Lily woke up in hell. At least, that was what it felt like. Her throat was full of ashes, and her entire body ached like it was being weighed down by tombstones. Her head throbbed bitterly, yet at the same time, her body was filled with an eerie, uncomfortable silence she couldn’t quite pinpoint. When she finally mustered the strength for a few, weak movements, attempting to open her eyes was like being hit with a thunderbolt. Even the dim light of whatever room she was proved too much for her.
As consciousness gradually trickled back to her, though, she noticed a sound that made her snap to attention with fear.
The steady, rhythmic clacking of rosary beads passing through practiced fingertips.
Painful though it was, Lily forced her eyes open. At first, all she saw was white, but eventually the room around her started to resolve itself. Lily let out a small sigh. She was back at the Convent of St. Dorothea, back in her room, safe and sound, as if nothing had happened. As if she hadn’t fallen prey to…
Lily shuddered awkwardly, trying to force herself to sit upright in bed, even though she lacked the strength. Memories flooded back to her - memories of the moors, of the sinister Countess, of being bitten and devoured. And of even more shameful things. Lily felt her cold cheeks turn faintly pink at the thought. But then the sound of the rosary beads caught her attention once more, and she realized she wasn’t alone.
Sitting by her bedside, praying diligently over rosary beads, was a woman she always strove to avoid, no matter the day: Prioress Aldusa. Lily would have recognized those sharp features and severe, tied-back hair anywhere.
“I see that you are awake, Sister Lillian,” the prioress began. Her voice was even and distant, and she didn’t look up from her rosary beads. “Sister Eleanor told me you showed signs of stirring. I’m pleased to see she was not wasting my time.”
As ever, Prioress Aldusa’s sharp words robbed Lily of her voice. The prioress took her duties as the Mother Superior’s second-in-command intensely seriously, and was always alert to the shortcomings of the nuns under her authority. Lily, as she was painfully aware, had very, very many of those.
“I’m also pleased to see that the Lord has seen fit to restore your health,” the prioress continued. “As ever, his mercy is upon us all. It would have brought no shortage of disrepute upon our convent if you had passed away under such mysterious circumstances.”
I’m sorry my death would have been such an inconvenience, Lily thought to herself bitterly, but she couldn’t bring herself to say it and face the penance it would bring. Instead, she just balled her hands into fists, and clutched at her rough bedsheets as hard as she could.
“And it is those circumstances I wish to discuss with you.” Now, the prioress looked up at her, and the woman’s gaze was piercing and merciless. She wasn’t old - at Lily’s guess, only in her thirties - but she carried herself with the authority of someone with far more experience under her belt. “Are you aware, Sister Lillian, that you were discovered three mornings ago before dawn, lying unconscious in the mud at the convent’s door? What happened to you while you were picking herbs on the moors? Or rather… what were you up to?”
The cogs within Lily’s mind were already turning. She’d been asleep for three days? And found at the convent’s door? Had the Countess carried her there, or had she walked there herself in some kind of stupor? She couldn’t be sure. The last thing she remembered was fainting in the aristocratic woman’s arms, the Countess bending down to kiss her. It was difficult not to squirm at the memory.
“Sister Lillian?” Prioress Aldusa pressed. “I demand that you confess yourself! Tell me what happened. Remember, our Lord shows mercy upon the penitent.”
Lily was truly tempted to admit to everything. It was all so confusing, and maybe if she told the prioress about the vampire, somebody would be able to help her figure out what had happened to her. But… would they even believe her? Lily immediately knew that they wouldn’t. She could just imagine the burning scorn in Prioress Aldusa’s eyes as she condemned her words as sinful lies. And even if, by the grace of God, they did believe her, what then? What if they decided that she was now just as much of a sinful creature as the Countess? There was only choice.
“I’m sorry, Prioress,” Lily said, bowing her head respectfully and keeping her tone empty of emotion with practiced ease. “I do not remember.”
“You don’t remember?” The older nun’s disbelief was plain.
“I’m afraid I don’t remember anything at all,” Lily insisted.
“How can that be?”
“P-perhaps I was set upon by wolves, and fled back to the convent before fainting in terror?” Lily suggested, though she knew it was a fanciful possibility.
