Alfred woke up. It was dark around him, he couldn’t see anything and was smothered all around by something dry and familiar-smelling. He had a sense that everything was different, and what he felt around him didn’t seem to match with that sense at all. It took him a while to remember everything. Oh yes. He was sleeping in a hay barn because… Well, there had been that affair with the castle, the vampires, the ball… and Sarah. Sarah biting him. His flesh gave a thrill at the memory of her fangs on his throat and her mouth sucking out his blood so sweetly. He savoured the memory for a while. It had been an… awakening experienced. Now there seemed to be all sorts of parts of him existing that he hadn’t really known before. It was funny.
And the hay… They had needed a shelter somewhere before the sunrise, and it had been the best thing available when only miles of snowy Transylvanian wilderness stretched out around them. Either the hay barn or an underground cellar, and Sarah had objected to sleeping in the stench of mouldy potatoes and carrots. So they had dug themselves into hay, figuring it would shield them from daylight and inquiring eyes for long enough.
He started digging himself out of the hay and emerged on the top of the pile a moment later. Sarah was still in there; he dug in the hay for a bit until he revealed her head and shoulders. He stopped for a while to admire her loveliness as she slept and marvel at his luck.
He ran his tongue tentatively over his teeth and felt the sharp little fangs where his canine teeth had been. It felt queer. He wondered when he’d get used to them.
He wondered if he should wake Sarah up. Maybe he would first see if it was really night. He wasn’t exactly used to being a vampire yet, maybe he wouldn’t wake up at the right moment naturally.
Being a vampire. That was an odd thought. He had feared it so much and now… he was it. Last night, in the thrill of new sensations and the hunt for his first blood, he hadn’t thought much about it, or about anything. But now that he felt a little calmer…
He scrambled off the hay pile and went to the door. He opened it carefully and peeked his head out, looking at the Transylvanian winter night around him.
It was cold and fields of white, sparkling snow spread out around him. The tiny cottage near the barn was dark, its occupants presumably asleep. The sky was filled with stars and a waning moon was rising above the forest. He supposed he should get used to night. Didn’t vampires mainly live by night? He wondered if he would miss daylight. Could vampires also be awake during the day if they wanted? He thought back to what he had learned from the Professor, but there were different theories on that. He wondered if Sarah knew. Maybe they should have stayed somewhere with more experienced vampires to guide them.
Sarah was stirring now. He turned to see her sit up in the hay and look at him, picking bits of dry hay out of her hair.
“Mmm, what is it?” she said sleepily. “Alfred?” She sounded a little surprised. “Oh yes… Yes, of course.” She laughed. “Alfred. Yes. How are we tonight?”
“I… It’s night.” He pointed to the darkness outside. Evidently being a vampire hadn’t made him much better at expressing himself to Sarah.
“Yes. Good. Come back here, will you? Oh, I’ve got bits of hay all over. We’ll have to find something better next. But no matter now.”
Alfred returned to her, climbing on the hay pile to sit next to her. He put his arm around her shoulders. “Are you feeling well?”
“Mmm, yes. Just a little…” She eyed him intently. Her eyes suddenly seemed to fix themselves on the partly healed wound on his neck. And without a warning she grabbed him and threw herself upon him, her fangs tearing the wound open again.
For a while he lost himself in the sweet, pain-filled pleasure of her sucking his blood. Then she threw him down on his back in the hay.
“I’ve waited long enough,” she said. “I’ve tasted blood, but not yet passion. Not that passion.” And she began to undress him without further question. Alfred didn’t think he could have objected to her in any way – not that he wanted to, either. He gazed at her in awe as she removed his shirt and then his trousers, and felt with sweet tremors as she caressed him with lovely, nimble hands. She gathered her wide skirts in her hands enough to reveal white, beautifully shaped legs, and straddled him, leaning low over him so that her alluring bosom was almost completely revealed by the low-cut neckline of her dress. Feeling deep hunger quite different from bloodlust, he let his hands explore that lovely soft skin, drawing some approving sounds from her though he had only vague ideas of how to touch a girl like her. She descended upon him, kissed him deep, and with one hand and much movement of her hips helped him pull up her skirts completely.
What followed was a lovely union that was both like and completely unlike the experience of her biting him and pulling him into the darkness with her. As Alfred moved and sighed in throes of pleasure, he wondered – to the extent he could think at all – why he hadn’t done this already when he was human. On the other hand, there clearly were great advantages in being turned into a vampire. Girls certainly hadn’t thrown themselves upon him like this when he was human, and now, less than a day after being bitten, here he was… Oh…
Afterwards he wanted to hold her and whisper endearments to her, but she didn’t put up with it for long. She got up, straightened her skirts and began to pick out pieces of hay from her dress and hair again.
“We must return to the castle tonight,” she announced while he was still getting over the daze of the loveliness of his deflowering.
“I need more clothes. I can’t move all across Europe in midwinter with just this. It’s impractical and will get horribly torn before we’re anywhere where I need to look presentable.”
