Vlad Dracula had hated his Maker since the moment he tasted the devil's blood in his mouth, and so had never been much inclined to spend any significant amount of time with him. His Maker was always going to be more powerful than him, and always had the power to control him, more than he liked to admit. In the few months while his Maker lived with him, teaching him how to feed and how to his powers, Vlad avoided him, and was greatly relieved when he left, going off to other places, perhaps to make other Fledglings.

And, for a time Vlad savored solitude.

Of course, it wasn't true solitude, not really, because true solitude is not possible for a vampire. There is always that closeness that must come at least once every few nights, the closeness of feeding, when you know every thought of the one whose blood you take and nothing matters but the blood, and the other.

That was enough for him, especially after that sudden and intense closeness that he had had with his Maker for those months. And, after all, he had never really been close to anyone, not after his brother's death. He would feed every evening and then go back to his books and his memories.

Until, perhaps seventy-five years later, a young woman with hair like the sunshine he could never see again caught his eye.

Her name was Ecaterina, and she was a merchant's daughter whose chief beauty was the masses of wavy yellow hair that she wore loose and flowing. Vlad watched her as she flirted with one of the local boys, lifting her head as she laughed, showing the white pearls of her teeth, baring her pale neck. He almost fed from her right there, almost came up behind her as she walked home from the house of the village boy she flirted with and sunk his teeth into that white neck, but yet it seemed a shame to let her pale blue eyes dull and fade while she was still so young.

And the thought of using her for other purposes than feeding intrigued him as well, as did the thought of claiming her as his, making it so that no other would ever have her. Why feed from her for one night when he could do so as many nights as he wished for all eternity?

So he waited and came back the next night, coming to her door before the village youth did and making certain that it was she who answered it. He then told her that he was a visiting nobleman who had seen her earlier that day, and had noticed how beautiful she was, and how charming, and would she please speak with him? Speak, merely, for he would never assume that she was a woman of such low morals. He smiled as he said that, without showing his fangs. And she was flattered, for she was a vain and foolish woman who would fall for anyone who told her she was beautiful, and especially a nobleman. She had her doubts about whether he truly was a nobleman, but the ring he wore on his left hand dispelled those doubts.

He led Ecaterina through the village and into the forest, wordlessly, as she chattered on. Finally she realized how far they had come into the forest, and how far away from anything she knew. She looked at him in confusion and fear, but he merely kissed her.

She was surprised by that at first, but then she kissed him back eagerly, and it wasn't long before he was removing her dress and she was fumbling with the buttons on his shirt.

And, at the height of her pleasure, he bit her.

She practically shrieked at that, the sudden pain both terrifying and confusing her, but he put a hand over her mouth and then bit his own wrist. Her eyes were wide with fear as the blood flowed out of the wound, and even more so as he coldly commanded her. "Drink." She shook her head wildly, having no idea what was going on, but sure that it was nothing good. But despite her refusal, he put his wrist to her lips, and she ended up swallowing his blood. When she had done so he pulled his wrist away and bit her again, drinking from her until she lost consciousness. Then he picked her up and flew back to his castle.

His Maker had taught him to always keep more than one coffin in case he ever needed to flee, and he was glad for that now. He left Ecaterina in one of the other coffins and then left to find clothing for her when she awoke the next night. He bought a cream colored gown and left it beside her coffin, then went to his own coffin before the sun rose.

The next night he was awoken by an awful shriek much like the one Ecaterina had emitted when he had bitten her. Some time later she wandered into his room, wearing the gown he had left her and looking completely confused. "What –"

He cut her off. "You still have blood on your mouth. You should clean that off as soon as possible." Before she said anything else, he continued. "I've changed you into a vampire, though I should hope you realized that by now. You may go anywhere in the castle except for the places where I've kept the door locked. I'll bring someone for you to feed from later. Do try not to break anything."

He didn't bother to give a longer explanation. If she was strong enough and intelligent enough to be worth his time, she would figure it out on her own. And he didn't plan on coddling her with sympathy and kindness either. He had dealt perfectly well without any of that after his Changing, and she shouldn't need it either. She would learn how to survive or she would die. And he doubted that she would die. He wasn't about to let her leave the castle, after all.

And she did manage to figure it out, and better than he could have hoped. She had been beautiful as a mortal, and as a vampire she was positively irresistible. She did balk the first time he brought her a child to feed from, and sometimes after they made love she would look at him with a look of pure hatred, but she grew to enjoy using her powers – at least the ones she could figure out on her own, for he never did teach her how to use them – and eventually he left her almost completely to her own devices, except when he brought her a mortal to feed from.

And he retreated back into solitude, having never given her any word of affection.

Things remained like that for about fifty years, and then he met Ileana.

She was completely different from Ecaterina, and so he approached her completely differently.

Ileana's family had no money to speak of, and she had needed to work from an early age, so her hands were callused and her skin was sun-bronzed. Her eyes were a bright green, like his own, and her hair was of an odd shade of auburn so dark it could be mistaken for black in dim light. Vlad saw her first as she argued with her older sister, who was married and indisputably respectable. The comments she made were cutting, cruel, and brought the other woman nearly to tears. Ileana then strode outside angrily, looking as though she might kill someone.

Vlad made no attempt to conceal himself nor what he was. As she caught sight of him he smiled, showing his fangs. She stumbled backwards. "Demon…" she whispered, the fire of her anger only a few minutes earlier nearly gone from her eyes. He raised an eyebrow and smiled at her, no thought of changing her in his mind. "Indeed I am, Ileana." He had heard her sister use her name, but she didn't know that, and she gasped.

