Disclaimer: I own nothing…not even enough brainpower to think of a witty way to say that I own nothing.
Frankenstein looked out from the carriage at his jailers who sat by the fire, eating bowls with steam rising from them.
"And am I to be starved as well as chained?"
Anna gave Carl a look akin to that given by a girl to her brother when the dog is hungry and she has taken her turn feeding it already. A look of horror spread across the friar's face and the princess sighed. She removed a third bowl from within her pack, and ladled some soup into it from the steaming pot that hung over the fire. She carried it over to the wagon.
Frankenstein held out the chains binding his arms, expecting the gypsy to unlock them so that he could feed himself. She instead shoved the bowl toward his face, not trusting him enough to even free his arms. Frankenstein glared at her for a few moments, then, seeing she was not going to give in, leaned forward and began to drink from the bowl.
The stew within was rich, and well cooked for something pulled together on the road. The giant drank the broth greedily and ravenously swallowed the juicy meat within. Slowly, he felt it warm him from within, fighting of the chill of the Transylvanian air.
The princess tipped the bowl forward so that he could eat the last of the stew then pulled it away. She then raised a tin cup to his lips. Frankenstein decided not to resent the gift and drank. The cup was filled with cool clear water. Some of it spilled down the giant's cheek and he shrugged his shoulders so that he could wipe it off on the hood of his cloak.
"More?" Anna asked indifferently; pouring a cupful water from a large flagon. The giant nodded, and this time sipped with less vengeance when she held it to her lips.
"Thank you." He said when she pulled the cup away. This was not the response Anna had expected from the creature. She nodded her head briefly, before returning to the fire to eat her own meal.
Frankenstein reevaluated his position. He was in chains, cold, but at least he was being fed. And the food was quite good, wonderful compared to his usual fair of cold rats and whatever poor creature happened into his lair. And the water was clean. He had not tasted clean water since his last trip to the outside world. Those trips were both rare and risky, but from time to time he would find himself sneaking out to the surface in order to get a brief glimpse of life in the world above.
He would find a dark place where he would disturb no one, but from which he could see people, near an open window, a doorway, a yard. There he would watch and steel glimpses of love and life and hope, things he would never feel, never know. It was always such a simple joy for him to watch a father lift his child on his knee, to see a mother kiss her daughter, to watch two lovers' secret rendezvous, yet it tortured him at the same time.
He would never hold a woman in his arms and whisper into her ear, would never take a child in his arms and carry him home. The worlds that he saw within the windows where ones that he would never know, and even though the sight of them broke his heart, he had always returned for more.
He looked up from his place in the carriage at his two jailers sitting by the fire. The princess was staring into the fire, lost in deep reverie. Frankenstein wondered what she was thinking of. Did she have a family, a husband or a father waiting for her?
The man, Carl, was sitting on a log, fiddling with some kind of contraption, his hands moving nimbly over the metal. He looked up nervously at the carriage and Frankenstein snarled. The man jumped back in fright, falling off his log. The giant smiled to himself, then regretted it. Scaring the friar had provided a bit of amusement for him over the course of the journey, but he now regretted it. It hadn't helped his reputation with his captors much. The princess was pulled from her thoughts by the sound of the friar crashing to the ground. She looked up at Frankenstein, who inched himself back into the shadows of the coach.
"Get up, Carl." he heard her say. "Those chains are secure, he can't hurt you."
Carl dusted himself off, and glanced over at the carriage uneasily. Anna sighed, walked over to the carriage and slammed the door shut.
Looking through the glass window of the carriage at the blurred figures outside, Frankenstein felt his isolation all the more.
The cold woke Anna. The fire had almost died out. She slid out of her bedroll and groped about for the poker. Finding it, she stirred up the ashes and was reaching for a log when she heard a soft growling noise from behind her. She whirled about, only to find Carl, snoring unabashedly. The princess sighed and tossed a few logs on the fire. Stepping back towards her warm bedroll, she felt something crunch beneath her feet. Frost. The princess shivered and wrapped her fur parka closer around her, drawing her hood tight. As she did, she felt a pair of eyes watching her.
