Bound Blood (Cassandra Dimitrescu/Reader, Soulmate AU) Pt. 5
Fandom: Resident Evil: Village
Rating: T+ for language
Summary: Local soulmates finally reach the "friends" in "enemies to friends to lovers". A little softness goes a long way. Nice, mostly gentle chapter to make up for the previous one's angsty ending.
Previous Chapters: 1: Sharing Is (Not) Caring; 2: Bloodbath, Baby!, 3: Haunt Me Dearly, 4: Portraits For Ghosts
5: Heart Of The Matter
“This is embarrassing,” you mumble, refusing to look Cassandra in the eyes. Softly, she runs her fingers over your chest, spreading the medicinal salve. There’s an unspoken judgement in her expression. Minor movements are no less painful than major ones, so you try to sit still, as much as you’d rather be with anyone else. “Can you hurry up, at least? I don’t care if it takes longer to heal in the long run, I just want to get out of here,” you snap. For a split second you think Cassandra’s going to hit you in response, with the way she looks at you, and you involuntarily flinch. But the hit never comes, merely a sharp sigh.
“If you didn’t want to get treated, you shouldn’t have started a fight- especially not such a pointless one,” she says, continuing to rub in the medicine and evidence alike. At this, you shrink into yourself, hating the harsh sting of truth. Yeah, you think, she’s got me there. Victory is a fast fading feeling, dearly missed in the wake of the growing shame in your chest. Why had you given in to your impulses? Why had you broken the only peace you had known in weeks? It’s a thought that snags on the corners of your mind, weighing down your cognition, leaving you unpleasantly distracted from the present. “Almost done. Then you can go sulk in private, somewhere you can’t bother me, alright?”
Nodding, you accept your fate with what little grace remains. What more could you even do? Ask her to stay by your side? Hardly. But as soon as the last bandage fits into place, and her gentle yet calloused hands smooth the last edge, a whisper of an ache springs into your heart. It’s not a yearning for Cassandra specifically, merely a reminder of your unwilling loneliness. When the door closes behind her, you stare down at your hands, wishing to hold some meaning within them. Maybe I can find Daphne around here somewhere, you think. Then you slowly rise to your feet. Better to sit with a kind stranger than a harsh familiar face.
That night, you find yourself cautiously approaching Cassandra’s room, feeling like a death row inmate on their way to the executioner. Every step is begrudging, and you almost can’t bring yourself to open the door. But you manage, in the end, stepping in with your eyes downcast. No voice, grumpy or otherwise, greets you. One glance tells you that your soulmate is already asleep, and you mentally thank all the gods you can name. It doesn’t take long to get ready for bed. It does take a minute to slide under the covers, careful not to wake Cassandra. This time you don’t move closer to her, or wrap your arm around her waist, too… exhausted to try anything along those lines.
When you dream, it is of an ever familiar room, shrouded in darkness, stained with the blood of hundreds. Someone’s laughing- a woman, maybe several. Down here, someone is always laughing. You try to laugh with them. It’s a lie, a small deception, that lets you pull your thoughts away from your misery. But they don’t appreciate it when you join their cacophony chorus. Their cackling shifts into screaming, bitter lungs sending waves of ear-splitting sound. Over and over, it gets louder, unbearably so, and closer, closer all the time. Just a few cells away. Just a few more fucking seconds and they’ll be right on top of you. This is a dream you’ve faced down before, yet the ending is unknown. They always get louder, always barrel down the path, towards you, howling endlessly.
They never reach you. No, they’re always coming, always so fucking close. Never in your sight. Never digging claws into your chest. But the anxiety does not fade- you are tipping back in a chair, never falling, never able to find your balance.
When you wake up, it’s with a flinch, teary eyes snapping open. A hand rests on your cheek, brushes away the stains. Whispered words drift through the air, too hushed to be understood, daring to lull you into a relaxed state. It’s Cassandra, of course. Even in your tired state, you know this, know that she’s trying. What you don’t know is whether or not she’s awake enough to process what she’s doing. After all, you hardly are, and her touch is the gentlest thing you’ve ever felt. But you do not get to enjoy it for terribly long. Soon enough your vision fades, the embrace of slumber overtaking you once more.
For a few days, there is relative peace. Meals are delivered to Cassandra’s room, where you mostly dine on your own, though she occasionally joins you, even if you do not speak. Every evening she ensures your wounds are treated, often handling it herself. When she does, you do your best not to meet her gaze, for you cannot stand the traces of affection you see there. Try as you might, you find yourself unable to taunt her the way you had done the first day. The way she’s changed her behavior, adapting to your trauma’s revelation, haunts you to no end.
