Happy Hump Day!
I’m experimenting with putting my posts up later in the day AKA I didn’t have time too do this earlier so here we are!
Today’s post comes courtesy of Our Write Side’s Master Class prompt series. For this one, I’ve chosen the “Stifled screams”prompt and it serves as the inspiration and the underlying themes, seeing as all Ariella wants to do is run away screaming. I would do, in her position.
My anxiety continues to mount as we finally make our way towards the dining room. I didn’t even realize the castle has a dining room – I’ve always taken my meals in one of the studies, and the vampires don’t exactly have a need for one themselves. I know Niklaus is fully aware of my nerves just from the way he shifts from holding my hand to place his on the small of my back, the weight comforting, reassuring me that I’ll be okay. I don’t miss the way his jaw stiffens when we stop at the door, or the slight hesitation as he moves to open it.
In the dining room, I expected to see his parents already waiting for us. Instead, we’re greeted by an almost empty room. It’s smaller than I imagined – intimate, and much more like the dining rooms in the modest houses of my village. The round table, though large, only has five place settings. On the other side of the room, across the table from us, stands a woman looking out one of the many windows. A regal figure, she looks like a painting against the night sky outside, outlined by a combination of the moonlight and the candles lighting the room. When she turns, her midnight blue eyes light up at the sight of us and she smiles. Her face is a female version of Niklaus’.
“Nik! It’s been so long!” She hurries around the table and throws her arms around Niklaus, holding him for a moment before he responds.
“Nadya.” There’s a smile in his voice, and he hugs her back before pulling away and turning her towards me. “This is Ariella. Ariella, this is my sister.”
She seems to only just realize that they weren’t alone. Her smile never dims, though, as she goes right in for a hug, pulling me against her. Though still shorter than Niklaus, she’s a full head taller than me.
“It’s so nice to finally – wait.” She pulls back slightly, hands still holding my arms, her brow furrowed in concentration. “You’re still human.”
Suddenly embarrassed, it’s all I can do to stand still. I want to run from the room and crawl under the nearest surface and stay there, possibly screaming into a pillow in my mortification.
“Subtle.” Niklaus crosses his arms and glares at his sister. “Yes. She’s still human – I don’t intend to change that anytime soon.” It’s the first time he’s said anything about it out loud.
Nadya’s face immediately changes from confusion to embarrassment, and she looks back at me with apologetic eyes, taking both my hands in hers. “I’m so sorry – I didn’t mean – I just didn’t expect-”
“It’s okay.” I squeeze her hands and try to smile at her, suddenly feeling sorry for the vampire as she struggles to apologize for making me uncomfortable. “I’m as surprised as you are, to be honest.”
At ease again, she returns the smile before looking over at Niklaus, “Do mother and father know?”
“What do you think?”
Before either of them can say anything else, the doors across the room open. Both Nadya and Niklaus are suddenly tense, and she releases my hands before standing in front of me and beside Niklaus. The twins nod their heads respectfully at the vampires who enter the room. They both stand with an air of unnatural grace and poise, like statues. Vampires don’t age the same as humans do, but their age is still evident in their eyes. Niklaus’ mother has the deepest green I’ve ever seen, while his father’s eyes are almost sapphires. Both have stern faces, serious – perpetually grave. Makes me wonder if they’ve ever smiled. If the council vampires are intimidating, Niklaus’ parents are at least a thousand times more so. That need to scream is back.
“It’s nice to see you again.” The mother speaks first, her face taking on what appears to be a smile. It softens her features some, but doesn’t ease the intensity. She approaches her children and takes them both into the same, somewhat stiff hug. Their father follows suit before she speaks again. “So where is your wife?”
“Right here.” Niklaus takes my hand, giving it a light squeeze before he presents me to his parents. Unsure of how to conduct myself, I bow my head and curtsy. They are, after all, vampire royalty. “Mother, Father, this is Ariella.”
“I’m pleased to finally meet you.” The words tumble out of my mouth, but I’m proud that my voice doesn’t shake. When I look back up at them, her smile has turned cold. The father’s expression is unchanged.
“Still haven’t given in, I see.” Her gaze leaves me and directs itself at Niklaus. It’s like I can breathe again.
My vampire’s smile turns cold as cold as hers before responding to his mother, “And I don’t intend to.”
“Pity.” She doesn’t say anything else and walks past us and to the table. Her husband follows.
Stomach twisting, panicked scream only barely held in, I find myself unable to really move or do anything. Something tells me I’m making a terrible first impression. Nadya reaches over to my free hand and offers a reassuring squeeze before following her mother. At least I get to sit between the twins. Though Nadya is as new to me as Niklaus’ parents, at least she doesn’t look at me like I’m a stain on a priceless gown.
It’s going to be a long night.
And we get our first peek at the parents! And he’s got a cool twin sister – how about that? I’m looking forward to writing more interaction between Nadya and Ariella.
Friendly reminder: The last week for this round of #TuesFlashFicTrain is up! Time to write an awesome ending 🙂
As always, think happy thoughts!