This was inspired by an insanely freaky dream I had. In it the witch had spied Lenore and a doll Ragamuffin walking down the streets. Appalled that he was happy and not even enduring the punishment she imagined, out of fury she takes it out on Lenore: so that Ragamuffin can feel the pain of losing a loved one, since her first method clearly didn't work. Once you read you'll see that this fic is tweaked a bit but I liked it better the way it came out—I had no idea how the dream ended since well, my stupid alarm clock woke me up before it could finish. I hate those things…

So, just to clarify: I don't know if I'm gonna include this as canon in my other works, or if for now it's a little unrelated oneshot I had to vent. And be forewarned: there be angst ahead…


And just as she thought Nevermore couldn't get anymore dangerous. One minute she was just trying to gather up some frogs—eye of newt was banally overused—and the next some giant beasts had rose from the earth and began to ravage the town, eating people and smashing buildings. It was like they were in some bad Godzill parody. And mere minutes before she witnessed a sweet, innocent girl, walking down the street. …How odd it was though for any children to be out this time of night; perhaps just a rapscallion breaking curfew. She disregarded it and was about to return to her domicile before she heard something she thought she would never hear again in her lifetime—except perhaps her nightmares. Her darkest ones.

"LENORE!" A devilish, raspy voice shouted right as a horribly-familiar-looking silhouette shot up to disgrace the night sky.

The tiny girl was heedless as she approached one of the beasts, bearing a wide, toothless, wrinkled smile. "The giant teddy just wants a hug." She tip-toed up at it and smiled. "Dontcha mister teddy?"

Giant teddy bears they were not: they were…well, they were a mutant of something. They had large, glowing green eyes and dark, thick brown fur. Immense fangs and claws with giant pointed ears on their heads that looked more like horns. There were just two of them—their genders were indiscernible and, at the moment, meaningless—and they persisted to do massive damage to Nevermore with their great weight and jaws. Well…one of them was.

One's attention was now on that sickly-looking child standing in the midst of the street. Her strange, double-iris eye rolled up at the large, fur-covered mass that eyed her from above. Instead of fleeing in terror the enigmatic girl was smiling and reaching her hands out for it; poor child must have been slow. Moments ago it had been using its great paws and ligaments to crush and crash against everything in its path, yet she beamed at it like it was a, well, giant teddy bear. But that was not what had the woman's attention: it was the thing still shaped into the blackened skyline, staring down like a provoked hawk at something—not the monster, which was ahead of him.

That name. That horrible, contemptible, wholly-despised name ran through her mind as she looked at him. She never in her life wanted to hear it again, not even in her thoughts. All the rest of Nevermore could agree with her, but not for the reasons she had. What other denizens that weren't death-close years old could remember him anyway.

He yelled at something on the ground rather than attacking it; at least it seemed he was yelling, his face was angry and his voice was clearly trying to project. Seconds later a small volt of lightning cut past him into the sky, mixing her shock with curiosity and slight relief. Only if what unleashed that volt however was on theirside, because it clearly wasn't on the vampire's. Of course anybody who tried to kill him was, in her book, commendable.

The 2nd monster let out roar and reached a claw up from beneath him; the vampire in turn, with great annoyance instead of fright, kicked it to the earth without difficulty. It fell to the crumbled streets like heavy lumber and crashed—raising clouds of brick-dust from already ruined buildings. The beast gave a dull, weakened roar, that he ignored, having finally turned his gaze back to the other side of town.

His eyes widened.

The girl had reached the monster and was peering into its colossal eye; her tiny red reflection gazing back at her. What did she aim to do? Ride it? Hug it? Subdue it for a pet? The scatterbrained youthful antics of children…

The vampire cried out as the girl leapt forward, hands spread wide…and was swatted miles up from earth. The beast leered up at the child who went spiraling through the air—a look of surprise and…more surprise, must have been evident on her face—and raised its head to take a bite out of her. That thing must have wanted to beat it to the punch. Predictable of him to ensnare a person when they were already good as dead, let alone a child. Unfortunately the first beast called out to its companion all the way from the other side of town and gained its attention.

