Title: Under the Milky Way
Author: bnomiko
Rating: NC-17
Pairing(s): Trevor + Sypha + Alucard, Trevor + Sypha (w/ implied Trevor x Sypha), Sypha x Alucard, Trevor x Alucard (& rev)
Spoilers: through the end of S3 + through S4
Disclaimer: "Under the Milky Way" is performed and recorded by The Church. "Cuts You Up" is performed and recorded by Peter Murphy. Castlevania is the creation and property of Konami. Castlevania (animated series) is the creation and property of Netflix. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.
Summary: After the events of Lindenfeld, all Trevor and Sypha wanted was to return to the closest thing they had to "home," but Alucard has not fared well in their absence. "You wanted to save the world, remember?" " He also needed it. He needed us." Post S3 + S4 animation canon based.
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/

* * *

Under the Milky Way

Bonus scenes + Epilogue: On and on it goes
Calling like a distant wind

* * *


The ladies in town had begun to meet up for a sewing circle twice a week, from sundown to just a few hours past. Sypha wasn't so keen on joining at the start, but as her pregnancy advanced she found it to be a welcome distraction. It was less about the sewing and knitting and needlepoint - though the last one was something the Speaker needed to improve on - and more about socializing and partaking in chatter away from the distraction of duties at home. Plus it was nice hearing from all the women who'd given birth before; as much as Sypha enjoyed researching and reading, hearing it straight from experienced sources was even better.

She was just about to call it quits for the evening when Trevor stepped into the town hall and took his usual post next to the door to wait for her. She didn't need the escort, but it made him feel better as he was convinced that by this point in the pregnancy, if she were to slip on some ice and fall she'd be unable to right herself, like a tortoise. Adrian wasn't any better... the two men usually alternated escorting duties.

Once she had packed away her things, Trevor came over and helped her to her feet as the other ladies present smiled and waved goodbye, with one even throwing him a couple of winks.

"What was that all about?" he asked as they began walking back to the castle, one arm gently pressing into the small of her back for support while the other held on to her hand.

"Congratulations, you've been voted second most attractive man in town," Sypha said with a proud smile.

Trevor snorted. That was random... and he would've figured all the scars would've knocked him way down the list. Did women really like men with facial scars, or an entire arm covered in burns? "And who's first? Adrian, I imagine."

"Oh yes. By a landslide."

"Lucky me. Lucky both of us," he said, giving her a waggle of the brows. Sypha grinned back. "Though I am slightly surprised, given that he still doesn't really talk to anyone."

"This was all about appearance of course. And he does talk to people when he feels comfortable enough. He's still not good with large groups. But when he stopped by a few days ago, he was early, and had no problem sitting there and participating until we left."

"In what? Sewing? Gossiping?" Somehow the former seemed more likely. He couldn't see Adrian cackling along with the rest of the noisy biddies about things like other people's relationship woes.

Sypha scowled playfully. "Don't knock it. Wait, let me show you." She stopped, rummaged through her satchel, and pulled out a few pieces of cloth. "Look at this," and she held up the Belmont crest she was working on, then another one that was half finished. "The ladies gave him a crash course, and in one evening, he managed to do this. It's good, despite it being his first try. Meanwhile I've been working on this one for two days, and it's crooked and uneven and not any closer to being done," she ranted. "I have no problems sewing, because you get into a rhythm doing it, and you can hide imperfections, but even though embroidery is similar it feels so random; you really have to think about the placement of the needle the whole time."

There was no point in pretending the two pieces were equal. Sypha clearly wasn't cut out for needlework. "Heh. Just give him the rest to do, then."

"Ugh, no. He has enough on his plate. And I want to learn to do this properly. It's just going to take me longer to get it right."

They continued walking, then Trevor said a little more seriously, "You have a point though. It doesn't seem fair, does it? He does a lot of labor in the village, both with the systems that only he knows how to install, and the heavy lifting since he's that much stronger than everyone else... and then he comes home and does all the cooking and many of the other chores as well. And all we can do is sit and watch him work."

