Blood really is thicker than water.
As always while she’s bathing, Evelyn has left the door open. Hecate stands in its massive shadow, and watches. The carvings on the door writhe in the presence of so much magic. Hecate can taste the power in the air—or she would be able to, were it not overpowered by the scent of blood.
It runs viscous along Evelyn’s skin, drips slower and more clinging than water from her hand as she reaches languidly out, pausing between a wineglass and her cigarette-case before settling on the wineglass. Tongues of blood lick up along the witch’s neck, dampening the few tendrils of hair that have escaped the elegant pile atop her head. In turn, those tendrils curl toward the bath of blood as though yearning for it.
How is it she can make even carelessness into a lure? Hecate scowls and her grip tightens to white knuckles on the hilt of the dollmaking knife.
She’d stolen it from the ritual room below where the delicate work of opening bodies is done. Hecate’s fingers itch with the desire to oh so gently part flesh, separate halves of a chest like leaves of a door to reveal the power within. She’s halfway through a phantom cut with the knife, slicing air as though it were skin, before she realizes what she’s doing and turns the motion into an angry slash. Her eyes fix on Evelyn as she glides scarlet fingers along her shoulders and stretches her legs out with a low hum of satisfaction.
Thick, heavy ripples spread across the glistening liquid, tiny waves lapping at Evelyn’s breasts. Her head tips backward, eyes lidded—and then her eyes open and she looks right at Hecate. “Did you need something, darling?” A smirk is curling up her mouth.
“I came to tell you Vanessa Ives’ hair is stored in the simulacrum room.”
“Well, of course—isn’t that what I asked you to do?” Evelyn returns her gaze to the glass. It’s a dismissal, not a real question. She won’t even deign to keep her eyes on Hecate—that, and her amusement, and the affect of puzzlement in her voice are too much to bear. It makes Hecate bristle. She knows she’s a threat; if she couldn’t make Evelyn see that, she would just have to use that blindness to her advantage, sick though she was of being underestimated.
Hecate flips the knife up in the air with a hard flick of her wrist, turning it for a moment into a circle of steel before the hilt thunks back into her hand. “One of these days, Mother, you really must teach me the secret to your little fetishes.” She flips the knife again, tossing it from hand to hand. “Then you wouldn’t have to bear my interruptions. I could have made Miss Ives’ doll by now while you were free to relax.”
Evelyn turns her head. This time, her amusement is not affected in the slightest. “For your first simulacrum, you think you’ll craft the one to deliver us the master’s greatest desire? Oh, Hecate, my dear, beware hubris.”
“Then why not teach me on another?” Hecate bursts out. “Why not today?” She tries to calm down. She loosens her grip on the knife, smooths her voice toward seduction. “After all, I did get Miss Ives’ hair, did I not? What better doll for me to watch and learn from than what will no doubt be your masterpiece, no, mother?”
“I earned my mastery long ago.” Evelyn sets her wine down with a sharp click against white stone. A fingerprint in blood stands out clear and perfect on the glass, like a brand of ownership. Hecate draws breath to make a remark about long ago, but she’s cut off.
“Mother mother mother,” Evelyn drawls, bitingly. Her eyes have narrowed. “And how, my dear daughter, do you use that word? Do you think I’m like the mundane bitch who shoved you out of her cunt, only for you to use her up and kill her? Do you think I sacrifice myself to feed you? No, child. I am your mother because I am your guide, your leader, your better. My power comes from the master, but your power comes from me.”
Before Hecate can do more than glare a response, Evelyn starts chanting. Words flying fast, precise, in the deep utterances of the Verbis Diablo, mirroring the fast precise flight of the knife from Hecate’s hands in obeisance to Evelyn’s commands. Hecate instinctively loosens her grip and the knife cuts a delicate slice across her fingers on its path through the air. She yowls, as much at the indignity as the pain. She should have been faster. Should have been able to counter it in time.
