Rev. Jan's Fiction Extravaganza

The Vampire

Part One (Third person)

"Merow?" Celia Thurieau looked up from her post at the windowseat to see the cat groveling at her feet.

"Well, hello there, Annie Em, guess what? They've finally sold the house next door. I wonder who our new neighbors will be?" She picked up the Siamese, who purred ecstatically, and showed it the "sold" sign that had replaced the one that had, until recently, marked the old Victorian place as eligible.

The cat closed its eyes and purred louder as Celia stroked it. "Maybe they'll have children we can teach cello to, eh, puddycat? That would be nice. I wonder what they'll be like? Oh, well. We'll find out soon enough." The cat purred its agreement until the object of its affection stood up and put it down. It was three o'clock, time for a lesson. Hopefully the kid had practiced. The cat shook itself and wandered off for a sleep.

It wasn't until a week later that Celia actually found out who was to be living there. It had been raining the whole morning, accompanied by distant rumbles of thunder, flashes of rushing light. Celia sat in the window seat and watched as men ran in and out of the van, carrying the tarp-draped belongings into the house. She thought they couldn't possibly have picked a worse day to move in.

Then, when they had almost finished unpacking, a car drove up. A man got out, and though details were hard to make out in the rain, he looked like the sort of person one might expect to live in such a house. He was tall, somewhat thin, and just a tad pale, although that might be accounted for by his dark clothes.

As she stared at him, she noticed that he was looking at her as well, though how he could see her through the rain-streaked glass she didn't know. She looked quickly away, blushing, but couldn't fail to notice an amused, though somewhat sad, smile on his face. She turned her gaze back to the movers as they closed up the van and drove away.

Celia got up shakily from the windowseat and picked up the cat. "Is he the only one living there, Annie Em?" she asked it, but could elicit no response but a purr from the semi-comatose animal. She sighed, and with one last, longing look at the other house, went off to do all the mundane, everyday things that really shouldn't be allowed when one has a new next door neighbor.

She learned nothing new until the following Thursday, when the telephone rang, in the middle of a lesson. She told the student to practice the piece being studied, and ran to the kitchen. "Hello?" she said, breathlessly.

"Miss Thurieau?" said the voice. It had a faintly foreign sound to it, with an accent Celia could not pinpoint. "This is Dmitri Ilyavich; I live next door now. I saw you, last week when I moved in, and I was rather wondering if you would have dinner with me Saturday, about seven?"

Celia stood for a moment, bemused, then recovered her voice and stammered, "Why, I suppose so, I mean I'm not busy or anything..." His name!! It was so... so... why couldn't she think of it? Meanwhile, he was saying how nice it would be to meet her and that he would see her then... Hello? She staggered out of her trance and politely agreed with him, and hung up. For a moment, she merely absorbed the situation, then went back to the struggling student. "That's a B-flat, dear, use your middle finger..." but she was hardly concentrating. All she could think about was him.


Time was obstinately slow the next few days. Then suddenly, she woke up and it was Saturday. Nine o'clock, her watch said. The cat, sitting at her feet, meowed plaintively. She smiled. "Is it breakfast-time already, Meowiecat? I guess I'd better get up. We have a date tonight!"

Unfortunately for the cat, however, she flopped down again, her hands clasped behind her head, and stared at the ceiling. "Oh, Emmie!" she sighed. "How can you even think about food at a time like this! What if..." The rest of her thought was silent, as were those subsequent. There rather a lot of them... and not all of them innocent.

Finally, though, she got up, fed the cat and herself, got dressed... and could not even think of doing anything else. She sighed... again... and went to sit down in her favourite chair, with a book she wouldn't read. She let her imagination do what it would; naturally, it took her next door.

She'd seen the inside of the house two years ago, when she herself had been the new neighbor and looking for a house. It was, in a word, Victorian. There was no other way to describe it. It had at least ten rooms, with nice high cathedral ceilings and arched doorways, and huge picture windows in the back, overlooking the house's two acres of land. It was a really wonderful house, but too big for just one person. That, and its price tag, had been the main reasons she hadn't bought it. He should get married or something...

Celia realized what she was thinking and giggled. Definitely, she'd been reading too many old-fashioned romances. Still, it was a neat idea. She smiled at herself. She didn't even know the man yet and was already thinking marriage. "Pretty sad, eh, Ann Elizabeth?" she murmured to the cat, which was in its usual place on her lap, purring. It looked up at her and blinked lazily.

And for the next five hours she did nothing but talk to the cat and think to herself. Abruptly, then. the clock struck six, and she realized she had only an hour to get ready. This would be, after all, a first impression, unless one counted the first time she saw him and vice-versa, and that was too embarrassing to be any kind of impression. Or so she hoped.

She sighed and nudged the sleepy cat off her lap. "Sorry, Annie Purr, but I have to get dressed up. It's one of those strange things people do, you know," she told the animal, who was glaring at her as best it could through half-closed eyes. It turned around, a cat pout on its face, and stomped quietly out of the room, seeming a little miffed that it couldn't stomp loudly, even though it knew that cats are simply too graceful to do so.

Celia laughed and hopped up the stairs two at a time. "So much for grace there, fishies," she told the five fish that inhabited her new aquarium. They burbled at her, making noiseless little "O"s with their mouths. She burbled back at them for a couple of minutes and jumped... quite literally... into her room. There were only two bedrooms in the house; the other was currently holding all the stuff she still hadn't unpacked. It was quite a mess, but no one ever saw it, and it didn't bother her. Besides, the cat liked playing in it.

She half...flounced over to the closet and flung open its door exuberantly. Its contents were close to the meager side: this time of the year it contained mostly sweaters, jeans, a couple of long skirts, and a black, semi-formal dress. The dress seemed the most promising so she took it out. It was black, and drop- waisted with a lacy, square collar at the neck. Its skirt, which had rather nonfunctional buttons running down the front seam, went almost to her ankles, where another bit of lace showed because the buttons were so useless. Her mother had said it looked old-fashioned when she bought it, but Celia liked it. She hoped Monsieur Ilyavich would, too.

She took a short shower, blow-dried her hair, and got dressed... and still had half an hour left. "Oh, dear. What can I do now, Anniecat?" she inquired to the animal, who, by now, had calmed down a bit. The cat looked up at her lap hopefully and tilted its head to one side. "Sorry, Annie dear, but you'd get fur all over my only dress." She looked around, though, and found a big old piece of cloth that could serve as an under-cat blanket. She skipped down the stairs, calling the cat to her, settled down in the Big Chair, and spread the blanket over her lap.

"Drat. I haven't got a book. That's really what I need, Lizifur. I mean, you're a nice kitty and all but I will get bored like this." The cat stared at her for a minute, as though daring her to get up. She sighed, petting the cat half-heartedly. Satisfied that its place was safe, the cat yawned and settled back down to sleep.

The time she was left with passed uneventfully, until Celia looked at the clock. "Egads, Kittycat!! I only have five minutes!!" She dumped the vexed cat unceremoniously out of her lap and sprinted for the door, stopping only to put on her good shoes. She pulled the door open. "Oh, no," she half-cried. "It would have to be raining." She stomped to the closet, found a working umbrella, and went outside.

The rain was miserably cold, with an occasional crack of thunder thrown in for good measure. Walking to the sidewalk, Celia shivered. Her destination looked almost spooky, backlit with the sporadic lightning. She had seen the original "Dracula" not long before, and thought that the house bore a striking resemblance to Dracula's castle in the rain. "And his name, too. It's so vampirish!" she mumbled, then chided her overactive imagination for its conclusion... though it certainly would be... interesting if he had that sort of background.

She made it to the door, a thick, solid wooden one, without getting too wet. Its knocker was a gargoyle. She was suddenly struck by the kind of fear that comes only at the last minute... when it's too late. Swallowing those fears for the moment, she lifted what appeared to be the gargoyle's nose-ring and knocked.