He had already decided that this girl would be his prey tonight, and he stepped towards her, pulling her to him before she could struggle. For some reason that he did not know, however, he kissed her neck before sinking his fangs into it. He pulled away before having completely drained and saw, strangely, that in her eyes there was no fear or pain, only a look of extreme pleasure and amazement. With those piercing green eyes she looked at him, and, very deliberately, she bared her neck again.

That moment was when he decided to change her rather than merely feeding from her. He bit her again, and then bit his wrist, putting it to her mouth immediately. She, unlike Ecaterina, drank his blood eagerly. When she had taken enough he pulled his wrist away. "I'm bringing you home." He said softly, before picking her up and flying back to his castle. Once they were there, he bit her almost immediately and then laid her down in a coffin which he placed next to Ecaternia's. He then went and bought a dress for Ileana. This one was green.

The next night, Ecaterina was angry, but it was a cold anger, as if she had expected that one day soon Vlad would change another. Ileana seemed far more angry to find Ecaterina there than Ecaterina was to find Ileana there. But quickly Ileana seemed to reach some sort of realization that caused her to look at Vlad with a disdain that there had not been the last night.

But, of course, he didn't show Ileana any more affection than he had shown Ecaterina. She was flourishing as a vampire, which had made her fire turn into an impressive power of will that was also quite seductive, and she was less disturbed by feeding than Ecaterina had been. She didn't need his help.

And neither did she want it. She seemed to have developed a passionate hatred of Vlad, though he didn't know and honestly didn't much care what the cause of it was. And though she may have done something foolish in her all too common bursts of temper, Ecaterina exerted enough control over her that she did not.

The three of them settled into a sort of strange contentment, one in which the strong feelings they all held about one another remained below the surface, hidden.

But then, there was another.

He had paid only idle attention to his family as the generations continued, but one night, about ninety years after he had changed Ileana, he decided to pay a visit to a castle where he knew some of his descendents (perhaps not his direct descendents, but his descendents nonetheless) resided.

He entered as mist, not wanting to cause a commotion, and saw much of what he expected to see. Young, brutish men playing chess and getting angry when they lost. Older men and their wives bemoaning the state of the world now. And barely a book anywhere. He probably knew more about what was going on in France or Italy than they did, and he was not even mortal.

Yet, despite that, he continued to look through the castle, with a kind of detached fascination. He didn't find anything to interest him until he entered one of the bedrooms.

The young woman lying asleep there was the living image of his mistress from when he was a mortal. The one he had killed for lying to him, killed deliberately and cruelly by cutting her open and leaving her there to die. He had often regretted that, in an odd sort of way, when he saw her in little flashes of memory every once in a while. But he didn't think about her often.

Not until he saw this young woman who looked just like him. Except for her nose, that is, which was aquiline and harsh, much like his. Or how he remembered his was, from before he had become a vampire and unable to see his reflection.

He turned back into his normal form, and walked to the edge of her bed to look at her more closely.

She looked fragile to him as she slept, her wrists so thin that his hand could have circled them, her fine black hair falling over pale, thin shoulders. He reached a hand out to touch her cheek, and her eyes snapped open, probably because of how cold his touch was. Her eyes were a dark blue. Her voice was somewhere between complete terror and utter calm. "Who are you?"

"Vlad Dracula."

The eerie calm in her features was instantly gone, marred by confusion. He wondered if there was anyone named Vlad in this generation. But before she could voice her confusion he asked her, "What is your name?"

She whispered, and yes, her voice was like his mistress' had been, just like. "Adriana."

He nodded, and lifted his hand, touching her cheek again. Terror seemed to win now in her mind. "Whoever you are, get away from me!"

His next reaction was completely instinctive as he hit her, hard, across the face. Perhaps it was that nearly perfect resemblance that caused him to react so violently. But it was most likely not a good idea. She looked at him, shocked, as he went to lock the door, remembering that there were many people here who might hear something and come to look. And he wasn't going to leave, not now.

"Adriana, you will be mine now."

The terror only increased. "What are you talking about?"

He stepped towards her again, and she tried to move away from him, but he quickly was at her side again and he pulled her head back roughly to bare her neck. "This." He whispered before biting her. As soon as he pulled his mouth away from her neck she fought him, and he grabbed both her wrists with one hand, so tightly that he was surely bruising her, and he kissed her, his mouth still stained with her blood. But that only lasted for a moment before he bit his left wrist (his right hand still held her wrists) and forced it against her lips, making her swallow his blood. He then bit her a second time, till she became unconscious, and then went to open the window before he picked her up and carried her away into the night.

When he reached the castle, he moved a coffin next to Ecaterina and Ileana's, laid Adriana down in it, and bought her a dark blue dress.

He gave Adriana even less attention than he had give Ecaterina and Ileana, though sometimes he merely watched her, noticing the ways in which she was both like and unlike the woman he had known so many years ago. Both Ecaterina and Ileana were cruel to her the first few nights, but after that they were kind in an odd way, helping her the first few times she had to feed, for Adriana had more difficulty than either them had. Adriana became quiet, letting both of the others talk for her, and submissive, listening to Ecaterina on most matters. Vlad spoke to them less than he had before, and the three women formed a type of sisterhood, though an odd one.

And so things remained for a long time.

And then there was Mina, who was a completely different matter all together.