The journey to Transylvania was long and tiresome, particularly as they were not allowed to travel by customary methods. Lucy had bid her friends farewell, mailed the last of her correspondence, locked her trunks, and been seen off at the station. From there she disembarked on the coast and boarded a ship. Dracula did not accompany her and his crate was among her luggage. No one thought anything of her traveling alone, for she was quiet and self-contained. She saw him at night when the shipmen had gone to bed, for he would come to her for an hour or so before returning to his resting-place. Unaccustomed to the roll and pitch of the ship, she spent the first two days miserable with seasickness before the waves calmed and allowed her an interval of good humor.

Seeing the coast of a distant land returned excitement to her and her pulse increased when they docked. It was too dangerous for them to travel by public coach so he had arranged for a private one that would take them as far as the border; from there, they would transfer to his own carriage and continue the rest of the way at leisure. The weather favored them, for it was stormy and gray and there was no need to pull the privacy screens. Lucy watched as miles of open countryside and wooded lanes fell away behind them, her companion pale but complacent at her side. The horses kept a good pace and it was early evening when they were forced to stop at an inn. She was so weary that after a good meal, she fell asleep directly. When he shook her awake before dawn to resume their travels she found his color improved.

Across the border from Transylvania, he abandoned her to continue the rest of the way on her own, intending to meet her at the castle. No longer hampered by the need to travel in darkness, Lucy enjoyed her last few days as a mortal. She even went to the small nearby church to pray for forgiveness over what she was about to do. His coach was smaller but more luxurious than the rented one, her luggage piled on top as the horses kept a steady pace. The trees in this part of Europe were unusual, their branches entangled and entwined in such remarkable ways that she was transfixed by them. It was in the heart of the wood that the carriage was stopped by murmuring voices and she started as the door twisted open. Bold enough to make inquiries as to who halted their progress, Lucy appeared and saw a small band of gypsies. The nearest fell back from her as if struck and all of them drew in their breath in mutual regard. Ancient superstitions and knowledge allowed them to see she was no mere mortal, for there was a peculiarity about her reflected in the unusual angles of her countenance.

"Why have you stopped the carriage?" she demanded.

There was a rush of hasty explanations in Romanian. Grimy fingers pointed to the horses and to her, motions that she should not get out but stay where she was. One of them came to shut the door again, muttering under her breath and crossing herself frantically with a rosary, which she then pressed into Lucy's hand. It felt hot against her skin and Lucy held it out to her. "No, I don't want it," she said.

The woman babbled further and pushed it at her again. Lucy persistently shook her head. "I don't want it!"

One of the others came forward to pull the old woman back and the driver snapped the reins, the carriage starting forward with a jolt and leaving the small band of misfits behind. Lucy threw the rosary at them and turned her attention forward. It was hours before the turrets of the castle appeared and her heart quickened at the sight, magnificent against the cliffs. The road wound steeply toward it and the valley unfolded beneath, the view across the surrounding countryside breathtaking. It was nearly twilight when they pulled into the inner courtyard and the horses stopped, torches burning along the high walls. It was medieval and ancient; its mysteries open before her as she stepped out onto the stone steps and ascended to the massive oak door. It swung open without her influence and he stood waiting for her. The driver and carriage vanished in the direction of the stables and he held out one hand, invitingly. "Come," he said.

Lucy stepped over the threshold and the door closed behind her. It was a beautiful place, impeccable, nothing like the shambles of Carfax, which had been merely a temporary residence. The castle was filled with luxurious furniture and rich oil paintings, woven tapestries and suits of armor. The entirety of his family history was in the series of rooms, in the ease with which he navigated them, in the gentleness of his hands as he removed her cloak and dropped it over the back of the nearest chair. "Will you tour your new home?" he asked, softly, desiring her to experience all of it, to see it in the fading light, to explore the enormous house that would soon become part of her domain. There were extensive grounds and villages too, but for now only the castle was important. He sensed how intimidated she was by it, how in awe, but also that her spirit was awakening with enthusiasm.

