Oh, do you care?

I still feel for you

So aware, what should be lost is there


I fear I will never find anyone

I know my greatest pain is yet to come

Will we find each other in the dark?

My long lost love


From "Beauty of the Beast" by Nightwish

Lyrics by Tuomas Holopainen




Chapter Three

Need and Loss


I am a monster! A hideous, wretched beast!

In my long existence, I have been called that and worse. But last night — last night I truly lived up to such words. Even now I still burn with the shame of what I've done. If only I could go back and undo the past! Oh my beloved — please forgive me. For how can I look upon you again, knowing what I've done — what I could have done? I never should have sought you out. I never should have opened up my heart. Vampires cannot love — we only take and destroy. Oh my precious Charlotte . . . how could you ever love a monster?


Once again, I crouched outside the windows of the sitting room of the Elbourne home. Like so many nights before, I had come for a glimpse of my beloved Charlotte — a chance to hear her voice, to see the light in her eyes, and feel the pull of her heart to mine. Yes, my beloved — who knows nothing of me or the fire that burns within my soul. It has been several weeks since I first saw her and I have returned here every night since.

Stealing towards the lighted window, I saw that the room was empty. Once this would have disappointed me, but over time I learned that Charlotte did not sit and read to her father every night. Sometimes she would retire to the room alone and read quietly to herself, or sit and write letters. Some nights she did not come into the room at all. As I looked in, my sensitive ears detected voices within the house; and closing my eyes, I focused on the sound. Moving silently, I found myself on the small wrought iron balcony outside of the family dining room. Carefully peering through the glass, I saw Charlotte, her father and a young man seated at the table.

". . . and there was Jack, saddle and all, sitting on the ground while his horse was running down the street!" The young man laughed as he finished.

Charlotte blushed and laughed behind the hand she had raised to her mouth, "Oh, how embarrassing!" How sweetly did she blush and her laughter rang like a small, clear bell.

"I wish I could have been there to see the look on Jack's face — I bet it was priceless!" Mr. Elbourne laughed. The young man nodded his head, "It was! We never let him live it down the whole trip back!" Charlotte shook her head. "You're merciless Alan. You're all very lucky he didn't shoot you."

"Jack? Nah, he was a good sport about." Mr. Elbourne agreed, "Yes, Jack Turner is a good man — very easy going. He probably laughed along with you." The other man nodded his head in response. Charlotte's father reached for a box on the table near him. Lifting the lid, he reached in and brought out two cigars.

I watched as Charlotte put her hand on the young man's arm. "I'm so glad your home, Alan. I missed you." She smiled at him and I felt a spark of something cold flicker within.

The man, Alan, put his hand over Charlotte's. "You don't know how good it is to be back, Char — it turned out to be a much longer trip than I thought." He patted her hand before releasing it and I clenched my jaw as the coldness grew.

Charlotte watched as her father handed Alan one of the cigars. With a small grimace of distaste, she rose from her seat and moved towards the French doors that led to the balcony. "If you two are going to smoke those foul things, then I must insist on having some fresh air in here." She undid the lock and cracked the door open. "I don't know how you can stand the smell."

"Charlotte! It's night — you can't leave the door open." Mr. Elbourne protested. "Father, I can't sit in here with the two of you if you're going to smoke." She replied, returning to her seat. Alan lit his cigar, "It's alright. I think we can leave it open just a little — what harm could it cause for a few minutes?" Mr. Elbourne shrugged his shoulders and lit his own cigar.

Narrowing my eyes, I watched Alan as he reached under the table and brought up a small box and held it out to Charlotte. "What's this?" She took the box with a puzzled look in her eyes. "You did tell me to bring you something back," the young man answered.

"I was only joking; I didn't think that you really would." Charlotte undid the wrapping on the box and removed the lid — something glittered in the light. "Oh Alan — they're beautiful!" I watched as she lifted a pair of gold earrings from the box and held them up so that her father could see them.

"Look! They almost match mother's ring." Charlotte held the earrings next to her hand, comparing them with the ring on her finger. Mr. Elbourne gave them a critical look, "Yes, very nice."

Putting the earrings back in the box, Charlotte turned and embraced the young man at her side. "Thank you, Alan. I love them — they're absolutely perfect." Alan smiled and hugged her back. "I thought you might like them." Charlotte kissed his cheek before she pulled away and I heard my own breath as it hissed between my teeth.

No! Turning from the scene, I clenched my fists. I could feel the black coldness of jealousy as it crept into my heart. I never even thought that my beautiful Charlotte could already have another suitor. Suitor — me? Hah! What a joke. What court have I paid to my lady love? Spying on her at night? Dreaming of her radiance as I rest during the day? I should have known that this would never work. Charlotte is the bright warm sunlight and I am the cold lonely darkness. Fate never meant for us to be together as one. Crushed, I was about to leave when I heard the man, Alan, speaking again.

