A/N- I'm glad everyone is liking this! I was glad that Daniella was well received. I was afraid I had made her a little bit of a Mary-Sue. Anyhow, on with the fic!
I will not make the same mistakes you did.
I will not let myself
cause my heart so much misery.
I will not break the way you did;
You fell so hard.
I've learned the hard way
to never let it get that far.
-- Kelly Clarkson, "Because of You"
Alucard entered the cottage, stomping the gunk off his boots before he did so. It was dawn, and the dhampire was yawning. It had been a hard night. Three werewolves and some kind of fish demon had attacked him inside the forest that was just a few feet away from his house. However, with the sun's rays now filling his home, he knew it was over for now.
He removed his boots, placed them just inside the door, and entered. All at once, the smell of cooking bacon and eggs hit his nostrils.
"Good morning, Miss Rosalyn," he said, entering the kitchen.
Rosalyn turned to face him, smiling. Her dark hair was pulled back in a long braid, and her violet eyes were shining. She had on a simple cotton dress that matched her eye color and a white apron tied around her.
"Good morning, Mr. Tepes," she said, turning briefly back around to flip her bacon.
Rosalyn was Joe's daughter, and she acted years ahead of her age. Although she was only fourteen years of age, she already possessed all the skills that any humble man could have wanted in a wife…and could do them well. She cooked, cleaned, and even watched after five year old Daniella. She had latched onto Alucard's small family ever since he had moved into her family's cottage. She was there every morning when he arrived back from his job of slaying the demons and various monsters in the forest, left for school and other teenage activities--Alucard supposed--after breakfast, and returned just before nightfall to stay the night with Daniella. She had offered to do all this for free, but Alucard insisted that he pay her for her trouble.
"Where is Daniella?" Alucard asked, sitting down at the kitchen table.
"Still up in bed, sir. She should be up soon, though," Rosalyn said, placing a plate in front of him.
She soon loaded it down with eggs and bacon. He picked up his fork and yawned.
"Long night, sir?" she inquired, sitting down with her own plate.
"Yes, quite," he said, between bites.
"What was it this time?"
"Werewolves and a fish demon. I can't honestly say which one was easier to deal with," Alucard chuckled.
Rosalyn laughed. The two ate on, chatting in between swallows of food. Before long, the sound of little footsteps was heard coming down the stairs. Rosalyn stood expectantly. Daniella's small form pushed open the kitchen door and greeted those already there with a bright smile.
"Good morning!" she said cheerfully.
"Good morning, Daniella. Would you like some food?" Rosalyn asked.
Daniella nodded as she chose a seat next to her father's. She still wore pink dresses at this age, but they had lost some of their frill. Her blonde hair was longer still, but was in need of a cut to keep it manageable for someone her age. One would even thing that her eyes had grown larger over the last years too. Alucard smiled, bent, and kissed her forehead.
"Good morning, darling," he said.
"Morning, Daddy," she replied as Rosalyn placed her plate in front of her.
"You eat this all up, and I'll braid your hair before I leave," she said as Daniella picked up her fork and nodded.
The little one ate politely, silently, and quickly. Soon, she had finished and was asking Rosalyn to fulfill her promise. Rosalyn smiled and said, "After you bathe."
Daniella huffed but headed off to her bath anyway. Alucard smiled.
"I'll leave as soon as I'm done with her hair, sir," Rosalyn said, turning towards him.
"Take your time, Miss. Just don't be late for school on my account," he said, standing. "Tell Daniella that I've gone upstairs to sleep and not to go too far into the forest to play today."
"She knows, sir, but I'll tell her anyway."
Alucard nodded and bid Rosalyn "good day."
As soon as the master of the house had disappeared from the room, Rosalyn went to join the little one in the bathing room. She was already in the warm water Rosalyn had prepared earlier. She was splashing in the bubbles around her. The fourteen year old girl rolled up her sleeves and prepared to deal with the five year old.
It took several minutes to coax Daniella to stop playing and allow Rosalyn to wash her. Finally, when the child was washed and dried, she began to braid her hair. Finally, dressed in a simple cotton play-dress, Daniella took to the outdoors, and Rosalyn left for school, shouting Alucard's messages after the girl.
Daniella loved the outdoors. She always found the most curious things. Odd flowers she had never seen or smelled before, cute and fuzzy animals that liked to play and chase her, and beautiful little streams seemed to be littered about her house. She loved to sing and dance and pretend that she was beautiful princess. She giggled. And for the first time ever…someone giggled back!