Evidently that cry was an order to attack as the massive monster lurched upward and snapped its great jaws instead at the smaller, and seemingly weaker, individual above it. He dodged it just in the nick of time and even from here the look of pure fury was detectable on his face. He barreled down with his clawed hands reached forward and seconds later the beast was momentarily trembling—she was viewing this from the back, it was all she could see—before it blinked as if it didn't know what hit it. The vampire came back up again, drenched in something very familiar and coveted by all creatures of his kind. Strange enough, he didn't pause to savor the bodily parts even off his fingers as he flew off, leaving the now dead creature to tumble back just like its comrade did: only this time it neither roared nor got back up. It didn't do anything at all. As the vampire flew to her, bits of monster and its blood were falling off or growing faint from the wind resistance; droplets traveled up his suit and pieces of flesh were slung off.

If there was one lucky thing about the girl being struck by that monster—the larger of the three present—was that it knocked her so high she was just now in critical danger of making a mess on the streets below. Seconds prior the vampire caught her in his arms and remained in mid-air.

Now that he had her the woman expected the prosaic to take place, but what happened instead shocked her to no end.

His gaze softened as he stared over the girl he held carefully. And…was that concernon his face?

How could this be possible at any rate? He was supposed to be a doll! A lifeless, motionless, powerless doll! Not meant to ever walk the earth as a fanged fatality again! Unless…some poor bastard must have broke her spell. Some poor clumsybastard: who gets a drop of blood on a doll?

He landed as he continued to glance over her, the woman now several feet away—silently creeping closer—just waiting for him to start feeding off the pale child, smote by her own delusions. He said something the woman couldn't quite hear, reaching with one of his hands to the girl's face. For a sickening moment, the woman thought he was going to eat her piece by piece…but he pulled the potentially-lethal appendage away at the last minute. The girl did not move, and of course she wouldn't—ample loads of blood were pouring out from her. That pestilence in front of her gaped at the child with a mixture of astonishment, panic, and horror. He quickly flew the both of them to the least-destroyed building, which luckily for her viewing pleasure was only several houses away from her own. Once he had sat down, he cradled the girl in his lap as though she were a delicate angel; to that beast she certainly was—delicate, that is.

He said that something again, and this time, at this distance, she heard it.

"Lenore…?"

She did not move. Her body now lay in his lap, the left half of her blonde locks dangling over one of his knees, and her formerly excitable face now expressionless and mute.

This heart-breaking moment aside, what on this green earth was going on here? He was supposed to be eating her! Desecrating her! Instead he was…checking her vitals? Impossible!

She spoke too soon.

Tears climbed down his pale, sorrowful face. The same one that had the pair of fangs so mercilessly, if not enjoyably, dug into her sister many a night ago—and yet, she could still remember it clear as a bell.

What made this girl so special he—that murderer—would weep over her?

He just sat there with the girl under that building. Watching her, examining her, as if expecting some miracle to happen, some saint to descend from the heavens and revive her and make everything in his world—that was so obviously shattering—right as rain again. But instead the tiny figure in his lap just remained as she was—an already-pale, motionless corpse. The vampire's back was to her, so she could no longer see his emotions churning out from him. But the sight itself would have been too much anyhow; the view from the back was impracticable all on its own.

"I'd say I'm sorry," He finally began, rousing the witch's attention. "But it doesn't cut it." He looked at her a moment longer, studying her, and clenched his jaw tight; holding her tighter. "Not even close."

The girl didn't stir, and he tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear, appearing almost unwillful to touch her. "Pooty and me were fighting about how we should kill the monsters. …I…I didn't mean to look away so long…"

His sorrowful gaze remained on her a moment longer, before it turned black and venomous as she envisioned his heart to be, when it moved to the unknown creature which had once been in one piece. Now its entrails were spread and exposed all the way up to its head, and its fur was thoroughly soaked by its own blood, still staining the streets. She listened, but made no movements; whether it was from her own speechlessness or her agonizing need to know why he was showing mournful feelings over a person she was unable to confirm. A human, that would have sufficed as food for the being she was staring at. Seeing him doing such a thing—at least from her perspective—was both mind-boggling, infuriating, and stunning. To him it should have been like a regular man crying because his piece of chicken fell in the mud.

