Summary: Nothing is the same anymore. Ragamuffin / Lenore oneshot.

Warning: Contains some T/M rated scenes, because Lenore is physically 10 years old in my story, and spoilers from issue 12. And also…

It's heavily implied Lolicon. If you don't know what that is, then I suggest you look for the term, before you start reading this.

It had been over a year since Pooty Applewater changed Ragamuffin again, granting his deepest wish.

Pooty maybe acted like he didn't care about anyone or anything most of the time, but the serious depression Ragamuffin fell into, after he defeated the zombie soldiers and was turned back into his doll form, well… that had been impressive and hard to see.

Even Lenore, who was oblivious to everything, noticed the serious condition her doll friend was in. She gave her best to cheer him up; she tried to bake, even though it had been a disaster, she tried to dress in all kinds of hilarious costumes to make him laugh, she pretended she was a vampire- even though that had been a mistake, because Ragamuffin's depression got worse after Lenore's display of blood and fangs- she even gave her best to be more mature and not to destroy everything in her way.

After some time, Ragamuffin's sadness caught onto Lenore too, so she decided it was enough. Frustrated and desperate, Lenore ordered Pooty to use his magic and transform Ragamuffin into his original, vampire form once more and, this time, for good.

Pooty, of course, was reluctant at first. He wanted to do it, but the magic was quite powerful and it drained him, reducing his state and weakening him.

And still, after a few days in which Lenore constantly tortured him and bothered him with various creepy activities, she managed to convince Pooty to change Ragamuffin. The process did indeed weaken Pooty, although Lenore didn't even notice the temporary sickness that got the hell hunter.

She was really happy that Ragamuffin was back. She was happy because Ragamuffin was happy.

After that, everything returned to normal. As normal as it could be for a dead girl, a vampire and a demon hunter who lived together in an enormous mansion. She began committing and saying disturbing things again, which exasperated Ragamuffin, whose abilities of maintaining the house and taking care of Lenore were increased considerably in his new form. They even started going out in the town and doing activities outside the mansion much more often.

A thing that hadn't been possible before due to the fact that a ten year old girl like Lenore couldn't have gone out alone just with her doll on the streets many times, since she would have attracted other people's suspicion.

Now Lenore was free to roam in the neighborhood and derange other residents' children and, if the neighbors asked where her parents were, she would say she and her titular guardian, Ragamuffin, just moved in the great mansion on the hill.

Ragamuffin returned to some of his old habits, even though some of them were slightly modified. For instance, he didn't eat people alive like he used to, he just drank their blood. Lenore was particularly curious regarding the change, but she just shrugged it off. After all, they weren't in the 1900's anymore, so people those days were more capable of finding a way to destroy him; that was why he didn't even want to be known as the vampire scourge like in the old days. He just tried to live with Lenore like a normal person did, even though he told her that was some sort of a downfall to him.

After some time, Lenore started having strange emotions, which resulted in an emptiness in her stomach and some kind of eerie, slight pain in her chest. She knew that tall, young man was Ragamuffin; she was conscious of it. But she couldn't shake off the feeling that the actual Ragamuffin wasn't there with her anymore. She was used to the little doll she always carried around with her.

So used, that Lenore couldn't believe the tears that started falling on her face in one night, when she went to sleep alone in her cold, empty bed.

The little doll always came at night and kept her company or told her a story, before she asked him to sleep next to her on the bed. And he always did it. He always accompanied her everywhere and he always followed her and played with her when she was bored, even though he was strictly opposing her ideas most of the time.

Now Lenore realized he probably did all those things because his activities were limited. In the end, nothing much someone could do as a doll. Since Ragamuffin became a vampire again, he didn't spend that much time with her. He took care of her, of course, he brought her food, clothes, sweets and, to Lenore's surprise, he even spoiled her much more than before, granting her requests, despite that some of them were typically-Lenore weird.

But in the rest of the time, he just went away and left her alone in the grand mansion, with just Pooty, who didn't partake in Lenore's activities and plays. She walked around the neighborhood a few times, even though she renounced after a while, because the other kids constantly got scared or creeped out by her.