Blood wells in her hand, a replacement for the knife, and Hecate almost fights, almost summons up her power to match her anger—
—but Evelyn has the knife in her hand, and hasn’t even risen from her bath. The witch is still looking at her, intently, and Hecate feels beneath her resentment the faintest twinge of satisfaction. Now she has her attention.
She snaps her mouth shut. No point in showing frustration. Instead of fighting, Hecate lowers her eyes. Contritely, head bent, she walks up to the bath, kneeling on the shallow white steps so her head is below Evelyn’s when she gets there. “I’m sorry, Mother.”
Hecate twitches her skirts out of the way of the large smear of blood from whichever lucky girl was chosen as the older witch’s victim. The body isn’t here anymore—one of her sisters must have removed it. Currying favor. Hecate tries not to sneer.
Evelyn still hasn’t responded. Instead, she reaches behind herself—still perfectly poised, not the slightest hesitation or fumbling—to flick open the silver case and ease out a cigarette. She extends it, held between two fingers, toward Hecate.
Hecate hesitates, not sure what’s expected of her for a moment, before Evelyn tilts her head and raises her eyebrows in mocking, challenging arches. Flushing, Hecate finally realizes what to do and touches the tip of the cigarette, focusing her will. A spark leaps from her fingertip—almost burying itself in Evelyn’s knuckle before at the last moment dying in the cigarette and making it flare into life.
Evelyn wraps her lips around it and takes a long drag, her head tilting back and her eyelids half-closing.
If the older witch blows smoke in her face, Hecate’s not sure she can refrain from clawing the cigarette out of her mouth.
She doesn’t. The smoke curls out from between her lips past Hecate, Evelyn once more looking past her as well, and she smokes half the cigarette before deigning to speak again.
“Of course you’re sorry, child. Help me out and I’ll heal your wound.” At the reminder, the cut throbs across Hecate’s palm anew. “I have no need of any more blood from you.”
Evelyn places her knife carefully beside the wineglass and cigarette-case, stroking her fingers along the handle before extending her hand. Blood drips onto the floor in near-perfect circles, drips onto Hecate like sealing wax.
Hecate takes her hand, holding the witch steady as she rises from the bath, more blood flowing off her curves as she rises but leaving her coated and clothed in red. She seats herself on the edge of the top step, still more blood pooling at her feet like a trailing gown. Seeing her settled in, Hecate takes the hand she has been holding, turning it up, and delicately kisses the palm. Blood smears on her nose and chin. She flicks her tongue out—just the slightest bit—to taste coppery blood and the witch’s skin.
Evelyn smiles. She glides her fingertips along Hecate’s cheek, so lightly that she leaves the skin tingling. Gently, she frees her hand from Hecate’s, takes Hecate’s wounded one, lifts it. Hecate’s mouth is tingling now too, blood staining her lips. She wonders if Evelyn is going to kiss her palm in turn to work the healing.
Then the older witch jams her thumb into the slash.
Hecate doesn’t actually scream, but she comes close. She jerks her hand back, or tries, but Evelyn’s grip is like a manacle. Pain flares up like dying embers suddenly whipped back into a bonfire, lances up her arm. She can feel Evelyn’s thumb against her bones. Blood wells out, mingling with the blood already coating their hands. Hecate clamps her teeth down on her lip, trying to drown out one source of pain with another.
As suddenly as it came, the pain recedes again from her hand. Beneath it, Hecate can feel magic surge into her through Evelyn’s fingers, and beneath the blood, she can feel her skin pinching back together. Evelyn is whispering something into the wound. She strains to catch the words, but can’t over the roaring in her ears.
It fades away quickly enough. Evelyn loosens the grip on her hand, and Hecate swallows. The smell of blood is so thick in the air that she tastes it in the back of her throat. Evelyn turns her wrist, twisting Hecate’s arm and pulling her in closer.
