When they reached the corridor that left the dorms, Chise sighed. "You'd better put me down now, I guess."
Elias stopped, tilting his head in curiosity. "Why?"
"Well, if we had to change your illusion so that no one would realize that it was my teacher going to the party with me, it probably wouldn't be good for you to be seen carrying me out, either..."
"Mm. Okay." Carefully, he set her on her feet, and with a brief swirl of shadow, resumed his costumed illusion. Taking his hand, Chise gave it a quick squeeze, which he returned with a curve of his artificial lips.
They walked out of the College in companionable silence— although Chise did notice Elias's new tendency to narrow his eyes in undisguised hostility at each male student they passed.
Her own eyes widened slightly in surprise as they passed their usual portal to their back-roads shortcut without slowing. "Aren't we going home?"
"I thought that, considering the time of night and the nature of this one in particular, it might be better to take the train."
"Yes, of course."
"Unless you'd rather not?"
"No, the train is fine," she smiled, linking her arm through his.
The walk (or rather, to be fair, the stroll) to the station was uneventful, although their costumes did attract a few second looks, and Chise began to relax. Despite a smattering of other costumed celebrants, the night was not much rowdier than any other. Elsewhere it might be Hallowe'en; it might even be Samhain. But in the ancient city of London, what it mostly was, was Friday.
The platform itself was all but abandoned, the night still too early for pub-goers to be drifting home, and they found a bench with ease. Chise snuggled into Elias's side with a small sigh off appreciation; the night was growing chill, and her cloak was thin.
Elias, for his part, seemed unaffected, even slightly distracted.
"Penny for your thoughts?"
"Mary, Mary, quite contrary…"
"I'm trying to remember a rhyme I heard," he explained. "Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With slime and snails, and… puppy-dog tails, and… pretty maids all in a row?"
Chise giggled. "That can't possibly be right."
Elias frowned, and tried again. "Alice, Alice, full of malice..."
Chise laughed outright. "Now you're just being silly."
"Perhaps a little," he admitted, slipping his arm around her waist and giving her a squeeze. " Are you cold? You're shivering."
"Maybe a little."
"The train will be here soon; I can hear it," he said, looking up. "You'll be warmer in there."
"All right." Chise tried to snuggle closer, and let her eyes drift closed. Just for a moment, she thought. It had been a long night.
It was the chill on her cheek that awoke her, a frosty contrast to the warmth engulfing the rest of her. Familiar, gentle rocking almost lulled her back to sleep, but something about the cold and the stillness and the wan light on her eyelids pulled her to wakefulness.
She was cradled in Elias's arms, the front of his warm woollen robe closed snugly over her as he strode along in silence. A gibbous moon hung low and bright before them, shining across the empty countryside with a stark, weird light, the shadows inky black and razor sharp.
She looked up at him, his red eyes shining bright within his empty sockets, his white skull seeming to float, faintly glowing in the moonlight, above the all-but-invisible darkness of his robe. Carried off by a haunt, she muzzily thought to herself, and giggled slightly.
Elias glanced sideways down at her, never breaking stride. "Ah, you're awake. Warm enough?"
"Yes, thank you," she smiled, burrowing closer into his warmth.
"Good. We'll be home soon; I expect Silky will have something warm for us to drink when we arrive."
"There's no hurry. This is nice."
He cuddled her a bit closer. "It is."
"Happy Hallowe'en, Elias."
"Happy Hallowe'en, Chise… My pretty maid."
A/N: The plan was always to have a third chapter, to properly wrap things up and to see them back home again. And I really was intending to have it finished for Hallowe'en, I swear! You know. In 2018.
Writer's block is a hell of a thing. Aargh.
But I managed to get this chapter going, finally, a few weeks ago! Great! I could maybe finish it up and get it posted for this year, at least! :D Aaaand then I woke up, around 2 am on November 1st, and said, "BUGGER." XD
So, here! Finally finished it! Fun game to play: see if you can spot the point where I started writing while freezing my ass off in an arena in Canada in mid-October, ha ha!
Seriously, though, thanks so much for your patience! And Happy Hallowe'en, and have a blessed Samhain! ~Kryss