When Things Go Wrong

Basically the events that run up to the final confrontation are the same as the movie, finding Castle Frankenstein empty, discovering the portal to the fortress and Van Helsing using his werewolf strength to get in.

Dracula's fortress, the Carpathian Mountains, Romania

Anna tumbled from Van Helsing's arms as they landed on the slimy stone floor of Dracula's fortress. She flipped her hair out of her face, her eyes falling on Van Helsing. His face was strained, red, teeth gritted in intense pain. She winced, fighting desperately to ignore the flush of blood under his skin. The scent of it rose upon the air, insidious and delicious, tempting her, urging her to commit the ultimate crime. The crime that would brand her a vampire forever. She felt her new fangs lengthen, the burning thirst in her throat intensifying.

She closed her eyes, blocking out the sight of Van Helsing's blood-flushed face, his heavy breathing. Focussing inwardly, she recalled images of her father, of Velkan. Of her mother, drained dry by Dracula's Brides. Hatred rose up within her, fast and strong.

NO! I will not become like them, she thought vehemently. Slowly the thirst lessened, not gone but held at bay. Her newly sensitive senses picked the slowing of Van Helsing's breathing.

"Anna?" he asked gently. She nodded in assent, eyes still closed, concentrating fiercely. Slowly her yearning for her companions' blood disappeared and she could open her eyes.

"I'm alright," she told him soothingly. He nodded brusquely. Anna looked at him with pity. She could only guess what the werewolf venom was doing to him. Every time he used his new abilities, the strain became worse. It was the same for her; every time she used her enhanced speed or agility, the bloodlust became harder to control. Shaking her head to clear her negative thoughts, she looked around for Carl. The friar lay sprawled on the ground behind Van Helsing, breathing heavily, his face white.

"Well, that was a rough ride," he remarked, Van Helsing helping him up, attempting to brush him off apologetically.

"Let's get moving," Anna barked decisively, already striding off into the dank hallway of Dracula's castle. The others followed on her tail.

Castle Dracula was the archetypical Transylvanian fortress, mostly comprised of unassailable battlements, huge towers, their spires as sharp as swords, and long walkways above great drops into oblivion. The arched roof was held up by great columns of sculpted stone, fountains of flame flickering between them, throwing dancing shadows into the gloom of the castle. Anna couldn't help but shiver, her sharp eyes searching the impenetrable shadows for vampires, or Dwergi. Hearing an inhuman shriek, she jumped, her hand reaching for her sword.

"What is it?" Van Helsing's head snapped around, his heartbeat rising perceptibly. Anna winced slightly, as the sound its throbbing made hit her in the darkness.

"Nothing," she replied hoarsely, moving as far away from the two humans as possible. Humans…the thought that she wasn't human any longer clawed at her heart. She may not have drunk any human blood but she couldn't deny that she was not an ordinary person any longer. Her reflexes were sharper; she was stronger, faster, and even more agile. Her senses were almost painfully sharpened, every sound, from the crackling of the fires that gave light to the dim hallway, to the rise and fall of Carl's harsh breathing. Every time she caught a glimpse of herself in a reflective surface, her image appeared dimmer, fuzzier.

Slowly Dracula's blood was transforming her, into something unspeakable. Damn him! Memories of that night, of her passion, his honeyed words, no doubt lies, to corrupt her from the path of right, haunted her.

God give me strength, she prayed; give me the strength to finish the work my ancestors began centuries ago.

Sudden movement in the shadows ahead, a shuffling scrape of leather boots on stone, brought her head up, teeth bared in a feral snarl. The figure came into view, Van Helsing and Anna tensing, ready to bring him down. It was Igor, complaining loudly to thin air.

"Igor do this and Igor do that…" he suddenly caught sight of the trio in the flickering shadows of the hallway and stopped dead, stunned, "But…it is impossible! How did you get here?" he sputtered out, already turning to run, the cable he was dragging falling to the ground. In a flash, Van Helsing had him up against one of the columns, a silver disc embedded in flesh of his shoulder. He screamed loudly, which had both Anna and Van Helsing placing their hands over his mouth, Anna baring her teeth at the shrill sound, a headache beginning to pulse behind her eyes. Igor stopped abruptly, apparently struck dumb by the glinting fangs exposed under Anna's lips.

