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Family Traditions

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Dracula was not wholly surprised when Lisa’s one close relative appeared at his door. However—he wasn’t expecting the crossbow. Clara’s hands were awkwardly placed and shaking as she leveled it at his chest. Someone had taught her in the past, he thought, but it had been a long time since she’d had to use the weapon. If she ever had used it on anything but practice dummies.

“Remember me?” she asked.

“Clara Seward. Lisa’s aunt.” Dracula inclined his head toward the bow instead of dashing it from her hands. The woman’s jaw was set in stubborn determination but she was clearly terrified; it would have been trivial to separate woman from weapon. Lisa clearly loved her, though. She wouldn’t take kindly to any escalation on his part. “I didn’t realize your family still kept to their old ways.” They'd been all but retired to mundane lives by the time Stoker had written John Seward into his little story, he'd thought. Apparently some knowledge had made its way down the line.

Clara frowned. “Lisa doesn’t know.”

At that Dracula couldn’t help but smirk. “I’ve noticed.”

Blood stained Clara’s face an angry red and she hitched the crossbow higher. “What have you been doing to her?”


“I saw the fang marks.”

Good, he thought. Let everyone know. “Nothing that has left her worse for wear,” Dracula finished. The end of the crossbow brushed against his shirt, and that, he decided, was more than enough provocation. He yanked the crossbow from Clara’s hands and held it casually in the air a good two feet above her head. The bolt clattered to his front steps. “If you’re quite done threatening me, it’s time for you to go.”

Clara gaped at her suddenly-empty hands, back up at him, and then crossed her arms over her chest as if to protect her rabbiting heart. “I’ll tell Lisa what you are,” she blurted out. “If you don’t leave her alone, I’ll tell her.”

“Oh, heavens, no." Dracula withdrew a step into his castle. “Well, if that’s all—”

She shoved her arm out, holding the door in place. “I’m serious. Maybe I can’t fight you, but I know how to break whatever hold you’ve got on her.”

On some level Dracula supposed this was endearing. Lisa had spoken with fondness of her aunt, and that affection should properly be returned. On another level, it was refreshing to watch a human squirm for a way to threaten him; hunters these days had grown too complacent to give him a good show. But mostly Dracula wished to be free of uninvited company. He loomed over Clara, careful to avoid the rays of daylight lurking just outside the doors. “I think you’ll find that more difficult than you anticipate.”

Clara gulped and her eyes narrowed, fear nearly swallowed by anger.

“Babe? Are you talking to someone?”

Babe? Clara mouthed, eyebrows creeping up her forehead. Dracula fought back a grimace. He didn’t mind pet names so long as they were coming from Lisa, but he’d spent centuries using that to refer to literal infants; it would take some getting used to. “You’ve a visitor,” he called back; he already heard Lisa coming down the stairs, and stepped back so she could see who it was.

Clara?” Lisa smoothed back her hair, though it was—alright, it was a little messier than it had been when she’d arrived, but Dracula thought he’d done a respectable job of getting it back into order. “What’s going on? Is something wrong?”

Dracula handed her the crossbow. Lisa frowned at it, at him, and then her aunt, putting the pieces together. “She’s only come to warn you away from the vampire,” he said, and bent to kiss her temple, just to make a point. “Sounds like a family affair—I’ll leave you to sort it out.”