He did come for me that night. I felt dizzy with anticipation as I sat on my bed, my best gown shimmering in the subdued lighting. For hours I had kept my door locked, primping and preening to be sure I looked as best as I could on this night of nights….
A gown of deep red velvet I had chosen, the shoes a matching crimson. I had not put them on yet, for fear of awaking the inhabitants of the house as I left. Pins of gold I had put in my hair, creating a small halo of color in my dark tresses. Rather than wear my red cloak, I instead opted for a simple black one. I most certainly did not want to be noticed as we stole away to the church, especially not by Boris Valerious…that would be disastrous indeed….
I could hear my heart beating wildly within my chest as I waited for Velkan, a mix of dread and happiness filling the very core of my body. Only hours before Anna and my uncle had gone to bed, closing their doors behind them. How was I to know that they would not open the door at the smallest inkling of a sound in the hallway?
Velkan would arrive at my door, knocking softly on it to call me to him. I would open it, to meet his smiling face. But, our plan would be found out by my uncle or perhaps even Anna herself as she watched us escape together, and they would call loudly, alerting the household to our schemes. Then the elder Valerious would come stomping from his rooms, an angry and malignant air of evil consuming the very area about him…..I did not want to even think about it.
It was terrible what we were doing. But, at the same time I felt that it was necessary. In my heart of hearts I knew that should even one person find out about our union, it would somehow arrive back at the ears of the Count, and dire consequences I would have to face. And, I just did not feel ready to face it, though I knew someday I would have to. So involved in my own worries I had become, that I did not hear Velkan's silent voice.
"Christine…" I heard Velkan's voice call out to me quietly from the other side of my door. I could sense the excitement in his voice as he said my name. Quietly, a knock came, almost as if he had thought I had gone to bed.
I hurried to the door, opening it carefully so as not to make any noise. In moments he had caught me up in his arms. I could feel the happiness bursting within him as he held me for a moment, before quietly releasing me.
"Come." He said quietly, taking my hand. He began to lead me down the hallway, but halfway through, I immediately realized that I had forgotten my shoes.
"Velkan!" I whispered hurriedly, stopping immediately in my tracks. He turned back to face me, a slightly confused look on his face.
"What is wrong?" he asked me innocently, hoping that I had not decided to change my mind.
"My shoes." I said quietly, trying to release myself from his grip. He smiled at me in surprise.
"You should have put them on ages ago." He said as he slowly released my hand.
"You donn't want me to wake the whole building by making any noises, now would you? What do you think your father would say if he caught us sneaking about in this manner?" I said in a berating tone. Velkan looked at me, a sheepish grin on his face.
"I don't know." He said somewhat nervously, looking away from me.
"I will be back in a moment." I said to him as I hurried back to my room to retrieve my shoes. In moments, I had found them and returned back to his side.
"Now, are you sure you have everything?" he asked me as he began to lead me away once again. I flicked the back of his neck playfully.
"Yes, I'm most sure I do." I responded.
We walked down various hallways, keeping to the shadows. In moments we had reached the main hallway, leading towards the grand entryway. I could almost sense the hesitation in Velkan's footsteps as we made this quiet journey through his home, to his front door…
"Christine you would not be mad if I told someone, would you?" he asked me as we reached the end of the hallway. He stopped suddenly, hesitating at the threshold. I merely narrowed my eyes in confusion, not understanding at all what he meant.
"You told Anna, didn't you?" I asked him. His face he kept turned from me for a moment as he nodded no. It seemed like minutes had passed before he slowly turned to face me.
"There must be a witness to the marriage." He said quietly to me. "Someone must be able to sign their name on the certificate stating that they were there when it took place…" he continued silently. I slowly released his hand.
"Who did you tell?" I asked him.
"Promise me you will not be mad…" he murmured quietly, stepping to my side and stroking my cheek. I smiled up at him in adoration.
"He understands our situation…" he continued. I reached up to stay his hand upon my cheek.
"He?" I asked him. He nodded slowly as he took my hand.
"He is the only one that knows, that will know…" he said quietly. His hand slowly left my cheek to take my hand. "Promise me you understand?" I hesitated for a moment before I nodded yes, threading my fingers through his. I noticed a smile form on his face as he led me through.
"Then I hope you will not be angry with me…" I heard him murmur. Taking a deep breath as if he were to dive underneath water, he bravely took a step forward, into the dark entryway of the building. We stopped in our tracks as a voice interrupted our progress.
"It took you two long enough." I heard a gruff voice speak. The man was hidden in the shadows….gripping a cigar in his right hand. I could smell the familiar odor emanating from it. He stepped slowly from the shadows to greet us, and as I recognized his face I felt my heart plummet. Boris Valerious…father to Velkan Valerious….he was the witness to the whole affair.
"It is he?" I asked, turning my gaze momentarily from the man standing before me to Velkan. He nodded yes.
"He is the only one that understands our situation." Velkan responded. "He has known about us for quite a while." I didn't know what to say. Boris immediately interrupted.
"Come now, we don't have all night." I heard Boris say roughly. I slowly raised my gaze to meet his. Despite the situation we three were now in, I noticed a small smile form at the corner of his lips.
