Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for violence and mature content.
*Part five of my series “Love in decaying hearts”.The other parts of this series are in my folder “Love in decaying hearts.” Gacha Club character designs are on my wall. Enjoy!*
Melanie stood still, staring at the broken doll fragments of the body Jasmine left. She was free, but would they ever be?
“Come on, Melanie. Let’s go.” Azrail said.
Melanie hesitated for a moment. What was she doing, running around with him? Did her family miss her? Were they looking for her?
“Melanie, come on. We have to go.” Azrail demanded, a note of impatience in his voice.
Melanie spread her wings and flew out the window, Azrail following after.
They were both in the woods, dark trees snaking their branches towards them.
They had come far in their journey, but it wasn’t over yet. Melanie could feel the weight of facing Cassidy sink in the bones of her wings, which dragged behind her heavily.
The hunger was strong, too. She felt it crawling around in her stomach like rabid spiders, desperate for a taste of the sweet forbidden.
Azrail walked next to her, red eyes searching for a way out.
“Do you miss them?” Melanie asked. She was surprised by the quietness of her voice, as though cold fear lived there.
“Miss who?” Azrail asked, gripped away from the world of his mind. Melanie wondered how many people he had to leave behind because of what he was.
“Your parents. Do you miss them?”
“Of course I miss them, I think about them every day!” Azrail cried out, dead sadness in his body. It was the cascade of tears that learned to stay hidden in the scraps of his soul.
To be a vampire for so long was to watch all that one loved fall and fade away, Melanie thought.
“Why do you ask?” Azrail asked, his voice husky and haunting. She saw his monster nature flicker in him for a second and flinched, then remembered that he wouldn’t hurt her.
“I miss my parents and my sister. I think that they’re looking for me and-“
“Then go. You don’t have to be here.” Azrail said.
Leave? Leave? The thought of crawling back to her home was worse than any witch she’d have to encounter. The endless questions she’d be asked, the stares from her classmates, all the worry…they didn’t understand. Melanie had to be with Azrail every step of the way. She let him go, she had come so far. She couldn’t give up just because she was scared.
“Why are you still here? For an adventure? To kill Cassidy? There isn’t a guarantee you’ll turn into a human again after we kill her, you know. That is, if we kill her.” Azrail said.
Just like in the stories she wrote, Melanie knew that she was at the edge of danger, her heart and soul on the line. She knew that it was worth it, that all would be saved when she helped Azrail.
“Do you care about me?” Azrail asked.
Well, he was physically appealing, with his gaunt jawline and pale face, red eyes brightly looking out from his cloaked eyelashes. He looked like a living doll, slightly rotted away but still beautiful enough to be loved.
Did that mean she loved him? Sure, Azrail was kind to her the entire trip, but he was a vampire, he may have been keeping secrets from her. Besides, she was a descendant from Fiona, his real true love. If he cared for her at all, it wasn’t genuine, it was because of Fiona.
“I just don’t like seeing people suffer. She makes you suffer, so I want to help.” Melanie said. That was the truth, the honest, full truth.
Azrail laughed sweetly, a sound she hadn’t expected from him. It was warm and flowery, like that of a child.
Remember when the summer sun was setting? When you and Skylar talked of many things, ice cream cones in one of your hands, laughing with each other? Remember how free you were? Twilight and Addie weren’t around to tease you. It was just Skylar with her ice cream. Remember? You were fourteen then. It was two years ago.
Melanie felt a small smile creep up on her face. She hoped that Skylar wasn’t worrying too much about her.
“That’s awfully noble of you, considering that you barely know anything about me.” Azrail said, the chimes of joy still in his voice.
Melanie shrugged. What else did he want her to say?
“You know, I used to play in the Cherryville woods sometimes when I was a boy.” Azrail said wistfully.
“You did? I thought that you didn’t like going outside.” Melanie said. She remembered Azrail telling her that he hated playing in the outdoors.
“Yes, I did. I played by myself, not with others. No one else came to the woods but me.” Azrail said.
What was he like, as a child? Was he gaunt or more real than the half-deceased boy walking next to her?
There was a pause, to let them reminisce of better things, before Azrail continued.
“I used to look for places that little animals would hide in. I thought that in the animal hiding places, there would be fairies.” Azrail said.
“You believed in fairies too?” Melanie asked.
When she was a little girl, a really little girl, before she met Skylar, she used to pretend that fairies were hiding in her backyard garden, scattered around, waiting for Melanie to find them.
She used to talk about fairies in school, before Twilight told her that it was “weird” and the teacher told her that it was “inappropriate to talk about in class”.
“I did! I thought that they would be my friends for all eternity when I found them. Did you think that too?”
“Fiona liked fairies too…” Azrail trailed off, to a time when he was human.
