A loud crack beside him had Vladimir's eyes snapping open. The Romanian man shut them quickly against the blinding light of the evening sun and cursed it with his father's tongue. Vladimir slowly blinked his eyes back open, his sight blurry, but the golden light that broke through the leaves above his lying body was soft. This was always a perfect spot in his University's courtyard; no matter the time of day, this tree would offer more efficient naps than any of the metal benches that dotted the area.
With a groan, Vladimir hauled himself up into a sitting position and, after a moment of silence, thrust his arm out to the left. A yelp and slight pain in his hand had Vladimir smirking as his friend Daniel appeared in front of him, a red welt marking where Vladimir had expertly hit him.
"Damn it, Vlad, I can't just scare you one time!?" Daniel asked, two fingers coming up to rub his sore nose. "Sophie is going to flip out and make me where her make-up again, and I know you know that she can't stand my bruises!"
Vladimir stood and reached for a low-hanging branch to stretch his back out with, all the while grumbling, "Well, it's not my fault that you're an idiot and she's a prude. Honestly, how you got her as a soulmate actually makes perfect - ."
Suddenly, with a blur of green and white, Vladimir was clutching his stomach and on his knees and Daniel was holding his twin sister, Elizabeta, and her deadly Prada bag. The two Hungarian siblings watched as Vlad curled into a ball at the base of the tree.
Looking up, all Vlad could do was wheeze out, "I hate you, you awful man-child."
The girl huffed, "Same to you, you vampire wannabe. And besides," Elizabeta smirked, "the only man-child around here is Gilbert."
Vlad had to gasp a laugh at that - the statement was too true not to - and craned a look over to the man-child in question.
While the albino was still across the courtyard - as well as many other classmates who were either just arriving or just leaving - and could not have possible heard her, the self-proclaimed Prussian man still took a moment to flip Elizabeta off before running to jump his younger brother. Quite a few of the leaving students yelled or waved at the three, though only a few questioned Vladimir's position of pain; where Elizabeta was involved, someone was practically destined to get hurt.
However, Vladimir was thankful for his good friend Arthur and his quick thinking. The Brit was one of the many leaving students and instead made a beeline for his fallen Magic Club member with little Lili - a sweet college Freshman whom he tutored in English - following his every move. He was quite aware that never had Elizabeta made a single violent move while the younger girl was in the area. So, while Elizabeta went gushing over Lili and Daniel stepped away for a phone call, Arthur helped Vlad to his feet.
"Here, take one of these," he said before handing Vlad two bottles: one full of pain-killers, another filled with water. Vladimir, already too used to the many weird things Arthur kept in his bag, gratefully took the bottle and knocked back two of the pills before gulping down half of the water.
Vladimir took a deep breath and said, "Oh, thank you, draga. You know this pain as well?"
"Oh, Vladimir," Arthur shook his head, "we have all dealt with this pain before."
They looked at each other once before they turned to Elizabeta, her white and green dress and signature black bag at complete odds with the violent menace she was. The boys sighed at the same time, both wincing at old memories of injuries so lovingly bestowed upon them by Elizabeta herself, and, with one look, promised each other to not speak of the she-devil again.
By the time Vlad was sending Arthur on his way, Daniel had ran off towards one of the incoming students - a Japanese man whose name escaped Vlad, leaving him alone with his crazy sister. Seeing as he was stuck until Lukas, the last member of the Magic Club, came by for their night class together, Vlad busied himself with his work in hopes of staying as far away from Elizabeta as possible.
Since she had given Lili back to the English Major, Elizabeta had started talking to a blonde European woman - he was pretty sure her name was Bella - and the scary sister of Ivan Bragnisky, Natalia. While Vlad wasn't too fond of Ivan, not that anyone was actually fond of the man, he wasn't scared of the Russian brute like so many others were and Vlad could safely say that he felt sorry for Ivan when his baby sister Natalia was involved.
'Which is why I am keeping a very nice distance away from those furies,' Vlad thought as he pretended to answer an incoming text message. 'Really, why can't Eliza just find someone else to bother for once?'
Vlad shook his head, the thought darkening his mood. He knew very well why Elizabeta dabbled into everyone's life and that he would have probably done the same as well. Vlad glanced at the brunette and a pang of sadness went through him; he knew she only meant well. It was obvious in her fleeting touches and strained smiles around Daniel and Sophie.
Even though he was quite aware of the Soulmate Principle, Vlad had never experienced it firsthand until Elizabeta. He knew, as well as anyone else if you were to ask them, how the Principle worked: when you meet your soulmate, you shall know it by touch, and the first chance of skin and skin will awaken the soul to sing.
When they were all younger, they'd make a game of tag, where if you were it you had to sing a song until you touched someone else. Vlad smiled at the memory, but it was brief and painful. Vlad sighed and thought of Elizabeta, how her own soulmate, a sweet Polish girl named Felicja, was forbidden to see her. Foreign parents, those not used to the Soulmate Principle, often had hard times of letting go their sons and daughters, and Felicja was no exception. They could never meet until Felicja was no longer under her parent's roof.
