Preparing to write a novelization of _Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust_, I
realized that I needed to know the story behind Meier and Charlotte's
relationship, to be inserted as flashbacks where needed. When I started
writing out the raw material for these, I realized that it would make a
story in itself. 

Meier and Charlotte: A Beginning
A Vampire Hunter D Fanfic by Catherine B. Krusberg

There was freedom in flying. Sometimes Meier no longer had the spirit
for it; he would look out from the towers of his castle at the green
pastures and rolling hills, and even feeling the wind tease his cape
wouldn't tempt him to spread his arms into it and take flight.

Flying had been a feat of great pride when he was younger, a skill he
had discovered by accident on acquiring a cape of pterosaur hide. He
doubted that vampires and pterosaurs were genetically related, yet when
he wore the cape he could _feel_ a bit of the aerial creature it once
had been; it was almost like a second skin rather than a garment. Acting
on a logical extension of this observation, he had tested his limited
shape-shifting ability and found that he could, in a sense, merge with
it: the heavy membrane would spread out to wings more than double his
own arm span, and a tensing of muscles sharpened their edges to a most
effective weapon. The wings caught the wind as well for him as they had
for the original owner. At first he'd had his share of crashes -- the
damage had of course been more to his pride than his body -- but the
hide seemed to be as resilient as he was; or perhaps just as he merged
with it, it merged with him and took on some of his vampiric

Over time, he had pushed this skill to its limits. On several occasions
he used the largest interior spaces of the castle as an obstacle course
(to his father's unconcealed consternation) to try his wings'
maneuverability, and his success in these endeavors had inspired one
particularly foolhardy foray, in which he skimmed just under sun's first
rays, then dove to safety before the sunrise that lit the higher
atmosphere reached the ground.

It had all been grand fun for a much younger vampire, one who lived with
his parents in their castle and socialized with his peers: the young (or
at least young-looking) men who tried to force him from the air in
good-natured rivalry, the beautiful women who tried to get him out of
the cape for reasons that had nothing to do with his aerial powers. But
that had been many years ago, and now even pleasures were too much
effort, sometimes, when there was no one to see, no one to return to --
no one to share. And Meier would stare over the fields and forests for
hours, only half mindful of what his eyes saw in the darkness.

Perhaps it was a kind of desperation that drove him to the town of the
humans. Certainly it was not any prospect of companionship. With very
few exceptions he and they had avoided each other. They were of
different kinds, of different worlds, and the streets and alleys of the
town, the tree-rows of the orchards at its outskirts, were too narrow to
contain the span of his great cape-wings. (He preferred such a rationale
to thinking of the crosses that spiked the rooftops.) And yet sometimes
he did fly there, simply because it was neither his castle nor the open

It was not in town proper but at a mansion on a plantation not far
outside it that Meier's attention was simultaneously drawn by two
things: a great misshapen tree, and screams. He probably would not have
noticed the tree otherwise, but it was almost as if the screaming had
sprung from it. Meier nearly stalled as his wings half folded; the
screaming was succeeded by sobs -- distinctly a woman's -- and a man's
voice shouting, "Slut! You're nothing but filth, do you hear me!" And
this was followed by a cracking sound and something between a scream and
a sob.

Meier shifted his hands out of wing form and hooked his long nails into
the ugly tree. Half clinging and half perching, he was able to see in a
window, where a woman staggered into view, only to be grabbed by one
shoulder, spun around, and struck so hard blood spurted from her face,
even as she sobbed again.

It must have been the blood. Meier scarcely knew it was his own body
that leaped forward, _through_ the window with a shattering of glass
that he never heard. He didn't feel the shards rebounding from his skin.
He only knew there was something horribly out of kilter in what he had
witnessed. The next thing he knew, he was between attacker and victim:
the former a crumpled heap on one side of the room, the latter clutching
her face and staring at him, tears streaming down her cheeks and blood
dripping off her chin. For a long moment she was too surprised to move,
suddenly confronted by this pale demon, skin nearly as white as his
hair, eyes gleaming like coals, and taloned hands twitching reflexively
at the edges of his dark cape. Then she found herself enough to back
away as far as she could, breath coming hard, then sobs again.