She noticed that, a few months after he got turned into a vampire again, Ragamuffin started leaving the house so often that Lenore thought he left her to return to his old, nomadic life. She would have expected him to do so and she wouldn't be shocked if he really did it, since she was aware that his life with her had only meant torture and frustration to him. She knew she mocked and bullied him many times when he had been a rag doll and that was one of the many reasons why he would have left her.

In spite of all these, Lenore couldn't stand the idea of Ragamuffin leaving. Every time she observed his long absences, she got upset and quite downhearted, feelings reminiscent to the ones she had when she found out that she was forced to get away from her family, after her death. She hated having feelings like those and it was unusual, too, as Lenore wasn't accustomed to them.

Loneliness was slowly creeping into her life and she couldn't do anything about it, because she couldn't control Ragamuffin like before. Lenore even began refusing to talk to him, while he was home. When he addressed to her or asked her questions, she averted her eyes and stubbornly kept her mouth closed, puzzling him with what seemed like abnormal behavior from her side. Ragamuffin made efforts to talk to her and understand what was going on, but the invisible barrier between them got so thick that they completely stopped exchanging words at one point.

There was just a strange routine in which Ragamuffin came to check on her – despite that she purposely ignored him-, leave her food in the kitchen, bring her various dresses and clothes that, Lenore had to admit, were really beautiful – but she still didn't touch them, because she was mad at him.

Lenore tried so much not to cry each time he left, she made all the possible efforts not to think about the fact that Ragamuffin wasn't actually Ragamuffin anymore. This Ragamuffin was different and she desperately wanted the old one back.

She wanted her best friend back.

And so, she found herself in one of those days when Ragamuffin came late at night, after a few days of absence, to see her. Lenore, of course, had gone to sleep a few hours earlier, but his steps always woke her up, especially when he slowly and quietly pushed her bedroom's door open, to check on her. She pretended she was sleeping and forcefully kept her eyes shut, until he went out and closed the door after him. Only then, Lenore lifted her eyelids again and stared at the silent darkness that surrounded her, frowning and scrunching her features up, hardly attempting to stop the tears that were about to fall on her face.

This time, she couldn't stand it anymore. She angrily wiped those small tears with the sleeve of her nightgown, got off the bed and went out of the room to run after him and demand him to tell her why he was always leaving her so much time alone.

She didn't manage to see him. By the time she reached the bottom of the main stairs, he had already left and the deafening silence screamed into Lenore's ears once again.

The small, blonde girl collapsed like a lifeless doll on the first stairs, devastated, encircling her knees with her short arms and staring into space, lost and hopeless. This time she didn't feel foolish when the cold tears flowed down her cheeks. She didn't care that her face was red from crying, that her shoulders were trembling from the excess of hurtful emotions, that her feet were touching the cold, marble floor, hurting her body even more. She rested her forehead on her knees and remained like that for seconds, minutes or even hours. She wasn't aware of how much time passed, although she knew she dozed off at one moment, with tiredness and dejection ruling over her febrile mind.

The first thing she felt in the morning was someone's sharp and hard hand on her forearm, slightly shaking her, probably trying to wake her up. Lenore mumbled something annoyed and tried to push it away, but the hand became even more irritating when it pulled her arms from under her head, which fell on her knees quite painfully. Lenore twisted her features when the sun's light almost blinded her and she instinctively raised her hands to cover her eyes up.

"Oww…" She murmured sleepily, her head spinning from the sudden movement. "What do you want, Ragamuffin?"

"I'll let you know when I'll have fangs, grow 6 feet and 2 inches tall and suck people's blood." A peeved voice invaded her ears. Lenore let her hands fall from her eyes to see a talking bucket head looking at her. She sighed and avoided Pooty's face, to gaze at the weird paintings on the walls or in any other direction. She didn't want him to see her worn out face, although she had a hunch that it was already too late. She tensed up when she realized she actually said Ragamuffin's name, instantly assuming that it was him. She had to get rid of that bad custom.

They stood in silence for a few moments, before the hell hunter decided to ask.

