The relationship between a Vampyre and their Donor is a special one based on respect, trust – and quite often, mutual need. In their own words, a Swan and Vampyre in Cape Town describe their very first meeting and communion.

Aura is a sanguine Vampyre, and Rose, a Swan. Both are members of the SAVA and live and work in Cape Town. Rose tells of her first meeting with Aura a few weeks ago.

“I’ve been a self-harmer for many years – nothing too hectic, not in my eyes, at least. I’d been looking for someone who might benefit from my cutting without judging me for it. I think it’s part habit, part addiction, part dangerous fun. That’s how I see it, but I know it hurts the people who love me, and in my head, finding someone who would benefit from it would even out the energy imbalance caused by my habit.

I made contact with Aura – a Vampyre in my area, needing a donor. We started chatting on a Monday. By the following Friday we had made plans to meet the following Monday. We exchanged emails and I sent her a contract with my full name, and asked for her to fill her dayside name in too. I booked a routine appointment with my doctor, and got checked for HIV and Hepatitis B. We arranged to meet at a coffee shop in Claremont – an area almost mid-way between my place and hers. I chose it because of the smoking section and bar.

All the formalities had been worked out beforehand – we’d both agreed on the contract. I bought blades from Shoprite a few weeks ago, and still had 3 unopened ones. That morning, I packed my ID, flash-drive, blades, and safety pins. I got a photocopy of my ID, and printed copies of my rights, a second version of my rights with Vampyre responsibilities, and our mutual contract.

On my way to Claremont, I stopped off to buy six 7.5ml glass bottles. Even though she said she’d only need one or two, I bought extra, just in case. I stopped at the pharmacy too, and re-stocked my medical cabinet – 4 crepe bandages, 4 20x20cm gauze pads, micropore, and a box of 100 5×5 gauze pads. I knew I wasn’t going to need it all for her, but I had run out of bandages at home. It later turned out she also brought a roll of bandage for me.

We met at 11am. Having never come into physical contact with a Vampyre before, I wondered if I’d feel anything odd when I met her. I didn’t. She seemed a completely normal, human girl, with bright red hair and a tongue ring. we chatted for a while, read through the contract, signed it, and chatted some more. We found out that we’re both mad about cats. She has a dog that chews through everything! I work in a pet shop in the area, and told her she needs Avert Bitter solution for that, and asked if she’d be keen on the mission.

I asked the waitress where the nearest bathroom was – it was by the adjacent restaurant. I took my bag with all my supplies. The waiters death-stared me when I said I just wanted to use their bathroom. To my dismay, there were only two cubicles – one for men, and one for women. The women’s one was occupied, so I used the men’s one. I was shaking as I lifted my skirt and drew the blade across my thigh. It felt different this time. Usually I cut when I’m upset or angry – in that moment I was neither.

I pressed hard – harder than usual, and made a nice short, but deep slice in my leg. It took a while to start bleeding properly. My hands were shaking as I opened the first bottle and held it under the cut. A lot of it didn’t go into the bottle, instead spilt down the side of it. It took a lot longer than expected, and wasted quite a bit of blood – I think only half of it actually got into the bottle. The second bottle took less time to fill – I was bleeding nicely by that stage. When the second bottle was about halfway full, I dropped it. It didn’t break, but it went all over the floor. It hadn’t looked like much in the bottle, but seeing it on the floor made it seem like a lot more. The whole business took close on 20 minutes, and I was starting to worry about what the waiters at the restaurant were thinking. I washed my hands and the bottles, and walked out like it was the most normal thing in the world.”

Of their meeting, Aura wrote “Swan. It’s a beautiful name. From where the metaphor is derived, I do not know, but it encapsulates every bit of devotion and sacrifice that these people offer into a word that is synonymous with melancholic poetry.

I met Rose on a Monday morning. She and I had found each other with the help of another Vampyre via the SAVA. Before that I had a donor with whom I had maintained a long and comfortable relationship that had spanned a decade, but Change, being crafty, decided to toss things up and we mutually decided to part ways. Although I had agreed to the decision, the prospect of being without a donor terrified me. I had been privileged enough to feed whenever the need arose, and in the absence of her blood I deteriorated at a fast rate.

