Author's note: Well, after seeing Van Helsing yesterday, I finally got the urge to dabble in fandom again. Partly because I was a bit angry that we never saw Dracula's reaction to Verona's death, even though she was the oldest of his Brides and his second in command. So, here is my version of that missing scene. Please, review. Constructive criticism is welcome.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. It all belongs to Universal, Stephen Sommers, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and whoever else. I mean no copyright infringement. Please, do not sue little ole me, I am pretty much harmless. Except for that plan to hold the Universal studio executives hostage in exchange for another Mummy movie where Imhotep gets a happy ending, and, um, never mind. Just don't sue me. Savvy?

FADE TO ASH

She was gone. The connection, her life, her undead life, her presence, it was all gone. It was gone, she was gone, and Dracula felt even more empty than ever as he cried out in rage and in loss.

His Verona was gone. His Verona, his first bride, his second in command, his beautiful mistress and mother to his younger brides. He had lost her, he could not feel her anymore, and his cold heart somehow grew colder.

The Dwergi and Igor were watching him, frozen in their work, startled and disturbed and frightened by the outraged, anguished cry from their master. They immediately resumed their jobs as Dracula glowered at them all before storming back into the bedroom.

The bed was unmade and the sheets a tangled mess, just as always. He rarely ever slept in it, but his brides enjoyed making love in it. And he could not deny them the pleasure it brought to them. He walked over to it, pulling up on of the sheets, inhaling the scent left on it.

Verona.

Marishka.

Aleera, his only bride left.

He could feel her anger and sorrow, her jealousy, her rage, her despair. He felt only through her now, she was his only link to human emotions lost, the price for his immortality. His brides had not made such a bargain as he, they did not suffer the loss of those emotions, feelings. Or perhaps it was gain.

Still, he did feel some things. He did feel the rage, the loss, the, sadness, at losing Verona. He felt it in his heart, but they were fading quickly. Feelings were fleeting and far between, destined to become vague memories after only a moment. He knew that once Aleera was home, he would comfort her, claim her again, and would lose anything he had ever felt for Verona. Those feelings would become just as lost as the days when she had been his only companion.

Dracula closed his eyes, tearing the sheet in half as he tried to recall the pain, the agony she had felt as the stakes impaled her body, the flames lapping up at her even as she turned to ash and dust. He tried to remember the fear and pain in her mind, her call to him, her call to Aleera, her cry of death.

It had already faded away, the pain already turning to ash, just like his first bride's body.

Where was the passion? The fire she had made him feel? Aleera would try, oh she would try so hard to give him that fire, but Verona had already given up trying to rekindle it in his breast, for near her end she had even started to fail.

Once, she had made him feel alive. Once, Marishka had given him a taste of it, once, Aleera had brought the memory to his mind. Now, they simply made him recall the vague, fading memory of it. With each year, with each loss, each failure, he lost more and more capability to feel. With each bride fallen, he lost more and more of his ability to desire and lust and to even remember what love was.

His was losing her, his memories of how she felt beneath him, how she sounded when he pleased her, how she smiled so softly, the faintest touch of triumph to her lips when she pleased him. With Marishka, it was long gone, lost to him forever, but it seemed like it pained him more this time.

Verona. His lovely, deadly Verona. So calm and confident, so quick and efficient. So desperate to be a mother, to have children to raise, not just simply her younger companions to watch over and lead.

It had been Verona to first feel the yearning, the maternal instincts taking over and making her long for the ability to have offspring. Aleera had felt it next, and much to Dracula's slight surprise, even Marishka, naughty and sadistic Marishka, had started to feel the longing in her heart. But it had been Verona first. Verona's plead to have children, to have young, that had spurred Dracula to find a way for it to happen.

It had been Verona who first gave him the thought of young, of progeny. She was the one to give him thoughts of another generation. It had been because of her that he had ever felt the longing to feel some sort of paternal pride.

And now, she was gone. And he was starting to lose all that she had ever made him feel, all of it turning to ash, to rot with whatever remains of her body were left. He felt himself grow even more cold, and he knew, Aleera would be little comfort tonight.

He did not feel hope. Did not allow himself to even entertain the wild notion that perhaps his youngest and most eager to please bride would be able to awaken the memories of life, or to rekindle flames from the ash that was all left of his feelings, emotions.

Soon, he would have the Creature and he would have his family, and he and Aleera would raise the children, nurse them, have the family they had yearned for. He would kill Anna Valerious, and assure that the family of the human Dracula once was did not pass through the gates to Heaven.

Soon, it would all be complete. But he would not share it with his Verona, or his Marishka. He thought of taking in another bride, of giving Aleera a companion and friend and sister. It was an option, he supposed, but he was not certain he wanted to replace Verona. Or even Marishka. Not now. Perhaps in a few years, once Aleera was a bit older and calmer.

Dracula sighed. He was almost trying to force himself to feel, to react, to act as though it still pained him. Perhaps some part of him did feel that way, but it was so faint, it would not be listened to. He did not know if he would take anymore brides, but it was a good possibility.

Even if the event would greatly displease Aleera.

Dracula allowed himself a small smile, recalling one last memory that he could still feel something from.

Verona had never been jealous when he turned Marishka and Aleera. She had always been like a mother to them. He suspected Aleera, young and childlike, had been the reason Verona had ever felt that longing in her heart and her womb.

He closed his eyes. And felt the memory fade.

Fade to ash.