"I am happy for you, Velkan." He said, never taking his eyes away from me. "I am happy to see someone have a tiny bit of normalcy in his life…even though we must go on in this manner…." He turned suddenly away from us, hurrying towards the door and pushing it open. He watched us expectantly from the doorframe, impatience on his face.
"Come." I heard Velkan say quietly. I felt him gently tug at my hand as I began follow him.
Boris had taken his own carriage for our use. It had been prepared some time in advance, the horses attached to it and led around to the front of the building. I widened my eyes in surprise, not understanding why Boris was so eager to marry his only son off.
But, as Velkan's father took my arm and led me to the carriage, I knew why. He wanted his line to continue. He needed to have the certainty that our union would be a valid one. He longed to see grandchildren that he knew would carry on the Valerious name. He did not want to fade away into the darkness as Count Vladislaus Dracula had done so long ago.
"Go and sit beside her, my son." I heard Boris say, as he hurried away from the carriage. Velkan turned away from the door, wondering where his father was headed. I did not say a word, happy to know that I would not have to ride in awkward silence with that man. It was bad enough that I had planned to elope with his only son….
"Where are you going?" Velkan asked, a tinge of nervousness evident in his voice.
"I will follow behind you two on horseback. Do not worry, now go, get in." Boris ordered. I turned around in my seat to see him climbing up onto a stallion. He had chosen a black horse, to blend with the surroundings as well…
"Go!" I heard Boris say again, in a hushed but angry voice. Velkan hesitated for a moment before climbing in beside me and closing the door behind him. Boris Valerious gestured for the carriage man to move, and in moments we were off.
"How far away are we to travel?" I asked Velkan after a moment of uncomfortable silence. I looked out the window to see his father riding along side the carriage, his penetrating gaze watching the roads ahead of us.
"Not far." I heard Velkan reply. I shivered suddenly, my hair rising on the back of my neck. Velkan noticed this gesture, and he unconsciously reached out and took my hand, clasping it tightly within his own. I could feel the shaking of his hand as he held mine. He felt the same way….
We arrived after what seemed like an eternity. I had fallen asleep upon the shoulder of Velkan, the rocking of the carriage sending me into a lulled slumber. And in that position I remained, Velkan's arm wrapped tightly about my shoulders to keep me from falling forward.
We never spoke another word after we had left the safety of his home. Perhaps that was the way we preferred it. What else was there to say to one another? What else was there to do? How could we ever put into words what we felt that night? Rather than attempt a feeble conversation, we merely held each other, knowing that in a matter of hours, we would be man and wife, though no one would ever know. We held each other as though we were two lovers lost at sea, taking comfort in each other's company. And so we continued on the journey, the sound of the carriage the only other noise we heard besides our bated breath and the steady clip clop of Boris' steed.
It was in that blur of noise that I fell asleep. And so it felt like moments later we had arrived at our destination. After feeling the carriage suddenly come to a halt, I raised my head slowly, my eyes adjusting to the darkness around me.
"Come." I heard Velkan's voice whisper to me. I looked forward to see we had arrived at an enormous cathedral. Subdued lights twinkled within its foreboding façade, the stained glass of the windows twinkling in the night. The building itself seemed to rise hundreds of feet into the air, the stone a beautiful beige.
"It was built in the eighteenth century." I heard Velkan say quietly into my ear. "My parents married here…"
"Where are we?" I asked him. He smiled a moment before answering, "Timisoara."
He climbed out of the carriage then, holding his hand expectantly out to me. It was then that I noticed he had dressed in his best as well. He had shaved and combed his hair back, tying it with a simple black ribbon. He wore a black elegantly tailored outfit, his coat embroidered in gold and silver. The buttons on his cuffs gleamed in the night…
"Come on then." I heard Boris call from in front of us. He had already begun to make his trek to the cathedral. The door opened slightly and a priest popped his head out from the door, a small smile on his face as he realized we had finally arrived.
Taking Velkan's hand I climbed from the carriage. And when my feet finally touched the ground, the carriage immediately began to move away to the other side of the Cathedral, hidden from view. I clasped Velkan's hand tightly, my heart beating madly as he began to walk us towards the foreboding doors of this enormous buildings.
"Don't be scared." I heard him whisper to me as we reached the steps. Boris had already entered the building, the priest leading him inside. I looked over and smiled at him.
"I'm not scared. Only a little nervous…" I replied, squeezing his hand. He turned and smiled at me confidently, happy to see me by his side. And so we climbed the stairs, and entered the sanctity of the church.
A/N: Well, here's my first chapter to the second half of my fic. I hope you guys liked the beginning, I tried really hard to capture the emotions and eerie feeling of being married in secret. I know it took forever to put up, but I hope you all will like it!
Of course, criticisms are always welcomed! I love hearing critiques of my works! After all, it helps me to improve my writing! I will have the second chapter up soon, because I feel as though I am completely on a role right now! God I love it when I don't have writer's block! Hehehehehe…..anyway, please, please, please, review and let me know what you guys think! I need to know!
If you don't already realize, this is the sequel to my other fic, "Valerious", which I have been writing for what seems like forever now...hehehehe...I am completely and utterly dedicated to finishing this work! Well...I would more like to say determined!