"I think he likes it. He likes being needed. So don't worry about it," Sypha assured him. "Besides, it won't be like this forever. You're recovering more of your strength by the day, and I don't mind doing more than my share when I'm back on my feet."

"Same to you; don't worry about that right now. You need to concentrate on taking care of yourself," the brunet told her as he put his hand on her belly. She was normally such a tiny thing that being eight months pregnant made her look like she was near bursting.

Typically the redhead would've waved off his concern, but even she couldn't pretend that it didn't matter when their baby was reliant on her for everything until birth, and even after that, for milk and the sort of comfort that only a mother could provide.

She sighed loudly. "Everyone's told me I'm lucky that my pregnancy has gone so smoothly, but I can hardly wait until my ankles are back to normal size and I'm not having to pee five times a night. I haven't seen my feet in forever and I've forgotten what it's like to lie on my back. And I never want to see another pickled egg again after this, but at the same time I can't stop myself from eating them at lunch every single day, ughhh."

"I miss having sex with you," Trevor said, flashing a roguish grin at her.

Sypha lightly whacked him on the arm. "You... how do you think I feel? I can't even think about that nowadays... like I swear I'll never get aroused ever again. Even the thought of you and Adrian going at it does nothing for me right now. Do you know how depressing that is?!!"

"That is pretty sad," Trevor agreed. "And I'm depressed because I hate having to beg for it. Adrian just doesn't get horny, not really... and I know for a fact that vampires are big on decadence and pleasure, so I have no idea how he ended up like that. Why, if was strictly up to him, we'd only have sex like twice a month!" He sighed. "I can't live like that."

"Maybe he doesn't want to do it every single day! Give him a break."

"I do! I... give him days off."

Sypha laughed so loud that it sounded more like a cackle. "You are truly a horrible man!" She shook her head, still smiling. "I hope I recover quickly, just so I can save him from your advances."

"... And so we can work on baby number two?" he said with a cheeky smile.

"Excuse me? Let me get the first one out before I even consider that!" She whacked him again, a little harder.

Trevor's answering smirk softened to a gentle grin as they began climbing up the castle steps. "I can hardly wait to meet our baby."

She leaned against his shoulder a bit. "Me too." But leaning on him had her shifting a bit uncomfortably. "Mmh, my back is killing me. I can hardly wait until someone else is carrying the baby around, not me. Not like this."

"We're almost inside, then you can sit down."

"Yes. Oh, but take me to the kitchen first. As much as I hate to say it... I need a snack."

"Something salty?"

She nodded. Never again did she want to see or smell anything pickled, but she knew she'd have her hands in a jar of brine again the next day.

He chuckled, but said, "As you wish," just as gently as Adrian would, even adding in the little copycat bow he'd nearly perfected as they crossed the threshold, the massive doors slowly closing behind them as they made their way down the long entrance hallway together.

* * *

Author's Notes:

* * *


"Shouldn't you two get married soon?" Adrian asked one night, seemingly at random.

Trevor lifted his head off the pillow. The three of them were in bed. He'd been starting to drowse from where he'd been curled up against Adrian, his burn scarred arm draped across the taller man's lap, fingers trailing over Sypha's hips, as the two bookworms got in some late night reading before going to sleep. "What? Why?"

"The end of the year is nearly upon us. The baby is due in less than a month, and you're still not properly wed," Adrian replied as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"That is true," said Sypha, sounding as calm as if he'd asked if she'd like some jam for her bread.

The half-vampire looped his left arm around her shoulders, earning a soft, contented hum, which made the whole scenario even odder in Trevor's head. Was Adrian proposing for him? While stroking Sypha's arm? And why did he leave himself out?

"And that matters why?" the brunet asked, still baffled. It was unfair that this was being brought up when he'd been on the verge of falling asleep.

"For the sake of legitimacy? Inheritance?"

