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Henry feels the weight of what he is every day. It’s different, being what he is; his memories of his human years are blurred and faded, yes, but all he has to do is look at Sebastian and he’s reminded of the difference. The weight of blood that no longer circulates; the heavy dead heart he drags around in his chest. The bones that no longer age, forever frozen at the point of turning. He feels the weight of it in his palms every time he thinks about it: about touching Sebastian, about making Nessie’s last wish reality. About inviting Sebastian to truly join them.

He has to. It’s time. They are three, where they were eight, and Henry can feel the island slowly pulling itself off-balance day by day as they travel — where? Henry doesn’t know, because it doesn’t matter; as long as they can find food and stay safe, he doesn’t much care where they are. He can feel the island around him now. When he needs to know where they are, he’ll be able to find out. He will decide later.

Henry is the High Duke now. That’s what it means, this pull that’s slowly unbalancing him, tugging the heart that no longer beats and the lungs that no longer work in opposite directions. He hasn’t mentioned it yet. He knows he may need the surprise as an advantage. Angel won’t care - she wouldn’t want it - but Peter is likely still waiting for the ley-sense to come upon him. Peter thinks he has a chance to be Duke.

Henry won’t let that happen.

———

Night falls and they emerge, one-by-one, as they normally do. Angel first, because she’s the youngest, and doesn’t need absolute darkness to walk uncovered; Peter second, because Peter is powerful, and likes to show it. Henry emerges last, because he doesn’t care; as the Duke, he could technically walk out under sunset, if he drew on the power, but he has no need to make a statement like that. Not like Peter, who doesn’t want them to forget.

It lets him keep an eye on Sebastian. The young man seems to understand that his fate’s now tied up with theirs; he happily drives the truck where they direct, finds his own food in his own way, comes back every time to curl up and sleep under Henry’s watch. Henry can sense the thin line of tension seeping from Sebastian like a scent — the poor man must wonder, every time he drifts off, whether he’s going to wake up, or be dinner.

Henry keeps Sebastian under his guard. It’s terribly obvious, probably even to Sebastian; Angel keeps giving Henry these expectant looks with eyebrows wiggling and a smirk on her mouth. Peter just watches, making no comment. For all that Peter has renounced his Nay, Henry does not trust him. Peter is normally a vampire of his word, but they are only three where they should be eight, and Peter’s old enough he can probably feel an echo of the tension in the ley-sense even if the Dukedom has passed him over.

Henry watches Sebastian for other reasons, of course. Some nights he can barely take his eyes off of the man. Nessie’s right: he’s twelve generations pure; Henry can nearly taste it, the way Sebastian’s blood sings to the want inside of him, a pure descendant ready and eager for the turn. Only in Henry’s mind, maybe; there are nights he sits in the darkness of the woods, watching Sebastian sleep, letting his mind wander to wonder whether Sebastian’s blood would sing back to him if he were given the chance to have a taste.

But Seba is also loyal, and charming, and incredibly practical; Henry aches with it, sometimes, in that dead area where the weight of his useless heart hangs.

“Oi,” Sebastian says, and Henry’s eyes flick up, startled. He hopes what he’s been thinking about isn’t written across his face; it wouldn’t do to let Sebastian know all the ways Henry craves him. Not now, not here; not until Sebastian asks.

Henry smiles at him. “Are we safe?”

Sebastian flops down onto the ground beside him, paper wrinkling; Henry recognizes a fast food bag. They’ve at least been able to provide Sebastian with plenty of coin — anyone who lives the life they do has a collection of safehouses and stashboxes, and if Sebastian stays with them, he’ll never be poor for a day in his extended life. (Henry wants to shower him in riches: dress him in tailored velvet, see what a good pair of trousers does to that slender frame. He will not. Not yet.)

“Got you a hamburger,” Sebastian says with that twist of a grin, and Henry - again - refocuses his attention on the man next to him. In lieu of a fire they have a lantern; across the way, Peter is watching them interact, eyes narrowed round that clever gaze. It won’t do to have Peter figure out too early; it won’t do to have Peter figure it out at all.

“Thank you,” Henry replies, because he is polite and courteous and even though he does not want the hamburger, it will please him when Sebastian eats both.

It’s Angel’s night to feed. They rotate — or try to; Henry’s loath to leave Sebastian for any length of time under Peter’s curious stare, but Peter and Angel both go out in search of humans. Henry knows they need to regain and keep their strength, and he hasn’t even mentioned any sort of quota; they both know better than to kill, these days, with the Vatican and the army and the pharma all after them. They feed fresh and light, and move on before too many people in the same town end up talking about strange dreams they’ve had.

Henry hasn’t fed much. Nights they’re properly hidden he’ll perhaps flush out a deer, or take a cow from a field, but he doesn’t need to, not with the Dukedom upon him now. He knows Peter thinks he’s being weak, staying selfishly aligned with his own principles rather than feeding on human flesh. Henry’s happy to let Peter think that.

Just as he’s happy to keep Seba here, tucked just a bit too close to his side, and let Peter wonder.

———

Morning is the most dangerous for them: the sun breaking over the horizon is at its most powerful, and for nearly any vampire, brings an instant fiery death. Every sunrise sees them huddling in the back of the vehicle, covered in additional blankets and tarps and sheets, bunched together to avoid any stray beams of light that might come as the cover moves on a bumpy road. Henry isn’t sure whether the light of a sunrise could kill the Duke, but he isn’t going to test that theory out any time soon.

Sebastian knows, and makes a point of trying to drive more gently until the sun is high in the sky and the danger lessens. Trying is the key word there, since Sebastian drives everything as if he’s being chased by — well. They rattle around in the back some afternoons when Sebastian gets a whim in his mind and decides they need to be somewhere in record time, bouncing about like well-blanketed marbles.

There’s no dignity in it. Henry doesn’t mind; he carries his dignity inside. Peter, of course, is discomfited by it all, but they need to find somewhere they know they will be safe, so he tolerates it, with plenty of eye-rolling and sighing once they emerge at night. Angel isn’t fond of it at all, but Angel’s restless with the imposed space, all closed-in. She likes to roam, and hasn’t been able to.

Once the danger of sunrise has passed, Henry cloaks himself appropriately and huddles behind Sebastian so that they can talk. They’ve sun-proofed the area well, but a few well-angled acoustic holes allow their voices to travel back and forth. Henry knows this has to be hard on Seba: far away from anything and anyone he’s ever known, the lone human traveling with the last three great vampires in Britain, with the opportunity of turning and the threat of becoming dinner oscillating around him. Henry feels badly, but not too badly. He can also feel that Sebastian belongs with them. Blood calls to blood, and Sebastian’s blood is pure, and it is loud.

Vanessa, for all of her oddities and faults, had done them right with this one.

They talk, idly, sharing as much about their lives as they can. Sebastian tells Henry a million small stories: picking pockets, delivering papers, the number of fanciful careers he’s held over the course of his small human life. Henry thinks in years and decades; he doesn’t have the same kind of detailed minutiae to share. Instead, he explains their life to him in long stretches, telling Sebastian about how they live, how they keep balance on the island. How they feed, how they fight — none of the big secrets he carries are shared, no, but he wants Sebastian to think of them as a different sort of people rather than as the monsters he’s seen.

And over time he can tell Sebastian is changing. Obviously, there’s no real revulsion - Sebastian threw in with them when they all escaped that horrible farm - but the questions go from a horrified curiosity to interest, and then to genuine nosiness once he realizes that Henry will answer nearly anything.

It’s a fair equilibrium. Henry has finally chosen a destination; he is guiding Sebastian to one of his properties — an old castle with a number of catacombs he’s used to hide in before. Revealing its location to the others won’t be too much of a loss; it’s deep enough into the earth that they’ll all be able to fully regenerate, and large enough that they won’t kill each other having to share space.