"You…You are…?" he stuttered, head making frantic motions towards Anna. She glanced sideways at Van Helsing, and he blinked. She took that for assent.

"Yes I am…" she purred, smiling evilly. "Tell us where the cure is and I might not drain you dry,"

"I will tell you nothing," he gasped, eyes bulging in his shrunken, repulsive face. Van Helsing ripped the disc from his shoulder, and grabbed his lapels. He hauled Igor back against the pillar, cracking the stone with his strength. "Yes, yes I will," Igor amended pathetically, moaning.

"Where is it?" Van Helsing asked him again, slightly calmer now.

"I not tell you," he choked out. Van Helsing snarled, and gestured for Carl.

"Get out the clipper," he asked him coldly. Carl handed him a long, metallic object, like two shears. He held it under Igor's ever-widening eyes and squeezed the lever. The instrument snapped open and closed like the claws of a crab. Igor winced, his pupils dilating. Then, unexpectedly, a great cry went up throughout the castle. It was inhuman, piercing, and almost melancholy, like some tormented spirit. Anna's spirit rose in pity, flapping its wings, seeking the kindred spirit who was calling to her. Carl and Van Helsing looked around uneasily. Igor grinned and said, somewhat unnecessarily "My master has awakened…"

Van Helsing turned back to his prisoner, raising the clipper instrument threateningly. "I'm going to ask nicely one last time…"

Anna gasped, and fell to her knees. "Anna!" Van Helsing placed his hands around her upper arms, lifting her up. Carl kept Igor against the column. "Anna! What is it? What's wrong?" Van Helsing asked her gently, worriedly. Her face was lily white, her eyes staring and blind. If it weren't for Van Helsing's grip, she would have slumped to the ground once more. "Anna, dammit! Tell me, what's wrong?"

Anna turned her head around to look him in the eye, gasping in lungful of air.

"He knows I'm here…he's calling me…" she bowed her head, the physical pain of resisting the vampire's power increasing by the moment. Van Helsing's face softened, worry shining in his eyes, his expression changing into tenderness she had never known from him.

"Anna…" he tipped her head up and set his lips to her gently. Through the delirium of her pain, Anna became aware of lips pressed to her, moving slowly against hers. They lacked the passionate, drugging, seductive finesse of Dracula's kisses but as she focussed on them, she felt a new emotion flood her, breaking through the pain, giving her something to distract her, strengthening her. She returned the soft caress for a moment, opening her eyes to see Van Helsing's worried eyes looking down into hers. She smiled reassuringly, and he released her.

She stood, straightening her back. The call was still there, at the back of her mind but dormant, much like her bloodlust, awaiting its chance to pounce. Van Helsing nodded briskly, and turned back to his prisoner. Anna looked up to see Igor gazing at her with a strange kind of fanatical, worshipful hatred.

"You are his queen." The whispered statement was both wondering and disgusted.

"No," she whispered. She was no one's queen, let alone that parasite's. She strode up to him, anger flooding her, and swung her fist at his face.

"Tell us where the cure is. Now!" she shouted, enraged.

"Alright, alright! It in the western tower," he sputtered out, spitting teeth.

"And the other tower?" Van Helsing asked.

"Oh come on…" Van Helsing held the instrument up threateningly once more, "Ok, ok! It's where we rebuilt the laboratory,"

"How do we know you're telling us the truth?" Carl asked from behind.

"Would I lie to you?" Igor replied almost offended. Van Helsing leaned in close and snarled, warningly.

"Not if you wanted to live,"

Leaving the shaking Igor against the column, he turned to Anna and Carl.

"Alright here's the plan. Anna, you and Carl go after the cure. Take him and if he's tries to betray you, cut off his finger," he told them, handing Anna the instrument.

"I'll cut off something," Anna said, smiling sweetly, her eyes fixed on Igor devilishly. He shivered and gulped.

"We have until the last stroke of midnight, before I fall beneath Dracula's command. When I've killed him, you'll need to get the antidote into me as soon as possible, before I lose my mind. If you're too late," he handed Carl his silver stake, pressing the hidden catch which sheathed the blade. Carl blanched.

"Van Helsing, I don't know if I could…"

"You must," he replied vehemently. He would not become a monster. Anna's eyes widened, the beautiful brown crystallizing as the implications of the plan washed over her.

