Title: Hope & Love (1/1)
Author: Friar Carl
E-mail: friarcarlsarchive "at" yahoo.com (Please use the "at" symbol, of course.)
Characters: Velkan, Anna
Rating: PG (Trust me...you survived the movie, you'll make it through this fic.) No sex, slash, or profanity included, implied, or intended.
Feedback: Constructive feedback welcome; flames will be used to light torches for reading!
Summary: Six months following the disappearance of their father, Velkan is injured in an attempt to to find Dracula's castle...and Anna, caring for him afterward, wrestles with her worries.
Notes: Yes, I will be writing some fics featuring Van Helsing and Carl in the future. However, I am particularly interested in exploring Velkan, so please don't be surprised if you see some of those fics from me as well. My primary subgenre does tend to be hurt/comfort, more emphasis on the comfort than the hurt, so if you can't stand that, you may not care for my work. If that's the case, I'm sorry...do consider yourself forewarned. But I do hope you'll give my stories a try.
Language Notes: Except for the opening quotation, the presence of italics indicates the use of Romanian. Granted, I know this would be the language spoken rather than English throughout, so it wouldn't be a conversation in English with one or two words sprinkled in here or there; however, I have included a little in the interest of flavour. Strigoi - ghost or spectre, often used in reference to vampires. Romanian villagers talking about folklore traditions and personal or family experiences actually, if you listen to them directly rather than through an interpreter, tend to use strigoi rather than the literal vampir. Print - Prince.

For permission to reproduce any part of this fanfic, please ask the author in advance at friarcarlsarchive "at" yahoo.com. (As stated above, please use the "at" symbol.)

DISCLAIMER: The characters, places, and story of "Van Helsing" as presented in the film are the property of writer/director Stephen Sommers; Van Helsing and Dracula are originally the property of author Bram Stoker, while Victor Frankenstein and his "monster" are originally the property of author Mary Shelley, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde belong to author Robert Louis Stevenson. In addition, various rights belong to other parties, including Universal Studios, who brought Igor to life in their films, which inspired the work of Sommers. All that out of the way, my point is that this writing is presented purely as fanfiction and is not intended to claim ownership in whole or in part of anyone else's work in any way. Please e- mail me if you have concerns. Furthermore, please do NOT consider any treatments or remedies within this story safe or effective to use: these are included as fictitious medical and nursing care, not accurate modern medical practice, and while some can indeed be traced to actual therapeutic practices, could be dangerous. Please consult your health care professional before treating yourself or others for any condition or symptom.

Hope & Love

We live by admiration, hope and love. -- William Wordsworth

Too long.

Anna sighed, biting her lower lip tensely. It had been too long for her liking since Velkan had stirred: not that she wished him to suffer, but seeing him lie so still tied a knot of worry in her chest. She knew he still lived, for the rich covering rose and fell in visible, if laboured, rhythm, but he had been quiet for some hours now, though he had been carried in kicking and pulling, attempting to free himself to go back out in pursuit of his attackers.

Dear Velkan.

Smiling at the thought, she shuddered nonetheless, remembering the ugly gashes and darkening purple bruises along his shoulders and side...from being tossed into the rocks, he'd explained through painful breaths. He had thought to find the door along a mountain, along an area of map marked by their father...and what had happened from there, she could not yet gather. He had had such difficulty breathing when he was carried in that she had begged him to hush, insisting that he could explain all about it later, though inside she longed to know. He would go back out immediately, he had insisted; he needed only a fresh shirt and cloak, and of course weapons to replace those torn from his grasp. It had taken every bit of her persuasion to press him into allowing her to put him to bed, to tuck him in and make a warm drink for him, to watch that he drank every bit of the hot milk and plum brandy down to help dull the pain. Her fingers found breaks in the bones along his ribcage, and even his stoicism could not hide the mounting pain that even breathing caused, much less any effort at turning or sitting up. She could only imagine what standing would do to him.

So, despite his protests, she smeared honey on cloths and sprinkled it with pepper, applying the compresses to his bruises to help them heal quickly and melt the pain, then applied her mixture of honey, garlic juice, and a bit of fat to the wounds, shushing him as she worked. A plaster of chopped cabbage leaves and potatoes mixed with flour and icy-cold water, applied only with a little warm oil rubbed gently on the skin first to keep it from itching, covered with a clean cloth and secured in place, and she helped Velkan into a reclining position, stroking his thick hair reassuringly. The plaster would help the inflammation from the broken bones.