———

They’ve found an abandoned shed at the edges of a farm. It’s a safe place for Sebastian to sleep, and close enough to a village that all three of them can feed. Henry lets Angel and Peter go first, because he can wait.

“Cows,” says Sebastian. His voice sounds amused; it flicks its way across Henry’s senses, tasting like an appetizer. “Really. You feed on cows.”

“You eat beef,” Henry says. It seems obvious to him, really, the connection; humans eat the flesh of other animals, and then his kind feed on humans. He’s simply skipping the middleman. “I have seen you eat hamburgers.”

“Yeah, well,” Seba says, and his smile is beautiful in the sharp light of the moon, teasing and fond and something else licking at the corner of his mouth. “Worked on a farm for a bit, y’know. Cows are bastards.”

“Oh, I’m familiar,” Henry says, laughing. “Back before I knew what I was doing, I found that out the hard way.” He debates sharing this part, because he does have dignity, but his desire to make Sebastian laugh outweighs everything. “I’ve been kicked my share of times before I found a better way to do it.”

Sebastian does laugh, bright and unfettered, and Henry feels the want rising in him: he wants to taste that laugh off of those lips. “Better way? Wot, are you a cowboy now? Got a hat and everything?”

Henry smiles at the mental image. He wants to be careful, answering this. “Our ...glamour,” he says, softly. “It works on animals, as well. Just… differently.”

He’s told Sebastian about their glamour: the way they can weave their power to tempt humans, working their desires and needs into a web that catches their prey, much like spiders for flies. Sebastian hadn’t seemed bothered at first, but now he hesitates when Henry brings it up, which is interesting.

As expected, Sebastian looks away, fidgeting. After a bit of a silence he looks back at Henry, something a bit brazen in his eyes. “Never seen your glamour,” he says, pointedly.

Henry can’t help the brief shudder that passes through him. He’s already promised to tell Sebastian whatever he wants to know; he wants Sebastian to choose them with his eyes wide open. But using his glamour on Seba is ...dangerous. It could reveal more than Henry intends, at this point.

But Sebastian’s waiting, his expression relaxed and open, and Henry wants.

“Is that a request?” It’s a murmur between them, and if Sebastian didn’t quite know what he was asking before, he seems to know now, judging by the way his eyes darken.

“Yeah,” Sebastian says, licking his lips instinctively. Henry tracks the movement with sharpened eyes. “Let’s see it, then.”

Henry starts slowly — so slowly. The want in him is overwhelming, a hurricane he keeps under control only by force of will, and the urge to - lose it - to loose it all in Sebastian’s direction is powerful. Instead, he lets a small trickle of his power out, first, capturing Sebastian’s gaze and holding it. Henry blinks, deliberately, and reaches out a bit more, wrapping dark tendrils of his magic around Sebastian. He does it slowly, carefully, almost tenderly. The power croons to Sebastian, brushing light touches onto his bare skin, and Henry watches as Sebastian’s pupils dilate. Those lips fall open, just enough for a sharp intake of breath, and Henry has him.

He leans closer, letting more of the glamour out. The magic is meant to make humans see them as the most beautiful thing in the world; making the humans desire them makes the feast all the more delicious. And yet this is different. Henry’s feelings for Sebastian are woven into the glamour, the desire far richer than usual. Sebastian leans in, closer, his eyes flicking between Henry’s gaze and his mouth. Henry knows the power must be burning in his eyes, now, making them gleam like gold.

He tugs, just a little more, unable to resist the temptation. Seba’s eyes flutter shut and Henry lifts a hand to gently - so gently - run the backs of his knuckles along the stubbled line of Sebastian’s jaw. It’s the first time they’ve touched so intentionally and Henry feels it through his body like electricity, as if his dead heart has jolted back to life in his chest. He can feel the lifeblood inside Sebastian: pure, delicious, delightful. His glamour reels that in, closer, until Sebastian’s eyelids part and remain, half-open and heavy, hooded, and Henry realizes they’re so close he can feel Sebastian’s breath on his own face. Henry takes a breath - one he doesn’t need, hasn’t needed for centuries - to pull that in, and exhales his own desire into Sebastian’s mouth.

It holds for a moment - a rapture in small movements, the way Sebastian’s eyes close again with wanting, the way his breath hitches; the way Henry’s own blood feels spiced, heated, ready - and then Henry releases it. He breathes out slowly with the practice of those centuries in it, and lets it fall away like coils of a rope. He would not keep Sebastian bound for anything save his own safety. He lets it go gently; coming out of the glamour too fast can hurt at best and — well, there’s a reason so few people remember being fed on.

Sebastian shudders, and Henry resists the urge to pull him in closer in an embrace. He knows from his years of experience that it always feels colder when they pull away; lonely, almost. But Sebastian wanted to know, and Henry will hide nothing from him.

Sebastian’s eyes open. Henry’s anxious for a moment, wondering — is this too much? It’s a thing he’s been wondering for so long, now, ever since they all started traveling together: when will he cross the line and scare Sebastian off for good? It isn’t like they aren’t living a wary truce with each other; all Sebastian would have to do is leave at sunrise and run. Or - Henry swallows - twitch back the curtains on the vehicle, and let them all burn.

But as Sebastian’s eyes open all Henry sees is open admiration and a hunger he’s been trying to ignore — a real hunger, not from his glamour but from Sebastian himself. It floors him, and the tendrils of magic he’s pulling back in surge up against his barriers, wanting to go and taste that. Henry yanks it back, too quickly, and has to deal with the recoil of all of that unfulfilled lust inside of him as Sebastian smiles up at him as if Henry’s lit the sunrise himself.

“Incredible,” Sebastian says, lazy with it yet strangely urgent. “You’re bloody beautiful,” he adds, accent tripping over every single syllable, and the part of Henry that has been quieted for six hundred years is buzzing in his ears like the low thrumming of a storm.

“Oh,” says a voice, arch and smug and disdainful. “I hadn’t realized we were getting this close with our friend.”

Henry has to choke himself down inside as to not turn around and show Peter his angry fangs, his terror-face - to summon up all of the power of the High Duke and make Peter kneel for being so glib about this - but he swallows it down, and turns calmly. “Sebastian asked about our glamour,” he says, and now he dares to reach out and put a hand on Seba’s shoulder. “I showed him.”

“Oh,” says Angel, all sass and steel from behind Peter. Henry notes the wary look on her face. She doesn’t trust Peter, but is there anything to say that she does trust him? “C’mere, darlin’, let me show you all the tricks.”

Well, Henry has no choice but to trust her, at this point. If he doesn’t leave to feed, he’s admitting weakness in front of Peter and Angel both, that he feels like he has to watch over Sebastian. All he can do is trust his own instincts to alert him of any ill intent.

He slowly takes his hand off of Sebastian’s shoulder, and if he drags it out, letting his fingers skim that stretch of fabric, no one will know save himself and Seba.

———

Cows are, in fact, bastards.

Henry isn’t new at this game at all. The trick of it is to use their glamour to convince the animals that Henry is friend, not foe — that Henry is, in fact, a good friend, bringing something that will cure whatever aches or pains the beast may have. This isn’t exactly a lie - their saliva does, in fact, make their victims feel good - it just comes with a bit of a cost.

His first taste goes smoothly, nothing wrong; the animal stays idle as Henry takes what he needs. Since he doesn’t let his hunger go entirely, it’s easier for him to focus on just replenishing the fluids and minerals he’s lost over time. He doesn’t take too much from any one source, either; he sees far too much death; has caused too much death himself.

