She studied her face in the mirror, fingering the dark circles under her eyes. The horrible nightmares she had every night were taking their toll. Such terrible dreams, made all the more terrifying by the fact that they made no sense. She saw everything in shades of red, her vision blurred like a charcoal smudge, but her other senses were heightened preternaturally. She felt something heavy pinning her down, preventing her escape, something that felt both cool and alive, horridly alive, like a monstrous serpent coiled over her. She felt phantom lips pressed to her throat, kissing the sensitive skin so hungrily. Suddenly, her vision cleared, the scarlet veil lifting from her eyes, and she saw a pair of deep, dark eyes dancing above her like flames, their mystery enchanting and paralyzing her.

The vivid sights and sensations left her feeling exhausted, drained. She woke up every morning more tired than when she had gone to bed. Her hand fell to the column of her throat, where two tiny marks had appeared three nights ago. She supposed that she had done that to herself; perhaps one night she had forgotten to remove her hairpins and they had fallen out as she slept. She simply must have rolled over on them and pricked herself. She pushed aside the reason that said matter-of-factly that her theory was impossible, there was no blood on the sheets.

Her eyes caught a glint of gold around her neck, and she touched the crucifix laying on her chest. It had been a gift from that eccentric but kind old man who was visiting her father from Holland. He had asked the strangest questions about the marks on her neck, staring at her with an intensity that frightened her. When she'd offered no rational explanation for the wounds, his expression deepened into concern and, oddly, dread.

That night, she'd sat up reading long after they thought she'd gone to bed, and she'd heard him outside the door. There had been the snicking of a key in the lock, and then she began to smell something strong and unpleasant, something that she might have smelled in the kitchen. She had risen and crossed to the door, watching as the light streaming from the keyhole was suddenly blocked. She'd pressed her ear to the wood and heard the soft creaking of the old rocking chair her mother used to sit in. The only other noise was a periodic cough. Even now, the mystery of why somebody seemed to be guarding her nagged at her mind.

As she sat at her vanity, staring at her fatigued reflection, her hand suddenly felt very cold, like being outside on a still December night. Her fingers twitched, and she felt a twinge of fear as her hand began to rise against her will. The fingers that were no longer hers closed around the cross on her chest, the corners biting into her palm. The cold spread up her arm, all the way to her shoulder, and she gave a sharp yank. The chain snapped, and she stared down at her alien hand as it let the necklace fall carelessly to the tabletop. What had possessed her to do such a thing? She'd certainly had no previous intention of doing so, and the lack of control she'd felt was daunting in its sudden brevity. The chill still lingered on her skin, and she pressed her hand to her cheek to warm it. She glanced fleetingly in the mirror, then looked back, her eyes growing wide. Her terrace door was standing wide open, letting in a cool spring breeze that rippled the gauze curtains. Her logic came back to her screaming, because that door had been securely shut and locked moments before. Hadn't she turned the key herself, placing it back on its hook?

"Look at me."

The voice, smooth and charming, broke the stunned silence. She turned, her heart in her mouth, and saw on the threshold a man dressed in high-waisted black pants and an open-throated shirt. A black cape with a raised collar rested on his shoulders, sweeping the floor. She knew that she would have seen his reflection in the mirror, but he cast none. Though the moon shone brightly behind him, he threw no shadow on the floor.

She recognized him, but it was not the same man. In the first glance, he was the man who had moved in next door, a strange but compelling foreigner whom she had danced with at dinner a few nights ago. But as she took a better look, she saw almost another person, a man so darkly enchanting as to be dangerous. She wanted to speak, to ask why he was here, but she couldn't force her voice past her throat. He stood staring at her for a long moment, his dark eyes intense and bold in their directness. She wanted to look away, felt that she must, but her eyes were always drawn back to his. Without a word, he held out his hand to her, bidding her soundlessly to come to him.

Without a thought, she stood and took a hesitant step toward him. As she got closer, her fear began to dissolve against her will, a new emotion replacing it. She was crossing the room, knowing that she felt a strange desire for him, a yearning for his skin to be touching hers. As she placed her hand in his, his fingers wrapping around hers, she realized that he felt the same desire for her, too. She could see it in his eyes, feel it crackling in his touch. His hypnotic stare never breaking, he took her face in his hands. She saw him lean into her, and she closed her eyes, waiting.

