-- Readers should be aware that this is technically a fanfic of a fanfic; to read the inspiration, readers are directed to Chewing Gum's excellent stories "The Girl" and the companion fic "Go Ask Mrs. Holmes" (especially the "elsewhere" part of Chapter 8 of GAMH.)

Victoria looked far grimmer than usual. As such, those around her were wearing various mixtures of embarrassment and anxiety. Edward went so far as to nervously drum his fingers on the sideboard until a scorching look from his mother killed the gesture entirely and he folded his hands in his lap. Victoria turned her gaze back to the two aides, who all but flinched.

"You are quite sure?"

"Yes, Your Majesty," William Brown replied. The taller of the two, his coloring quite matched his name.

"Without question," John Marlow added, rather unnecessarily. Victoria whirled back to her son.

"I have tolerated your . . . indiscretions . . . in the past, Edward, for the sake of appearances, but more importantly, for the sake of the Empire. Certainly you have caused harm enough. I do not believe you are entirely aware of the pains you have caused your attendants who strive to minimize the damage" – here Brown and Marlow bowed slightly in acknowledgment – "but this goes quite beyond the pale." The queen stopped and demanded, as mother to wayward son, "Edward, whatever were you thinking?"

The prince moved his shoulders in what almost a sheepish shrug. "It was many years ago, Madame. I was very young."

It was the wrong thing to say. "It was less than twenty years ago –"

"Nearly eighteen," murmured Marlow.

"—and thirty by any reckoning can hardly be considered young. I say again, Edward, what were you thinking?"

This was a royal command, and all in the room knew it. Marlow and Brown shifted in uncomfortable silence while the prince withered beneath his mother's gaze, staring at an embroidered rose on the floor.

Finally he spoke, softly, bringing forth memories not stirred in years. "I hardly remember anything other than 'why.' I cannot recall how we met or who introduced us, or indeed, if we were ever introduced. I don't know that I ever knew her name. I cannot recall where we went afterwards. But I remember her. Oh yes, I remember her. Beautiful, frighteningly so, with hair like the sun in perfect curls and skin so white and clear I could've traced the veins beneath to her heart." He broke off suddenly, aware of how risqué, and ironic, his words were.

Victoria mastered her horrified disgust. "If the creature even had a heart. Continue."

"She was beautiful but that was not all. I have seen many beautiful women around the world –"

The audience of three collectively rolled their eyes at the understatement.

"—but she was different than all of them. She had power, a wildness in her very being that drew me to her." Edward inhaled deeply and met Victoria's eyes. "What was I thinking, Mother? That I wanted her, wanted her so desperately I was willing to do anything to have her. That had she but asked it of me, I would have betrayed my country and my queen, damned my very soul, if only she would be mine for a moment. It was madness," he finished flatly.

"It seems a pity that man of your station and breeding was unable to fend off so base an emotion as simple lust," Victoria snapped. Brown cleared his throat quietly.


"Your Majesty, with all due respect, it may not have been a case of simple lust. There is some documentation on vampires' hunting methods. Once a victim is chosen, no effort is spared in the pursuit. It is exceedingly difficult for the victim to free himself from a snare set by a determined vampire."

The queen sighed, and after a moment changed the subject. "You are quite sure the creature is dead?"

"Yes, Your Majesty."

"Then there is left to us the problem of the creature's offspring. Will one who is but half-vampire pose as great a danger as a true vampire?"

Marlow answered, "We are uncertain, You Majesty. It may be that the humanity in her blood will overcome the vampire taint. We have no precedent with which to predict."

"And without certainty we cannot in good conscience kill her," the queen murmured. "Nevertheless, we cannot leave a half-vampire to run loose, especially not one with . . . royal blood. Is the girl aware of her heritage?"

The attendants exchanged looks. "She is ignorant of her paternal heritage but as for her mother's, it is difficult to say, Your Majesty," replied Marlow. "There have been signs that she is aware she is different but we cannot find proof that she has delved into any form of vampirism."

"Very well." Victoria drew herself up to her full height of five feet. "We must marry her, and quickly, to a man of good moral character, upstanding reputation, strong work ethic, who has connections enough to the government that we might keep her under our watch without suspicion and yet is not of so high of a social standing that he should come into contact with any peerage, lest her tainted blood make itself known. Mr. Brown, Mr. Marlow, I put it to you to find a suitable candidate. That will be all." Bowing, Brown and Marlow made their exits.

"Suitable candidates," muttered Marlow, "with criteria that specific and yet so vague? The girl's guardian will never agree to it."

Brown snorted. "The girl's guardian is addicted to cards. A little suggestion here and there, an unlucky hand repeated throughout the evening, and Bob's your uncle."

"My uncle Bob says there's still the matter of the groom-to-be."

"Oh, I have just the fellow in mind, spoke with him last week. Respectable, industrious, not a peer but with connections: Mycroft Holmes."

"Holmes," Marlow mused. "Isn't that the name of that detective chappie? You don't suppose they're related, do you?"

"Oh, come off it. With all the Holmeses in London, what are the odds?"