The second cow somehow kicks him in the shin. The third runs off and he’s too jittery to chase it, dead nerves alight with the excitement of earlier. He turns to a fourth, a sow half-asleep, that should be an easy source—

— the pain shoots through him, sharp as a stake to the heart and for a second Henry thinks he’s been staked, he’s ended, that’s it, but then he — he stumbles back upright and listens to the ley-sense and the shadows and then he’s streaking back across the darkness, bloody mouth forgotten, fangs dropped and extended. That isn’t his pain he’s feeling.

Henry isn’t honestly sure whether he’s just moving that quickly or if the ley-sense has simply thrown him there, but when he lands back at their camp, Sebastian’s neck is bloody and all of Henry’s senses go red.

It’s the heat that comes to him first, infrared, outlining the scene; the heat of the lantern spikes like the sun but Henry can still see beyond it, two familiar bodies and one red-hot and vulnerable, tucked behind one of the cooler signatures, as they posture and growl in each other’s faces.

Henry doesn’t realize he himself is growling until everything else drops off - his vision suddenly and painfully landing back into the night’s spectrum - and all three people in the clearing turn to him and freeze.

Sebastian’s bleeding from the neck. He’s tucked behind Angel, whose face has fully vamped, fangs fully extended and sharp. She’s stood off against Peter, whose hands are tucked behind him, in the small of his back, an unreadable grin on his face. There’s a small trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth down his chin. Henry sees it in red and the harsh gold that marks a fight, and he’s suddenly a bit lost.

“What is going on?” It isn’t a question. It echoes out through his boots and he can feel the way it hits them, the power of the soundwave, the way it makes them both stagger. Sebastian is untouched by it — there may still be grace in this night. But Peter turns to him, and Henry watches as the realization bleeds that smug fucking look from Peter’s face like a well going dry.

“No,” Peter breathes, and then Henry’s on him.

Henry reaches out to grip Peter by the neck, then blinks, and then they’re two hundred feet across the field so that he can slam Peter into the nearest, thickest tree. His hand tightens and does not move; the back of Peter’s head bounces off of the oak’s stiff bark, and Henry holds him there, just too high for his feet to touch the ground, just too tight for him to pull in an unnecessary breath. Just too firmly, so that Peter understands what he’s done.

He’s trying to choke something out around Henry’s grip, so Henry digs in, grinding Peter back into the tree by the throat. He can tell that behind him Angel is approaching, keeping Sebastian safely behind her. Seba is safe for now; he can focus everything on Peter.

“You gave him your word,” Henry says. His voice is tight in the darkness; it’s absolute. “You gave him your Aye. How dare you draw his blood.”

Peter’s hands are wrapped around Henry’s wrist, trying to lessen the pressure of his grip. It won’t kill Peter, but it will cause him a lot of pain, so Henry holds him there for a few long moments. He releases Peter more slowly than he’s done anything in a while.

“No,” Peter says again. His voice - normally so lofty and pretentious - is rough; his hand comes up to rub at his throat. “No. Not you.”

Henry smiles; there is no joy in it. “How dare you?” His voice remains soft, even as Peter is panicking. “You take what’s not yours.”

“You aren’t supposed to,” Peter starts, and then Henry realizes, and he laughs.

It should break the mood - the way he steps a bit away, laughing out loud and somewhat crazily under the moon, the way the tension in his body lessens immediately - but it does not. “What,” Henry says, a note of teasing in his voice. “You thought it would be you?”

“The Duke’s lands,” says Peter. There is the faintest note of panic in his voice. Untrained listeners would never note it; Henry, who has had to listen to Peter for hundreds of years, does. “You agreed that the Duke’s lands were mine.”

“And they are.” Henry opens both hands in Peter’s direction, palms out. “I have no need for those lands.”

“Then I should be Duke,” Peter says, his voice still a bit shaky. “It’s worked that way for centuries.”

Henry shakes his head. He’s actually enjoying this; behind Angel, Sebastian looks confused, and he has a hand to his neck, over the wound. He needs to put Peter in his place and then deal with Seba. It’s his responsibility now.

“The Dukedom does not follow the land,” he says, and stalks back up close to Peter. “You know that. And I did not ask for it, but it is mine now.”

Peter swallows, but wisely says nothing, staring him down. Peter’s jaw is set in anger.

“Even Dukedom doesn’t give you the right,” Henry says very softly, “not to one under our protection. Not after giving him your Aye. I should drink you down right now.”

“But you won’t,” Peter says with disdain. “You wouldn’t. You’ve gone soft, Henry.”

Henry lets his power flare again in the night, pinning Peter to the tree again with nothing but the force of his own will. He is angry, and he is High Duke, and he is mourning the clan and worried about Seba and Peter wouldn’t even be like this if anyone had ever just taken him down a peg. This is Henry’s right, and his privilege, and also — he’s enjoying it.

“Do not,” Henry says, very soft and very deliberate, “mistake my control for softness, Peter Boniface.”

The words hang between them, and Henry can feel Peter start to bring up his power; he can feel the moment Peter realizes that tonight, with Henry’s emotions so high, this is not a fight he will win.

Finally Peter nods, his head bowing the slightest bit. His pride must be aching, Henry thinks, satisfied.

———

“Let me see.”

“It’s fine,” Sebastian says. Henry has sent Peter and Angel to hunt so that he can look after Sebastian, but the man seems a bit reluctant to let him. It isn’t like Sebastian; he’s trusted Henry since the beginning, before they’d even agreed to protect him.

“Let me see,” Henry insists, resisting the urge to lace it with a bit of glamour, to help convince him. He wants Sebastian to trust him, without the magic.

Sebastian snaps. “Well, there’s nothing to do now, innit?” He seems… withdrawn, afraid, lashing out with it. “That’s it, I’m one of you now, an’ we’ll all be stuck in ‘ere at sunrise now, won’t we?”

Oh. Oh. “Seba, no,” Henry says, gentle now that he understands. “You haven’t been turned.”

Sebastian turns, gapes at him, his hand falling away from his neck in surprise. “Wot?”

“It’s true,” Henry starts, “that even a small bite with intent will do it. You saw, in the chains. What Vanessa did.” He captures Sebastian’s hand and draws it down slowly. “But it requires intent. So Vanessa lashing out in anger turned the priest, whereas…” Henry lets his fingers brush the bruised skin just below the bite. “This will not, Seba. You are safe yet.”

He’s thankful that Peter respected that, at least; Angel could have killed him for the transgression otherwise, because creating a Major Vampire requires the agreement of all of them. Peter would’t. Peter probably can’t, now, with Henry as the Duke and Seba under his protection. Henry inspects the bite. Peter is fastidious and neat, and the damage is small, even if the bleeding seems severe. Two clean punctures. Sebastian flinches as Henry touches one, and Henry realises suddenly how close they are.

“My apologies,” Henry says, but he doesn’t back up. Sebastian’s eyes are wide and needy and Henry’s reminded of the look Sebastian had in the basement, feeling helpless and overwhelmed. “You are still safe.”

“Still,” Sebastian murmurs. “So when does that end?”

It’s the one thing they haven’t talked about. The offer remains open, Henry’s hand extended. Sebastian has not yet accepted. And yet… it’s there. Henry’s convinced Seba can feel the pull and tug of it, just as he does.

“Sebastian,” Henry tells him, “I will not let them harm you.”

“I was worried,” Sebastian admits, and his eyes flick down to Henry’s mouth. “I didn’t want it to be Peter,” he continues, his voice low and intimate. “I want it to be you.” It’s so simple.

The admission floors Henry; this is the first time Sebastian has said it, that he’s willing to join them, and the first time he’s addressed any of this thing between them, the bond that’s been growing over this strange journey, and Henry’s longing hits him like a poignant ache.

