There was a peculiar bite to the air of this strange country. How funny, it seemed, when he had first arrived to think that he was not so far away from where he was meant to be. When he'd first set the soles of his boots down upon the wooden floor of the Golden Krone Hotel, it had been with comforting thoughts of returning to England to find his beautiful Mina there waiting for him. Though he had been beset by oddities and unsettling dreams before then, it was not so far away, this longing and this familiar love which warmed him body and soul. Oh how naive, he thought now. The air which bit him here was the crisp and violent air of the Carpathians, a wind which would follow down the cutting jagged cliffs and swoop down the Borgo Pass until it could settle itself in the weary Bistritz where the Golden Krone survived seemingly a thousand miles away. Its gentle flickering orange lamps and the sharpened dark eyes of the Szekelys who made their homes there like a whole different world to him now. For it was difficult to imagine himself anywhere else. Not when it had been so long.
Or had it been?
How long had he been here? He'd written, surely, he thought. But memory was a difficult thing in so cold and so dark a place and when one wasn't feeling so youthful anymore, it was hard to hold onto how much time had passed. He'd written. But what date had he placed upon his missives? He'd seen the sun rise above the old ridge of the mountains and it was like no other sun he'd seen before. An English sun was like a white light diffused through so many clouds, a gentle glimmer over a gray rain and here? Here was a Transylvanian sun which upon the dawn would rise into a blood red horizon fading upward into a tenuous orange and yellow before it alighted finally and took its place among a soft and graying blue. Sometimes the clouds would gather over the mountains as the air currents would allow and he could see it rain in gentle, undulating waves in the distance.
Once he had seen it rain here through thick, warped glass, dripping down the edges of the stone on the outside of the tall lancet windows which had been heavily draped in his chamber. When he looked out and he saw the gray outside he could recall the gray of London's rain and it was different. Here, the rain was cleaner and clearer, dripping from the heavens without the grime of a city's refuse sent high into the air through soot and smoke and smog. There was something so pure about this place, he thought then, though he was not sure what he thought now.
Now that he had spent what seemed like eons wandering through this place, his fingernails gently scraping along the stonework of the walls, Jonathan Harker could hardly remember London. Or why he came to Transylvania in the first place. Or Mina. There was only the sun, the bloody sky, and the dimness of a castle too labyrinthian to navigate effectively.
How he longed to find the lair.
Silly me, I am in the lair.
The real lair.
What do you mean, Mr. Harker?
He smiled at himself as the heels of his boots scraped behind him while he lazily wandered. He hadn't bothered to shave that morning. Had he bothered to shave the previous morning? How could he shave when his hands trembled so? After having such dreams as he did, how did anyone shave when they woke? He felt as though every morning he was lulled into wakefulness by the lonesome and protracted howls of the Transylvanian wolves—surely just the usual Eurasian gray wolf, he thought, and hadn't he seen them? Yes. A few of them, scattered about through the thick, mangled forests that surrounded Dracula's castle. He had seen one in particular when he had leaned over the stone balustrade of a high-up balcony he'd never found again. Yellow eyes pierced him. He was too far away to know what color they were but he was certain they were yellow. Mournful. Pitying. Pitying like the souls who had left him in Bistritz, huddled about against the subtle cold.
Did he ever actually fall asleep?
Don't be ridiculous, of course you fall asleep. You must, for you wake.
That did not seem to mean much to him. Just because he seemed to wake each morning back in his chamber did not mean that he ever actually fell asleep. After all, there was more to it than waking. He didn't even recall climbing into the bed. The feel of cold sheets on his legs. And surely if he did put himself to sleep...
Mr. Harker...how could you think...?
Surely if he put himself to sleep, he would wake wearing his nightclothes. As it happened, Jonathan had never awoken in Dracula's castle wearing any clothes at all. His day clothes were usually found folded very neatly at the end of his bed, settled there not by himself, he knew, but by some unseen servant.
Though, he suspected there were no servants at all. He suspected that though the Count might have claimed there to be servants who did such things as the cooking and the washing, there was really no one else at all. How should there be? How should there be when there were so many poor souls out there huddling about in the subtle chill of the dusk knowing what Jonathan knew now.
Or did he know it?
From his small dictionary of words, he had found them to be saying superstitious things when he had left. Satan. Devil. Hell. Vampire?
Like the wolves, their voices whispered and groaned in his memories and he felt again tired. He felt tired much of the time. Surely in all his wanderings, he would have found a servant or two before they had scurried off to wherever they came from. Since he had been here, he had not seen the driver again and he had a strong suspicion that the driver was the Count himself.
And wasn't the Count looking much less gray these days?