To her relief, the door did not swing open eerily by itself, but was opened by the man she had seen the other day. "Mr. Ilyavich?" she said, hoping that neither her fear nor her relief was visible. "I'm..."

"Miss Thurieau," he said, at the same time. His accent was much thicker in person. "You are very much on time. Please, come inside. The weather is not such that you should stay outside for long." He offered his hand, because the stairs were rather slippery, and she took it. She was surprised to note that it was cool, not warm as she had expected it should be. He caught her look of puzzlement, she could tell, but shook his head slightly and appeared to disregard the expression.

Celia stepped into the warm shelter of the entryway. In front of them there was a long staircase; to the left, the parlor; to the right, a closet and another room. What she could see of his house was very tastefully decorated, with plants of every sort hanging from the ceiling, sitting on the floor, and covering much of the available space elsewhere.

"I like plants very much," he said, noticing the focus of her attention. "This house would look so much more dreary without them, don't you think? From the outside I realize it looks rather frightening, having remarked your reaction." Celia looked at him, surprised about the accuracy of his perception.

"Well, yes," she stammered. "I was thinking it looked like the castle in..."

"Dracula?" he filled in for her, and smiled. She almost thought she could picture him in that role. He was rather tall, slim rather than thin, with blackish hair. He wore black jeans and a red sweater. In those respects he looked normal, but when he smiled, she could see his canines. They were long and pointed, and she was forced to remember her adolescence, when she had been morbidly interested in vampires, and had read many books on the subject. Dmitri Ilyavich would make a perfect vampire, no matter how silly the notion, but for now she smiled back at him, and when he beckoned her toward the parlor, as any good Victorian would have it known, she followed.

Mr. Ilyavich was a good Victorian. "Welcome to my parlor," he said amiably. Celia curtsied politely, and sat down in the chair he offered. He smiled again and strode over to a beautifully handcarved cabinet. "May I offer you a drink?" he inquired.

Celia suffered a momentary chill at the thought of just what a vampire might have to drink, but answered steadily, "If you happen to have any milk, that would be great."

That remark seemed to be very humorous to him, because he laughed. It was, thankfully, a very pleasant one, and when it subsided, he said, "Of course, my dear, wait here while I get it," and he walked to the kitchen, still chuckling periodically. She watched him for a moment, and turned her attention towards the fireplace. It was huge, in the typical Victorian style, of course, and a fire was burning in it. The rest of the room was illuminated by candlelight.

Her gaze wandered around the room until it caught sight of a beautiful grand piano. She smiled with excitement and gave a little sigh. She loved pianos, and this one was the finest she had ever seen.

"I wonder if it plays well, too," she murmured to herself.

"Oh, but it does, Miss Thurieau, it does," a voice assured her. It was, of course, Monsieur Ilyavich, who had, by this time, returned with her milk. She blushed slightly and turned to him.

"Do you play?" he asked her. "I have been playing for... well, some time now." He offered the glass of milk to her, and she smiled, as the milk was in a wine glass. She took a sip (it was two percent lowfat, she could tell), and said that yes, she did play; in fact, she gave cello lessons and often had to accompany her students on the piano.

His face fairly lit up at her words, and it almost looked as though he would start jumping up and down at any moment... though of course, he was far too civilized for that. "Perhaps we could play some duets together! I own many, many pieces; I'm sure you would enjoy them. They are from my native country." At this Celia had to break in.

"Where are you from, Mons... Mr. Ilyavich?" she inquired.

"Please," he said, "Just Dmitri. May I call you Celia? Anyway, I come originally from Rumania..." He broke off at her slightly startled expression. He smiled patiently. "Nowhere near Transylvania, Celia; don't look so frightened. No, it was closer to Bucharest."

She did relax, a bit, and said, "May I play something for you, on the piano?"

"Oh, certainly. I would be honored to hear you." In a gentlemanly manner, he pulled the bench out for her; it appeared to be as old as the piano itself. She smiled at him in thanks and sat down with all the grace she could muster, which was not a whole lot. She stretched her long fingers and put them on the keys appropriate to what she was playing, what she always played first: Pachelbel's Canon in D major. It was her very favourite piece; she loved to hear it with violins and cellos together but it sounded just as good on a piano.

Halfway through she glanced up at Monsieur... no, Dmitri. He was standing like a statue with his eyes closed, as though entranced. She thought that if he were a cat he would purr. She almost hated to play the last few notes for fear the spell would break, and she hated to end anyone's happiness that way. With much regret, then, she played the final chord, and waited for his response.

He shuddered, took a deep breath, and sighed. "That," he murmured, "that was beautiful." Celia tried not to look smug, and listened to his further comments. Actually, he looked rather as though he wanted only to enfold her in his arms and kiss her, but merely continued speaking.

"You're probably hungry by now, aren't you? Well, come to the dining room and we can eat. I have not been yet introduced to American cooking, so I made something more from my home. It is like soup, mostly. I hope you will enjoy it."

He offered his hand and she took it, and together they walked to the dining room, where Celia could hardly suppress her delight. The parlor had been Victorian, that was certain, but the dining room was simply incredible. Everywhere she looked, there were keepsakes from his former home. The table was elaborately inlaid with swirling designs, and though there was a lace tablecloth on it, no doubt a valuable one-of-a-kind, the wooden patterns threatened to hypnotize her.

Dmitri smiled at her. "You like it?" All Celia could do was nod; she was still absorbed in the myriad objects that graced the room. She was jolted out of her trance when he pulled her chair out for her; she sat down as gracefully as she could and crossed her hands on the table. Even his table settings seemed to be originals. "These are very beautiful," she remarked when he came back from the kitchen.

"I am glad they please you. They are from Czechoslovakia. I... made a trip there once. Anyway, this is what I have prepared." He told her its name, a very foreign sounding one, and rightfully so. She put her napkin on her lap, and tried a spoonful of the soup. It was heavily spiced but tasted good despite the unfamiliarity.

Dmitri looked happy when he saw her favorable reaction. "You like it?" he said, and she nodded and smiled as best she could, as her mouth was full. Once she swallowed, she told him that it was indeed very good, and praised his domestic prowess. He half blushed, as he seemed too naturally pale to turn really red, and smiled. "Oh, thank you," he said. "It is easy; I have so much time and not a lot to do and cooking must be done so I get practice."

Celia tilted her head to one side inquisitively. "If I may ask, what do you do for a living?" Dmitri frowned, a look which startled Celia; it made him look rather, well, vampirish. Like an angry Bela Lugosi. She was a bit afraid, for no real, rational reason, but this time managed to conceal it.

After thinking for a moment, her companion answered, "I am... well, think of it as living off an inheritance. In Rumania my father was kind of a count; his position and wealth were passed on to me, but I chose to leave." Here he paused and seemed to reflect for an instant, then went on, "I left for somewhat personal reasons; my wife... passed away... I didn't think I could stay where she had died." Celia was afraid that he'd start crying soon.

"I'm sorry, Dmitri, really. You don't have to do this; I was just momentarily curious. I'm... sorry about your wife..." He broke in, sounding almost irritated.

"Don't be sorry," he snapped. "She... well, I would rather not go into detail. It was not a very happy time in my life. Even while she was alive," he added bitterly.

Chastened, Celia looked down and started to finish the soup. A few silent minutes later, Dmitri gazed up at her. "Celia? I am sorry. I did not mean to be harsh with you. It is a sensitive subject, my life in Rumania. I will tell you about it more later, when we are better acquainted. For now, however, would you care for dessert?"


It was nine o'clock in the evening, and Celia and Dmitri were talking by the fireplace. There was a lot to talk about, they found, and the subjects ranged from the familiar... books, and their Connecticut environs... to politics and philosophy; to places Celia had never seen, and probably never would, but that Dmitri was as quite intimate with, whose every custom and language was dear to him.