"So Father, what's been happening in town while I've been away?"

Father — did he just say Father?

Spinning around, I looked back into the room. My gaze fell on the young man and I looked at him more closely. Yes! I could see the resemblance between him and Charlotte. How could I have missed it before? His hair was lighter in color, but his eyes and the shape of his face were the same. Even some of his mannerisms were the same. A brother! Alan was Charlotte's brother! I could feel my heart getting lighter and the coldness began to leave me. Oh my beautiful, precious one. How could I have ever doubted for a second that you were not meant to be mine?

With a sense of relief and hope, I continued my hidden surveillance of the Elbourne family.


It was past midnight when Charlotte finally bid her father and brother goodnight. I had followed the three from the dining room to the sitting room; once again taking up my post by the window. Charlotte and her brother talked and laughed as they engaged in a game of chess; while Mr. Elbourne watched and commented on their play.

I felt a sadness grow within myself as I watched them together. For some odd reason, I found myself missing my own family — a family I had not seen, nor thought about for over five centuries. I tried to recall the faces of my own parents and siblings, but found that I could not. When I had changed and become a vampire, I had left all thoughts and cares about them behind — just as I had left the place of my birth behind and went in search of my own lands. Why, after all this time, should I think of them now? I was a bit disconcerted and tried to push those thoughts from my mind by watching Charlotte as she played the game.

With a smile and a triumphant "Checkmate," my love quickly trounced her brother. I smiled at her skillful play; noting her keen strategy. Alan looked a little disappointed, but congratulated her on the win. After putting away the chess pieces, the family said goodnight to one another and retired to their respective rooms.

I will confess that it had not taken me long to discover which bedroom was my dear Charlotte's. For all that I am a fearsome creature of the night, I was once and do still consider myself to be a gentleman. As such, I have allowed my love as much privacy as possible while she is within the walls of her bedroom. Though my desire for her grows with each day, I will not reduce myself to wanton voyeurism.

Yes, I know — I watch her through windows every night — but I refuse to lower myself further by spying on her while she is in a less than presentable state of dress. Even were I still a mere human, I would not take advantage of my position to gape like an inexperienced youth at Charlotte's perfect form. No, when I behold the beauty that is my love for the first time, I want to treasure it like a gift beyond price and measure . . . I want her to know that I worship her like the goddess that she is . . . I want it to be perfect. So, I will be patient and afford my love her modesty . . . there will be time enough for me to admire Charlotte's hidden charms once they are finally revealed.

I waited patiently until the light within Charlotte's room finally went out. After perhaps fifteen or twenty minutes, I dared a glance through the sheer panels that covered her window. As I have said before, becoming a vampire has given me sharper senses, increased strength, the ability to alter my form and the power to control humans with my will and mind. Vampires also experience emotions, such as pain and pleasure, at a deeper level than most humans. I have often wondered over the past few weeks, if perhaps this is what has caused me to become so enamored of Charlotte. I know in my heart that I love her, but sometimes my feelings are so strong that they threaten to overwhelm me. I want her to love me, but I will not force my will on her to make it so. But I am so afraid that she will reject me . . . no, that she will fear and hate me. But what choice do I have? I am what I am. I can only present myself to her and let her make her choice. But will she see only Meier Link, the fearsome vampire; or will she be able — and willing — to look beyond that; to see Meier Link, a man who is in love with her? I will have to put my trust in her and hope that she will not run screaming in terror at the sight of me. I don't think that I could bear that . . .

Looking into Charlotte's room, I could see her snuggled under the covers of her bed. Her hair was spread out across the pillow and I could discern her slow, steady breathing. So beautiful she looked, like the sleeping beauty in that ancient tale; waiting for the kiss of her beloved prince to awaken her. Oh my precious one, how I longed to be that prince — gently brushing my lips across yours — watching your beautiful amber eyes as they fluttered open. Closing my eyes, I bit back the desire that I could feel rising. No — not yet — the time will come, but not yet . . .

Opening my eyes, I looked back at Charlotte's sleeping form. Reaching out my senses towards her, I could detect the steady beat of her heart and the pulse of the blood in her veins. At the thought of her sweet rich blood, I felt the slightest stirring of the hunger within me. I had discovered in recent weeks, that it was easier for me to be around Charlotte when I had already fed. Contrary to what most mortals believe, vampires do not have to feed every night. I myself have been able to go for as long as a week before having to feed again. It is not an easy thing to do, but it can be done. However, I usually make sure that I feed every two or three days. Too well do I remember the battle within myself that first night; and I have no desire to experience it again. I make sure that the hunger is satisfied before making my nightly visits to the Elbourne house.

