Lucy lay there in silence, unmoving. Her hands were folded over her chest as if she was already a corpse, and her eyes were closed (she didn't want to see him when he arrived). It was difficult, waiting there unflinchingly for death, especially without her crucifix, but this was necessary, this was her sacrifice. She had known for some time that this was the only way it could end. She had tried to long to avoid it.
She heard soft, muffled footsteps, like breathless whispers, and the familiar rasping breath, and kept her eyes shut, using every ounce of will to keep from moving.
He came closer. She could feel his breath on her face, smelling of sickness and death, and knew that he must be leaning over her. Then, she felt his fingers entwining in her hair, his long, brittle nails becoming tangled in it. His breath came closer and closer, hotter and hotter against her skin, and then –
She heard herself cry out as his fangs pierced her neck as though it was another's voice. The pain of the bite itself was endurable, but the long moments afterwards were horrifying, as though every bit of vitality was being drained from the very marrow of her bones. A languor overcame her, an uncomfortable, oppressive one, but one that she could not break from. Movement seemed an impossible prospect.
And then, suddenly, his fangs were gone from her neck. In shock (for she was not dead yet, she would know if she was...) she let her eyes fly open to the sight of the Count, mouth smeared with her red blood.
But she felt a fingernail against her cheek, and her eyes shuttered closed again, even as he began to speak, his slow, heavily accented words deliberate. "You thought that you could catch me like this, in your human trap. But I am smarter than you think I am."
And then, before she could move and protest (though she couldn't have done either, not weakened as she was, not with exhaustion in the emptiness of her veins), he picked her up, one hand under he back and the other under her knees, effortlessly, as if he had lifted people that way a thousand times. She let her head fall back, her long dark hair nearly hitting the floor. She might as well have been dead, but in a city that had welcomed the plague as an honored guest, no one much noticed.
She didn't much care where he was taking her, because the fact that he was taking her away in the first place meant that her plan, the last hope she had of saving Jonathan and the remnants of her beautiful city, had failed. Now she would be condemned to a soulless eternity, as would countless others who this monster took, believing he could partake of the love that he would only kill in them by depriving it of sunlight.
She felt herself being laid down, and she forced herself to move slightly, if only enough to discover that it was a coffin she had been placed in. Had she missed some of them when she so diligently sought them out, blasphemously sprinkling them with Sacred Host to deny the monster any hope of refuge? It didn't matter anymore. Perhaps this coffin had been intended for someone else, someone who even now lay dying in the town square, amidst rotting food and flowers, and the coffin was empty because there was no one left to bury them.
She crossed her hands in front of her chest protectively, aware that it made her look like a corpse, but not caring. It was pointless, though, because, as she kept her eyes closed, she felt his weight settle down on top her, gingerly, as though he cared about whether or not he hurt her.
She was afraid then, more afraid than she had been at the prospect of dying at his hands, for that at least could be construed as an honest martyrdom.
He lifted the heavy fabric of her nightgown up over her thighs reverently, and she shuddered, wanting to do more but knowing that she was as incapable of fighting and getting up as if she had been sleepwalking.
But he did nothing more than touch her, his long fingernails biting into her skin. He seemed so unused to touching someone slowly and deliberately, and though she was shivering, disgusted with the ever-present smell of decay about him, she felt the same twinge of sympathy she had felt when he intruded upon her those days ago. He wanted salvation. But thinking he could find it in her damnation was what made him monstrous.
For whatever reason, he stopped, and instead lowered his head to her neck and bit her again. This time, she did not cry out, for that would have taken too much energy. No, she endured, like the martyr she could no longer be, and slipped into the dreamless sleep of death.
She awoke, many hours later, when a rat ran across her chest. That in and of itself did not startle her, and never would have. She had never feared the sea of rats that had invaded her city, and, in recompense, they had left her and Jonathan's house untouched (a different plague had struck them, and one far worse). No, what startled her was the set of fangs in her own mouth, sharp and close together as a rat's, proclaiming damnation with the way they pierced her bottom lip, giving her just a taste of the blood that seemed terribly appealing.
The languor brought on by blood loss earlier was entirely gone, and she stood, finding that, outside of the coffin, there was a veritable sea of rats, just as there had been when she went to desecrate his other coffins – did the rats follow him wherever he went, like an army ready to do his every whim? She didn't bother to lift the fabric of her too-long nightgown away from them, and began to walk through the room, which seemed to be a basement or cellar, empty aside for a few spare pieces of furniture and the teeming river of rats, which parted about her feet as though she was Moses.
And, at one end of the room, she saw him sitting, surrounded by the rats, which crawled all over him as though he himself was a dead body that they had claimed. There were others standing in front of him, like suppliants before a King, except that there was nothing regal about him.
She walked further towards him, and saw that the first one to come forward was Renfield, who had sent Jonathan to Romania in the first place, begun the whole chain of events. He was a raving lunatic now, locked in any asylum until all the doctors had died, but she knew well that he was more sane than the emissary of the normal world in her life, the well meaning Doctor Van Helsing who had disbelieved her conclusions and forced her to take the drastic measures that had led to this state in the first place. She could not help but detest Renfield for being the one to begin the contagion, but she did not think him insane. No, never.
Renfield sunk down to his knees, kissing the Count's boots, and the Count seemed t completely ignore him, as if such behavior was merely an unfortunate necessity.
The next person to step forward, however, Lucy quite recognized, though her green dress had grown tattered and layered over with cobwebs, though her skin had an inhuman pallor and there were dark circles surrounding her eyes. Mina hadn't changed.
She sunk into a lower curtsey, her head bent to that all Lucy could see of her was her short, honey colored hair. Lucy, horrified, found herself unable to move. She had thought that Mina's death was merely a threat from the Count, showing her how far he could destroy her world effortlessly. She had not expected that Lucy too would be condemned to this.
But all thoughts of Lucy were forgotten as the third person stepped forward. For it was Jonathan, looking so much like the Count that she could have screamed. Before he could bow, or get down one knee, or whatever he was about to do to show respect for the monster who had destroyed him, Lucy rushed towards him, though, amidst the rats and the trailing fabric of her nightgown, it seemed more as though she was gliding than rushing.
At the same moment he did, she noticed that her nails had grown long, and hard, and brittle, much like the Count's, and a recognition appeared in his face, if not the one she would have desired. "Lady," he asked, "how may I best honor you?"
She turned away, fighting the urge to faint, as she had done when first Jonathan did not recognize her. Instead, the Count stood, making his way to her, and then clumsily entangling his long fingers with her own. Wordlessly, he led her away, without bothering to give a word of explanation to the others.
In the nights that followed, they wandered the streets, a pair of silent specters, feeding from the dying. It wasn't long until they had leeched all the life from the city.
They would need to find somewhere else.