"Is this you?" she asked as they came to a painting along the hall, where a tremendously good impression of him hung. He was younger but she could recognize him in the fluid strokes of the painter. His appearance was different, his garments reflecting a much earlier time.

"Yes," he said with the faintest of smiles, "many years ago."

It was before he had become a vampire and seen the evils of the world; before he had become a part of them. Lucy stared at it with shining eyes and followed him up the wide flight of stairs, her hand gliding along the curved banister, not knowing where to look first, there was so much about the house to intrigue her. He paused before a set of double doors and opened them. Candles burst into flames as she entered, appearing at his silent command. It was the most beautiful room she had ever seen, elaborate and luxurious with a great canopy over the massive bed and a glorious gothic fireplace. Her trunks were there and the verandah extended over the edge of the cliff. The light was now no more than a frail haze beyond the mountains and she turned to find the Count in the arch behind her. "The draperies can be pulled during the day," he remarked. He was polite, careful to keep his distance, but she did not desire him to stay away any longer. "Would you care to see the rest of the house?"

"No."

Dracula stepped out onto the verandah and caressed the side of her face before lowering her lips to his. Lucy pulled him after her into the room, into an enchanted existence of shadows, and he took her in his arms. If he carried her to the bed, she did not know it, only his ferocious passion, the sensation of his lips wandering across her throat, the heaviness of his form pressing against hers as his nimble fingers unlaced her garments. Her head fell against the coverlet, dark hair spilling out around her bare shoulders as he kissed her skin, caressing upwards until he came to her throat. His lips lingered and sought hers, feeling the furious pace of her heart as she clung to him. The candles went out in succession until there was only the heaviness of her breathing and the glow of moonlight. Lucy turned her face away and felt his mouth caress her throat, but as his teeth sank into her, trembled and gasped. He caught her wrist as it came forward and pressed it back into the bedclothes. Breathlessly, she relaxed beneath him and he released her hand, allowing her to entwine her fingers in his thick dark hair, falling to his shoulders as contentment flooded through her. When he lifted his head to kiss her, she tasted blood on his lips but did not draw away, unresisting as he offered her his life-force. This time the transformation was immediate, for he allowed her to drink until her immortal hunger was quenched.

It was strange to die and know you were dead, but she sensed it in the calming of her body, the slowing of her heart, the coldness of her hands. He leaned down to kiss her once more and sat beside her as the hours passed, wave after wave of pain overcoming her as her human life gave in to the darkness threatening to consume it. True death came in the hours before dawn and she breathed her last. Dracula came to lean over her, his hand resting on her brow as he waited. Tangled curls shifted into place, whiteness overcoming her skin, her imperfections fading as the transformation took place.

In time, Lucy slowly opened her eyes, focusing on the distance and shifting to the figure standing over her in the moonlight. It was remarkable what she felt, the emotions she experienced, the knowledge that entered her soul. Her gaze shifted to the nearest candle and it burst into flame at her command. She sat up, turning her attention to his companion as he sat down facing her, not touching her but allowing her to examine him with new fascination. Rather than speak, she leaned forward and pressed her lips to his. Even the kiss was different, more erotic and powerful. Light traveled down the contours of her throat, no longer bearing the scars of his fangs, and illuminated the fierceness in her eyes. Dracula had never found her more beautiful but moved away, purposefully, indicating the darkness beyond the verandah.

"Would you like to see our home?" he asked in his velvety voice, romantic but full of anticipation.

He had waited to show her his domain for centuries.

Placing one bare foot on the floor, Lucy buttoned the front of her gown. "Yes," she said.

She wanted to see everything.

He held out his hand.

Her fingers fell into it and he put his other hand at her waist, pressing a kiss to her temple.

There was a swift movement and then nothing in the room apart from the movement of the curtains, ruffled by the breeze.

And the single candle flickered and went out in a puff of smoke.