“I see.” The prioress pressed her lips into a stern line. “I see that you are not ready to confess yourself. A pity. It seems all my efforts to instill virtue within you have yet to bear fruit. Well, no matter. I will make sure that you serve penance for this grotesque indiscretion, until such a time as you see fit to admit to your true wrongdoings.”
Without offering a single word of goodwill, the prioress rose to her feet, smoothed her long habit with her hands, and swept out of the room, allowing Lily to finally breathe a sigh of relief. The relief, though, was followed by yet more crushing dread. What truly had happened to her? Had it merely been a dream? Lily clasped her hands beneath her bedsheets, praying it was no more than that despite how vivid the memory seemed. The alternative was too terrible to contemplate.
Lily didn’t have long, though, to contemplate the situation she faced. After the prioress left, it was only a few moments before a new, far more welcome figure bounced into the room. Taking Lily entirely by surprise, she flung herself onto Lily’s bed, wrapping the beleaguered novice up in a tight embrace.
“Lily!” Sister Eleanor cried happily. “Oh, you’re awake! I’m so relieved. I… I was terrified for you.”
“Eleanor!” Lily sighed happily, returning her friend’s embrace.
The two of them shared their small room at the convent, and had quickly become fast friends. Lily knew that neither of them were at the convent by choice, even though Eleanor had yet to reveal her own circumstances, and as such, they shared the disdain of the other nuns. A friend that they could let down their hair around had proved life-saving for both of them.
“I’m sorry you had to wake up to Prioress Aldusa,” Eleanor said, releasing Lily and moving herself to the small chair beside her bed. “I just had to tell that awful harridan, unfortunately. She was so insistent.”
“I understand,” Lily soothed. She wasn’t upset, just grateful to be back alone with her friend. Their room at the convent was small and bare, with tiny windows, no direct sunlight, hard beds, and nothing but a crucifix to decorate the walls, but with Eleanor there, it felt cosy and homely.
“Just… thank God you’re safe,” Eleanor sighed. “I’ve been sitting right here for days, as much as I could. Just in case you seemed to need anything. You have no idea how scared I’ve been, Lily.”
“Oh!” For some reason, the idea of Eleanor nursing her at her bedside, made Lily’s cheeks grow warm. “D-did you notice anything strange?”
“Strange? What do you mean?” Absently, Eleanor reached for the small table beside Lily’s bed, and picked up the needle and embroidery frame that had been resting there. It was a favorite pastime of hers, especially when she was nervous.
“Like… like…” Lily wracked her brains for all the stories of vampires she knew, but she was left with nothing. “Oh, I don’t know. Anything.”
“Well…” Eleanor started working on her embroidery, her needle pecking at the fabric deftly but nervously. “Maybe you could… tell me what happened? I simply mean, it’s hard to know what’s strange unless I know what happened to you. And, well, I really don’t. No-one does. It’s been the talk of the convent, Lily. You disappear one night, show up the next morning, and then you’re asleep for three days!”
“I… I…” Lily wanted to tell Eleanor far, far more than she’d wanted to tell Prioress Aldusa, but still, she held back. What good would it do? And besides; she herself still wasn’t convinced any of it had been real. “I don’t know, Eleanor. I simply don’t. The memory escapes me.”
“Ah,” was Eleanor’s only reply.
The lie burned in Lily’s throat. Eleanor was her confidant, and they had few secrets from one another. They’d spent so much time together, confessing sins in private, tucked under bedsheets together, or sharing outrageous gossip about the other nuns. But Lily wasn’t sure there was anything she could confide in when it came to vampires.
“I-is there anything that you could tell me?” Lily ventured anxiously. “I mean I… three days? It hardly feels… Eleanor, I’m scared.”
She buried her head in her hands. Her fear was all too real, even if her story wasn’t. The feeling of Eleanor’s warm palm resting comfortingly on her shoulder felt like a balm she didn’t deserve.
“It will be OK, Lily,” Eleanor assured her. “I promise.”
“Thank you,” Lily said, though she didn’t dare to look up at her friend.
“There… there is one thing I noticed,” Eleanor ventured, after a few moments of quiet.
“What is it?” Lily asked eagerly.
“It’s… well…” Eleanor seemed decidedly flustered. “I-I only noticed while I was changing you out of those dirty clothes they found you in. And I… well, at first I thought, maybe, insect bites, but no, they really are too deep, and I can’t think what other creature might…”
“Eleanor.” Lily’s veins were filled with ice. “What is it?”