"Alright. Come on you," Carl sighed, took the stake unwillingly, and dragged Igor onto his feet. He started off down the hallway, following Igor's directions. Anna turned to Van Helsing, her concern like an insidious perfume.

"I don't like this plan," she whispered in her husky, Romanian accent.

"I know but this is the best chance we've got. Stay alive," he commanded, stroking her face. Anna shook her head.

"You still don't understand. It doesn't matter what happens to me; we must save my family," she went to run after Carl when he caught her arms and spun her to face him.

"If you're late run like hell," he warned her. She nodded and went to turn once more. He caught her again. "Don't be late," he pleaded in a whisper. Anna looked into those vulnerable eyes, and felt that strange emotion flood her being. She impulsively kissed him, surprised when he returned it. They embraced for a few moments, before Van Helsing let her go. "Now go, go."

She sprinted after Carl, ignoring the sinking feeling in her heart, the warmth of their kiss keeping her hunger for another at bay. Van Helsing watched her go, his face inscrutably sad before he too turned away and ran towards the eastern tower.

Anna crept down the badly lit corridor, behind Igor and Carl. She held the clipper instrument where he could see it, every now and again squeezing its iron jaws together pointedly. At last, after several tense minutes, they emerged into a frost covered room, barred by a spiked black iron gate. Igor stopped, and pointed with one mutilated hand.

In the room, a hypodermic syringe with some vibrant red liquid hung, suspended, in some clear, viscous material like glass, except it shone with an unwholesome shine, in the light filtering down from the moonlight above. Igor went to move into the room, Anna stopped him, slamming the clipper against him chest, winding him.

"I'll go first," she told him, allowing her suspicion to show. Igor bowed, derisively and remarked, in a mocking tone.

"As you wish, my Queen,"

Anna ignored the comment, moving into the room at a crouch, ready to fight. Nothing happened, no vampires jumped at out at her, no Dwergi attacked her. She beckoned Carl forward cautiously and they advanced into the room. A sudden crash behind them had them spinning around. Igor had tripped a hidden switch on the wall, sending a great spiked rampart crashing down, barring their only way out. Anna drew her sword and advanced on the gate as Igor ran away chuckling madly.

"Dammit," she growled. She turned back to Carl and the cure, suspended in acid. "We're trapped,"

Van Helsing landed in the laboratory, after jumping down six storeys. He looked around desperately for Frankenstein, listening for his screams of pain. An inhuman shriek sounded behind him, and he spun to find a Dwergi running at with the force of a steam train. He picked it up by the neck, holding it effortlessly aloft. He grimaced as he took in the gnashing teeth and the vicious, maniacal chattering that came from its hideous mouth.

Snarling, he threw it out of the window, its screams echoing throughout the castle as it fell into the dark oblivion below. Hearing a cry of intense pain, he glanced upward and saw the open turret of the tower. Reaching deep into his strength, he jumped and grabbed a chain seventy feet above him and began to climb into the rain. The rain made the chain slippery as he climbed but it made no difference to the grip of a werewolf. He emerged onto the rain washed roof moments later. Frankenstein lay, strapped to a metal frame, held prisoner by cruel manacles of steel. Van Helsing ran to help him, straining at the steel manacles.

"Save yourself…" Frankenstein rasped.

"I intend to," Van Helsing told him, as he continued to work at the bindings, whilst overhead the storm clouds gathered, thunder crashing like the drums of in the sky. That's when something crashed into him at a hundred miles an hour, and took him off the roof, sending him crashing into the laboratory below.

"Go ahead, grab it," Anna ordered Carl, nudging him forward.

Carl sent her an incredulous glance and said tremblingly, "You grab it. If it 's one thing I've learned, it's never stick your hand into a viscous material."

A hair-raising roar sounded behind them, making Carl jump out of his skin and behind Anna with a frightened squeak. Anna drew her sword and span, to face the demonic face of Aleera, who was hanging upside down. She twisted and landed gracefully on her feet, a devilish smile on her hauntingly beautiful face.

"Did I scare you?" she asked teasingly.

"Not really," Carl squeaked, belying his fear.

"Then maybe I need to try a little harder," she replied, a murderous look flashing across her face. She started to giggle, a high-pitched cackle that made Anna want to kill her. Seizing her chance, she pushed the solid acid containing the cure over, smashing it on the floor. The acid splashed all over Aleera, and she clawed at her face, screaming in pain.