Was he? Jonathan smiled to himself as his heels again dragged over the stone floor and the light from his torch flickered a bit, casting his shadow over the stonework. Sometimes he passed small indentations in the walls where a little table stood and sometimes he could still smell the incense which had burned there only an hour or so before but he recalled as he had lingered in the castle these days (Weeks? Months?) it had begun to smell a little less like rot beneath that incense and a little more like something else he couldn't put his finger upon.
He turned around a familiar corner only to discover an unfamiliar staircase and he let himself have a lazy smile for he knew that this staircase couldn't possibly have been here yesterday. He'd been this way yesterday, he thought—or was it the day before? Whatever, he decided, it didn't matter anyway. After all, he wouldn't have to find his way back. He would simply wake up there after... His face took on a flush though it was a weak one. He used to flush so easily when he was in England with Mina. She used to say all sorts of dastardly things to him that would make a mottled pink arrive in his cheeks but now it was as though he didn't quite have enough blood in him for the same sort of heat to arrive in his cheeks and his throat. He wondered, then, if he ever obtained his spotty, haphazard lust rash whenever he was touched by—
Stop. Those are dreams. You know they're dreams for whenever they happen, you wake from them. You don't get lust rashes from them because they're not actually happening.
He wasn't certain if that was true. How could one know they were asleep if one never felt as though they were falling asleep? He'd never had that problem before. He'd always been very conscious of his descent into the arms of Morpheus and so why now did he have such a strange manner about him? Why Dracula's castle? Oh that was probably a silly question. There was so much wrong here, he thought wearily. There was so much he didn't understand. How the Count seemed to age backward. How he never came about during the day but only during the night and usually with such a strange and terrifying glint in his dark eyes...as though he knew what Jonathan dreamed or what he thought at every single moment. As if he knew how seductive he could be...
He was halfway up the stairs before he saw a flicker of movement at the top. This happened sometimes. At first he thought it was a servant and he had given chase but in time he had found that he could not keep up no matter how he tried and so he had determined that it must have been a ghost. Surely only a ghost could move so quickly and seemingly through walls. He didn't bother to chase this time, merely moving at his normal speed until he got there, no longer unsettled by the queer events which occurred around him. He wandered this new hallway which twisted a bit here and there and he opened unlocked doors as he passed, sometimes finding out-of-use parlors with furniture still draped with dusty white sheets and covered in cobwebs from overzealous spiders. He hummed as he went, surprised at the sound of his own voice and how cheery he thought himself. Most of the doors were locked, anyhow.
He supposed after all the grief he'd gone through in being here too long, he was finally at the end stage. The part where he didn't much mind what happened to him. Strange how this could happen to a man so quickly. Or had it? He couldn't think. His mind was in a muddle so complete that he could not feel properly unnerved by it. Perhaps he was going mad. Perhaps when he finally was able to reach England again they would send him to Bedlam.
Oh certainly. And you know what they shall do to you when they find out what you dreamed of when you were here? When they discover that you dreamed of a dashing Count with jet black hair holding you like he does, naked in the moonlight to the howls of wolves?
He let out a queer little laugh which bubbled up from somewhere unknowable inside him, releasing from his chest without the weight of too much emotion. There was nothing left in him, he thought, save a strange bit of affection which he couldn't rightly place upon Mina anymore. After all...he'd rather forgotten what she looked like. All that occupied him now was the curiosity of what intimate and devious desires his fantasies may bring to him tonight.
How long had he wandered? He opened another door to find a dim library, one of countless libraries just like it scattered all over the castle. The books were often too old to read and the furniture too moth-eaten to survive a sit. He wandered inside, careful as he strode over the disintegrating rug to the window which he determined to be upon the western wall. The sun was sinking low, transforming the sky into the purples of twilight and soon it would dip below the horizon and...
And he would rediscover where he wanted to place that scrap of affection still left over in his heart.
He's a man, Jonathan Harker.
Yes. He was. And wasn't he such a man? The manner in which Jonathan found himself touched in his dreams and fantasies had him beside himself at first. He was shocked at the nature of what his mind could conjure and what his flesh might desire and yet now...when he had suffered for so long...
He caught sight of a door at the end of this strange corridor and it was ajar at first before it closed silently. He wasn't certain it was ever open after it was shut, for his mind wasn't what it used to be these days. Had it ever been open at all? He rubbed at one of his eyes, shaking his head in the hopes that he might not have to think about it overly. This would be just another parlor or library or dining room and he would hopefully find the man himself waiting there with his lush raven's wing hair with only just a touch of gray at his ears and he would say—
He gasped a bit in shock, alarmed by the very feminine whisper which came to him from behind the door. He'd had his fingers upon the handle but at the sound he recoiled as though it burned. His reply was low and quiet, as though he were fearful of being heard though he could not imagine who might have been around to hear him.
