Author's note: Hello all, after decades, lol… Well, I'm sorry for not updating for so long, but I was kind of not in the mood to write the final chapter… But finally here it is! I cannot believe that the story has come to an end… So, I would like to say my heartfelt thanks to everyone who reviewed and who joined me in this journey all they way. I also thank those who read the story but did not review. Elwyndra, special thanks go to you for your continued support on this story. I doubt if I would ever bring it to an end, were it not for you and your encouragement! I wish you all the best, and see you perhaps in the other stories?

But read on now, enough with my sayings. I would be glad if you told me your overall opinion of the story!

Summary: This story takes place right after the movie, only Anna was not hurt by Van Helsing and furthermore is not dead lol. The basic idea is that we'll follow their journey to Rome with all of its events, and finally we'll get to learn something about who he really is. All the way, there will be an exploration of his relationship with her.

Warning: The story contains explicit sex scenes, so please don't read through if you are under legal age or otherwise feel uncomfortable with such stuff. To everyone else, enjoy yourselves! ;-p

Disclaimer: No, I don't own Van Helsing or anything related to the movie and you know that. I only own my own characters and plot.

A Journey Home, And A Journey Of Sentiments

Chapter 27

The first rays of the sun were lighting the dark sky, adding reddish and golden hues to it, when Van Helsing, Anna and Carl left the Vatican and headed for the cemetery. The hunter took with him the two persons that meant the most to him, as Uriel had instructed him. The three of them would witness the revelation of the truth about Gabriel, his ascension, and whatever else the Heavens held for them.

The princess and the friar were walking with their heads lowered, unable to overcome the sadness that nested in their souls, the sadness of the forthcoming and inevitable event, a sadness that was evident in their eyes. Gabriel, on the other hand, having accepted his destiny, was walking with his head up and looking straight forward. He was walking up to his destiny, to his origin, to his real residence. The divine serenity was glowing inside him and showed through his eyes once again and prevailed over his human nature. Because this human nature of his secretly urged him to drop his eyes and let himself be overwhelmed by desperation, like his companions. It urged him to let his soul be torn asunder between divine and mortal love… However, the archangel inside him yearned for the Heavens and this overshadowed every other feeling. But there was something else, too, that empowered Gabriel's will to meet his destiny as an angel and not as a human. And that was Uriel's pledge. His divine friend had promised him that he would give the answers to all his questions that had plagued him for all his years he could remember. This was something his human self needed desperately, in order to be at peace before the archangel's ascension.

The bright disk of the sun had just started to appear in the horizon when they reached the graveyard. As soon as they entered, Anna stopped in her steps and leaned back against the iron gate and closed her eyes, while a single tear ran down her cheek. Gabriel turned to her and placed his hands on her shoulders.

"Come, my love… You must be strong… And you are, I know you are", he told her softly and lifted her chin to make her look in his eyes.

"No, I'm not strong", she whispered and shook her head, letting another tear stain her cheek.

"You are", he told her firmly and took her in his hug. She hugged him tightly and buried her head in his chest while silent sobs shook her body. "You have always been brave. I need you to be brave once more. For me", he asked of her tenderly. Anna looked up to him and nodded. Gabriel smiled to her warmly. Then she turned to Carl and he gave her a weak grin, trying in this way to encourage her as well as himself. Even though he did not cry, his heart was aching for he was about to lose the mysterious man he had come to know as his best friend.

Quietly, the three of them resumed walking and they soon reached the child's grave, the one Gabriel had been told would be the place he should go. And truly, the moment the three friends stood before the grave a cool breeze blew past them and Uriel appeared, surrounded by his familiar ruby aura and holding his magnificent sword that blazed purple and golden fire. His ethereal form came to rest on the gravestone, and he bowed his head slightly to Gabriel in a manner of greeting him. Van Helsing responded in the same way. Anna and Carl were holding their breaths as the two archangels spoke.

"Uriel… I did as you told me to do. Here I am, with the two persons that mean the most to me, ready to hearken to the Bearer of the God's commands. But first I need the answers to my questions. "

