(Darren POV)

After telling Marie what has happened since I last saw her, I felt like a great load was off my chest. Now that she knew everything, I felt comfortable. She knew about all my adventures and what has happened at Vampire Mountain. And she looked so adorable when I told her about my relationship with Debbie; a scowl appeared on her face. She looked so funny when she was jealous, that I had to make an effort to keep a straight face. But now I don't know what to do. My instinct tells me to go for Marie, because she is a creature of the night, like me. But even though Debbie is probably grown up now, I still have feelings for her and I wish that we could be together. Anyway, it's better for me to stay out of her life; now she can go on living as a normal human with no interference from the dangers of the night. So right now, I am just going to cherish the time I have with Marie.

After I had put on Marie's baggy blue trousers, she went to go get something to eat, a rabbit or deer perhaps. She told me to gather some firewood to make a small fire. So I ripped some branches off a tree, and assembled a small fire pit for the two of us. If the flame was too big, it would cause smoke and attract humans, vampires, or vampaneze. I had to keep a close eye on the fire pit to make sure that it didn't get out of hand. Suddenly, I heard a noise that sounded like something was in the bushes. The leaves shook, and obnoxious barking came from the same animal that was in the bushes. A little wolf cub emerged.

"Rudi, I missed you, boy!" I told him. I ruffled his fur, and he licked my hand in salutations. The eager look in his eyes inspired me to bring him to meet Marie. He would love her! His messy, reddish-brown fur stood up in irregular tufts as he yapped excitedly at me.

"I'm back," Marie said from behind me as she returned. She started cooking some meat over the fire. "I see you've found a friend."

"This is Rudi. We go way back," I said, scratching behind the wolf's ears. Instead of energetically greeting her like I thought he would, Rudi hid behind me and growled.

"What's wrong, boy?" I asked, wondering what the hell he was growling about. Then, I realized why.

"It's you, Marie. Wolves don't like vampaneze."

"Oh," she said sheepishly. "I wish I wasn't one. I wish that somehow I could change. The wolf even knows I'm a monster."

"It's okay. That's how I felt when I was first changed into a half-vampire." I pondered the ways I could cheer her up. "Well, there's no possible way that you could become human again. But I wonder if there's any way that you could become a vampire instead…"

"That's insane. And I've never heard of anything like that. It's probably impossible."

I truly felt bad for her. I wanted to make her feel better, and my heart hurt because she was unhappy. I couldn't stand to see her in this much misery. As she looked down at the ground dejectedly, I thought about how beautiful she was. Her blue eyes still shone brightly, and her lips were still the pretty shade of pink as when I first fell for her. All I could think about was how much her happiness mattered to me, and I took her face in my hands and kissed her.

(Marie POV)

He was kissing me. The famous Darren Shan was kissing me!

This was what I toiled and searched and persevered for. This one boy, who had me hooked from the beginning, was finally returning the feeling that I had kept for him. His kissing was just as good as I'd imagined. The warmth of his hand on my neck and the feel of his arm wrapped around my waist made me feel loved and accomplished, as if I'd finally found what I'd been looking for. It had been so cold wandering around in the wintry forest, so the warmth of his body was extra-welcoming. I wanted this moment to go on forever; I knew that Darren and I were meant to be together. Suddenly, the kiss stopped.

"We shouldn't be doing this," he said, turning away and running a hand through his short, shadowy black hair that was starting to grow back. "I'll get in trouble if anyone finds out about this."

I stared at him, confused. Who would find out if we were in this deserted forest?

"Let me rephrase," he sighed. "We will get in trouble if anyone finds out about this!"

"Well, no one's here to witness us," I said as I inched closer and put my arms around his neck, ready to keep kissing him again.

"I just feel like we're being watched."

"Now that you mention it… I do too."

We cleared up the fire pit nervously, and with the help of the wolves, we scattered the burnt wood in random places, as if the fire was never there. I had a hunch that someone was approaching. We found a thick bush to hide in, and Darren and I lay low behind it. A few minutes passed in silence, and a figure appeared. It was clad in bright red, with an orange-haired head.

"Mr. Crepsley!" Darren whispered, and I squeezed his hand to tell him to shut up. A wolf that was accompanying us growled sharply at him, clearly having the same intention as me. We then saw that a group of vampires were with Mr. Crepsley, and one of them was young and blond, carrying a sword — Kurda Smahlt. I was pleasantly surprised, and prepared to greet the group of vampires. I thought they meant no harm, but Darren stopped me.

"We have to follow them," he persisted. He was being stubborn, and we didn't have time for arguing, so I let him have his way. The wolf, which Darren nicknamed "Streak" started leading us toward the troupe of vampires. We coughtsight of them, and followed at a steady pace. Darren seemed to be deep in thought, pondering about the suspicious group in front of us. I wanted to ask him what he was so curious about, but the vampires would hear my voice and catch us. After walking for a while more, the group stopped and took a rest. Darren pointed to them, signaling that he wanted to get a closer look. Streak led us forward, and we hid and tried to eavesdrop. I could only hear them chatting about Darren's dead body (the whole vampire clan thought he was dead) and about Kurda's investiture. Investiture? Kurda was becoming a Prince! Good for him! He deserves it.

When Darren heard their talk and was reminded of Kurda's investiture, his face went pale, and his eyes nearly bugged out of his head. He grabbed my hand, gestured to Streak, and we started running back to the clearing where we had originally camped out — far away from here.

"I can't believe it!" he exclaimed dejectedly when we reached the clearing. "I completely forgot that Kurda was becoming a Prince! I can't let this happen!"

"Why not? Kurda's a good guy," I said.

"You don't understand. He's a traitor."

"What do you mean?"

"Kurda has betrayed the entire vampire clan. He has been keeping vampaneze hidden in the mountain, and once he's been blooded as a Prince, he will have the power to help the vampaneze steal the Stone of Blood!"

"I knew he was keeping vampaneze in the mountain," I told him. "I was one of them. But I support you, Darren, and all of your decisions."

"So you're turning against your entire clan for me?"

"Well… yes. Yes I am."