She was a dark non-human herself. Like the monster before her, she just lookedlike a person—well, he might except for his fangs. But unlike him, she knew to be civil, and only used her powers when necessary. Like protecting her sister…an action she failed to do that night. That one, awful night…

He had pulled the tiny girl closer, the front locks of her blonde hair almost touching his chin.

"…No excuses: this is all my fault Lenore. I…" He bit his lip, and honest to God the woman saw a tear climb out his eye and down his jawline, onto the motionless girl's own cheek. His head leaned so low his hair covered his face.

"I know 'sorry' won't make it better…" He repeated.

Something awfully horrendous was assaulting her ears. And if shewas pained by it he certainly should have been in the same state if not tenfold. But he just sat there, holding the girl in his lap, until the unbearable noise had stopped. It sounded like metal grinding against concrete.

The witch got her 2nd surprise when she saw a bucket being held up by twigs approach the vampire silently, a large pitchfork dragging behind him. Ragamuffin's gaze didn't even twitch up from Lenore.

"I'm…" The bucket-headed thing glanced at the vampire, then the road at his feet, then the view behind him. Whatever words he was looking for, they were not going to make themselves evident tonight. This morning more properly speaking. He gazed down, shifted it back up to the vampire, then down again.

"I'm sorry."

That face of his moved up; the same one she imagined he must have looked at Felicia with before her death. Eyes sharp with unnatural ferocity, fangs revealing themselves—as well as the rest of his inhumanly serrated teeth—beneath a pair of cold, placid lips. The same look, only he would have had both clawed hands flexing hostilely—one of them was holding Lenore—and worn a deadly smile instead of a frown.

"Seriously? That's all you have to say?"

Pooty didn't speak, he and his remorse just stood dead silent.

"DO YOU KNOW HOW BAD WE JUST FUCKED UP?" He erupted, getting to his feet, the girl's dress wavered loosely in the nonexistent breeze. The hem covered her tiny pale feet. The witch saw a pair of skull barrettes intertwined in muzzled blonde hair. His other clawed hand held her under the calves, the black fabric bunching up in his grasp.

"SHE'S DEAD POOTY! FOR REAL THIS TIME, SHE'S PROBABLY IN HECK WHERE THEY'RE DOING GOD KNOWS WHAT TO HER—AND ALL YOU CAN SAY IS 'I'M SORRY'?" He appeared to want to say something else, and the minion waited for it, but the vampire fixed his glare, grinded his jaw a moment, before sitting back down.

The buckethead glanced away. Ragamuffin's attention only dove back on the pale figure cradled against him. The witch saw where she was wounded now; surprising she hadn't noticed before, she mistook it for a shadow. One of the monsters had impaled the girl all the way through to her back; a wide, gaping hole going right through her stomach—and her black dress, the bottom part of her white collar dyed crimson at the tips. What monster it had been or how it had done it—a claw, or a weapon perhaps?—she couldn't determine. She stayed in the shadows, watching the strange creature and the monster exchange more pleasantries—such as the long, tense, awkward moment ensuing painfully between the two of them. Almost as painful as whatever the damned murderer could be feeling right now for whoever was in his lap—for some reason.

Suddenly the badly-crafted Jack-O-Lantern looked up.

"Well, I hate to add onto things but…" He pointed, reluctantly, "the sun's coming up."

The vampire didn't even blink. "I know."

Pooty started. Even the witch seemed stunned.

"D-don't do anything crazy man! That's not what she would've wanted!"

"Let's relay one fact you didn't seem to get the first time: Lenore is GONE. Because I screwed up. The way I see it this is the least I should get. You couldn't giveme a reason to stick around."

Pooty tried to think up one anyway, before daybreak and before Ragamuffin would disintegrate like an ant under a magnifying glass; he never liked the vampire, and the feeling was mutual, but he never believed that he deserved this. "W-well, what about the whole 'Scourge Returned' thing? Huh? You were going nuts when you became a vampire again! You slaughtered more people than even I've seen. Where's the guy whose livelihood involves blood, blood, and more blood?"

The witch's fist grew hot with the fury-fueled magic pitting into her palms.