"Alright, child. What is this nocturne walk all about?" He crossed his arms and waited for Lenore to reply, but she only pursed her lips and continued to stare at the old, vague colored walls. Pooty exhaled loudly and shook his head, putting his trident away and sitting next to Lenore, on the stairs. The girl turned her head to the other direction and shifted uneasily when he scrutinized her with those empty sockets that said more than they should.

"I almost knew this would happen." Pooty spoke, sounding ironic and disappointed with himself at the same time. He said nothing for two or three seconds, probably waiting for her to speak. She didn't. The ends of her mouth fell down and she looked at him out of the corner of her eye.

"Ragamuffin can't actually be kept under control, Lenore." He scratched the side of his bucket-like head, thoughtful. "He's a goddamn vampire. He feeds off people and he needs people to survive." Lenore turned her head now and her lower lip trembled as she strained herself not to burst into cries again.

"Why does he leave me alone so often, Pooty?" She barely pronounced, her tone ragged and exhausted. He looked ahead, contemplating her question, as he passed his pointy fingers over his trident. Drawing a breath in, he turned to the miserable girl next to him.

"He has to hunt." Pooty stated bluntly. "I know he spent all the time in the world with you while he was a toy, but his hunger didn't cease at all. In fact, it got worse since he wasn't able to feed like a proper vampire." He stopped and watched as Lenore's disheartened expression turned into an understanding one, brightening to an extent.

"I met another vampire a few hundred years ago and he was the same." Pooty carried on. "They don't really stay in the same place. Plus, humans these days know way too many about his kind. If he stays here much, he will be discovered quickly. That's why it's best if he comes and goes." He explained. "People will assume he just travels a lot." The demon hunter suddenly stood up, startling Lenore, whose anger and pain had been somewhat subsided. He looked down on her, grabbing his weapon.

"As you can see, Ragamuffin always comes and checks up on you." Lenore nodded reluctantly and slowly, while her frown was gradually fading away. Pooty fixed her. "He cares about you, Lenore. He won't leave you, even though you believe he will. Trust me."

The corners of her mouth visibly curled upwards in a small, tentative smile as her blue eyes enlarged in hope.

"Really?"

Pooty nodded without hesitation.

"Really." He confirmed. "Ragamuffin has changed a lot since he was cursed to be a doll by that witch. And I'm sure you changed him, for the most part." The girl's smile widened and Pooty could see a spark in her gaze, which had been dull and sorrowful until then. It was like she was seeing through him, because she didn't even notice him anymore, her mind being invaded by illusions in which she and Ragamuffin were getting along again and played together, just like in the old times, like the two best friends they were.

Pooty didn't usually care about other beings, but Lenore and Ragamuffin were his friends, so he sensed a pang of satisfaction at the bright look on the young girl's face. It was quite odd seeing her display such an amount of emotions for Ragamuffin, especially because Pooty had never seen them being particularly affectionate with each other, since he remained there to live with them. They just usually spent time together, with the occasional taunting from Lenore's side and the annoyance of Ragamuffin.

Still, Pooty assisted at scenes that Lenore had never actually seen, scenes that convinced him entirely that Ragamuffin was indeed infatuated with Lenore. Maybe he wasn't aware of Pooty's presence when he came home in a hurry or he just ignored it, but Ragamuffin was always preoccupied with offering the little, blonde girl the best conditions and gifts that he could get. Pooty used to walk around the mansion and he occasionally bumped into the seemingly young man, who returned from unknown places, with arms filled with numerous presents for Lenore, appearing quite pleased with his acquisitions.

And in spite of his disheveled, wearied appearance, Ragamuffin still checked the house, verifying its state, before he went after Lenore to see her, concerned about her wellbeing. Naturally, Ragamuffin observed Lenore's resentment after a while and, to Pooty's perplexity, he did nothing to remedy the situation. Ragamuffin appeared to be crushed with grief every time he noticed her avoidance, but he just left without doing anything in the matter.

Pooty couldn't understand why they both acted like that, since it only worsened things between them and they just suffered more with each day that passed. He couldn't understand earthlings, but he at least could do something about it, if they didn't have any intention.

"Lenore…" He started, attracting the spacey girl's attention. She blinked at him, with the small, hopeful smile still plastered on her young, pallid face.