"There's nothing to inherit," Trevor pointed out. Well, other than his weapons trove, but they didn't need a piece of paper for that. The Vampire Killer, recently retrieved by Adrian from the chasm under the castle's engines, would eventually be handed over to the oldest son capable of wielding it. The rest could go back to the Hold for safekeeping.

Adrian scoffed. "I have no intention of holding on to these lands forever. At some point it'll pass back to your clan, and it would be a lot less hassle if you have a legitimate heir..."

"If it's yours then it's already in our family," Trevor corrected. "And why would it only be Sypha and me? Shouldn't it be all three of us?" He had no objection to being married; he took issue with the fact that Adrian was excluding himself from the equation.

Despite the fact that they were bickering, Adrian smiled, warmed by the intention behind Trevor's argument. "We can exchange vows; I would like that very much. But legally you know that won't stand and biologically, any children born will be of your bloodline," Adrian reminded him. Sypha rubbed at his arm, content to let the blond explain things. "Just think of this as a paper trail to spare our kids a headache later on."

Speaking of headaches... "Sypha, tell him to knock it off," the hunter grumbled. "Can we talk about this tomorrow?"

"What, do you not want to marry me?" she asked with mock offense, before giggling softly.

Trevor colored slightly and buried his face back against his boyfriend's hip. "I... did not say that."

Adrian chuckled and let his hand drift down to lightly ruffle through Trevor's hair. There was something endearing about his grouchy sullenness. "You've delayed this long enough already. The baby will be here before you know it, and then what?"

"Adrian makes a good point. I do want to make sure our children are properly provided for. And as far as Speakers are concerned, we three are already married anyhow, so this wouldn't change a thing," Sypha continued, casually tucking a ribbon into her book to mark her stopping point before setting it aside. "Do you want to draft the document or shall I?" she asked Adrian.

"I'll take a look at what's in the town records tomorrow and write one up. Any objections to my signing off as witness to the exchange of consent and consummation?"

The way he coolly said that had Sypha laughing, her hand grazing the side of her belly. It didn't matter that Adrian hadn't actually been there for their first... no, actually, he had. He'd probably heard it since she and Trevor had initially hooked up during their earlier stay in the castle, only two doors down from Adrian's room. And Trevor tended to get loud. But regardless, even if he hadn't heard a thing, there was no denying whose fault it was that she was the size of a wagon already. "Not at all."

Adrian smiled.

"What about rings?" she inquired after a bit more thought.

"Hmm, yes, we should exchange a token of our vows and proof of your marriage." His eyes drifted down to his father's ring; he wasn't sure if Trevor would accept it, but he supposed he could try breaking it down into three separate bands. Not that he had any experience making jewelry, but theoretically crafting rings wouldn't be all that different than forming and connecting wire, and he'd been working with a lot of wiring as of late.

Sypha followed his gaze, and gave a tiny shake of her head. She wasn't opposed to wearing something that once belonged to Dracula, but it was a symbol of the vows Adrian's parents had once exchanged. Even though it was common for wedding bands to be passed down, it'd be a shame to break one down into three pieces... "My pin should have enough metal to form into rings, don't you think? It's silver alloy though, I don't know if that would be a problem for you?"

"It's not blessed nor pure silver so it should be fine. But Sypha, doesn't that pin represent your family?"

"I still consider myself a Speaker but the reality is I've settled down here. You are my family now. So consider it my dowry; let it represent us."

"Okay now you're saying 'we' and 'us'..." Trevor complained. He had no idea why he was still trying when he didn't know what was going on anymore.

"Because WE will be exchanging vows. But we," and Sypha gestured at Trevor and then herself, "are the ones actually getting married. Does that make sense?"

Trevor gave up and shut his eyes. "No," he said with a wave of his hand.

"But you are onboard, right?" Sypha tried again.

"Mmh. Sure." It was fine, he'd let them sort it out. Sypha in particular loved planning things. She only needed to tell him when and where he needed to be once she and Adrian figured out the details.

"Poor dear. I wonder if this is how the daughters of noble families feel, most of them getting married off with next to no input," the redhead mused, a fond smile tugging at her lips.

