Disclaimer: I. Don't. Own. The end.

This story sort of came out of nowhere, other than a temporary ban from the computer until my room was clean. So perhaps that statement isn't true; this fic was born of boredom and thinking that I really wanted to write something new. Plus I wanted to try writing another "bride" fiction that was at least a little longer than my first. That didn't really work out, but I'm still quite proud of it, even though my own wording sometimes confuses me...

Forgive me for the blatantly unoriginal title, but I just can't think of one right now. And, I know, technically Aleera is the youngest of Dracula's brides (I think), but in this fic she's really just trying to get out from under her biological sisters' wings (no pun intended), so I'm not really referring to her relationship with the other brides. You'll see what I mean (I hope).

This story starts out not unlike many others. First she was born and then she grew. Hers was a childhood of twining her arms 'round her mother's neck, of being teased by her sisters, and of imaginary dialogues with Betsy, the sweet, doe-eyed family cow. She picker her daisies, sometimes, and Betsy would chew them dumbly and Aleera would pat her head with a childish affection, thinking how nice it was to have someone depend on her for a change.

Her parents were simple, she would now call them poor, and extraordinarily ordinary. Her father was content to work their small farm day in and day out though his back would oftentimes ail him, and her mother would sit in her chair and remember the days when she was beautiful. Her sisters, too, she realizes now as dull; the eldest sister was the pretty one, the younger intelligent, and so Aleera grew up believing herself to be neither. She was just the loudest… and the littlest.

So she sought other ways to gain notice.

The boys would crowd around her sisters, adoring and eager and just completely smitten, and even though it was Aleera who took the miller's son behind the barn and him a man, it was her eldest sister whom he married. Her efforts redoubled, and she soon garnered herself a reputation other than that of her sharp tongue.

And then came the night when she'd stumbled upon her sister's form in the bed rather than that of her sister's husband, two clean puncture wounds marring the otherwise smooth porcelain column of her throat. There was a gaunt pallor to her face that was unrecognizable to Aleera, and it wasn't until she realized her chest was no longer rising and falling with an intake of breath that she knew.

She met him that night. He melted from the shadows, her sister's blood staining his lips a beautiful red, and she was intrigued by the gleam of his fangs.

"Is it you hate me now?" he asked, dark eyes glinting, and his expression was almost gentle, placating. He moved, glided, to stand opposite her, by her sister's bedside, and touched the limp hand with an easy detachment. "Do you resent me for taking her from you? For leaving her like this?" He seemed almost curious, but beneath that there was something predatory and that more than anything called to Aleera.

She hesitated, touching a finger to her sister's brow –and she wasn't so pretty now, was she, with her sallow cheeks and glassy eyes, her skin cold and clammy– before meeting those dark eyes. "Perhaps," she offered, "Only for denying me the opportunity to inform her that her lover was also mine." And she smiled as cruelly as she could.

"The man in the stables" he commented, drawing closer, and Aleera knew that his interest had been sparked by her wicked tongue, and he still had yet to see what else it could do.

She donned a wolfish grin, "One would only assume."

"Ah" he spoke; his voice was like ice and it sent shivers down her back. "I see now. You are…exquisite." He was beside her then, his last word a cold breath on the hollow of her neck. She wasn't frightened when she felt the press of his fangs against the base of her throat, and show could only grope blindly for the strong slopes of his shoulders, nodding feverishly when he asked, "Would you mind terribly…?" before sinking his fangs into her.

That night, rather than her sister's husband, Aleera took her murder as her own, and any regret she might have had vanished when she realized she was no longer just the youngest.