Ragamuffin just grew what was a feeble excuse for…the witch couldn't place it as a half-smile, it was much too weak, and much too dry.

He chuckled, looking at the ground thoughtfully. "Y'know…Lenore kind of gave me a new reason to exist besides all that. She annoyed the hell out of me when I was a doll but…" He lifted his gaze off the dirty earth and back onto her, "I kinda saw the world a little differently. Until I met her everything I came across was just listed under what and what not to eat. If I could give it up for her Pooty I would…" He glanced down especially sorrowful at Lenore's still form.

He looked up and the vampire had a cynical grin. "Pretty sick, right?"

Pooty glanced down. "Nah man…" His cavernous eyes fell on Lenore and he too felt strong sorrow, though not nearly comparable to his. "Not at all."

Another tense, uncomfortable moment passed. Ragamuffin blandly observed the streets around them—soon to be permanently safe from the vampire scourge in mere hours—resting his chin on Lenore's temple. Pooty just stared at the ground, the movements of his head the only clue of what emotion he was feeling right now; one couldn't adjudge by the markings on his bucket, they were always cut in such a shape, and always stuck that way. His singular-expression head moved upward yet again.

"So…how did she find you anyway? I wasn't really filled in on the whole story."

Ragamuffin relayed to him an abridged version of how Lenore found him; from the moment she picked him up, to how she revived him, to how he came to eventually tolerate, and then befriend her. More than Pooty was hearing every word the suicidal immortal said.

Ragamuffin ended all those painful recollections with a sigh, never releasing Lenore even once. If anything, he held her even closer. His eyes, which were black at first glimpse—but up close if a person dared to look at such proximity (and usually those who did were quickly eaten) were bordered by an iris of deep blood red which glowed when the vampire hungered, and were otherwise just a dark crimson—had turned to the horizon to see a burning orange light reach over the edge of the city, growing higher. Ragamuffin didn't even move a muscle, unless it was to shift Lenore, for the futile sake of giving comfort to her fully dead body.

"…Look…Ragamuffin," Pooty began, addressing the vampire by name for perhaps the first time in all they'd known the other, "I know you miss her man, I will too. And I know how you…feel about the kid."

His eyes momentarily shifted off the light of dawn to glare at the ex-minion.

"But," He continued, "this isn't the way man. It's just not the way to cope."

Ragamuffin kept glowering, Lenore's temple was pressed against his cheek. "Where do guys like us go when they die for good?"

"…Well, what am I gonna do? Stay in that big house all alone? With everything that'll remind me of you and her?"

He looked away; he would have shrugged but didn't want to disturb Lenore. "So move out."

"And let her place go to rot?"

"Then give it to Taxidermy! He could use the space."

"…I'm asking you, one more time-"

"Just go Pooty. There's nothing you can say."

Ragamuffin glanced down and put a pale hand on Lenore's cheek. She was so cold, colder than usual. Her body's process of making heat had ended years ago, but the physical procedure had seemed to be replaced with the warmth she produced with her heart—metaphorically of course, Ragamuffin could attest more than anyone that Lenore's heart hadn't beaten in little over a century. But now, her body nor mind would make no warmth. Her mouth would make no sound, sing no little nonsense songs that would get stuck in the vampire's head even though they were tuneless and annoying; though now he would give anything to hear them again.

"Ragamuffin, I-"

The vampire gritted his teeth, and a light hiss escaped through.

He sighed. "Just…be prepared for what you're gonna face down there man. They ain't happy with us." He proceeded to turn around and drag the pitchfork behind him, that grinding sound happening again. Ragamuffin glanced down and brushed Lenore's hair out of her face. Normally, she looked so dopey or careless; now she was somber, a look that did not befit her. She was much more suited for that dopey, oblivious gaze she always had about her. He grew to love it actually. He found he grew to love a lot of things he neglected to realize until now that they were pulled away from him, and along with them a piece of himself.