"You are the most important thing in the world to Ragamuffin."

When Lenore finally took the decision to look for the first time at all the gifts Ragamuffin left for her in the corner of her bedroom, amazement and a rapidly growing fascination bloomed in her mind, her eyes alight with intrigue. She did manage to catch more details from the biggest pile of colorful things she had ever seen in her entire life and the details that particularly attracted her interest belonged to a bag of interestingly shaped sweets, a medium sized box that resembled a coffer and two or three dresses that she desired to try on. In that moment she almost had the absurd instinct to scold herself for being so stubborn and for ignoring all those wonders, just because her woe with Ragamuffin had smothered every little fiber from her body.

She almost dived into the pile, exclaiming just like she always did in the Christmas's morning, when she found one or two presents that the doll Ragamuffin managed to buy her. Since Ragamuffin's powers were suddenly increased, permitting him to get Lenore all the marvelous gifts in the world, well, she could say his change had an advantage, after all.

She knew that thought was selfish because, despite all the spoiling, she still wanted her dolly Ragamuffin back more than all those presents. But she guessed those were sufficient, too, for the time being. She wasn't aware of how much time she spent opening all those colorful wraps, although it was definitely worth it. At one point she discovered a white, knee long dress, similar to the ones she was usually dressed with by her family before she died, which woke up a set of vivid, nostalgic memories that had been long buried underneath her conscience.

Changing her worn out outfit, she admired that white dress in the grand mirror from the main hall, before she started trying out all the other outfits she found in the pile. She didn't observe when time passed, even though she somehow ended up clothed with the white dress again, after many hours of playing through the mansion, forgetting about everything related to Ragamuffin for a while, which was quite ironic, given the fact that the objects that surrounded her in that moment were from him.

The peace didn't last long. As soon as the name of her lost friend flew around her mind again, the sounds of the main door being cracked open and footsteps making contact with the wooden, dusty floor entered her ears, which turned Lenore into a stony replica by petrifaction. She remained still, staring in the dark at the tall silhouette of the young man who blocked the last signs of dusk's light that enveloped the main entrance.

She couldn't believe her eyes that, almost after a week, Ragamuffin appeared at the exact time when she decided to dig into his presents.

He slightly widened his eyes, taken aback by the sight of the blonde, small girl standing emotionless in front of him. They stared at each other in silence for a few moments, shivers rippling through Lenore. She knew her heart would have pounded really fast if it actually functioned. Tensing up, she turned without saying anything and began ascending the main stairs, leaving him there, in front of the door, staring at her back. Every step felt heavy and it was like every part of her body wanted to turn around and go to him, talk to him and spend all the time in the world with him. This pressure slowed her down and she almost forced herself with all her might not to run to him.

Because he was her best friend, damn it, and she didn't want to lose him.

The thought put a stop in her tracks and she remained motionless in the middle of the stairs as an ocean of emotions swirled inside her, which was too unusual and overwhelming, since she hadn't felt something like that in her entire life.

"Lenore…" His voice went right into her core and her lips trembled slightly as she turned her head to the side and tried with great efforts to keep her raging emotions under control. She could hear his movement and, in less than a second, his hand lightly clutched her small shoulder. It was a strange sensation as they had once or twice made physical contact since they knew each other and those were when Ragamuffin was still a small, ragged doll. Observing the absence of any antagonistic reaction, he allowed himself to slowly spin her, so that she could face him, and Lenore quickly averted her eyes in slight embarrassment when he saw her tired, red face from so much crying. He sighed and shook his head.

"Look, I know you're upset with me-"

Her head suddenly perked up, before she gave him the angriest glare she could pull off.

"Upset?" She repeated, unbelieving and infuriated to no end. She brusquely attacked him with her small fists, only managing to hit him in the stomach, since she barely reached him above the elbow. "I've cried my eyes out for the past few months! I thought you were going to leave me alone, bastard!" Her hits didn't phase him at all, because he caught her wrists and forcefully stopped her, making her struggle and yell in frustration.

"Lenore." Ragamuffin retorted, watching her regretfully. "You know I can't stay in the same place." She twisted her features in fury and turned her head swiftly as he hovered, searching for the right words.

