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Trevor braves a fit of coughing, eyes watering on a shaky exhale. Circles of white smoke coil in the air and rise to disperse like fluttering ghosts. A sensation like a heavy heap of warm linen both weighs Trevor down and leaves them light-headed, and they mellow as Sypha’s fingertips sweep gently up and down their spine. 

The hunter slumps forward, muscles and limbs and everything softening to jelly as the touch alternates playfully between hot and cold; a smile tugs at their lips. A spike of heat here, a nip of ice there, and a sizzle of magic trembles upon their skin like sunlight on water. Trevor shudders, reminded of the past with Sypha together during their questing travels, lying shivering but content in their skin beneath the stars, pressed together for comfort and shelter. “Urgh—,”  a cough rises up their throat, taking Trevor by surprise. “Ngh—” Another cough. 

Trevor frowns, looks to the right and catches Alucard’s prickly smile as the dhampir stretches his lean body like a lazy, oversized cat, and folds himself leisurely over a mass of dark blue and green pillows at Trevor's side. He holds a long clay pipe with a small bowl in one hand and passes it to Greta, cuddled up to his other side, all smiles and shining doe eyes. Alucard coils an arm around her to bring her closer, dragging her tunic — which Trevor recognizes as one of Alucard’s, actually — way above her hip as he goes.

Trevor stares, mesmerized by the hungry firelight dancing off the smooth, bare skin of her thigh; wants to touch, and so reaches to do just that. “You never told me it would make my lungs fucking clap !” they tell Alucard. The hunter feels too warm suddenly, rises and turns at the waist to reach for a pitcher of water on the near tea table to soothe that scratchy throat. 

“I told you to go at it slowly," Alucard says as Trevor drinks, in that soft voice Trevor wishes were physical, touchable, so they could feel its smoothness on their skin. "...and not inhale every last curl of smoke on the first try,” Alucard deadpans, but a loving smirk brims on his face as with a shake of his head the dhampir pulls a wobbling monster hunter slowly towards him, until said monster hunter has no choice but to slide right down, slipping against Alucard's free side. 

Trevor doesn’t protest — not that they could, really, not with the way everything’s suddenly too soft and Alucard’s body is so tense and waaay too warm, which often happens when any three of them find themselves in his personal space. Trevor doesn’t know if Alucard does it consciously, or whether it’s some primal trait particular to his legacy, but he basks them all in this... protective simmer, almost like a glamor of sorts, like he’s some dangerous, beautiful purring thing and they’re all his to protect and care for, and woe befall any who tried do either of them harm. Trevor feels hard muscle beneath their cheek, now pressed to Alucard’s chest, and every waking sense draws on Alucard’s heartbeat. 

Fuck, this feels good. 

Outside the snowstorm hasn’t let up and the skies are a fold of dark steel, flakes like frost moths buzzing at the windows. The fireplace bursts with heat, the logs fed into it blazing and cracking and smoldering.

Greta sighs, soft and content, folded into Alucard closer than before, reaching out to stroke Trevor’s hair, now grown long and reaching past their shoulders. It’s rich and wavy, and she’d always taken a particular liking to the look; she loves the richness of it, she’d said, the way it frames Trevor’s face. She loves the way she can grasp at it in other, specific situations; her fingers now caress in a slow gentle sweep, sieving through Trevor’s dark-brown strands, eliciting a soft sound of appreciation. The act itself, the motions, Greta’s warm fingertips against their scalp, Trevor is certain are the most soothing things in the world at this moment.

“How do you feel?” comes the low rumble that is Alucard’s voice against Trevor’s face, soft and deep like a soothsayer’s dream. Alucard’s touch finds their face, tracing their defined cheekbones, messily running through Trevor’s hair in a double attack as Greta gently slaps his hand away, but not before Alucard clicks his tongue and flicks Trevor’s ear.

“I feel,” Trevor sighs, letting them have at it, and taking a moment for a long breath, an ear pressed to the steady thump of Alucard’s heart. “I feel… all right.” Not much to go by with that answer, Trevor knows. They look up at Alucard, whose eyes shine a deep copper and he’s about to say something but Greta takes him by the chin and leans up close, closer, until their lips are barely touching; she exhales a few wisps of thick, white smoke which Alucard sucks in slowly before melding his mouth to hers, a low groan in his throat.

The sight and the sound of it makes Trevor bite their lip, and a flicker of need flares in their belly before dimming to kindling within them. 