Daniella stopped and turned toward the source of the giggle. The voice giggled again. It was definitely coming from the depths of the forest. It sounded like a little girl's voice.
"Hello?" Daniella called.
"Who are you?" Daniella called.
"Come here," called the voice in return.
Daniella looked worriedly back in the direction of her house.
"Please, don't you want to play?" the voice giggled again.
"But, I'm…I'm not allowed to go into the forest," Daniella said.
"I'm not far inside. Just follow my voice."
"But, I can't."
The voice didn't respond.
Nothing. Daniella gave a small whimper of despair. She had yet to make friends with any of the village children. This might be her one and only chance for a playmate. Glancing again back towards her house, to make sure her father wasn't watching, she then turned and skipped past the barrier of trees that was the forest.
It was nothing short of a dark wonderland on the other side. A stream lay just in front of her, a trail of stepping stones before Daniella's dainty feet. There were no birds singing, but, being the child that she was, she paid no mind to such an omen. Instead, her eyes were drawn toward a small, flickering light from just across the stream. Daniella gasped in delight.
"Are you a fairy?" she called to her mysterious friend.
"Come…come across the stream!" her friend replied. "Come across and find out!"
Hesitating for only a moment, Daniella stepped out onto the first slippery stepping stone. Wavering a bit, she quickly caught her balance and took another leap onto the next one. She did so until she was right in the middle of the stream, which she saw was moving faster than it had looked from the land. She let out a tiny cry of fright. There were no more stepping stones.
"Come, come, little one," the voice called, the light dancing in front of her.
"I can't," Daniella said, her eyes welling up with tears. "I can't swim. I'm scared."
"You can do it. The stream is not that bad. Jump, Daniella. It's not as deep as it looks…"
Daniella glanced down. Past the hem of her dress she saw the bottom of the babbling brook. She knew better than to step foot into it. She had learned from bath time experience that water lies about its depth. Suddenly, not one, but several of the lights appeared at the hem of her dress, tugging at it.
"Stop it, stop it!" she yelled, struggling against the surprisingly strong tugs.
But she was losing. One tug too many and her foot slipped. She turned around halfway down and caught the rock. She was now half-in, half-out of the stream. And her grip was slipping. She cried the first thing to her mind.
Back inside the upstairs bedroom of the cottage, Alucard's eyes shot open. He looked quickly about the room. He could've sworn that he had heard Daniella's voice. He strained in the silence, trying to hear it again.
"Daddy! Help me!"
He lost no time. Following the child's frantic voice, Alucard snatch up his sword--his family heirloom--and rushed out the door of the cottage. Daniella's voice cried out again, and Alucard rushed past the barrier of trees to find his daughter holding on for dear life as some unseen force tried to pull her under the stream's deep water.
"Hold on, Daniella! I'm coming!" he yelled, quickly crossing the rocks.
Once he was over her, he grabbed her little hands and pulled upward. Apparently, the glowing assailants had not expected such a force as Daniella landed safely in his arms with little fight.
"Sprites," Alucard hissed, running back onto land as the creatures began to attack him.
As soon as he had set his soaking daughter upon the ground, he unsheathed his sword and swung it at the sprites. They flew quickly away.
"Daddy, Daddy," Daniella sobbed. "I'm so sorry! I thought--I thought--I thought that it was another little girl! I only wanted to play with her!"
Alucard stooped and hugged his daughter.
"I know I wasn't supposed to go into the forest, Daddy! I'm sorry! I only wanted a friend!" she cried onto his shoulder.
Alucard could not find it in his heart to scold her, even though she had broken one of his only rules for her. Instead, he merely picked her up and carried her back into the house to change. Afterwards, and since the whole horrifying ordeal had taken so much out of her, Daniella fell asleep.
He put her in her bed and shut her door. Then, outside of it, he leaned against it and sighed. Of all the demons and monsters in all the world he had faced, he had never been so afraid as he had been just moments ago. And the most horrible part of it was…he was to blame. He had been too busy the last few years to put her with the other children her age of the village.
"I knew I was going to mess this up," Alucard sighed. Then, leaning against the wooden grains of the door, he added, "I promise, Daniella, starting tomorrow…you can make all the friends you want."
End Notes: So, how was that? First taste of action in this fic. I hope everyone enjoyed this. Please review!
Additional Note made April 15, 2009: This story has not been abandoned. However, it is one of many in the works. If anyone out there has an interest in me making this story one of the older ones I finish up first, please go and vote on the poll on my profile. I have other stories there to choose from as well. Thanks!