However, four days after my final feeding with my previous swan, I found myself sitting in a coffee shop next to Rose, who in a very professional manner had got together all the necessary documents and contracts with minimal input from my side. Admittedly, the idea of a new swan, especially one that had never donated before, did not particularly thrill me.

As a whole, I have never been too comfortable with my vampyrism – somewhat a taboo subject – and the impending-doom expectation that I may need to explain myself or try to justify my needs to someone that I had never met seemed a daunting obstacle.

Needless to say I started our meeting with a double whiskey at 11 o’clock in the morning – so much for first impressions. Rose proved to be brilliant, despite my apprehension. I was relieved to discover how at ease she was with the concept of vampyrism and she asked only intelligent questions, and our conversation ran smoothly. After some time she went to the restrooms and returned with two small bottles of red.

After some time she went to the restrooms and returned with two small bottles of red. I would not have accompanied her to the bathrooms of the coffee shop, even had she offered. Perhaps I am a hypocrite or else a coward, but I cannot watch the drawing of the blood. Ironically, I am a vegetarian for the reason that if I am unable to kill the animal myself, I have no right to be eating it. Also I am terribly squeamish, which I know is ridiculous for a Vampyre, but I am not claiming to be the poster-child for our kind. But ultimately what bothers me the most is that I find the act of one cutting themselves extremely overwhelming.

Although I need blood to maintain a stable, healthy life, I do not understand why or how a person can purposefully harm themselves to that degree. I feel saddened, and worse, a feeling of creeping guilt. This side to my need I vehemently abhor, and yet I am bound to it.

Rose herself attests to the fact that she would be doing it with or without having to feed a Vampyre, but that ever-present nagging guilt persuades me to believe that my needs have cultivated a habit. In the case of my previous donor, and now, in this current scenario, it does not promote the ceasing of the self-harming practice. However, to dwell on such thoughts is narcissistic and simultaneously paves the way for self-degradation and self-hatred for the Vampyre.

Upon Rose’s return to the table, a small smear of blood on her shoulder immediately caught my attention, and I could not help but stare. The urge to set about draining the bottles of her blood immediately was strong, but I have always maintained the attitude of “human first, beast second”, and rather than act like a junkie being offered a handful of crack, I kept my composure and chatted several moments longer before excusing myself from the table.

That Rose had placed it in two bottles, initially made me decided to only finish the one then and save the other for some time later. Standing in the bathroom cubicle, I let my mind go blank – for should I think about it too long, my sensitivity to blood and gore would threaten to get the better of me. I tend to gag – however, years of feeding have taught me to master my thoughts in this regard, and the contents of the first bottle disappeared swiftly.

If there were ever a time that my proverbial “beast” were to step forward and disregard the existence of my human self, it is in the moment of mid-feed, therefore in a mindless, somnambulistic fashion, the blood in second bottle followed the first without much thought. I waited for the rush of my emotions and thoughts to subside – and before exiting the cubicle, as children often do after eating brightly coloured sweets, I stopped to check how red my tongue had gone. It is a silly habit, I know, but somehow I can never refrain from doing it.

Soon we departed from the coffee shop, and went our separate ways. Our schedules for the rest of the week did not allow for us to meet again before Rose had to leave on a short vacation.

The Swan-Vampyre relationship creates a strong bond between two people, and should either party mistreat the other, it is sacrilegious of the bond. While Donors and Vampyres may share different views on life as individual people, a mutual understanding and level of respect must be kept between each person so that the relationship may be fruitful and not degenerate into abuse on any level. As a Vampyre I do not seek a sycophantic martyr, but a friend with whom I may share this symbiotic lifestyle.

Over the past two weeks Rose and I have remained in close contact, and I say in confidence that we are at the beginning of a very successful swan-vampyre relationship.”

Rose and Aura have subsequently refined their technique, as well as cemented their growing friendship.

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