Lily gasped when Eleanor reached out to touch her neck, slipping a fingertip down the high, tight collar of her novice’s habit in order to pull it down an inch or two. Then, when she felt Eleanor’s hands touch raised skin, she froze. With a terrified urgency, she reached up and brushed Eleanor’s hands aside, desperate to feel for herself. There was no mistaking it. Bite marks. A twin pair of perfectly circular puncture marks placed carefully along the vein, almost exactly an inch apart.
The memory of the Countess’s vicious fangs flashed through Lily’s mind.
It was exactly as she remembered.
“W-what do you think it is?” Eleanor asked slowly, clearly sensitive to Lily’s frightened, ashamed reaction.
“I… I…” Lily fell silent for several long, awkward moments before she mustered the strength to swallow her feelings. “I don’t remember.”
Eleanor nodded softly. “Of course.”
Lily couldn’t tell if Eleanor believed her or not.
“Oh!” Eleanor exclaimed suddenly, almost jumping out of her seat. “I-I’m so sorry! All these questions, and I forgot the most important thing of all! Lily, you must eat something. You look so pale, you poor thing. You need to get your strength back. Here; I have some broth I brought earlier, in case you awoke in time for dinner. It’s still a little warm.”
From the beside table, Eleanor picked up a plain wooden bowl and wooden spoon, and handed them over. Lily could immediately tell the broth was good. Food at the convent was plain, but a good, simple broth had always been one of Lily’s favorite meals. When she sniffed at the broth, though, it seemed anything but appetizing. The smell was utterly alien, and foul enough to make Lily faintly nauseous. Still, though, as Eleanor watched, she gingerly filled her spoon with broth and raised it to her lips.
“Urgh - ah!”
The instant the broth entered her mouth, Lily’s whole body revolted against it. It took everything she had not to bend double and spit it back out all over the bed. With immense effort, she managed to swallow the few drops that she’d sipped, but no more. She set the spoon back down in the bowl and held it out towards her friend.
“Oh…” The worry on Eleanor’s face doubled. “Too much for you?”
Lily nodded mutely.
“Well… alright, I suppose.” Eleanor took the bowl from her hands. “But you must try again later, understood? You need sustenance, Lily.”
Lily nodded again, though she’d barely heard Eleanor’s words. Her thoughts were churning. What was happening to her? What had happened to her? Was she becoming a… a… The very thought made her want to vomit. It was impossible. Unthinkable. It was all far, far too much for her. Until that fateful night, she’d dismissed the very notion of vampires as a fanciful peasant’s tale. But now… what did it mean? What would become of her? The questions gnawed at her like rats. She wanted to cry and wail and scream, but she couldn’t, not with Eleanor at her bedside. Lily didn’t know what to do. Pray? Prayer had always felt meaningless to her, and now, it would seem like a poor mockery. But what else was there? She felt weak enough to faint, but filled with enough anxiety and fear to explode. But-
A pained little shriek from beside her broke Lily out of her hysterical reverie. The moment she realized what had happened, though, she was plunged into far, far deeper turmoil.
Her dear friend Eleanor had accidentally pricked her finger with her embroidery needle.
“Oh! Damn it,” Eleanor muttered, throwing her needle and frame aside onto the bed and clutching her finger. “Clumsy…”
Lily didn’t hear her. Her world had narrowed, all her attention and focus bent towards exactly one thing: the fat, crimson droplet welling up from the pinprick wound on her best friend’s fingertip.
Eleanor looked around, plainly frustrated with herself. “Sorry, Lily, do you happen to have anything I could use? A rag? A strip of cloth?” There was a long pause. “Lily?”
The insistent use of her name snapped Lily out of it, but only a little. She still couldn’t take her eyes off of her friend’s blood. “I… hm?”
“Do you have anything to bind this with?” Eleanor was looking at her with concern in her eyes again.
“I… I don’t… think so…” Lily’s voice was slow and thick. It was hard to speak; not only because she was so singularly focused, but also because her mouth was suddenly full of saliva. It was all she could do to keep herself from drooling.
For a moment, she was confused by her own sudden, mesmerized state. But then the thirst hit her.