No one answered him and so he reached for the handle to the door again and pressed, finding the door heavy but unlocked, the wood sliding against the stone floor and revealing the only room he'd found in the whole of the castle—save for his own room—which was relatively devoid of advancement of age though the floor was still coated in a layer of dust. He marveled, finding the comfort of this part of the castle to be too great to ignore and so he came within and sat at a writing desk and peered from the windows toward the sloping mountains and the great expanse of countryside. The sun was beginning to kiss the horizon and he came to a great couch to the edge of the room and lay upon it, waiting perhaps for this great man to find him as he had found him before in all his other dreams.
Is this a dream, Mr. Harker? Is it a dream or is it your wishes come to flesh?
Soon, the unease which had settled into his heart at the sound of his own name whispered behind the door rose to the fore and he sat up suddenly to find that he was not alone. Three ghastly beautiful women without shadows and with flesh pale in the brilliant shimmering moonlight greeted him there, two with dark features like those of the women in this country and one with hair silvery blonde in the night and eyes a piercing blue. Though they came to him, though he could feel their lips upon his flesh and their teeth over his throat, he did not want them. He felt powerless to their draw but he could not push them away, sighing through the press of their mouths and the tantalizing scrape of their long incisors.
“Please...” he tried, his intent to beg them to cease. Surely they would, he thought, as the majestic blonde shed the organza which had hardly hidden her form and came over him, her fingers following the crease of his trousers until she pressed against his groin.
“Hmm?” she murmured, and the whispers of her sisters halted for the moment when she pressed against him again, as though urging his body to respond.
It won't. You can't. You've been ruined by him. You've been claimed by him.
It was sudden, her leave from him, as she was torn away and tossed as though she weigh no more than a bed pillow though she skidded on her feet and hands as a cat might skid, her pearl white fangs bared as she hissed toward the man Jonathan had truly wished might find him here. It was to this that his blood rushed and he pulled himself to sit upright again, feeling heat gather in a golden pool low in his stomach and hard in his loins.
He was dashing, this Count, and his words were heated with ire and...and more...
“How dare you touch him, any of you? How dare you cast eyes on him when I had forbidden it? Back, I tell you all! This man belongs to me! Beware how you meddle with him, or you’ll have to deal with me.” His eyes were dark, so dark in the moonlight that he could see the moon glinting within them and it was this moment that Jonathan knew he was lost. There was darkness all around him but a light shone within and he could only bring himself to breathe and feel, the rush of his blood suddenly all he could sense as this inhuman devil took steps toward him and the women countered.
“You yourself never loved; you never love!”
Jonathan peered up at him where he stood, looming only feet away, their eyes together, a hot pitch darkness colliding and sparking against unyielding diamond blue. Dracula, his lips parted and full, seemed loathe to turn away from his gaze but did so only to reply in a breathy, lustful whisper. “Yes, I too can love; you yourselves can tell it from the past...and he shall know it now...”
“Are we to have nothing to-night?” She sounded only the slightest forlorn and Jonathan could hardly conceive of the small nod that the Count gave them before they faded into the deep and the dark of the castle with the wriggling bag he'd brought them. Jonathan didn't care about them. How could he when his thoughts were rushing and roiling as the blood in his veins over how much he wanted this dream.
It feels so real...
“A gentle soul you have, Mr. Harker,” Dracula told him, his voice low enough to rumble in the young man's heart, reverberating downward until he was achingly stiff.
There was a decadent cadence to the beat of his heart when he heard these words. It was no slight to him to know that Dracula had taken brides. However aged this creature—however many centuries he'd seen, he had loved so little that only three women had gained the gift of his immortality and surely...surely Jonathan could count himself among them soon. And surely when the Count took his place in London at Carfax Abbey, Jonathan would be his companion there.
Some vague faraway portion of his consciousness urged for an unknown emotion. It was once familiar, he knew, but now how could he place it? Was it caution? Was it a grim fear his human soul could not help but reach when the aspect of death was so close? Another distant thought alighted, whisper as though only a breath of consciousness before it was caught in the winds of potent desire.
He'll take you home. To England. He can take you with him when he goes...
The eyes fo a predator leveled over him, the shine of moonlight within them eaten into a consuming void.
Was this what lust could do to a man? This was no natural lust, he conceded, for he had never felt such a passionate longing in his life. This was the lust that must strike the heart of a man who has come to know Satan's bed. Should this be weakness, he must own to it. He must exalt in it. Surely this was the fire that gleamed red in the heart of the Carpathians.