"Don't cry." Suddenly Meier felt very lost. The blood scent unsettled
him, and her terror evoked a kind of fury -- he didn't want to be the
object of that terror, and he shouldn't, not after --

He looked to the man, who was breathing but not moving. He had been
flung against a vanity and lay in a twisted heap, half against it, half
on the floor.

"Don't hurt him," the woman finally managed to sputter. "Please don't
hurt him. _Please._"

This was bizarre beyond all describing. Her clothing had been torn, her
hair was in disarray, and Meier could see redness from several blows --
as well as the blood, of course. This man had done these things, and in
a span of only a few minutes.

"Why? He's --" Meier wasn't certain how to describe what had come just
before "-- he's hurt _you_."

She shook her head as best she could with a hand trying to stanch her
bleeding, and overcame her fear of the intruder enough to edge around
him and kneel by the fallen man. "Father?" Her voice was unsteady, and
not from fear for herself. "Father, please be all right." Another little
sob, and she started crying in earnest. "What have you done to my

<<Kept him from killing you>> crossed Meier's mind in a way too dim to
work itself into speech.

"He's hurt you terribly," Meier said.

"I don't care. It is my fault. I -- how could you _do_ such a thing?"

"Don't cry." Meier didn't know why her tears were tearing a hole in his
heart, but somehow stopping them seemed more important than
understanding, more important even than the blood that had run down her
forearms and was dripping off her elbows. "Why should he do such a
thing? Why should he do such a thing and live?"

"_It's none of your business!_" she screamed, and the man gave a soft
groan. She fell on him, hugging him. "Oh, Father, you're going to be

"Here now --" Meier put a hand on her shoulder, and she pulled herself
away from his touch and stood, blood and tears and all, defying him with
reddened eyes.

"Leave him alone! Haven't you done enough?!"

"No," Meier said softly. "I don't think I have. Very well; I won't hurt
him any more. But ... he really is your father?"

"Of course he is!"

"What's your name, girl?"

"Charlotte." It was a whisper of fury. "Charlotte Elbourne."

Somehow that caught him, the woman's saying her name. Charlotte Elbourne
was not much shorter than he; she would have been a fine figure of a
woman without blood smearing her face, and with her deep brown hair in
neat plaits, instead of flown all astray, a little plastered to one
cheek by drying blood. Her eyes ... Meier had to tear his own eyes away
then, for the red rims surrounded orbs of polished amber that he
_wanted_ to look at ... and he had other things to look at.

"Charlotte Elbourne, I'll do him no more harm. But I _won't_ have you
treated so shamefully. Out of my way -- no, stop that; I don't need to
lay a hand on him."

Usually vampires gave their hypnosis its full force by biting victims
and drinking their blood. Meier had _drawn_ blood: a trickle ran from
the slack mouth beneath a heavy white mustache; it mixed with saliva in
a small pool on the floor. But Meier had no wish to taste this man's
blood, or come into contact with any part of him. He furrowed his brow,
summoning the telekinetic power of his aura; to Meier's relief, it had
the desired effect of bringing the man to semi-consciousness. And that
was all he needed.

"Hear the voice of truth," he said, his own voice ringing with
conviction. "Your daughter Charlotte Elbourne is a good girl. You do not
want to harm her. You _cannot_ harm her. She is sweet and gentle, and
everything that befits a woman of her station, she should have. You will
always know these things."

Meier's head fell forward; the effort of waking the man and holding his
mind without the taking of blood to support it had been immense. An
uncanny prickling under his skin made him look up -- and he gasped and
backed away, nearly stumbling and finally catching himself on the window
frame. Charlotte Elbourne had wiped some of the blood off her face, and
somewhere she had found a cross -- a tiny pendant on a gold chain, but
it was enough. She held it up with an unsteady hand.

