made his way straight towards the center of the room where his beloved fiancée was, unconscious and tied to a chair.

"You, imbecile!" Griffon whispered, mocking at Roman's callous actions. "That evil doctor might - !"

V held out a hand before the demonic familiar could even blurt out any more insult, and made his way to where the couple was.

"Don't worry, sweetheart, I'll get you out of here." Roman said as he tried to untie Avery from the chair. However, as V came along to help, he noticed the wounds on both of her arms, the blood that dripped from them forming something on the ground beneath their feet. And when the gentlemen gazed down at it, they drew back in fear,...

... for the blood that was flowing from Avery's wounds was slowly forming a huge crimson pentacle on the floor - a seven - pointed star that matched the illustration from the booklet of Demons that the old woman showed them.

The ritual,... was nearing its completion.

"There was a man,... from another plane of existence,"

V, Roman, and Griffon all looked at the vicinity of the desk a few feet from where they were standing and saw, in their utter fright, a strange gentleman sitting behind it, his long and bony fingers that partially covered the lower part of his pallid face intertwined, his thick, dark brows furrowed in deep contemplation.

And at the mere sight of the strange one alone, V felt all of his power leave his body at the same time his heart became heavy with utter dread, unexplainable grief, and sheer hopelessness.

It was the man, himself.

"... who once dreamed of achieving immortality and eternal glory beyond human perception." The man, whose pair of red, sinister eyes seemingly made V's blood freeze, went on. "Abducting numerous little girls and molding them into his,... idea,... of earthly perfection. This man, and a number of followers, sacrificed these innocent children, one by one, until Pandemonium, the Demon he worshipped, finally chose that one perfect vessel, a fitting equivalent exchange for the wish that was to be fulfilled. However, he made a huge and irrevocable mistake." The man uncovered his face, finally letting the men see his familiar and intimidating visage, and stood from his chair, making his way closer towards them. "The vessel's sister, an imperfect being crippled with earthly flaws, who he failed to kill, and who was, then, chosen by the Sisters Of Fate for her will to save a loved one, retaliated, setting into motion a chain of events that ultimately," The man stopped a few inches away from them, his overwhelming presence stealing their will to live and survive. " ... led to Pandemonium's downfall,... and the man's,... demise.

"But, I' am far from that foolish man." The man simply told them as he gave each of them a look that conveyed a form of overwhelming power that resided within him. "I do not wish to achieve perfection, nor do I make it out of false dreams. Bedlam has opened my eyes to the harsh reality of this world. To the ugliness of the world's truth. I vow to share this,... great blessing,... to everyone who would kneel to me."

"KNEEL, MY ASS! YOU, EVIL, INSANE GODDAMN WITCH DOCTOR!" Roman howled, blindly charging towards the man with every intent to tackle him on the ground and give him a piece of his mind before V could even stop him.

"You listen when someone older than you is speaking!" The doctor rebutted as he simply made a flicking gesture with his right hand, summoning a form of unseen power that flung poor Roman to the other end of the room, making him instantly unconscious, the impact of his landing scattering and breaking some of the old and dusty furniture that lay on the ground. The doctor, then, turned to V and gave him a challenging look. "And you, oh, foolish poet? I believe you wish to challenge me, as well."

V visibly flinched at the insurmountable force before him, yet, he still tried to face the enemy by calling upon his familiars to attack the doctor simultaneously. With utter fear etched into their very bone and core, the familiars, Griffon and Shadow, went all out with their attacks, sending lightning bolt after lightning bolt and spear after morphed spear of attacks.

And, as expected, the powerful attacks from the familiars, which were supposedly enough to bring down an entire horde of higher Demons, didn't do anything to the doctor, who only stood still and took everything without so much as a blink of an eye. The familiars took one more shot, this time, by combining their powers as Griffon sent Shadow his most powerful lightning attack, and the feline receiving the power and morphing into a set of massive spears, skewering the doctor in every part of his body and frying him alive at the same time.

For a second, they thought that they succeeded but, as soon as Shadow morphed back into her feline form looking beaten and Griffon settled down on the ground, actually looking like a worn - out wind - up toy relying on batteries to move, the doctor slowly stood up from the ground where he was beaten, his wounds healing and the tears on his clothes closing up like nothing even happened.