Lily’s throat had been dry ever since she’d awoken, but now, it burned with a raw, ashen heat that yearned to be quenched. Her body was still weak, but she found her muscles infused with the desperate strength of a starving wolf now that the promise of nourishment was right there before her. Nothing else would suffice. She knew that deep in her tattered soul. Water, broth, wine - it was all meaningless. She needed this. She needed Eleanor.
She needed blood.
And she could have it, if she wanted to.
Lily was certain of that too. As her pallid flesh was filled with unholy strength, she realized she could hear something; a quiet but nearby rhythm, like the thumping of a drum. It took her only a moment more to realize that it was Eleanor’s heartbeat. It sounded so very human - and so very weak. At once, Lily sensed all the ways she could bend her friend to her will. It would be so easy. To her, Eleanor seemed like little more than a juicy, ripe apple, hanging within reach, waiting to be plucked.
That was wrong, wasn’t it?
It took several, long moments for Lily to properly remind herself of that. Yes. It was wrong. It was wrong to drink blood. It was even more wrong to drink the blood of her trusted friend. It would be even more wrong still to take it by force. Even wanting it was wrong; Lily had no doubt about that. She had never heard a priest rank a thirst for blood amongst the list of sins, but she had to imagine that it transcended almost all other sinful desires. Lily needed to get a hold of herself. She needed to reign in this thirst, if there was to be any hope for her immortal soul.
But of all the desires she had to spend her days keeping under lock and key, this was by far the most intense. She was weak, and the task proved impossible. And so Lily was left with a thirst greater than any she’d ever known, and was left staring mindlessly at the blood welling on her friend’s finger.
Lily realized awkwardly that, for quite some time now, Eleanor had been trying to get her attention. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see a frown of deep worry on her friend’s face.
“W-what’s the matter?” Lily replied distantly. Speech was growing harder still. It was simply impossible for her to hold any thought in her head other than hunger, and besides, she had to keep her lips tight as she spoke. She was afraid she would start to drool if she didn’t, and not only that, but she thought she could feel the teeth at the front of her mouth growing longer.
“That’s it, I’m going to get help!” Eleanor exclaimed, standing up. “You need a doctor’s attention, I’m sure of it!”
Lily watched her friend rise, taking that precious, sanguine droplet further from her lips, and was filled with desperation. “No!” she cried, in a forceful voice that surprised even her.
Eleanor froze uncertainly.
Lily felt herself torn asunder. She couldn’t feed on her friend’s blood. She couldn’t. It would be unforgivable. But at the same time, she couldn’t let her friend go. She just couldn’t. As Lily grappled with that conflict, words of grotesque hypocrisy came to her lips.
“Y-you’re still bleeding, Eleanor,” Lily said shakily, forcing a thin smile onto her face. “Here. Let me bind it for you.”
Beneath the blankets, Lily effortlessly tore off a strip of cloth from the bedsheet. In her thirst, she barely noticed her own, monstrous strength.
“It’s nothing,” Eleanor replied, but she made no further move towards the door. She seemed to sense that something was strange, but was frozen like a rabbit caught before a wolf’s jaws. “You… I’m worried, Lily.”
“I’m quite alright.” Lily tried to focus as hard as she could on what she needed to do. She needed to bind Eleanor’s wound. She needed to wrap up her friend’s finger in cloth, nice and tight. That way, there would be no more blood. No more temptation. “Come, now. You don’t want to drip blood all over the halls of the convent, do you? What would the prioress think?”
“I… suppose,” Eleanor agreed begrudgingly. With slow reluctance, she sat back down at Lily’s bedside, and held out her bleeding finger towards her.
Now that the thing she longed for was mere inches from her lips, Lily’s thirst was doubled.
Holding up the torn strip of linen to show to her friend, Lily reached for her hand shakily. When their skin touched, it was being struck by a silent thunderbolt. She realized she could hear Eleanor’s heartbeat so very, very loudly. The sound was intoxicating. Her hands were shaking hopelessly, far too hopelessly for her to tie a bandage, and so she ended up simply clutching Eleanor’s hand in faint desperation.
“L-Lily,” Eleanor squeaked. “That’s… you’re squeezing me… it hurts.”
