Sometime around lunchtime of Christmas Eve, I stirred awake. Surprised that Sophia hadn’t been there and woken me up earlier, I stretched slightly and yawned before getting up. I took a quick shower before getting dressed and heading downstairs.
Madeline and Ophelia sat at the table. Madie was gingery chewing on a bite of Sophia’s infamous pancakes and Ohelia was reading. There was an uncomfortable tension in the air. Sighing and refraining from rolling my eyes, I seated myself in my chair. Trying to lighten up the mood in the room, I smiled.
Both of them turned their heads to look at me, and both of them looked equally surprised.
“Clarence,” Ophelia gasped, “you are smiling!”
“Yes!” Madeline agreed, “and that smile is actually quite pretty,” she laughed softly and I arched an eyebrow.
“Why does it come as such a big surprise? Today is Christmas Eve, aren’t all of us supposed to be happy and nice towards everyone? Besides, no one woke me up six o clock this morning, so I’m content. Uh… speaking of no one waking me up, where’s Sophia?”
“She said she had some small errand in town,” Madeline said with a slight nod of her head, “and you’re right. Merry Christmas, Clarence and Ophelia!” she smiled and winked at my sister.
Ophelia looked annoyed. “Bah, merry Christmas to you too, little snack.”
“Ophelia!” I exclaimed, giving her a look that could have competed with the taste of a lemon, “behave yourself.”
“Ugh,” Ophelia muttered haughtily, “very well. Sorry, Madeline…”
I sighed and slumped back in my chair, resigning. Couldn’t she at least try to be friendly towards other people? Had she forgotten all her manners? Ophelia was truly infuriating at times.Especially when she was being her snarky self towards people I liked.
I paused as Sophia came sauntering into the room, holding several shopping bags. I frowned and glanced at them curiously, trying to see what was inside. Instantly Sophia placed them down and showed them out of my sight with her foot.
“Nah-ah! No peeking!” she chided, though she was not truly angry. Moments later her expression split into a mysterious smile.
“Merry Christmas, everyone!” she said happily, “and good morning, sleeping beauty,” she looked at me before letting her gaze wander to Madeline, “did you like the pancakes, my dear?” asked Sophia.
Madeline nodded her head. “You bet I did, they’re awesome! Not even my grandma could have done better… and she did make great pancakes,” for a moment sadness flicked through her eyes. First then I actually considered that Madeline had a family she belonged to, one she must have missed a lot.
I looked down and bit my lip wearily. I liked Madeline a lot, but could I trust her? She was a reporter, the sneakiest of all human kinds… but she was also now one of my friends. Shouldn’t I trust a friend? Maybe it would be time to let Madeline go home soon… even if I somehow didn’t want her to. That was for selfish reasons, though. I’d come to like her a lot, and the house would feel empty without her, even if it really was not. Sighing I stared at the ground.
Suddenly I hear a small, mewing sound from under the table. I shifted my my eyes to meet the gaze of Vladimir. Smiling weakly I gently stroke his fur. “Good morning, my friend…” I murmured gently, scratching him behind his ear. He began to stretch on the floor and purr contently. My face lit up and I laughed softly. “D’wwww…”
“You’re like a crazy cat lady… just… you’re not a lady,” Ophelia commented as she watched me, chuckling softly. “Oh wait, I might have to take that back… dainty flower. You were quite cute on the ice,” she teased.
I froze and glanced up, narrowing my eyes. “How do y-“
She didn’t let me finish my question and interrupted, “Aw, come on, Clarence! It isn’t really that hard to figure out. I followed you lovebirds…”
I could feel a slight blush spread over my cheeks. Well, if that now was possible- me being a vampire. Maybe it was just my imagination, though.
“Why did you follow us?” Madeline asked, breaking the awkward silence that had manifested in the room.
“Why do you think?” Ophelia asked, smirking, “I was curious,” she stood up and started heading out of the dining room. However, right before she exited she turned around to look at us, “ah, sadly nothing interesting happened, though,” she winked and then quickly peeked into Sophia’s bags, “oooh, nice! Painting stuff, must be for Clarence…” she laughed before exiting.
Sophia groaned. “You ruined the surprise!” shaking her head she grabbed her shopping bags and then stomped up the stairs, grumbling to herself.
When both of them were gone, the room went awfully quiet again. I sat there, staring at my feet wearily as I was not quite sure what to say.
Again it was Madeline who broke the silence. “So…uhm… would you like to go ice skating again sometime? Or maybe do something else?” she asked shyly, “I-I mean… unless you mind. It was kind of fun… with or without Ophelia finding out,” she laughed a little nervously.
I paused and looked at her, tilting my head and starting to smile softly. “I would very much like to do something with you again, Madeline… “ I replied gently.
Her face lit up. “Cool! Well… what would you like to do?” she asked, with slightly more confidence this time.
I looked thoughtful. “Uhm… “ There wasn’t really that much to do in the winter, was there? Well, at least nothing remotely safe, “We could have a dinner at the Bistro,” I finally suggested.
“Yes! That sounds like a wonderful idea!” she smiled, and I was pretty sure there was a tiny blush forming on her cheeks.
“I am very disappointed in you!” Meg snapped, glaring down at me from upon the throne. “I ordered you to kill her, no matter if she was your sister or not! I did not give you the permission to make her one of us!” she shook her head and glowered with rage, tapping her finger on the handle of the throne. “You are a disgusting, piece of junk, Clarence… a whimp amongst our kind!”
I cringed at her words. “Your highness… please, try to understand. If you had to kill one of your family members, what would you have done?”
“Actually,” she said coolly, “I drained my own mother of blood and tortured my father to death. Your argument is not valid,” a twisted smirk spread over her lips, “maybe you should need a taste of what I did to my old man. It would teach you a lesson…”
Ophelia’s eyes widened, and for the first time she spoke. “Please, your highness… d-don’t harm him! He has done nothing wrong! What does it matter if he turned me or not? I promise I will never do anything to reveal our secret!”
“SILENCE!” Meg roared, a maddened glint in her eyes, “you have no room to speak, fledgling,” a scowl spread over her features, “The case is closed. Clarence Landcaster shall be punished, and if you try to interfere, I will have you punished as well,” she spoke with such coldness and authority; I felt a chill go down my spine.
Ophelia looked scared, but like she was about to say something more.
I gently grabbed hold of her wrist.
“Sister, please,” I said gently, “I will be fine,” I forced a reassuring smile.
She looked down, her whole body was tense, but she said no more.
We were seated around the dining table which was filled with delicacies and decorations. Everyone seemed to be in a rather good mood, even Ophealia and Sophia, despite what happened earlier.
I paused and glanced up at my sister as she spoke.
“Yes?” I asked.
“Would you mind me inviting some friends and have a tea party?” she smiled.
I arched an eyebrow and leaned back in my chair.
“A… tea party? When? Why? Who would you invite?” I asked slowly.
She giggled a little, almost sounding like a child.
“Just some friends… I would simply like to have a tea party. Is there anything wrong with that?” she asked cheerfully.
I sighed and rubbed my forehead.
“Very well, you can have a tea party,” I said, poking a little at the cheese on my plate with my fork before taking another bite. It wasn’t as good as blood fresh from the source, but it was good.
“Yaaaaaay!” she cheered, “thank you, Clarykins!”
I rolled my eyes and didn’t even bother replying to that. Then I glanced at Madeline and Sophia who were chatting happily and seemed to have a great time. A slight smile lit up my face. Liked to see all of them happy; it made me happy.