"Grab it! Grab the cure, take it to Van Helsing!" Anna shouted, taking the last of the acid and throwing it across the bars. Carl ducked under through the hole. Aleera grabbed Anna and threw her across the room. "Keep running, Carl!"

"You can't go. You can't go till I say you can go. And I say you can go when you're dead," Aleera shrieked, hatred twisting her ruined face. Anna picked herself up off the floor, and ran across to one of the columns. She ran up it, grabbed a torch from its bracket and flipped, landing in front of Aleera, using her vampiric strength. Aleera watched her, bemused.

"Something is different about you, my darling Anna. You have changed," Aleera commented, staring at her. Anna didn't reply but swung the torch at Aleera, the flames whipping through the air. Aleera blew it out contemptuously, still staring at Anna relentlessly. She backhanded Anna, sending her flying into through a window, into the night. Anna flipped, landing heavily on a rain streaked roof.

She lost her footing, and slid, tumbling ever closer to the edge. She heard Aleera's shriek above her, and scrabbled desperately for a handhold. She glanced sideways to see Carl being chased by Igor with a lightning prod. She frantically looked around for something, anything to help Carl with then spotted several electrical cables hanging free of the towers.

She jumped to her feet, took a running start and leaped off the roof. Her hands fastened around the rain-soaked cable, slipping slightly. She flicked her sodden hair out of her eyes as she swung through the air. She flipped to another cable, easily snagging the cable, allowing herself to slip down it so she was lower, and kicking her legs up as she swung across the walkway where Igor was pursuing Carl. He had nearly caught him, cackling maniacally until he looked sideways. His face drained of the little colour that remained as he saw Anna's boot approaching his face with what resembled terminal force.

Her swing pushed him off the walkway, into the chasm beneath. His death-cry echoed in Anna's ears above the thunder and inhuman shrieks of the vampires.

"Anna, catch!" Carl threw her the cure. She caught it easily, still maintaining her momentum on the cable. She somersaulted, letting the cable go, landing cat-footed on the stone. She sprinted off, hearing Carl's shout of alarm as Aleera flew behind her and grabbed her, throwing into the tower. Her back hit the stone with a sickening thud, as she slid down the slick sides, down until she hit a spot where the roof of the laboratory levelled out onto a balcony. She slumped against the walls, catching her breath, her body alive with a vitality she had never known. It had to be Dracula's blood; coursing through her veins, giving her strength.

How long it would last, she didn't know but she couldn't take any chances. The bloodlust grew each and every time she used the power latent in her body, every time she breathed. If what Igor had said was true, and she was his queen, then her power would rival his. But first she needed to take care of Aleera.

Feigning weakness, she half-closed her eyes, breathing shallower; as though in pain, and generally acted like she was incapable of fighting anymore. She felt Aleera touch her face, her eyes glowing icy blue as she moved in for the kill.

"Anna, my love, your blood will keep me beautiful. What do you think of that?" she snarled, fangs extending.

"I think that if you going to kill someone do it, not stand around talking about it," Anna replied conversationally, snapping her eyes open and grabbing Aleera around the throat, holding her easily off the ground. Aleera's eyes filled with fear and panic, her claws scrabbling helplessly at Anna's death grip, barely able to breathe.

"How…?" Comprehension filled her eyes a few moments later. "You are his queen," her tone was filled with wonder, as she gazed at Anna in awe. Anna, uncomprehending, caught her sight of her reflection in a window, lit up by a lightning strike. Her hair was wild, flying in the gale; her eyes were no longer a warm brown, but azure blue, shining in the dark. Her fangs were extended, her mouth open in a snarl. Power radiated from her like a furnace; Aleera winced and cried out as Anna's touch burned her. Anna softened her grip, amazed as Aleera fell to the floor in tears, sobbing gently. Unsure if the show of emotion was a ploy, to make her lower her guard, she kept away from the crying vampire, raising a stake she had hidden in her boot.


"Why didn't he choose me? Why, when I have loved him faithfully for so long?" Aleera sobbed, her chest heaving with cries of anguish. "Why does my love mean nothing to him?"

"Aleera, I don't understand?" Anna pleaded, suddenly desperate to know. Aleera looked up at her then; the same blue eyes as she, though less azure, piercing hers.