He wants to lean in, take Seba’s mouth with his own, find out how he kisses. Instead, Henry gently squeezes Sebastian’s shoulder. “I can heal this for you,” he tells Seba. “But ...I’ll have to taste.”

Sebastian shudders and Henry can feel it between them. “Go on, then,” he says, and Henry can’t believe he finally has permission.

He breathes over the bite first, sending some of his power out to numb the surface pain Sebastian has to be feeling. Then he tentatively licks at the edges of the blood smear, and Sebastian’s blood hits his tongue, and Henry is done.

Seba’s blood tastes pure and fierce and rich, so rich, so thick; Henry feels all of his magic rising up inside him, spiraling, starving. This is the first human blood he’s tasted in so long; he’s tasted to heal, over the years, but that’s all, and this is… overwhelming. Nothing has been like this.

Sebastian tastes like twelve pure generations. He tastes like the homeland. Henry laps up the blood that has been spilled, eager; he can hear and feel the way Sebastian’s still-beating heart speeds up, the way his breathing catches. He cleans Seba’s skin with gentle laps, sucking where the blood has started to crust, and Sebastian’s moans as he does are as intoxicating as his blood.

Henry pulls back, dazed, because he’s climbed right into Sebastian’s lap, straddling him; he has a hand in Seba’s hair, tilting his head to give him better access, and Sebastian’s hands are tight on his hips. They’re both blazingly hard where they’re suddenly pressed against each other, all of Henry’s vampire strength coiled through his loins and up his spine, and Sebastian’s looking up at him as if Henry lit the sky.

“Please,” Seba says, and Henry bends to kiss him.

The taste of blood is still on his tongue - salty and warm - and Sebastian’s mouth is eager against his, nearly sloppy with it, and demanding. Henry kisses him like he’s wanted to the second he saw that plush mouth: devouring, immediately tugging that lower lip with his teeth, tongue tracing tongue. Sebastian tastes like want and lust and it’s for him, all for him, and Henry buries his hands in Sebastian’s hair - pulling it from his messy bun in no time - and gives him just a taste of all of the ways Henry wants him.

Yes, he’s wanted Sebastian since the second Vanessa brought him across the threshold. There hasn’t been a candidate so rich, so pure, not since Kezia, and she’d barely made it fifteen years with them. But it wasn’t just the pull of the homeland: it’s Seba himself, the way he’d reacted to their reality, the way he’d managed to help people again and again, the way he’d simply declared himself on their side - even though they weren’t human - because of his loyalty to Vanessa. It’s Sebastian with his soft eyes and crooked smile and that absolutely biteable skin. Yes, Henry wants him.

And Sebastian’s responding, answering with the same need, the same heat, even if it’s human. He’s shifted, his hands holding Henry’s hips in place so that he can grind up into Henry’s cock, and he’s panting, shuddery breaths that spur Henry on. He doesn’t need to breathe, of course, so yes: he’s going to make it hard for Sebastian too.

Henry pulls away - Seba’s mouth is bright red, swollen, so obviously debauched - and bends again to lick at the wounds in his neck. With his power spiraling inside of him it’s the easiest thing in the world to summon Sebastian’s blood here to heal over, to knit up the holes Peter has put into his perfect skin. Henry remains there until the mark has gone, and then sucks at the tender newly-healed skin, reveling in Sebastian’s gasp. He will draw out all traces of Peter, replace them with marks of his own.

“Mine,” he says, unthinking, and feels Sebastian freeze beneath him.

Henry stops, pulls back, and starts to rein in his glamour, which has been loosed to fill the entire back of their vehicle, thick with his own lust and desire. He got lost, it’s too much, he’s gone too far—

“No,” says Sebastian, and he moves his hands up to cup Henry’s face, dragging him down into a messy kiss, desperate with force. “I mean, yeah. Mark me.”

Sebastian doesn’t know what he’s asking. It isn’t time, yet; there’s no ceremony, nothing of ritual. Instead of biting, Henry sucks fiercely at the skin, calling blood up to the surface, where he knows it will bruise. He lets his teeth just touch: resting, Sebastian’s flesh between them, and all Henry would have to do is let his fangs drop and he could drink Sebastian down into one of them, that rich rich blood all his...

He doesn’t. Henry is in control. Instead, he presses a kiss to the reddened bruise and pulls back. His hands come to up Sebastian’s face, thumbs tracing his cheeks. “Oh, my Seba,” Henry whispers. “Dragul meu, iubi, baxtalo.” Sebastian looks up at him, content and smitten.

“I’m going to be so good to you, chakano,” Henry croons. “But only when you’re ready.”

Sebastian leans up to kiss him again. This one is sweet, sensitive, a bit naughty. Henry’s heart thrills to it.

“Soon,” Sebastian says, and kisses him again. “You have no — Henry. Soon.”

———

Later, when Sebastian’s asleep - the whole van smelling of them, together; the bruise over the healed skin an obvious statement - Angel sits down next to where Henry’s sprawled out on his back, looking at the stars. She’s alone. “Surprised you didn’t kill ‘im,” she says bluntly.

Henry shrugs as well as he can while on his back. “So am I,” he replies softly. “But we are still only three, where we should be eight.”

“Soon to be four, eh?” Angel flashes her knowing grin and pokes him in the ribcage. “I might be young, sastro, but my nose is as good as yours, if not better.”

“We did nothing,” Henry tells her gently. For all that their desire had permeated the vehicle, it had all been surprisingly chaste: heated kisses and a healing between them, only hints of what else may come. He will not push. And yet, the chasm of Henry’s want has only deepened from this first taste.

“Don’t lie to me,” Angel chastises him. “Maybe you didn't do anything humans would call significant, but there’s a reason the whole place stinks like you two, even if it wasn’t sex.”

Henry knows this, too. Sebastian’s admission, their first kiss, the power of his healing: these were all acts that echoed on the metaphysical plane, and he’d encouraged them, wanting them to ring loudly in the air around their camp.

Peter has moved a bit far down the field to take his nightly rest. It’s a statement, certainly, but it’s one Henry will accept. Peter played the first card; Henry had a stronger hand, and made his own statement beside, and Peter will abide. This distance is as much a surrender as someone as Peter can make. Tomorrow, Henry will allow him back inside the safety of the vehicle. He’s learnt a lesson about his place.

“Are we gonna kill ‘im?” Angel asks it wrapped up in her own magic, so that Peter can’t hear them. That’s one of the advantages to having made Angel, having her as detlene: they can easily speak such that it’s just the two of them.

“Not yet,” Henry sends back. His eyes come to fall on Peter, and he can scent things in the wind: Peter’s confusion, his shame, the simmering resentment of being put in his place. He can taste Sebastian’s dreams on his tongue. He can feel Angel’s loyalty - to the Eight, as it has always been - and he can feel a settling in the ley-sense, now that Peter has stopped knocking on that door.

Peter is old, and he is powerful. Henry does not want to have to destroy him. He’d prefer to convince Peter, but Peter is stubborn and set in his ways. Ah, well. The world changes; Peter can change with it, or he can meet the sun.

———

They reach the castle.

Henry has people all across his territory who care for his properties. They pass it down through generations, honestly, and the smallest bit of glamour allows him to be seen as whomever they think he is: grandfather, father, brother, uncle, son. It’s a dynasty, here in these little places Henry keeps tucked away. His people always keep them prepared, because Henry has learnt he never knows when he will need a safe space ready.

They descend into the catacombs. It’s a small castle - well, as castles go, really - and the catacombs were originally just crypts for the family, neither extensive nor comfortable. Henry’s time and money and people have done this work, over generations, such that beneath the castle, the tunnels themselves extend into a master wing - below the master wing of the castle - and guest wings sufficiently spaces for vampires to stay without the strain they can feel in each others’ presences.