But this, this could, finally, last. No malevolent plans aiming to enslave or turn the country to ashes, no rush of battle-induced adrenaline; no survival grind, no half-mended wounds and sore muscles or life-altering decisions. Adventure had always been in their blood but the grim days are over, or so Trevor hopes, and god dammit they know how to hope now, don’t they? Now they have a family again, working, living, being together through the good and the bad. Not an outcome any of them had fathomed at first, and Trevor’s never been an idealist — well, fine, maybe a little — but maybe, maybe anything that holds together, thrives like they do together so naturally, might just… be meant to be? 

Alucard breaks the kiss and stares at Trevor again, a sweep of tenderness in his eyes. His stare is intent, his lips curve into a smile, and Trevor knows that in moments like these Alucard does what Trevor affectionately calls seeking; Alucard seeks within Trevor, that is, down to the very fabric of the soul that weaves their being together into one. Alucard knows that while Trevor is always Trevor, sometimes they feel more like Sypha and Greta, while other times, they lean more towards Alucard, and that was the state of being Trevor was in when they first met — fought —  that day long ago in Gresit. Alucard also knows that sometimes Trevor feels like all and neither, a sense of self all their own, and Alucard, more than anyone Trevor has met so far, is intimately familiar with it and experiences something similar whenever he chooses an alternate form. 

Now, Alucard is as swift as ever to discern Trevor as his hand comes up to the back of Trevor’s head, at the nape of their neck. “Well?” he asks.

Trevor pretends to think, eyes closing; decides to make Alucard work for it. “Well, what?”

“Wolf got his tongue?” Greta asks, eyebrows wagging at Trevor.

Alucard smirks, eyes still on his partner. “Her tongue,” he murmurs affectionately, staring at Trevor as he wraps a dark lock around one pale finger.

“Oh!” Greta nods as Trevor’s smile broadens, heart thrumming doubly in her chest; the bastard does have a knack for this. She reaches and tracks a finger to Alucard’s soft, pink lips. 

“Is there anything…” Alucard asks, making a twirly motion with his wrist in the air as Sypha sparks a tiny flame with her fingers to relight the pipe, “...different from before?”

There is something different, but Trevor can’t yet figure out what and … yeah, not fond of the coughing part. “Not, not... really?”

“...Trevor,” Sypha’s voice rings from somewhere above, and Trevor opens a bleary blue eye, offering the silliest of grins; the kind that in a distant past ended with short, lively tumbles in very interesting places. 

She knows Sypha doesn't fall for it of course, but suddenly she can't shake how much like a fae her Speaker looks, now more than ever, hair limned brilliant red in the hearth light with curls that spring like flames, and buried as she is in that oversized green and red robe. A sprite with fire-fuzz for hair and sapphire dust in her eyes and…

Woah there. Trevor stems the thoughts and ideas chasing around her head, all wonderfully bright and… and creative, and meddling with each other. Slow down. “Yes, love?”

Sypha leans forward, gives Alucard a peck on the lips, then cuddles down to Trevor’s back and those bare, icicle feet seek around hers, ankles locking together. 

"And now? How are you feeling now?" Sypha asks. 

She’s so soft, so giving and fiery and consuming, one leg slipping between Trevor’s and moving until she's pressed up into Trevor, oversized clothes and all, smelling of embers and winter. “Now… I’m wondering, yet again, why you so despise wearing socks,” the hunter mumbles, earning a soft slap to her rear.

Between Alucard nuzzling Greta and Sypha brimming with heat at her back, kissing the side of her neck, Trevor sighs in pleasure, and feels — at once remembering all those freezing nights spent penniless and lonely under naked skies  —  a deep, needy gratefulness. "But… still feel good," she puffs a breath, "Very good… actually… Better than ever." Trevor can only make a face at that string of mental stutters, tongue slowing in her mouth. "So… did I hear it right? You've all tried this stuff before?"

Sypha snickers against Trevor, warm breath tickling the back of her head, reminding the hunter of summers with the sun at her back. "The Speaker community knows this plant well. Our tribes travel the world, live and thrive off the wilderlands when conditions demand it, and are learned in the properties of the flora surrounding us. We had to be," she says primly, though her pretty eyelids droop lazily, "... and this particular weed has often been prescribed by our healers for an array of ailments."