"I know, and it is God's will that you receive them. Hush now, and listen carefully…", Uriel replied calmly and with a movement of his arm he showered the three friends in a celestial golden light, excluding them from their surroundings. Then he began speaking. "It all began about 400 years ago, when you, the Messenger of God's will, questioned one of his commands and failed to carry it out. Your sin was not as deadly as to condemn you to Hell, so, as a punishment, God decided that you should live as a mortal on the earth until you find a way to gain redemption. Thus, you were cast out of Heaven… The place God had chosen for you was Walachia… You were found half-dead and without any memories by the Prince's men. That was God's will…". As Uriel spoke, Gabriel felt memories flooding his mind, one after another. Everything was gradually starting to make sense to him, but there was still much to be answered. And Uriel continued, after his short pause. "As the years went by, you and the Prince became as close as brothers. But God's decision was not random. His wisdom had foreseen everything… One day, while Walachia's armies were far from home, battling the Turks, word came to the Prince that his wife had been murdered. Mad with grief, he abandoned the war and returned to his residence, leaving you to his stead". The archangel paused again and searched Gabriel's expression; his eyebrows were furrowed and his eyes low, as if he knew what had happened next. "Soon it was no secret all over the Balkans that the Prince was a different man, and the new method he used against his enemies had spread fear and aversion… Impalement was that new method, and it came to add on to the atrocities he committed. You saw every day that your dearest friend was far beyond the point of no return… You stood against him strongly, and he imprisoned you under the accusation of treason. You were to be executed, but you managed to escape with the help of some Knights that were loyal to you. And you made a vow… You vowed not to rest until you had vanquished Prince Vladislaus Dragulia, and thus your fates were bound. Do you remember that, Gabriel?"

"I do remember… And I killed him, didn't I?"

"You did. You set a trap… One dark night when there was no moon in the sky you met him in front of the Cathedral. He quickly drew his sword against you, but you were ready; you unsheathed your sword and drove it through his heart. Then you cut his finger and took his ring with the insignia of the Dragon… That night in the year 1462 A.D. Prince Vladislaus Dragulia died, and Count Dracula, Lord of the vampires, was born."

"That was when he made a deal with the devil… We all know what happened next", Anna intervened and commented. "But what about Gabriel? What did it mean that their fates were bound?", she inquired and Carl gave her a worried glance, as he was suspecting the meaning of those words.

"It meant exactly what Gabriel had vowed, that he would not return to the Heavens before vanquishing Dracula", Uriel answered Anna's question and then he turned back to the hunter. "That very night you killed him, you returned to Heaven. However, it was not redemption that you found, and you were not granted back your position. Your fate was to remain there in a state of numbness, bound by your oath, until it was the appropriate time for you to descend to earth once more and fulfill your oath. And so it came to be, about six years ago, that you were found by the monks of the Holy Order crawling up at the steps of St. Peter's basilica in the Vatican, half-dead and with no memories… And the rest is history."

"So there was truth to Dracula's implications… We have such history, you and I, Gabriel, he had told me… and now I see that it has been so. But what about the nightmares that had plagued me all these years? Those ancient battles… Is there any truth to these all?"

"Those nightmares of yours were a mixture of your human memories, when you fought by the side of the Prince, and your angelic memories. Heaven has fought many battles against Hell, and we fought in them too… Do you remember that battle in your vision, when you were unconscious? It truly happened, Gabriel. But not all of your nightmares were true memories. Satan always searched for ways to enter your mind and torture you with filthy lies… And in your weakest moments, in your times of human desperation, he and his minors brought you awful nightmares, and they were the ones that made you wake up in the middle of the night, trembling and gasping for breath…", Uriel said and Gabriel closed his eyes and swallowed hard at the remembrance of those terrible moments. "But all of this has come to an end now. The time has come, Gabriel. Dracula is vanquished. Your oath is fulfilled. God had given you a riddle, and you solved it. The truth about you is revealed… You are His chosen one in the fight against evil… And redemption is awaiting you."

"Isn't it strange? I had vowed not to rest until I had vanquished Dracula, and so did Valerious the Elder, Dracula's father. Only his oath bound not only him but every descendant of his, including Anna, the last of the Valerious…", said Gabriel and turned his gaze to Anna who was standing beside him. "But why should it be now that I was allowed to fulfill my oath? Why not earlier?"

"You said it yourself. Anna is meant to be the last of the Valerious", Uriel answered kindly and looked at the princess.

"What-what do you mean?", Carl stuttered, fearing that Anna would have to die. Uriel did not answer the friar's question. He only turned his gaze back to Gabriel.

"I know what kind of questions has been troubling you of late, Gabriel. Don't hesitate, I am here to answer everything", Uriel urged the hunter, who slowly lifted his eyes and decided to speak.

"I understand that it was God's will that I lived on the earth as a mortal, with everything that is characteristic of a mortal, all the desires and passions, all the weaknesses and tendencies to sin… But why was I allowed to love a woman so strongly, if I was to be called back so soon? And why should she love me back?", he asked and his voice broke, all human emotions suddenly threatening to take over him. "No, not for me. For her…", he said as he took a few steps closer to Uriel, and his voice betrayed that he was on the verge of crying. Anna lowered her head and did not speak. She knew that sooner or later everything would come down to this. "For her, Uriel. Why should she suffer for me? You know what she had suffered all her life, do you not? Then why should she mourn over a lost love? Over a man she cannot keep with her?", he inquired and tears started to stain his cheeks.