“Drink this,” she says one day, before bed, holding out a steaming mug. Of course you don’t take it, of course you stare at her with an eyebrow raised. Acceptance was never an option. “It’s just tea. Bela says it might help. With nightmares. Not-” she paused to frown, unsure if she even wanted to finish the sentence- “that it helped me. But you’ve been… tolerable, lately, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try.” Then she’s reaching out again, expectantly. Blushing ever so slightly, you finally take the mug, giving her a quick nod before taking a sip. There’s a hint of sugar, just enough to make things interesting.
“Thanks,” you murmur, after swallowing the lump in your throat. Already Cassandra is turning away, focusing on getting ready for bed. You want to say more, to actually hold a conversation with her for the first time in days, but your mouth feels oddly dry. So you just sip your tea in silence. Of course, you think, I’m only ever improvising a monologue, or tripping over my own tongue, as if it were a resting place for my chattering teeth. At least the beverage wasn’t as bitter as your thoughts. By the time you’ve finished your drink, Cassandra is in bed, watching you with an unreadable expression. “Need something? Or just waiting for the poison in my drink to kick in?” You ask, surprising yourself.
“Finally remembered how your mouth works, hmm?” Cassandra teases. Again you’re blushing, having expected her to be more annoyed than amused.
“I never forgot. I simply, you know, uh… figured that you needed a break, after my last demonstration,” you counter, remembering the way your vocal chords had complained, and the way her arm had felt around your throat. It’s not the direction you meant to take the conversation in, but she doesn’t seem to mind. If anything… she’s blushing. For a moment you’re confused, then you finally recall the ‘incident’ in the tub. Oh fuck, you think, that’s worse. Maybe. Probably? What should I say? In the end, the words leave your mouth in a rush, as they were prone to do. “Based on how red your cheeks are, I’m going to assume you don’t need another reminder. Let’s just get some rest now, yeah?” Next thing you know, there’s a pillow flying towards your face.
Still, it’s better than nothing, and the impact serves only to make you smile wider. When you climb into bed, you find yourself face-to-face with Cassandra. She’s never laid like this with you before. It’s unexpected, even more so when she shifts forward, less than an inch away from your face. Understandably, you end up blushing more than you’d like to admit.
“What was that about red cheeks?” She asks, voice low and breathy, knowing exactly what she was doing to you. Before you can think of the ‘smart’ thing to do, impulse kicks in, making you go in for a quick kiss. It’s supposed to be a joke, a counter to her teasing. But she leans into it. She kisses back. Both of you are blushing hard when she pulls away, a few moments later. You’re trying to stutter out a response, clever or otherwise, and she’s rolling her eyes, rolling onto her other side, putting her back to you. Words fail you. In the end, you are forced to try to sleep, regardless of what just happened. When you dream, there are no nightmares this time. Just a warmth you had thought forgotten.
More days pass, with your tongue slowly loosening up, fueled by playful banter with Cassandra. Neither of you dares to mention the kiss. Nor do you ever speak for too long, as if knowing that your mind still resisted peace. Most evenings are still filled with nightmares, all mimicking your trauma, and you are left to wonder if the tea had even worked that first night, or if something else had helped. In the hopes of more success you drink a mug every day before bed. Admittedly, Cassandra does bring it to you, meaning that forgoing it would require turning her down. That was… harder to do, these days.
When she asks you to join her for lunch, you don’t hesitate to agree. But as you’re waiting in her room, casually reclining on her bed with a book in your hands, a distant scream echoes through the castle. Instantly you’re panicking, wondering who was in trouble. It reminds you so much of the dungeon that you can’t move. Was one of the servants being punished? Had someone merely forgotten to close the door to the basement, and you were hearing the same cries that caused your nightmares? Even though the screaming does not last for long, it renders you helpless, shaking in every bone. It’s not until the door opens that you can think again.
“Change of plans,” Cassandra announces, stepping into the room. There’s a worried expression on her face, and her voice tells you she’s distracted. When she sees the state you’re in, however, she’s quick to sit next to you. “Hey, you’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s Daniela that does. She- her soulmate-... it’s bad. That’s all we know. One second she was fine, the next she’s howling in pain, and there’s a huge scar on her back. We’re going to have a ‘family lunch’, per mother’s insistence, in case it helps Dani think about literally anything other than what just happened.” With that, one of her hands moves to your own, giving a reassuring squeeze. To her surprise, you’re quick to return the gesture.