"People can find out what I really am." He said it with such a sobriety that it sent icy chills down her spine. She glanced up dazedly at him, his silence confusing and worrying her.

"What about me?" She inquired, sniffling, feeling her wrists going numb from his tight, strong hold. She tried to read his expression, but the dark was already too intense and she only ended up gazing at a shadowy figure. "Am I not in danger?"

"It's not the same." He loosened his clutch and, to her surprise and bewilderment, he bent over and grabbed her thin waist, scooping her up into his arms, before she even had the chance to blink. They found themselves at the same eye level, which gave Lenore the opportunity to look him square in the eye. She softened when she noticed the distant, sorrowful expression on his young face.

"Few people would realize that you've actually been dead for a hundred years, whereas many could spot me really fast." He stopped for a moment. "Well, faster than you take a bath, anyway."

She blinked at him deadpan for a moment, before her gaze turned into a glare at the comparison. He smiled at her, revealing his fangs, which would have probably frightened any other person in her place. She found herself responding to his smile, against her will, and it irked her, because she didn't want to be so easily relenting.

Lenore couldn't help it, after all. She encircled his neck with her arms and stuck her cheek to his, exhaling in deep relief. They stood like that, in the silence, listening to their missing breaths and warming to each other's cold.

"I missed you." She whispered as she unstuck her face from his and rested her head on his shoulder, closing her tired eyes. She felt his arms tightening around her frail form.

"I missed you too."

It wasn't the same as before, but they somewhat went back to their old life, the one in which Ragamuffin followed Lenore like a devoted friend, saved her when she ended up in the typical, twisted situations and unconditionally took care of her. He was, of course, spending his time with her only at night, since he had to hide in dark places, during the day. That was one of the few disadvantages that his new form imposed, even though that only seemed to bother Lenore.

And because she almost always obtained everything she wanted, Ragamuffin had to confront the disturbance she caused him every morning, when she used to knock in his coffin with her leg, or when she climbed and walked on it as noisily as possible, putting him through daily torture. Or she found other methods that deranged his rest, methods like loud music, or dancing, or suddenly cleaning the house while she sang loudly, or…well, she was aware that she enjoyed annoying the hell out of him way too much.

But those things were ways through which she expressed her frustration with him, her repressed anger resulted from the fact that it still wasn't like before.

It wasn't like the days when he was a little doll and he didn't leave her alone, not even one minute. She knew she was supposed to be okay with the new changes, especially since Ragamuffin apparently believed she was. He believed she just deranged him because she was childish and dimwitted.

He had no idea Lenore still felt alone, even though he didn't leave the house like before. It was true he was there, next to her, but she couldn't see him and that was what made her feel like things hadn't changed much. It was like her life revolved around that coffin because she just remained around it almost the entire day, waiting for Ragamuffin to get out so that they could be together. She even slept on top of it sometimes or lay on it, wide awake, staring quietly at the ceiling and trying to listen to any sign that suggested he was going to come out, but it was futile.

Hours and hours, the silence of the house was enveloping her like an invisible veil that suffocated her with impatience. Impatience that determined her to commit even the most random, silliest things just to attract his attention. Things like talking alone, loudly, in a supposedly empty room- supposedly, because Ragamuffin was in the coffin, after all.

She was humming one of the oldest songs she knew as she stood stretched on the black coffin situated in one of the basement rooms. The song was soft and pleasant at first, but Lenore gradually turned it into an irritating noise after a while, as she started to lightly hit the top of the coffin with the back of her tap shoes. It didn't last much before she got bored with her passive activity and stopped, her gears turning inside her brain, thinking about something else with which she could disturb the vampire that was lying under her.

"Ragamuffin, remember when I found you in my coffer a few years ago?" She suddenly spoke, tracing imaginary drawings with her fingers on the top of the wooden coffin. She kept quiet for a few moments, but the silence was still heavy. "Well, I actually found you one hundred years ago, when I was still alive in Nevermore, but then I threw you in my toy box and I completely forgot about you." She smiled dreamily at the memories, while she continued to tap on the hard surface.

