Disclaimer: Castlevania is not mine because I just haven't been able to convince Konami to sell me their biggest cash cow.

Julius started in surprise at the shattered remnants of the Crimson Stone. He couldn't believe that the spell had worked. For nearly 1,000 years the Belmonts had been searching without success for a way to destroy the Crimson Stone, yet some strange spell that he had heard in a dream had worked. Dracula looked around him in shock for a moment, unable to contemplate that the source of his power had been so easily destroyed, then he slumped to the floor, suddenly dazed. Julius moved in for the kill, eager to finish him off while he was down, but small flares of light, one from each fragment of the Crimson Stone, caught his attention.

He stopped and watched, wary as each little flare of cool white light grew into a thin column that shot upwards towards the ceiling far above them. Each column then began to widen and expand, until a wide circle of light surrounded all of the fragments, with Dracula in the center. The vampire was still not moving and seemed completely unaware of what was going on around him.

Small, brighter points of light began to rise out of the stone fragments, most rocketing upward out of sight. A few however, hovered nearby before they began to change shape and take on a form. It dawned on Julius then that he was looking at the souls that had been imprisoned in the stone and were now free. One had formed into a person with thick, curly hair, and eyes there were just a little touched with insanity, and though there were no colors other than that cool white and grey, Julius knew that the hair and eyes were red, just like he knew, without knowing how he knew, that he was looking at Walter Bernhard, the first soul to be imprisoned in the stone. Walter looked around in confusion for a moment, before he smiled and moved up towards the ceiling and out of sight. Another took the form of Isaac LaForeze, the Devil Forgemaster that had tried to kill Trevor Belmont, only to die himself later in a ritual to revive Dracula. He too looked around with eyes that were touched by insanity - thought whether it was from the curse that had taken him before he died or from centuries of confinement, Julius didn't know - before he followed Walter and vanished.

Several more points of light appeared and vanished up towards the ceiling without taking shape, and once they, and the light, were all gone, Julius took a step towards the still dazed vampire when another flare of light stopped him. The largest fragment of red stone, lying on the floor between Dracula's feet, sparkled with light, before a thin column rose up out of it like it had the others, and a single point of light appeared. Julius watched warily as it rose up to eye level, and began to take on a shape and form. Again no colors were visible, but Julius knew that the long hair that spilled past the shoulders was a dark rich brown, and that the eyes that looked back at him with sharp intelligence were a metallic grey. A tall, lean body, strong, but not a warrior, stood in front of him.

Mathias Cronqvist.

Julius felt his jaw drop in surprise. How? But Dracula was right there in front of him! Had Leon Belmont made a mistake all those years ago?

"No, Leon didn't make a mistake." the shade of Mathias spoke, suddenly, making Julius jump. None of the others had said a word, so why had this one...?

Mathias ignored his startle, in favor of looking over one grey shoulder at Dracula, who was still dazed and sitting on the floor. "That is, or rather was, me. Or at least, what remained of me after I allowed my grief and rage to consume me after the loss of Elisabetha. My ancestor had left extensive notes on the behavior and function of the Crimson Stone, but he had failed to mention that the stone imprisoned the soul of it's master as well." His voice sounded hollow, with a slight echo to it, as if Mathias were standing in a small cave.

Julius opened his mouth to ask a question, but Mathias turned back to look at him and beat him to it. "It was me that did all those horrible things. I cannot, will not, use the Crimson Stone as an excuse for my actions. All that I did, I did full in the knowledge of the consequences, for me, and for those I brought suffering down on. I could think clearly; I was aware of what I was doing. Enough of my soul was left free of the stone to live and act out my little play. Even as I sent Leon running towards Walter's domain, I knew what I was doing, and what I had likely condemned poor Sara to." The shade?, ghost?, soul? shrugged. "I couldn't be happy, so what right did my closest friend have to be happy? And then later, I couldn't understand why he spurred my offer to turn him." Mathias smiled a bitter smile before turning to look back over his shoulder again. "But now it's done. Leon's bloodline has fulfilled his vow. Oh yes, Death told me all about what Leon had said that night. Quite brave of him, I think, swearing his entire bloodline to his own personal vengeance." Mathias shrugged again and turned back to Julius. "But I suppose it was just as well that he did. Without you and your ancestors there to stop me, the Lord knows what I might have done." He looked back at Dracula and said no more, seeming to be deep in thought.