"Get out!" Her voice was something between a snarl and a sob. "Go back
to hell where you belong!"

Meier made no argument but turned and launched himself from the window
ledge, arms melding to cape with a speed that surprised even him. His
wingtips barely touched the lawn in the single downstroke that pushed
him properly into flight. He felt cold to his bones. The antipathy
between crosses and vampires was ancient, unexplained -- and for his
kind, eerie. Were they, as the humans said, spawn of hell? Meier doubted
that there was such a place as hell, for all the store the humans seemed
to set by the idea of it. But the discomfort that the tiny trinket
inspired in him was no myth, and he was glad to be away from it.

Vampires were creatures of earth, and Meier wanted that solid and
reassuring touch beneath his feet just now. He landed near the edge of a
field and within easy sight of his castle's towers, and wrapped his cape
about himself. The evening's events flowed and re-flowed through his
mind, and he tried to grasp what had passed so quickly and so
disturbingly. He didn't know what to make of the man's mental state or
his acts. He hadn't been punishing the girl for any real misdeed; Meier
had no idea what made him so sure of that, but he was. And yet the girl
-- Charlotte Elbourne -- had defended her attacker, her father. It was,
he supposed, something to do with the peculiarities of the human mind or
emotions; humans were vulnerable to each other, and somehow drawn and
even attached to each other, in a way foreign to vampire nature.

She loved him. He had struck her and drawn her blood, and she loved him.
Meier pulled his cape more tightly about himself at the thought, so
incongruous -- that _he_ had no desire to hurt her, despite the rich
scent of blood in the air, but she had driven him away, even though --

Meier wondered why the thought of it pulled at something within him, so
that the cocoon of his wings and the very strength of the earth gave no

 * * *

Perhaps it was as well that Meier knew no other vampires to ask about
such things. The likely response would have been scornful amusement at
concern over the affairs of humans, and downright hilarity at surprise
that one human would ill-treat another. Humans had always had a talent,
and a penchant, for cruelty. Meier first thought he'd rather never see
the place again -- not the room where glass and blood had fallen, not
the ugly tree, not even the town full of lights that he had skirted to
fly there. His castle he understood: he knew every inch of its halls and
towers, every crack in the surface of every painting, every thread in
the weave of every tapestry. He loved his home, even though he had grown
weary of knowing it so well over the centuries. Previously it had always
been a shelter, and he found comfort in that familiarity. Comfort eluded
him now. The girl's sobs and the spurt of her blood, the near-dizziness
of exercising influence, and then being driven out even though he'd made
no move, no threat against her...

It was a house like any human house, now with the quiescence of sleep,
for it had taken Meier a large portion of the night to screw his courage
to the sticking point and travel there. In fact, he had previously made
several abortive flights, but his wings, like his resolve, had faltered
before he completed the journey. The mansion was surrounded by a sort of
park -- carefully tended grass, stone-lined walkways that crunched
softly underfoot, great trees like the one he had perched in that night
-- well, trees the same size. But the park did not afford him a
particularly good view of _her_ window, and at last, somewhat timidly,
he made his way to the twisted old tree. He didn't need his wings; he
simply leaped up to the limb that served as a perch, and his grip grew
rigid. The broken window had been repaired -- and the tiny cross that
Charlotte had held glittered on one of the sashes, its chain twisted
about a finishing nail.

Meier trembled a little. He had come all this way to see ... to see that
the woman was all right, he thought, for he desperately wanted her to
be. And _this_ greeted him -- the cross, and behind it drapes pulled

He had to catch some bit of her. If not sight--

Meier dropped down from the tree and traversed the lawn cat-silent to
place his ear against the wall below her room. There were all the soft
noises of a house -- mice and moths and settling beams -- and the gentle
rhythm of humans breathing as they slept. The breathing he could hear
best was hers -- it had to be. It was so near, and no other was. Meier
leaned on the wall and listened, his own eyes shut as he imagined the
rise and fall of her chest, the smoothness of her face -- without the
smear of blood he had seen -- the scent of her skin -- he _could_ scent
her now, and he inhaled that freshness of youth.

