It felt like it had happened in an instant.
One moment, Vlad was sitting between his wife’s legs, encouraging her to push as he saw the baby start to crown. The next moment, a fragile, tiny infant was in his hands.
Lisa propped herself up on her elbows, panting and shaking, “V-Vlad… Is it okay…?”
“It’s… it’s a boy.” he responded, confused and shocked.
It wasn’t breathing, but he wasn’t sure what that meant. It was half-vampire... did he even need to breathe?
That question was answered when it began to turn blue.
“He’s not breathing…” he gasped in fear, “Lisa, he’s not breathing!”
Upon hearing those words, Lisa sprung into action, despite her exhausted and pained state, taking the baby, laying him down, grabbing a sheet and rubbing him with it.
Vlad jumped off the bed, running to his desk and returning with a small pipette, sucking the fluid out of the baby’s nose and mouth.
“ Come on, come on, come on…” Lisa muttered over and over as they both worked frantically to save their child.
Minutes passed, and just when they were about to lose all hope, the baby began to cough.
“There we go!” Lisa exclaimed as she lifted the baby to her chest, patting it’s back.
The baby coughed a few more times, before crying loudly.
“Thank goodness…” Vlad sighed in relief, pulling his wife into an embrace as they both cried tears of joy.
Lisa ran inside the cottage as fast as she could, soaked from the rain.
“There you are!” Vlad exclaimed as he ran to her side, helping her take off her cloak, “I was starting to worry!”
“I’m fine.” she insisted as she looked around the room, “Where’s the baby?”
“He laid down for a nap.” Vlad said, “I’ll go make you some tea.”
Lisa watched as her husband went to the kitchen, before walking carefully into the nursery and peering into the crib. She smiled softly as she saw her son bundled in fur blankets and sleeping soundly.
She gently ran her knuckle down his cheek, before returning to the kitchen, “He looks so peaceful.” she thought out loud as she sat at the table, “I wonder what he dreams about.”
“Interesting question.” Vlad said as he sat, handing her the cup of tea , “Dreams are made from things we know and feel, and a baby’s understandings of those things are very limited.” he paused, putting his chin on his hand in thought, “So he could dream about basic things like eating or playtime. Then again, we don’t know how babies interpret these things, so he could be experiencing unique perspectives that we will never know about, and that he will never remember.”
“I wonder if he dreams about us.” Lisa pondered, “We’re part of his everyday life, so it’s more than likely, right?”
“I’d say so.” Vlad agreed, “By the way, how was Ms. Willow?”
“Oh, her infection is clearing up and her fever went down significantly, but her brother will not stop standing over me.” she groaned annoyed, pinching the bridge of her nose, “He insists on making sure I’m not doing ‘devil magic’ or anything of the sort.”
“I guess there are some people who you just can’t teach.” Vlad scoffed, before looking up suddenly, “Do you hear that?”
He immediately stood up, rushing to the nursery and pushing open the door, gasping.
“Vlad, what’s wrong!?” Lisa yelled, running to his side, What’s-!?” she froze as soon as she saw it.
In the crib was a small grey wolf pup in place of their son, with golden eyes that could belong to no other being on earth, teething and gnawing on the bars of the crib.
“Dear…?” Lisa whispered in disbelief, “Is that… is that Adrian?”
Vlad nodded slowly, staring with wide eyes at the pup, which had begun to bark happily upon seeing it’s parents.
Swallowing hard, Lisa walked over to the crib, taking the blanket and picking up her son with it.
Adrian immediately began to lick his mother’s face, happily cuddling against her and wagging his tail.
She laughed a bit, before noticing that Vlad hadn’t moved and inch, and was still staring at the crib in shock.
“Love, are you alright?”
“I…” he took a deep breath, “That crib was very expensive…”
The couple was tending to the garden as usual as their two year old son sat between them, drawing lines in the dirt with a stick and eating strawberries his mother had picked for him.
“Hey Adrian, look at this!” Vlad smiled, taking some off of a leaf and holding it in his hands.
Adrian scooted closer to his father, watching curiously he lowered his hands and revealed a little caterpillar.