She glanced at the coach and saw that her prisoner had cleared a small circle of frost from the window and was watching her. Their eyes met for a moment before his breath clouded the window once more.
Van Helsing wanted him alive, and if he froze to death, she knew the monster hunter would never let her forget it. On the other hand, she was certain that her brother would never do anything as foolish as she was about to. Anna sighed, lit a lantern and strode over to the coach. From a box on the back, she removed a long thick chain. She bound one end to the thick oak tree that draped its branches over their camp, securing it with a lock. Then she took her lantern over to the coach and opened the door.
The giant greeted her with a menacing glare, but the princess ignored it.
"If you don't struggle, I'll chain you up by the fire."
The giant looked as if he had no desire to cooperate, but Anna could see that he was shivering. If he was as intelligent as he seemed, he would know that he would not survive in this cold.
"And if I struggle?" He asked. Anna could see that he was weighing his options.
"You can try to escape, but I doubt you will get far and even if you do, you will freeze to death."
The chains that bound him would barely allow him to stand, let alone run. He had no use of his arms and minimal use of his legs. She could grip the chain about his neck so that he could not bite her. His chances of escape were minimal.
Frankenstein's menacing expression did not change, but he allowed Anna to take hold of the chains that bound his hands and guide him out of the coach. As soon as he was down the step, she grabbed the chains on his neck and back. His head jerked back and she guided him forward. It was difficult for him to move. His legs were stiff due to the uncomfortable position they had been bound in all day, and he could not move them much. He tried to rush his first steps and slid, his neck twisting painfully in Anna's grasp. He tensed, as if he expected to receive a kick in the back for his clumsiness. Instead, he felt Anna's strong hands on his arm, helping him to his feet.
"Slower this time." She ordered, sympathy filtering her usual indifference.
Once they had reached the tree, Anna bent down and lifted the chain which she hooked on to the bonds around his arm with another lock. Then she helped the giant ease himself onto the cold, hard earth.
Without saying a word, she went back to the carriage and returned with an armload of blankets. She spread a thick one on the ground close to the fire to shield him from the frost. Frankenstein half crawled half slithered onto it and Anna handed him the other ones she had carried over. The giant managed to cover himself with them, and between their warmth and that of the fire, he slowly began to thaw.
"If the metal of you bonds become to hot, you may move as far as the chain will allow you." she instructed. Frankenstein scowled. He did not need her permission to move out of harm's way.
With that, the princess added one last log to the fire, gave it one last poke, and returned to here bed.
Frankenstein stared into the fire, watching the flames dance. The princess was harsh with him, as would anyone be with an uncooperative prisoner, but she was not cruel. The chains, he recognized were safety precautions. Without them, he would have spent every moment of his imprisonment attempting to escape. Anna was experienced, she had recognized it from the moment she saw him, and since his capture he had not been allowed out of the carriage. Allowing him to come to the fire marked sympathy, and a laxness in security. Had the princess originally planed to do so, she would have before retiring to bed. Had it been by some change of heart that she had allowed to come lay were it was warm? Or was it practicality, a thought that had simply occurred to her?
He knew they planned to use him to help defeat Dracula, though he had no idea how. Simply killing him would have been enough. Instead they bound him in chains and threw him in their cramped coach. He had no idea what awaited him at their Order, torture, more chains, a cage?
This Van Helsing had sworn no harm would come to him, but the man had shot him, drugged him, chained him, and forced him into this wagon. What was this his idea of harm? Despite what the monster hunter said, Frankenstein knew he was his prisoner. Nothing would change that.
Frankenstein had no pretences of how the world viewed him. He was either monster or slave, depending on who was looking. It would be no different with Van Helsing. He would use him, and probably kill him when he was through.
Still, he had to admit, for a prisoner, he was being treated well enough, at least better than he was used to. Hot food was a rare treat for him, and a fire even rarer. His jailer had taken time to give him both, albeit the latter was an afterthought.
And kindness too, he had received, though in a small amount. The princess had helped him to his feet when fell. To anyone else, this gesture might have been meaningless, but to one who was so used to pain and blows and hatred, it was a blessing. Of course it did not make up for the fact that Anna had kept him in chains and almost allowed him to freeze, but it was a start. It was a start.