If Lenore were older, or if he'd been bitten younger, he would've planted a soft kiss on her forehand—vigilant of his fangs. But he was better than that, better to treat her corpse in such a way, and if he would have never done it while her deceased spirit was with him he was not going to do it without. Holding her would always be good enough for him, Lenore was too—in spite of herself—innocent, to fully understand such more-than-platonic feelings anyway. He cared for Lenore, very deeply—but apparently, just not enough…not enough to do what he should have when the time was right. And now because of that…

That infernal grating noise lingered even louder and prolonged now that that…thing had lost the skip in its step. Not that it had it when it approached him in the first place. Not that the witch cared, but she just couldn't take the sound anymore.

He heard the footsteps coming behind him. He heard the shuffling of a dress against human skin. He heard the faint breathing of someone approaching what they knew was a dangerous killer.

"Just because it's almost daylight doesn't mean it's safe. I'd leave before I decide to have a last meal."

"I'd figured you'd had your fill with my sister."

Words could not describe the reaction that took place inside Ragamuffin.

"Don't turn around." The witch said. "Don't even move. If you make one motion I'll paralyze you where you stand. From what I just heard killing you would be a relief."

For quite a long moment, she stared at nothing but a back-half of dark hair, and a pale neck connected to a back hidden beneath an equally dark suit. He must have either taken her threat seriously or was still in shock. She herself had quite a bit of bombshells for her lifetime. Dawn had not yet broken yet, but it was close, so very close…

Ragamuffin did not move nor attempt to. He had a death wish, without one doubt, but not that she could grant it. Or did she forget his words those countless years ago?

The witch's shoes clacked against the cold, cobblestone road as they took her closer to the vampire; the savage killer; the being who ruthlessly murdered her sister. And the tiny individual he held so protectively in his arms. Ragamuffin heard her coming, but it wasn't until he saw her approaching from the corner of his eye that he snarled hostilely. She was now a few feet away from them on the left.

"I may be willing to die but you touch her, I'll reunite you with your sister."

The witch glanced at Lenore with a mixture of annoyance and bemusement. "…I see my sister enough as it is; I see her every time I walk the streets, each time I close my eyes, every night in my sleep. The only relief from her murder was the knowledge that her killer would never prowl the nights again. So I assumed…"

She cut right to the chase. "Yet rather than massacre this girl you mourn her decease. Why? What differentiates her from the rest of the citizens that she could escape your heartless clutches?"

"Go to hell." He muttered.

The witch studied him a moment. Then crossly examined the peaceful figure in his arms. As she did suddenly the clues began to pile themselves up all for her: he was not merely holding her, he was cradling her. He had been reluctantto touch her husk, and handled it with utmost care. He spoke to it softly, and the sight of her decease had brought tears to his fearsome visage. The concept of this creature having feelings itself was unthinkable and repulsive to the witch, but the fact he had them for…

"I am to believe you're both a murderer and a sick, disgusting-"

"SHUT THE FUCK UP!" He bolted, turned, Lenore still in his arms…but not for long. He felt his body tensing up, slowly becoming no longer his. Lenore's motionless body tumbled from his grasp, and she landed, rolling slightly, on her left shoulder. Before rolling onto her back, pale eyelids glancing upward. Ragamuffin's own body hit the ground head-on, face first. One of his teeth was nearly chipped in the process. He could only lay there, kissing the pavement, until someone's foot rolled him around on his back. Her gaze was pitiless and full of disdain.

"Look at you, the 'Eternal Vampire Scourge', lying in the gutter at the mercy of an old woman. Wallowing in your victim's own filth. It would be all too easy for me to kill you now…"

Ragamuffin wanted to call her an armada of names, everything in the book, but he couldn't; his mouth was sealed like the rest of him. His suit and skin were smudged with the spoils of the street, the waste of countless denizens that still managed to somehow accumulate no matter how many times he ate and terrorized them all. The citizens of Nevermore were not a bright bunch indeed…

Somebody grunted. Ragamuffin couldn't look over, but he could hear. The burning glare of the oncoming sun made his rouge eyes burn and water, but a damn he gave not. He couldn't see anything but the skyline at the witch, who turned to look at something with great surprise—but still that hint of anger—in her gaze. Something got up, shuffled to its feet—small feet, from what it sounded like—rubbed some very rubbery skin against rough, badly-tangled hair…

No, it couldn't be.

The apparently not fullydead girl rubbed her head as she came to. "Ugh, I got a BIG belly-owie." She lowered her gaze and peered right through the large gap in her abdomen.