“Bug!” Adrian gasped, watching amazed as it crawled around his father’s hand.
“Interesting, isn’t it?” Vlad chuckled, “Now, it doesn’t look like much, but this tiny thing will grow into a beautiful butterfly.”
It didn’t even seem like Adrian heard his father, as he was completely entranced by the creature.
“Would you like to hold it?” Vlad asked.
Adrian looked up and nodded, smiling excitedly.
“Alright, hold out your hands.” Vlad instructed as he gently picked up the caterpillar and placed it in his son’s hand. At first, he froze, a little unsure how to react, then he began to giggle happily, showing his mother, “Lookit, lookit!”
“I see, I see.” Lisa assured her son, “Why don’t we let him go near the forest? I’m sure he’ll like the leaves on the bushes there rather than the ones in our garden.”
“Okay.” Adrian nodded, smiling brightly as his mother picked him up and took him to the forest’s edge.
“Alright.” she said as she put him down, “Say ‘Goodbye’ and put him down on that bush there.”
Adrian nodded and knelt down, letting the caterpillar crawl off of his hand and onto the leaf.
“Bye bye!” he yelled, waving goodbye as his mother carried him back to the garden.
“Dinner is ready.” Vlad said as he opened the door to his son’s room, when he noticed the six year old was nowhere to be seen, “Adrian?”
Suddenly, he heard a giggle come from the ceiling.
Vlad smirked, knowing this game well, “Now, where could that boy have run off to?” he wondered out loud in an exaggerated tone, looking in the closet and under the bed, “How awful, I can’t seem to find him anywhere!” he said, making a show searching every corner of the room as his son’s giggles continued.
“Oh well.” he shrugged, “I guess I’ll have to go and tell his mother that he disappeared.”
“Here I am!” Adrian shouted gleefully as he dropped from the ceiling, landing gracefully on his feet in front of his father.
“There you are!” Vlad laughed as he scooped his son up into his arms and blowing a raspberry on his stomach, causing Adrian giggle and squirm.
“What on earth is going on in here?” Lisa chuckled as she walked, looking slightly confused.
“I was hiding from Papa!” Adrian said as he caught his breath.
“I see.” Lisa hummed in thought, “Dinner is ready, and you better hurry.”
“Why?” Adrian asked, tilting his head as his father put him down.
“Because the Tickle Monster is about to get you two!” she shouted as she ran to her husband, grabbing and tickling him.
“It’s too late for me, Adrian!” Vlad yelled as he let his wife drag him to the floor, “Run! Save yourself!”
Adrian screamed excitedly, running out of the room and down the hall, only to be chased down by his mother.
“Got you!” Lisa shouted gleefully as she lifted him up into the air, holding him close and kissing him all over his face and making him howl with laughter.
“My son!” Vlad shouted as he ran in, hugging his wife from behind and picking both her and his son up with ease, “I’ll save you!”
“Alright, alright.” she laughed as he put them both down, “Let’s go have dinner before it gets cold.”
The raven turned it’s head, curiously looking at the eleven year old who was quietly sitting on the ground a few feet from it.
“It’s okay.” Adrian whispered to it, taking out his sketchbook, “I’m not gonna hurt you.”
Once he thought he was close enough, he took out a charcoal stick and began to sketch the raven.
Both his mother and father encouraged his hobby of drawing, and it was his father who provided him with his beloved sketchbooks.
Adrian was always careful with his sketchbooks, knowing how hard they were to find and expensive they were.
“I think I captured the subject well.” Adrian told the raven, holding his sketchbook up to show it, “Don’t you think so?”
The raven looked at him for a moment, before it cawed and began grooming it’s wings.
“Thought so.” Adrian smiled as he returned to sketching, when suddenly the raven looked up and flew off in a hurry.
“Hey! I wasn’t done!” Adrian yelled at it, before realizing that someone was standing over him.
Looking up, he saw an old man dressed in red and white religious attire, looking down at him with a stern look.
“What are you doing?” the Bishop asked, pointing at the sketchbook.
“I was just drawing.” Adrian said as he showed his sketchbook to him, “See?”