She remembered when she had seen Ragamuffin for the first time, while her heart was still beating inside her chest. The images were vague, although she could see the old streets before her eyes, the bakery that had disappeared more than eighty years ago, the kind old man that asked where her parents were as she ran onto the main, paved road of Nevermore, passing near walls that had posters with Ragamuffin's face printed on them and the large Beware Of The Ragamuffin warning, above it. Even her short, blonde hair, that fluttered around her head, radiated with life and color as her laugh attracted people's attention.

She remembered she ceased running at one point, because she saw a small, rag doll on the side of the street and she was sure it was the cutest toy she had ever laid eyes on.

"Yeah… you were the cutest toy ever." She murmured regretfully as images with gray, little Ragamuffin passed before her eyes, giving her the urge to stretch her arms, grab and hug the doll. She knitted her brow, before her foot stomped hardly on the coffin again.

"Did you hear me?" She asked angrily, intending to make as much noise as possible. "I want my doll back!" Her foot stomped again, harder this time. Then she stomped again and again, almost as if she tried to break through the wooden top, until its sudden movement made her lose her balance and fall off, on the dusty, cold floor.

She gave a yelp as she turned her head to her left to gape at her best friend, who was glaring at her, a mix of irritation, sorrow and puzzlement written on his face. If looks killed, then she would have viciously been murdered by his.

To Lenore's unsettlement, he continued to look at her for a moment, before his hand grabbed her form with one move, as he easily used the other one to maintain the coffin's top lifted above them. Lenore held onto his arm as it encircled her slim middle and lifted her with ease from the ground; they stared at each other, none of them saying anything, while he slowly brought her inside the coffin, laying her next to him, on the red, soft velvet.

Closing the coffin, he let the darkness surround them again and Lenore just remained impassive, staring at the vague outlines of his face. Their proximity was somewhat, weirdly pleasing her and it was like her mind ached for more of him, because she stuck herself to his chest as he enclosed her body tighter, burying his face into her hair.

"So you don't like me anymore?" He whispered into her golden locks. Lenore dug herself even deeper into his chest, hiding her face and curling her body, almost turning into a small, human ball. She barely managed to shake her head.

"N-no." Fortunately, the word had been muffled by his suit, so he probably didn't realize her voice trembled. Her voice trembled, because it wasn't true. In fact, since he became a vampire and left the house often, the thought that she might lose him had made her realize that she had never loved anyone and anything as much as she loved him. But she was stubborn and proud and she didn't want him to know that. She wanted him to believe she despised him for putting her through all that distress and daily misery.

She felt his palm caress the small of her back and strange sensations cursed through her, unknown sensations that she had never experienced before. Lenore hadn't meditated upon the subject until then, but she suddenly realized her mind wasn't the same age as her body. By far. In spite of her childish and silly behavior, she was aware of things that ten year old children couldn't possibly know and she perceived emotions that only adults could perceive.

She couldn't figure out what kind of love she harbored for Ragamuffin, although she surely knew familial love wasn't supposed to make her feel a tight knot in her stomach every time a grown-up man touched her affectionately. She almost feared that her love for him reached the romance borders and, despite her opposition to such a thing, she couldn't deny it entirely.

"Well, I don't believe you." His low voice murmured in her ear. Lenore shifted uneasily and enlarged her blue eyes as she slowly lifted her head to gaze at his darkened, confident figure. They looked at each other for a moment, before she furrowed her brow.

"You should, because I told you the truth." She forced out as nonchalantly as she could, her body tensing up. His overconfident expression didn't change in the slightest because she couldn't read the smallest sign of doubt on his features.

"No, you didn't." He contradicted her again, provoking her, and he almost had her, since she felt her nerves getting worked up. She playfully hit him in the chest with her palm.

"Yes, I did."

He raised an eyebrow, like it was a challenge- and, yeah, it totally was- and then he trailed his arm down her side. It tickled and she wriggled a little, trying to make him stop, but then he got to that spot just under her ribs, and suddenly she was laughing in a way that she hadn't since he was a toy.