"And not just among the Speakers," Alucard adds, sounding sleepy himself. There’s a soft glow to him now; still golden, more sunset than dawn. His eyes are hooded and thin ringlets of red fringe his irises, and something burns in Trevor at the sight. "In other corners of the world,” the golden-hot mess goes on to say, “cannabis has long been used for its effects, and notably recognized for its analgesic properties since antiquity."

Trevor humms, an eyebrow raised at Alucard’s affected, smart assy tone and grumbling, "You're so annoying when you talk like this.”

"There he is…" Alucard says, his smile wide enough to reveal those needle-point fangs in all their glory and he’s a tad too smug about it, but Trevor only grunts a short laugh because of course, Alucard's right. And it's exactly these unique little quirks about him, the depth of the bond they share, which on certain days make Trevor want to grab his sulk-prone partner by the collar and kiss him senseless, to crush that sweet, uppity mouth to his, put it to better use.

“Uh-huh,” Trevor blinks away the thought that makes heat rise to his face. “So… tell me, your lordship, where’d you stumble upon this one first?"  

Alucard’s smile is lazy as Greta nips slowly at his jaw. He squeezes her more to him, saying, "During one of our family's excursions around the world. My mother also harvested a different strain, one that is rare in this region, and kept a stock of it as well for research and to explore the above-mentioned properties."

“Well, well… interesting,” Trevor rests his head on Alucard's collarbone, watching Greta from across the slow rise and fall of Alucard’s chest. "And you, my dear?"

Greta shrugs with a smirk. "We grow it, we treat it. We wear it. You’re wearing it,” she rubs at a sleeve of Trevor’s hemp shirt, feeling it between her fingers.

“That, I know.” 

“... but did you know,” she presses a fingertip to his nose, “that it’s said our ancestors made a practice of burning the flowers, to aid in their rituals? Allegedly there were mystics, referred to as ‘those who walk on clouds.’ Either way,” she says, “along the years I've come in contact with its alternate uses, on many occasions,” she grins, and doesn’t elaborate.

Trevor sighs, will absolutely ask her more about that later. Right now he’s very aware and very happy about being tucked, trapped between them all, the shared body heat from Alucard and Sypha making him dizzy, making him feel as though he’s shimmering along the edges. There’s some enjoyment, some thrill in this feeling of being the novice at something, for once. "Well, whatever. I don't feel anything," he mumbles. Then: "Can you imagine, that some half-assed vampire general, which we probably slew at some time or another, might have shagged in this very chamber?”

Sypha giggles at his back, Alucard rolls his eyes, and Greta reaches over to cup Trevor's cheek in her hand. “Feeling nothing at all, he says.” 

Trevor meets her stare blearily while she strokes his jaw. It feels good, and Trevor relishes the touch of those fingers, scented with her and the spicy-warmth of Alucard’s skin. 

"You're so sweet, it's too much!" Greta teases.

Is she being a tease? She's being a tease. Trevor mumbles something unintelligible. Huh, should probably try again, but Alucard's pulse against his face is so damn distracting that Trevor only sighs unhelpfully in response, seeking Sypha’s hand, fingers feathering over hers that are pressed to Trevor’s chest as she hugs him from behind. 

“I like it,” Trevor decides, and is handed the slim pipe, lifting his head just enough to take one puff, then another, before falling back down with a smile, feeling heavy and light and much too amused.

“Just wait until you get hungry,” Greta murmurs, looking meaningfully at Alucard, whose face changes from relaxed to mildly offended. “Some of us, not naming any names, but we love to raid kitchens and munch on cakes after this,” she stops, her grin widening, “or anything available, really.”

Alucard huffs, doesn’t quite glare at them. “I do not… munch.”

“Oh Adrian, you absolutely do,” Sypha speaks muffled into Trevor, giggling hotly against Trevor’s spine.

“I wish…” Trevor begins, thinking no one will hear but Alucard forgets his annoyance to stare at his partner, which promptly makes the words shy away. But then, Trevor can’t blame him. Alucard’s hearing does beat that of humans by levels too many to count.

“You wish?... Words, Trevor. More words, if you please.”

Trevor slaps Alucard’s thigh, but thinks for a moment and says, “I wish I could see the old house again, sometimes. The way it used to be, I mean." Some memories are buried deep, ones linked with regret that lingers and flares up in the strangest of moments. “My family home like it used to be, before everything came apart.” Thoughts flit across his mind. A father’s grim bearing, and the love-drenched pride on his face witnessing the precocious skills of his offspring. A mother’s stern look, the softness of her embrace and the smell of soap in her hair. The windows bursting with wreaths of red and purple flowers.