Julius stood there, unsure what to do. Should he finish it while Dracula was dazed? Would Mathias try to stop him? Could he stop him? He was no more than a spirit or a soul, yet years of Belmont lore told of spirits that could do serious harm if provoked, and Julius had no desire to see if the rumors about the Cronqvist family's magical prowess had any sustenance to them.

"Are you going to stand there?" Mathias' voice broke him from his thoughts, and he looked up to see the specter regarding him with amusement. "I won't be in that daze forever, and even with the stone destroyed, I am a 900 year old vampire, quite powerful in my own right. The part of my soul that is standing here now will not try and stop you, but the portion of it that inhabits that body certainly will."

Julius felt his face flush with embarrassment as he stepped past the ghost, noting as he passed it that it gave off no heat or cold, and he did his best to ignore its presence as he rained down blows on the dazed vampire on the floor. He ruthlessly quashed any guilt he might have felt at attacking someone that couldn't defend itself and didn't stop until the job was done and Dracula was no more.

"Bravo." Mathias said behind him "Masterfully done. I think you, out of all Belmonts, had the easiest fight." Julius turned to look at him and was met by the strange sight of Mathias clapping politely, yet his hands were making no sound other than a slight stirring of the air. As Julius tried to grasp that oddity, Matthias spoke again.

"It would be wise for you to step away from me. When a powerful vampire permanently dies, their power always escapes quite explosively."

His warning came a half second too late for Julius. No sooner did he hear the warning to step away, then an ominous rumbling sounded from behind him. Before Mathias' second sentence penetrated his mind, he felt himself being thrown violently into the air, passing through the startled specter before he landed hard on the stone inlay floor. He heard a thump! as his head bounced off the floor, and then Julius Belmont knew no more.

OOOOOO

Thirty-eight years later, Julius was one of many at a small gathering to celebrate Soma's engagement to Mina. He watched the reincarnation of Dracula mingle with the guests, laughing and having a good time, nothing like the angry, bitter, and vengeful man that Dracula had been. Though his friends and family all told him that his memories were all intact, Julius couldn't help but think that he still had a blank in his memory, something to do with Dracula himself. No matter how much he thought about it, no matter how much he sorted through his memories or analyzed his dreams, it would not come to him, yet he would get a jarring sense of familiarity whenever certain expressions crossed Soma's face or whenever he said certain words. Julius didn't know where the feelings came from, and the only person left to ask was Soma himself.

There was a crash of breaking dishes from the kitchen; the small caterer that Soma had hired for the occasion had evidently dropped some, and Soma began clapping lightly in jest.

"Bravo." he said, and Julius felt as if he'd been kicked. A pair of grey, semi transparent hands clapping, but producing no sound. He could almost smell Dracula's castle around him and hear the moaning of the ghouls that inhabited it. He couldn't take it anymore; he needed some air. Practically vaulting up from his chair, he abandoned his drink and small plate of snacks, and all but ran out of the room, through the kitchen, out the back door, and into the back garden of Soma's small house. He leaned over, hands on his knees, and took deep gulps of the cool night air, trying to rid himself of the sense of unreality that plagued him whenever Soma did or said certain things.

"Are you alright, Julius?" a voice asked, and Julius stood up and spun around to see Soma standing behind him, looking at him in concern.. Why did Julius get the strangest feeling that someone else was going to be there, someone with long, dark brown hair, and grey eyes?

Shutting his eyes for a moment to rid himself of that thought, Julius opened them and looked back at Soma. "I'm alright. I just needed some air."

Soma looked at him for a moment, as if he were examining him closely. "You haven't remembered yet, have you?"

Julius felt as if he'd been kicked a second time. "Remembered what? I know that there is something there, but no one can tell me what it is. Everyone insists that all my memories are there, but I know I am missing something."

"That's because you are. No one else knows because only two people were there when it took place."

"Yet you know."

"Because in a sense, I was there."

"You said only two people."

"There were, yourself and Dracula. Perhaps it's best if I show you, instead of attempting to tell you. May I?"

Julius nodded, and Soma closed the small distance between them and placed his hand on the elder man's forehead. A procession of images played across Julius' mind like a slide show, and he found himself remembering the destruction of the Crimson Stone, the escaping souls, the conversation with Mathias, and his pathetically easy defeat of Dracula. He also remembered the explosion of escaping power from the dead vampire, and being thrown across the room.