It is neither his largest place nor his nicest, but it is the most secret.

Henry gestures Angel into one set of rooms, and Peter into another. “My people are available for you,” he tells them, “and some of them know what we are, and are willing to provide blood. But you will neither turn nor harm them, or I will raze everything you own to the ground.”

Henry — collects people. For all that he doesn’t feed on humans, ever, he does try to use his nature to help those who are sick, disabled, or otherwise harmed; he collects those who will benefit from the feeding as well. The act of trust in a consensual blooddrinking goes both ways; humans emerge with a taste of vampire healing, or their enhanced hearing and sense of smell, or a burst of stamina. Henry does not feed on his people, but he does heal, occasionally, when someone’s need is great. Likewise, He does not mind if Angel or Peter wish to feed off of those who can be helped, but he will not have his people harmed on his own ground.

Sebastian he takes into the master wing. Henry gives Sebastian the room of the honored guest, his most luxuriously prepared place. “Yes, it’s still a catacomb,” he says, letting a smile ghost at his mouth, “but you’ll be safe here.”

“Henry,” Sebastian breathes, and he’s quicker than expected, in Henry’s face before his own senses have noticed, kissing him deeply. “Henry, shit, I’d sleep in a pile of hay at this point, I mean — where are your rooms, Henry, tell me you’re close by, babe.”

“Right across the hall,” Henry tells him, quietly. “Seba, darling, chakano. I need you to be certain. There’s a ritual to be done, that will make you one of the Eight, if you are…” Henry trails off. He isn’t quite sure how to approach the topic.

“Henry,” says Sebastian, surprisingly serious. Henry turns to look at him, leaving a respectable few feet between them, even though all he wants is to drag Sebastian close and taste.

“Look,” Sebastian starts. His hands move with gestures Henry can’t read. “I’m a fuckin’ Romani son, ey, right? I’ve not had a good job my entire life, ‘s they look at me an’ everybody’s head goes, thievin’ gypsy. Don’t know about the things Vanesser’d told ya, don’t know what that means, but I’m just a ...hobo, y’know? Never been nothin’ worth the notice, right.”

Henry’s shaking his head. Sebastian is a gem, a perfect product from a broken world. He notes how badly Sebastian’s accent acts up when he’s agitated. It’s somewhat cute.

“But I saw what they were doing to ye,” Sebastian continues. “An’ - maybe I’m a bit biased myself - but that doesn’t seem fair, destroyin’ a group of people just because of what they are.”

Henry tilts his head. “We did try to eat you,” he points out, to be fair.

Sebastian shrugs. “Weren’t your fault,” he says, and Henry remembers Peter’s Nay. “Only tried to take me out ‘cause Peter was a wanker,” Sebastian continues, waving his hands in the air. “Anyway. Saw you all fighting for what you were an’ I thought, if things were different, I’d be a part of that.”

And now Sebastian crosses the distance between them, laying his hands on Henry’s shoulders. “Things are different,” he says. There’s a long pause, while Sebastian looks into the distance and blinks, and then he says, “And I’m ready.”

———

But Sebastian isn’t quite ready, because there is another thing to be said.

“Sebastian,” Henry says. They’re in his sitting room, where Henry keeps a small fire burning and a selection of local fruits on hand for snacks. It isn’t meat, but there’s some delight to be found in the flavors, even without the nourishment. “There is one part of the ceremony we need to discuss.”

He’s had Angel talk to Seba about the making, about what happens; she’s the newest of them and Henry’s make, so she’ll know how to make Sebastian understand what’s going on. Henry has even had Sebastian and Peter talk; for all that Peter is suspect and shamed, he’s still one of the Eight, and Henry will respect that when he needs to. Peter does not retract his vote, nor does he challenge anything that’s going on, although Henry’s gritting his teeth as he waits for Peter’s next move.

So Sebastian knows, mostly, of the ceremony that will make him not just vampire, but one of the Eight Masters of Britain — except for one thing.

“Think I’ve got most of it,” Sebastian says. He’s equal parts elated and anxious about it, but in a good way, even though there’s a small but reasonable chance he won’t even survive it. “Is there a surprise?”

Henry clears his throat. He’s going to try to be objectionable about this. “It isn’t a — it isn’t required, no. There’s no need that it has to be included. But…” He trails off. “There’s a chance it could happen if we aren’t prepared, and I know it needs to be discussed, on my end at least.”

“Right.” Sebastian leans back in his chair, plucks out a cigarette and gestures. “Mind if I smoke?”

Well, at least Sebastian is in a good mood. “Go ahead,” Henry says. He tries to get his bearings. It’s hard, here, safe in his own space, with the way he longs to touch Sebastian. It’s good that they’re sitting across the room from each other.

“The making needs only involve an exchange of blood,” Henry tells Sebastian. He knows Seba knows this, but he has to start somewhere. “Me to you with intent, you to me with acceptance, and Angel and Peter since we are not eight. But there is ...there can be another step, another exchange, beyond the simple bite.”

Sebastian breathes out a cloud of smoke. “Like what?”

“There’s a deeper level of binding,” Henry tells him. He’s trying to be gentle; trying to be fair. Trying to let Seba know that Henry would never ask this of him unwanted. “Often the turned feel the desire to become… physically close. Sexually close.”

“Oi,” says Sebastian, still leaning back in his chair and calmer than water. “We gonna fuck, then?”

Henry can’t help the noise that escapes from his throat. “It isn’t necessary, Sebastian.” He rubs a hand over his face, both embarrassed and amused. “For those going through the ceremony that are intertwined, it can create… a deeper bond. “ He glances away. He isn’t really sure how to tell Sebastian about this, although he is fairly sure that saying I haven’t fallen in love for over four hundred years, but I may feel different about you isn’t going to be his best opening line.

He hadn’t had this problem with Angel. Their bond had been strong from the start: uncle to niece, brother to sister, a camaraderie of sorts. Nothing like the pull of Sebastian.

“I am… attracted to you,” Henry says, slowly. How to explain the low tide of vampire desire to a human? “And that will make it harder to avoid a ...consummation.”

Sebastian seems completely unruffled by any of this, which is slowly going to send Henry into the fits. “An’ why are we tryin’ to avoid that? Does it cause problems? Cause look, Henry.” He gestures with the cigarette. “You’re fit, I’m not too bad, an’ I’ve been desperate to see what’s under them clothes for weeks.” Another drag; another exhale of smoke. “I’m not the one sayin’ no. Wouldn't've said no in that basement, if it weren’t for all the bullets.”

“Sebastian,” Henry says, and something in him snaps.

“Seba,” he says as he stands up to pace the room. “Chakano. Coronik. Anam Cara. Dorogoi. Caro mio.” Henry has learnt a dozen tongues in his centuries, and yet they all blend together, faced with Sebastian. Some part of him thinks this must surely be unfair: the way Sebastian has, in their few short months of companionship, torn apart all of Henry’s customs and creeds to make a space where he belongs. Henry doesn’t do attachment, and yet there’s Sebastian, with the faintest echo of a bruise just fading away where his shoulder meets his neck. Sebastian has strung him up asunder, and he doesn’t even know.

“Sebastian Crockett,” says Henry, “I will devour you, given half a chance. I will consume you. The ceremony opens up a vulnerability between maker and newcomer, yes. There’s a chance to become united, even as you become one of us.” He’s aware his eyes must be sharp, gold, the way he’s drawing on his power to not influence Seba.

“If you let me,” Henry says, with his power lacing it, “I will take you. You won’t just be one of us, you won’t just be my make like Angel; you’ll be bound to me, intimately, irreversibly, and I wouldn’t…” His voice drops off. “I wouldn’t do that to you on accident, or on a whim, or at any point where your ability to consent and agree Isn’t there. And thus we must avoid it at the ceremony.” He swallows. “I will have you forever, otherwise.”