Fiona again. Why did she think that for a second, they had a connection? Fiona was the first, she was a child in his eyes. He loved her only and that was that.
“Melanie, look!” Azrail said, pointing with one long, elegant, and feminine finger.
Melanie looked to where he was pointing. It appeared that a young woman was lying on the dried leaves, black hair splayed around her, blue dress flowed out like a nightgown.
Azrail took Melanie’s hand and ran towards it as a child would run to the ice cream truck.
“We could have used our wings to get here.” Melanie pointed out. Azrail didn’t let go of her hand until they were standing right above the woman.
“I didn’t want to.” Azrail said.
He was bent above the woman, whose light brown skin glistened as though she were still alive, whose blue, many layered dress showed only her black lace-up boots peeking underneath. Her white gloved hands were lying limply at her sides.
“This is Jane Clarkson. She lived here, in Apple Blossom Lane, with her husband, Lennox Clarkson. I moved to this town for a bit. They were my neighbors. Such nice, lovely people…if only…”
“If only what?” Melanie asked, though she knew what he would say.
“If only my hunger hadn’t gotten to me, they would have still been alive!” Azrail yelled. He smacked Jane’s face, as though that would make her live again.
“I took them here…to the woods…I kept them here…to be safe from the world…” Azrail trailed off. Both of his hands were shaking, he hunched over Jane like a creature.
Melanie furrowed her brows. From what Azrail told her, Jane and Lennox were in the woods for centuries and yet, Jane still looked very much alive.
“You’re sure they’re not vampires? I mean, you’re telling me that you hid their bodies in the woods in what I assume was centuries ago and they’re not all decayed flesh and moldy bones? Wouldn’t they be dust by now? Wouldn’t the animals have gotten to them?” Melanie asked. No body was intact forever, especially if they were thrown into the woods.
“I…I don’t know. I never thought of it before. If they were vampires, they would have waken up a long time ago. They would have had wings, like us. They would have eaten. They’re not vampires.” Azrail said.
Then why did Jane look like she was only sleeping?
Azrail turned around and reached into the bushes behind them. With both hands, he was dragging a young man’s body by the arm, his suit still clean, his brown skin the color of the leaves that died away but still retained some fallen beauty. His ashen hair wasn’t withered, but lengenthed. He didn’t seem dead.
He’s just like Azrail, in a way. Melanie thought.
Azrail dragged the young man, whom Melanie assumed was Lennox Clarkson, by the arms, next to Jane Clarkson.
“Melanie, if you would.” Azrail said when Jane and Lennox were side by side.
“Make them hold hands. I think that’s what we’re supposed to do.” Azrail said.
Because Melanie wanted to help Azrail and the forgotten Clarksons any way she could, she did as he asked.
She made them hold hands.
At first, they simply lay there, indifferent to the demons that stood above them.
But then, a marvelous thing happened: Jane and Lennox’s spirits left their bodies, holding hands, eyes looking up to Heaven, angel wings ascending them to the land above. A golden light surrounded their heads.
“Do you see them, Melanie? How happy they are? They’ve been waiting for so long and now they’re free!” Azrail cried out, almost hysterical.
“I didn’t realize that all I had to do was have them join hands until now. I didn’t think about them until now. Isn’t that funny, how I existed for many centuries and yet people die every day? I could have done something to help and I didn’t!”
Azrail laughed bitterly and jaggedly. Jane and Lennox had only a few seconds left and they would leave Earth for another plane of existence. Their bodies were rapidly dying, mold and moss spreading all over like disease.
“Azrail, stop it! You can’t save everybody, that’s just life! You’re a vampire, you have to kill! It’s not pretty, but that’s how it is. We saved Jasmine and the Clarksons. That was great, but was it really necessary? Are you worried about your character? Are you? Are you worried that you’re horrible?” Melanie asked.
Azrail still laughed, heeding not a word from Melanie’s mouth. The Clarksons were gone, their bodies were still dying. How much self-hatred had accumulated in Azrail? Was the whole just a path for his redemption?
“You don’t need to atone. You’re a vampire, it’s what you do. You can’t let the guilt get to you. You’re not a monster, you’re just surviving.” Melanie said.
The hunger scorched in her, higher and hotter, but that would wait. There wasn’t time to eat yet, Azrail still nodded help.
He wouldn’t stop laughing. Birds on tree branches flocked to somewhere they’d be protected, away from broken-hearted bodies.
“Azrail?” Melanie asked, for she feared losing him completely.
The world began to grow dark. Her legs were losing momentum, her hunger was climbing in her faster.
Azrail stopped laughing. He turned to look at her. Melanie tried to reach out with her arms, but couldn’t move.
“Melanie!” Azrail cried out before her eyelids closed.