Soma took his hand away and stepped back, and Julius shook his head to clear it as his newly restored memory settled into place in his mind. He then looked at Soma, who was watching him intently.

"Am I speaking to Soma or Mathias?"

Soma snorted. "You're speaking to Soma. I may be Mathias/ Dracula reincarnated, and I have many of his memories, but I am my own person, shaped by a different life."

"You have all of his memories?"

"Some. I remember Elisabetha and Leon, bits and pieces of the Crusades, I remember Lisa and the day she died. I remember Adrian as a boy as well as a few of his encounters with Dracula when he was grown. I remember vaguely Dracula's encounters with various Belmonts, but nothing else. I don't remember Isaac and Hector, even though I know that Dracula was their father in all but blood. I don't remember the atrocities that Dracula committed and I don't remember Death, and for that I am very grateful. Some memories, like the ones of Leon and Elisabetha, are faded, while others, like the ones of Lisa, are clearer. I imagine I'll lose some and gain some as time goes on. I'm surprised that I remember the conversation that Mathias had with you after the destruction of the stone."

"Why is that?"

Soma shrugged, making Julius think of the dark haired spirit that had shrugged in a similar manner.

"He was disembodied at the time. Plenty of people remember past lives, but I've yet to hear of anyone remembering time as a disembodied spirit. And judging by the time that passed between the conversation and my birth as Soma, he was disembodied for quite some time."

"Soma? Julius? Are you coming back in?" Mina's voice hailed them from the back door, and Soma turned and waved at her before he turned back to Julius.

"Let's hope my next marriage is longer lasting than my previous two." he said quietly, and Julius could see the worry in his eyes, worry that he would lose Mina and be lost to insanity once again.

"I'm sure it will. And even if the worst happens, and you lose her, you have many friends to help you. You won't be lost to madness again."

Soma nodded faintly, his eyes far away. "I know, and it makes me feel better to know that. Leon couldn't be there for me when I needed him the most, his duty wouldn't allow him to stay by me, even though I know he wanted to. My family and acquaintances thought it best to let me work out my grief on my own. I wonder what would have happened if one of them had thought to try and talk some sense into me, or if one had tried to really comfort me, instead of simply patting my shoulder and telling me her death was God's will. I cannot tell you how angry that sentence made me, and how much I hated the people who kept saying it."

"I can imagine." Julius murmured. Soma looked at him for a long moment.

"No," he said finally "you can't. You can't imagine what it's like to be told that the one you had spent your entire adult life serving and worshipping was the responsible for the death of the one that you loved more than any other. She had done nothing to deserve her death, and neither had I." Soma seemed to visibly deflate then, and Julius relaxed. He hadn't even known that he had been tensing up, readying for an attack, but Soma's impassioned speech about the loss of Elisabetha had worried him just a little, wondering how the reincarnated vampire would act. He realized then that, despite what Soma had said earlier, he was talking to Mathias, or what remained of him in Soma's mind. Soma hadn't been touched by the death of one close to him, but Mathias had, twice, and it was that grief that Julius was seeing on the young face, that anger that he was hearing in the soft voice.

Soma/ Mathias fell silent then, and he and Julius stood there in the darkened garden, both lost in thought.

"I'm glad the spell that Mathias gave you worked." Soma said after a few minutes.
Julius blinked. Spell? What spell? Oh, the spell he had used to destroy the Crimson Stone.

"That spell came from Mathias?" he asked.

Soma nodded. "He whispered it into your mind while you were sleeping." He turned to look at the older man. "What? The Cronqvist family created the Crimson Stone, what makes you think that they didn't have a way to destroy it?"

Julius shrugged. "Never thought about it. Where it had come from didn't seem as important as if it would work."

Soma nodded and turned to look at the house. "Ah, Genya's here. We should go back in, before Mina comes and drags us in."

Julius laughed, and the surreal mood was broken. "You said you had memories of him as a child?"

Soma smirked, an expression that looked completely out of place on his face. "Oh yes," he said, sounding positively gleeful "I have enough blackmail material to keep him beholden to me for years! Well, shall we? I want to ask him if he remembers that time he had a nightmare and set his parents' bed linens on fire while they were ah.. busy." He chuckled and started back towards the house. Shaking his head in amusement, Julius followed.