"Oh, you've got to be fucking kidding me!" Griffon howled annoyingly as the doctor made his way towards him, grabbing the poor bird by his wings and tearing him apart like paper, spilling his blood and guts on the floor and making him enter his stalemate state.

"Hmm, just like on that other plane." The doctor uttered to himself. And before V could even lift a finger to call Shadow back, the doctor kicked the poor feline in her mid section, successfully dismantling her, turning her back into ash and making her enter stalemate like Griffon. "That one, not so much."

With eyes wide with disbelief, teeth gritted in anger, and thoughts wild and disarrayed with panic, V hastily raised his left arm, his fingers ready for the snap that would summon his trump card.

However, the doctor proved to be much faster as he seemingly phased from his position next to the stalemated familiars to his side, steadily holding V's left arm and threatening to even break it. The doctor held up a finger, swaying it from side to side as he playfully shook his head, his sadistic smile making V feel weaker than ever before.

V, despite his growing hopelessness, made up his mind, not wanting to lose to this evil doctor. He struggled and snapped his fingers, waiting for his most powerful ally to bring down the house and finish the doctor for him. 

To hell with this mansion! This evil must be stopped,... at all cost!

He waited and waited but, nothing happened.

And this only made the doctor smile even wider, the side of his lips almost reaching his ears.

V,... lost to Christopher Lancaster.

The doctor let go of his arm, letting him collapse and cower with fear on the ground. Then, after all this, the enemy simply stepped away and made his way towards Avery, who was still tied to the chair, bleeding and unconscious.

"Now, you see how benevolent I' am." Lancaster told V as he checked Avery's pulse and checked on his pocket watch like he was still a normal doctor. "I gave you the chance to play along. Allowed the both of us to settle the score. But, you have only wasted my time." The doctor hid his pocket watch and gave V a sideways glance. "I suggest you leave now. Before I change my mind."

"Ouch!" Roman winced in pain as he finally gained consciousness a few minutes later, rubbing his temples and looking around him. At the center of the room, he found Lancaster checking on Avery's pulse, and on one corner, he saw V kneeling in front of two floating, glowing orbs that weakly pulsated with dull red and blue lights. "V?" He limped his way towards his companion, only to see the utter shock in the poet's eyes.

Like he completely lost all hope and his will to keep on living.

"What happened?" Roman asked the poet, his sight darting from him to the strange orbs floating above the ground.

"We lost." The poet uttered monotonously.

"W - what?! How did we - ?"

"Lancaster,... is far too strong than what we could've imagined."

Roman's eyes widened with utter disbelief. He collapsed on the ground and placed both of his hands on V's shoulders. "You're kidding, right? Y - you're V! And you're the strongest man I've ever met! And the bravest one! You can't just lose to that evil doctor!"

The poet looked at him, his eyes suspiciously cloudy like he was in a trance, and gave him a wry smile. "This is a mistake. I should not have accepted this job in the first place. I should have ran away from the start. I should not have faced Christopher Lancaster."

And this only made Roman lose his temper. "AND WHAT ABOUT AVERY, HUH?! SHE NEEDS US!"

"She's,... lost to us."

"WHAT ABOUT NICO?! DON'T TELL ME HER SACRIFICE LED TO NOTHING!"

"As I've said, this is a mistake,... right from the very start."

"AND WHAT ABOUT (Y/N), HUH?" Roman screamed angrily at V as he shook his shoulders hard enough, hoping for the man to come to his sense. "SHE NEEDS YOU! YOU HAVE TO SET HER SOUL FREE! DO YOU WANT HER TO BE DAMNED TO HELL?! V, TALK TO ME!"

"(Y/N),... means nothing to me,..."

"FUCK YOU!" Roman swore as he punched V on the cheek. The poet's face jerked sideways with the sheer force of the mad and disappointed fiancé.

Meanwhile, V felt like his soul was floating into nothingness. He couldn't see nor hear anything. And yet, this strange voice, this achingly familiar voice, kept calling to him. He tried to follow the sound despite his blindness. He reached out, his hands wanting to grasp this familiar something,...