He had fallen asleep at last, protests subsiding after a little more warmed milk and brandy, drifting at last into a deep slumber, there in his room filled with familiar tapestries and beloved books, reminders of days less dark. Only a few months ago their father would have been here, would have carried Velkan in himself, would have held his only son and reassured both of them that -

No.

A few months ago, this would not have happened.

Their father would never have allowed Velkan to be so badly hurt.

She should never have allowed Velkan to be so badly hurt.

She should have guessed he would go. He had talked of nothing but the map for days, and that morning -

Sighing, she tried to force her attention back to things of the present as a distraction, wringing out a cloth in the basin on Velkan's bedside-table, touching her lips lightly to his brow. Perhaps not the most scientific way of checking for fever, but it was how their mother had always done so. Always Velkan was sick with fever for days after such wounds, as if his body, however strong, could not fight off the poisons that seemed to be carried with each battle. His smooth, fair brow felt too warm against the brush of her face, and she laid the compress gingerly upon his forehead.

It chilled her to see him so exhausted. Usually he would be awake already, if indeed he had fallen asleep at all, protesting the enforced rest and eager for his evening meal. She had become so accustomed to it that there were dishes she considered "Velkan's after-battle suppers," foods to his liking quickly prepared or gathered from the pantry, nourishing and soothing: stuffed eggs, apple pie, sandwiches, sweet biscuits with caraway and walnuts, eggs scrambled in the local tradition with smoked bacon and a dash of salt, cake with apricot marmalade. He liked for her to prepare something, to bring something to his room for them to share, and in the light of fire and lamp they would huddle together, talking of their parents, and of happy memories from their childhood. Neither of them dared to speak of what it might be like to ride through the forest under the sun, without thought of how far they might be from home at sunset or what evils darkness might visit upon them.

Her father would not have let Velkan go alone. . .and had he been hurt at all, her father would have brought him back in strong, familiar arms, reassured them both that everything would be all right. They would have had supper in Velkan's room while Papa told stories of their mother. Stories of the gypsies' brighter days.

Those days would never come again.

"Anna?"

She looked up at once. Velkan winced as he shifted position slightly, and at once she placed both hands on his shoulders. "Sshhh. I'm here. No sitting up, now. You promised."

He made a slight face, wrinkling his nose. "But I'm thirsty."

"I'll get you some water." Quickly she poured a cupful from the decanter of chilled water on his bedside-table, then removed the compress and raised his head, holding the drink to his dry lips even as his unsteady hands stubbornly reached to direct it. He drank eagerly...good, good. The only time he'd ever gotten hurt when Papa was here, she recalled that much...he had pressed Velkan to drink, saying it would help his body make new blood to replace the spilled.

Would that she could put out water to turn to blood long enough to sate the strigoi, the vampires. She'd slip up and drive stakes through their hearts before they knew what struck them. All but one. And that one -

"Anna, could I have a bit of supper?"

She started, looking back to realise that he had finished the water. Smiling, she kissed his forehead. "Hungry?"

"Yes - I haven't had anything since breakfast, either." There was a hint of the pitiful, slightly petulant little lad he used to play with their parents in his tone, causing her smile to broaden.

"Then we shall have to give you something extra nice, mm? I'll go and fetch it if you'll stay right here, in bed, and not move." Rising, she slipped carefully off the bed, trying not to jostle him, though still he winced almost imperceptibly. "Are you in much pain? Truthfully now, Velkan."

"It's all right."

Translation: it was bone-cracking pain that would make most men cry out. "I'll bring you some meadowsweet tea with your supper. We need to bring down your fever a little; that'll make you more comfortable." (And that tea will ease your pain, she thought to herself, but said nothing.)

"I'm fine." His tone was irritable, and he winced as he pulled at his covers, nestling under them fretfully. "Just hungry. And thirsty, still, too."

Anna smiled, tucking him in securely. Elder brother or no, he was all she had. And she would not make the mistake of letting him be hurt again. Wringing out a fresh cloth, she ran it gently over his face, then took each hand in turn, bathing the slim fingers before preparing a clean, cool compress and folding it across his brow. "How does some beef soup sound? And I have some mashed potatoes...and apple whip...hot wine with sugar and cinnamon...and a bit of cake with those sour cherries you love for dessert."

He smiled a little. . .the first time she'd seen him smile since he had been brought back to her. "That sounds wonderful, provided you bring it before I starve!"

"All right, then, if you're going to be like that about it, Print!" Laughing, she left the room without even watching where she was going, her eyes on Velkan's amused features as long as possible.

Hope wasn't gone.

It just wore itself in different finery...like Velkan's face.

So long as there were the two of them left, after all, she thought, there would always be hope.

Always.

-the end-