“I really want to listen to this opera, but I feel a bit bad that Vi’s in the Grand House by herself. Is there any chance you can accompany her? You know, have a fireside chat with her?” invites Tess.
You question Tess whether Vi would want an uninvited guest for the evening. Tess seems confident that she would welcome your presence. “Oh, since I started living with her, she’s become much more casual, and has somewhat abandoned some of her old habits, like those fancy parties she used to hold for big shot nobles. Those used to require RSVPs weeks in advance.”
Tess looks fondly up at the darkening sky. “The only standard she still keeps is her love of expensive, luxurious food. Poor Hilde keeps disappointing her on that front. But you…”
She looks at you mischievously and whispers, “Don’t tell her I said this, but she talks a lot about you. It’s almost as if she’s trying to stop herself from mentioning your name, since she knows Hilde and I always hear it.”
You know Vi well, even before she became Anna’s prime minister. She was once the queen’s adversary, a noblewoman from an august Viking bloodline that controlled vast resources and considerable political capital in Anna’s parliament. That changed when she joined Anna and rebelled against the demon that held her in thrall to his designs, among them the demand to seize Northuldra’s magic for him. But in London, Vi surrendered decisively to the demon in exchange for the vampiric power to save Tess. She could no longer escape the darkness as the First Vampire. Perhaps that was why she was much warmer and kinder than before. Inevitable damnation has a way of putting things in perspective.