Throughout the evening she had been contemplating Dmitri's features, and she... or rather, her imagination... was so far almost convinced that he was, in fact, a vampire, improbable as it was. Its characteristics were present in everything he did, from his teeth to the paleness and lack of heat in his skin. She was also terribly afraid that he knew what she was thinking; she felt she could almost see the effects of her thoughts on him.

Finally the tension became too great for either of them to bear. Dmitri suddenly looked into her eyes and she saw his decision. "Celia," he said, his voice sounding paradoxically sharp and soft at the same time. "You know what I am, don't you?" She nodded slowly, feeling the blood drain out of her face.

But she spoke. "Yes," she said simply. His relief was tangible.

"Now my masquerade may be dropped, and my true story told. May I trust you with it? I believe I can. You must know, Celia, that I love you." She looked up in surprise. "I see that you didn't. But it is true nonetheless. From the first moment I knew that I could be myself with you, for you seem to have no fear of those of my kind.

"That has never, in my time as what I am, been true before. I have lived in the places that I have out of need; peasants are always afraid of what they do not understand. I could never, in my seven hundred year sentence on this earth, have stayed in one place for more than fifty years. Even those fifty years were a fluke; it in was the Renaissance when such 'ridiculous' ideas as Vampirism were thought to be untrue.

"And more grievous was the fact that I could never love. No one would stand for it, then. I told you that I was married, once, and that was true. Only it was in the beginning of my life, before I had become as I am now."

Dmitri sighed and looked deep into her eyes. "This is not easy for me to tell, Celia. I was not the same person then as I am now; time has changed me considerably. For the better, I might add. The change did not come easily, nor without pain. Great pain, some not even mine. Most was hers. The woman I thought I could love. Perhaps I did, for a while, but she? She never did. She was a peasant, but smart for that class, while I was the son of a count. He presided over our village wisely; I always knew he would be hard to emulate. And he was.

"When I was seventeen, he decided that it was time for me to marry. He left the choice of brides to me. That was rare; marriages then among the upper class were almost always arranged. But he was fair, and felt that I was wise enough to choose for myself. I was, and I wasn't. Because, even though my position offered advantages above and beyond what any peasant should expect, she didn't want me. Apparently she was rather madly in love with someone else. But since my father had the power that he did, I was 'allowed' to have her, whether she agreed or not. So I did, and that, Celia, that was the biggest mistake of my life. I regret it, and another error of its kind, to this day.

"She was clearly unhappy, and made that fact known to me many times. I never listened; I was under the foolish impression that she would grow to accept the situation, and finally to love me. But I was wrong; how wrong, Celia, I sincerely hope you will never know. She would not, could not forgive me for taking her 'true love' away from her. Of course, they didn't stay apart for very long. Their affair must have restarted not even a fortnight after our wedding; I'll never know when, nor do I care.

"She was all too good at hiding her tracks. I was right when I suspected that she was intelligent; I just never knew how bad that attribute could be if it was used the way she did. I don't know how she managed to hide it for so long, but she did. I finally found out from one of her chambermaids, who came to me, quite afraid, with a confession. One thing I had learned from my father was to listen to your servants, as it may sometime save your life. So I took her somewhere where we would not be heard, and she told me."

Dmitri closed his eyes and sighed slowly, as though he were in great agony. After a moment, he looked up at her again and murmured, "I can barely stand the pain of those words now; it was torture then. I... I did not know what to do, and my father... Oh God!" He shuddered, and looked as though he would cry in a moment. "He had died not even a week before! I had no one to turn to, no one I could trust; I had no friends, and no one, NO ONE cared. I don't blame them, though," he said with a tired half-smile. "I was far from being nice.

"She was gone for the day. She told me that she was going to visit her family. I had been a fool to believe her, but I did. I never would have thought she was capable of such a thing. But she was. And I was angry. Very, very angry. How could she have done such a thing to me? I could not understand then, though through the years I have gained, if nothing else, a little insight.

"The hurt and outrage I felt can not, thankfully, be put into words. If she had gotten back any earlier than she did, I probably would have killed her, then and there. As it was, I did something that I have grown to regret tenfold since that day." He sighed again and bowed his head, as though he were ashamed and could not meet her eyes. "I had to pretend I knew nothing when she got home; even though she despised me, she would not willingly have had me know about it, even at her most spiteful moments.

"She looked strange that day. It was raining, I remember, and she stood in the main hall dripping until dry clothes were fetched for her. She was paler than usual, though her lips were as red as Eden's forbidden fruit. Something about her smile was wrong as well, though at the time I could not place the incongruity. The cook had laid out a feast for dinner, with her very favourite things, but she ate barely enough for a bird. I would have worried, had I not been so preoccupied with hate.

"We spoke not a word to each other the entire evening. She busied herself with some incidental chore that, miraculously, only she could perform. I, being the head of our area's government, tried unsuccessfully to work out how far into debt the villains were this time, though my true thoughts were strictly on how to deal with her. Those tasks took us until long after sundown, and by bedtime, I was ready to confront my formerly beloved with those horrible accusations.

"The one thing that I had insisted on in our marriage was that we share a bed. Even if she wouldn't love me, I wanted her near me, though she wouldn't even love me there; the marriage had never been consummated." He sighed again and frowned. "I don't know how I can tell you this, Celia. It is one of the worst things I have done in my life; it is not an easy confession to make, though I suspect it will be worse for you to hear than for me to tell. I am not proud of what I wrought that night. It was the beginning of my misery.

"We both lay in bed, without even acknowledging each other's presence, for some time. Finally I could not bear the silence. Very bluntly, I asked her what his name was, and why she should be so dissatisfied with me as to need some lowly peasant. She didn't answer. She just lay there with her back turned away from me, and I hated her." He grimaced, an expression that would forever remain in Celia's memory. "I... I could not help myself... my anger was so overpowering... I took her by force, as revenge, as an expression of the hate." He had said the words in barely a whisper, but their echoes resounded through the room, as though nothing could stop... or erase... them. Celia winced and looked away from their source. He bit his lip, exposing long, pointed teeth, and his eyes reflected her pain. After a moment, he continued.

"I cannot tell you how sorry I was, after! What I hadn't noticed was the bite. However much I despised her, her hatred for me was ten times worse."

He stopped again, his countenance troubled and suffering, but Celia couldn't look at him. She could hardly think of him doing such a thing; even her imagination balked at that point. But the rest of his story couldn't be worse, she told herself. She whispered, "Go on."

He smiled at her, though the anguish was still in his gaze. "Celia, I am terribly sorry that... that moment had to be included, but it was then that I was transformed. Her lover was a vampire, and he had been so generous as to change her as well. I don't blame her for visiting this horror on me; I suspect I might have done the same thing in her position. I have certainly had enough time to regret it. And I have, Celia, I have! If I had only controlled myself then! But I didn't, and now after seven centuries I am still forced to walk this earth, until now, with only my sins for company." Suddenly he looked into her eyes. "Can you, will you, forgive me, Celia? Is it possible for a mortal to understand this?"

She gave a shuddering sigh and tore her eyes away from his, though they were sad and pleading. She forbid herself to look at him; if she saw his eyes, how could she answer? But her body would not obey. She winced, as her gaze was locked into his; it was not an expression of fear, but of pity. She thought, for a moment, that she saw a spark of anger, and perhaps she did, but it was soon replaced by one of regret.

He bowed his head, breaking the contact, and whispered, "Then I have said too much. May I hope to see you again, Miss Thurieau?"

She winced; obviously this had hurt him greatly. She stood up from her chair, and said as gently as she could, "I... I don't know. Perhaps." It was hard to say, and she found herself blinking back tears as he half-stumbled out of his chair. Somehow she made it to the door without crying, though it was almost impossible to do so when he said good-bye.