Lily realized her knuckles were white, and with a great, ragged exhalation of breath, managed to make herself relax. But still, that droplet of blood was right there, tempting her. She still couldn’t look away. She couldn’t pull back. She couldn’t do anything. She was transfixed, held on a tightrope between thirst and restraint.
“I think I should get someone else…” Eleanor muttered awkwardly, and pulled back.
With a predator’s instinct, Lily lunged forwards.
Within the blink of an eye, she had her lips wrapped fast around Eleanor’s bloody finger, and she was suckling with a greed she’d never felt before. She felt Eleanor squirm for a moment, then go rigid with shock, but she simply didn’t care. Nothing mattered except the overwhelming relief that accompanied nourishment. A few drops of blood, sucked from Eleanor’s tiny wound, was enough to revitalize her. Lily felt as healthy and strong as a prime ox. No, stronger. She felt like she could do anything. Like she could lift her bedframe over her head and snap it in two, if she wanted to. Energy surged through her, filling her head with a giddy ecstasy. Lily should have been viscerally disgusted with herself, but she wasn’t. Her friend’s blood tasted so right in her mouth. It was like the sweetest wine imaginable. Nothing compared, and all Lily wanted was more. And so she kept drinking, like her life depended on it.
“W-what…” came Eleanor’s horrified gasp from above her. “N-no, stop!”
She beat at Lily’s shoulders for a moment, surprised at how immovable she seemed, before finally mustering the strength to push her back. Lily let out a small groan as Eleanor’s finger slipped out of her mouth, but she didn’t bother to resist. Once, in her youth, she’d stolen a carafe of wine from her father’s liquor cabinet, just to see how alcohol felt, and the way she felt after drinking Eleanor’s blood reminded her of that drunkenness. She felt strong, but a little sluggish too, now that the urgency of her thirst had abated. But it was still there, just beneath the surface. If anything, such a small meal had only served to whet her appetite.
“W-w-what were you doing?” Eleanor’s voice was perilously shaky as Lily’s fellow novice rose to her feet and started backing away towards the door. “W-why… what… I- I don’t…”
“I-I don’t know either,” Lily lied. “I just… something came over me… but it’s over now. That’s all it was. I must have been a little hysterical. T-there’s no need to be afraid.”
Her words rang false, and Eleanor kept backing away. “I-I’m going to go and fetch some of the other sisters,” she announced, letting out a slight squeak as her back hit the wall next to the door. “You need a doctor, Lily.”
“I don’t!” Lily shot back, a little too desperately. She surged out of bed, a feat that only made Eleanor’s eyes grow even wider. “I-I’m fine now, see? No need for any of that.”
Lily noticed Eleanor’s eyes fix on something, just below her lower lip. She rubbed her face with the back of her hand. It came away stained with red. Guilt was starting to assail her. What had she done? She wanted to explain, to apologize - but more than that, she knew that she couldn’t let Eleanor tell anyone.
“Please stay?” she pleaded. “Please, trust me?”
Eleanor shook her head mutely, and her hand groped around for the door handle, and started to turn it.
“Stop!” Lily shouted, and her words echoed with power.
Eleanor stopped instantly. It was like every one of her muscles had turned to solid ice, leaving her completely unmoving except for her wide, quivering, uncomprehending eyes. I took a moment for Lily to understand what had happened, but once she did, she knew exactly what Eleanor was feeling. She clearly remembered the ghoulish sensation of her own body rebelling stubbornly against her wishes. Somehow, without meaning to, she had done to Eleanor exactly what the Countess had done to her. It was something she’d read about a few times, in folk tales about vampires.
The power of compulsion.
Though something about it terrified her, Lily had to confess to feeling calmer now that Eleanor couldn’t flee. She needed to get things under control. She needed to make sure Eleanor understood that there was nothing to be worried about. The alternative was too terrifying to consider.
“Eleanor,” Lily said as calmly as she could. “Why don’t come back here and sit with me, and we can discuss this?”
Her request seemed to free Eleanor of her compulsion, but once Lily’s friend realized she could move again, she opened her mouth wide and started to fill her lungs with air.
“Don’t scream!” Lily added sharply. Once again, in her desperation, she felt herself tap into some kind of power within herself. Eleanor was left opening and closing her mouth helplessly.
