A/N: Yes, a new fic! I don't really know if there's much to say about this one other than it being inspired by photos from so many different photoshoots and just playing with the idea of the vampire media. Enjoy!
Vlad's 18th birthday was spent in relative quiet. He got up, went to school, did his homework, had a celebration dinner with his family, and opened gifts, and many, many letters of well wishes. Nothing special, really. The day after his 18th birthday, however, was when everything changed. He was 18 now, he couldn't be hidden from the press any longer, and they invaded their quarters at Garside Grange as soon as the sun had set, smirking with pleasure that the Regent couldn't stop them any more.
"So, your Grandness," ace reporter Matilda Elliot leant forward holding out an old-style tape recorder. Technology may be constantly on the update, and she may keep up with it, but some things just became a habit. "I can call you 'your Grandness' can't I?" she smiled winningly. Vlad gave a nervous chuckle.
"Um, my coronation isn't till," he turned to look at Bertrand questioningly, "next week?" Bertrand nodded, and Vlad turned back to face Matilda Elliot. "Yeah, it's not till next week, so I'm not technically -"
"Great! So, your Grandness," Matilda continued on, as if she'd never asked the question in the first place, "tell us, how does it feel to not only be the long awaited Chosen One, but also the youngest Grand High Vampire ever?" She held out the tape recorder, and Vlad blinked at it.
"Uh – good?"
"Startling insight there, your Grandness," Matilda gave a very toothy smile. Vlad was beginning to feel as though he'd been thrown to the sharks. "Now, everyone's talking about it; the truce with the Slayers." There was a brief pause as she shifted through her notes. "Tell us, just how did you manage it? Not to mention getting it pushed through before your Grandness turned 18, it's unheard of!" Matilda was very good at making everything seem like some overblown statement, Vlad noted idly.
"The Slayers wanted a truce," he answered. It was partially the truth. "Pushing it through was easy enough once I had the Guild's cooperation," he added, nodding and fidgeting with his fingers slightly. Matilda jotted down a few notes, before looking up once again with that toothy – and very white and pointed – grin.
"Well, I expect we can chat more during the photo shoot." Vlad blinked.
"What photo shoot?"
The photo shoot took place on the Count's throne. Well, technically, it was Vlad's throne, but somehow actually admitting that to himself was far more disconcerting that the actual knowledge that within the week he'd be the ruler of all vampires. And he was trying not to think on that bit too much, either. "I thought," he began, ducking to avoid two people carrying a heavy roll of drapery they proceeded to set out artfully around the throne, "I thought this was a serious interview?" he asked. Matilda turned to look at him.
"It is, your Grandness," she hastened to assure him. "But you're an enigmatic figure, Sire, people want to see you." She looked around at the furnishings and quick set dressing with a critical eye. The blood-red fabric set to make the black throne stand out, and giving a nod of approval, she turned the critical eye on Vlad himself. "Your Grandness, not meaning to show any sort of disrespect, but are you really going to wear that?"
Vlad looked down at himself. He thought he looked fairly smart, in one of his better shirts, and tidier jeans. "Um, I guess?" he said, hazard in his tone. Matilda shook her head.
"Sire, you want to put across a demanding image," she said. "This is your public début, you need to set your standard here. No, this won't do!" She turned around, looking amongst the press crew that had accompanied her. "Imelda!" she called stalking forward. A smaller, mousey girl bumped into her. "Oh! Penny, make yourself useful, get me a glass of blood – B negative. Sire, give your order to Penny, she'll be happy to get you anything." Matilda added in an off hand tone. "Imelda – ah there, you are! We need to talk wardrobe. Now."
Vlad gave Penny a tight smile. "I'm fine, really." He held up a hand to stop her asking any further, and nodded politely. He stood alone, looking around at the cluster of vampires running to and fro. He spotted Bertrand skulking back into the room, and made his way over. "Did you know I would have to do a photo shoot?" he asked.
"I don't recall it being on the itinerary they presented with your father with," Bertrand replied, after a moment's thought on the matter. "It doesn't necessarily need to be seen as a bad thing, this is your chance to-"
"Set my standard, make an impression," Vlad interrupted with a roll of his eyes. "Matilda gave me the spiel, you don't need to repeat it." He sighed, and leant back against the wall. "Wolfie?"
"In the kitchen with Renfield," Bertrand answered. "The Count is still preoccupied with the matters relating to the upcoming parent's night," he answered the unasked question without pause. "And Ingrid requested that I inform you she'll be along presently." Vlad gave a small look. "I believe she wants to make sure you don't make a fool of yourself in your first interview," Bertrand offered as an explanation. Vlad gave a snort. An impressively sized woman dressed in considerably chic fashions, a tape measure draped just so around her neck, stepped forward.
"If you'll just step this way, your Grandness," Imelda simpered at Vlad, "and we'll get you ready for the photo shoot."