He wished he could see her. Just _see_ her. Even sleeping. Surely she
wouldn't keep the curtains closed always.

To prove this, Meier nerved himself to make his visits to the house
earlier in the evening. Like most vampires, he was patient; he knew he
literally had forever. He frankly hoped the little cross would fall down
or deteriorate, or be removed in the process of cleaning or painting or
some other homely procedure. But the cross, it seemed, was as persistent
as he, and Meier kept his distance and averted his eyes as he stood
vigil in the evenings and heard the household go to sleep. From time to
time he _did_ wish he had tasted her blood, for that would have given
him a tenuous connection to her mind. He could have willed her to open
the window, to look out and speak to him, tell him she was all right
now, tell him she was safe and happy...

But he didn't want to command her or even influence her. Whatever she
did, he wanted it to be her own doing. Even if it was drawn drapes and a
cross at her window.

And one night as Meier walked somewhat dejectedly in the park, it did
happen. He heard, even through the glass and at that distance, the soft
hiss of rings on the curtain rod; he stopped in his tracks, face
lighting up with hope, and didn't run but _teleported_ in a blink to the
lawn under that dark window. Charlotte was there -- evidently she'd been
unable to sleep and was gazing into the night.

Now that Meier's hopes were realized -- at least in part -- he scarcely
knew how to proceed. And so he stood and looked. The branches of the
great tree broke the moonlight to uneven shadows; Meier had no way of
knowing that he was effectively camouflaged and thus concealed from
human eyes, or he might not have been able to gaze for so long on that
sad and somewhat sleepy but still beautiful face. It never occurred to
him that it was rude to stare, even unseen. He drank in the sight
unmoving -- and his knees went a little weak when she actually opened
the window and leaned on the sill to look out.

"Charlotte." When she didn't respond, he realized he had barely
whispered; his mouth was dry, his throat tight, and he swallowed and
tried again. "Charlotte?"

All vestiges of sleepiness vanished from her face as she gave a little
screech and glanced about wildly, looking for the source of the
unexpected voice. Meier's alarm nearly mirrored her own, and he quickly
stepped nearer. "Charlotte, it's all right. I won't hurt you."

When Meier moved, Charlotte was able to pick out his form amid the other
pale shapes of moonlight, and she blanched almost moon-pale herself.

"Yes." Meier kept his voice soft, even though he could not altogether
prevent it from trembling.

"What -- what do you want?" Fear and anger mingled oddly in her tone.

"To see that you're safe," Meier replied. "That's all."

"Why couldn't you have left us alone! You're a monster!"

"I couldn't --" His voice faltered, fell nearly to a whisper. "I
couldn't watch what I saw ... and leave that alone." Then, tone even
lower: "There are monstrosities that my kind has no part in."

Charlotte may not have heard his last statement; he had indeed spoken
very softly, and she was crying now. "Father could have _died_ because
of you. You broke his back!"

Meier wouldn't have regretted it if he had done considerably worse, but
it didn't seem prudent to mention as much. He softly said, "He could
have done you great injury."

"I would have been all right! My arm healed after --" Charlotte stopped
in mid-sentence; the history of her father's abuse didn't bolster her
position. "Because of you, my father will never walk again."

Meier looked at her eyes. "Because of me, your father will never beat
you again."

With an inarticulate cry of rage, Charlotte slammed the window shut --
Meier noted bitterly that the little cross held firm -- fastened it with
a snap, and yanked the drapes closed as well. They trembled as if
bristling with her anger -- or shaking with the sobs Meier could plainly
hear, muted as they were. They tore at him, drawing his own face taut in
the moonlight. He stood unmoving on the lawn until long after they
ceased -- and that was long -- and indeed, through Charlotte's several
unsuccessful attempts to fall asleep, until her breathing was quiet at

Meier wished peace would fall to his heart so quickly.

 * * *

End part 1 of 6

Part 2
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