And that’s it, probably: the point where Sebastian waits until the sun rises and runs, takes their vehicle and goes - anywhere they can’t follow - and Henry is left here wounded and wanting.

But all Sebastian does in the moment is frown, and say, “Then let me think about it, aye, man?”

Henry nods, and he’s the first to leave, even if they’re his quarters anyway.

———

The day — well, it doesn’t rise. It sets.

They forego a lot of the ceremony. What’s the point? They are only three where they were eight, and the ceremony involves more hands than they have, and they all know which parts are really necessary and which are for show. There’s no one left to show off to; it’s just three, becoming four.

Sebastian has scoured the closets of Henry’s castle to come up with some sort of outfit he deems appropriate. After seeing him in Peter’s bespoke suit, Henry thought his expectations might be high, but Sebastian has managed to combine well-fit trousers and a waistcoat over a patterned shirt, his blazer thrown back so far it’s nearly off his shoulders, and he’s wearing his hair down and pulled around to just give a hint of his undercut on the side. He’s fucking devastatingly beautiful and Henry clamps down control over his responses, but he can hear Angel growling in approval, and he appreciates it for once.

They do the rites. They aren’t complicated, and probably aren’t even necessary, but Henry wants to watch the moments where Peter and Angel offer Sebastian the cup. Their blood is mingled along with the components of the spell that will allow Sebastian to remain safe and in control, and he drinks it from both their hands, before turning to Henry with that smile on his face. It’s the smile that undoes Henry every time: that sweet, genuine, trusting smile, as if Sebastian’s looked around and there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.

“Time is up, Sebastian,” Henry tells him. “We invite you to join us.”

Sebastian’s eyes flicker and oh, for fuck’s sake, is he flirting? “I accept,” Sebastian says, and the pull of the sun and the moon, of the earth and the darkness, of the ley-sense beneath him and the stars above him and Angel and Peter binding them in place — it all moves Henry so that his teeth are in Sebastian’s neck before he even realizes what’s happening.

That first drink, that first taste, it lasts centuries.

Henry drinks. Sebastian has to hurt, to truly be one of them, to become one of the Major, and so Henry drinks fast and deep to minimize the pain. The venom from his fangs is spreading, and that will keep Sebastian from hurting, numbing the parts of him that try to stay human the longest. He sups on Sebastian like he’s starving and maybe he is: Sebastian is young and beautiful and rich like their homeland had been, five hundred years ago, a thousand years ago, and Henry could taste each lineage if he stopped to bother. Which he doesn’t. He’s famished. He hasn’t done this since Angel; hasn’t tasted a human in centuries.

Sebastian withers in his arms and Henry bears him down to the ground, still drinking, still thirsting. He can feel Sebastian’s heart start to go erratic, which is the first sign, the organ at the core of him starting to fail - and that part of Henry that’s still soft, still human, wonders how in the hell he can do this to someone like Sebastian - except that’s his breathing, his lungs starting to soften and collapse, and it’s time.

Henry rips his own wrist open with his fangs and puts it to Sebastian’s mouth.

The blood pours out over Sebastian’s face. It’s his and Henry’s combined, within Henry’s vessel, bound by Henry’s magic - the magic of the Duke, now - and while some of it dribbles from the side of his lips or misses his mouth entirely eventually he has a mouthful and Sebastian, choking, swallows it - chooses to live - chooses to consume it, this un-life they all share. In that moment, in that second, he becomes not just a vampire, but one of them.

Peter’s next, deftly unbuttoning his cuff to roll it back before neatly nicking at the artery and vein there, letting a controlled stream pour into Sebastian’s mouth. Sebastian swallows, then again, and Peter withdraws to the shadows. Henry is well aware that Peter’s participation here is not necessarily forced, but questionable; he doesn’t care at the moment. Peter’s one of three. They need him.

Then Angel: she’s torn a chasm into her own wrist and pours it into Sebastian’s mouth. Henry knows that Angel’s young enough for Sebastian to find it strengthening, invigorating, and he lets Sebastian drink and swallow for a good few minutes before gesturing for Angel to back away.

Henry picks up one of the many nearby damp cloths and starts to wipe off Sebastian’s face. There’s blood trickling down his cheeks, from his mouth, trailing down his throat. As much as Henry might like to lick at it, clean it up with his own mouth, he won’t; tonight is about Sebastian.

“Seba,” he murmurs, and then, “chakano. Are you still there? Are you ready?”

Sebastian looks up at him, and Henry thinks that he’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen — and then Seba reaches up with trembling hands and brings Henry’s torn wrist to his mouth once again.

It’s this, the choosing, that really binds. That priest Vanessa had turned, the one that had gone into the sun: he might have lived as a vampire, but only as a minor one, short-lived and doomed. The Major Eight here in Britain are all those that have chosen it, who have let themselves succumb: it’s a very important difference.

As is the sudden shift in mood when Sebastian stops drinking to lathe the flat of his tongue across Henry’s wrist - once, twice, and then by the third time Henry’s skin is already healing and all of his most delicate nerves are alight with the touch.

Sebastian looks up at him then and uses Henry’s wrist to drag him down, until he’s bending enough that Sebastian can reach up with his free hand to capture Henry’s face and drag him down into a blatant, possessive, hungry kiss.

“Seba,” Henry says across his mouth, because Sebastian isn’t supposed to do this - isn’t supposed to choose this - and yet he’s licking into Henry’s mouth, blood be damned, and Henry’s too far gone to resist this, and he’s afraid Sebastian doesn’t know what he’s choosing and that’s the only thing that lets him draw back, this one last time.

Angel is looking at them; Peter is watching them. This is seen and honored in every way it needs to be, but Henry’s just - he wants, he wants, but his want gets him into trouble every time, and so he needs to ask, needs to say, needs to know.

“Henry,” Sebastian says below him, and Henry looks down at that beloved, beautiful face. Sebastian’s still breathing, but they all do that out of habit; his heart is frozen, and his blood is theirs, and he has never looked more devastatingly tempting. “Henry, hey, I choose this. C’mon. C’mere, babe, I want this too.”

Henry says, “Seba, please,” and then he’s tugged downwards into another kiss, and that’s the end of that discussion as far as he’s concerned.

———

Henry isn’t even sure how they get to his rooms. He’s carrying Sebastian and he feels as if they’ve simply leapt here using his powers, except that he can feel the blessings of the ceremony and of the other two and somehow he’s moving and kissing Sebastian at the same time, deeply, devouring as thoroughly as he’d bitten Sebastian’s neck moments - minutes - hours ago.

He crashes through everything with force, and then he’s lying atop Sebastian, and they’re both back in their bodies - for what that’s worth - and Sebastian’s fingers are in the buttons of his waistcoat, the fabric of his cravat, and his own hands are ready to tear the sides of Sebastian’s shirt apart.

Anam cara,” Henry whispers, “cario. Seba, Sebastian, are you sure, are you here, are you with me, my dearling, my darling, my best?”

“Henry,” Sebastian says, and that bite at his neck has teeth, now, yes, Sebastian is one of them, and Henry can feel him as his new vampire-self clicks into the ley-sense all around them. “Henry, Jesus,” and he’s laughing, Seba, newly undead and laughing into Henry’s mouth. “Henry, fuck, I feel fantastic, please let me take your pants off.”

“Yes,” Henry says, “yes.”

The aura they’re giving off could probably reach Spain. Henry wonders how many others in the castle will feel the urge to couple. Then Sebastian’s hands are working to unbutton his shirt and Henry can’t wait much longer; he fists his hands in Sebastian’s shirt and pulls. Buttons go flying and fabric rips.

