Written for Bekuh. =)
Read the previous part of this story here.
TOWER, TOWER - [Part XLV]
“What do you mean, we won’t?” Marceline demands. Over Bubblegum’s fingers her own hand tightens; her lower lip drops, exposing the startled syringes of her fangs and the flared violet ribbon of her tongue.
“We won’t fight him,” Bubblegum clarifies.
“What? Bonni, we have to fight—”
Cloth rustles—the sheets of the bed shiver and Finn stirs again amidst their tangle. The vampire’s head snaps down as the squire opens his eyes and rolls his head toward them. Rubbing at his cheek—he’s going to open the cut there again, Bubblegum thinks resignedly—he mumbles in a tone made bleary by sleep, “Marcy? …S’wrong?”
Marceline manages a pained smile. “Nothin’, kiddo. Not a thing. Bonni and I were talking—sorry.” Leaning down to tug the coverlet up into the slot beneath Finn’s chin, she urges, “Close your eyes now. It’s okay.” With only the briefest reluctant glance aside at her princess, the knight next nudges her hand up into Finn’s newly shorn hair, bumping her thumb over the boy’s cheek, his brow. She adds, “Sssh.”
Finn’s mouth twitches into a ghost of its familiar curve. “Nnn,” he agrees. In moments he is comatose once more, his breathing nearly heavy enough to constitute snoring.
Kneeling to hurriedly collect the assortment of books she dropped earlier, Bubblegum whispers to Marceline, “Come with me and I’ll explain. It won’t do to wake him again. And here.” Thrusting the stack of tomes into the taller woman’s arms, she insists, “Carry these—you’re more coordinated than I am,” and makes for the door.
“I don’t recall taking this job to serve as your mule,” Marceline admits once they are well beyond the mangled door of the bedchamber. She waves away the guards that appear from the shadows, shaking her head.
“I don’t recall entirely specifying your job,” replies Bubblegum. Watching from her eye’s corner the guards bleed back out of sight, she adds, “You’ve strengthened the watch a good deal, I see.”
“Don’t like being tailed, huh?” The look Marceline shoots her over the cover of the uppermost book in the stack is unrepentant.
“…I am unsettled by the practice,” the princess allows, “but it’s only because I am so accustomed to my old routine of independence, I know. And hopefully such close observance of me on their part will only be necessary for a while.” She crosses the atrium at a quick clip, the sound of her steps casting echoes across the chamber. Alongside her ankles her shadow bobs, and she takes the stairs up to the castle’s second story two at a time.
Effortlessly Marceline matches her pace—even drifts ahead of the monarch a bit. “Hopefully,” she cements. Reaching the smaller woman’s bedroom door, she toes it open. “So okay, Bonni,” she grunts, “spill your plan. I’m all ears.” She dumps her armload of books onto Bubblegum’s bed, glancing with distaste at the small volume wherein the story of the Lich waits in silent malevolence for the next reader.
Slipping past the vampire, Bubblegum closes and locks the door behind her. The chamber is thus plunged into darkness, and it takes her a moment of groping to find the matches settled atop her desk’s shelf. As she strikes one and lowers its frail blue flame to her candle’s wick, she starts, “Well, in the library I found—”
A hand furls over her shoulder. Reaching beneath her elbow, Marceline extinguishes the match: curls her other arm about Bubblegum’s waist from the back. “Ow! Actually, hang on,” she hisses. “Just… yeah. Just hang on a sec, Princess.”
Puzzled, the monarch nevertheless obediently keeps still. The smoldery scent of the match fades. Feathery and cool, Marceline’s hair tickles her throat; the floor creaks as the vampire lands behind her. Notching Bubblegum into her, the knight sighs. Against her shoulders the princess can feel the small swell and ensuing ebb of the taller woman’s breasts. Their cheeks touch, their ears too when Marceline lowers her head—the flat of the latter’s palm folds in the groove of the former’s hip. Chilled but soft, the vampire’s mouth grazes Bubblegum’s collar. The press of it is too severe for a kiss.
Closing her eyes, the princess inclines her head. “Marceline?” she queries. “What—”
“I’m sorry,” murmurs her friend in kind. She pauses—bites her lip. Bubblegum recognizes the meager sound of fangs on flesh: feels it too, tremulous under her chin. “I’m sorry,” Marceline says again, “about your friend.” And then, “I’m trying to be sensitive here, Bonnibel, glob. But I, uhm. I just—”
“You just suck at it,” Bubblegum offers, “almost as much as I suck at haircuts, mm?”
Into the hollow beneath the princess’s ear Marceline laughs: a short, shivery sound that’s both relieved and stricken. “I was gonna say I just have a hard time making my apologies seem sincere, given that this is all my fault, but hey. Yeah. Your thing—that works too. It’s definitely,” she supplies, “cheerier.”
There is a measure of quiet. Bubblegum breaks it by asking the knight, “Does it make you feel better to try to shoulder the blame for this, Marceline?”
Maybe the other woman is surprised by the question. She shifts, and Bubblegum gets the idea from her mouth’s shape that Marceline is frowning. “No,” she responds. “No, I feel terrible, but—”
“I feel terrible as well,” the princess interrupts. She leans her temple into Marceline’s. “We share that sentiment because we are both guilty, and the only way we are ever going to begin to absolve ourselves is to fix this. We must prevent the Lich from harming anyone else.”
“And yet you don’t wanna fight him.”
“No,” Bubblegum affirms. “No, I don’t. I want to help his current host—I want to keep him from manipulating another innocent soul. He has wreaked enough havoc.” She snaps, “I am determined to end it here.”
“How then, Princess?” asks Marceline.
“The same way I started all this,” Bubblegum answers. “With a book.”
Read the next part here.