"I'm here, Victor." The voice told him. "Follow my voice."

"(Y/N),... ?" V called as he opened his eyes,...

... and saw the ceiling of the familiar office. Feeling numbness all over his body, he carefully sat up and gazed at the room. He was sure it was the same room, however, somehow, he felt at ease. His chest no longer felt heavy, and his whole body felt really light. A sense of calm radiated all over the place, and even the sun shone brightly and cheerfully outside.

He carefully sat up, surveying the atmosphere around him, and finally stood, his eyes darting from one furniture to the next.

Then, he heard it once more: the voice of an angel.

V opened the door and made his way towards the source of the sound, his ears wanting to feast on the lovely sound and his soul longing to bask in it. He went down the staircase, walked past the Grecian statues, and made his way directly towards the Library where he knew she was. He took a deep breath and opened the door, the light of the room blinding him momentarily and the sweet scent that was wafting from it overwhelming his senses.

And when his eyes finally adjusted to the brightness of the room, he saw her there, sitting on a stool in front of the piano, singing an achingly familiar tune he has unfortunately forgotten as she flawlessly played the simple notes. His eyes burning at the sight and his chest bursting with gladness, he slowly made his way towards her, his steps as light as they could possibly be in fear that she would vanish at the slightest disturbance.

And when he was finally so close next to her, she stopped playing and gazed up at him, a smile on her young and gentle face.

It was, indeed, (Y/N). The girl he knew from his visions. The girl who has, undoubtedly, captured his, and Victor's, heart.

The girl,...

... right before all the tragedies and nightmares in the house occurred.

"You're not supposed to be here." She told him, a hint of disappointment in her lovely (E/C) eyes.

"I,..." V began, suddenly, and for the first time ever, at a loss for his own words. "I lost,... to him."

(Y/N) furrowed her eyebrows, the amused smile still not leaving her beautiful and healthy visage. "That wasn't supposed to happen."

"I,... forgive me." V apologized, feeling defeated and dejected.

To this, the girl smiled tenderly and slightly moved, making a space on the stool for him and gesturing at it with her dainty right hand. "Come, sit with me." The poet did so, and the moment he was mere inches from her, his arms actually brushing against the soft fabric of her (F/C) dress, she smiled and positioned her fingers over the keys. Those adorable fingers glided on the keys once more, and a few notes in, V was taken prisoner. He closed his eyes, feeling the music overtake his mind, his heart, and his whole being.

He really wished he could stay here forever.

Forever,... with her,...

It seemed like forever, though, her playing the piano and him listening to it wholeheartedly. And when her music gradually came to a slow halt, V finally opened his eyes and let them fall on her immaculate figure.

"Heaven." V whispered softly, making her turn and look straight into his eyes. "Is this,... heaven? If so, then I would not want to go back."

(Y/N) smiled as she reached out a hand, lying it gently onto V's face. The poet grasped her hand, her warmth calming his senses and putting his chaotic soul at ease. "You have no idea how long I have waited for this. For us to be this close, to feel your touch again, to hear your voice so close to my ear." She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, her brows furrowing as tears drenched those long eyelashes of hers. "You have no idea,... how much I love you. I love you so much. Even after death, my heart still beats for you and you alone.

"But, you don't belong here, V." She opened her eyes, her smile turning into a frown that tore V's heart in two. "You belong with your friends, your family, with people who loves you."

V cupped her cheeks and rested his forehead against hers, their breaths mingling and their eyes looking deeply into each other. "I don't want to lose you, ever again."

(Y/N) closed her eyes, the smile returning to her face once more. "You never lost me. I stayed with you, and I always will. Until the end of time. But, we are both lost in this labyrinth." She took his hands and brought them down, her eyes conveying something that triggered a dormant emotion deep within V's chest. "As much as I wanted to let you stay here, I simply can't. You have to fulfill your mission. You have to set us free and save the woman from being sacrificed to the Devil. You must defeat Christopher Lancaster."

