Title: Of Gifts and Apologies
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters here or the material of The Little Vampire (2017). This work was created for fun and not for profit.
Fandom: The Little Vampire (2017)
Pairings: Gen
Warnings: Consent Issues (mentions of past enchantment), Angst
Additional Notes: Blood (brief), Forehead Kisses
Description: Rudolph has a gift, Anna has an apology, and Tony has a decision to make. Sequel to "The Difference Between False and Genuine Affections"

Of Gifts and Apologies

They were flying in the air, lazy and decadent, when Rudolph settled them on the top of a tall tree and gazed at Tony, his eyes intent.

Tony was still laughing, giddy from the flight, when Rudolph pressed forward and kissed him on the forehead.

The laughter died abruptly in his throat. "What…"

Rudolph flushed a bit, his cheeks pale blue, and said, "I remembered what we talked about a few weeks ago. About you… avoiding Anna because she enchanted you. So I'm giving you a gift." His eyes flickered to Tony's forehead. "With that, no vampire, mortal, or witch will ever be able to enchant you."

Tony blinked, the embarrassment fading. "Wait, witches exist-"

"I got it from my mum," Rudolph cut him off, crossing his arms, "so that's why it's a forehead kiss. I didn't tell her I was going to give it to you."

"Oh," Tony said. And he touched his forehead, his fingers moving on their own accord. He dropped them when Rudolph looked back at him.

"Also… um…" Rudolph rubbed the back of his neck, flushing again. His fangs stuck out of his mouth and he sucked on his bottom lip, flinching with a short "Ow," when he pierced his own skin. He wiped the dull, black-ish blood away with a distracted fingers. Tony, fascinated, watched it all.

Do vampires have different blood? Tony thought, and then had to restrain himself from slapping his own forehead. Duh, doofus! How else do they make other vampires?

"Don't hate me," Rudolph blurted, his mouth running, "but I told Anna what you said and she's really, really sorry and wants to tell you that. Herself."

Tony froze, his eyes as round as coins.

Rudolph watched him go through the spinning, turning, retracting wheels of emotions. He gulped. He hadn't wanted Tony and Anna to reconnect at first - Tony was his best friend and Anna couldn't steal him away from Rudolph anymore - but when he told her what Tony had said she had bursted into tears.

Their mother had found out and he had to spill it all. Then, in an uncharacteristic moment of gentleness, she had explained why enchantment, if necessary to use, had to be used sparingly and - most importantly, to her - gently.

"Mortals are fragile, fragile beings," their mother had begun, plucking a flower from the garden. They'd been outside, standing underneath the moonless sky while their mother tended the plants.

"Enchantment is used to sway them to our will, to give a prompt, a suggestion as to why something should be done," She had continued, the starlight shining faintly on her pale skin. She turned over the flower in her palm, glancing at its petals. Anna and Rudolph listened, breathless with the seriousness in their mother's voice. "It is not a command. It is not an order. To frame it as such could tear the mortal's mind apart."

And she tore the flower in half, crumpled it in her hand, and let it fall to the earth in pitiful pieces.

Rudolph's and Anna's eyes were as wide as the caves they used to play in when they were children. Anna burst into tears, again, crying, "I d-duh-didn't m-muh-ean to, I do-dohn't want T-tuh-ony's m-mind t-tuh-to be-" And their mother had shushed Anna quietly, picking her up and holding her to her bosom.

"There, there, my sweet Anna," their mother had whispered, and held her, like she was a toddler again. Rudolph, uncomfortable, had turned away, but the sight of the torn flower fluttered in his mind.

"There, there."

Later, he couldn't get the memory of the flower - or Anna's ruined, shaking sobs - out of his mind. He could tell Anna was truly sorry. More than the desire to preserve the sanctity of his and Tony's friendship, he wanted his little sister to be happy again.

If that meant potentially driving Tony away, then… what other choice did he have?

