Claudia, The Child Vampire
by Claudia deLioncourt
You stole my soul. You stole my life.
You stole the sun out of my sky.
You brought me death, then gave me life.
You never taught me wrong from right.
You damned me to walk the earth in misery
or burn in the flames of Hell for all eternity.
But there will one day come a time
when you will crumble beneath the weight of your own lies.
Because I am your pride. I am your vice.
I am your crime and you must pay the price.
The Price of Damnation
I don't remember it well, the night I became this, the creature of darkness and death. I vaguely remember Louis feeding on me. I do not remember the process or the pain of the change. I do think I remember, though this may be something that my mind imagined from Louis' words, asking Lestat where my mother was. "You're mother is up in Heaven with the angels, cherie," he said. "You are my daughter now. Mine and Louis'." That was his answer. I don't remember that at all. I took it from Louis' interview. But regardless, that is what I became, their daughter. The daughter of death, who never knew a mother's love, who was raised as a demon child by two evil fathers.
He called me "Little Death", Lestat that is. My Louis would never have mocked me so. Lestat called me "cherie" too. He also called me Claudia. I didn't know, once I was old enough to think about it, whether or not that was my real name. Maybe I didn't know because no one ever told me. Or maybe no one ever told me because I never asked. Either way, I didn't know.
I was nearly sixteen by the time I became aware that I didn't know who had named me. Louis and Lestat were arguing over me, over something I'd done. I think I had run away from home. Yes, that is what had them so riled up. I'd run away and they hadn't found me for a week. I can't remember the exact reason I ran away, but that is inconsequential, really. What matters is that I ran away. And when they did find me, Lestat was furious.
His face was flushed, almost like a mortal's, and his eyes seemed like blue fires. The moment the door was shut, he rounded on me and started shouting. The strange thing was that he didn't snarl or even bare his fangs. No, I see now that he was just yelling at me like any father who was nearly sick with worry over his only child would have yelled. "Claudia Michelle deLioncourt! Where in the name of Hell have you been?" He didn't stop to give me a chance to answer. "Do you have any idea what an utterly foolish, dangerous, stupid thing it is, for you to go running off like that? I don't care if other girls your age are out by themselves. You are not like them. Your body is not like their bodies are. You may be sixteen, but you are as small and fragile as a little child. You may be a vampire, but there are some people who will not feel pity or mercy for some lost child. There are people who would hurt you! There might even be other vampires and they, they would kill you!"
Other vampires? Here? After that sentence, I stopped listening to him. Nothing else he was saying seemed to matter. There were other vampires in the world. Yes that I had known must be true. But other vampires in New Orleans? That was something I had never thought of before. I became stuck on that thought until Lestat grabbed me by the arm. He had finally realized that I wasn't listening to him.
"Ungrateful little brat," he declared, "No amount of crying your alligator tears, no amount of Louis blaming it on your youth is going to get you out of being punished. I won't have you running away from us again. You will learn to behave properly and to stay here if we tell you to stay here. To learn that lesson, you may not leave this house, except to hunt, for a month. And when you hunt, I will go with you." I opened my mouth to shout some indignation at him, but he cut me off. "Don't you dare argue, Claudia."
"And why shouldn't I argue," I demanded of him rudely, wrenching my arm away from him.
He didn't get any angrier at me, surprisingly he actually sounded much calmer. He just answered, as if it were common sense, "Because I am your father and I say so."
A moment later, I found myself locked in my room. I don't really know how he did that, since the door is only supposed to lock from the inside. I shrieked and pounded on the door with my tiny fists, demanding to be let out. But neither Lestat nor Louis seemed to even hear me. When I tried to talk to Louis with my silent voice, which for reasons I did not yet know could never reach Lestat, he simply shut me out. And that's when I gave up raging and lay down on my bed. If even Louis was so angry with me that he would not even hear my pleading, then it truly was a lost cause. I glared up at the top of the canopy. It wasn't fair. I was sixteen years old, any other girl would be considered an adult by that age. And still, Lestat dared to lock me in my room and keep me in the house. Just who did he think he was? Why was he permitted to do this? Because I am your father and I say so. In my mind, I recalled his tone as he had said those words. He had spoken them as if the sentiment they conveyed was the simplest in the world. Maybe to some people it was. But I, I who had been a vampire for as long as I could remember, had never been exposed to society enough to know what the lives of other children where like. That reason seemed so incredible an excuse. It seemed almost unreasonable. But why?
It is true that he told people that I was his daughter. And yes, in public, in front of such people, and even sometimes in private when it was just the three of us, I often called him 'father'. Our relationship naturally seemed to be that of a father and daughter, but up until that night, that had only been one facet of our relationship. A great deal of the time, I called him by his name and as far as I was concerned, the definition of our relationship was never anything more elaborate than the fact that he had made me a vampire. Never before had anyone ever said that those roles were all encompassing, that they could not change when it seemed logical for them to change. Never before had he been so bold as to proclaim that he was my father and I was his daughter and that, no matter how we behaved at other times, foremost and above all, that was the limit to it. That it was a rigid, unchanging fact. He had never claimed to have power over me for that reason and that reason solely, never claimed that it was the only reason he needed. No, those types of things where meant for mortal men to say, men who really were their daughters' fathers. It must seem so ridiculous to make such a deal out of that one sentence. But it was so very important. Because it made me think.