"You are his Queen, my darling Anna. He gave you his lifeblood, made you so much stronger than any Bride. A Queen can only be made by love, pure unconditional love, not by lust or passion as Brides are, and then only by the strongest vampires, for the power would destroy them. And then they can only be created from a pure being, whose heart is pure and true. You are a new being, Anna, the only one of your kind in the world. The future…" Aleera trailed off, staring into space forlornly. Anna watched her, wary still, her mind whirling.

Suddenly Aleera sprang to her feet, her red locks whipping through the air. With a high, keening cry she attacked Anna, who in a heartbeat got her stake up, driving into Aleera's heart, killing her. Aleera turned her eyes to Anna's, their colour a pale human green as her body crumbled into nothing. They shone with a strange burning gratitude.

As Anna collapsed backwards to sit on the wet stone, a revelation hit her, an epiphany of the soul.

If she truly was a Queen, then surely Dracula had loved her, and enough to withstand her creation. So he hadn't misled her at all; and maybe her own love could destroy the powers of darkness massed against them.

The thought burned like a torch in her mind, and she knew in her heart that it was right. Power blazed through her body, extinguishing the thirst, and she knew she was different, that she was neither vampire nor human now, but more. A higher evolution of both species.

"God give me strength," she prayed, picking up the cure and racing into the tower, desperate to find Van Helsing and Dracula before it was too late.

It was nearly midnight; Van Helsing could feel the burning start in his muscles, the power of the wolf raging through his body. The sense of something fighting to break free, something uncontrollable, dangerous, a hunter without pity grew within his mind. The monster lay across from his, several gashes in his body from their fight. The laboratory was trashed, the Dwergi dead or panicking. Dracula staggered to his feet, and croaked, a great incision cutting his face in two, like a grotesque mask.

"We are part of the same great game, Gabriel. But it does not mean we have to be on opposite sides of the board,"

Van Helsing ignored him and lunged, morphing into his wolf-form, eyes blazing with murderous intent. The moon disappeared, sapping his power and he fell to the floor, his claws disappearing. Dracula regarded him with a mocking expression. "You think, that by killing me, you will save my dear princess," he stated suddenly, surprise evident in his tone.

"She is not yours, yet," Van Helsing growled aggressively.

"She is mine, already," Dracula replied, thrusting the dagger in a little deeper. "If you kill me, you kill her,"

"If that is the way it has to be, so be it," Van Helsing answered, feeling vitality brush away his fatigue, as the moon reappeared. He morphed suddenly, leaping at Dracula. He did not transform quick enough and Van Helsing caught him around the middle, his momentum crashing them into the wall. He snarled, all werewolf now, and pinned Dracula, rising his clawed paw, preparing to spear the vampire through the heart.

"Van Helsing, no!" a shout from behind him drove through the morass of savagery fogging his brain, and he stopped. A shield suddenly exploded between them, sending him flying backwards. The moon disappeared, and he shrank down into human form.

He shook his head, staring at the glittering shield keeping him from Dracula. He swung his head around, searching for the source of the power and his eyes fell on Anna. But not the Anna he knew. This Anna radiated power, wild, free as the wind, as dangerous as the sea. Her hair was knotted, tangled, her face streaked by the rain, her trousers and jacket drenched. She strode across the room to stand in front of Dracula, and he knew, with a sinking feeling, that she had succumbed.

Dracula stirred weakly, blood leaking uncontrollably from a wound in his chest. Anna rushed to Dracula's side and bent over him tenderly; Van Helsing wanted to vomit.

"So, you have become one of them, Anna," he growled, rage flowing unchecked, but for the moment unable to manifest.

"I am not a Bride, Van Helsing. Nor a true vampire, for I have not drunk of human blood," she snarled, glancing over her shoulder. "He is almost dead. It is lucky for us both that I came when I did,"

Her shield didn't waver as she bent her mouth to her wrist and bit down. Blood dripped from her veins and she held it to Dracula's open mouth. Her blood dripped into his mouth and down his throat, restoring his strength, for nothing is stronger than a Queen's blood. She saw Carl come running up, out of breath, his eyes widening as he took in the strange scene before him.

"Carl, kill the two vampires. Now," Van Helsing shouted, struggling to rise under the shield pressing him into the ground.

"Carl, do not do so. Look at me; I am no vampire, but a thing of purity. Of goodness, a weapon of God," she pleaded with him, standing in front of Dracula protectively. "I can turn him, also," she gestured to the broken body behind her.