“I can come with,” you blurt out. Then she’s raising an eyebrow at you, wondering why the hell you’d ever offer to spend time with her family. The family that had imprisoned you. And, of course, intended to drain you of blood, or dine on your flesh. Even you weren’t a hundred percent sure. “This has got to be hard for her. I… I knew someone who went through something similar. Strange as it is, I want to show my support. If you’ll allow me, that is.” There’s neither a pleading tone nor a hint of anger in your voice. But Cassandra still hesitates, eying you, clearly questioning your motive.
“Alright, fine,” she says, after a deep sigh. “If you do anything to make her feel worse, I can’t- and won’t- stop my family from killing you, blood bond be damned. They’ll make it painless, for my sake, but that’s the only kindness you’ll get. Got it?” You nod, giving her hand another squeeze. “Good. Now let’s get going, I don’t want to make Dani wait.”
It’s quiet. Awkward, even. Daniela is clearly still shaken up from her experience, with red eyes, makeup staining her cheeks. No one seems to have the slightest clue of what to say to her. Even you are silent, unable to find a good opportunity to lend your advice or sympathies. Which makes it all the more painful when you find Daniela watching you, eyes narrowed, a tremble to her lower lip. Both Cassandra and Bela seem to notice, pausing their eating to wait with bated breath. Part of you swears you can hear their thoughts of please don’t say anything, please don’t say anything, for the love of everything good in this world. So, naturally, Daniela does in fact say something. But it’s not directed at you- rather your soulmate.
“Did you really have to bring them? Huh? Felt like pouring salt in my wounds?” Her throat is obviously sore from crying, or screaming, likely both. This certainly wasn’t how you wanted your first meeting with her (or her mother) to go. So you summon the best of your courage, replying before Cassandra even opens her mouth.
“I asked to come. I wanted to show my support,” you reply. There’s a pause, with Daniela glaring at you, before she speaks slowly and with unveiled rage.
“Don’t make me laugh. You really thought I’d want to see my sister’s soulmate right now? Alive and well? God, you’re perfect for her, absolutely clueless,” she growls, smacking her fist against the table. Things have gone from bad to worse, but you don’t give up, deciding to take a risk as best as you could. After all, Cassandra had made it clear that your life was on the line.
“Tell me, was the pain bad enough that you passed out?” You ask, ignoring the way your soulmate kicks your feet. She’s desperate for you to shut up, especially now that Daniela’s too angry to even respond. “Are you still in pain now? Answer the question and I’ll either explain, or let you use my bones as toothpicks.”
“Fuck you!” Daniela cries, rising to her feet. Instantly her sisters are standing as well, though it’s unclear what ‘side’ either of them are on. For now, their mother remains sitting, staring at you intensely. When you refuse to back down, the tension in the room flickers, fading a tad. “The pain lasted ten minutes. It’s stopped. They’re…”
“They’re not dead, then. Reason to celebrate, yes?” You suggest, raising your glass before taking a long drink from it. Everyone is eying you with visible confusion. “When I was younger, I was with my best friend during the worst hours of her life. She had met her soulmate at age twelve, three years prior. We had just been… hanging out. Talking. The next thing I knew she was screaming like her blood had turned to acid, sobbing her eyes out. Then she blacked out. By the time she came to, we were at the hospital, and we ran into her soulmate’s family. She asked them what was wrong, why she was in so much pain. I, uh, I think you can guess the answer. Not the specifics, yeah, but the general gist of it. It took twenty four hours for the physical pain to stop. According to the doctors, that’s pretty average. So your soulmate isn’t dead. Chances are you haven’t even met them yet, and someday you’ll see that scar on their back, and you’ll know. I know that this doesn’t make everything okay, but I hope it helps. At least a little.” When Daniela finally brings herself to reply, having sunk back into her seat, it’s with a soft voice, hardly more than a whisper.
“It does. Thank you.”
Later, you’re walking back to Cassandra’s room when she suddenly pushes you against a wall, staring at you with fear in her eyes.
“What you said earlier. About your friend. Was that true?” You’re nodding, quickly, desperate to get her to release you. But she doesn’t. Instead she’s looking at you with concern, tears beginning to form in the corners of her eyes. “Goddamnit, you better not ever fucking die on me then, alright? Promise me. Right now!” A thousand thoughts go through your mind, a thousand jabs or otherwise cruel remarks, but when you speak, it’s with a hushed reverence you cannot describe.
“Same to you. I know you’re practically immortal, but I don’t fucking care. Don’t die on me. Don’t- just don’t. I promise, but you better fucking mean it too, alright?” You say, openly crying, ignoring the way Cassandra’s expression softens at your words. As soon as you’re done speaking she lets you go with a nod, turning back to the hallway, already walking towards her room. You’re not entirely sure what just happened… but you know you’re glad it did.
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