"Once more you are questioning God's will, Gabriel. Don't rush to conclusions", Uriel said strictly, ignoring the hunter's emotional outburst, and then he turned to Anna. "Princess Anna Valerious, come forward", he commanded and Anna was startled at first, but she quickly obeyed. She came and stood before the archangel and bowed her head in respect. "It is God's will that you may decide about your future. Since you had devoted your life to fighting evil and to vanquishing Dracula, God has granted you with a choice. You can either continue your mortal life at peace and with archangel Gabriel as your Guardian, or you can give up your mortal life and join Gabriel as an angel in the Heavens", said Uriel and everyone's eyes opened widely. Little "Oh-my-Gods" escaped Carl's mouth, while the couple stood speechless. It might not had seemed an easy choice for Anna, but she was sure about her decision right away.

"I will forever be grateful to God for that choice He granted me, but I've made my choice. My fate is here, on the earth. Am I really worthy of such a gift? Am I really worthy of becoming an angel? This I don't know. But I know one thing. I was born a mortal, a mortal who loved Gabriel Van Helsing more that anything! And I wish to keep that love in my heart, safe and untouched, and all the memories of what we lived together will forever live inside me", she whispered feverishly and her eyes shone. Gabriel was not able to react.

"Have you thought well about your decision, princess Valerious? Do you realize what kind of a gift you are refusing?", Uriel inquired.

"I do. But I do not wish my fate to differ from my family's. We served God and fought against evil… We loved and hated, we laughed and we cried, we lived and we died… I understand that as an angel I would feel the love of God and that I would be showered in His grace… But my human heart is weak… Am I selfish for wishing to love Gabriel forever with a human kind of love? With the kind of love that lovers know in their secret hours of bliss? It's this love I wish to keep inside me forever", Anna said and lowered her eyes. The archangel in front of here did not speak this time. If that was her choice, it was to be respected. Slowly, Gabriel came next to her. He placed his hands on her shoulders and turned her to him.

"Anna… you don't know what you refuse…", he whispered to her.

"But I know what I will not lose!", she said and threw herself in his embrace. They hugged each other tightly for some moments, until it was time for the end. Gabriel gave her a last kiss on her forehead and slowly let go of her. Carl moved beside Anna and spoke in a shaky voice.

"Goodbye, Van Helsing…"

"Farewell, Carl, my best friend…", he told the friar who could not hold his tears anymore. Then Gabriel turned his gaze, which had started to turn silver, to Anna.

"I will forever be by your side…Your Guardian angel…"

"And I will forever love you, Gabriel!", she said and let the tears flow freely down her cheeks.

Then pure white light surrounded Gabriel, and together with Uriel's ruby one they shone so brightly that the two mortals had to turn their faces elsewhere and shut their eyes tightly not to be blinded. The moment they reopened their eyes the two archangels had disappeared. There was no sign of them, and the child's grave before them was cold and shining gray, faintly lit by the rays of the winter sun. Carl and Anna stood there for some time, not speaking a word, contemplating what had taken place in front of their eyes a few minutes ago. Then they slowly took their way back to the Vatican.

So that was the end of the journey for her. For her? No, not for her. It was the end of her journey with the human Gabriel. But now a new journey was beginning. A journey where she would always have her beloved archangel as her guardian dear. It was not sorrow that filled Anna's heart that day of their separation; it was sweet bitterness, if something like that can be said, and it was also confidence and hope for a brighter future for humanity, free from evil, a future blessed by the Left Hand of God.

But what was the future for this story's heroes? As for Francesca, she stayed and worked as a librarian in the Order's library. She was always very close to Carl, secretly in love with him, and he knew that. Due to the kind of love they shared, he refused to be promoted to a monk and chose to remain a friar. And Dr. Williams? He visited at last his daughter in Italy and then he returned to London where he spent the last years of his life helping the poor patients and searching for new medicine. And what about Anna? She had always known that she was not an ordinary woman. Could she ever marry, have children and live happily ever after? No, that was not the kind of life the gypsy princess would have ever wanted for herself. The flame of her love for Gabriel was always burning brightly in her heart and she would want no other man. She chose to do what she knew best; to fight against evil. So, she took Van Helsing's place in the Holy Order, and she was the first female monster hunter. And through all her adventures, she could always feel Gabriel by her side, guiding her and protecting her. And she never felt alone. Carl was always there for her, as he had been for Van Helsing, and they would often talk about the adventures of the past and remember what they had lived with Gabriel. And in her hours of darkness when she was alone with herself, she would never despair. She would always sing the song that was passed on to her by Isetnofret, and she would find comfort in it, as the loving scenes of her past would come alive before her eyes and enchant her again and again and again, until her last breath escaped her lips and her spirit went to join her family in the Heavens. And on her gravestone these lyrics of her song were carved, as she had wished, to forever testify her undying love that had conquered even death:

Ever felt away without me
My love, it lies so deep
Ever dream of me

I'd take you away
Castaway on a lonely day
Bosom for a teary cheek
My song can but borrow your grace

And truly, Gabriel's archangelic grace shone on Anna all through her life, proof of his undying love that had triumphed in eternity.