She kicked him with her legs and arms, flailing them around in all directions while her laugh reverberated in the coffin's walls and, even though he wasn't deranged by her movement at all, he ceased the tickling to an extent, calming her down. She still continued to giggle after they completely stopped their playfulness and, when she looked up and saw his sharp teeth revealed in a smug grin, she pouted and frowned, restlessly moving to hit him for the second time. There was a tangle of arms, legs and limbs as she turned, wrestled, while he just defended himself from her slapping and hitting.

She didn't realize how and when it happened, but she felt a pain in the side of her neck at one point.

Lenore gave a halfhearted, barely audible cry as she slowly turned her head, before the corner of her eye managed to catch sight of Ragamuffin's fangs, which were deeply piercing the skin of her neck. Her eyes mostly widened in shock when she observed his face. He was really absorbed into what he was doing and his eyes were half closed, in what appeared to be some sort of trance. She didn't know if she was supposed to be scared or alarmed. She wasn't even sure if he was aware of what he was doing to her in that moment, but she surely knew the feeling wasn't really bad. His arms encircled her waist, bringing her closer to his chest, embracing her, and she instinctively rested her head on his shoulder, letting him continue that…strange act.

The sensation became really good after a while. So good that she closed her eyes as well and covered his hands, that were resting on her stomach, with her own small ones, intertwining their cold fingers. She exhaled long, deep breaths, as her vision began to fade around the edges, her chest became heavy and the darkness started to spin.

In any other circumstances, she would have freaked out, but that was before she began to have those weird emotions for Ragamuffin. Right then, she adored the feeling of his lips on the skin of her neck, in spite of the fact that he was biting her. She adored the feeling of his body embracing her own, the feeling of his arms resting on her middle. If she had a choice, she would stay like that for all eternity. She sighed, as she lovingly rubbed her head on his shoulder.

"Ragamuffin…" She chanted softly, on impulse, almost melting into him.

And then it abruptly stopped. His lips disappeared along with the warm, soothing feeling of his mouth, leaving a coldness behind and the touch of something that trickled down her neck, and Lenore realized that it had to be her blood. She opened her eyes in a daze and blinked a few times, before she turned her head to see Ragamuffin's mortified expression, his dark eyes staring at her like he had done something horrendous.

His palm pressed into her stomach, turning her around in a hurry and desperately checking her on all sides.

"Are you alright?" He asked frenziedly as he touched her almost everywhere, looking for any serious bruise. His fingers passed over the bleeding wound on her neck and she could see his features twisting in frustration. "I'm sorry I bit you." He sounded really angry with himself. "I get too carried away sometimes." She didn't say anything; she just gazed up at him through her eyelids and his worry only worsened when he observed her tired face.

"I can heal you." His tongue made contact with her wound once or twice and she shuddered, pleased. That was even better than the bite, but Ragamuffin probably confused her contentment with fear and pain, because he backed away quickly and looked down on her in restlessness.

A warmth shifted and grew in her belly, spreading through her entire body and reaching her fingertips when she saw the excessive concern in his gaze; for the first time, she was thankful that her heart stopped beating years ago, because it would have probably broken her chest. That was how anxious she felt right then. Her emotions were so strong that she was under the impression they had control over her actions, hence she raised her hand and touched his cheek softly, before she brought his face closer so that her lips pressed to the corner of his mouth. He was torn between many emotions and he seemed to be confused regarding Lenore's gesture, but there was also a vague sadness in his eyes.

He let her kiss him for a second or two, before he put his hand over hers, on his cheek, and drew back a little so he could look into her face.

"Lenore, I can't…"

This raw desperation crawled under her skin and Lenore put both her hands on the sides of his face and approached it to hers, pressing their lips into a proper, full kiss, as she closed her eyes tightly. He didn't protest and she felt tingles that seemed to run from her lips and all over her body, raising goosebumps and making her tremble. Her arms moved to surround his neck and bring him closer, and she was sure he gave in and responded, because the pressure of his lips became stronger for a moment, before he lifted his head and broke their kiss. He heaved a sigh and shook his head.

"This is not right."

"Why not?" She asked in a long suffering voice. They looked at each other in silence, air heavy with tension. Lenore was still winded up round his neck and she had the tempting impulse to remain stuck to him like that.