"But he turned you," Carl pointed out, confusion and hope warring on his face. Dracula stirred behind Anna, his eyes fluttering open, his body beginning to heal itself. Anna shook her head, keeping one eye on the clock, knowing the final midnight stroke was not far away.

"He turned me into a Queen, Carl. Something only accomplished out of love, not the devil's work," she answered him, persuasively.

"A Queen?" Carl asked incredulously.

"Carl, kill her now!" Van Helsing shouted, fighting against the shield.

"Van Helsing, I…I cannot kill her. She's a Queen, one of God's weapons on Earth, pure things born out of evil! Like you, Van Helsing!" he explained, his voice raised to a shout.

"I will not let you kill him, Gabriel," Anna said quietly, her conviction and love shining in her eyes. Her shield wavered, and Van Helsing broke free. The werewolf broke free and his mind snapped; he lunged for Anna, murder on his mind. Anna was batted aside by Dracula as he summoned his limited strength and jumped up with a roar. Van Helsing's claws bit deep into his chest, puncturing his dead heart.

"NO!" Anna caught Dracula as he collapsed to the ground. The werewolf roared, rearing up on its hind legs. In a flash, Anna stood and jabbed the hypodermic holding the werewolf cure into Van Helsing's chest. The werewolf stopped, glanced down at the needle sticking out from its chest, and collapsed backwards. Anna stared down at the comical sight for a nanosecond, before twisting around and crouching beside Dracula. She placed her hand under his silken hair and pulled him up, cradling him in her arms. She stroked his cheek, whispering urgently into his ear.

"Don't leave me now, Vladislaus. You promised me…"

Dracula stirred, weakly stroking her cheek with the backs of his fingers.

"Anna, it…it worked," he sputtered, coughing up blood.

"You knew…you knew what your blood would do to me?" Anna asked, wondering.

"Not for sure, but I knew…" Dracula slipped into unconsciousness, his head falling back.

"Vlad? Vlad, stay with me!" Anna cried, her tears falling down her face. Carl rushed to her side, dropping the silver stake.

"He's lost too much blood, Anna," Carl explained, bending over his unlikely 'patient'.

"I need to get to sacred ground," she told him, hoisting Dracula into her arms with inhuman ease.

"What for?"

"To turn him," she replied matter of factly. Carl followed after her with a glazed look.

As they left the laboratory, Anna looked to Carl questioningly. "Well…Where next?" she asked impatiently.

"How should I know?" Carl demanded.


"Alright, alright. These old castles always had an old chapel. It has to be around here somewhere," Carl began trying various different doors, pounding on them futilely.

"Ahh!" Anna shrieked in frustration, before picking a door at will and barging her way through it. It opened onto a cobwebbed, dusty, abandoned chapel, the stained glass windows smashed upon the floor. The candles lit themselves as they entered, Anna not pausing to notice, as she laid her burden on the alter.

"Anna, are you sure this will work? Technically he is the son of the Devil," Carl asked, worry all over his face. Anna looked back at him, before she turned back to her love.

"I'm sure," she whispered, kissing her love's cold, pale brow. "I need you to read him Last Rites, Carl,"

"What?" Carl exploded, incredulous. Anne turned desperate, burning eyes to Carl's.

"Please, Carl. His old life is dying, and he is being reborn into a new one. We are restoring his soul, and to do that we need to give him the same rights as if he were on his deathbed," Anne explained, her eyes turning back to her love. She ripped open his collar, exposing the bloody skin. "Only then can the evil be purged."

"Oh very well, then. If you're sure," Carl sighed. He turned away and took his place behind the altar. "I am so going to hell for this,"

As Carl began to speak, his voice intoning the Last Rites for the dying, Anne stroked her love's hair back from his face. As the ceremony drew to a close, Carl making the sign of the Cross over Dracula's unmoving body, she bent her head.

"The blood is the life, and I give you a new one," she whispered against his lips, before she shifted and bit into his neck. His body jerked underneath her, as the blood flowed into her mouth. Anne made sure not to swallow, despite the temptation, since that would damn her to eternity as a vampire. After a few minutes, she withdrew her fangs and bit into her own wrist again. Holding it to Dracula's lips, she let the blood drip between his teeth, and down his throat. Beneath her hands, his chest began to shallowly rise and fall again.