"Hardly. He's just being grouchy, though I admit I could've timed this better. But you only have four weeks to go, so... Anyhow, he didn't refuse so it's fine," Adrian decided, grinning as the hunter pushed more firmly against his leg and huffed softly at the hem of his nightshirt. Time for bed, then. The half-vampire closed his book as well and handed it to Sypha to set on top of hers. "I'll take a look at your pin tomorrow, Sypha. I'd like to have the rings and the document on hand before we do this."

Sypha yawned. "Sounds good," she murmured, carefully sliding herself under the covers until she was comfortably settled, then waiting until Adrian did the same before she sent out a tiny gust of air to blow out the bedside lantern.

* * *

A few days later, Adrian marched into Greta's makeshift office, a partitioned off corner in the finished main room of the town hall, and placed a document on her desk.

Greta glanced up at him, then back down. "What's this?"

"Marriage certificate for the town records," Adrian replied.

She thought nothing of it at first, as there'd been a number of weddings in their small town, given that people were anxious to move on with their lives after all the loss and chaos they'd experienced. Forming new families was part of that healing process. But then her eyes fell on the names on the document...

"Wait... Belmont and Belnades??" she asked as her brain whirred to life. It was dated the day before. But before she could ask the obvious question edging to the forefront, her eyes dropped to Adrian's left hand as it rested on her desk: joining the platinum band around his thumb was a silver one around his ring finger.

Her jaw dropped, then she looked back up at him. It took her a moment more to find her words. "If you had asked, I could've signed off as witness for all three of you." When Adrian cocked a brow at that, she said, "What? You know I don't care about that sort of thing."

He didn't bother mentioning that that was the exact sort of complication he'd been trying to avoid. "But then your name would be on the document too," the blond pointed out instead.

She stared at him a moment longer, then her face split into a huge grin. "Ahh, clever! You're quite cheeky; I like that." Greta gave the document another once over, then went ahead and stamped it to mark it received and set it aside for the ink to dry. "Well, congratulations! Tell me you at least had a feast or something to celebrate."

Adrian shrugged, though a smile played about his lips. Neither he nor his partners saw need to make a big deal out of it, though Trevor had insisted on roasting a suckling pig - and with Adrian's help it had come out tender and succulent and flavorful - and Sypha had gathered flowers for the kitchen table. They'd finished off the meal with an apple pie sweetened with raisins that Adrian had baked up as a special after dinner treat.

"We had a nice dinner," he finally said. "And I told Trevor he could have a second beer. He stopped complaining about how he'd been browbeaten into this at that point."

The headwoman couldn't hold back her laughter. "I see..."

Adrian answered with an equally wide grin.

"Pass on my regards to the newlyweds," Greta added, amusement still coloring her voice, as Adrian gave her a nod and began turning away to leave, intent on starting his workday.

"I will. Thank you," he said, before slipping past the partition.

* * *

Author's Notes:

* * *


"I don't see what the big deal is," Trevor sighed, idly bouncing his five-month-old son in his lap as his partners finished getting dressed. He was already "ready" of course, as he saw no need to do anything different than usual.

"One, it's the anniversary of the town's founding. Two, it's Frediric's first festival. And three, it's Adrian's too, so stop trying to spoil things," Sypha scolded him as she debated whether or not to bring her new coat along for the outing. It was cool enough inside the castle, but the last few days had been rather hot.

"How am I spoiling things?" Trevor asked, prying Frediric's fingers off the fabric of his lapel, and his wife merely sighed as she shrugged her coat on. It was intended for warmer weather so it was fairly lightweight, and she figured she could take it off later if needed, but for now, she really wanted to show it off.

Turned out Dracula had hoarded quite a bit of wealth over his long reign. And Adrian, who wanted very little himself, had no issue spending it on his new family, even if they honestly didn't want anything either. So after the village had begun encouraging trade caravans to pass through, he'd put in orders for new clothing. Thankfully they'd arrived a little over a week before the celebration.