"You're too young, Lenore." He murmured regretfully, with a finality that gave her shivers. Shivers that melted into the burning fury which was slowly developing deep into her core. Her eyelashes and the corners of her mouth quivered, but she promptly refrained herself from exteriorizing her emotions, because she severely intended to show him that she was more than just an immature, little girl.

"Just physically." Lenore retorted, in a slightly frustrated voice. "I'm much older mentally." She expected him to believe her, she wanted him to believe her, but, to her disappointment, Ragamuffin stared at her skeptical and deadpan.

"Really?"

Lenore looked at him pleadingly.

"I know I've been a pain for the last-" She clicked her tongue, squinting at the memories. "Two years." He raised an eyebrow and she huffed.

"Alright!" She admitted. "I've always been a pain." She blew a blonde strand of hair from her face, as she felt her face getting warm in embarrassment. "But that's how I am, Ragamuffin. Even if I was a grown up, I would still be somewhat oblivious and…" She searched for the right word.

"Weird." Ragamuffin finished for her in a blunt tone. To her surprise-and probably his, as well- she smiled serenely at his sarcasm because it reminded her of the times when she got on his nerves. Even when she was furious, downhearted or stressed, a teased and annoyed Ragamuffin always determined her to smile, after all.

She stirred in his arms and caught him off guard when she raised her head and stuck her lips to his again.

"I like weird."

Sooner or later, he left again.

There was one time when she reached exhaustion. Since she usually spent nights with Ragamuffin, because that was the only way they could see each other more, she eventually collapsed and fell on the edge of the old couch, right in the middle of the living room.

Like in a daze, she felt his arm lifting her and carrying her through the mansion, until her head rested on a soft, warm pillow and that was when she realized he brought her into her bedroom. She vaguely heard his steps fading away and the door closing after him and her mind instinctively screamed at her to wake up because she had that terrible feeling.

The empty, sickening feeling of his absence.

Brusquely, her eyes opened wide and she leapt from her bed, before she slammed the door and ran down the stairs, breathless and almost desperate. To her relief, he was right at the door, although the relief was wiped away when she found out that she had been right.

He was going away again.

"Are you leaving?" Her mouth automatically asked, before she even processed the words. He turned and looked at her.

"You know I have to." He replied with a vague hint of regret. Lenore frowned and clenched her fist as a sharp bitterness passed through her. Her eyes fell on the floor.

"Alright." Her voice was strained and she was aware that she was on the verge of crying again, even though she gathered all her strength not to do it. Not in front of him, at least.

They didn't say anything for a moment. Lenore sensed his gaze on her and she raised her head. Her mouth curled downwards before her legs moved on their own and she ended up leaping into his arms and hugging him tighter than ever.

"Promise you'll come back soon." She whispered into his shoulder. Her arms surrounded his neck into a clasp as she hid her face into the fabric of his suit. His hand rubbed her back soothingly.

"I promise."

She pulled away from his shoulder and stared into his eyes for a moment, before she brushed her mouth against his into a light kiss. It was short and bittersweet and she felt her still heart flutter while the knot in her stomach tightened again, as it did every time they shared kisses. They smiled at each other and that was about it.

He put her down and disappeared into the cold night, leaving her alone in the deep silence.

Someone cleared his voice behind her and Lenore turned to see Pooty, his never changing expression on his bucket-like head. Lenore realized that his face probably didn't match the surprise that grasped at his mind right then, after he saw them… like that.

She opened her mouth, trying to say something.

"It doesn't surprise me that much, actually." He said, lightheartedly. "I admit I've known that you have a deep affection for each other. Not to this extent, but close to it."

Lenore didn't reply, not knowing how to respond to that. She was aware that her relationship with Ragamuffin would be frowned upon, in normal circumstances.

"It appears that things have changed a lot." Pooty spoke in contemplation.

They stood in the darkness and stared at the door that was left open, the road that led to the outside world being revealed in a frightening stillness.

Lenore found her words after all.

"Nothing is the same anymore."

...

A/N: Reviews would be nice. I'll write more if there will be enough on this one.