His lips connected with hers, soft and gentle. Her heart began first to flutter, then to pound against her ribs. She was sure he could hear it, maybe even feel the beat through his shirt. He kissed her for a few sweet moments, then laid his cheek against hers. He bent his head slowly, his mouth brushing her throat. She felt his lips part, then he abruptly lifted his mouth to her ear, his teeth grazing her earlobe. A little shiver chittered down her spine, but it wasn't an unpleasant sensation. She felt him smile as he pressed his lips to her ear so lightly that it might have only been a breeze, a light breath of air. His long hands circled her shoulders, shifting to feel the texture of her skin. She bravely met his gaze, and inhaled sharply as a new thrill shot through her. He spoke.

"Now it is you, my beloved one. I will make you flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood."

And suddenly, that was all she wanted, to be made his forever and to be what he was, to belong in his arms alone. There could be no higher pleasure than to be loved by him. She began to tremble, her skin quivering with anticipation. What she was anticipating, she wasn't sure.

His hands went to her chest, his fingers quickly untying the strings that held her shift over her chemise. He gently slid it from her shoulders, the fabric falling soundlessly to the floor. His eyes searched her face, always looking at her, through her. Carelessly, he pushed his cape from his shoulders, letting it crumple to the ground like her shift. Smoothly, he swept her up into his arms, holding her like a groom carrying his new bride across the threshold. He carried her to her bed and gently laid her down, his arms still locked around her as her back hit the soft quilt. She felt a prick of unease as she recognized the feeling of something heavy on top of her, pinning her down. It was quickly overshadowed, however, by a strange, exciting heat that bloomed in the pit of her stomach. He took her hand and pressed it to the open V of his shirt, her palm on his chest. She vaguely wondered why she felt no heartbeat under her hand, but this detail was inconsequential, unimportant. His stare changed, his eyes seeming to plead with her.

"I need your blood. I need…"

He didn't say what else of hers he needed, but the aching tone of his voice said it for him. He dropped his gaze and lowered his head, his lips parting. She couldn't help a small moan as he began kissing her breasts through her bodice; every place his mouth touched left a spot of heat on her skin. His lips pressed to the skin of her chest, and then he kissed her mouth again, softly. She gasped as his lips left hers for a moment, as he kissed her cheek, her eyes. His mouth returned to hers, his lips moving fast, hard, almost frantic. She locked her arms around his neck, wanting him to be closer. The sensible, logical part of her was screaming at her to stop this, she was engaged, what on earth was she doing with this man she hardly knew? Drowning out the logic, however, was a part of her that was new and exciting, growling like a tigress and demanding his touch.

His hand slid to his face, and he took it, kissing the cup of her palm. He was determined not to be distracted, and he brought his lips back to hers. The only sounds in the whole world were the sound of her gasping breath, his sighing, her pounding heart, and the sound of their lips connecting and disconnecting. He pulled back slowly, and she raised her head, unwilling to let him stop kissing her. He smiled reassuringly, and she let her head fall back against the bedspread. His body shifted as he moved directly over her, his shoulders hunching as he inclined his head. She parted her lips for the kiss, but at the last moment, he diverted his attention from her mouth to her throat. She was expecting the touch of his lips; what she was not expecting was the hardness of teeth as they sunk into her skin.

Her back arched involuntarily at the pain, but she was able to bite back a small cry. All of a sudden, she felt very warm, like her nerves had been replaced with tiny fires. The heat originated in her chest, where it felt as if a live coal had replaced her heart, warming her and filling her up with soft, red light. She closed her eyes and saw the same muted scarlet hue through her eyelids, and her world turned red, matched the heat. He removed his mouth from her neck a few moments later, although years could have passed without her knowing. His eyes locked with hers, and she felt as though she'd been thrust into one of her dreams. His dark, bewitching eyes, feeding from her soul, flickered above her, the black flames dancing like witchfire. She could still feel the phantom touch of his lips against her throat against the sting of the bite. His body over hers suddenly seemed more solid, so utterly there, and she began to feel as if she were drowning with no intention of being saved.