“F-fine,” Eleanor said quietly, clearly terrified. She walked stiffly back over to the bed, and sat down on it as far from Lily as she could. Lily sat too, careful to give her friend plenty of space.
“I’m sorry,” Lily said abruptly, after a long, awkward moment. “I didn’t mean to… quite honestly, I have no idea how I did that.”
“Lily.” Eleanor’s voice was slow and deliberate, like she was just barely keeping herself under control. “What happened to you? What really happened to you?”
Anything but the full truth seemed futile. Lily took a deep breath. “I met a vampire. She… I think she turned me into a vampire too.”
Lily hung her head miserably as Eleanor took a few moments to come to terms with that.
“I… see,” Eleanor replied flatly. “Well. I suppose at this point, it wouldn’t make any sense to disbelieve you.”
Lily wasn’t sure what she was supposed to say to that.
Eleanor’s next question was unexpected: “What is it like?”
Lily thought for a moment. “Well… let’s see. I feel strong, now, but I… I crave blood, it seems. I can make people do what I want, as I did to you. I don’t know about things like sunlight. The Countess, that vampire, she explained nothing.”
“No,” Eleanor interrupted. Though she still looked afraid, she was leaning forward with a curious intensity. “I mean, what does it feel like? How do you feel, now?”
“Oh.” Lily looked down at her hands. “I don’t know.” She shook her head. “No, that’s not true. I’m terrified for my immortal soul, but in spite of that, I… think I feel really good.” She looked back to Eleanor. “When I, um… with your finger… Eleanor, that felt unbelievable.”
For another moment, Eleanor kept staring at her, burning curiosity in her eyes, but then she too looked down, afraid. “Y-yes, your immortal soul.” She took a few moments to think. “Lily, we need to tell someone!”
“Who?” Lily replied. “The prioress? The mother superior? What if they wanted to k-kill me?”
“You don’t know that!” Eleanor shot back. “Maybe they know something. Maybe they can save you.”
“No!” Lily couldn’t believe that. She could picture the prioress’s cruel, sneering face in her mind’s eye. “You don’t even believe that, Eleanor. Please, don’t do this to me.”
“Or what?” Eleanor wore a bruised look on her face. “You’ll control me again? How could you, Lily? I thought we were friends.”
“W-we are!” Lily cried desperately. She couldn’t believe they were fighting like this. She felt horribly angry, and horribly guilty.
“But that didn’t stop you trying to drink my blood, did it?” Lily had never seen Eleanor this way, angry and lashing out. “Maybe being turned into a vampire did more than you think. Maybe you’re just… maybe your immortal soul is already gone. Did you think about that, Lily? Maybe you’re just evil now.”
“Stop!” Lily shrieked, and she kept on shrieking, barely even noticing the way her voice was laden with compulsion. “Stop talking! Just, shut up!”
There was silence.
“What do you know?” Lily continued, furiously. “You have no idea what this feels like! You have no idea about the thirst! I tried so hard to hold back, and all I took was a few drops!” Lily felt guilty and angry both, but thanks to Eleanor’s provocations, her rage at the brutal unfairness of her new situation was winning out. “You aren’t even hurt! You had cut yourself anyway. You can’t really tell me it was all that awful, can you?”
“I… I… I…” Eleanor stuttered. There was fear in her voice, and some defiance, but there was something else, too. Something Lily recognized as shame.
“Enough of these games, Eleanor,” Lily demanded. She wasn’t sure if she could, but she tried reaching within herself, to see if she could find the wellspring of power that had served her so well before. “Tell me the truth: how did it feel?”
“Good!” Eleanor blurted out in a strange, shrill voice. “I-it felt good.”
Lily shivered. Seeing her friend forced to confess herself like that gave her chills. She could scarcely believe the power she now held.
“What do you mean?” Lily pressed, eagerly. “How did it feel good, exactly?”
Eleanor shivered and squirmed, but she seemed unable to hold back from answering. “I-it made my body feel warm. I w-was blushing. It was like… like… like those things the prioress always tells us we mustn’t do.” Eleanor’s voice gave out, and she made the sign of the cross with her hands.
“I see.” The way Lily felt was something she’d never felt before: powerful. An odd calm settled over her, but it concealed a simmering sense of pleasure she could barely recognize. She knew exactly what she wanted to do, and she couldn’t hold back. She didn’t want to hold back. “Did you want me to stop?”