"But, I can't! I'm,... powerless against him! I - "

"You can defeat him, V." She told him, her resoluteness starting a fire inside his chest. "You have to believe that you can. He is but a mere fragment of the past animated by the Demon Bedlam to carry on an insidious mission on this world. He is but a mere puppet. And a puppet like him,... could never lay a finger on the one who believes in hope."

The moment (Y/N) mentioned the Demon's name, V felt a tremor beneath his feet, the room suddenly felt heavy, and the sun outside seemed to abruptly set.

This plane,... was starting to collapse.

Despite that fact, the girl still gazed lovingly  at his eyes and held his hands, giving him all the encouragement he needed for the mission that was wiped out of his mind from the moment he admitted his lost to the evil doctor.

And now that he could finally remember everything, of Avery giving him the mission in the first place, of Roman, who supported him and stood his ground despite his own weakness, of (Y/N) and Victor's grandchild bidding them a successful return, of his familiars supporting him along the way, of Nico, who accepted him as a friend despite his flaws and their differences and did her best to help him,...

... of the woman who wrote those messages,...

... of this one girl he wanted to save,...

"The time is running out. You must leave. Now."

V stood up and took a few steps away from her. And before he could finally turn away, he felt a hand on his arm, turning him around, and,...

He closed his eyes, letting her soft lips glide against his. And for the very first and last time, V wrapped his arms around her waist, bringing her closer to him and reciprocating her gesture of undying affection by showering her with the utmost passion he didn't know he possessed.

He wanted,... so very badly,... to go on kissing her like this, to show her how much she meant to him, to give her everything that life has stolen from her. To love her right then and there. But, he knew he couldn't. Her time on this world was over, her story about to end. His, on the other hand, was only beginning. And she knew this, as well. And when their lips finally parted, he felt her slid her hand on his pocket, putting something in it. She, then, broke away from his embrace and stepped away, letting her fingers glide on the smooth surface of her beloved piano one last time as the world before them started collapsing, shattering like glass, its shards and pieces falling apart one by one.

She smiled and waved her hand. "I'll see you soon, V."

"What - ?" He began but he was interrupted when he felt a hand grab him by the wrist. He turned around and saw (Y/N)'s loyal maidservant looking up at him.

"Young master, I'll help you get out of here!" She told him, dragging him along and leading the way out of the shattering plane. "This is the very last thing I will do for you. Believe in my lady's words, and you will be able to defeat him. Do everything you can to set us free. And do not lose hope! Do not lose hope! Do not - "

" - LOSE HOPE!" He heard Roman's voice as he finally opened his eyes, seeing the fiancé’s flustered and angry face. "DO NOT,... LOSE HOPE!"

V let those words sink in as he slowly got up, giving Lancaster an angry look as the doctor watched them like they were animals.

"I will not." The poet muttered, grabbing the metal cane from the floor and facing his enemy one more time. "You are just a mere puppet. A mere instrument for the Devil's machinations. And you will never,... succeed,... not today, not tomorrow,... NOT WHILE I LIVE!"

"Such fancy words for a useless man such as yourself!" Lancaster mocked, showing his sardonic smile once more.

"I'm not useless." V uttered, taking even more resolute steps towards Lancaster, his hands clutching the cane, ready to swing it at any given time. "She believes in me. I will set her free,... and send you to hell!" The poet gritted his teeth as he let out a swift hook that successfully connected with Lancaster's face, sending the shocked doctor flying towards the other end of the room.

V's eyes widened with disbelief, then looked at the bony fist that sent the doctor reeling on the ground. He, a weak Devil Hunter whose strength could never compare to the likes of both Dante and Nero, actually brought an insanely powerful maniac down to his knees!

"YES! BEAT HIM TO A BLOODY PULP, V!" Roman howled and cheered behind him as the familiars finally broke free of their stalemate state. And as Roman, Griffon, and Shadow witnessed the awesome fight that V was giving the bewildered doctor, they could not help but feel hopeful and alive once more.

But, their celebration was short lived as the doctor kicked V in the legs, making the poet fall on the ground.

"COME ON, V! YOU CAN DO IT!"