He was ready. He was so ready to become.
“I can smell your eager spirit, Mr. Harker.”
Yes, my eager spirit!
Still sitting upon the great couch, Jonathan could feel the quivering rush of anticipation within as the Count took the final steps to close the distance and his fantasy took hold. He was close—so damnably close—and when his knee came between Jonathan's to depress the cushion, there was an unbearable emotion in the solicitor's chest. He wanted to be ravaged.
All thoughts beyond this vanished before Dracula even began to kiss him, the breath between them hardly a whisper before he was swept into the iron grip of a man who was more than a man. There was energy and potential in the strength of those arms, one of which came behind him to hold him steady while the Count took the first of his meals.
An appetizer, if you will.
This was not the subtle kiss of a delicate lover but the demanding, forceful plundering of a creature marking its territory. He could not have held to a coherent thought. It was as though he were a being reduced only to his senses and every one of them was more sensitive than the last. The smell of him, younger now and revitalized, smelling like the bloom of life and the rust of blood. The taste of him, like a vivid, sharp exuberance. The feel of him as he loomed and then pressed down over Jon's body—the pliant poise of an apex predator commanding the will of its prey.
Prey. I am prey.
For no good reason at all, he was further stimulated by the thought and he moaned softly into the Count's mouth, his whimper just a breath but willful enough to convey his need. He found himself spoiled often in these dreams, as though no part of his fantasies would ever be denied to him and so he grinned at the feel of a generous hand upon his thigh. No true to life lover could know his mind so well as this Count did. No captor could know the whims of their prisoner! He felt so hot. Like a flame dancing in the night was he and he arched his back, letting the front of his brocade waistcoat brush against Dracula's chest, wordlessly begging to be stripped and adored.
God, he was wicked, this man and monster. His fingers toyed with each button as he continued to bestow feathering, tempting kisses upon swollen lips. It was easy for poor Jonathan to become so distracted that he could not remember how he became naked, but this instance it was as though the Count wished to take his time, gently peeling away the linen of Jon's shirt just to break from his tantalizing caresses to swoop down toward his throat, a sharp breath in marking his descent before he placed a soft and reverent open-mouthed kiss upon Jon's pulse, lingering there while he tugged at the sleeves and tossed the offending clothing to the carpet. His fingers, tipped by sharp talon-like nails knew only to give the most delicate of touches and he held tenderly, one hand sliding up toward the back of Jonathan's neck as the creature trailed his open lips down a pale collarbone and over the gentle swell of his chest.
It was as though he were worshiped and though he knew himself as the moth and Dracula as the flame, he could not help but think that here, upon this couch and in this castle, their roles were switched.
Jonathan brought up his hand, clutching at the creature's crisp black hair, ruffling it a bit so that he might seem less a man and more an animal...though the effect was nearly too overwhelming when he peered up and met Jon's eyes. He was primal and primordial made flesh, a creature hardly contained by the limits of the natural world.
And he pleasures me! Me! Of all men on earth, he has his mouth upon me!
Dracula was quick in unfastening Jonathan's trousers and even quicker to press a kind palm upon that velvet warmth. His hands were not warm, per se, but they were knowledgeable and there was something deeply instinctual about the manner in which he went about all things in intimacy. As though pleasure were a matter of course and that there was nothing beyond his partner's needs. Jonathan, in his panting arousal, watched the creature touch him, taking him in hand and stroke him, knowing that he could be subject to several brutally intense orgasms within such a dream.
It is still a dream, is it not?
Gods, but it felt so real.
He jumped a little when Dracula spoke, his voice so deep and even a tad breathless.
“We are old hat at this by now, would you say? It is as though I know your body by heart.”
He took a moment to catch his breath, swallowing a groan at the way the creature's thumb swept over the seam of him. “I cannot speak of it...”
“You are not lewd, Mr. Harker? You cannot tell me that when you peer at me with such a face.”
“Do you know what comes next?”
His breath caught as trembles of pleasure rippled through him at the work of his hand. “I want it.”
“Tell me what it is.”
He felt a deep flush come over his face and chest and he could hear the savage sound of a restrained growl. This beast before him was more monster now than man, his eyes and teeth sharp and insidious. Jonathan whispered, sheepish and wanting.
“Your bite...I want your mouth...”