The first thing she saw was some lady and Ragamuffin, laying on his back, quite dirty, on the broken streets. At first she was startled, then memories of Ragamuffin's constant vigilance—even when she didn't deserve it, just earned it—began accumulating to her mind. And now seeing he was the one in trouble, she immediately scowled, and retrieved a lethal object from her sleeve. The weird lady was glaring down at Ragamuffin, and at first Lenore thought he was dead—more than usual anyway—until she talked to him.

"But I won't; I find my curiosity overpowering me, though I slightly disgust myself."

The witch suddenly gave a cry of pain as Lenore's knife dove into the small of her back. She fell to her knees, and the zombie believed she had saved her vampiric friend from the evil lady…until she rose to her feet with a vehement glare. Ragamuffin, who was forced to watch, wanted Lenore to do one thing and one thing only: run.

"LENORE!" Somebody shouted, and Ragamuffin heard the sounds of twigs scraping against rock. But not the sound of metal grinding against stone. Pooty almost ran past him—almost. "OH MY GO-" The witch had zapped him and now the demon was suspended, seeming to be paralyzed like he was. His pitchfork clanged metallically against the sidewalk where it lay useless; the minion couldn't even summon it to him.

Lenore glanced up as a tall woman with dark hair approached her—a stretched frown on her face.

"I can see why he keeps you company."

Lenore backed away, but kept darting her eyes eyes between her and her friends. Her tiny shadow stretched across to the witch, a vague haze of dawn creeping closer. The dark figure—the only one who was not subdued—took a step closer, and her shoes clacked against the ancient cobblestone once again. Perhaps even it was younger than she was.

"Little girl, is it true what this monster says? Does he really protect you and look after you—and not try to kill you—on a daily basis?"

Lenore blinked.

She had not woken up, not from a sharp pain through her belly—something warm and sticky was still running down her leg—so much as 4 minutes before this lady started barraging her with questions, and not two seconds after she saw Pooty get restrained. She was puzzled to see no signs of Ragamuffin.

"Why were you hurting my friend?" She finally said.

She glanced from the vampire, who couldn't even move his eyes to get a better look; much like being a doll again only this time in a larger state. Then she landed her gaze on the girl once more. "I don't believe this creature is anyone's 'friend'. And to answer your question, I'm not the one who hurt him. I simply turned him into a doll."

Instead of being fearful however, she seemed utterly amazed. This morn was just full of surprises and it had not yet even started.

"You made Ragamuffin?"

"Not the monster you see lying there—no, if I had my way he would never even been conceived—just the form I cursed him in. Little girl-"

Lenore frowned menacingly, dark circles forming under her eyes that had nothing to do with death. "The name's Lenore lady." She crossed her arms, but only to reach one of her pale hands into the opposite sleeve. "Call me little girl again, I paint your lips red." She carried a large butcher knife on her person, which she brandished in front of the witch.

"…I can see how he'd keep your company." She repeated.

Lenore merely stared at the woman oddly, before her blonde locks were flung around her head as it swung back and forth in search of her best friend.

"Ragamuffin?" She said when she finally spotted him lying face-up, stiff as a board. She stepped past the foreboding woman, ignoring her completely, stood above him blank-faced friend for a moment, before kneeling down above his head; her face perpendicular to his. A couple blonde locks fell loose and brushed his forehead; it was the most wonderful feeling the vampire scourge had felt in his afterlife. She pushed them out of the way and tilted her head at him curiously.

"Lenore,"

The zombie girl glanced back to look at the same angry lady approaching her, who looked like someone put a really big bee in her boxers.

"…You do know the horrors he's committed. The innocent he's killed."

"What's the matter with Ragamuffin?" She asked, pointing to the paralyzed, rendered harmless vampire scourge. A few people were coming out of their houses now, warily poking their heads from their windows, fearfully edging themselves out their doors—a terror-filled night didn't excuse absence from work. And this city might've been under siege by a horrible killer, but even so, they had to do something to keep it alive, even while someone was doing everything he could to do the opposite. Lenore bent on her knees and lifted Ragamuffin's stunned head.