How dare he claim he can control me! He is not my real father. I thought to myself, I know Lestat is arrogant, but that really does take it a little too far. If he said 'because I am your maker and I say so,' or 'because I am the one that has raised you, housed you, taught you how to survive,' then maybe it would be justifiable. The way he brushed me off so easily and with such (conviction). Why, one would almost think, listening to him, that he actually is my father. And that's when I realized it. Lestat did consider himself to be my father. He considered it with such naturality and certainty that it would never occur to him to see it any other way. Whenever he looked at me, he would not see a fledgling or a companion, like he did when he looked at Louis. Instead, he saw his daughter. In his mind, I was as much his child as if he really had been the one to beget me.
Once I got over my bewilderment about that fact, I remembered the very beginning of his lecture. Just as he had never explicitly defined the limits and bounds of our relationship before, he had never called me by any real name other than Claudia. He never even told us his last name. So where did the name Claudia Michelle deLioncourt come from? Was that really my full name? Once I considered it, I had to ask myself if Claudia was really even my name. It would have been highly plausible that my name was not Claudia. If Lestat really considered me his daughter, it wouldn't be so strange for him to name me. After thinking about it for a very long time, I finally could not stand being so curious, so I reached out to Louis again, this time being quiet and sounding properly chastised.
He didn't shut me out again. He just asked me what it was I wanted.
'Louis, is Claudia really my name, or did Lestat name me?'
'Whatever makes you ask that question?' I could feel the mental equivalent of a sigh. 'Truly, I have no idea. When I came home the night you were made, he called you Claudia. It was the first name I have ever heard anyone call you and it is the only name I have for you. So even if you once had a different name, to me your name is Claudia. It is what you call yourself, isn't it?'
'Well, of course it is. I have no other name for myself. But what about the rest of my name? When he was yelling at me, Lestat called me by what is supposedly my full name: Claudia Michelle deLioncourt. I did not know that I had middle name or even a last name.'
Louis did not answer for a while. Finally he replied, 'I have never heard you called by that name. I don't know where he got it. I don't know if any of it is your real name. You'll have to ask him.' Out loud, I sighed heavily. Then I thought to ask if I could come out of my room, if only to ask Lestat my question.
I wasn't allowed out of my room that night and I didn't get an answer to that question. In the end I didn't have to ask. Two weeks later, Lestat and I were walking through the cemetery as a short cut home. I was reading all the names on the tombs, playing a little game with myself, seeing how many new names I could find. For most of the walk, I hadn't seen anything new and so I was about to end the game for the night when out of the corner of my eye, I saw one name that halted me completely: 'Julien deLioncourt'. That was supposedly my last name. Had this person been a relative of mine? Was he the human father I had never met?
I pulled my hand out of Lestat's and walked over to the tomb. It was small, nothing elaborate, nothing fancy. It just said, 'Julien deLioncourt, 1713-1791, born in L'Auvergne France, died in New Orleans, Louisianna'.
"Claudia," I heard Lestat call impatiently, "what are you doing?" I didn't really want to answer him. So I didn't. Instead, he walked to where I was to see what I was looking at.
Turning around, I asked, "Lestat, was this person related to me?" He was completely silent. When I looked up at him, I saw that he wore an indefinable and strange expression on his face. "What's wrong?" I momentarily pushed my curiousity about my name and my human family away. I had never seen him look so startled or uncomfortable. Actually, I don't believe I had ever seen him uncomfortable at all.
He looked down, his eyes still glazed and shook his head as if to clear it. I knew what that motion meant because I had seen many mortals do it. I had never seen Lestat do something that was such a naturally human action. It almost worried me. "No, Claudia, he was not related to you," he answered at last. "And that is something you should be very grateful of."
I frowned, puzzled. "But my last name is the same as his and it's a very unusual one."
"And," Lestat prompted tensely. I couldn't think of anything to say. It wasn't complicated, the thing I was asking. Why couldn't he just answer a question for once?
"Well, my mortal parents, what were their names?"
"How should I know," he sneered, "and why should you care? You don't remember them. They are no more your parents than any strangers on the street. Louis and I are your parents." If I wasn't mistaken, there was a sort of veiled hurt in his tone. It was as if I'd upset him by reminding him that he wasn't my real father. I was going to have to make up for that if I wanted to have even the slightest chance of getting an answer.
Taking a deep breath, I said innocently as I could, "Who was he then, Father?" The thing that I had labeled hurt faded and his slight frown became a near snarl.
"That man," he spat out the second word as if he thought it was far too noble a word to describe this mysterious person, "was my father." I stared at him. I hadn't expected that. Not at all. So my maker's name was Lestat deLioncourt and he, like his father, was probably from L'Auvergne. It took me quite some time to recompose myself.
"So that is not my real last name." It wasn't really a question, though my tone would have made it seem so. He got that vexed look on his face again.
"Not as far as I know," he answered. "I do not and never have known what name you were called before you were given the Dark Gift." He turned away from me. He seemed almost afraid. Almost vulnerable.
"Then you named me?" I eagerly waited for him to say something more.
He kept his back turned to me and said in a sullen voice that was something more associable with Louis than with him, "In a way. I read your first name from your mind. You were too young then to know the rest of your name. I gave you my last name and I gave you the name Michelle because it was supposedly the name of my mother's mother." Then without warning he began walking again. He did not wait for me to catch up with him. He just assumed I would follow. I was too busy thinking to consider sneaking off. When we got home, he went straight to his room and locked the door. I didn't bother him. Louis wanted to, actually tried to make him come out of the room, but each time Louis called his name, Lestat would just sullenly tell us to let him be.