Celia ran blindly through the rain to her house, where she opened the door, went inside, collapsed on the windowseat, and cried.


Time passed, as it always would. It was Sunday afternoon and Celia was in the midst of a deep blue funk. The cat knew that something was wrong, and it tried its best to cheer her up, but to no avail. Maybe she didn't want to be happy, it thought. The cat, being only feline, couldn't figure it out; it had given up trying and was currently at peace with the universe on Celia's lap. She stroked it absentmindedly.

"Oh, Anniecat," she said again. "What should I do?" The cat, having no answers, merely blinked. She sighed. "Maybe I should call him and apologize or something. He looked really miserable when I left." She looked down at the animal. Its eyes were closed and it was, as usual, purring. At least someone was happy! "Well, precious, I guess I have two choices. I can call and apologize, or I can spend the rest of my days in this cheerless cloud of gloom."

Having made up her mind, for the third time since Saturday, she half-smiled and dumped the cat off of her lap, this the second time since Friday. The cat was not amused. It twitched its tail and padded dejectedly off. Celia shrugged and picked up the telephone receiver. With an unsteady hand, she guided the dial through his number, and was confronted with a ring from the other end of the line. And another. And then, in the middle of the third, her call was answered.

"Hello?" the other voice said. It sounded sad.

Celia hesitated, then said, "Dmitri? It's me... Celia. I... I don't know exactly how to say this. I guess... well, I have thought over what you said; it was a long time ago. I... I would like to see you again, if you're willing..."

Her sentence was broken by a happy exclamation. "Oh, my dear, you do not know how much I have been hoping to hear your voice again! I had thought that I might not, ever again, but I am so happy I was wrong! Please, accept my apology too, or my happiness will not be complete. Seven hundred years is a long, long time."

Celia looked at the cat, who had, by this time, forgiven her for her erroneous ways. It looked at her and meowed "yes". At least, that's what she wanted to hear. "Yes," she said happily. "And can we play some of those duets soon?"

The Vampire

Part Two (First person)

It has been two days now since Dmitri and I made up, a reconciliation that I am quite happy with. I've been trying to practice this piece that we're playing; it's because it's so hard... I just can't play it anymore!... that I'm writing this. Memoirs, perhaps? I don't know. I'm terribly afraid, though, that this relationship isn't going to last as long as I'd like. I don't know why I feel that way, it's just one of those feelings that comes out of nowhere and sticks around for a while. I only hope it leaves soon.

Dmitri has now lived here for about a week, but in that short time I have come to know him immensely better. He was serious when he said that he loved me; I've never in my twenty-five years encountered a more generous man, never mind his past. He hasn't told me much more about that, and I really don't think I ought to press him about it. He tends to get a bit uptight, not that I blame him. If I had a story like his, I mightn't be so eager to share it either.

I am, right at this very moment, listening to what we'd like to play. I say 'like to' because I just can't get it! It has too many notes or something. If that's possible. I don't know, I guess I'm just not up to his level yet. He is the best piano player I've heard in a long time, but insists upon being modest about it: he says that it's just because he's had so much time to practice. I'll agree with that; he's played the piano for at least three hundred years.

Perhaps I haven't mentioned yet that he's a vampire? Believe me, he is! Not quite the Dracula sort, because Dracula wasn't a nice person at all, but Dmitri? True, he does have to live on other people's blood, and that's going to take a while for me to get used to, but you'd never know it just by talking to him. I could very easily come to love him, but though the first time we really met he said he loved me, he seems almost hesitant to "let" me do so. I don't think I quite understand yet, but very soon now we'll be practicing. Maybe he can help me with these notes!


It was definitely the A-flat that threw me. I went over to his house again yesterday, to practice and such. He's sooo good! I explained that I was having a hard time with it, so he played it on the piano for me. (It's very nice.) Even then I couldn't quite play it so he... showed me. I don't know if that's quite the right word. He kind of played it with me, on my cello. You'd never believe how close you have to get, for two people to play on the same cello. Very nice!

It also seemed a bit frustrating for him. Not just because I was being so musically dense, either, I'm sure. When we were practicing together, I kept noticing that every once in a while, he'd be looking over my shoulder, and then slightly lean over my neck, and then catch himself and quickly pull away. It only happened a couple of times; after the second, he said that I knew the bit we were trying well enough to play it on my own, without his help. Poor dear. It must be hard for him. I'm trying very hard to be understanding about the whole situation. I mean, I've always been pretty much open-minded, especially to things like this. When I was younger, in my teens, I was practically obsessed with vampires. I'd always wanted to meet one. It's kind of weird, now that I have. It seems so normal, even though it very certainly isn't.


"Ha!" I said with elation, to the cat at my feet. "I can finally get this piece right by myself! I can even practice on my own. And a good thing, too." Or so it seemed. It was two weeks after Dmitri had moved in, nine days since our first meeting, five days since that last entry up there. It seemed to be a good thing because that day, Dmitri had called to say he was sick, and not to come over. At first that excuse seemed plausible enough, because everyone gets sick sometimes, but then a doubt hit me.

"Anniecat," I said to the bundle of fur, "How can he be sick? He's a vampire!" By then I knew, at least, that they just don't get sick. Dmitri called it one of the advantages of being an Undead. So why was he saying he was ill? There couldn't possibly be 'another woman'; he simply hadn't lived here long enough for that. He must have a good reason for lying to me; he wouldn't do it without one. Or would he?

I tried not to let the last thought stay in my mind for very long, and miraculously, it went away. Perhaps it got crowded out, because by then I was racing through the details of the past few days.

On Monday, the day we made up, I went over to his house and he gave me the piece to study, and we listened to it there. He seemed okay that day, with no warning symptoms or anything; in fact, he seemed unusually happy. And rather friendly... Mmmm. On to the next day.

Tuesday he came to my house to practice. Actually, that was Tuesday night, because the sun bothers him and he doesn't dare come out during the day. He doesn't always have to sleep all day long, thankfully, nor does he do so in a coffin. Even he thinks that's overdoing it a little. We practiced until around eleven- thirty, when I was practically falling asleep between measures. Tuesdays I have students (I give cello lessons) from six to nine at night. They're rather tiring, especially the little ones, though I love teaching them. So he left at twelve, after he massaged my back, shoulders, hands, even my neck. Oh! There was an incident about that. He was just starting my neck when he noticed the small silver cross that I normally wear. (It was a gift from my grandmother.) I heard him almost hiss, and he quickly took his hands away from my neck.

"I... this is rather awkward," he said with a grim smile. "I have nothing against religion, personally, but this curse doesn't seem to take note of that. I cannot touch things of the Church." I recalled that, from one of the books I'd read recently, and reached back to take off the cross. After I'd fumbled the clasp open, I put it in my cello case for safekeeping, and he relaxed and went back to massaging my neck.

I suppose I should have expected that, but it was still sort of... well, uncanny. I'm not terribly religious; in fact, I'm more or less agnostic, but when something like that happens... you've probably never experienced it, but it's really weird.

Wednesday I slept in because, even though I'm more or less a "night person", I do need my sleep. I didn't get up until eleven or so, not that it mattered; I don't have many students on school days. Dmitri wouldn't have been up, either, because though he doesn't usually sleep during the day, he did then because the last night had been so late, and he needs a lot of rest. He said that he thinks of it as sort of a coma, and I guess that's the best analogy for it, because technically he should be dead. Sleeping like that is kind of a way to make up for his longevity.

Anyway, I didn't get to see him that day, because he didn't get up until twelve or so at night, and I had to go to bed early; Thursday was a day off for the kids, so I had to give lessons. All day. Ann Elizabeth was most vexed; she's not too fond of little kids because they tend to pull tails. They are getting better at the cello, though.