Trevor immediately took to his new attire: a brown and white canvas duster with short sleeves that sat more comfortably around his burned arm, thigh high boots in buttery soft leather, leather chest armor that buckled both front and back, with the Belmont crest embossed in front and a larger one embroidered by Adrian himself in the back. There were plenty of pockets and loops to store and attach gear, and even a baldric for his throwing knives - currently left off - as Trevor never left the castle unarmed. But Sypha hadn't worn hers until now, waiting until today to debut her outfit. The dark blue skirt was fairly simple, though more voluminous than the robes she was accustomed to, and the white blouse with a bit of ruffle was more feminine than what she normally wore, but the long coat in Speaker blue with delicate gold trim and cuffs had to be the finest piece of clothing she'd ever owned. Adrian couldn't help his taste for the extravagant.

The blond hadn't ordered anything for himself, opting to pull out something old instead. Sypha and Trevor recognized the white shirt with the silk cravat, the silver studded vest, the black coat with brocade lining and endless columns of gold buttons, the knee-high boots with white satin cuffs - it was the outfit a preteen Adrian had donned for the portrait in the hallway. Like Trevor he didn't go out unarmed, though his sword was nearly swallowed up by the satin lined folds of his midnight black cloak.

Trevor hadn't had the heart to tell him that the only people who bothered dressing up to that degree for a town festival were teenaged girls hoping to catch the eye of a suitor... or someone like Sypha, who was always cognizant of Adrian's feelings. The half-vampire was going to stick out like a sore thumb regardless but she probably figured she could mitigate some of that by making sure he wasn't the only one wandering around in something fancy and new.

Once they were all ready, they headed out together, with baby Frediric in the carrier strapped to Trevor's chest. The festival was literally only steps away as Adrian had agreed to let the vendors and entertainers set up just behind the castle in the wide, grassy clearing. As soon as they stepped out from their home, the sound of music and vendors' calls, the scent of various foods baking and roasting, mingled and clamored for their attention. Frediric burbled at the activity, waving his arms around; even at this tender age he could sense something this day was different than normal.

Almost immediately they ran into a few of the Codrii Speakers, including Sypha's grandfather; everyone exchanged greetings and Sypha's new clothing drew a number of compliments. Trevor almost joked that he was amazed the Speakers weren't holed up in a library somewhere but he knew they'd been staying specifically because his wife had asked them to; the Elder had planned on leaving last week after spending a month and a half in Belmont, but Sypha had suggested they extend out their stay one week more so they could enjoy the festivities together. It hadn't required much arm twisting... with the town being so new, there were still many ongoing projects that needed extra hands, plus the libraries remained a massive draw. And the Elder appreciated having an excuse to spend an additional week with his newest great-grandchild.

Since they hadn't had more than a light breakfast of buttered bread, the trio headed to the food stalls first after bidding farewell to the Speakers. There were skewers of roasted goat and pork, savory hand pies, fat links of smoked sausage, crispy wafers, assorted sweet breads. They tried a little of everything. Adrian relished the opportunity to buy some white nougat as a treat, reminiscing of the time his mother had done the same. He only remembered after the fact that he'd had problems chewing through it when he was a child; that hadn't changed, he admitted with a laugh.

After they ate, they watched jugglers entertaining the crowd, then browsed some of the vendor stalls, looking at kitchenwares and textiles and luxury goods like spices and jewelry. Sypha suggested buying some scented oils so they could make more soap and hair rinse; Trevor wanted Adrian to get a new hairbrush. Adrian rolled his eyes at the request, but told the brunet to go ahead and pick out something if he saw one he liked, so Trevor went with the most unnecessarily ornate vanity set he could find, brass with black enamel, just because. If Adrian was going to walk around dressed like a prince, then he ought to have accessories that matched.