"Is it true?" Tony ventured at last, and Rudolph whipped around to face him, his eyes wide. Tony met his gaze with hesitant, but determined eyes. "Um, what you did. Will it protect me from enchantment?"

Rudolph loosed his breath. This was the one thing he knew. "It will. From any and all kinds, from any creature that walks the soil or flies the wind or swims the sea."

Tony teased his bottom lip before sighing out heavily, grabbing fistfuls of his own hair before releasing them. He sighed out, again, and it was as though a strength had left his body. His shoulders dropped and his body hunched forward, his palms open before him.

"Fine," he murmured, and though his voice was weak, his eyes were steel as he held Rudolph's gaze. "Fine. I'll talk to Anna."

• • •

Tony was shaking slightly when their feet touched the floor of the Sackville-Baggs' front yard, Rudolph's hand still clenched tight in his.

Then he realised he was clenching Rudolph's hand so hard it probably hurt... even for a vampire. He winced in apology and murmured, "sorry," before dropping his hand - or trying to.

Rudolph only held it firmer. "Hey," he said, "it's okay. You can hold my hand as hard as you like."

Tony smiled, and he was more grateful than he could ever express in words. He squeezed Rudolph's hand again. Even though he was stupidly scared, his heart was swelling, and he was glad Rudolph was with him. Even if it was just for that moment.

Rudolph's mom, Freda Sackville-Bagg, had seen them coming and rushed them inside. She led them through hallways that shielded them from the prying eyes of the other Sackville-Bagg relatives, and offered Tony her own, tentative apologies. He couldn't helped avoiding her eyes, too, and wondered how long he had been doing it without realising each time that he visited.

"It's okay," he murmured back, but he could tell by Rudolph's concerned frown and the gaze he was giving his mom that she wasn't convinced.

"Give him time, Mother," Rudolph said, and she let the matter drop.

She led them to one of the dining rooms, embellished with a humble grandeur, before seating Tony down at a small table. She'd given him some tea which Tony recognised as some his own mom had gifted to the Sackville-Baggs. (He supposed they must have liked it, if they had kept it.)

Then, after Rudolph's mom had left, Tony sat waiting. Tony was afraid of Rudolph leaving and even more afraid of asking him to stay, but as though he could read Tony's mind, Rudolph floated by the chandelier, and not once did he move.

Tony imagined his own heart swelling, growing in size like a bush in an orchard. One day, it would fill with so much happiness and affection, and it would fill and fill and fill and keep filling until… until Tony didn't know what would happen, anymore. It'd probably explode. But he wasn't sure.

A figure appeared in the doorway. Tony recognised it as Anna.

He opened his mouth to say something, but when nothing came out, he closed it again.

He wondered if he should stand up and greet her, or if not doing so was rude, but she made the decision for him when she took her own seat across from him.

They sat in awkward silence, the only sound in the room the flickering of flames in the oil lamps and Tony's breaths. Not even Rudolph, floating above them, was making a sound.

Tony didn't know what to do. He had expected Anna to rush forward… to embrace him and beg him for forgiveness. Instead, she sat on the chair across from him and sipped at her tea. He didn't have to avoid her eyes because she was already looking down at the tablecloth, teasing it between her fingers.

"I'm sorry," she blurted suddenly, startling Tony so much that he jumped in his seat. She flushed a pale blue, her eyes remaining averted from his. "I don't expect you to forgive me, or to talk to me ever again if you don't want to. I just want you to know that I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt you."

Tony paused, and considered it all.

The silence weighed on the world, and Tony could hear it in his ears; taste it on his tongue; feel in his heart.

"Okay," he said, after a long moment had passed. "Okay. I forgive you."

Anna's head snapped up to see him, her eyes wide. Tony heard a bang from above and Rudolph softly cursing.

"Just like that?" She said, and he met her eyes.

He didn't feel anything at all.

"Yeah," he said, and meant it.

A/N: Because while Anna enchanted someone, she's still just a kid. (A vampire kid.)

Thank you for reading.