V struggled to get on his feet but, the doctor just wouldn't let him. Tackling him and bringing his face to the floor, the doctor snatched V's cane and held it up above his head. "YOU, ANNOYING INSECT! HOW DARE YOU?! I SHOULD NOT HAVE LET YOU LIVE! I SHOULD - !"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever!"

All the occupants of the room, the combatants included, looked at the door to see Nico, swatted in bandages in many parts of her body, sucking at her cigar and blowing smoke like nobody's business. She looked down at V and Lancaster and showed a very mischievous smirk.

"Aww, have y'all forgotten 'bout me?" She taunted. "Whatever." She took out her radio and held it up, her finger close to the red emergency button. "May I present to ya,... NERO'S SHOWER CONCERT,... VOLUME TWO!"

And with just one push of the accursed button, the whole house was filled with the young Devil Hunter's obnoxious voice. Nico,... actually connected all the speakers on the ground floor, letting her play Nero's awful singing at full and unadulterated blast!

"Ah - ah - ah, ah! Ah - ah - ah, ah! We come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun, where the hot springs flow. The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands to fight the horde, and sing and cry. Valhalla, I am coming! On we sweep with threshing oar! Our only goal will be the western shore!"

"What is that God awful voice?!" Avery, who finally woke up due to the eardrum - shattering sound, complained.

"Sweetheart!" Roman exclaimed in happiness as he went to her.

"WHAT FORM OF POWER IS THIS?!" Lancaster howled and writhed in pain as he covered his ears and fell off V, giving the poet ample time to get his cane back. And during this moment of complete vulnerability, V was able to feel a strange power coming from the doctor's chest. The poet went down and started ransacking his vest, and right there, he found Lancaster's pocket watch. V could feel some form of massive energy from it. "GIVE IT TO ME! GIVE IT,... BACK!"

This is it! "Keep this safe!" V turned towards Roman and threw the antique to him. The man caught this at the same time he felt something cold grab his ankle. He looked down and was horrified to see the doctor starting to actually rot. He was finally losing his power!

(Y/N) was right all along! A puppet like Lancaster,... has no power against the one who believes in hope! Bedlam,... has no power over me!

"You,... can't defeat me!" Lancaster moaned as he twitched and trembled. "Bedlam,... chose me!"

"You're wrong." V answered as he kicked the doctor, the mere contact making Lancaster howl in agony. "No one chose you!" V stepped on the evil doctor's shoulder, the contact actually burning Lancaster's clothes and searing the flesh beneath it. The poet could feel tremendous power burning his insides, and it has given him absolute control over the evil energy that enslaved the mansion for a very long time. It gave him more than enough strength to defeat Lancaster.

And he knew full well,...

... that this tremendous power,...

... came from (Y/N).

He raised the cane, pointing it to the doctor's chest.

"NO! PLEASE! I BEG YOU! DO NOT KILL ME! PLEASE!"

"The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough."

"NO! NO! HAVE MERCY ON ME!"

"I will not cease from mental fight, nor shall my sword sleep in my hand, 'till we have built Jerusalem, in England’s green and pleasant land."

And after one last look at the eye of the man who made many people suffer, he brought down his cane,...

*

"So, this is it, huh?" Roman asked an hour later as he looked at the golden pocket watch in his hands.

"I believe it is the item that we seek, yes." V answered as he allowed Griffon to perch on his shoulder and watched Shadow trot proudly next to him.

"What are you two talking about?" Avery asked as she let Nico assist her as they walked.

"I think I have an idea." Nico smiled at the gentlemen, especially at V, who successfully defeated the evil in the mansion.

V smiled and nodded at Roman. "I will let you do the honors. Open it."

Roman raised an eyebrow and shrugged his shoulders. Still, with both hands, he carefully opened the pocket watch and,...

"Oh, my God!" Avery whispered as she pointed at something in front them. All of them looked and saw the blonde maid smiling and waving at them. "Who,... is that?"

"That is Roselle Velez." V answered as he watched the servant wave at something behind them. They turned and saw the little boy named Phineas running past them and meeting Roselle halfway. The woman took the boy's hand and with one final wave, the two finally disintegrated right before their very own eyes.