The suit wasn't too bad, actually, all things considered. Vlad had mentally prepared himself for something far worse – he had seen some of things FANG magazine made the people they interviewed wear - and when he was presented with the suit, he had stopped in confusion for a moment. The suit was fine wool, black, of course, and well cut. It had cunning little bat buttons at the cuffs and had the bonus of being something Vlad would actually choose to wear. The photographer, a renowned vampire whose name kept slipping Vlad's mind despite being told it repeatedly, had aimed for professional poses, something that gave of displays of power. All in all, Vlad felt alright about it all. Then Ingrid came in
"This is a closed set!" The photographer screeched.
"This is my home," Ingrid shot back, folding her arms across her chest and raising an eyebrow in challenge. The photographer turned to yell at her and pushed, lifting the camera and snapping a view pictures, which he then examined in the view finder.
"And who would you be?" He asked eventually, not looking up from his intense studying of the images in the view finder. "Who gave you permission to intrude on to my set?" Ingrid bristled.
"Ingrid Dracula," she spat out, through gritted teeth, her hands curling up into fists. Sensing danger, or maybe just knowing his sister far too well, Vlad spoke up
"She's my sister," he said. "And my number two," he added quickly, before Ingrid even had the chance to turn and glare at him. There was a pause, as nearly every member of the press crew exchanged glances amongst themselves, apparently silently discussing something. It was for reasons like this that Vlad was really growing to dislike telepathy. Thought, granted, it was good when he didn't really want people listening in to his conversations.
"Did you say your number two, your Grandness?" Matilda stepped forward, a peculiar look on her face. On Vlad's nodded confirmation, the look developed into a triumphant grin. "Oh but this is the scoop of the next five centuries!" She laughed. Both siblings looked at each other, before turning their confused gaze on Matilda herself. "Appointing family to prominent positions, that's so old hat even the breathers are growing bored of it, but appointing your sister..." she trailed off into the triumphant laughter again. "Tell me, it's just wanting to surround yourself with a security net, yeah?" Matilda probed.
Vlad looked at Matilda. He then looked at Ingrid, who gave a shrug. He turned back to Matilda. "I gave her the position because I think she's the best person for the job," he answered. There was silence.
"Imelda?" Matilda called. "Get his Grandness into his second outfit; something that will compliment his sister." There was that dangerous looking grin again. "Siblings in power; I like that angle."
Ingrid was immediately proclaimed as perfect, only needing some cover-up make up to deal with the harsh glare of the lights. Her outfit – leather dress with long boots – was described as 'proper fashion for the modern minded vampire girl' and great praise was given to her dark beauty, pale skin. In short; her looks were praised beyond all belief and there was a vague murmuring going around that no wonder Magda Westenra hadn't given a proper Coming of Rage ball for her daughter; who far surpassed her in looks. Nothing needed to be done to her. While Vlad was changing outfits, they took many a solo shot of her.
Which was good; considering how much time Vlad took for his second outfit. For his first, they had wanted to put across the professional look. Imelda had told him that, due to his age, he needed to "...appear wise beyond your years, Sire, not that you aren't. But it would appease the readers, reassure them that you really are the best choice." Vlad had been fine with that; it made sense after all. For his second outfit, well, Imelda said she wanted to try something different. "You're young, 18, we should play that up. Show that you are going to have new ideas." How this translated to a very-well fitted deep red shirt – made of silk! - and leather trousers, accompanied by studded belts and chains and heavy boots, he'd never know.
His hair had been teased out, spiked and styled, and a generous hand had applied layers of eye-liner to his face. "To make yer eyes pop, yer Grandness," he had been told by the stylish make-up artist, who obnoxiously popped their bubble gum at him. "It'll look really good in picture, yeh gotta trust us here." Vlad idly wondered if they were trying to seem cool, or somehow different, with the odd accent they were putting on, but he didn't wonder for long, it was hard to muse when someone was bringing a sharp pencil near your eye. When he was eventually shoved back over to the throne, the look on Ingrid's face only confirmed what Vlad thought.
"No laughing," he said quickly.
"If I do it to your face, it'll be over far faster," Ingrid smirked. Vlad rolled his eyes and slumped into the throne. The photographer happened by at that moment.
"Perfect, your Grandness!" He cried, immediately snapping off some pictures. "Now, give me a look of boredom. We're not worthy of your time, and you want us to know that." Vlad looked confused. "No, disdain, Sire, not confusion." He looked up and over. "Miss Ingrid, if you wouldn't mind perching on the arm of the throne, looking equally as bored." Ingrid did as requested, and Vlad peeked up at her, mimicking her look of boredom on his own face. "Perfect, perfect!" The photographer was besides himself with glee as he took pictures of the Dracula siblings; arrogant in their boredom, and secure in their power. "Just perfect!"