Sebastian’s eyes are wide. “You’ll find,” Henry tells him, “you’re much stronger now.”

He kisses Sebastian, finally able to express everything he wants. Henry plunders that mouth, those plush biteable lips, and Sebastian groans and arches and lets him. Sebastian tastes sweet, so sweet, and everything Henry’s feeling is singing along this bloodbond between them. It’s overwhelming. He can hear the echo of desire from Sebastian beneath him, and they stop kissing only so that Henry can tear the ruined shirt off of Sebastian’s chest and remove his own. Sebastian’s chest is perfect: it will forever be like this, slender and shaped, muscles defined softly; Henry moves down to sink his teeth into Sebastian’s collarbone. The bite doesn’t break the skin, but he can feel the buzz of Sebastian’s new blood just beneath, and Henry scrapes his teeth along the flat of Sebastian’s chest.

“Henry,” Sebastian says, with an edge. “Henry, c’mon, hurry up, you have made me wait forever. I swear. I’m going to actually expire, babe, please.”

Henry’s power flares behind his eyes, and he knows his irises flash gold because he can see it reflected in Sebastian’s. “What, baxtalo, are you impatient?”

“Henry,” says Sebastian, and his lovely eyes alight with golden light as well, and Henry feels a little bit lost; never in his years has it felt quite like this. He can feel Sebastian through the bloodbond, and he’s all — rich with it, with his desire for Henry, which is as pure as Sebastian’s blood and yet still absolutely filthy. He can hear the way all of Seba’s new parts and powers are slowly awakening, like little fireworks in his new blood. He can taste the way Sebastian wants; he can tell before Sebastian even moves his hands, and is already shifting his hips to give those thin fingers access.

The short break they take to remove the rest of their clothing only makes it more powerful when they come back together: they collide like stars and Henry lets Sebastian roll them over, and is lost.

All of Sebastian’s skin is alight to him now, no longer human, scented strongly and feeling familiar under his fingertips. He drags his fingers through Seba’s hair, directing that clever mouth to his neck, and oh, fuck, yes. Sebastian bites in and bites deep.

It tingles like electric shock as Sebastian’s fangs break the barrier that is Henry’s skin, and he can feel it like little burning lights all the way down his spine, heat rushing to his groin. “Deeper,” Henry says, his voice like gravel, and Sebastian actually whines as his mouth flexes down into the meat of Henry’s neck. It can’t hurt either of them, not now, and Henry can feel as his own - want, desire, need - spiral down Sebastian’s throat and mix with Henry’s.

And now Henry can feel everything inside Sebastian too, and he’s — he’s blown away by the amount of genuine want there. Not just desire, not just lust, but wanting this, all of this. Sebastian has wanted Henry’s regard since they talked in the basement - that long? - and he’s wanted Henry’s eyes and his body and his being, and his bite, since they escaped and Henry laid out his protection like a mantle.

He can feel, now, how the only thing Sebastian has been waiting for is for Henry, somehow: waiting to know that Henry wants him back, that Henry’s ready.

Henry rolls them over, feels Sebastian’s fangs tear from his skin, doesn’t care; he presses himself between Sebastian’s legs and rolls his hips with hundreds of years of desire behind them and sinks his own fangs into the slope between neck and shoulder. God, saints, Sebastian tastes like them mixed, now, and the fire in that over his tongue as he swallows is enough to drive him mad.

It’s a bit of a bloodfrenzy, then, a flurry of moments drowning in a red haze of lust: Sebastian’s hands, nails scraping down Henry’s chest, watching the welts heal over before doing it again, harsher, deeper; Henry’s tongue tasting Sebastian at neck and nipple and elbow, the crease of his groin and the back of his knee; the keening noise Sebastian makes when Henry swallows his hot cock down; the way Henry spreads Seba’s legs open wide to lick him from hole to stem; the noise that Sebastian makes when Henry presses fingers and slick deep inside him, and then the way Sebastian’s hands tangle into Henry’s hair when Henry presses his own cock inside in one harsh thrust and slides home.

He’s panting. They’re both panting. Neither of them needs to breathe.

“I cannot go slow,” Henry admits, because every nerve in his undead body needs to claim.

Sebastian grins up at him. “Oh, babe, please don’t.”

The first shift of Henry’s hips - drawing back and then grinding forward again - it echoes between them like a feedback loop. He can smell Sebastian’s blood heating as he moves again; he can feel as he angles to strike right at Sebastian’s prostate. Their bodies are completely different, and yet not very so, during sex; it works mostly like humans do, but the feel of it drowns in their bloodmagic and sinks for miles.

Henry can’t stop moving. He’s trying, but he finds he’s already too far gone, slamming into Sebastian in thick hard thrusts that shudder through his body like ripples through water; Sebastian has his head tipped back, neck tensed, and Henry bends to lick there, tasting the blood they’ve all already spilt tonight. Sebastian is tight and hot and slick around him, and he’s making noises Henry isn’t really sure whether he hears or feels in the back of his throat. It’s too much, it’s going to be too much, but he wants to see Seba first, wants to watch him come apart.

Henry braces one hand against the bed, and wraps his palm around Sebastian’s cock, which is red and stiff and already leaking. Sebastian groans at that, lost, and brings his legs up, wrapping them around Henry’s waist, ankles hooked behind his back.

“Look at you,” Henry hisses out. Sebastian is a sight below him, dark hair strewn across the pillow and pink flush down to his belly, cock dark and slick in Henry’s hand, his hole open and eager around Henry’s own prick. He’s growling. “You look beautiful, taking it. You were made to take me.”

Sebastian whines, and his fists clench into the bedsheets, and Henry fucks into him over and over again, pumping his cock until Sebastian comes, gleaming thick white ropes all over his belly and chest. “Fuck,” he’s whispering, “fuck.”

Henry doesn’t stop. If he has his way he’s going to strip Sebastian right through this orgasm and into another. Their bodies aren’t as limited as humans are; vampires control where their blood and seed goes, and in any other situation he’d be able to stay hard nearly indefinitely, or until he chose to stop. Now, with Sebastian raw and gasping beneath him, with the taste of Seba’s blood rich in his mouth, Henry knows he won’t last nearly that long.

He pulls back, slowing a bit so that he can watch himself fuck into Sebastian; his hold is clenching around Henry’s cock, his entire body shuddering. Henry does know what it feels like, newly-changed: it’s sensitive, every nerve raw with the hunger they’re soaked in, everything feeling so very, very good. Sebastian’s face is turned as far as he can, into the pillow, his breathing ragged even though he doesn’t need it. Henry runs his palm over Sebastian’s chest, mixing blood and seed together, feeling Sebastian’s muscles trembling under his hand.

“Fuck,” Sebastian says again, turning to look up at Henry, a crooked smile on his face, eyes blown gold. “Fuck, babe. God. More might kill me. Why do I feel like I want it?”

“Because you can go again,” Henry purrs down at him. He can feel the tendrils of Sebastian’s want, unquenched, wrapping around him, trickling over his skin. “If you want.”

“Yes.” Sebastian wrenches himself up, kissing Henry hard, all sloppy and uncoordinated. “Fuck, I feel good. I don’t even—” He laughs, bright and easy, and then he’s wiggling underneath Henry, pressing up into him, scrambling until Henry slides out of him in one slick movement.

“What do you want?” Henry presses biting kisses across Sebastian’s collarbone. He’s hard and desperate with it, his magic hot through his undead muscles, and all he can think about is getting his cock back inside Sebastian, driving him to a second peak, watching it bloom across his gorgeous face.

Sebastian licks up Henry’s neck and then grins, blood across his teeth. “I want you to lose it, babe. I want you to let go.” He nips at Henry’s jaw and Henry feels the rush of it go straight to his cock. “You’ve been so nice, so good, waiting for me,” he croons up into Henry’s neck. “But I’m here, I’m ready, and I want you to take me.”