Although all evidence pointed to the contrary, she felt safe with him, protected, as if nothing of this world or the next could harm her. She stared unblinking into his eyes, depthless and dark, flickering like an otherworldly fire that consumes not wood or straw, but souls and hearts. He buried his face in her chest, and she wrapped her arms around him, holding him tightly to her. That smoldering heat filled her up so completely that she felt her body could not possibly hold it all. She raised her arms above her head, stretching her limbs, trying to make room for the fires burning inside her. His hands slid up her waist, her arms; finally his fingers closed around her wrists and brought her arms down to clasp around his neck. His lips connected with hers briefly, sweetly, then he pulled away, looking down at her. His expression was so fiercely triumphant that she felt a tiny prick of her earlier fear. She had almost forgotten the hand that he'd laid against her cheek, feeling it only when it was removed. He stroked her temple with the tips of his fingers, his palm brushing against her face.

Her hand fell to her thigh, clutching a fistful of her skirt. She felt that if she couldn't grab hold of something of this world, she would float away into his. His hand joined hers, brushing her skirt away from her skin so that her leg was bare, twining his fingers between hers. She savored the cool, dry texture of his palm, the pleasant roughness of his skin. Looking down at her still, he slid his hand up her thigh by slow fractions, the erotic friction almost unbearable. He bent his head, lingering an inch above her, then lowered his mouth to hers, parting his lips. In that moment, she felt complete, whole for the first time; she had been broken her entire life, and hadn't known it until he came to piece her back together. Love, simple and absolute, yet overwhelming, bloomed in her heart. Loyalty that could span oceans of time beat beneath his hand. In her kiss, she felt devotion that couldn't be broken by distance or even death.

The tip of his tongue traced the curve of her lower lip, and although her eyes were closed, she saw a mural of shifting, enigmatic images behind her eyelids. A bat; a small, guttering candle; a dusty table laced with cobwebs; a strange, long box filled with rich earth. She opened her eyes, and the visions ceased, the red glow which had suffused her sight dissolving away. His hand was still twisted with hers, the tips of his fingers stroking the back of her hand. He sat back, one hand still tangled in her hair. His dark eyes had lost some of their fire, but they were still fiercely locked with hers. He drew his hand from hers with aching slowness, and the spaces between her fingers felt achingly empty, lonely. He brought his hand to his chest and drew aside the open neck of his shirt, baring the left side of his chest. She watched, numb, as he dug the nail of his thumb into his skin and pulled it down, drawing a line of glistening red directly over where his heart should be.

The tip of his sharp nail was still painted a vivid crimson as he cupped the back of her neck and pulled her up into a sitting position in front of him. His eyes were soft and tender as he gently pushed on her neck, guiding her lips to the wound. As his blood touched her lips, she felt the strong urge to pull away from him. But even as she shivered with revulsion, she knew she didn't have a prayer of disobeying his wishes; his hand against her back of her head was too strong, his arm around her too tight. After a moment, the taste of his blood lost its disgust and began to taste sweet, fulfilling, like honeyed wine. She pressed herself closer, drinking deeper, and she heard the rush of a sudden exhalation over his lips, felt his chin resting on the top of her head. Abruptly, he cradled her face between his hands, lifting her face from his chest. His eyes searched her face, a small smile twisting the corners of his mouth. With his thumb, he wiped away the smears of blood on her lips. He kissed her forehead tenderly, then swept her up into his arms again, bounding to the open window. Barely jostling her, he eased her onto his back, her legs wrapped tightly around his waist and her arms circling his neck. He took her hand and quickly kissed the cup of her palm and the inside of her wrist, inhaling deeply. He murmured something against her skin, something that sounded like, "Hold on to me, my love."

Then he flung them both out of the open window.