Friday was the day he called with his excuse. I guess it was about four in the afternoon, when the phone rang. I was just reading, right next to the telephone, so I managed to get it on the first ring. "Hello?" I said, and in response heard kind of a sighing "Bonjour." (He tends to lapse into other languages once in a while. I wonder what keeps him sane; he knows at least fifteen of them, from all his moving around.)

"Dmitri?" I said. "Is something wrong?"

"Ah, Celia. It might be best if we didn't see each other today, perhaps tomorrow also. I seem to be... ill, and I don't want you to be sick too." At that I started to protest; I'd been exposed to most of the communicable diseases; how could he have gotten something totally new?

"It's not that it's new, my dear, I just don't want you to get it. Please? You know the piece now, yes? So there should be no problem with skipping a day?"

I sighed. "If it's really what you think is best, Dmitri, I... I guess I can stand a day by myself. But if you need anything at all..." I heard a kind of groan at this, as though he were in pain. "Dmitri? are you sure you don't need help or anything? I..."

"No, dearest, but thank you," he said, his voice sounding very weak, for all its firmness. I could hear Mozart's "Requiem Mass" playing in the background, which worried me even more, as that piece is depressing by itself, let alone when you're sick or by yourself. "Ich liebe dich," he whispered, and before I could respond, he had hung up the phone.

I thought about his words for the rest of the afternoon, through dinner, that day's only lesson, and while I tried... unsuccessfully... to read. I just couldn't concentrate on the author's words, having Dmitri's so well- engraved on my mind. I looked at the clock. It was only ten; I still had lots of time to do something, anything that might help my poor Mitya.

It was a good thing I hadn't paid much attention to the book; it was another on vampirism, a non-fiction, "how-to" book, if you will. If I had read any more, I probably would have been too scared to do anything that night. Thankfully, though, I hadn't, and after putting on a pair of old jeans and a black sweater, I went outside, headed in the direction of Mr. Ilyavich's home.

It was pitch black outside; our neighborhood had never put in streetlights, and it was a new moon. "Drat," I muttered, under my breath. "I forgot a flashlight." So without light of any sort, except the faint glow from my living room window, I stumbled towards Dmitri's back door. I just hoped that none of the other people around would mistake me for a prowler and call the police; how could I explain my actions?

I did, however, make it to the door sans incident. Upon opening it... no one around where I live locks their doors; there's no need to... I was confronted by more blackness. This time, however, it was totally impenetrable. How on earth could he walk around in dark like this? "Duh. He's a vampire; he likes the dark!" I told myself, though I wished that he liked it just a bit less and would put in a nightlight or something.

I fumbled my way through the kitchen, using my hands as guides, and somehow managed to find the passage that would lead upstairs, through the music room. I had only been upstairs once, when I was looking for a house, so I had only the vaguest of ideas as to where his room might be.

Suddenly I realized just what I was doing, or rather, became aware of the fact that I had no idea what I was going to do when I found him. To help me think... music always helps me think... I sat down at the piano and played a few muted chords. "Hmmm." E-minor. "What if he's asleep upstairs? Should I wake him up, or would that just cause more problems?" D-minor. "If he's really sick, I have to do something, not just let him lie there and waste away!" A-minor. "Damn it, I definitely have to do more than sit here and play his piano!" D-major! I slipped away from the instrument, towards the stairs leading up.

I put my foot carefully on the first, then the second. And the next one squeaked. Not just a little squeak, mind you, a long, loud squeak that called out like a cat that's had its tail stepped on. It was the next noise that frightened me more, however. I heard, from upstairs, a groan.

"Dmitri?" I cried, running up the remaining steps. Upon reaching the second floor, I turned towards the room most likely to be a bedroom. It was; the door was open, and my poor Dmitri was on his bed, a candle lit on the bureau, his eyes open wide with a look that was almost horror.

"Celia," he moaned, his voice sounding hoarse and cracked. "Please! Come no closer! You know not what you do!" I was dismayed by his condition. He looked sick, and was much, much paler than usual, and he seemed to have gained years of age in only a few days.

"My God, Dmitri, what's happened?" I gasped, and ran towards his bedside.

"No... you must not stay," he groaned. "There can be only one outcome if you do... I don't want to have to do it to you, too... the only one I can love. I would rather die than..." He closed his eyes, as though in pain, but when he opened them again, there was a much different look in them. "Oh, Celia," he whispered. "Please forgive me, for what I could not stop..."

No sooner had he spoken those words than with one final burst of energy he was at my side, his eyes red, whether from tears or from madness I could not tell. He took my arms, grasping them tightly, and with one convulsive movement, he sank his sharp teeth into my neck. Ai! it was more painful than anything I have ever felt before, but thankfully, not for long; seconds after the bite, a blessed tranquillity spread over me, numbing the pain, sending me into a world where there was no hurt.

When I woke up, I did not know where I was, how I had gotten there, or why on earth a man was holding me. The twin wounds on my neck throbbed, and I moaned... and remembered. The man in whose arms I was had inflicted those wounds; why, then, did he look so concerned?

"Oh, Celia!" he whispered, gazing at me with intense compassion. "There can be no forgiveness for what I have done; I know all too well that fact. I... I would rather have died than to have caused you such hurt... But... Such a need cannot be ignored without consequences!" I shivered, unable to restrain the fear that had to come. His eyes, grey in the light of a single candle, widened as I did so, and took on a look of such apprehension I felt almost sorry for him.

He held me close to him in his arms, and inhaled a shuddering breath. And did something I had never before seen him do. He closed his eyes, and from beneath the trembling lids came a tear. It flowed silently down his cheek, was joined by another.

Wordlessly I wrapped my own unsteady arms about him, and mixed my tears with his.


When I next awoke, it was dawn. Through a space in the curtains I could see pink clouds dotting the light blue sky. Though I very much wanted to fling open those curtains, I didn't dare, having read Dracula twice. If Bram Stoker was right, sunlight would mean death, or at the very least, excruciating pain, for Dmitri.

Strangely enough, I felt no malice towards him. He had warned me against coming many times; it was through my own defiance that I was hurt. If I had stayed away like I'd been told to, none of this would have happened. But if it hadn't, what would have happened to Dmitri? It appeared I would have a chance to ask him soon; he was waking up.

He hadn't slept in the bed with me where I had apparently fainted; he was instead slumped by his desk in an armchair. He stirred and blinked twice, then noticed me sitting up on his bed. He smiled guiltily at me, started to speak, and perhaps thought better of it. I cocked my head sideways at him, expecting him to say something. He shrugged to himself, and did.

His voice was no longer hoarse as it had been the day before. Now when he spoke, it had an almost soothing sound to it. "I hope you slept well?" he inquired, seeming genuinely concerned, as he had a right to. I nodded 'yes', and he smiled, relieved. "I am glad. The... victims of some complain of nightmares afterwards. I was worried that you might, too." He frowned, looking as though he wanted very badly to say something but couldn't. "I apologize again, for... it. I tried so hard not to, but..."

I silenced him with a smile that I hoped contained a suggestion of under- standing, and, not being able to contain my curiosity any longer, I asked him what would have happened if it had not. He gave me a puzzled look, and then sighed to himself. With another frown, he looked me in the eye and said, "Have you ever heard of Berserkers?" Unfortunately, I had, and the picture that his answer brought to mind was not pleasant. However, I managed to put such thoughts aside as I removed myself from the bed and walked over to him.

Just to see what he would do, I kissed him lightly on the lips. He looked startled, and blushed, as pink as his pale skin would allow. "I hope you feel better now," I murmured. "Next time, please just tell me, instead putting me through such worry. Because I did, you know." He looked even more surprised then; apparently none of his former "victims", as he so macabrely put it, had ever gone through the experience untraumatized.

Of course, at that moment I was stricken by another, extremely negative thought. I could feel the blood I had left drain from my face, and I must have looked rather frightened, because Dmitri took on his concerned look again, and asked quietly what was wrong.

