Pompeii

Summary: Charlotte Elbourne has just met the man who will change her life forever. CharlottexMier Link (set before Bloodlust)

Disclaimer: I own no D, I own no C, I own no M. I do, however, own a bit of the plot,

Mario, and Icarus.

………………………………………………………………………………………………

Chapter one

Perhaps it was curiosity that drove Charlotte to that place. Perhaps it was thirst, or perhaps it was a teenager's unrelenting desire to rebel. She didn't know, anyway. Her father had always warned her against that place.

'That house is filled with Judas' children.'

Vampires.

Creatures of the night. Demons. Ancient. Immortal. Undead.

Undead. What word was that? Surely 'undead' meant 'still living'? Every time Charlotte brought the subject up to her father, however, she was met with a frustrated snort or a sympathetic pat on the head.

'Poor child,' he would say. 'In the days to come, you will understand.'

But she didn't.

In fact, Charlotte found herself becoming more and more confused. She knew that they were evil. Her father had said so, and he never lied. Not about important things like that, anyway. He had lied once when her mother passed away. He told her that she'd gone to see her aunt for a few days. But days soon passed into weeks, weeks passed into months, and months passed into years until she began to tell herself that she had no mother at all. As she got older, however, she understood what had happened, but to the present day had never discussed the matter with the father. It was a sort of unsaid rule between them never to bring her up again.

The building seemed to vanish as a thick layer of fog settled in, swirling through the empty streets and seeping through cracks in the pavestones. The lamps were still unlit despite the fact that twilight was heading to a close, and somewhere in the distance, she could hear the faint tinkling of wind chimes above the sweet shop door. Of course, it wasn't a sweet shop any more. The man who had owned it previously had been killed, and since then it had stood vacant and delapidated. It looked rather sullen in the dim light, with its crooked doors and broken windows looking very much like tired eyes.

Charlotte turned her attention back towards the building in front of her. She had no choice but to go in there now. It was getting dark and also she would never be able to find her brother in the fog. No choice now. No choice.

The door was weathered and set with a small pane of stained glass. It was rough to the touch and smelt of old leaves. Perhaps that had something to do with the dead creeper hanging limp from the doorknob. Either way, Charlotte took a deep breath, pushed it open, and stepped inside.

Flapping above a small carving of Baucchus was a sign. It read:

"Dream theatre"

……..

"Charlotte!"

Alan Elbourne was not very patient man, nor was he a virtuous one, so at this point in time, on the cold, dark, eeriee roads of New Hampton, the absence of his sister was really starting to get on his nerves. They had been for a ride in the countryside that day - a rare treat as the eldest of the siblings was always away on business trips or at other functions. Their father had long since been losing the strength in his legs and his keen state of mind, and was therefore unfit to really run the company. He continued to direct orders, however, although Alan changed the tone of many in an attempt to show the world that his father was still sane.

Like that time when he had ordered the workers to create five-hundred boxes so that his niece could pick oranges while she was down in California. Alan had dismissed it completely and instead instructed them to take the day off. Over-worked labour was one more problem that they didn't need.

There was also the fact that their father refused to move from New Hampshire. The place was unsafe, teeming with vampires and murderers and prostitutes and only God knew what else. It was no place to bring Charlotte up, anyway, and now that the girl had just reached her sixteenth year, Alan felt that she should move to an environment that was more becoming of a lady of her stature.

"Charlotte? Where the hell are you? This is no time to be playing games! Come out!"

Something howled in the distance, and he shivered. The town was no place to be after dark. Even though there was an eight year difference in ages between them, and despite the fact that they were siblings, Charlotte was probably the closest thing to a friend he'd ever had.

"Charlotte!"

He was only met with silence.

………

"Did you see it?"

Mier Link raised one drowzy eyelid and peered at his companion wearily. "Hmnn?"

"Did you see it? It came through the door just now."

"What are you talking about, Icarus?"

Icarus sniffed at the air excitedly, his keen sense of smell picking up the scent of the object of his attention despite the fact that there was a thick layer of smoke hovering around the tables like mist.

"Its blood is warm," he chuckled, rubbing his palms together with glee.

"Another of those?" interjected Mario, the eldest of the three.

"Seems like it," murmured Mier, before shifting his position ever so slightly to the right, so as to get a better view of his surroundings.

The Dream Theatre, as the establishment had been so rightly called, was a smally, dingy pub on the outskirts of New Hampshire, situated opposite the town's sweet shop. Of course it wasn't a sweet shop anymore- Icarus had killed the owner several years ago, and now the place seemed in quite a state of disrepair. Mier remembered visiting a similar place several centuries earlier, before he had been turned. Those had been happy days for him, when his ambition was to become a doctor and tend to the sick. Times when he would go with his mother to the village shop and purchase a bag of bulls-eyes for only a few coins. Now all of that was over. He felt a little resentful, actually.

Oh, well, back to reality.

Icarus was sniffing the air again, but Mier assumed it was more from excitement than the actual scent of anything.

"Calm down, lest your nose falls off," he warned, a slight grin touching the corners of his lips.

"Shut up, Mier," he said, frowning. "I haven't had anything to drink in weeks!"

"What nonsense. There was that farm girl yesterday, and Mrs. Smith the day before, and that school child the day before that-"

"Alright, alright! You've proved your point!"

Mario chuckled and then strained his neck so as to catch a glimpse of Icarus' potential dinner. "Mmmm…she looks promising."

Mier, not for the first time that night, ran his fingers through his hair and allowed his eyes to wander about the room until…

…they settled on the strangest creature he had ever seen.