She buried her face between his shoulderblades, her scream of fright muffled against his back. Oddly, she heard a small laugh, as if her fear of falling was completely ridiculous. His hands closed around her wrists, tightening the stranglehold she already had on his throat. She felt her hair blowing back from her face, not above her as it would have been if they were falling. She lifted her head and looked around, curious in spite of her fear. The full moon shone closer than she'd ever seen it, glowing like the crown jewel of an ancient king. The ground flew by far beneath her feet, and she gasped. They were soaring above the earth, flying through the night sky with only air to hold their weight. She clutched him closer, suddenly afraid again, then incredibly, she felt a smile spread across her face. She let out a chirruping laugh of exhilaration, feeling a new, wild ecstasy that rushed through her limbs like a flood. The cool night air, almost icy at this height, rippled her hem around her ankles and stung her eyes, but she couldn't close them even if she had wanted to. She was fascinated by the patchwork of fields and farms, houses and town, all passing beneath her bare feet. She marveled at her new perspective of the world, reveled in the wonder and the mystery of it.

She looked to the horizon, and saw an old, crumbling castle looming against the night sky, like a gruesome tombstone of the town it overshadowed. Bat, fluttering like grotesque black butterflies, circled the highest towers. She felt her stomach rise and press against her ribs as they descended, falling gently toward the ground. He landed gracefully on the balls of his feet on the threshold of the huge, ancient wooden doors that opened into the decrepit place. The heavy doors flew inward, the hinges creaking their protests, without being touched. She withdrew her arms from around his neck, setting her feet on firm ground once again. He grabbed her hand, looking at her with a mixture of joy, triumph, and urgency in his eyes. He pulled her into the front room, silent and spacious as a cathedral. The walls were constructed of craggy, dusty stone, their hurried footsteps echoing from the peaks and crevices of the rock. He ran, pulling her along, the need to hurry almost tangible. It hung in the air like transparent smoke, the taste of it like an old coin under her tongue, metallic and foreign. They continued on, going underground deep beneath the castle, perhaps beneath the town itself. He led her to a cavernous room that seemed to extend for miles, and spaced throughout were long wooden boxes filled with dark soil. He dropped her hand and she stopped short, leaning against a rough, crumbling pillar to catch her breath. She watched him intently as he ran to one box that was wider than the rest. He threw back the lid, leaning it against an adjacent outcropping of rock, then turned back to her. He held out his hand, calling her name.

"Come. Come to me."

She hesitated for a split-second, t hen ran across the dirt floor, anxious to be in his arms again. At first, it seemed as if no matter how fast or how long she ran, she would never reach him, for he stayed the same distance away. Then at last, she flung herself into his embrace, sighing when she felt his arms close protectively around her, holding her safe against his chest. She felt relief like a dull ache in her chest, grateful for the knowledge that she was his, that she belonged to him alone. The vibrant, bell-like tone of his voice rumbled by her ear, low and sweet.

"My love, you must go on a little longer as a creature of this earth. Until we have left behind those who seek to harm us."

She felt sensual excitement blooming in her stomach, warm like an ember. "And then?"

He smiled, and the triumphant note returned to his voice. "Then you will join me in eternity, my bride for all the centuries to come."

He drew her close again, his hand pressing against the back of her head, stroking her hair. She buried her face in his chest, her heart seeming to expand against her ribs until she thought it would burst through. He held her for several long, tender moments, the air of urgency around him disappearing. Too soon, he released her, smiling gently at her. He gestured to the earthbox, taking her hand to steady her. She gathered her skirts in her other hand and stepped gingerly onto the soil. Her first step left her on the rich, dark loam of his native land, and it felt distinctly wrong, like wearing shoes that were too small. She took one more step, bringing herself onto the lighter, damp earth, and felt the relief of being on her native soil. Daintily, she laid down, watching him and waiting for him to follow. He climbed in gracefully, pulling the lid over them in one smooth motion. Once they were submerged in darkness, he gathered her in his arms again, wrapping his cloak around her for warmth. She could see nothing, her eyes wide and blind, but his lips found hers effortlessly. She laid her head on his chest, feeling his arms tighten around her, and sank gratefully into the last period of sleep as a human, awaiting her new, immortal life as a vampire bride.

This little one-shot is basically my re-telling of two specific scenes from the 1979 version of Dracula with Frank Langella. If you've seen the movie, you can probably guess which scenes. If you haven't, go watch it. It's...cheesy, but in the best way. Please be so kind as to leave a review. Cheers!