"That's Daniella!" Nico practically shrieked as she pointed at another specter from one corner of the hall. "She tried to save me that night but, yeah. Bitchy evil doctor happened."

V turned to the other end of the hall and saw Maria, the loyal housekeeper, emerging from the kitchen. And right before his very eyes, she glowed and morphed into her original form - of the loyal maidservant who served (Y/N) and never left her side.

It seemed that Maria's mission,... was finally fulfilled. And she has faithfully kept her promise,... of waiting for V to arrive after more than a hundred years and helping him defeat the evil Christopher Lancaster.

And with smiles on their faces, Daniella and Maria met, finally going hand in hand to that promised place that Roselle and the boy just went to.

After a while, after seemingly a long period of silence, V felt something strange come out of his body. And as it walked away from the him, Roman, Nico, Avery, Griffon, and even Shadow stared in disbelief. It was none other than the English poet, Victor Blake, himself. His body seemed to glow with a powerful force that casted the shadows of the mansion away. V watched in awe as the man made his way towards something he could not quite see, and when Victor stopped walking, they saw a group of orbs materializing out of thin air. These little orbs of light danced, and when they finally merged into one, they slowly morphed into the one person V wanted to see.

It was (Y/N) (L/N), herself. And she looked perfect. Simply perfect.

When the lovers finally met, their hearts twitched in pain as they saw the lady weep and run towards her lover's open arms. And when Victor embraced her, his tears of joy falling freely from his eyes for finally seeing the love of his life after many, many years, they can't help but shed some tears of their own.

And V? He did not cry. In fact, he was happy. He was happy that they finally got their happy ending. And before they went away, the lovers looked at V and smiled at him.

Thank you! (Y/N) mouthed her gratitude as she pointed at V's pocket.

And then, as V felt for the thing in his pocket, the thing she put a few hours earlier, the lovers finally vanished into the night,... into sweet delight.

Chapter Text

Thank you! (Y/N) mouthed her gratitude as she pointed at V's pocket.

And then, as V felt for the thing in his pocket, the thing she put a few hours earlier, the lovers finally vanished into the night,... into sweet delight.

He smiled as he took a deep sigh of relief. It's finally over. He succeeded!

"Okay, folks! Show's over!" Avery clapped her hands like a bossy head chef and brought them back to reality from their own scattered thoughts. "We have a wedding to settle, and I'm inviting you!"

"W - " Nico muttered, at a loss for words at what Avery just announced. "But, we're done here! We finished the mission for ya. Isn't it a bother for both you and Roman to still have us around?"

Avery raised her eyebrows and rolled her eyes. "Well, duh. We're friends already, aren't we? Isn't that right, Roman?"

"You can say that again!" Roman happily answered as Griffon landed on his shoulder.

"I insist!" Avery looked at V and smiled at him. "And wear something decent for once, V! We'll help you and Nico with your outfit. In fact," She looked up, seemingly in deep thought, and brought her fingers to her chin, tapping it with them. She looked at V once more and pointed at him, a mischievous grin on her lips. " ... I think we should also invite that lazy Devil Hunter from Devil May Cry! Who was that again?"

V chuckled at the title she gave his twin brother. "Dante is his name."

"Oh! Can we invite Nero, too? And Kyrie?" Nico excitedly asked.

"Who's Nero and Kyrie?"

"Nero's the one with the God awful singing voice!" The Artisan proudly declared. "And Kyrie is his lady love!"

Avery couldn't help but knit her brows in confusion and disbelief. "I see. Well, sure! Poor girlfriend, though, having to listen each day to that!"

Nico, Roman, and Avery all laughed at the mere thought of this, until everyone noticed the Hispanic guy being comfortable with the demonic bird on his shoulder.

"Sweetheart, aren't you afraid of that bird?" His fiancée questioned him with mirth in her eyes.

To this, Roman only bashfully puffed his chest out and proudly brought his hands to his hips like a superhero. "I've grown much stronger and braver! And it was all thanks to V!" He, then, turned sideways to Griffon, who was looking at him like he has some evil intention towards him. "And to this amazing bird, too! Isn't that right, buddy?"