Hecate gives in to the motion and bends, leaning forward and resting her head on Evelyn’s lap. She breathes in the metallic scent of blood again and waits, feeling pain and magic drain from her hand. Evelyn runs her fingers through Hecate’s long curly hair, fussing over the tangles, making little wet red finger curls. Her hands move lightly, tracing the shape of Hecate’s skull. Cradling the top of her head, the older witch leans forward, hand sliding further down Hecate’s spine as her lips approach Hecate’s ear.
“So, you think you’re ready for more power?” she whispers.
“Yes, Mother. Please.”
Evelyn trails her hand from the top of Hecate’s head down the side of her face. She hooks a finger under her chin, coaxing her back upright. Hecate straightens and nuzzles her face, now glazed with the blood from Evelyn’s thighs, back into the older witch’s palm. With her other hand Evelyn takes an as-yet untouched curl, and wraps it around her finger, bringing her hand closer to Hecate’s face as the curl winds tighter, until both hands are framing her face. Hecate’s hair is twined around and through Evelyn’s fingers. Her thumb strokes Hecate’s cheek, slowly, steadily.
“Yes,” Hecate breathes.
“You must promise to follow instructions for once. Can you obey?”
“Yes,” Hecate murmurs as she leans in to kiss Evelyn’s lips.
“Good.” Evelyn cuts off the intended kiss and pulls her curls viciously back, standing upright and yanking Hecate abruptly along with her. Now she kisses her, taking control. Then, hand still in her hair, Evelyn takes a step away and jerks Hecate’s head back. Hecate feels her neck arch, naked and exposed to Evelyn’s gaze.
“Keep no petty illusions between us, then. Expose yourself for me.”
Hecate’s clothes melt away, and she can feel her breathing speed up, her chest heaving. She swallows nervously, and watches Evelyn watch her.
She steps back, pressing one leg between Hecate’s. Evelyn bites Hecate’s exposed neck, down by her sharp collarbones, eliciting a little moue that turns into a cry as she sinks her teeth in deeper and sucks hard on the distressed skin. Hecate has just enough presence of mind to look at Evelyn’s expression: she’s smirking, so clearly pleased with herself, as she licks and kisses at the sensitive ridges of the imprint of her teeth. The sensation is delicious on her hypersensitive skin, which warms and tingles. She hums, leaning into it when Evelyn bites it again, lightly and quickly, as if just to show she still has teeth. Little red blotches are appearing already on her skin, promising a bruise.
Evelyn keeps a firm hold on the back of Hecate’s neck, bordering on painful, supporting and directing her. Between her unrelenting grip and a hand on the small of Hecate’s back, nails making themselves known, Evelyn guides her into a slow, rocking rhythm.
Evelyn’s thigh pressing against her clit, Evelyn’s mouth making its way up her neck, to her earlobe, kissing, nipping, and licking the pale skin, Hecate lets herself begin to fall into a hazy trance state. She hums her pleasure at the attention. She leans into Evelyn, rubbing herself against her, enjoying the slide of Evelyn’s wet, blood-soaked body against her own, getting wetter and slicker with blood and pleasure.
Yes, she recognized this. This made sense. Seduction and pleasure had always been their mark and their trade, ever since they became nightwalkers. Wasn’t this, after all, how they had sealed their pact with the Master. Swearing allegiance to sin, reveling in pleasure, shameless, mixing it with pain, with his claws in them, marking them. Yes. She feels Evelyn’s nails, reminiscent of those claws, digging into the skin on her back, leaving little red crescents followed by tiny raw trails where she scratches her, light, heavy, light, marking her again. Yes. This was familiar. This was how she would get more power again. She feels her body hum and throb with the anticipation of it.
Evelyn murmurs, low, keeping her voice even and seductive, almost sweet nothings, if they were the kind of people disposed to such things. “Were you ever baptized, dear?” whispered into her ear. Bite. “I cannot remember.” Kiss. “You were certainly never baptized by the master.” A long lick up her neck. “This blood though...” Nails, digging in and scratching down. “So much richer than holy water.” Kiss. “You think this blood is the source of my power, don’t you?” Another bite, harder this time. “Or at least the covenant between the Master and I. I’m the only one who bathes here, aren’t I? The only one partaking of this ritual.”