"Dmitri?" I said in a small voice, "I won't be... like you now, will I? I mean, in the books I've read, it takes a lot of times, but you did say they were wrong about some things, and..." His look of anxiety was quickly replaced by one of semi-amusement, and, noting the angry tones my face had begun to display at his seeming humor, he explained.

"I did tell you they were wrong, my dear, and they are. It doesn't matter how many times one is bitten; that won't change one. To make another into a revenant requires the reversal of blood. I would have to give you some of mine, instead of taking yours. Only one author has gotten that right, a Mr. Richard Purtill, I believe, in his story of a Greek Vrykolakas. A very good story, that is. I must have you read it sometime." He smiled again and stood up to take my hand.

"You must be hungry, dear Celia. Come downstairs and allow me to make you breakfast." I was indeed hungry; having one's blood taken, even in small quantities, gives one an enormous appetite. So I followed him down the stairs I had, only yesterday, been so worried about traversing.

He did make breakfast, just for me, as he had no need to eat then. I don't quite remember what it was, because it was another one of those foreign dishes. All I can recall about it was that, while he was making it, he sang. On the radio was Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the "Ode to Joy", and my Dmitri sang along to it. He has the most beautiful voice I've ever heard! It's somewhere between a tenor and a bass, not that it matters. He blended right in with them, though. When I asked him when he learned it, he shrugged, and said, as though it was nothing big, that he had been at its premier performance! I guess longevity has its advantages.

After breakfast I ran home to change my clothes, having no wish to wear the same ones I had slept in, and grabbed my cello. Even though it was Saturday, I had a few hours to go before I had to give any lessons. Before I left, I noticed the book I'd been reading the night before. Since it was so interesting, I picked it up, too and though it was a bit difficult while holding the cello, I managed to start the next chapter.

I believe I mentioned earlier how different things would have been if I hadn't stopped reading when I did? That was altogether too true; the first words that I read on the next page were, "If the vampire does not get the nourishment he needs, he will most likely take on a somewhat ill appearance, compounded by a lack of energy or vitality. If no steps are taken to alleviate this condition, the revenant will either go into an almost Beserker-like state, and attack the next warm-blooded creature he encounters, or he will die. Such a death, as documented by several vampires themselves, is long, slow, and painful, and near the end the vampire will even lose his compulsion for blood. However, that does not mean that he is cured, merely that the end is near.

"Even when the revenant has progressed to this state, however, it is not advisable to approach him in any way, for there is still a chance that he will have the energy to drain completely the one foolish enough to go to him..." I shivered; apparently Luck had been with me yesterday, and Dmitri hadn't been that far gone. It was still a terribly frightening thought, that he could have killed me then. As I said before, I probably wouldn't have taken that chance yesterday had I known. Although I'm glad now that I did; no one could ever deserve a death like that, least of all my Dmitri.

Anyway, after taking the time to read that, I walked over to his home again, not entirely without hesitation, though I told myself many times that there was no more chance of that happening. At least, not for a while.

It had gotten considerably cloudier since I had awakened, and the sun was blocked enough so that Dmitri could meet me by the door without fear of exposure. He gave me a grateful smile that only fell a little when he saw my cello. "What, more practicing?" he said jokingly. "You mean to tell me that even after I showed how you to play it, it still needs work?"

"No," I said sweetly. "I just want you to show me again!" He looked into my eyes, smiling, and raised his eyebrows suggestively. I offered him my hand, but instead of just leading me inside with it, he suddenly became serious, and pressed his lips to it with a passion I had never seen him display before. How was it that he could put more feeling into that than most men could with their whole bodies? But he was Dmitri; one need not question that.

Once inside, I could hear the definitive strains of Schubert's Quintet in D-minor, titled, appropriately enough, "Death and the Maiden." It is the most incredibly expressive piece I have ever heard. It actually sounds like Dmitri; almost overwhelming in the first movement, so amazingly passionate in the last... Upon hearing it, I stopped dead in my tracks, put down the cello, closed my eyes, and let its pure tones take me where they would. It is forbidden ecstasy written as music.

Dmitri knew how it made me feel. He smiled, took both of my hands and kissed me. Oh! The very memory of it is exhilarating; he managed to time it so it was at the climax of that movement, the second, and I couldn't help but kiss back with equal fervor. By the time it was over I was ready to do anything he might suggest, but instead he drew back and looked at me seriously. Half to himself, he whispered, "No. I must not hurt you again," and dropped my hands. I wanted to plead with him, to beg for more, but he walked silently to the stereo and turned off the music.

He turned to me then, and said somberly, "We must talk, Celia." With a gesture he bade me sit down on the couch, so I did, not knowing quite what to expect. He sighed, his hands clenched at his sides, as though to contain any passion he could not be rid of. "I don't really know how to say this, my dear," he started. I looked up at him and tried to blink back the tears that were beginning to form in my eyes. He couldn't possibly end this now; it just wouldn't be fair!

"No one ever said life was fair, dear Celia," he said, surprising, almost shocking me with the absolute accuracy of his perception.

"How did you... know what... what I was thinking," I stuttered.

He grimaced. "One of the so-called advantages of being Undead. All I have to do is think about you, and your thoughts become all too apparent... though I have tried to resist that temptation."

"How sweet of you," I replied bitterly, my mood abruptly changing. "But why bother? It's not like I have anything to hide, not like you." I was going to continue when he suddenly unclenched his fists and glared at me. Then I was afraid. And this time, with reason.

"Oh?" he snarled. "Would you have me know everything of you? Perhaps I shall." He grasped my wrists sharply, and though I cried out with the pain of it, he wouldn't let go. He pulled me up towards him roughly and stared into my eyes. I couldn't move! I tried very hard to struggle, but to no avail. I could almost feel him probing my mind, learning everything of me, even...

He abruptly gasped, his eyes widened, and he dropped my hands. I collapsed onto the couch, sobbing, and though I tried to erase the recent memory of him in my mind, my efforts only made it clearer. "Oh, dear God," he moaned, backing away from me. "What have I done? Twice I have violated her; how can she love me yet?"

How could I? I didn't know; perhaps I never will, but I did. I shuddered, not merely from the coldness of the room. He moaned again and I saw, through my tears, the conflict inside him. He stood in the middle of the room, arms partially outstretched, as though he wanted very much to hold me, but didn't dare.

Through blurred eyes I tried to make contact with him again, to tell him it didn't matter anymore what he did; anything else could hardly hurt. But he wouldn't look at me, averting his own eyes. He sighed unhappily, a sound much like a whimper, and silently walked to where I had left my cello only moments ago, though those moments had been stretched into hours. He picked it up, tenderly and carefully, and took it out of its case. Around the fingerboard hung a small, silver cross.

I'll never be sure why he did what he did next. I saw him reach down and cup the cross in his hands and slowly, almost reverently, lift it up off of the instrument. By the time he had gotten it off his hands were trembling, and as he placed it in the case I could see why; the cross had burned into his left palm an angry red mark, as though to punish him for daring to touch its sacred form.

Though it must have hurt terribly, he picked up the bow and sat down with cello, holding it with his burned hand. And he began to play. I don't know when he learned the cello, but he was better at it than with even the piano. What he played sounded so mournful, so tragic, that my tears were broken off by its pure desolation; I had never heard anything so remorseful in my life. Not only was it sad, though; a thousand emotions were captured within its tones. For the seeming eons it went on for, the very weight of the world's sorrows pressed down on Dmitri as he played.

By the time it was finished, having dealt its final, sighing blows, the tears were streaming down my cheeks again, his as well, though they seemed more from relief than from sadness. He very carefully placed the cello back in its case, and just as slowly as before, lowered the cross onto its former position. He winced at the unfortunate pain it brought him, but did not let go until it was as it had been. Then the very resolution that had sustained him was gone; he collapsed to the floor with a groan.

