"Seven," Seras Victoria said, counting the mass of tiny children. "Sandru, how can you stand it?"
The werewolf, now thirty-four, chuckled and said, "It's not the same for us. Some litters get as large as ten. But Mirela and I are happy with this number. We think it's good for our first batch."
"You want more?!" Seras ask, horrified.
Sandru, sitting at a table in his kitchen, laughed and replied, "I remember there was a time when you wanted many children."
Seras' gaze flickered to the young boy standing beside the squirming pups and watching them with mild interest; he was tall for his age, pale and thin, with hair like a raven's feathers and large eyes as red as rubies. Smiling, she murmured, "You obviously don't know what it took to bring him into this world."
"I suppose not," Sandru allowed. "I'm not sure I want to."
"I should tell you anyway, to give you nightmares," Seras said, grinning evilly. "A vampiric pregnancy is a truly horrific thing!"
"I said I don't want to hear it," Sandru said, folding his arms with a huff.
"Well, you see, for several months the child lays dormant in the womb, little more than a spirit-"
"Seras, did you not-"
"And then in the final week before birth the child grows at rapid rates, eating it's mother from the inside out-"
"That's disgusting!" Sandru gasped, looking like he wanted to vomit.
"It gets better," Seras promised, her eyes glinting. "During the birth-!"
"Ah! I'm not listening!" Sandru said quickly, clapping his hands over his ears and jumping up from the table.
"-all the blood and the entrails-" Seras continued rising as well and moving closer to him.
"Seras!" he moaned.
"-and the bodies of the victims-"
Seras came to a halt as the young boy approached, his glittering eyes serious and calculating. "What is it, Cosmin?" she asked quickly.
He did not speak, but only pointed. In the open doorway to the house was a large black dog, staring at them with several pairs of crimson eyes.
Seras frowned. "He's early," she said.
"He's always early," Sandru complained.
Seras smiled apologetically. "It's still a wonder that he lets me come at all," she said, smiling. "Let's just be grateful for that."
"So when do you think you'll come back?" Sandru asked.
Seras thought for a moment. "Next month?" she suggested.
He shrugged. "I suppose that's alright. I'll miss you though. Mirela'll be disappointed that she missed you."
"Tell her I said hi," Seras replied. "And I'll miss you, too. Both of you."
She hugged him swiftly and warmly (not too warmly, though, since Alucard's hell hound was still standing there) and then turned to leave. Cosmin walked just a step behind her, his eyes still moving around the room analytically.
Seras smiled at him once they were out doors. "Do you want to run?" she asked. "Or ride?"
Cosmin glance at the hell-hound warily. "Ride," he decided. "But Mother... could I ride on your back. I don't like that one. It's not as pretty as you."
Seras laughed quietly. "And what shall I become today?"
"A dragon?" he suggested.
She giggled. "You know I can't do that."
"Fine," he huffed. "A big bird?"
"Cosmin, you know the rule. If you want to fly, you do it yourself."
"Mother..." he sighed. "Father will never know!"
"That's what you think," she muttered, more to herself than to him.
"A walrus, then?" Cosmin asked.
Seras stared at him in alarm. "A walrus?" she repeated. "It would take years to get home."
The young vampire smirked in a way that made him look like a mirror image of his Father. "It would be funny though," he said.
"Evil child!" she hissed. "Just for that, you're running yourself!"
His smirk vanished to be replaced by a very sour expression. "Uncle lets me fly," he said indignantly.
"Your Uncle also happens to be an expert at mental barriers. To this day I've only ever seen his barriers fail once."
"They failed?" Cosmin asked in astonishment. "Why? What happened?"
"I... don't remember..." Seras said.
"You're an awful liar!" Cosmin said. "Tell me!"
"I don't answer to demands," his mother said firmly.
"Not yours anyway," said a new voice.
Even after six years of living with him, Seras jumped in alarm at the suddenness of her mate's arrival. Cosmin sighed and shook his head at his mother's foolish actions.
"Father, will you tell me the story?" he asked. "Mother's lying again."
Alucard towered over his child. "What story?" he asked, grinning maliciously. The thick blush on his young bride's face seemed to speak volumes.
"About the one time Uncle Radu's barriers failed," Cosmin said unblinkingly.
"Ah, that," Alucard said, and his grin grew. "If you must know, Cosmin, your mother was a very naughty girl."
"Alucard," Seras warned.
His eyes shone playfully in her direction. "Perhaps you are not quite old enough for that story," he said to his son.
Seras looked at him suspiciously. "Why are you here anyway?" she asked.
"Is it a crime to come to ensure you make it safely home?" he asked, feigning hurt.
"We've never had trouble before. Of course, try telling Cosmin tha-"
"Mother!" Cosmin intervened, his face flaring up in an uncharacteristic blush.
Alucard raised an eyebrow at his son's rare humiliation.
He thought we were under attack, she said, trying not to let her amusement show.
And? Were you?
Well, if you consider a bunny in the bushes an 'attack'.
"Mother, you told!" Cosmin accused.
Seras laughed and picked him up, swinging him up onto her shoulders. "So, a big bird, right?" she asked cheerfully. "Or did you still want the walrus?"
Eagerly, Cosmin turned back to Alucard. "Father, can I?" he asked quickly.
Alucard walked up behind them, smirking, and pulled the boy from his wife's shoulders. "Why would you fly with your Mother?" he asked Cosmin. "I've seen the pathetic bird she becomes- slow and fragile. Why not fly with a real vampire for a change."
Cosmin's eyes lit up. "Can you become a dragon, Father?" he asked quickly.
"What do you think Draculae means?" Alucard asked, resting the boy on his own shoulders. "Do I look like a fledgling to you?"
"Is Mother a fledgling then?" Cosmin asked with a snicker.
"As good as," Alucard replied wickedly.
Seras propped her hands on her hips. "I'd be willing to bet I could beat the both of you home," she said.
"And what would you stake on that?" Alucard inquired, obviously pleased with the thought of a challenge.
"Stake?" she repeated. "What do I have that's my own?"
"A few things," he said. "A few people. If you lose, I think you should make me a new weapon."
"And me as well," Cosmin put in. "The last one you made only killed frogs!"
"And the new one will upgrade to butterflies," she said waspishly. "Fair enough. What do I get if I win?"
The men exchanged an amused, doubtful glance. "If you win," Alucard said, though he clearly thought it impossible, "I will teach you a trick. Any one you like."
Seras thought for a moment. "You'll cheat," she decided. "You'll generate portals."
"I'll be good," he promised. She doubted that.
"Fine, first one back-"
In a burst of shadows and wings, Alucard reared up in the shape of a elegant, ebony dragon and leaped into the sky, his son clinging to his neck and laughing merrily. The two soared high, doing back flips and somersaults, the taste of victory fueling their glee.
But before even a minute had past, there was a gust of wind and something whizzed passed, throwing Alucard off course. He glared ahead of him, wondering what had upset his progress, and saw a long, golden creature carving it's way through the air, moonlight glinting on it's many scales and flashing on it's perfectly formed wings.
"Father!" Cosmin gasped. "Is that...?"
"It seems we underestimated her," Alucard agreed, hiding his frustration with mirth.
"She... she can't win, can she?" Cosmin asked uncertainly.
Alucard shot a quick glare over his massive shoulder. "This is your Mother we're talking about. But just to be on the safe side..."
A portal opened into the sky and they quickly passed through it, leaving the night as still as if they had never been there.
- - - - -
Well, I'd just like to thank you all for reading this story, and I hope you all enjoyed. I'll apologize again for the times when I didn't update quickly (or for months, but that's not the point). So that's it for now.
Until the next story!