Quiet in the Darkness
He lay quiet in the darkness, holding her.
He felt peaceful for the first time in over four hundred years. His wife had returned to him. She slept here now beside him.
He held her gently, an arm comfortably wrapped around one delicate, exposed shoulder. Her head rested against him as his fingers gently stroked her thick, wavy, dark hair. Their breath rose and fell in rhythm together.
He had draped a sheet over them, mostly her, to ward off the chill. Their unadorned bodies lay comfortably intertwined beneath it. They smelled of smoke and blood and destruction. Passion and love and consummated desire. All these smells together emitted a heady aroma to his sharpened senses.
Past lives, she had said. Yes, he supposed that might suffice for him. He vividly remembered living as Vlad Teppis. He remembered his beloved Ilona, his beautiful, gentle wife. He had loved her every day that she was alive. And he had grieved her every day since he had been forced to watch her burn, listen to her burn, smell her burn.
He barely repressed a shudder at the memory and the peacefully sleeping woman nestled closer to him, making a small sound in her throat. He brushed his lips lightly against her forehead and she quieted. Her fingers on his chest quivered for a moment, tickling him. A ghost of smile drifted over his countenance.
Mina. She was Ilona come back to him; that was true. But she was so much more as well. She was kind and intelligent, as Ilona had been, but this new day and age offered her opportunities to use that intelligence further than she would ever have been allowed to before. She was her own person altogether and he would not withhold that right from her.
If Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams, were real and gifting him with visions of all he desired, he could not have achieved more success. But then again, the Greek gods had been known to be finicky bastards who were not be trusted. He dare not admit his wary sense of hope.
He wished to speak to her in his true voice. The voice of Vlad Teppis. Would her soul recognize that voice echoing from across the centuries? And should he really use that voice? If he were to embrace this new life, his American voice would speak to Mina Murray, not Ilona from long ago.
Past lives, she had said. Might it be possible that this Alexander Grayson persona could be his new life? Only the parasite vampire Dracula inside held him back. That which could not be contained. He had refrained from consuming blood when he had been newly intoxicated with walking in the sunlight. He had attempted to fool himself into believing that he was a new man, no longer subject to his terrible curse. The results had been dismal to say the least.
He was not the demon, the monster. The demon, the monster, the vampire, the Dracula resided within him. It was not him. He remembered being simply Vlad Teppis. His original soul before they had torn it asunder and burned it to ashes.
She had given herself willingly to him last night with complete abandon in the light of his revelations. But what would become of them now?
He would move the heavens and earth on her whim. But how can a vampire move the sun?
Could he tell her in such a way that she would believe him, understand him, forgive him?
Oh, Mina my dear, you should be aware: I am a four hundred year old vampire who shuns the sunlight. On frequent occasion, I must also drink blood and often kill when I do so. Care for a cup of tea?
No. Mina, this exquisite creature, would not accept that. She had disbanded herself from that insipid Harker because the fool had betrayed her trust with Lucy.
No. Mina would hold no quarter with his actions. What more would she do if he revealed the atrocities he had committed since being cursed by the Order?
After he had been cursed, in his rage and pain, he had made the entire countryside pay. As far he could reach his demonic fingers, he had made them pay. Impaling his enemies, striking fear into the hearts of any those dared to whisper his name aloud or shudder in fear at the thought of him. Creating more monsters like him. Making them all pay.
Until he had been caught and lay low to thirst in the earth below, trapped, unable to move. Left to languish alone in the dark and starve for blood, for life, for her.
And all the sins he had committed in the last fifteen years, righteously vengeful though some of them may be, would be unforgiveable to her. It would destroy her to know she had bonded herself to one so dark as he.
Yes, he must withhold the truth from her for her own protection. But did he really want to? Did he wish to keep secrets, to push her away? No. He desired to tell her everything. Lay bare all the ugly parts of his soul. Surely she, this fascinating mixture of Ilona and Mina, could find some way to wipe it all clean and absolve him.
It was lighter in the room now. The sun was beginning to rise. The burning sun, the wretched sun, the tantalizing sun, the punishing sun.
All this time, Alexander Grayson, Vlad Teppis, had been playing the long game. Every single move strategically thought out and put into play. And now with Mina Murray, Ilona reborn, beside him, he was at a loss as to his next action.
Her breathing changed and she stretched languidly as she began rousing from her slumber, pressing her body fully to his. He felt himself stir from her movements.
A smile played about his lips, entranced by her. She exuded life. She radiated life. She was life.
Raising her head, she smiled at him.
"Alexander," she murmured.