“Ah,” Alucard offers into the silence, biting his lip.

“Syph…” Greta opens one long-lashed eye, her hand stroking Trevor’s arm in reassurance. “Remember what you did for me, that time when we were returning from Bran and camped in the woods?”

“Yes,” Sypha lifts her head, rising halfway so she can gaze down at Trevor. 

"What… are you talking about?" Trevor asks as Sypha gets to her knees, staring at him with eyes of a shade ocean-deep.  

She reaches and flicks him gently over the nose. "She means, I know a spell."

Trevor's eyebrows rise. "... A spell. A Speaker-spell?"

Sypha nods, flicking him on the nose again.

"A spell, which would…"

Sypha places a finger to his lips. "It's actually called," she hesitates. The Speakers have their own sacred language, used in their magic and lore, but it's virtually unknown to those outside their way of life, and guarded with utmost care lest certain knowledge fall into the wrong grasp. "The translation would be… hmm, maybe something similar to 'regaining’? It’s hard to explain. One thinks of that which they want to see, and I speak the words, then… think of it as painting, in a way," Sypha says, absently running fingers up Alucard's thigh. 

"You can basically show me my own thought,” Trevor blinks up at her.  “You're amazing, did I ever tell you that?"

"Shush," Sypha leans in, cupping her partner's face in her hands. “And yes, a few times.”

"What's it called in your language?" Trevor asks, acutely aware of her lips close to his. 

Sypha hesitates, then looks at his mouth, closes her eyes, and whispers words in a language completely foreign and unintelligible to Trevor’s ears, but no less musical. 

"... you never told me about this one, by the way," Trevor whispers, completely mystified and close to melting.

Sypha shrugs. "You never asked." She bats her eyelashes at him. "Now, if you can, recall the most recent image you have of that which you want to see."

Trevor feels soft and pliable and Sypha's hands feel amazing. "Okay.”

Sypha places two fingers to her forehead, eyes locked with Trevor, and he feels the hot nip of magic all around them, hears it breathe, hears its blood rushing through the unseen veins of the air; all of it, all of it is Sypha. A heartbeat passes, then another, and the three of them gather close as Sypha slowly sits back on her knees, arms spread before them, and her fingers begin to weave both strings of thin flame and threads of blue ice until in the air before them an image forms, moving and curling like a vaporous banner. Sypha chants softly, in a voice at first brittle like ice then catching spark, lilting and soaring warm. Her hands move like that of a demiurge painting with the elements, and it's not long before the details of the image are filled, and it shines brightly before them like a canvas painting in blues and reds and oranges.

"It's…" Trevor sighs, "That's it. That's exactly it. Syph…" Before them is one of his last good memories preceding the fall of his family and his name, long ago. Trevor feels Greta and Alucard scuttle close on either side, hugging and taking turns kissing his face. "Thank you," and he also pulls Sypha down by the waist even as the shimmering memory-painting fades above them, dispersing to flickers that dance and fall in mimicry of the snow outside. Sypha falls into the three of them, then bravely meets Trevor in a long kiss as they all fumble with limbs and bodies to settle comfortably against each other; in the commotion, Trevor doesn't notice the fur until it tickles his nose. 

“Hey… what...” the hunter blinks and lifts his head in time, finding himself nose to wet nose with Alucard’s wolf form, bouncy, luxuriant pelt and all. 

Greta laughs, sinking into Alucard’s softness as the wolf shifts in a circle and its rich tail brushes her skin. Alucard settles down, body curling around them even as they cuddle right back up to the wolf and sigh in the warmth of that pristine golden-fringed hide. He does this sometimes, knowing they all enjoy it.

Sypha untangles her fingers from Trevor's, rises, and catches Alucard's head between her hands to kiss beneath one ear. “Welcome, you,” she nuzzles him so he snorts playfully and pulls away with a mewl, and Trevor smiles, looking out the windows to the heavy leaden skies.

Once, there was nothing to believe in, but then, nothing ever stays the same, does it? From it came loneliness, anger, and fear, and more than enough pain, but also friendship and growth, and finally, finally this. Alucard's warmth, Sypha's touch, and Greta's tenderness feel like a promise and a seal, the pillars to a happiness Trevor Belmont hardly dared imagine or hope for. Funnily enough, then, that now it’s hard to imagine being anywhere else.