Chapter 3: Love Hurts But Truth & Time Heals

For the first time in years, Vladislaus Dragulia felt powerless. He had fought countless battles of old, and yet right now he felt weak and helpless, like a child before his wife. It was as if her very words had torn all of his dark power out of him-and into shreds. He found it hard to even look into her raven-ochre eyes, as if he was a marionette whose strings holding his neck had been severed.

The irony…

"Vladislaus?"

Had he been alive, he would have given a sad, long sigh, possibly scented with resignation. She HAD to know.

"Sit down, my love."

As she did, he sat down beside her, resting his hand close to hers.

"What did you see in us all, Vladislaus? "

She repeated.

The vampire lord had to avert his eyes from her. It hurt so much to see her like this.

After a long silence, he spoke.

Dracula's P.O.V

I wonder how I ever made it through a day

How did I settle for a world in shades of gray?

When you go in circles all the scenery looks the same

And you don't know why

Then I looked into your eyes

Where the road stretched out in front of me,

And I realize

Where do I start? Ah, yes… several decades ago, at a meaningless banquet, I saw her. Cordelia, the first love of my life-and indirectly the cause of my future damnation.

Of course she was beautiful. Every woman is, in her own right. But it wasn't just her shoulder-length raven tresses and midnight-mahogany pools for eyes that stole my heart that night. Much more than that. Her outspoken conversation, her unorthodox, spirited ways and her fiercely loyal heart all but made me her captive, kept me soul bound.

She became my light, amidst the blackened ruins of my life…only to take it with her to the grave 2 weeks after our wedding. After that, I hated everything that lived: God, the Heavens, Gabriel and Allegria (read "Angel With A Devil Wing" for further details)…and eventually, even Cordelia herself, for leaving me so abruptly.

I never lived before your love

I never felt before your touch

I never needed anyone to make me feel alive

But then again I wasn't really living

I never lived before your love

After Gabriel killed me, after I was damned to become what I am now, I selected a wealthy orphan as my bride. Her dark hair and eyes served as a cruel reminder of what I lost. Her name was Verona. She was the smartest one out of the other brides.

I wanted more than just an ordinary life

All of my dreams seemed like castles in the sky

I stand before you and my heart is in your hands

And I don't know how

I survived without your kiss

Cause you've given me a reason to exist

Some years later, I took in a golden-haired maiden, a daughter of a trapper-who conveniently 'passed on' at my arrival. Marishka, though not so intelligent, was a skilled fighter.

But my childish, malicious 'vengeance' was not yet complete. "Third time's a charm", so they say. What personally, who's to say the charm isn't a bad one? To this day, I cannot, for the afterlife of me, explain why I took a scarlet-haired, spiteful, shallow chit named Aleera to be my third bride. Ah, the things we do for revenge.

You must understand and know, my dark angel, that Aleera aside, there WAS a spark of love I shared for Marishka and Verona (though I must admit, Verona WAS my favored one) over the years. Though of course, they were little like Cordelia.

Then, 16 years ago, I saw a little girl, sinking to a watery death, one that I saved her from. You would have been another meal for me, had I not noticed your appearance. At that moment, I knew I could and would not feed on you, not after seeing whom you resembled. Yes, I know…at first, it was only for appearance, that I spared you-and waited 10 years for you to return to Romania.

And when I was in your company, all that changed. You and the first woman that I truly loved were similar in so many ways, in that you both refused to fit in the mould Society forced upon you, you were outspoken, brash yet innocent, unorthodox and so very optimistic. However, looks aside, you were unique and fascinating in your own ways.

While my wives' passions were but flickering flames, yours was a raging fire, one that melted the icy darkness within my hollow heart. Your innocent, pure love eradicated the devilish, shallow lust I felt for my brides-the only thing I felt for them.

I never lived before your love

I never felt before your touch

I never needed anyone to make me feel alive

But then again I wasn't really living

I never lived before your love

I never lived before your love

Shirra, know this: I have not been human for 400 years. I have not loved like a human does, and for all that immortality has taught me, I have not learnt how to be mortal-much less live or even love like one-again.

You've brought light once more into my sin-dark inner recesses and sanctums…pray, do not leave me in the darkness again… Alas, t'would appear I am reduced to groveling now…

And I don't know why

Why the sun decides to shine

But you breathed your love into me just in time

I never lived before your love

I never felt before your touch

I never needed anyone to make me feel alive

But then again I wasn't really living

Shirra had looked down at the ground all this time. When she looked up, her face was wet with tears. That is, tears of understanding the truth-and the knowing of her husband's pain. All those questions that had been tormenting her mind were now completely annihilated-all but one…

"Can I still trust you Vladisalus? Can I trust that you will love me, and that you will not take another?"

Shirra felt ridiculous asking such a question, but she was afraid, afraid that Dracula would break her heart. And, she had to know.

Just then, a memory of her uncle's words came back to chide her:

"Fear may be the parent of all monsters,but perfect love casts out fear."

She snapped out of her reverie as she felt a hand tilt her chin up to face the owner of the hand, and the other gently dry her tears.

"As true as the Night is black and the Moon is pale, and as red as the blood that runs in our veins…I swear to you Shirra, I will take no other-if you still love me after how I've hurt you."

Shirra was stunned at such words. He truly was far from the cold and cruel vampire lord she knew from the past. He HAD changed-for the better.

As to his last statement, she willed the embers in the fireplace to alight, and with her own fangs, bit into her palm until blood appeared. As Dracula silently (in shock) watched her flick the blood into the fire, she turned to him and said solemnly,

"Until the day the fire returns my blood back to me, will be the day I stop loving you."

If there were any further doubts, all were erased as both of them fell into a kiss, deep and searing.

I never lived before your love

I never lived

I never lived

Before your love

The mirror in Shirra's chambers resembled an undisturbed lake despite shirra standing before it.

One of the drawbacks of immortality…

Thought Shirra as she adjusted her necklace. The gown fit Shirra like an elegant glove. With her chandelier earrings and her dark hair in complicated curls, she looked every bit a Queen- a Queen of the Night.

"And to think,"

Whispered Dracula into her ear as he encircled an arm around her waist.

"It was impossible for me to want you any more…goes to show how wrong assumptions can be…"

"I just put it on, Vladisalus."

She replied, no reproach in her tone, merely a statement.

"Well, as much as I agree that you look devastatingly beautiful in it, I think you look lovelier…out of it."

As he said this, her corsets were loosened, along with her bodice, both which were soon in a pile upon the floor. Her voluminous skirt followed suit-and then her chemise… and finally, the lights went out.

(THE END)