“But… Couldn’t you get clothes elsewhere? From the people living around here, perhaps?”
She scoffed. “From these peasants? I’m not wearing anything like that anymore, not when I could be a Countess if I wanted. What do you have against returning there, anyway?”
“The… The Count is there.”
Sarah laughed. “You silly – you aren’t still afraid of him, are you?”
“No…” Well, Alfred wasn’t sure if he was, but he figured it was not a good idea to tell Sarah anyway. “But… He will think he has a claim on you.”
“So?” She smiled. “Are you jealous?”
Alfred blinked. “Why… Of course. Shouldn’t I be?”
“Oh, what does it matter if I amuse myself with him a bit? There’ll be plenty of diversion for you. I heard Herbert was the most upset when you wouldn’t accent his… friendship. Wouldn’t you like to see if you would enjoy knowing him better now?”
Alfred would have blushed if vampires had tended to blush. It was true that Herbert had been awfully nice to him and he hadn’t really been appreciative. He had been so naive and inexperienced then… Alfred felt a sudden new understanding about the whole encounter. Perhaps he should find out if he would like Herbert better after his… awakening. He suddenly felt quite sure he would.
“And Magda is there, too,” Sarah continued. “I believe she was quite fond of you, and I’m sure she’ll get tired of sleeping with Dad soon when she sees what pretties there are available.”
Alfred would have blushed again. There definitely were things about Magda that caused funny feelings in him. He discovered something that would have surprised and embarrassed the bashful young student he had still been yesterday: that he didn’t really mind the idea of experimenting all kinds of pleasant things with many different nice and beautiful people. In fact, it felt like a thrilling idea.
Sarah smiled, having interpreted his expression correctly. “Good. It’s settled, then. Of course we won’t stay there for long. There’s a whole wide world for us to explore!”
“I’d like to take you to Königsberg,” Alfred said eagerly. He so much wanted her to see his home town… and it occurred to him he now would have lovely ways of revenging against everyone who had ever treated him contemptuously.
“Königsberg?” Sarah laughed. “I suppose that’s nice… But first I want to go to Paris. Or Vienna. I suppose Budapest will be the first stop on our journey.”
Alfred watched the beautifully devilish gleam in her eyes, the movement of those luscious red lips, and suddenly wanted very much to repeat the recent experience. He leaned close to her. “Can’t we stay a while longer here in the hay?”
She firmly pushed his hand off her waist and started picking up his clothes and throwing them to him. “No. Get dressed. I want to get back to the castle before the night is over.” She glanced at him and smiled. “Come on. We’ll have a real bed there.” She chuckled to herself a bit as she tossed his coat to him. “A four-poster bed… Won’t that be interesting… Unless Herbert wants him first…”
Alfred had to content himself with this promise and wonder what she meant about the four-poster bed. “I suppose it’s good we return to the castle,” he said. “The Professor has our map, all of mine are in the bag and I had to leave it in the castle. I don’t think I’d know the way to Budapest without a map. From there we can just get on a train, of course. And I’ve got your sponge in the bag, too.” And some crucifixes and garlic, but he supposed they’d get rid of them somehow.
“Excellent,” Sarah replied. “I wouldn’t want to make such a long journey without a sponge.”
When Alfred was dressed – he offered his coat to Sarah for warmth, but she pointed out she didn’t need warmth and the coat wouldn’t go with her dress – they left, crossing through the barn to avoid being seen should anyone be looking from the cottage despite it being night. When they walked through the part that had the animals, passing the cows and the horse, the smell of warm blood tickled Alfred’s senses. He made a quick move towards them. But Sarah stopped him.
“No, you’ve had enough for a while. We don’t need to get all farmers here after us right away. The milk-maid you drank from last night should be enough.”
It was a disappointment, but he supposed she was right. When they walked out, Alfred pondered: “Do you think she’ll be all right? That milk-maid?”
Sarah rolled her eyes. “Of course. Sooner or later she’ll die and become a vampire like us. Why wouldn’t she be all right? If she suffers a bit meanwhile, who cares? You’re still so sentimental.”
Well, perhaps he was. But so much had changed in a short time. He supposed that with all the bloodlust and sharp teeth and loss of well-bred schoolboy inhibitions, he had to hold onto some things. It was so much more comfortable that way. He wondered if he could find his old coat in the castle. He would like it better than this borrowed one.
As they walked in the starry night, leaving the barn behind as quickly as they could, he said: “You know, Sarah… Even if you want to have fun with the Count, and if I… try out some things… You know I’ll still be devoted to you. Always.”
“Yes, I expect you will be. How sweet of you.” Somehow he thought she wasn’t quite as thrilled as she could have been, but well, she was now used to being worshipped by counts. He would somehow have to show her he was worth just as much as any Count. He wasn’t yet sure how he would do that, but he felt very resourceful. He would do it somehow.
Under the rising moon they started making their way back towards the castle.