Daylight matters

Author's Note: What kind of challenges await a vampire who is in the role of parent to a human child? Find out! Set in the context of my Mature rated fiction Angel of the Night, set soon after the introduction. This story stands on its own though and leaves out the grimmer aspects of the original story. It may be considered as being Angel of the Night in fuzzy felts. The new character, Jo, is loosely inspired by both Mary Poppins and Jo Frost aka Supernanny.

Helga had known the vampire Elysia Darkholm since she was a little girl. Now she was an old woman, but her friend was unchanged – the picture of youthful beauty and radiance. Helga knew of the legends of vampires of bygone eras who had been terrible, but she felt a great affection for Elysia. The vampiress had been the only constant friend in her life. The only one who had ever really been there for her and given her houseroom when she was destitute.

Helga entered the inner sanctum of the Darkholm residence. She smiled. Elysia now had a son. It had been a pleasant surprise to discover this. Leif was such a beautiful child. They were truly picture perfect together. Helga entered the newly established playroom. Elysia and Leif were on the floor together playing with a toy train. Leif's hair shone like gold in the lamplight. For all that she was approaching three hundred years old, Elysia appeared to be having as much fun as the six year old Leif was.

Elysia looked up, brushing her long sleek black hair away from her face. "Good afternoon Helga, it is a joy to see you here," she said, her voice low and mellifluous.

"Is Helga coming to play too mum?" asked Leif. "Can we all go into the field?" Helga had taken him into the mansion grounds for a picnic the previous day. As a vampire, Elysia could not withstand daylight. She was only able to take Leif outside during the night.

"If only I could take you out into the field in the sunshine dearest," said Elysia regretfully. "But I don't sparkle in the sun." Helga knew that Elysia was really against the idea of anyone taking Leif out of both the house and grounds without her being present. So far Leif had not visited anywhere in the city during the day. It was understandable that she was so protective of him. Immediately before his sixth birthday, she had rescued him from the attentions of a pair of depraved cutthroats who had murdered his biological mother in cold blood. From that moment, Elysia had been very attached to Leif. While she was with him, she could protect him more effectively than any mortal woman could.

"I do know of a solution to the problem of daylight, Elysia," said Helga. "I know of an incredibly gifted childminder who could take care of Leif even in inner city London during the daylight."

"Oh yes?" Said Elysia, her dark eyes showing curiosity. "I am always interested to hear your ideas Helga, but I doubt I would be easily satisfied about her credentials."

"Well as it happens she can be contacted quite simply," said Helga. "I have heard extraordinary things about her."

That evening the three of them stood in the high walled courtyard. Helga had contacted the miracle nanny, but assured Elysia that there would be no need to open the gates for her. "Very well," said Elysia, giving Helga that penetrating gaze she knew so well. "I am ready to expect the unexpected." Elysia held Leif by the hand. "We might be seeing a new nanny angel," she told him. "Helga says she knows of one who is a wonderful person who could take you out safely during the daytime."

"Would she play with me and read to me like you do?" Asked Leif, looking up at her with curious blue eyes.

"We'll have to see," said Elysia with a smile. Suddenly Elysia stiffened. She narrowed her eyes as she peered up at the sky.

"Oh I should have mentioned this," said Helga. "She might arrive by air. But she is no vampire I assure you." Helga added hastily.

"I know she is not a vampire," said Elysia. "I can sense her coming. Well this is a young woman full of surprises." Helga's sight was failing her in her old age and she could not see that far into the evening sky. But Leif noticed a shape high above them. He laughed and pointed. "That's not a bird," he chuckled. It certainly wasn't. The form of a young woman holding onto an umbrella was visible. She floated down into plain view and then alighted onto the paving stones.

"A good evening to you," said Elysia. "I am Elysia Darkholm and this is my son, Leif."

"Delighted to meet you both," said the woman. "I am Joanna Rose, I would prefer it if you called me Jo."

"I can do that," piped Leif.

Elysia shook Jo by the hand, at the same time, subjecting her to an intense gaze. Jo met her eyes unblinkingly. Jo was a good looking young woman with long dark hair and piercing blue eyes. There was something about her that Elysia found difficult to place, despite her long life experience. But there was a palpable aura of goodness about her as well.

"Come inside, lest you mortals catch a chill," said Elysia and the four of them went indoors. Elysia showed Jo Leif's bedroom.

"Well this is very tidy," said Jo, rubbing her hands together.

"Of course it is," said Elysia. "Leif is always as good as gold."

"That's a good boy Leif," said Jo. "I can tell your behaviour is totally as-septable." She had a curious way of pronouncing the word "acceptable."

Leif giggled, his eyes shining. "Do you like my dolls?" he said. "Mummy made me this one herself." The doll in question was surprisingly realistic and detailed. It resembled a beautiful girl with long black hair and black eyes.

"Ah beautiful," said Jo, giving Elysia a knowing smile.

They visited the playroom next. There were various toys still out. "Hmm, this is less tidy," said Jo critically.

"Well it is in use," said Helga, still breathless from the walk down the corridor.

"I can show you a trick to make the tidying go much faster," said Jo.

"I hardly think that will be necessary Jo," said Elysia.

"Oh but this is a great part," said Helga.

"Very well," said Elysia. "Show us this magic method."

"Yes, show us the magic," said Leif.

Jo clapped her hands and the toy train rushed over to the toybox. Jo picked it up and put it inside. The tin soldiers all formed a procession and re-entered their wooden fortress. Leif gave a cheer. "What did I tell you?" said Helga.

"Well I'm impressed," said Elysia as the toys put themselves away. "There is more about you than would be apparent to the human eye Jo."

Jo smiled serenely. "And what about a little medicine?"

"Whatever for?" asked Elysia.

"For Helga first, for a demonstration," said Jo, taking a bottle from her pocket and filling a spoon. She held it out to Helga. The old lady smacked her lips.

"Mmm gin," said Helga. "Just a tipple of course."

"That's not just a bottle of gin is it?" said Elysia looking Jo in the eye. Jo looked up, meeting her gaze with perfect serenity.

"It reminds us all of your favourite things," said Jo. She poured herself a spoon and tasted it. "See, rum punch."

"Can I try some?" Asked Leif.

"Hold one moment," said Elysia. "May I examine the bottle Jo?"

Jo smiled and poured a spoonful of the medicine and handed it to Elysia. The liquid in this spoon was thick and a deep blood red. Elysia's dark eyes widened. She breathed heavily. She snatched the spoon and put it in her mouth sucking noisily. Her breathing steadied and she became calm. "Not really blood," she commented. "Leif doesn't need this, if he wants any beverage I'll get him the real thing."

"It's good for those with a low budget," said Jo shrugging.

"Well I know you have some renown," said Elysia.

"You can say that again," said Helga.

"I'm prepared to give you a trial," said Elysia. "Any wage you want will be fine."