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The World Ender
27th June, 1889 — The Vampire Caverns
Never mind that Galina was still - wrongly - in custody. Galina would never have done this.

Unfortunately for Ishmael, he thought he knew who had.

He rolled up the paper after reading it a third time. It was not getting better with repetition. And he knew he was not the only one in the caverns who got a subscription to the Daily Prophet (even those amongst them who disparaged humans the most - or were so out of it they still thought it was the sixteen hundreds - liked to know when vampires were being badmouthed by wizardkind). And no doubt more than one of them would want to talk.

Before he got roped into any kind of cavern-wide inquisition, Ishmael supposed he had better carry out an inquisition of his own, because like it or not, they'd find a way to drag him into this. And if Azazel was behind this, as she had been behind Power's death last summer, and gotten off scot-free - then she might not be so lucky a second time. And everyone had gleaned that she knew him, had some history there. She would not have come here if not for him.

Dawn came so early in summer that Ishmael could feel the sun on his face and hands as it filtered through the canopy, even in these early hours. He winced, but moved swiftly - discreetly - as he wound his way over to the cavern Azazel had chosen as her own and slipped inside.

She was home, mercifully. Not about to waste this chance, Ishmael strode right in, too incensed to wait, to couch his movements in the indolent, catlike way with which he usually carried himself. The news had gotten to him today. "Tell me, Azazel," he began crisply, unfolding the front page where the picture of the pretty debutante was plastered, "do you recognise her?"
[-] The following 4 users Like Ishmael's post:
   Acacia Ruskin, Aldous Crouch, Azazel, Katherine Midford

Whoever in the world said that blood pops were a good idea deserved to be drawn and quartered. In an attempt to listen to Ishmael – admit it aloud or not, the vampire did feel bad about that last debutante brat having such a...un-pure ending – Zel had gotten hold of a few blood pops and decided to dig into them when she'd gotten hungry.

It hadn't even been a full 24 hours yet and she could already feel her sense of usually boundless energy fading. She'd just decided to try and have another go when Ishmael came in without as much as a "by your leave" and shoved a paper in her face. The scowl that appeared on her face was slightly less intimidating than usual seeing as she had been halfway through biting the last bit of the blood pop.

Before she flicked the last remains of the pop at the wall, Azazel's eyes flitted to the newspaper. Of course she knew who that prissy was. Without a hitch in her breath, she placed her hands on her perch and lept on the ground before sighing. "I do miss the days when knocking was one's custom." she said loftily, tossing a lock of hair over her shoulder and turning her back to him and grabbing another blood pop. "Where are your manners, my darling?"

It was compulsory. She didn't think of doing it really, but it was reflex at this point as she threw a glance over her shoulder and gave him a sly smirk. It was all she could do to not giggle.

[Image: AzazelSig.png]
Blood pops? Hungry already, was she? Draining a couple people a night wasn’t quite enough to sate her, was it? Ishmael could only scowl back. Did she not realise her approach to her appetite was going to ruin things for him as well? Or did she just not care?

If she had even tried to protest about the girl’s image - even a little abrupt recoil, something to feign her innocence - he might’ve believed her. (Well. He might’ve tried to believe her. He was a generous friend. He would've given her the benefit of the doubt, when hell if anyone else would have.) But she didn’t, she didn’t spare it more than a throwaway glance, more interested in sucking on her bloodpops like an overgrown toddler.

He wanted, for a moment, to dash it out of her mouth. Shake her by the shoulders. Force her to at least look at him.

But Azazel did not speak that language, so he would have to speak hers. “Well, don’t mind me,” Ishmael replied, as if he were only bored by the little games they played, and not, today, utterly infuriated. “Take a bath, if you like. Powder your nose. I’ll wait.” He let the newspaper fall to the ground and sauntered past her, snatching up a bloodpop for himself and wandering away again, newly nonchalant.

What was the use of him being worried about her, when she was incapable of worrying about herself? “Other people are going to come knocking later,” he pointed out, certain of it, and stuck the bloodpop in his mouth, finding somewhere to lean and watching her idly from there. “And they’ll be a lot less pleasant than me.”

She could feel his energy positively vibrating throughout the cave - she'd be lying if she said it didn't excite her. Ishmael always did have a soft spot for her, she knew it. As much as he tried to hide it, he couldn't resist her – at least that was what she liked to believe. Just wait, she told herself, he'll be scurrying after like a mouse after cheese.

She could just imagine it, him hurrying after her, perhaps shaking her like those nights long ago and operating under the assumption she was a defenseless lamb. Azazel would be remiss if she said she didn't miss those days. She was just a little sprouting compared to who she was now, thinking that she'd seen enough of the world and that it had seen enough of her. Luckily fate was to intervene in the form of an otherworldly human being to whisk her away from her horrible confines. Were her feelings for Ishmael false at that time? No, but looking back she knew she'd been operating under the false delusion that she was the damsel in distress just waiting for her prince to take her away.

Her daydreams were interrupted by the sound of – nothing. No hands seizing her to make her realize she had done something dreadful and try to sway her towards the greater good. Instead his voice rung out, breaking through her illusions and painting a sour expression upon her face. A bath would have sounded lovely had it not been employed with such an annoyingly false casual tone. He was pandering to her vanity and he was winning. "Other people?" she trilled in a transparent lofty tone. "They'll have to find me first, won't they?"

He was right and she knew it. If she'd been sloppy, she'd pay dearly for it. She faced him, her attention held by the damned figure now assuming her usual careless stature, with her own in a position of suppressed rage. Were she more addled, she'd have stomped her foot in indignation.

"Or at least go through you." In her mind, it was a bold statement, however it came out a daring question.

[Image: AzazelSig.png]
“It might not even be the Ministry this time,” Ishmael declared, thinking of Galina’s forced departure from her home. “The rest of the caverns could decide to throw you out first, and save themselves the scrutiny.” He kept his tone offhand, still, but there was a note of warning in it. She still hadn’t mentioned the girl in the newspaper - still had not admitted to being the killer - but there was little need, the way she was talking. They both knew she was responsible.

And he was not responsible for her, Ishmael told himself again; a mental rallying cry to combat the compounded feeling, the creeping sense, that maybe he was, maybe he should have been, maybe he had always been to blame.

“And darling, I know I can be very persuasive,” Ishmael said smoothly, “but even I won’t be able to change their minds if you can’t convince me that you’re not more trouble than it’s worth. We both know Miss Whatshername wasn’t the first little mess you’ve made.” (And what was the use in trying to persuade anyone to protect Azazel, or merely leave her alone, if they were going to be back down this road in the blink of an eye with the next badly-buried body?)

What he deliberately didn't add, though it was just as pertinent, was that if it came down to violence - as responsible as he felt, as damnably fond as he was - there was no way in hell he was taking a stake for Azazel. (Not so gallant as she had thought him when she was a girl, he knew. It would be a pity to ruin the delusion.)

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