I forced my eyes open. I blinked, wincing as my eyelids scratched my eyes. Closing them tightly, I reached up to rub my eye, hoping to produce tears to provide moisture, but I drew back as I was surprised by my own touch. My fingers were like ice, yet so was the skin of my face. The sensations felt distant, more like memories than actual touch.

Memories of the transformation began to resurface as I sat up. Movement reignited remnants of the burning pain throughout my body of Mira's blood replacing my own. Looking around, I saw that I was in my own bed at the castle Mira and I shared, but Mira was nowhere to be found. A single candle was lit on the bedside table, and I was surprised to see how brightly the small flame illuminated the entire bedroom. Delicately, I touched my neck, tracing around two small holes in my flesh. I stretched, feeling my muscles pull taunt as I got out of bed, using one of the wooden posts to hold myself up until I got my balance. Every motion felt foreign to me.

It was not until I looked up at the mirror across the room that I really understood what had happened. I stumbled to it, touching the glass where I should have seen a reflection of myself, but instead there was nothing but an empty room. That was truly disconcerting. Touching my hair, my face, my chest, I wondered what I looked like after this drastic transformation. Looking down, I was embarrassed and surprised to realize that I was lacking clothing. I ran my hand over my skin, marveling at how I was even paler than before. Hearing light footsteps nearby, I quickly grabbed a dressing gown from a nearby chair, pulling it on just before Mira entered the bedroom.

She stopped in the doorway, taking a deep breath as she gazed at me. It felt as though her stare went right through me as she looked me up and down as I pulled the gown tightly about me. "I brought you something to drink," she said uneasily, holding out a silver chalice which appeared to contain thick red liquid. I shuddered slightly, stepping forward and tentatively taking it. "I thought this would be the easiest for your first time," she said apologetically.

I stared down at the blood, which curiously smelled similar to how I remembered the smell of apples. Hesitantly, I raised the cup to my lips and took a sip. The flavor and feeling of the blood on my tongue startled me, burning my lips like the first time I had stolen a sip of fire whiskey. Mira stared at me unwaveringly.

"Is there something wrong, Mira?" I asked, my voice dry, prompting me to have another small sip of the blood. I began getting used to the feeling and flavor almost immediately.

"I…I'm just wondering how you are feeling."

Her expression revealed that she was concerned about my mental health more than physical. "I'm all right. I feel a little strange," I admitted. "It's disconcerting to look into a mirror and not see your own reflection," I continued with a small smile, touching my new fangs with fascination.

Mira shook her head. "That's normal to me. I've never seen my reflection."

"Really? So…you don't know what you look like?"

Mira chuckled. "I have been painted before," she said with a smile. "But the last time I had that done was over one hundred years ago. My daily appearance eludes me."

She certainly is older than she appears. Drinking more blood and feeling a rush throughout my body, I quietly said, "For what it's worth, you are very beautiful."

Mira bit her lip and looked away shyly. "Thank you."

I downed the rest of the blood, and I felt incredibly alive. I stretch again, feeling strength flowing through my body. "If you don't mind my asking…how do I look? I'm not used to having no reflection."

"Such vanity," Mira muttered with a small smile, taking the chalice away from me. She reached out her free hand, hesitating a moment before gently running a finger down the side of my face, seeming to study me. A smile played on her lips as she stroked a hand through my hair. "You look as handsome as always, Lucius." She withdrew her hand quickly and backed away, but I instinctively reached out and grasped her wrist.

"Mira…what is bothering you?" Mira sighed and avoided my gaze, confirming my suspicions that she was afraid of something. "I assure you, I am not having any second thoughts," I said, hoping this would quell her fears. I stepped closer to her, pulling on her wrist when she made to step back. "Why do you recoil?"