Of course once they came upon the bar, all of Trevor's attention went in that direction. He was practically sniffing the air as if he could absorb alcohol just by smelling it. Sypha and Adrian stopped to ensure the baby was still well secured in his carrier, then waved them off. As with many of the baby things they'd found it in storage, which meant it had likely carried baby Adrian around some twenty years ago. And like many of the things Dracula had crafted for his son, it had been cleverly designed, with two sets of buckles on the harness so it could be worn front or back. Adrian had dryly joked that it might only have been used once, when his father had supposedly threatened to take his infant son along with him into battle... Lisa had apparently commandeered the carrier immediately so that her husband would be forced to carry Adrian in his arms, and therefore be unable to fight.

The villagers at the bar squeezed in to make room for father and son, greeting them with familiarity before returning to their small talk about this, that, and any other thing: what crops to plant next year, building projects around town, gripes about what various wives were complaining about.

"What about you, Belmont?" the man next to him suddenly asked, and Trevor's brain helpfully fed him the relevant data: Grigore, woodworker, recently remarried, father to two stepdaughters. There was a lot of that going on lately, as people tried to rebuild families with other survivors.

The hunter put his mug down on the counter. He'd never been much of a talker while drinking... it interfered with getting the boozy goodness down his throat. And he'd gotten used to just listening: sifting through rumors, looking for signs of trouble. But ultimately... he had no gripes to air. He shrugged, picking up his tankard again. "As long as I can drink in peace, I'm good."

"Yeah, Belmont's got nothing to complain about," someone laughed from down the line. "Look at his wife."

"Look at his husband," another voice quickly added, and there was a smattering of laughter with a few agreeable sounds mixed in.

Trevor hid a grin behind his drink. It was all good-natured ribbing, so he had no complaints; the fact that these country folk could accept Adrian as his husband was good enough. "I'll drink to both of those," he said, lifting his mug and clunking it against the woodworker's before swallowing down a malty mouthful.

The topic at the bar switched over to horses versus oxen for pulling plows, so Trevor tuned out for a bit. Continuing to savor his beverage, he turned and casually surveyed the area. From his vantage point he could see nearly the entirety of the log delineated space being used as a dance area as the band struck up a raucous ditty about a goat farmer drunkenly promising to marry an elderly widowed tavern keep. He could see Sypha struggling to get Adrian onto the dance floor; it was obvious who would win the battle of wills, so Trevor didn't know why the other man was bothering to protest.

Smirking, Trevor continued watching as Sypha finally got her way, a few of her family members "helping" by further hemming him in on the dance floor. The blond did his best to copy what everyone around him was doing, but he definitely looked out of his element. Sadly Trevor reached the bottom of his second beer just as the show was getting good. Two was his limit now, and space at the counter was in short supply, so he said goodbye to the group at the bar and headed over to where his partners were. Sypha was still merrily participating in a group dance with the other Speakers; Adrian had managed to escape after one round and was now watching from the sidelines once again.

"I'm amazed you don't know how to dance," Trevor said with a wide grin as he sat down next to his lover.

"I know several styles of court dances," Adrian sniffed arrogantly. He paused, then shrunk a bit as he added, "None of that's useful here. And admittedly I haven't practiced in so long, even those would be a struggle now."

Trevor rolled his eyes. As if Adrian was ever less than graceful in anything he did - even if he looked lost out there, he was the most refined, elegant confused guy in the crowd. "Yeah, I don't remember shit either. I know I learned some of that stuff at some point, but it wasn't important," he rumbled just as Sypha looked over, spotted him, and began beckoning to him to join them.

"Knew I wasn't going to get out of this so easy..." Trevor said with a sigh, but he was still smiling. He began unbuckling the carrier harness so he could hand Frediric over to his papa before rising to his feet. Combat was the only sort of dance that mattered to him, but he wasn't going to deny Sypha her fun. It was only for a song or two anyhow.

Adrian opted to remove the baby from the carrier so he could sit him facing outward instead, slinging the harness straps over Sypha's coat and his own carefully folded cloak draped over the end of the log he was sitting on. Frediric was right at the age where he was grabbing at everything and anything; the movement of the revelers, specifically the ladies with decorative sashes or ribbons woven in their hair, was especially fascinating to him. He burbled a stream of sounds as he stretched out towards them from Adrian's arms, then resorted to pulling on long blond hair since he couldn't reach the dancers.