He was feeling her skin, her touch, her tiny soft hands cupping his face. He was hearing that wonderful voice always making all those stupid, wonderful remarks about everything and anything and was only selectively logical. He was seeing, her pale moon-colored skin, her grave-gray/blue eyes, which were confused and a heavenly sight for the vampire scourge; never mind that he was going to die, in fact, to hell with that fact at all. Lenore was alright. Lenore was safe.

"Hey, why are you crying?"

"ENOUGH!" The witch's voice—which was even raspier than Ragamuffin's, Lenore adjudged—snapped. To her surprise her friend was lifted off the ground, the tips of his shoes not even brushing the cobblestone as it was slung toward the witch, stopping at a dead halt before her. The old hag's face was irate with vengeance and befuddlement.

"Why in the world would you care at all about a person you could have easily eaten instead? Rather, how? Look at her! She's a child—and an utterly clueless one! What could a damned soul like you see or want in her?"

Had Ragamuffin movement in his face, he would have glared. Had he had movement in his body this witch would have been dead by now, reunited with the sister she so often bitched about, and hugged Lenore to him—never to let her out of his sight again—as they flew home.

The witch permitted movement in his arms; he didn't realize until his hands flew to his face as the first beams of sunlight began to hit it.

"TELL ME!" The witch spat, freezing the vampire's hands as they reached out to maim her. His elbows were stuck in a half-bent position and Lenore just watched the pair confoundedly.

Had the damn witch wanted an answer she would have relieved the curse off his head, or at least his mouth—but instead she left him like that, frozen, void of all movements whatsoever. Burning slightly at dawn's approach. How the hell was this going to end? Was she going to kill him, even after practically hearing him spill his guts out from earlier? After seeing the "Eternal Vampire Scourge" evidently had feelings too?

She finally un-cursed his lips and this was what the vicious Ragamuffin had to say:

"GODDAMMIT I WAS JUST HUNGRY! IT WASN'T EVEN PERSONAL! YOUR SISTER WAS A SHOT THAT I TOOK!"

Lenore picked up Pooty's pitchfork, and curiously, began to prod him with the middle prong near the foot.

"YOU WEREN'T HUNGRY!" Bellowed the witch.

Lenore began fumbling with the knobs on the minion's trident; Pooty couldn't even gesture to show her how to free him. But Lenore was in grave danger if she didn't know what she was doing; a zombie kid playing with a bounty hunter's tool of trade was just as dangerous as a regular child playing with a loaded gun. The witch, meanwhile, continued her harping.

"YOU WERE JUST LOOKING FOR A REASON TO KILL!"

Lenore felt a strange quivering sensation going up the trident.

"IT FED YOUR HUNGER MORE TO THE SEE THOSE PEOPLE IN TERROR! I NEVER CARED UNTIL THAT NIGHT—NOW I KNOW I SHOULD HAVE STOPPED YOU. I'M PAYING FOR MY NEGLIGENCE!"

It started at the handle, then made its way up to the prongs. The weapon's dangerous end began to shake in her hand.

"YOU ARE NO VAMPIRE SCOURGE! I DON'T EVEN SEE A PERSON WHEN I LOOK AT YOU! I SHUDDER TO THINK WHAT HUMAN YOU MADE BEFORE YOU WERE BITTEN!"

Lenore struggled to hold the weapon as it quaked violently in her hands; waving this way and that. Both Ragamuffin and the witch were oblivious to her deeds.

"DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE?" The witch grabbed Ragamuffin and yanked him closer by the tie. By all that was dark and ruthless if the vampire's fangs weren't rendered useless by her a 2nd time…

"YOU'RE A MURDERER!"

Lenore ricocheted back as the trident finally went off—an enormous bullet of light exploding from the middle sharpened tip. She fell face-up on the sidewalk as the fiery bolt of energy surged for the first being it was seeking to.

Ragamuffin could no longer move, but he could still feel. And fortunately for him he'd lost the necessity to breathe as the witch's grip on his tie strengthened, all it did was cause some mild discomfort, but that wasn't why the tie was serving more than its intended purpose at the moment. Lenore sat up, the wide gaping hole in her dress having dried of its embalmed blood—surely if she were alive she would have long died of blood loss, but lacking her need of it anymore she felt not even a trifle woozy.