My eyes widened as my gaze suddenly focused on where I was holding her arm. Instead of the coolness that I had become accustomed to, Mira's skin felt almost warm. Hesitantly, I reached out my other hand to touch her face. Mira pulled back slightly, but allowed my hand to cup her cheek, which felt incredibly hot to the touch. Startled, I pulled away. "What – I don't understand. You feel…real…no, wrong word…you feel warm." Mira's eyes seemed to laugh at me as I ventured to touch her again, placing a hand on her neck. "How is that possible? Are you no longer…?"

Shaking her hand, Mira placed her hand over mine, holding my cool hand against her warm body. "I haven't changed. I always felt cold to you because you were hot-blooded. Now that you are like me, when one of us is more…satiated than the other, we will feel hot to the touch."

"It's so strange…everything feels different," I said, taking an involuntary step closer to the vampire. Vampire…a word I once despised, and now it defined me. "You even smell different," I said, leaning closer and smelling her neck.

"You can just smell better," Mira corrected. She pressed her cheek against mine briefly and inhaled. "You still smell sweet."

"Motion, sight, touch," I said while pulling back slightly. "Does this feel different as well?" I whispered, closing the gap between us and pulling Mira into a gentle kiss.

It truly did feel completely different. Mira's lips felt like fire against my own. Unlike before she bit me, I felt no fear or danger in the intimacy, only the passion. It was strange to think about how my body must have felt cool to her, and I briefly wondered if she had ever felt another like this in the past. A low growl escaped my throat in a strange sense of jealousy and protectiveness of Mira as I wrapped my free arm about her waist.

What began as a tender motion quickly transformed into a passionate and fervent embrace. I felt at a complete loss of control as I poured out every ounce of affection I could muster through the kiss. My hands, which had at first been delicately caressing Mira's warm skin now clutched at her as though in desperation. I smiled against Mira's lips as I felt her arms wrapping around me, holding me even closer to her as one hand went up into my hair. My vision seemed to darken with desire when I tried to open my eyes, and I found myself staring into Mira's own blood red gaze.

The sight caused me to hesitate and pull my head back just enough to break the kiss, realizing the depth of what I was doing. We had hardly even kissed before this, and I here I was, ravishing a woman who had never admitted returning the feelings I had expressed for her. Here I was, once a proud and powerful pureblood who despised the very existence of creatures just like her…

And just like me.

I'm like an animal.

"I did warn you," Mira said quietly, but she did not push me away.

"I am just not used to this existence or these feelings yet," I hastily tried to explain, but Mira's smile showed that she did not really care about excuses and she also did not appear to mind my advances. "Your eyes are so beautiful," I breathed. "I didn't really appreciate them dark like this before when you were attacking me," I joked with a grin. "I thought they were showing me hell. Now I see they are showing me passion." I reached up and touched Mira's face again, admiring the darkness in her eyes I had once feared. But as the sleeve of my dressing gown fell back slightly when I raised my arm, my gaze was distracted by another sight.

The Dark Mark was still burned harshly into my arm.

"Mira…" I breathed, my brow furrowing. "Why is this still here?"

Mira took my arm and traced around the outside of the mark curiously. "Is this not permanent?"

"No. No it's not." I shook me head and to a step backwards as though to escape my own arm. "This should have faded when the Dark Lord was killed – and he should have died last night."

"Last week, actually," Mira corrected under her breathe. "You were unconscious for a while," she quickly explained.

"It does not matter," I snapped. My being unconscious for a week seemed trivial next to this discovery. "This should not be like this! It faded the very night Harry Potter vanquished the Dark Lord before," I said, panic creeping into my voice.

Now Mira began to show true signs of worry. "You're sure?" A harsh look convinced her of my certainty. "Okay. So what does it mean?"

The passion I had felt for Mira had disappeared, replaced by anger and fear that felt all too familiar to me. "It means that Harry Potter did not succeed in slaying the Dark Lord." I took a deep breath as I contemplated the possible repercussions of this realization. "It means that the Dark Lord is alive."