A/N- Hey all! This has nothing to do with my fic A Time for Chaos... sorry! It had just been bouncing around in my head awhile, so I decided to finally boot it out. It popped into my head one time when I was writing about how vampires always scream for each other when they die (the chapter of my story Ripples in Time called 'A Series of Downfalls'). It started as a simple vignette, a window into the lives of the vampires of Castle Dracula, and somehow involved into a character study about them and the rather complex relationships between the Brides. Dracula is mentioned but absent.

The beginning is probably set a few years before the movie. It's told from Verona's POV... not surprising given the penname, right? . I actually tried not to tell it that way, but the story kept straining to and I gave in. It just felt right.

This is dedicated to Anna: beloved 'Sister,' and to Katze: partner in crime, werewolf buddy, Phantom cast member and RPG accomplice. I would scream for both of you.

Someone to Scream for Me

"Do we have family?" It was an innocent enough question, and still Aleera's head whipped around to snarl at the younger Bride. It was her own fault that Marishka was even asking; after all, the redhead had willingly tortured and abused the blonde to the point of insanity. She asked the strangest questions now.

"Do we?" She turned those brown eyes that might have been innocent once on me since Aleera wasn't answering; I didn't lament the lost innocence. Why should I? I reached for the brush.

"Let me brush your hair."

Marishka walked over to me, swinging her hips, cocking her head at me. She sank into my lap the same way a queen sinks onto her throne and I began to brush the silken gold locks. Sometimes I think our Count chooses us for our hair: my hair for the night that we love, Aleera's for the red blood that keeps us alive, and Marishka's for the daylight we outwardly abhor and secretly yearn for.

"Do we?" She was not going to give in, was she? I kept brushing her hair.

"Why else would I call you sister?" I said gently.

"What is family to us, then?" I put down the brush at that point. Apparently it wasn't distracting her and that was all I had picked it up for. Or did I yearn to be close to that golden hair just as secretly I yearned for the sun? For any warmth? Perhaps because I wanted her to feel like a sister?

"Family is the same to us as it is to anyone. A useless burden that we can't get rid of." Aleera said in a voice at once dull and acidic, darting over to the windowsill and then sitting there, gazing out over the chilly landscape, her red curls spilling over her white arms.

"No it isn't." Marishka chimed, her sultry voice suddenly singsong. My eyebrows went up severely; it made her seem suddenly like a little child. She certainly bounced to her feet like one. "Right, Verona?" She watched me with her head cocked and her hips to one side- certainly childish no longer. A child prostitute, maybe, but all illusion of innocence was gone.

"No." I answered slowly, absently, putting the brush back in front of the useless mirror. I grew out my claws and traced arabesques on the glass, enjoying the tingles it sent down my spine.

"What is family to us if we have no hearts as the Count says?" She mused, going back to her earlier question. "What is family to us if we murder and massacre and laugh about it? Do murderers have family?"

"I suppose so." I admitted, not really sure where all of this was coming from.

"Did I have a family?" Oh, the innocence was real now. Ignorance and innocence are the same thing, really. Both hurt me so much right then that had I not known better, I would've said that I did have a heart; but I did know better and I knew that I was feeling the hole where it used to be aching.

"Yes. They hated you." Aleera said maliciously. Why Dracula hadever thought he could bring another Bride into the equation with Aleera already there is beyond me. I still think that it is because of her hair. As she turned her head to her other 'sister' it caught in the wan glow of the candles and shivered with light.

"Is that what family is?" She asked in return, turning to me again.

"Family is someone who loves you, they say. No matter what, they always love you, and they show it by helping you through hard times and smiling when you're happy and crying when you're sad. They bring you presents on birthdays and read stories to you when you're sick. When parents are old children take care of them, and when daughters get married mothers help them get ready and fathers give them away and brothers pretend not to cry." My voice never changed from its regular tone as I said these words. After all, they were only words. The youngest, sun-haired vampire drank them in though, brown eyes unfocused as her mind chewed on them. I wondered if her mind had fangs too, if it mutilated the words as she mutilated bodies.

"But it is not that way for us, is it?" She asked knowingly. Her voice was sad because she knew the answer; if ignorance was innocence, knowledge was sadness.

"Family is blood, unbreakable. Family is someone who will scream for you when you die." I said simply.

"Will you scream for me, Verona?" Marishka asked sweetly, laying her head on my shoulder. I could not resist the urge to rest mine against it, black hair mixing with gold. Night and day, bound together. Unbreakable.

"Yes. I will scream for you." I said.

"And I will scream for you." She whispered back, biting my neck just hard enough to draw blood. I twisted my head around and bit her back, binding the promise. Unbreakable.

"Well, look at us." Aleera sneered. "One big, happy family." Marishka merely smiled and left.

"What rot you fill her head with." Aleera continued after she was gone. "I suppose I shall scream for her too, one day?" She laughed harshly, closer to a growl than an actual laugh. Without waiting for an answer, she left too. She and Marishka never promised as I did, and she never promised me that she would scream for me.

I kept that promise. I screamed for Marishka when she died, and so did Aleera. I think she might have been closest to her of all of our family, because there is an intimacy in hatred just as there is an intimacy in love. She certainly hated Marishka more than I loved her, and I did love our youngest. I know that I hated Aleera, and because of that I would've screamed for her. There can be hate in families, too.

I died alone. Marishka was gone and by the time my death reached him Dracula would be too numb already to feel it, too consumed with hatred and ambition to scream. I had no one left in the end, no one to scream for me, only Aleera who I hated and felt nothing for me. It is a disconcerting thought, the idea of being alone at that bitter, ultimate end, no family or friends to mourn your passing, but I have had many disconcerting things happen to me in my life. It is an irrefutable fact to me that I had no one in the end. Our beloved youngest, our sun-haired Marishka, innocent but sadistic, powerful but playful, had been killed. Our Count was dead too, in a way I could never describe. And now I, night-haired Verona, eldest and coldest and most powerful, the one who had once been fiery and determined and proud once but had been broken on the slow wheel of Time, was dying alone amidst a shower of fire and silver. Our family was over and gone.

And yet... there was Aleera. Blood-haired, possessive, irritable, never the smartest but always the most ruthless, the survivor. She did not hate me, she did not love me, and she made me no unbreakable promises, shared with me no bonds of blood.

And still I wonder, Aleera, my sister... did you scream for me?