"You're not going to sit here watching all day are you?" a female voice suddenly asked from behind.

Adrian didn't need to check to see who it was. "I already took my obligatory turn on the dance floor, Greta. You're welcome to join in though," he said as he gently but firmly tugged his hair out of Frediric's little fist, just before the child went to stuff it into his mouth.

She chuckled, sitting down and slapping him on the shoulder as the baby wriggled around to gurgle at his favorite auntie, now fixated on the shiny metal charms decorating her headscarf. "Well... it's not my thing either," she admitted, gently pinching the infant's cheek. Neither was beer, but Adrian could smell the distinctly crisp scent on her, just a whiff; the headwoman wasn't one who usually indulged, but even she was in the mood to celebrate today.

Greta smiled. Not that she'd mind inviting Adrian to dance, just to do it, but she didn't need Trevor running over like a cat on fire, hissing and spitting in a jealous rage. Actually, that would be pretty funny... but possibly humiliating for Adrian, so she held back. "But you're having a good time, at least?" She didn't mention it, but Sypha had told her about Adrian having never really attended a festival or celebratory town gathering before. It'd be a complete failure if he felt excluded from this one.

Adrian turned his attention back to the dancers as Greta did the same. Golden eyes followed Trevor as he nearly tripped, Sypha trying to twirl him around while stretching up on her toes a bit to get her arm over his head. They were both laughing and not caring about what an uncoordinated pair they were, so unlike how they carried themselves in battle. Adrian inhaled, smelling meat being roasted instead of the sulfurous fumes of hellfire, hearing song and laughter instead of screams and the clang of weapons clashing together. Frediric tugged at his cravat for the third time that day, loosening the bow. He closed his eyes briefly in contentment. "I am."

"I'm glad."

They sat there in companionable silence a bit longer. Greta continued to watch the revelers in front of them, her eyes lingering on the Speakers a little longer than most, then said, "I think... I've changed my mind. Arn is rather good looking, isn't he? Maybe I should ask him to dance. Or just convince him to follow me home later in the evening..."

Perhaps she'd had a little more to drink than he'd thought. Adrian flushed slightly; it wasn't really his business to nose in on her personal life, and he honestly wasn't sure what to say. Was she really expecting a response from him? Sypha would probably tell her what a great guy her "cousin" was... Trevor would likely say something crass about taking advantage of the opportunity to get laid. Adrian himself found Arn to be blunt almost to the point of rudeness, so wouldn't his personality clash with Greta's? They were both so headstrong; they'd probably disagree on what to do once they got to the bedroom, if they made it that far. But he couldn't tell her that.

"I wish you good luck, then," he murmured. That sounded weird even to him.

Greta took one look at the awkwardness on his face and laughed. "Don't overthink it; I'm only looking for someone to warm my bed for the night. You'll know how well I fared by my mood tomorrow morning," she said, winking. She stood and confidently strode forward to join Sypha's little group.

The headwoman stopped to say something to the redhead, then moved over to touch Arn's shoulder. He canted his head towards her, listening to what she had to say, then nodded and began following her out of the dance area. As the crowd moved around to fill the void left behind, Adrian lost sight of the two just as Sypha and Trevor came back over to join him, both bright eyed and a little out of breath.

"You're not really going to sit there all afternoon, are you?" Sypha asked, reaching out for her child.

Adrian disentangled Frediric from his hair and handed him over, even as he reminded his wife, "I'm pretty sure I've already met my obligation of one round of dancing." Apparently, that wasn't enough...?

"Not with me you haven't," Trevor pointed out. His eyes were a little heavy lidded, his usual edge softened by alcohol, but that also meant he was in a good mood. He swept back the edge of his coat with one hand as he bowed down, holding out his other hand and grinning broadly. "May I have the honor of this dance, good sir?"