"Dmitri!" I cried, and fell off the couch to get to him. He opened his red-rimmed eyes briefly, and mouthed the word "No", as though to dissuade me from helping, then was stolen back into unconsciousness. I tried to lift him, to get him off of the floor, but he was too heavy for me. I cradled his dark head in my lap, praying that he would be all right, though I doubted that any prayers could help him.

I sat with him like that for an hour, strains of his terrible, yet beautiful music running through my mind. He was breathing evenly, almost peacefully, but when I looked for a pulse, there was none to be found. I could only assume that was normal, as it would account for the lack of heat in his pale skin.

After an hour, I felt him shudder fitfully. "Dmitri," I whispered. His eyes, though they were blurred, sought mine in the manner of a child searching for his mother. When he found them, he smiled weakly, and tried to speak. "Thank you... for staying with me," he croaked. "I don't deserve it, not after..." I put my finger to his lips, silencing him, not wanting to hear his next words. A question remained in my mind, however.

"Mitya," I asked, using the diminutive form of his Russian name, "Who wrote that piece that you were playing? It is the saddest thing I ever hope to hear." He smiled crookedly to himself. "C'est moi," he murmured in French. "J'ai le composerais, depuis deux cent ans. J'habite au France, mais j'etais oblige de l'abandonner parce-que la Revolution etait commencer." (It was me. I composed it, two hundred years ago. I lived in France then, but I had to leave because the Revolution had started.)

I was amazed at learning that he was the genius behind it, though I suppose I shouldn't have been; he's very musical, and good at composing, seeing as he's lived through almost all of the major periods in music. "Are you okay yet?" I asked quietly. "My legs are starting to fall asleep and..." He grimaced and showed me his palm. It was still as bad, if not worse than it had been before, unlike most of the wounds he's ever gotten, which healed almost immediately. "Why hasn't it gotten any better?" I said, not yet comprehending its significance.

He sighed. "I'll be lucky if it ever heals," he said, and stood up shakily, using the piano as support. "I said earlier I cannot touch such things; I was serious. This is what it does to me. I haven't yet been able to understand why those like myself are punished in this way; perhaps this god is angry because we won't die nicely like the rest of the world, or stay that way. He is a very jealous god, you know."

If I had been any more religious than I am, I might have been somewhat mad at him; as it is I find it easy to be tolerant of other peoples' beliefs, and I could understand why he might feel so bitter. "Is there anything I can do to help it?" I wondered out loud. He shook his head. "There is nothing any mortal can do. Another revenant, perhaps, but not you. You... wouldn't really want to, anyway. It's... never mind." None of my books had said anything about this. I looked at him questioningly, but he wouldn't satisfy my curiosity.

He seemed to be feeling slightly better, despite the wound that must have been very painful to him. "Why did you do it?" I said quietly. He looked startled.

"I... don't really know," he mused. "Why do moths circle the flame of a candle, unheeding of their impending deaths? It's not rational, certainly; perhaps it lies beyond rationality. A suicide reflex? I have lived too long..." I stared at him, horrified.

"You can't die!" I gasped. "I... I love you!" He nodded grimly.

"I know," he murmured. "Without you, I would no longer have a reason for existing. But when you die, and you will... no matter how far away it seems to you, it is hardly a heartbeat for me... what then? I shall have no more life." He winced inwardly. "That is the saddest plight of my kind; we dare not love, no matter how tempting it is, or how much it is desired."

"How much sadder, then, is it for those who love you," I whispered, holding his gaze. "To go unloved when it is needed; that would seem to be almost as bad. But death? Death is hardly an answer... at least to those of us whose lives are already so limited." An idea, terribly macabre and at the very least, unpleasant, came to mind. "Mitya," I said, trying to sound positive, "Couldn't I live with you forever anyway? There is a way, you said. You could... change me..."

He stared at me with his eyes wide open, aghast at my suggestion. "My God, Celia, do you know what you just said?" he managed to gasp. "I could never do that, not to you or anyone else! It is truly a fate worse than death, one I wouldn't wish upon even my worst enemy, and you are far, far removed from that!" He shook his head, and absentmindedly started playing the chords from his terrorific composition on the piano. "How could you even think of suggesting such a thing? Have I not made it clear, the misery it brings?" He looked at me, seeming somewhat puzzled, trying to fathom my irrational reasoning.

"It wouldn't work, anyway," he added, almost as an afterthought. "Where would we get sustenance? One can't just walk up to anybody and ask them for blood; it doesn't work that way, unfortunately. I... no. I will not, and you will hereafter refrain from making such suggestions." The way he looked at me confirmed his last statement: his powerful features blazed with the force of it. I could only nod in agreement, being too frightened to say anything else.

He noticed that fear, and his face eased back into the gentle, concerned one I had known before. He came to me like a cat, quiet and graceful, and, again as such, wrapped his arms around me and laid his head on my shoulder. "I'm sorry," he murmured into my ear. "I never mean to frighten you like that; I apologize for its happening." I closed my eyes and smiled, and tilted my head so our lips touched. This time, however, he accepted them without hesitation, and it went on forever. He held me a moment longer when it ended, then untangled himself and sighed.

"It's almost nine, my dearest. No doubt your students will be looking for you soon, though I hate to surrender you to them. I wish..." he started, and half-frowned.

"What do you wish?" I whispered, walking up to him. "Your every desire is my command."

He smiled doubtfully and shook his head. "Not this one, Cecilia. At least, not today. Perhaps another day." He was still smiling faintly, with a strange gleam in his eyes, though he wouldn't tell me what it was for. "Not now, my sweet; a pupil approaches," he said, pointing dramatically at the car in front of my home.

I grimaced; this wasn't one of my favourite students. He tended to be a little silly at times, though I suppose that's normal for a nine year old. "I guess you're right," I said, and after one last kiss from him, I gathered up my cello and headed home again.

To my surprise, the child behaved himself through the whole lesson, though that could have been because I wasn't paying the best of attention to his faults. Instead, he received the most praise he's ever gotten from me. He did deserve most of it, as he'd practiced an hour a day that week. He seemed to have gotten over the phase that every music student goes through: the "oh-mom-I-hate-playing-the- [fill in the blank] - can't-I-stop-now?" blues, and was now genuinely enjoying it. He can be so cute when he wants to be!

Soon enough, however, the lesson was over, and I was left with an hour to myself until the next one would begin. I couldn't stop thinking of Mitya. What had he been speaking of when I left? I shook my head, only partially comprehending. He couldn't have been thinking of... what I had been, though I was not at all averse to the idea, and he probably knew that, especially after that one-way interface. That would best explain the look in his eyes before I'd gone. I smiled wickedly to myself. Wouldn't that be something not to write home about!

That, of course, brought to my mind the subject of marriage, for I do have some morals. The fact was, any kind of real wedding was practically out of the question for him. If a mere cross could do him such harm, what would happen if he went into a church? I winced, thinking about it. Not that we necessarily had to be married. It didn't seem to bother him, nor was that important to me, once I thought about it. Would it really matter? I sighed, and shrugged my shoulders. Probably not.

Ann Elizabeth wandered in, having noticed that the young cellist was gone, and hopped onto my lap. I automatically started stroking her, and she began to purr, without hesitation. "What do you think, Annidear?" I asked her. Although she's helped me to make many decisions in the past, this time she just blinked at me, yawned, and settled down for a nap.

"Silly cat," I muttered. "Now I have to think." I didn't have to think long, at any rate. Time flies when you're thinking; another potential cello virtuoso was here. This one I liked, because she'd always been serious about practicing and such, and she was old enough (fourteen) to know what she was doing. I can give her the really hard stuff and it doesn't phase her a bit; she likes a challenge. Even Ann Elizabeth sticks around to hear her play.

Needless to say, this lesson was over quickly, too, as hers always are. She's such a joy to teach! And so went the rest of my Saturday: seven students, each having an hour long lesson, with an average of half an hour for me between them. That's what, about eleven hours total? I guess. It's enough to keep me busy for a time, though, without having Dmitri as company. I was beginning to get rather lonely when he wasn't around.