Hecate lets the sound wash over her, purring her agreement, her breath coming quicker, only half listening. Mostly she’s just trying to angle herself better, rub faster and harder. She’s gripped onto Evelyn, compensating for her lack of purchase on wet skin by wrapping herself around the other woman. She tries to take control of the rhythm, shoving herself forward, closer, so close... She moans.
The moan becomes a hiss as Evelyn grabs her hair again and yanks her back and away.
“Now is your time, dear.” Hecate barely takes in the words for the low, seductive sound of the witch’s voice. “Step in.”
Frustrated, dazed, and painfully aroused, Hecate blinks, but lets Evelyn take her hand. Evelyn steadies her and guides her into the bath, reversing their earlier positions. Hecate stares at her, standing upright in the bath, unsure where exactly this is leading, expectant. She lets go of Evelyn’s hands and stares into her eyes, but can see no clues there. Damn. She lowers herself into the bath, not breaking eye contact.
It’s an order. Hecate shuts her mouth.
Evelyn moves behind her. “This is a ritual—you’ll need your energy elsewhere. We will get there. Obey.”
Poised as ever, Evelyn sits down behind Hecate. She strokes Hecate’s hair, pulling it out of the bath to fan out behind her. Hecate begins to relax again as Evelyn’s left hand stops playing with her hair and makes its way below the waterline—no, bloodline—to stroke her chest. Evelyn’s nails trace along her breasts, the clean sharp pain instantly soothed by the pool of blood lapping against her. Evelyn’s fingers find one of her nipples, and pinch, pulling it, making Hecate arch her back with the motion. One of Evelyn’s nails digs in, and Hecate gasps.
Evelyn shoves her fingers into Hecate’s open mouth. “Submit,” she growls into Hecate’s ear, and Hecate does, closing her mouth around the witch’s fingers, swallowing the metallic tang of blood. She closes her eyes to better focus on curling her tongue around Evelyn’s fingers, and barely registers the shift as Evelyn kneels over her, presses the heel of her hand against Hecate’s forehead, and pushes her under the blood.
Hecate struggles instinctively. She kicks and flails her arms, splashing blood, grabs one of Evelyn's arms and thrashes her way up. A shower of red sprays from her mouth when she emerges, gasping air in again. She sputters, coughing, and huffs a mist of blood from her nostrils. She resembles nothing so much as a bull in a fight as she glares murderously at Evelyn, drops of blood hanging from her eyelashes.
"No, I don't suppose you ever were baptized." Evelyn smiles, placidly. Her voice is muffled, until Hecate realizes her ears are filled with blood and shakes her head violently, unable to stop a shudder of revulsion at the thought of it creeping inside her. "The memory has a way of persisting. Birth and rebirth are never easy. Otherwise men would be the ones doing it, wouldn’t they, dear?"
Hecate laughs, the sound choked, and then has to stop to pull in more air.
"But,” Evelyn continues, malicious amusement brightening her voice, “there’s power in a trinity.”
“Mother, daughter, and unholy spirits?" Hecate challenges back.
Evelyn laughs, her smile turning back into a smirk. “There's no stopping now.”
Hecate pulls herself more upright against the blood-slick sides of the tub, lifting her chin. “I never said I needed to stop.” Her hands ball into fists, and Hecate takes a deep breath before she begins to slide back under.
Evelyn clicks her tongue, shaking her head. “Rather masturbatory to try and baptize yourself, no?"
This time as Hecate pulls herself back up, her attempt at dignity is undercut by slipping against the sides and she has to scramble to a sitting position. "Fine. Push me under, then. I'm prepared this time."
"That won't stop you from fighting it, dear."
"I'm strong enough! I was blindsided."
"Then you can prove it. Give me your hands."
Hecate extends her hands—and Evelyn takes them by the wrists and crosses them, gripping both firmly in one of her own. With the other, she reaches up, plucks a hair from her head, and loops it around Hecate's crossed wrists. When the other witch pulls her hands away, the pressure of her fingers remains. Hecate tugs, testing, and the hair bites into her skin like a thread of steel.