Griffon took this as a cue and widely opened his beak. "Ohohoho! Aww! So ye're brave now, huh?!" The bird told him in a clear voice that surprised Avery, made Nico burst out laughing, and made V smirk in amusement.

And Roman? The poor guy was simply at a loss for words.

And this only made Griffon more mischievous. He raised his beak and swayed his head from left to right like what he did the first time he met Roman, speaking in a hilariously loud tone. "FFFUUUCCCKKK YYYEEEAAAHHH! IT'S BARBEQUE TTTIIIMMMEEE!"

Roman lost it and fainted.

***

Three days later,...

"I pronounce you man and wife." The minister announced. "You may now kiss the bride."

Everyone cheered as Avery grabbed Roman by the waist, bent him, and gave him a passionate kiss.

V and Nico, who were both looking smart and gorgeous with the outfit the couple chose for them, applauded and chuckled at how Avery handled her blushing husband, Roman. 

Nico glanced at V and nudged him on the arm with an elbow. "Lookin' really smokin' hot right there, V!" She said with a wide smile as she looked at his ensemble of crisp, jet - black coat, tie, and pants, matched with a snow white - colored shirt and a pair of leather vintage shoes. His neatly slicked back jet - black hair, the perfectly polished metal cane on his hand, and the perfume he bought for the special occasion with the money he just earned from the mission gave him a truly and magnificently virile aura that made all the guests look at him, either in curiosity or something entirely different altogether.

The poet smiled as he nodded at her and her bright yellow bodycon dress matched with a ridiculously huge sunflower on her hair. "And I could say the same for you."

"Hehe, thanks!"

V smiled and took something out from the pocket of his coat, the thing that (Y/N) gave her three days ago that was, apparently, the source of the tremendous power that enabled him to beat the evil doctor.

It was her own locket which she kept close to her heart until her reunion with Victor. And she gave it to him that day.

With a gentle smile on his face and a soft look in his eyes, he carefully opened the locket, revealing a photo of her that was taken during that day when she first met Victor.

"Everything is alright now, (Y/N)." V whispered as the guests went on cheering for the newly wed. "Your great grand niece is safe and happily married.”

As Nico observed how V looked at the precious locket, her eyes widened, suddenly remembering something really important.

"Oh, I almost forgot!" Nico blabbered, making V look at her in curiosity. "I have somethin' for ya."

"And what would that be?" V asked with a smirk as he hid the locket back to his pocket.

With a ginger smile, Nico produced something from her huge handbag and handed it to V, who looked at it with utter confusion.

"And this is?"

"The latest model of Somesang Universe. But I tweaked it for ya."

"Tweaked? How so?" V asked as he looked at the sleek and fragile black cellphone on his hand.

"I put some special programs of mine in it that could still let ya record all kinds of noises produced by all types of creatures. Ghosts, Demons, Mermaids, ya name it! And you can also play games in it, if ya want. Oh! I definitely didn't put Nero's singing in its music album, trust me!"

"What is it, Nico?!" Nero, who heard his name being mentioned by the Artisan, turned and gave her a suspicious look.

"Nothin', psycho!"

"Whatever."

"This looked,... really expensive." V told her as he humbly tried to give the phone back to her. "I do not know if I'm worthy of having a thing such as this."

Nico smiled as she pushed the phone back to V. "I insist! It's a way of sayin' thanks for letting me tag along on the mission."

"I see. Well, I appreciate this gift. Thank you so much. I will take care of it."

"Nah, don't mention it." Nico said as she lightly punched V's arm. "Actually, I put somethin' else in it. I found somethin' truly groundbreaking the other day when I went to visit grandma Adelaide."

"Who's Adelaide?"

"That's Victor and (Y/N)'s grandchild!"

"Oh, my!" Shame on me, I have actually forgotten to ask her name.

"Anyway, if you open the contacts list, you'll find her - "

"Hey, man!" Dante, who was looking really uncomfortable with his formal wear, interrupted the conversation as he hid behind V. "I'm not really good at this!" His twin whispered as he cautiously looked around like he was being stalked by Demons.

"What brings you here?"