The Bishop snatched the sketchbook from his hands, flipping through the pages and looking at the pictures in thought, before looking back to Adrian, “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you at the church.”
“My father is ill.” he lied, “He can’t leave the house, and my mother cares for him, but we’re sure to pray and read the Bible every Sunday.”
His parents warned him of these people, of religious men who could not be reasoned with under any circumstances, and told exactly what to say in case he came across them.
“I see…” the Bishop hummed, before closing the sketchbook, “I suggest you stay away from such filthy little creatures. They are often signs of bad omens, you know.”
Adrian nodded, pretending to understand, “Yes, sir.”
“I also suggest you focus more on your religious studies if you cannot attend Mass, instead of such useless things.” the Bishop said as he tucked the sketchbook under his arm, “Perhaps then God will help to heal your father.”
Adrian wanted to demand his sketchbook back, wanted to scream and shout at the man.
Instead, he held his tongue, fighting back tears as he watched as the Bishop walked away.
He struggled to not cry as he walked back to his cottage, but by the time he reached the front yard, he was sobbing and hiccuping.
It was dusk by then, and Vlad was in the garden.
As soon as he heard his son’s cries he ran to his side, “Adrian! Are you alright!?”
Adrian looked up, sniffling and wiping his tears, “I…” he paused for a moment, “I dropped my sketchbook in the pond… I’m sorry...”
His father stared at him for a moment, before sighing in relief and pulling his son into an embrace, “Oh, Adrian. It’s alright.” he assures as he stands, “Your mother’s almost done with dinner. Why don’t you go clean yourself up and we’ll have a nice meal?
Adrian nodded, following his father inside where Lisa was setting the table.
“Dinner’s almost ready, did you get the-?” she stopped when she saw her son’s tear soaked face, “Adrian, what happened?”
“He just lost his sketchbook.” Vlad explained.
Lisa sighed in relief as she nodded understandingly, walking to Adrian and kissing his forehead, “Now, now, don’t upset yourself so much. Why don’t you go clean up, and I could warm up some of your favorite jam for you? Does that sound alright by you?”
Adrian nodded before going to the washroom to wash his face. By the time he was done, his mother had already warmed up some grape jam and spread it on his bread for him.
The rest of his night went along normally as the family ate their dinner, and then did their routine of sitting in the living room, telling stories or jokes and even playing a game or two.
Then Adrian yawned, rubbing his eyes tiredly, “I think I’m gonna go to bed.”
“Alright, son.” Vlad smiled as he ruffled his hair, “Don’t forget to braid your hair, you know how knotted it can get if you don’t.”
“Sweet dreams.” Lisa said as he went to his bed room, putting on his nightgown and braiding his hair in front of mirror.
When he laid in bed, he ended up staring at the ceiling for what seemed like forever, until his eyelids became too heavy and he drifted off into dreamland.
Adrian blinked a few times as he woke up, before stretching and groaning, cracking a few bones in the process.
As he sat up and went to the dresser to get some clothes, he suddenly spotted something sitting on top of it.
Looking closer, he saw it was a brand new sketchbook.
As Lisa was double checking all of the curtains to make sure no sun was coming through, her son suddenly burst into the room, leaping onto the bed and right on top of his sleeping father.
“Thank you, Papa!” Adrian shouted, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Vlad opened his eyes lazily, chuckling and reaching up to ruffle his son's hair, “You’re welcome.”
“Why don’t you go and try it out?” Lisa suggested as she gently urged Adrian off of his father.
“Okay!” Adrian agreed, running out the door and out to the garden to sketch some flowers.
She smiled as she watched the door for a moment, before sitting down next to her husband, “You’re so good to him.” she said, running a hand through his hair.
“It’s no problem.” Vlad muttered wrapping his arms around her waist and laying his head in her lap, “I have dozens if not hundreds of sketchbooks at the castle.”
“Still, you probably made his entire week.” Lisa said as she went to stand up, only to feel her husband cling to her and pull her closer, “Vlad?”
“Five more minutes.” he mumbled as he cuddled against her.
“Alright.” she sighed, giving in and laying back down, “Just five more minutes, no more.”