And then Sebastian’s rolling over beneath him, arching until his ass is rubbing against Henry’s cock - slick, and aching - and a wave of heated lust swamps Henry’s senses. “Are you sure, cara mio,” he murmurs into Sebastian’s back, even though he’s already moving, his cock sliding into that delicious space between Sebastian’s cheeks, his hips moving instinctively. “I do not want to hurt you.”

Sebastian hums beneath him, pressing back into it, and says, “Henry. Ruin me.

Henry can feel the want in that too: Sebastian means it.

Henry straightens until he’s up on his knees, his hands resting on Sebastian’s hips. Bless, but he’s beautiful; Henry can see the lines of lean muscle beneath his skin, and he slides his palms up Sebastian’s flank, needing to grasp it all in his hands. He is greedy. He is hungry. He does not feed on humans, but from Sebastian, he will take.

He grips his cock, lines, up, and plunges deep into Sebastian’s hole in one sharp move. Seba’s groans beneath him are warm like desire, and Henry drags out until he can see the head of his cock, teasing at Sebastian’s reddened hole. Heaven and Hell. “Mine,” he says, as he had said days ago, struck by the bounty of Sebastian’s body beneath him. “Mine.”

Henry does not take time to adjust. He cannot go slow with this. His hips are pounding, already, and that tight slick heat is lighting up all of his undead nerves with fire and flame. His pace is brutal; their flesh smacks when they join, and the slick noises when they pull apart are delightfully obscene. Henry will take Sebastian, mark him as his forevermore, his charo, his partner, his own make.

His hands are keeping Sebastian’s hips in place, even though he can feel Seba trying to move into each forceful thrust: but Henry is stronger, Henry has been a vampire longer and he can hold Sebastian in place with nothing but his mind if he so desires. He likes that Sebastian’s struggle is to go deeper, rather than to pull away. He can taste it in the air.

Henry bends over Sebastian and sinks his fangs into the smooth space above his shoulderblade. It’s deep, immediately, and that rush of warm blood is blinding. Henry feels drunk on it, full and yet wanting more, needing more. He sucks at the wound in rhythm with his hips, still pounding as hard and deep as possible. He can feel the wave start to rise within him; he is fully in control and yet not. Henry has surrendered to the need of his vessel, and he swallows Sebastian’s blood down his throat in a clear and blatant claiming.

Seba is whining now, beneath him, his arms outstretched and clenched in the bedsheets, head resting on them; the arc of his back is the moon in poetry. Henry’s hands grasp and pull, until he has Sebastian pinned in place and every single thrust has him spasming beneath Henry, his poor overstimulated prostate still ripe enough with undead blood that it’s tender and shocking as Henry’s cock hits every time. Henry is inside Seba as Seba is inside him and he can feel the golden waves of pleasure mounting inside them both, every single move driving him out of his mind.

“Henry,” Sebastian gasps out, and there’s so much in it. It’s only his name, and yet it’s Seba’s devotion, his loyalty, his attraction and desire all in one, all of these things Henry never knew he was cradling close to his heart. He returns them all: his own desire, his lust for all that Seba is, the way he feels drawn to protect him, care for him, bond with him the way they are now.

Henry props himself up on one hand, the other reaching around to provide a tight slick corridor around Sebastian’s cock; he’s hard again, and Henry can feel the tension through their bond, the way he’s already oversensitive but still wants more and more. Fuck, they’re going to be able to go for days after this, once he shows Sebastian how he can control his body and fluids and blood. Henry continues slamming his hips into Sebastian and his hand is a channel Sebastian can’t help but thrust into as he’s moved by the force of each thrust.

The tension between them is building: the want, the need, the way they both had set their eyes on each other from the very beginning; the bond they’d already built outside of the blood, the trust and friendship they already share; the hooded looks and dark eyes they’ve been throwing at each other over the last few weeks, the desperate way they’ve both been wanting and swallowing it. Henry can taste it all and he knows Sebastian is overwhelmed by it - not used to the way emotions register in this body as tastes and touches and sensations - and they hang in this moment, the stop right before the long fall, vertigo at apogee: that pause mid-air before a very long fall.

And then they crash.

Sebastian comes first, shuddering in Henry’s arms, cock pulsing within Henry’s grip as he strips the orgasm from Sebastian, and then Sebastian’s entire body tenses, shaking, his hole contracting around Henry — so tight, god, the feeling coming off of Sebastian is overwhelming all of his senses, and he buries himself as deep inside as he can get, collapsing on top of Seba as his orgasm wipes through him: white-hot, bright as the sunrise, sharp as fire, hell, shuddering through every last nerve in his undead, spent body as he unloads into Seba, a series of pulsing waves that lasts far longer than he had ever expected.

They both lie there for a while. They’re drifting on a joint, joined current of satisfied post-orgasmic pleasure, their muscles filled with lassitude and every internal organ realigning itself with this new order. Henry is plastered over Seba, their bodies connected by skin and by blood and by this new electric feeling between them, the one binding them together so that every atom of Seba’s new vampire body is tied to Henry’s and he’s never been so, well, soaked in the power shared between two people. He’s never had anything like this.

Seba shifts underneath him, but it’s only to link his fingers with Henry’s, draw both of their hands together on the sheets. “Don’t move,” he mumbles, rubbing his face into the bed. “Don’t have to breathe, y’know.”

Henry feels his own magic flaring, a pulse of protective concern, a flare of whatever counts for love in these disastrous bodies of theirs. Then he turns his cheek to Seba’s spine and closes his eyes.

———

They sleep through sunrise. Sebastian’s sleep schedule won’t be adjusted, but he’ll be able to feel the danger in his bones, that moment when the sun breaks through the horizon. They sleep far into the day and wake together, some time close to dusk, both of them feeling the sun lower and fade.

Seba wakes him with a slow sleepy kiss. Henry can feel his incredulous delight at his new self, and keeps his eyes closed for a moment to revel in it. Sebastian has no regrets, no pains, no lingering soft spots related to his human life; instead he’s awestruck, wondering, and absolutely dying to test himself to the full limits.

Henry finally opens his eyes, drags his hands into Sebastian’s gorgeous hair. “Good morning, iubi.” He realizes that the words are translating themselves, his understanding of the Romani language seeping into Seba through the bond they share. Good. He wants Seba to know every inch of his regard, all of the miles of ways that Henry feels for him.

Sebastian flips over onto his back and stretches. Henry watches the expanse of beautiful skin - his to have, his to touch, his to bite into and claim - and shudders involuntarily. Seba turns to him and grins, that lazy easy smile he’s had since the moment he walked into the farmhouse. “Someone’s enjoyin’ the view.”

“You’ve no idea,” Henry says. All he does is reach a hand out, tracing the lines of Seba’s ribs down to his navel, circling it with a single finger.

Seba makes a noise in the back of his throat that’s both keening and wanting. Henry can’t wait to find out whether Seba is a hunter or a tracker; whether he is aggressive with the chase or subtle in his motions. Another part of him can’t wait to present Seba to Peter as his true mate, his consort, his bonded, and watch the look on Peter’s face as he realizes how far down the mountain he has fallen — but that’s for later.

For now, Henry flattens his palm across Seba’s smooth abdomen and digs his fingers in, listening to the way Seba’s breath catches in his throat.

“Dorogoi,” Henry murmurs, feeling the way Seba’s muscles flutter beneath his hand. “Oh, Seba. I will ruin you.”

They both feel the moment when the sun hits the horizon — the moment its powers start to face, the point where their own gifts overpower its light.

“Henry, babe,” Seba says, and his face is so fucking adoring that Henry has to close his eyes to it. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”