Title: Hope and Fear (1/1) (Part 2 of the "Hope" Series)
Author: Friar Carl
E-mail: friarcarlsarchive "at" (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: Following the disappearance of their father, Velkan becomes ill after another attempt to to find Dracula's castle...and in nursing him, Anna finds that one may face down fear in many ways.
Notes: Yes, I may 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. I'd be curious to know whether any of you would be interested in reading sick!Velkan fics (yes, I mean as in ill, not as in disgusting. . .), as I do have the research for and interest toward tackling those as well. . . .
Language Notes: The presence of italics, for the most part (with the exception of a quotation and a thought), 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. Januarie - January. Orez cu lapte - rice with milk. Printesa - Princess. Print - Prince. Mamica - Mamma.

For permission to reproduce any part of this fanfic, please ask the author in advance at friarcarlsarchive "at" (As stated above, please use the "at" symbol. If you have not received replies to previous requests, please e-mail me again, as I was in the hospital for some time myself and my account got deactivated...this has since been remedied! The account is now active again!)

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 AND FEAR

Hope and fear are inseparable. --Francois de la Rochefoucauld

Anna set the rice to boil with milk and a little vanilla, simmering it on low heat. A tear fell from her eyes, and she turned swiftly away so it would not fall into the pot and make the rice taste bitter. Quickly she stirred. She must not let the bottom burn.

Pray God this would work where all else had failed. Velkan had returned safely from his last search for Dracula's castle - safe from the strigoi, thankfully, but not safe from the elements. It had been a cold winter, and the chill of Januarie had not been kind to him even in his wraps. Now he lay feverish and coughing in his bed, only intermittently conscious of his surroundings. She had tried plain and sour chicken soups, sour nettle soup, even the soup with egg puffs he loved so much. . .but he would take none of it. Not a single spoonful.

Perhaps this, she thought hopefully, with a nervous nibble on her lip as she added sugar and a pinch of salt.

He needed this. He needed warmth and care, words of reassurance. . .though she felt no reassurance in her own heart. Only the dark chill of fear, brightened only by weak threads of hope.

Hope that was rapidly fading.

The milk was now reduced, and she tested the rice by squeezing a bit between her fingers. It squeezed easily, so she removed the bit of vanilla and turned the rice over into a serving-bowl. Velkan liked it served hot best of all. She added a bit of cinnamon; he would like that too.

"Anna?"

"Coming!" Hastily she gathered dishes onto a serving-tray, taking it up and hurrying down the long hall to Velkan's room - a large chamber, draped in red and gold, as stately as befitted a prince. The fire burned brightly in the hearth, warming the room. Velkan lay where she had left him - huddled in his nest of covers, wrists still wrapped where she had laid mustard mixed with the white of egg upon them to ease his fever. The smell of basil, too, lingered in the room: she had immediately made a strong, hot tea of it and had him inhale it while covered with a blanket as soon as she saw he was sickening for fever.

For what little good it had done.

"Anna?" He coughed, and the taut, congested sound nearly broke her heart. "Anna, I'm so thirsty - "

"Here, love. Drink." Setting the tray upon the bed beside him, she took up a cup of water and raised him in the crook of her arm, supporting him carefully. "Slowly, now."

Thirstily he drained the glass. "Wh. . .what time is it?"

"Time for supper." She smiled gently. "Do you think you could try a little surprise for me?"

He shook his head weakly. "Not hungry. . . ."

"Not even for orez cu lapte?"

He blinked vaguely. "With cinnamon?"

"Yes."

"Maybe a. . .a little. I could try. . . ." He coughed again, struggling to regain his breath, and she moved swiftly to prop pillows behind him, easing him up a little so that he could both breathe and eat. Gingerly she spooned up a little of the rice with milk, praying it would go down smoothly. It had to. He needed nourishment.

Velkan accepted the first spoonful, swallowing weakly. . .then another. And another. Much to Anna's relief, he offered no protest, continuing to eat until most of the dish was gone.

"Good, good," soothed Anna, moving the tray aside. "Now. . .something to ease your chest and your cough, and off to sleep with you?"

He nodded, smiling faintly, the flush of fever heightening his colour. "Whatever you say, Printesa."

Anna could hardly help laughing. "Indeed then, Print!" Rising, she made her way to a side table where previously she had set out lard, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper along with two pieces of cloth which had been sprinkled with flour. These ingredients she mixed to a paste and spread between the pieces of cloth, then brought it back to the bed, carefully applying it to Velkan's chest.

"Lie still for a little with that. Then I'll rub your back."

Velkan nodded, wincing slightly. "It's strong."

"Well, it has to be to work, silly." She kissed his brow, alarmed at the heat rising from it.

"Can't I just breathe some of that tea Mamica used to make?"

"Tomorrow. Tonight we need to get a good start on clearing your chest." She stroked his wavy hair gently. "Rest."

It seemed an interminable amount of time to both of them until the poultice came off, and Anna was admittedly relieved to see that she had not left it on long enough to blister the skin. Setting the thing aside, she laid pillows in Velkan's lap, helping him sit up and lean over them.

"Anna?"

"Yes, love?"

"I'm so tired."

"I know. In a few minutes you can sleep." Carefully she applied old rum to her hands from a bottle of their father's best. Then she set to work rubbing Velkan's back tenderly, massaging it in small circles, feeling the heat rise off him.

It wasn't fair. It just wasn't. For all their family's efforts, one would think that there would be some better reward than this torture for the only remaining son. She wasn't even certain Velkan would live through this; men had been less ill and died.

But then, those men had not been Velkan.

She had to hold fast to hope. She had to.

It was all they had left.

-the end-