It had been two nights since my last feeding, and ordinarily that should have been sufficient. But tonight — tonight I could feel the hunger as it once again tried to resist my will. I could sense the cold tendrils of need as they snaked out towards Charlotte. Gathering my strength, I tried to pull them back inside, but was unable to. In horror, I felt the hunger as it wrapped itself around my love's sleeping body. With clenched fists, I pooled my will and once again tried to rein the hunger in. I could feel the sweat on my brow as I waged war with the primal force that drove my very existence. A small cry escaped my lips as the last vestiges of my strength fell away and the hunger roared in triumph as it coiled around Charlotte.

Panting, I watched as the hunger's power took over and my beloved opened her eyes and rose from her bed. As she walked towards the window where I crouched, I could see the emptiness in Charlotte's eyes and knew that the hunger held and commanded her. Reaching the window, she unbolted the lock with trembling hands. As the panes opened, I could feel the hunger as it pulled at me — demanding to be satisfied. No longer under my own control, I stepped into the room.

After weeks of waiting and hoping, I was finally near enough to touch the woman that had stolen my heart. But it was not the tender touch of a lover that she was to receive, but the deadly burning kiss of my bloodlust. How I wanted to scream out and break that unbearable spell. But the hunger had me in its thrall just as tightly as it held Charlotte. Unable to resist, I reached up my hand and gently stroked Charlotte's cheek. My fingers drifted down until their tips lightly rested on the throbbing pulse within her neck. Closing my eyes, I savored the almost erotic beat of her heart. Bending my head down, I gently brushed my lips down the side of her neck, breathing in the scents of woman and blood. Just a small taste, the hunger urged. Yes, I agreed; just a few mouthfuls. My lips once again brushed against the pulsing vein in Charlotte's throat.

As my lips parted, I felt the hunger slip for just a second — and that second was all I needed. Pushing myself away from Charlotte, I clamped my will down on the hunger one last time. Shaking from the strain, I slid to my knees as I felt my strength give out. I could feel the hunger as it burned inside of me and with one last cry, I squeezed my will around it and closed off its power. I gasped for breath and put my head down between my knees. I was shaking and I found it very hard to stop. I couldn't remember ever feeling so strained and weak; not since my earliest days as a vampire, surely. Those first few months after the change were the hardest; and more than one newly changed vampire has walked out into the sun to escape the pain and madness. The bloodlust is almost uncontrollable and those that can overcome it, and control it, never forget it.

As I knelt on the floor trying to recover my strength, I heard a small sound. Looking up, I saw Charlotte's eyes flutter. Cursing myself, I managed to catch her as she slid to floor, no longer held by the hunger's power. As I clutched her to my chest, I silently cried out my shame. I had almost destroyed her — the woman that meant more to me than perhaps even my own life. How could I ever hope that she could love me now? I now knew that I could never trust myself not to take her — no matter how many promises and vows I made. How many more times could I fight against myself — against the hunger that was my very nature — before I lost? No, this had to stop — it had to stop tonight. I would not condemn Charlotte to the same cold, dark existence that I lived. She deserved better — she deserved a chance to be happy and free.

Oh my love — my beautiful one — I'm so sorry. I never wanted to hurt you; I only wanted to love you. But I can't ever love — vampires aren't allowed to love. Oh Charlotte . . . I'm sorry, so sorry . . .


So I held Charlotte in my arms and cursed myself for the wretched animal that I knew myself to be. When I finally found my strength again, I gathered her up in my arms and returned her to bed. After pulling up the bed coverings, I let my fingers gently brush across her cheek one last time. At my light touch, her eyes slowly opened.

"W-w-who are you?" There was confusion in both her eyes and her voice. I looked away from her eyes, not wanting her to see too much of my features. "I'm just a dream Charlotte — you're dreaming."

"Dreaming? N-n-no . . . this is too real to be a dream."

"But it is a dream. You'll wake up in the morning and realize it." I let my eyes glance down at her.

"Will I remember you?" Her voice sounded far away and I could see that she was falling back asleep. "I-I-want to remember you."

Closing my eyes at her words, I bit my lip and was silent for a moment. Turning towards her, I took her hand in mine. "I'd like for you to remember me Charlotte, but it would be best if you didn't." Letting go of her hand, I bent down and brushed my lips across her forehead, "But I'll always remember you Charlotte Elbourne . . . I'll hold you in my heart for eternity."

She was on the verge of sleep and her voice was a whisper, "Won't . . . forget . . . you."

I stayed and watched her for a few more moments. I could feel the coldness creeping back into my heart and I welcomed it, for it numbed the pain. With a weary sigh, I turned and went back out the window, shutting the panes behind me.


I am a monster — an uncontrollable beast, a thing to be despised and hated. Cursed to loneliness and despair for all eternity — it's only what I deserve, I know that now. For the first time in nearly five centuries, I once again hated myself and what I had become.

Chapter 4
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