It was nearly ten o'clock when I next heard from him; I suppose he'd spent the day sleeping, and trying to get that nasty wound healed more quickly. The thought of nasty wounds made me remember my own. I went to the mirror, looked at my neck... and there was nothing the least bit unusual about it! Even though I had received them not even twenty-four hours ago, the bite marks were gone. This was strange! In all of my not-exactly-accurate books, they didn't go away until the vampire was truly dead. Of course, such books weren't always right and...

The phone rang, and I was shocked out of my wonderment by it. I ran to it, managed to catch it on the third ring. "Hello?" I said breathlessly.

"Hello, my dearest. How were your lessons today?" a familiar voice asked.

I took a moment to catch my breath, then answered, "They were great; went a lot faster than they usually do. I was thinking about you the whole time, wondering if any of these kids would grow up to be musical geniuses like you. A couple of them have real potential... But I'm sure you didn't call to chat about them."

I could picture him smiling as he said, "No, Cecilia, I didn't. I wanted to ask you... Well, do you have any more students tomorrow?"

"None, actually. No one wants them on Sundays. I get most of them after school or on Saturdays. Why?"

"Mmmm, well, I wondered if you'd like to go with me to the country for a while. I have a cottage there that I plan on selling soon, and thought you might want to see it. I mean, I know this sounds kind of forward and all but... Celia? Are you still there?"

"What? Oh, yes," I stuttered, surprised out of my musing. "I was just imagining what it might be like... and I'll most certainly go with you. Shall I bring a change of clothes?"

"That might be best. Um, don't bother walking over; I'll pick you up. Very soon. Je t'aime, au revoir!" This time I managed to get in a good-bye before he hung up. He has a habit of doing that, just saying something and hanging up without an answer. It was a bit annoying, but no one can be totally perfect.

I dashed up the stairs, bewildering dear Annie Liz and the fish, and tore out an outfit for tomorrow. I paused for a moment, wondering if I should bring a nightgown, then decided against it, smiling. I dumped my clothes unceremoniously into a bag and ran downstairs in time to get the door which Dmitri was about to knock on.

"My goodness, you're fast," he commented teasingly after I'd kissed him. "I didn't think any female could pick out clothing that quickly." I smiled at him malevolently, or at least, tried to. Ann Elizabeth chose that moment to wrap herself around my legs, and hiss at Dmitri. It was the first time she'd been brave enough to come downstairs when he was here. "Oh, dear," he said, grimacing. "I'd forgotten the reaction of animals towards my kind."

"Me too," I muttered. "I guess this means she'll have to stay here. Hold on a second while a give her something to eat while we're gone. She's stayed alone before; she ought to be okay." I skittered into the kitchen with the nervous cat in my hands and poured her some dry food. She meowed questioningly, as though wanting an explanation for my upcoming absence. I picked her up and held her for a moment. "It's okay, Annicat. He's really a nice person; you just don't know him yet."

"Do you always talk to your pets?" he inquired from the doorway.

"Of course," I said, trying my best to look mad at him. It didn't work; he had too much charisma to be angry with him, and he looked so perfect, standing there with his arms folded across his chest. "Why, Dmitri Ilyavich, is that an opera cape I see on your shoulders? I thought you said you didn't have one."

He grinned, his long teeth flashing in the light. "I lied. This one's pretty old; they used to be all the rage in Austria. Everyone had at least one. You like it?" I could hardly refrain from smiling.

"It's you, honestly. Of course I like it! You look so... well, vampirish in it. You ought to wear it on Halloween." He looked at me, seeming puzzled. "All Hallows Eve?" I said, trying to clarify things. Then he understood, and blushed as only he could. "You'd be perfect; wouldn't even need those plastic teeth."

He sighed. "It has come to the point where you have accepted it, then, or is humor covering up fear?" He frowned. "Never mind, I don't think I need to know. You are ready now?" I nodded, my mood drooping only a little. "I'm sorry," I said. "I didn't mean to bring it up like that, it just seemed kind of apropos." He smiled tolerantly.

"Let's go, then, my dear. The cottage awaits us."

We walked through the darkness to his car without speaking. He opened the door for me, being such a gentleman. The car was black, not small, but not overly large, either. I liked it well enough. It had a cassette player in it; before he started driving he put on the Schubert. I glanced at him sideways. He looked serious, but at the same time, had a reckless air about him, as though he'd been dared to do something and had accepted. "How far is it?" I asked, before the music had a chance to affect me.

"It should take no more than half an hour to get there," he said, still looking straight ahead. "Oh." I pulled my coat closer around my shoulders. He noticed. "Are you cold, dear Celia? There are blankets in the back if you need them." I nodded and turned around to get one.

"Thank you; that's much better," I said, once I had one wrapped around me. Then the music worked its magic. The quartet had begun its descent, and was swiftly taking me with it. I didn't even try to resist it; there would be no point: I was going there anyway.

We reached the cottage in the promised half hour. By the time we had gotten there, my stomach was alive with butterflies; when he stopped the car, I jumped. "Is something wrong, my dear?" he whispered soothingly. "We can go back, if you like." I shook my head. "We're here now; here we will stay," I murmured, as adrenaline and its affiliates flooded my system. He smiled, again with that strange gleam, but this time I knew it for what it was, and shared it.

He opened the door for me and as I got out, he wrapped me in his arms and kissed me. Not just a quick one, this time, but one that went on forever. I moaned when it finally ended. "Where is that cottage of yours?" I murmured, but he didn't have to show me. It was indeed somewhat small, compared to the Victorian he lived in now, but it just didn't look like him, not like the other one did. It was too cute and picturesque for my taste. "Does it look like this on the inside, too?" I wondered out loud.

"Well, yes. That's kind of why I'm selling it; it was only temporary. It doesn't agree with me, either." I no longer felt cold.

"We could just stay out here, couldn't we?" I whispered. "I mean, it's not that cool out, and it won't get any colder, and there shouldn't be any rain, so..." He was looking at me that way again. It would be okay, the look said. In fact, it would be better.

"Yes," he whispered, picked me up and carried me to the summit of a small hill nearby. I could see a thin sliver of moon in the sky, nothing more. He laid me down on the blanket that had been keeping me warm. I didn't need it, then. Slowly and gently, his teeth pierced my throat, but this time, there was no pain with it. It was over quickly. "Here's to the first time, and the last," he said quietly. I didn't understand, then, but it was indeed the last. And the first, though I enjoyed that first much more...

When I at last woke up the next morning, he was by my side. And then I realized that it was morning; the sky was pink with the promise of sunrise. It was beautiful, but like Dmitri's composition, it was terrible, too. "Dmitri!" I whispered as forcefully as I could. He didn't stir, so I shook him, very lightly, and at last he awoke. I needed no words to warn him of the danger he was in; he, too, saw the light. I had expected him to be at least surprised, but he merely nodded, and smiled grimly.

"The last," I gasped, suddenly understanding. "Oh, God, no! Not now! I... you said that you wouldn't do this..." He sat up slowly and put his arms around me.

"For seven hundred years I have wanted to see the sun rise," he whispered. "It's all right. Don't cry for me, my dearest; if you must cry for anything, cry for your mortality, and mine." I cried, for him and mortality, and didn't stop to see that fatal sunrise.

My tears did cease, however, when it had at last cleared the trees, and he was still there. His face was flushed pink, and his eyes closed tightly, but he was there! He groaned, very softly, and I thought he would collapse, but he held me as tightly as ever before, with the same strong arms. When I put my head to his chest, I could feel his heart beating...

"Mitya?" I said in awe. "I thought you were going to die!"

He opened his blue eyes and smiled. "I will," he said. "With you, and our mortality."

...The End...


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