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Stay for just a bit longer

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Nandor’s room was almost completely drowned in darkness, illuminated only by a few candles standing in a bundle on the other side of the room. Their flickering flame cast hazy shadows on the walls around and on Nandor’s silhouette, barely seen in the still open coffin.

The night was deep and there was still quite a long time before the dawn would come, yet Nandor decided to call it a night already. Or more like stormed out of the room and everyone else, throwing his cape on a chair on the way, and flopped into his coffin without any other preparations. Guillermo, pushing his worry down as he’s been for the past few days, followed a second later, hearing quiet sighs of exasperation from the other vampires behind.

“Is it time for a night-night, master?” Guillermo chattered, putting on as much cheerfulness as he could muster, while bending down to grab the cape which slipped down to the floor from the chair.

There was a moment of silence during which Guillermo considered if Nandor was already fast asleep, until a quiet voice finally sounded from the coffin.

“Guillermo.”

Guillermo breathed a sigh of relief and perked his ears up.

“Yes, master?”

“I need a hug.”

Hearing the melancholic tone with which his name was spoken, Guillermo had already slowed down in handling the cape. Hearing the second statement, however, he froze completely, body bent slightly forward in an unnatural position and arms stretched in front of him with smooth but heavy material flowing down from them almost to the ground.

For most people in most circumstances this statement would not even make them think twice. Yet, it took Guillermo quite a while to process the words and consider if he heard wrong or if Nandor could mean something else by it, like some vampiric code for sucking blood or ancient ritual which he hadn’t been let in on. During all the years he worked as a familiar he got used to hearing the most bizarre and messed up statements, yet this was apparently the one that rendered him speechless, as he had never heard such vulnerable and pleading words from Nandor, at least not spoken to him.

Guillermo finally took a breath, hung the cape in its place, and turned around.

“Could you repeat, master?”

“You heard me the first time,” came an irritated response, voice louder and firmer, more typical to the usual Nandor.

Guillermo approached the coffin and climbed the steps next to it. He cast his eyes down on Nandor, locking gazes with him.

“I'll gladly give you one, master.”

His arms stretched apart invitingly, then hung awkwardly right above the coffin, waiting for Nandor who didn’t make any attempt to sit up and still lay down comfortably. Guillermo’s eyes ran franticly around, taking in Nandor’s tucked in silhouette, until he started wondering if it was just another way to make fun of him. Deciding to end the farce, he bent forward and patted Nandor’s shoulders.

“There.”

“That’s what you call a hug?” Nandor snickered, tone slightly tinged with disappointment.

“Well, no, but you need to sit up first, I can’t do it like that.”

Even though the room was unusually dark, Guillermo’s eyes got used to the darkness enough to see Nandor’s face more or less clearly. However, the flickering light of the candles didn’t help with deciphering the vampire’s expression which seemed to fall somewhere between stubbornness and being offended, as if the suggestion of him being the one to not only ask for something but also go out of the way to get it was another proof of his crumbling authority.

“Or you could make a bigger effort yourself, Guillermo.”

“Um, that’s not how it-“

His words morphed into a surprised yelp as Nandor’s hand shot up, grabbed the short man by his shirt and yanked him down with force. Usually his instincts would kick in and he would not get caught off guard so easily, however, he seemed to sometimes lower his natural defenses when it came to Nandor.

Guillermo stumbled forward and tripped over the edge of the coffin, falling right into it. The old wood gave off an offended creak as one more body got added on top of it. Guillermo’s flailing arms, which instinctively tried to grab something on his way down, hit the lid and pulled it together with him. He fell down with an “oof” on something firm and cold, then got hit with the heavy cover closing just after him and so trapping him in an uncomfortably narrow space.

A thought of being thankful for not having claustrophobia ran briefly through his mind.

“Careful, Guillermo! What if you broke my coffin!”

He lifted his head as much as he could, soon hitting the soft material above. The coffin was made only for one person and was too narrow for the both of them to fit inside, so the lid didn’t close completely and rested on Guillermo’s back, pushing him more firmly onto Nandor. Even though they weren’t completely cut off from the outside, the scarce light of the candles had even less access to the inside than before, making Guillermo feel almost blind again and seeing just a few spots flying right in front of his vision, possibly because of the sudden movement which made his head spin. Yet, for some reason he could swear that two of these lights, unnaturally stationary compared to the rest, were Nandor’s shining eyes staring right into his own.

Suddenly, he became acutely aware of the position he was in – glued to Nandor’s body and pushed into him by the weight above, legs tangled together and rubbing into each other with each small movement, faces barely inches apart and so close that he felt his quickened breath hit the other’s face and bounce off of it back to him. Something squeezed him in the middle and he realized that a set of arms weaved itself around him and rested there.

His hands clutched at the soft material of Nandor’s shirt below, his grip strong enough to make his joints pop. Being trapped in such a narrow space with a vicious monster who killed people like it was nothing could make one hell of a nightmare for many people. Guillermo, however, didn't feel even an ounce of danger. Contrary to that - there was an indescribable sense of comfort and safety. Why was it so unbearably hot then, and hard to catch a breath? The lid seemed to squeeze the air out of his lungs.

“Okay master, you made your point, now please help me up.”

He positioned his hands on Nandor’s chest more firmly and pushed slightly up to start lifting the lid but was soon stopped by another squeeze of the arms wrapped around his middle.

“Stay for a bit.”

Guillermo wondered if maybe, just maybe, the hypnosis worked on him after all, noticing how weak he seemed to be to that vulnerable voice and how fast he flopped back down.

Both lay without moving for a while, with but a few small adjustments of Guillermo who tried not to dwell on the bizarre situation and shifted his focus to finding a comfortable place for his head without any pointy bits of Nandor’s attire jabbing into his cheek. Yet, despite his best attempts, with each new heavy breath he gradually felt more and more sleepy, conscious thoughts slipping from his mind and the uninvited ones invading one by one. He started dwelling on their closeness, how Nandor’s chin rested right on top of his head while his fingers mindlessly played with the end of Guillermo’s jumper, how cozy and relaxed and just right it felt. His dizzy mind suddenly slipped in images of all the women Nandor recently wooed, involuntarily stopping there and wondering if any of them got invited into the coffin. His heart squeezed.

“Master.”

“Yes?” came a relaxed, almost self-satisfied, reply.

The questions pressing on his lips got pushed down and poofed from his mind as if they were never there.

“Are you feeling better?”

“Surprisingly, yes,” Nandor admitted after a moment.

“That’s good then,” Guillermo squeezed out quietly while closing his eyes, trying to calm the spinning world around. “You’ve been so out of it recently… and I’ve been worried but didn’t know what to do… if you need someone, I’m here… I’m…”

“Guillermo? You’re mumbling something but I can’t hear anything, speak louder.”

“I’ve always been here… and always will… so…”

Everything span faster and faster until he couldn’t grasp his thoughts anymore, vaguely aware that his mouth was moving but he barely felt it. He was so sleepy, and too hot.

“Guillermo?”

There was a sudden rustle and movement below him, but he couldn’t really care anymore, his body so heavy that he felt as if he weighted a ton. He took another wheezing breath.

“Air…” was the last thought that crossed his mind before he plunged into darkness.

That night he dreamt of floating, and as the fluffy cloud in the shape of a giant bat carried him into the sunset, it softly muttered ”Hmm, do I need a bigger coffin?”