Evelyn is watching her, eyes dark, and Hecate thinks, she's not so unaffected by this as she pretends. The thought makes her shiver, her already quick breath come a little quicker.
Hecate takes a slow deep breath in, lungs burning, heat and thrill running through her, and exhales. "Yes."
Evelyn grabs hold of her bound wrists, and knots a fist in Hecate’s hair. Hecate breathes in again, and lets the air still, filling her lungs. She closes her eyes and lets Evelyn’s hands push her down, submerging her.
The blood is so hot, she has the wit to think, this time, instead of panicking. Hecate lets it flow over her face, fill her ears and nose, press against her eyelids, seep against her closed lips. She waits, trying to remain calm. It’s not so hard when she’s prepared, she thinks, and at first it isn’t. Very slowly she lets the air hiss out of her lungs. She wants to breathe in, but resists against the rising desire. She’ll show her strength.
She’s not sure when the shift happens, but it’s sudden. The burning in her lungs blazes, and her fight-or-flight instincts, willfully suppressed until now, flare unstoppably. She opens her mouth—she can’t help it—and blood rushes in, thick and choking, threatening to flood down her throat.
Hecate kicks frantically against the bottom of the bath, trying to propel herself upwards and into the air. Evelyn’s hands grip pitiless around her wrists and push back, unrelenting. Desperately, Hecate throws her shoulders into the fight, her limbs flailing—trying, despite bound hands, to knock Evelyn back if only for a second. She gasps again—not enough rationality left to fight such a strong instinct. She spits out what she can and keeps fighting—increasingly uselessly as panic takes over completely. Just as her fighting starts to fade, Evelyn hauls her up and into the air again.
Hecate sobs for breath, desperately trying to drag air back into her lungs. A fight between air and blood. Coughing. Throat raw, eyes stinging, ears ringing. She can’t cough enough to just get the blood out damn everything. Tears well in her eyes and spill out, clearing small paths through her blood-soaked cheeks. She sucks in a gasp, chest heaving, her lungs on fire. The terror begins, just the slightest bit, to recede.
And Evelyn smiles and pushes her back under.
There’s no holding back this time. Hecate’s mind goes utterly blank with panic. She’s going to die, Evelyn is going to drown her in blood, she lost, she’s going to die—
Hecate opens her mouth to scream, legs scrabbling desperately, hammering her feet against the tub, clawing futilely at nothing. The enchanted hair around her wrists slices into her skin as Hecate strains to free her hands. The other witch’s arms are immoveable, as though she’s being held down by a marble statue, vicious and powerful and impossible to escape. She’s never felt this helpless before—and finally she loses control completely, and breathes in.
And then Evelyn’s hands shift across her skin, grip under her arms, and she’s rising through the blood. There’s new pain, across her back, as the witch drags her irresistibly over the lip of the bath and casts her down onto the cold stone.
The air is even colder on her face. Hecate breathes in and is wracked by coughing, shuddering and curling up. Slimy in her throat and mouth, blood spills out from between her lips. Her throat is raw, nothing but pain, and her lungs feel crushed, useless, burned to ashes and ready to disintegrate. She’s sobbing. Body heaving, crying uncontrollably, tears running down her face, Hecate clings to herself and can do nothing more than breathe.
Evelyn has stepped down and away from the bath, and stands admiring her work.
Her voice scrapes to use. She has to pause between words for breath—and for the words themselves, her mind still mostly blank. “Have I done it? What power have I earned?”
"My dear girl, did you think I didn't know what you were doing? You are so quick to use seduction as your weapon, despite how fickle and unpredictable affections can be. Despite, worst of all, how easily you lose the upper hand. You should have learned that lesson when you failed to seduce Mr. Chandler. I shudder to think what you could lose if you continue on so artlessly. I don't believe you will be so quick to forget this time. Consider that knowledge power."