“I-I pushed you away!” Eleanor protested, but her wide, glistening eyes betrayed the truth.
“But did you want to?” Lily demanded calmly. “Tell the truth.”
“N-no,” Eleanor whimpered quietly.
Slowly, a grin settled across Lily’s face. “Stand up,” she commanded. It was growing easier and easier to infuse her voice with compulsion.
Like a marionette being hoisted on strings, Eleanor rose to her feet. Lily watched, quietly entranced by the way she could make her friend move. More than that, though, she was fixated on the look of confusion and anxiety on Eleanor’s face. Lily knew she couldn’t assuage those feelings, exactly, but she sensed that she could smother them, if she chose. It took very little to convince herself that was the kind thing to do.
“Stay nice and still for me,” Lily instructed as she rose to her feet. There was something intoxicating about watching her compulsion settle across Eleanor’s mind; each time, she could notice the little gasp as her friend realized she was under Lily’s control. It felt so very wrong to do that to her, but Lily also sensed it was calming her, like a hound was often calmed by a firm hand on their leash.
“L-lily,” Eleanor breathed. “W-what are you…”
Her voice trailed off as Lily reached out to touch her. Lily’s fingertips rested just below her chin, at the line of the high collar of her novice’s habit. Lily let herself touch Eleanor there for a moment, idly tracing a few lines up and over her jawline. They had touched each other often before, of course, as friends might, but not like this. This felt intimate. It felt good.
Eleanor shivered a little at the sensation of Lily’s fingertips on her bare skin, Lily’s compulsion not quite sufficient to keep her perfectly paralyzed as a strange warmth began to course through her.
“This is good, isn’t it?” Lily asked, although she didn’t need to wait for a reply. She was talking to herself as much as Eleanor. As she touched her friend, long-suppressed desires were starting to grow within her, brushing aside the old cobwebs of shame and doubt. Memories stirred too; memories of the sapphic indiscretion that had seen her banished to a convent.
Lily forgot herself and her purpose for a moment, simply allowing her fingertips to stray wherever they willed, up and across Eleanor’s face, touching the tip of her friend’s nose before following the line of her cheekbones. There was something truly amazing about being able to touch Eleanor without reservation, as if her friend was nothing more to her than a doll.
“You’re so pretty,” Lily whispered. “Did you know that?”
Once again, no reply was needed. Lily was simply speaking from her heart, without any need to hold anything back. She was starting to look at her friend in a new light, and notice things about her she’d never seen before. The vivid green of her eyes, the way a lock of her black hair kept falling across her face, and the delightful pattern of faint freckles that spread across her cheeks. Eleanor was so lovely, and Lily might have been content to keep touching her innocently like that forever.
But then, of course, she noticed something else. As Eleanor started breathing hard from Lily’s attention, the newborn vampire’s gaze was drawn to her neck, and the way it swelled with each breath.
She began to thirst.
Lily was suddenly aware that, as nourishing as they had seemed, the few precious drops she’d sucked from Eleanor’s fingertip had been nothing to her. Nothing at all. A meager morsel before her endless, eternal appetite. She could drink so much more, and still not be sated. And she wanted to. She wanted to more than she could put into words. It would feel good - and she knew that it would feel good for Eleanor too. So… why not allow them to share in this feeling? It should have seemed sinful and perverse, but Lily was far too intoxicated on the power she felt. There was just one matter to be attended to first.
“Eleanor,” Lily said, once again drawing upon her compulsive powers. “You will not tell anyone that I am a vampire. Understand?”
Eleanor nodded, trembling.
“Good,” Lily purred.
Her hand roamed back down to Eleanor’s collar, and by slipping a pair of fingers down it, she was able to pull Eleanor’s habit down and expose the large, swelling artery in her neck. The way it pulsed with each of her heartbeats was a maddening temptation, and Lily was so pleased she no longer needed to force herself to resist.
Lily opened her mouth, knowing that she was showing a pair of unnaturally-long, razor-sharp fangs.
She pushed herself against Eleanor, sweeping her friend off her feet and catching her in her arms, and then lowering her lips to Eleanor’s neck.
After an exquisite pause filled with tension and excited panting, she bit, and as Eleanor’s blood began to flow, the two of them were lost to bliss.