The witch however, was rocking on her heels. She was holding to Ragamuffin's tie for support and clawing at her own chest as something bore down deep into her skin. Her eyes rolled up to the brightening sky as her fingers futilely tried to hinder or excavate was what now barreling itself throughout her whole body. Ragamuffin felt it now: the pain—sunrise was now upon them, and it was chewing through him like a carpet of termites through rotted wood.

Lenore ran forward, and if either Ragamuffin or Pooty were capable of movement they each would have told her not to, and the first thing she did was rush over to one of the outdoor restaurants in the city. She hopped the fence of a patio, reached for one of the cheap but sufficing table cloths, and raced right back to her vampiric friend…who began to grow weary from all the miserable pain the sun rays poured onto him. Tendrils of vapor rose from his exposed skin, his eyelids drooped. Lenore tossed the cloth over his head and it was like a cool tidal wave of relief washed over him. A shame he couldn't see what happened next: it wouldn't have made all this torment worth it, but it definitely would've been a sight to see.

Lenore held Ragamuffin's right arm at the upper ligament and stayed close, watching as the witch flailed, groaned and screeched at the whatever it was eating at her—it appeared—from the inside out. Her eyes and tongue were missing, and her skin, eye sockets, ears and every other orifice began to release thin ravels of smoke from themselves. Finally the witch's head bent back in a violent brusque manner not even seconds before the bullet shot up from her body, leaving behind nothing as much as a corpse in its wake. It disappeared into the sky; in the launching place below it was an ashen, star-shaped burn on the pavement. No sign of the witch in sight.

There was a rumbling overhead, and Lenore looked up to see a grayer sky with a momentary streak of white crackling through it. Coincidence? Minutes later another rumbling was heard, right as rain poured from the sky, washing away the stain left by the incineration of the witch.

Something fell a short distance on the street beside her, that same something pulling off the table cloth she'd put over him moments ago. He'd healed himself; no traces of the burns left by the sun visible. He was also moving again. As was Pooty, who Lenore could spot in her peripheral vision, picking up his trident and hastily setting it to "disarmed".

Ragamuffin's normally aggravated face was unreadable, as he stared at the girl who barely topped the height of his chin. Her blonde hair grew dark specks from the falling drops of cool rain. One hit her in the eye and she blinked it out.

Then to Lenore's immense surprise he hoisted her up underneath the armpits and embraced her to him almost squishingly. Lenore's cheek pressed against Ragamuffin's also slightly damp one and she could only wrap her arms around his neck to complete the embrace. Pooty was now walking away, but he glanced back once and though his head had a fixed expression Lenore could discern his mood had changed—he was happier now, placated by all means. He gave the girl a mild salute with his thin hand and continued on his way to their home, his feet and the blunt end of his weapon high off the ground.

More raindrops seeped into Lenore's hair and plopped on her skin, she was almost about to clench her eyes shut to keep herself from being blinded until Ragamuffin finally broke the embrace, gazing at her without a care in the world at who or what could be watching. Which no one was; all the people had retreated to work or inside their houses, best to ignore the strange happenings in Nevermore in hopes they'd go away, which they rarely did. Lenore's belly-owie no longer hurt. In fact, it was highly certain Taxidermy would be able to patch it up himself if they asked him to—and he wouldn't even need to be if it was aiding Lenore.

The front locks of their hair began to stick to their faces and each party unintentionally reached forward to brush the other's away. Ragamuffin's suit was getting speckles from all the rain; actually, it was on its way to becoming drenched. But he didn't seem to care. Neither did Lenore, who was mostly confounded about what events took place just moments ago. Mostly, but not entirely. She reached forward again to see if Ragamuffin was ok and without hesitation he took both her hands into his own.

"I didn't know boys cried." Lenore spoke.

"Um," The vampire glanced away as he reluctantly took away his hand and pretended to rub it against his face, "I had somethin' in my eye."

"Nuh-uh." Lenore smiled.

Ragamuffin's palm rubbed his nape. "Yeah, well…" He took hers, "let's go home."

"…It's ok to cry though." Lenore added after a moment, her soft hand protectively clutched inside his own.