In Dreams
by Sandrine Shaw

That first night at the inn, he dreams about Sarah. Beautiful Sarah, with her clear voice and her flawless skin and those deep blue eyes that made him feel dizzy.

It's bitter cold in the tiny room he shares with the Professor and Alfred can barely stop his teeth from chattering, but those thoughts of Sarah keep him warm. Is it possible to fall in love with someone after seeing them just once, for no longer than a split second?

The Sarah of his dreams is sweet and kind and gentle. He rescues her from her controlling father and takes her away from here, away from the cold and the dark, away from the barren landscape and the unspoken threats this place holds. Somewhere they'll be happy together. They will live out their days in a small cottage at the sea, raising a family and never wanting for anything.

There are things he'll learn about Sarah soon.

Sarah is willful and untameable and restless like the wind. And she's hungry, always so hungry - at first for adventure and love and excitement and later, well. Later her hunger might be focused on blood, but it's never enough. She wants everything, and she won't rest until she gets it, and then she wants even more.

Alfred soon realises that the Sarah he dreamed about never existed at all. As it turns out, you can't really fall in love with someone without knowing them. You can only fall in love with who you thought they might be, and reality eventually catches up with the dream. It always does.

He dreams about Herbert once, before the ball.

It's an odd dream, surreal and quiet: just the two of them dancing, waltzing in front of a large mirror that remains empty. Even in the dream, Alfred is confused. He squints and tries to find his reflection but there is none.

Alfred doesn't mention it to the Professor because he knows that his mentor would just use it as an opportunity to ramble on about the Reflection Theory or perhaps focus on condemning Alfred's impure thoughts about the Count's son rather than considering the ominous nature of the dream.

It's only a dream. It's not going to happen.

For a long time, he thinks that the nightmare that made him toss and turn and wake sweat-soaked and breathing heavily the morning after they arrived at the castle was about Sarah. About losing Sarah to the darkness, to the night, to the Count, to her own untamed desires.

He focuses on the horror of seeing her pristine white dress soaked with blood, the gaping wound at the side of her neck, and his first thought when he wakes up is, I must save her. I will save her.

Saving Sarah becomes his mantra. He forgets that he might need saving himself.

When he understands that the nightmare was all about him, it's already too late. Sarah's teeth are in his throat and the feeling is achingly familiar, stirring the memory of the dream: Krolock's fangs piercing his skin, his hand around Alfred's throat, his body against Alfred's the only thing keeping him up when the blood loss is making him dizzy and his knees are giving way under him.

I wanted this, he thinks, and he remembers Krolock telling the Professor that Alfred's soul was already his. He didn't understand, not until now.

When Alfred dies in Sarah's arms, he thinks that somewhere out there, Krolock is probably laughing.

Unlike Sarah and Herbert, the Krolock of Alfred's dreams isn't so very different from his real-life counterpart. He's vicious and dangerous, a predator that scares the hell out of Alfred, and yet someone he feels himself inexplicably drawn to.

His bite, Alfred soon learns, feels just like the real Krolock's bite does, and Alfred will offer him his throat instinctively. It would be wrong to deny him this when every other part of Alfred already belongs to him.

Sarah may have been the one to have turned Alfred, that night they escaped from the castle, but it might as well have been Krolock himself. They're his: Sarah, Alfred, and every one they will ever sink their teeth in over the course of their long, violent existence. Sarah hates it. She wanted freedom and now here she is, once again chained to a place she despises. Alfred, though... Alfred doesn't mind.

"Do you think they're dreaming?" Alfred asked the Professor down in the crypt, when they set out to stake the Count and his son in their coffins.

He remembers how the Professor scoffed. "Silly boy. Vampires don't dream."

He was wrong. Alfred wishes the Professor was around now so Alfred could tell him. Of course they dream.

They dream of blood and death, of holding a warm, living body in their arms that will wither and decay under their touch. They dream of sunlight, warm and golden on their skin. They dream of being sated and satisfied, of the hunger being finally gone. They dream of their victim's faces, each and every one of them an accusation that never stops.

Sometimes, they dream of living in a small house by the sea, growing old and surrounded by children. Or at least, Alfred does.