Though Dracula could have moved quicker than sight, he drew in another breath as he came to that daring and exhilarated pulse, taking a moment to skim the tip of his proud nose against the soft flesh just under Jonathan's ear before he prodded with the tips of his fangs in a teasing, painful kiss before penetration. It was this perfect pain that sent Jonathan's eyes rolling into the back of his skull, his first orgasm shuddering through him at the sweet and thrilling agony of his flesh. He was pressed into the cushion below him and before he knew it, his trousers were gone and he was nude in the glimmering silver moonlight, his hands clutching at Dracula's pale shoulders, holding him as though he were afraid this hauntingly beautiful creature might leave him before he could witness...
The Count released him, purposeful in his messy state; long strings of saliva and blood roping from his lips to dribble over Jonathan's bare chest, mingling with the pearlescence of his previous emission. He could feel the wound at his throat warm and wet, his blood rushing out over the couch and into the hair at his nape and he was never more excited in intimacy than these moments.
Dracula's voice was even deeper, the edge of it ragged and rasping as though the untrained will of the monster lay behind it. “Your eager spirit calls to me... Your soul shines brilliant within...it is like you are my sunlight, my love.”
Love. Oh breath! Oh life! Oh love!
Dracula was feeding from him again, careful in drawing from him a mouthful which he then playfully dribbled over his writhing form, dark splotches pattering over his chest, belly, and groin. His legs were spread and he was lifted just so in order for this creature of night to taste him where he bloomed.
“Mmmm...” Jonathan sighed, used to this by now and settled well into the fantasy. At first, he had thought himself mad. He'd resisted. Though he had encountered some deviancy in his university days, he was by no means a man who oft came upon occasions in which he would stray so far from the norm and yet... Well, there was no harm in a dream was there? He was wetted well before he felt the press of his monster where he ached for him. He found himself muttering in halfway intelligible words, begging to be filled, begging to be touched, begging to be impaled. “Ahhhn!” He was speared in one lunging thrust and he curled his body to cradle the Count's impressive size while his thighs tightened around the creature's hips. It was easy then to be receptive and he pulled down, eager to taste the copper of his own blood upon the lips of his gruesome lover.
He panted into Dracula's mouth, his tongue dancing with that of his hellish mate as the soft slapping of their bodies marked each grain of subtle pleasure which fell within the glass of his soul.
“Nngh! Hnnnh... Hah ahn...”
“Are you ready, my love?”
Ready? No, I—
He was moved as though he weighed no more than a feather, rolled fluidly until he was sitting straddled upon Dracula who was very much naked and utterly sublime in his form. Jonathan's wound upon his throat was still bleeding, black thin drips cascading down his body in the moonlight until small round droplets could spatter over his lover's chest. He was bucked from beneath, the Count driving upward into him deeper than he thought he had ever been speared. He was rocked and fucked, decorated in the luxury of his own life until he cried out as the crest of his climax overcame him.
“Ouh! Aaahn! T-Take me! Take me! Take me!” He could not cease repeating even as his voice became naught but breath and his words hitched with every convulsion of his abdomen. Take me! Take me! Take me!
Take me home...
Just as all other dreams, this one had to come to an end and just as with all the other dreams, he did not know that it was ended until the point of waking. He could sense the warmth of his room as the fire was burning beyond the grate and all was as usual, including his nudity. All was as usually except one very unusual thing.
It smells like blood.
There was movement beside him and he closed his eyes tighter while his heart leaped and fear began to overtake his sense.
“Oh, my love...do not shy from me come morning...”
Charm bled from those words and Jonathan could do naught but look upon the very man of which he had dreamt. His eyes were deepened pools, his face flushed attractively while a coy little smile sat upon his lips.
Dracula, man and monster, reached to gently touch upon Jonathan's lips with one careful finger. “I know what you want, my sunlight. You want to go with me. Well I will give you the chance now.” In the dim, indirect light of the morning through the thick curtains, Jonathan watched his lover and mate grow his grotesque and terrible fangs only to take his own lip to puncture, the bead of blood welling and growing until Jonathan had no choice but to follow his first impulse.
He leaned, reverent when he took his Count's lower lip between his own, mindful of the sharp tang of blood on his tongue. This kiss, though chaste, was far more intimate than any carnal act they had perpetrated within this castle nestled deep in the cold and windy mountains. He felt Dracula's hands upon him again and when the kiss was done, he was desperate to feel something, anything at all for what he had just experienced was surely an act worthy of divine rebuke. There was nothing for now, and he opened his eyes again upon a Dracula much warmer and much more human than he'd ever seen him.
“You will be so perfect, my love,” he murmured, the backs of his fingers soft against Jonathan's cheek.
Settled now into the notion that absolutely none of this had ever been a dream, the young Englishman sighed heavily before he let himself have a bashful grin. “Pardon me, Count but...what are you?”
To this, his mate merely smiled and replied, “I am yours.”