Adrian considered it, his head tilting slightly in contemplation. The song the band had just started up was slow enough to properly dance to, he supposed. "As long as you're not leading," he decided.

"What's wrong with my lead?" Trevor complained, even as Adrian accepted his hand and allowed himself to be drawn to his feet.

"I'd like to try doing this properly; I'm not letting a drunken lout drag me all over the place. You already admitted you don't remember shit." A slight pause, then the blond looked down his nose and added, "Plus, I'm taller."

"Oh you're shitting me. By what, half an inch? The rest is your damn boots," the hunter groused, his right hand automatically trying to go to Adrian's back while his left pulled outward in futility. Trevor actually didn't care if Adrian wanted to twirl him around or whatever - after all he'd let Sypha do it - but it was more the fact that Adrian thought an inch or two gave him the right to call the shots. And... he wasn't drunk. He'd only had two beers.

"I told you, I'm not letting you," the half-vampire said, reaching behind himself to peel Trevor's hand off the back of his shoulder and hold it out to the side instead. Honestly he didn't care either, but the fact that Trevor was being stubborn about it made him want to push back. That, and he hadn't had opportunity to try formal dancing with a partner in so long it seemed like a shame to waste this chance with frivolous behavior.

Trevor slammed his chest against Adrian's. They looked like two bulls locking up. "I'm the one who asked and you're the one who accepted, so get over yourself."

Sypha just rolled her eyes and sat down on the spot Adrian had vacated. At this rate they were just going to start wrestling on the dance floor and while that was amusing and even a bit sexy, she doubted anyone else would find it as funny. "Frediric, your papa and daddy are both idiots," she complained at the only male who was currently listening to her, as the baby looked up at her with his wide blue eyes. "At this rate, no one's going to be leading anyone anywhere."

But Trevor caught the edge of what she said. And he remembered how she'd warned him that this was Adrian's first opportunity to properly participate in a festival, instead of having to hide in the shadows under a hooded cloak, and here he was stubbornly arguing nonsense when Adrian was all dolled up like a proper aristocrat and the song was already halfway over.

Relenting, the brunet switched his grip so it was obvious he was no longer protesting, though he couldn't stop himself from growling, "Fine! But you better not expect me to curtsy at the end," in Adrian's ear.

"Fair enough," Adrian replied, smugly smiling as he carefully began leading Trevor through the opening steps. It was an adjustment for both of them, trying to remember motions that had nearly been forgotten from disuse.

"Stop watching my feet; you know better than that," Adrian complained as Trevor accidentally kicked him in the ankle. Why did the hunter dance like a donkey being dragged through mud when he was so quick and light on his feet in combat?

"I don't think I've ever tried following, only lead," Trevor muttered, trying to mentally reverse each movement he made as his eyes flicked upward for a moment, only to land back on Adrian's feet as he nearly got his toes trampled on. "Hey, watch it, Jesus..."

"So you get to try something new." Adrian pulled his husband in even closer, and whispered, "And if you actually make an honest effort, I'll let you take lead all you want tonight at home."

Trevor laughed and turned his head to kiss him, not caring who was watching. "You don't have to bribe me... I get it." But that got him to relax enough so that Adrian could direct his torso this way or that, and where the body went, the legs and feet naturally followed. Even Adrian's slight embarrassment at the public show of affection couldn't hide the genuine delight in his eyes as they finally began dancing instead of just stomping around in time to music, their movements evening up and smoothing out.

Despite the rocky start, they were moving as a single unit now, Adrian using a light hand to guide Trevor from one spot to the next as the long split tails of the hunter's coat flared out like the skirt of a lady's gown, adding to the dramatic effect of each pivot or spin. The two didn't seem to notice, but other dancers began giving them wide berth or even stopping and stepping aside just to watch them glide across the space. Even the band was so encouraged by their routine that they opted to start up another tune with similar tempo and count so the pair could continue dancing without interruption... and so they did, neither one caring any longer about who was leading and who was following.

* * *

Author's Notes:

September 23, 2023