She was not very tall, he noted, and was clothed in garments that obviously indicated that she was extremely wealthy. Her hair was a luscious chocolatey brown, the colour of parched mud, and her eyes were so green that even from his distance Mier could make them out as if they were beacons of light. Her complexion was pale, almost too pale, he decided, and her nose may have been a little too small. Her lips were thin and her bust under-developed, making her seem somewhat out of place amongst all the buxom young women in their dreary, smoky environment. Some of them were not so young, and were in fact, perhaps, several centuries older than even Mario. The Dream Theatre was a famous place, even back in the day when people had hunted with spears.

Either way, she stuck out like a sore thumb.

Mier made a faint noise that was almost dripping with ill-concealed distaste. "She's still a little girl."

"So what? Its blood is warm!"

"…And she isn't exactly ugly herself, you know."

"…and its blood is warm!"

"…and even though she has no chest she still has very lovely skin…"

"…and its blood is warm!"

"And-"

"-Alright! I've heard enough!"

Mario chuckled again. He was always doing that. Mier felt like punching him. He didn't, however. He never did. The pair of them went back a long way, even beyond Icarus' time, and he was at least three centuries old himself. None of them really knew anything about each other. In fact, the most Mier knew about Mario was his name and residence, and even then it had been a hassle to get both. He smirked. They didn't need to know anything else. They were fine as they were, sharing one common bond that kept them together through thick and thin.

A cruel past; and therefore the desire to never be alone.

Mier knew that Icarus' scars had still not faded from when he was young, and that Mario's missing finger was not merely just due to an unfortunate circumstance. He knew that Mario still had nightmares- he'd heard him call out in his sleep; and that Icarus was an insomniac, and was often one to wander around Mier's castle whilst the sun was still up. Mier himself had his own share of problems. His own dreams were riddled with blood and screams, with agony and torture, and reminded him painfully of a love once lost to temptation.

He had to stop thinking like this.

He was a vampire now. There was no turning back.

He instead focused his attention on the young thing, regarding her anxious eyes with disdain. 'Foolish girl,' he thought, as Icarus bounded up to her and grinned stupidly. He said something- Mier couldn't really hear him above the music- and soon he and his prize were walking across the room to meet him amidst several jealous, longing stares.

Mario drew up an extra chair.

"Why, hello," said he, brushing his lips over the soft, cold skin of her hand.

"H-hello."

So she was nervous. Mier could have chuckled, but that would have ruined his reputation.

"I haven't see you here before."

Ah, Icarus. Playing with his food.

"Umm…well, I was actually lost in the fog."

"Really?"

"What on earth were you doing so far away from the town centre?"

"W-well, m-my brother and I-" she cleared her throat, and her voice gained more body; "we went for a picnic."

"A picnic. Haven't been on one in years!"

"I think our last was in the summer of 1756, wasn't it, Mier? Down In New Orleans?

Mier grunted. "Ah."

Mario smiled. "Anyway, enough of that. Tell me, child. What is your name?"

"Umm…Charlotte."

"Charlotte."

Mario seemed to be tasting the name, rolling it over and over on his tongue. "I quite like that name. If I ever had a daughter, I'd name her that."

"Well, you can't."

"Must you always remind me?"

"Charlotte what?"

It had been the first time Mier had spoken since she joined them.

"Pardon me?"

"Your last name."

"Oh! Elbourne."

"Elbourne? Ah, the chap who runs the silver mines!"

"That's right."

"I hear business hasn't been very good these past few months."

She squirmed uncomfortably. "No, it hasn't, really."

"But you're alright?"

"What do you think, twit!"

"Don't call me a twit!"

"Umm…excuse me?"

The pair stopped bickering for a moment and turned to face the girl.

"Yes?"

"Thank you so very much for your hospitality, b-but…I really must be going."

Icarus looked crestfallen. "But you just got here!"

Mier kicked him beneath the table.

"Ouch!"

"Oh, but you must come again. You'll be here tomorrow? At about the same time?"

Mier frowned. What on earth did Mario think he was doing?

"Well, I-"

"Oh, yes! Come tomorrow!"

Icarus was licking his lips. Charlotte shivered.

"I don't think-"

"But you must! Come on, I'll buy you a drink. It'll be a very casual affair."

"I-I don't drink."

"Come anyway! It's nice to see a young face for a change. Having to stare only at Mier's prunish features always dampens any occasion."

Mier glared at his friend, who merely ignored him.

"I-I…oh, alright."

"Excellent!"

Icarus lifted his hand to wipe away a stray strand of saliva from his chin. Again, Charlotte shivered.

Mario stood up and escorted her to the door. "Try not to get lost, alright?"

"O-okay…"

Once Charlotte had mounted her steed and was trotting, no, galoping into the distance, Mario shouted a friendly "cheerio!" before returning to his friends.

"What possesed you to do that?"

"Do what?"

"That."

"Well, we can't just take her like that, you know. She's the daughter of a very wealthy and famous person."

"I didn't mean that."

"Then what did you mean, exactly?"

"I wish you'd stop saying 'that' all the time. It's giving me a headache."

"Icarus, most things give you a headache."

"What I meant was, why are you involving her at all!"

"Because it's fun!"

Typical Mario. But Mier knew him. He definitely had something up his sleeve.

"Mario…"

"Calm down, Mier. It'll only be till the end of this week or so. Who knows. Maybe she'll spill the beans on some ancient family secret and we'll all wind up filthy rich!"

Money again. It was almost absurd how much he adored it. It was a stupid habit; a very human one at that.

"You're going to play with her for that long?"

"Oh, no! not 'that' again!"

"That was a very bad joke."

"I know."