"It's that crazy woman! She - "

"THERE YOU ARE!" All of them heard Avery's voice as she and Roman walked towards Dante. She totally ignored V and grabbed the legendary Devil Hunter's arm. "You're not escaping me this time! You'll join the game!"

"W - what did I do to deserve this, señorita?!" Dante complained as Avery dragged him forcefully towards the center where a lot of people were already waiting. 

"Oh, nothing! I just wanted revenge for denying me a week ago!" She declared with a mischievous wink.

"I'm not being paid for this!"

"V, Nico, you should join! And Mr. Nero and Ms. Kyrie, too!" Roman invited them as he gestured towards the crowd. "And Avery's cousin just arrived from Paris!"

A few moments later, V found himself next to Dante, Nero, and the rest of the male guests as they waited for Roman to remove a garter from Avery's thigh using only his teeth. The man waved it happily, making the men cheer wildly.

"What is wrong with this people?" Nero asked, disgusted at the display of unbridled male fantasy before him.

Dante sighed in disbelief. "It's a traditional wedding game wherein males try to catch the bride's garter thrown by the groom. Same thing goes for the bride who tosses her bouquet for the females. The couple who catches the garter and the bouquet is said to be destined to be together. But, that is just an old wives' tale."

"What?! I don't wanna be with anybody else other than Kyrie!" Nero, who took the game way too seriously, blurted out as he drew back in fear. 

Dante patted the youth on the shoulder. "I feel you, kid. Don't wanna catch it! Unless there's a hot babe in there somewhere, then,..."

"Hey, V!" Griffon, who was wearing a smart bow tie around his neck, landed on the poet's shoulder and whispered to him. "So, uh, me and the housecat surveyed the females, and we found yer perfect match! It's the one who just arrived from, ahh, Yourip! Yeah, that's it. Wait, what's Yourip?"

V chuckled at what his familiar just said. "It's Europe. And I' am not interested in this game."

"Aww, come on, Shakespeare! Don't ya wanna have a girlfriend?!"

"Yeah, give it a chance, V!" Dante teased as he patted the poet's shoulder.

V only shook his head, chuckling at the mere thought of him having a girlfriend. Who would love him, anyway, when he's not as strong as Dante, or as witty as Nero - ?

"ALRIGHT THEN, FUCK YEAH!" Griffon shrieked as he let out a small amount of electricity that went directly to V's right arm, startling him and making him raise it in response. The cane on his right hand, which was raised high above his head, then, caught the garter in perfect timing, making Nero and Dante cheer and applaud!

"Nice one right there, V!" Nero cheered as he clapped his hands. "And Little Chicken!"

V brought his cane down and looked at the lacy thing on his cane, and before he could say something else or even react, the females cheered as Avery tossed her bouquet. There was a strange noise as some females screamed, Black Panther! and drew back. Apparently, Shadow, who was wearing a huge pink lace bow around her neck, pushed someone from the crowd, making her stumble forward and catch the bouquet in the process.

"Mission accomplished!" Griffon laughed menacingly as he flew away from V before the poet could say anything and landed on the table where the huge vanilla - flavored eight layered cake was, starting to nibble on Roman's part on the treat. Shadow arrived there a few seconds later and started eating Avery's part.

"Come here, V!" Roman said with a huge smile ( still unaware of what's happening to the wedding cake ) as he took the poet's arm and dragged him towards the center. V arrived just in time to see Avery dragging the lucky girl who caught the bouquet towards the center to where he was. Avery looked up at V, smiled at him, and moved to the side, revealing to him the girl who was now holding her bouquet.

And as he looked at the girl, he couldn't help but get mesmerized and emotional at the same time. The girl, who laid her (E/C) - colored eyes on his green ones, felt the same as some kind of unknown emotion started to form in her chest.

She brushed a wayward (H/C) lock away from her face and placed it behind her ear. She, then, gave him that smile that V was longing to see once more.

And with an achingly familiar voice that he thought he would never hear ever again, she spoke to him.

"Haven't we met?" She asked him.

"My,... Evening Star,..." V whispered as he smiled at her,...

***

TO BE CONTINUED

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