"Come back to me, my love. Our time here is not yet done," she whispered imploringly. Before their eyes, the wounds on his face and body healed themselves, as bone reformed and tissue regenerated. Suddenly, he sat up abruptly, causing Anne to jump back, a single breath escaping his mouth. He heaved, as a great wind blew through the chapel, cobwebs and centuries of dust scattered to the winds.

Dracula's head turned to Anne, and she saw there, in his blue eyes, a peace and a devotion she never thought to see. His arms came around her, and pulled her against him.

"Oh my love," she sighed, sinking against him, "It is over?"

"It is. Anna, you've set me free. After so long, I am free again," he said, before their lips met in a kiss full of passion and fire. A ray of light entered the chapel from a gap in the roof, as outside the sun rose, haloing the embracing couple in a nimbus of honey-golden light.

Carl watched the couple, and backed away, awestruck.

"I'll just….go and see how Van Helsing is doing," he murmured, knowing that Anne and Dracula probably would not even notice he was gone. As soon as he shut the chapel door behind him, he sighed wearily.

"God be praised. Now that is not something you see every day," he chuckled, and strode off to find his friend.

Anna and Dracula drew back from their kiss, and she relaxed in his arms.

"How did you know that I could turn you?" she asked, sitting up to look in his eyes. He shrugged.

"I didn't, not for sure. I almost expected never to wake up again, to awaken in hell, as I deserved. I was trapped by my own fear of death, and so I lost my soul. Only by embracing death could I regain it, and gain redemption. You have set me free, the evil is gone," he sighed, kissing her forehead. Anne's face darkened.

"But my family. Their vow said they would only go to heaven if you were vanquished. Now, in following my heart, I have sentenced them to Purgatory," she said quietly, a single tear trickling down her cheek. Dracula shook his head.

"No, my Anna. You vanquished Dracula, that part of me is gone. They are free, as are we, free to live the rest of eternity together," he explained.

"Truly?" she asked, her face lightening. His nod was all she needed, as she flung her arms around his neck and kissed him. When they drew back once more, he sighed contentedly.

"What is it?" Anna asked.

"It has been centuries since I last felt the sunlight on my face. I had forgotten," he replied, lowering himself down from the altar, and closing his eyes as he soaked up the warmth of the sun. Anna watched him with a happy smile, tears trickling down her face.

"We are free," she whispered, as she went to join her love in the sun.

One hundred years later…..

THREE, TWO, ONE, Happy New Year!

The glad cry echoed all over the city, as the sky above exploded with fireworks, as humanity celebrated the new millennium. Together, on a balcony overlooking a square filled with revellers and bright lights, stood three people.

The woman had long, rippling waves of brunette hair, cascading down her flawless body, draped in a red silk dress. Apart from the gold cross around her neck, she wore no jewellery, except a small gold band on her left ring finger. The moonlight welled through her alabaster skin, the warm brown eyes glowing in the night.

The man had a sensually seductive face of patriarchal planes, as hard as granite, whilst sapphire blue eyes gleamed, framed by long, raven black hair tied back into a ponytail. He wore a black shirt and trousers, covered by a black blazer, a single gold hoop in his ear. One of the fingers on his right hand was missing. A gold band adorned his left ring finger. He stood with his arm around the woman, holding her close to him, his other hand lying on the head of the child between them.

The child was a little girl, with long rippling waves of mahogany brown hair and blue eyes, as blue as forget-me-nots. She played with a little cross around her neck, plucking at it where it lay above her simple blue dress. The man smiled down at his daughter, one of many children over the decades, and planted a kiss on the woman's hair.

Anna Valerious turned to her husband, and smiled gloriously. It had been so many years since that night aboard his ship, when he had turned her, and they had begun their new existence. So many years…..

She inclined her head and kissed him, long and slow and sensuous, her hand resting on the head of their daughter. The child squealed and wriggled out from between her parents.

"Eewww! Get a room, Mom and Dad!" she laughed as she skipped inside. The couple broke their kiss to smile fondly at their daughter.

"She gets that from you, Anna," he chuckled, pulling his wife closer to him.

"Careful, Vladislaus." Anne warned him teasingly, as she stretched upward for another kiss.

"Always, my Queen," he smirked against her lips. Their lips met and fused hungrily, embracing passionately beneath the dancing sky, as humanity celebrated the birth of a new millennium.