As though sensing she was being thought of, Elizabeta knocked right into Vlad and sent his phone flying. His breath clotted in his throat and he choke for a few good seconds, the thoughts of Elizabeta and Felicja now long gone. He saw Lukas catch his phone, a thankful grin already in place, before the random Elizabeta on his back took hold of his head and twisted it sideways and towards the trickle of arriving students.
"Hey, Vladdie, you see the new kid?" Elizabeta giggled into his ear, making Vlad twitch.
"No, not really, actually. I don't see them at all."
Elizabeta sighed, her breath ruffling his hair and hat, "It's the black-haired cutie! Honestly, you're a blind bat."
"One, I am not blind and two, I'm going to need more than a hair color!" Vlad huffed, "And will you get off?!"
Elizabeta pouted and slid from his back and Vlad quickly fixed his clothes and hair. Lukas walked up to the glaring match they were having and dangled Vlad's phone in between them. Vlad snatched his phone back, not letting Elizabeta have any chance at getting it, and thanked Lukas.
The Norwegian man silently nodded back, as was usual in his "I don't talk unless coffee is involved" way. Yet, before the two friends could make their way to class, Elizabeta latched back on to Vlad's arm in one last attempt.
"Oh my God, there, Vlad, he's right there," Elizabeta said, pointing a dark haired man dressed in blue. He was undeniably lost, a confused look plastered on his face and a map in his hands.
Bella and Natalia stood behind them, Natalia muttering at how her big brother was more handsome while Bella was setting Vlad's face on fire with her inappropriate murmuring. Vlad snapped something at them, the words lost in his head, as Elizabeta kept daring him to go over to the the new student.
He snapped again, "I will be doing no such thing, so let me go. Lukas and I have to get to class, Elizabeta!"
Instead of Elizabeta answering him, it was a sigh from Lukas. His blond friend looked at him in the eyes and said, "She will bother you until you do. Just go and get it done with."
Vlad gaped at his friend while Elizabeta squealed and pushed him forward, the sudden move sending him stumbling. Vlad whipped around and said, "I will not be a part of your weird gay fetish!"
Elizabeta narrowed her eyes, "You're just too scared to go and talk to him. Do insult me just because you're chicken."
"I am not and that is not the point, you Fury!"
"Oh, nice one, but I'm not backing down," Elizabeta raised an eyebrow, "Now I would get moving, seeing as you still have a class to get to and you seem hellbent on wasting your time."
Vlad groaned and adjusted his coat and hat one more time before setting out to the new student. If anything he'll be able to help the poor sucker out some. As he got closer to the dark haired man, Vlad only became more and more irritated with doing as Elizabeta said yet again.
So, truly, it was no wonder why the stranger's eyes widened in a quick bolt of nerves and fear at the rapidly approaching red-eyed man as Vlad looked like the vampire he was teased to be. However, his look of a horror movie monster was completely opposite of his slightly cheery voice.
"Hiya! My name is Vladimir and a friend of mine," as if on cue, Elizabeta waved at the new student over Vlad's shoulder, "noticed that you seemed a little lost. Do you need any help?"
His voice quiet, the man nodded and said, "Oh, yes, actually. I'm not too sure where the science building is and I haven't been here at night, so everything is a bit different and - ." The man shut his mouth, his unintentional ramblings causing Vlad to chuckle and his face to light up in a delicate shade of pink.
Vlad moved around him and spoke over the man's shoulder, "The science building, you say? Well, it should be around here," Vlad pointed a building by the entrance, just a little to the left of where they were at, "and you should be good."
He removed his gloved hand from the map and stepped back, the heat of his body leaving the other man with a chill down his spine, "Oh, um, thank you, Vladimir."
Vlad flashed a grin, all twinkling eyes and fanged teeth, and said, "You're very welcome...?"
"Oh, I'm sorry! Georgi. My name is Georgi Hinov," the man managed to spit out.
"Bulgarian, huh? Well, you're welcome, Georgi," Vlad's eyes crinkled at the corners and he was hit with an urge welcome Georgi in the only way he truly remembered how.
With a low bow, all flair and finesse, Vlad took one of Georgi's hands in his own and said, "Where are my manners?! Welcome to Pangaea University, my new friend."
Vlad leaned in to Georgi's cheek to kiss it, as he did when he lived with his mother back home, but as his lips touched the smooth cheek of the other man, there was a thrum of silence before the only thing to fill his ears was unearthly strings.
Vlad stiffened, lips still in their kiss, as a haunting song echoed in his ears. Ethereal and aching, Georgi's soul sung to him in his native tongue, "Pri~ turi Se~ Pla~ ni~ nata~."
Just as with Vlad, Georgi was filled to the brim as Vlad's soul intertwined with his, a soft melody of piano that spoke of happiness, of sadness, of life. How dearly he wanted to sing with it, "Cântec de-ar fi viața mea; vesel, trist, tot l-aș cânta. Nu aș rata nicio notă."
Vlad pulled back, an almost-whimper breaking from Georgi's lips at the broken connection, but soothed Georgi as their songs continued as Vlad kissed Georgi. They held onto each other; the sounds of Vlad's friends, of the buildings, of the distant cars never reaching them. They were both filled with the songs of their souls, the two twisting together in a harmony of notes, of piano and violin, of full volumes and cutting consonants.
And, in the middle of the courtyard square, they danced to the sound of their singing souls.