They were sent a free copy of the issue Vlad's début interview was in. It was released a few days before his coronation, and the front cover of FANG made Vlad want to chuck it in the fire. Ingrid rescued it before he could do so. "Look at this, I look fantastic," she said, holding the magazine reverently in her hands. "And for once, you don't look terrible," she added, gesturing at the cover. The cover was from the second photo shoot, and the still images of Vlad and Ingrid oozed disdain and boredom. Completely different from the actual Vlad, who groaned and hit his forehead off the table.
"Well, lock up your daughters!" The Count laughed, taking the magazine from Ingrid to pursue it himself. "Really, Vladimir, you should be proud! You'll be beating them off with a cattle prod!" He said, lazing back into the throne. That dynamic hadn't really changed too much in the house, and if the Count's eye twitched on seeing his son lazed across the throne in the pictures, belonging there so very easily, no one commented on it. "They want to come back next week, you know," the Count said, lazily flicking through the magazine with little interest, "interview myself and that … hag of a mother of yours."
"What?" Vlad shot up. "Why?" he asked.
"It's interestingly, apparently," Ingrid shot up. "The family of the newly crowned Grand High Vampire." There was a pause, and she tilted her head. "Is there anything else in that envelope?" Vlad blinked, and picked up the envelope, passing it over to her. She peered in, and grinned. "Excellent." She stood quickly, tucking the envelope under her arm. "I'll see you in History then, I have things to do,"and with that she left the room. Wolfie – who had been sitting silently eating his overly sugared cereal – spoke up.
"Will they dress me up like that for the photos?" The Count and Vlad exchanged glances. Ah. They … hadn't expected this.
"Probably," Vlad said slowly, "would that be a problem?" Wolfie pushed the cereal around the bowl silently, looking thoughtful.
"I don't think I want my picture taken," he said finally. "I don't want to be dressed up," he added, taking a huge mouthful of food, milk dribbling down his chin. Handing over a napkin, Vlad's shoulders relaxed. At least that was an issue they didn't need to face just yet. He excused himself, and made his way down to his classes.
School went very quickly that day. Or at least, it felt like it went quickly as Vlad could hardly recall anything from any of his classes the whole day. His mind kept going back to the FANG magazine article, and how he was ridiculously pleased that no one in his form, hell, no one in the school was likely to see the pictures. Tolerance, acceptance, and blurring of gender lines may have been 'in', but the spreading of photos with Vlad decked out in romantic Gothic wear would not do much for his already generally wimpy reputation. It was a pity that his 16th had forced him to give up playing rubgy, he had mused once, considering that he wasn't all that bad a player, and the team needed that.
He went into History that day – a double class right at the end of the day, see his deep joy. He paused only a little on seeing Erin sitting in the front row, between Ingrid and Becky. Erin had been off on business with the Slayer's Guild, and Vlad hadn't realised she was back yet. "Hi-" he said, hovering a little at the desk. Erin looked up, and opened her mouth.
"Get to your seat, Vlad," Bertrand's voice came from behind him. Vlad turned, seeing his tutor sitting a briefcase on the desk, and pulling out the teacher's day planner from the top drawer. As Vlad took his seat, Bertrand spoke. "Your usual teacher is at a conference, so I've been asked to step in, again," he added in a low mutter. Looking down at the day planner, he announced to the class: "this lesson has been scheduled as a review period. You will spend 10 minutes looking over your notes. After that I will ask if there is anything in particular that has been found difficulty. If there is a majority consensus, then we will discuss the topic. If not, you will be relegated to individual study. Do I make myself clear?" No one spoke. Bertrand had subbed for the class before, and had made it very clear that he did not expect answers to what were clearly rhetorical questions – there was a persistent rumour of the man causing Ryan Hicks to burst into tears due to remarks about his intelligence on doing so. Groundless, of course, but rumours had an odd way of living on in a school.
Vlad flicked open his notebook, and pretended to browse through the material. He was actually fairly confident about his History marks; Bertrand had a habit of grilling him randomly on both History and Vampire Lore in-between training bouts. Still, pretending to look over the material gave him time to relax, and it was for that reason alone that he caught the whispered conversation between the three girls at the front of the class.
"-Can't believe he actually did it -"
"-Can't believe anyone would want him to -"
"-very prominent family back in Transylvania, don't you know? -"
"-Ingrid, your brother's sort of fit. He seeing anyone-"
Lifting his head up, Vlad had a moment where he realised Bertrand had been really good at teaching self control. Along with the copy of the magazine, Ingrid had managed to, apparently, be sent high quality copies of the photos taken. One of which she was carefully showing off to Becky and Erin. It wasn't the showing Erin that bothered him so much, but showing Becky? It would be all round the school before the final bell went. Becky turned back, and smiled widely at him, tossing her hair over her shoulder and batting her eyelashes in an attempt of flirting.
Make that within the half hour. It would be all round the school within the half hour.
Vlad groaned, and found his forehead hitting a desk for the second time that day.