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A Stranger in the Castle

Chapter Text

The steady pounding of the horses behind her grew closer as her own horse began to tire. I need to make a stand now, Valeria thought as she pulled out the crossbow and began to load it.
“There she is! Get her!” The men who’d been chasing her now charged at full speed.
“Shit,” Valeria mumbled to herself. “Only got a few shots.” She aimed at the furthest from her, in hopes of perhaps deterring the others. The bolt thudded as it landed in the skull of one of her pursuers. Valeria’s horse began to panic, tossing its head and stomping the ground.
Calm now, she thought as she fired off the next shot into the man closest to her, who then dropped to the ground like his partner. The noise from the crossbow further irritated her horse and the blood that had been spilt didn’t help. Valeria did what she could to calm the horse with her knees without taking her eyes off the next and final rider. The man yelled as he charged her, his sword pointed straight at her. Valeria’s fingers trembled ever so slightly as she raised the crossbow once more and aimed right at the man’s forehead. Time seemed to slow as the last crossbow bolt landed in the man’s head, his yelling ceasing immediately. The only sound to be heard now was the snorting and panic of her horse as the body of her pursuer fell less than a yard from her.
Valeria had little time to celebrate her victory as her horse panicked further, bucking and rearing in fear, despite her attempts to calm it. She frantically grabbed at the reins in an attempt to regain control, but to no avail. Valeria slipped from the saddle as the horse bucked wildly, yelping in surprise as she fell to ground, hitting her head with a thump. Her head began to pound as the forest around her began to blur, the last thing she remembered was a sharp pains in her legs and the sound of horse hoofs.
*
Lisa POV
The town faded quickly in the distance as Lisa walked steadily back to her husband’s castle. Dracula had insisted that she not go so far, but that did not last long, because Lisa, well, once she’d decided on something, she was absolutely going to do it no matter what. Besides, being a doctor was her job. What else would she do with all that training? But when all was said and done, she did miss her husband every time he or she traveled. She’d expected the townspeople to be less than grateful for her presence, but they surprised her with their toleration this time around. Of course there were people who downright despised her (there always were), but they were outnumbered by the people who actually respected her presence. In fact, the townspeople appreciated her so much, that when Lisa announced she was leaving, they gave her gifts and even a donkey to carry her belongings. The overall experience had been positive for Lisa and she would be sure to share the details with her husband and son when she returned.
She continued walking, greatly anticipating the familiarity of Dracula’s castle and resting her feet. As she looked around her, taking in the fall foliage of the trees, she smelled something off. She grew closer to the source of the smell and gasped at the sight: three dead men, spread apart and a women, who seemed unconscious. Lisa stopped to inspect the scene, immediately ruling out that the men were alive based on the bolts sticking out of their forehead, not to mention the stench coming from their bodies. But the woman was not dead clearly. Lisa checked her pulse and the woman was very much alive, just unconscious. Based on her clothes she looked to be a traveler or some sort of hunter or poacher, rather strange for women in this part of the world.
“Those men must have been chasing her,” Lisa mumbled as she stepped over their bodies. She grimaced at the way the woman’s legs twisted in ways they were not supposed to. She took time to glance at the prints around the bodies, which primarily looked to be horse hooves. The only thing that could explain the woman being on the ground was that she’d fallen from her horse. Lisa looked around once more and thought the situation over and came to a very simple conclusion: she had to take the girl with her. She couldn’t just leave her there to die. “Vlad surely won’t be happy for unannounced guests, but he’ll have to adjust.” Lisa said as she struggled to load the girl on the back of the donkey and continued her trek to Dracula’s castle.

Chapter Text

Valeria POV
The world seemed to be spinning as Valeria began to stir, waking to a fierce pounding in her head. Her hands fumbled for something to grab onto, and was incredibly surprised to find she was no longer on the damp ground she’d landed on, but in a soft bed, covered in blankets. Oh fuck, she thought, not being aware of any inns or villages in the vicinity where she fell. Valeria frantically tried to sit up, but the shooting pain in her head and lower body forced her back down with a cry. She looked around as much as her eyes would allow her to, taking in the rather dark, but large room, seemingly lit only by candles. Was this some sort of castle? The design of the room was foreign to her, looking nothing like the homes in her native land.
“Oh dear, I see you’ve awoken,” A female voice chimed from across the room. “Thank goodness, I was starting to believe you truly were dead.” The woman came to the side of the bed and smiled. She had a pleasant face, golden hair draped to either side of her face. She wore robes that looked slightly worn, but were richly colored a deep grey.
Valeria swallowed, her throat parched. “W-where am I?”
“Where you are is not as important as the fact that you are safe here,” The woman approached a bowl of water and dipped her hands in it, then dried them with a small towel. “My name is Lisa, by the way. When I found you, you were in pretty bad shape: legs twisted and such. You should consider yourself lucky you didn’t break your neck.”
When the woman mentioned her legs, Valeria realized that she could not feel them. She tried to sit up once again, but much slower, but Lisa gently placed her hand on her shoulder to keep her doing so.
“Don’t, it’ll only make your head injury worse. And don’t worry about your legs. I simply gave you medicine to numb them.”
Valeria glanced down at her legs, which looked like they’d been set in some sort of cast and were elevated slightly. She sighed that at least this strange woman had not left her to die, as surely some wild animal or cruel man would have come along and finished her off. “Thank you. Uh, for helping me, of course.”
Lisa smiled again. “Well this is my job. I’d have felt bad if I just left you there,” She picked up a vial of chalky white liquid and handed it to Valeria. “Here, drink this. It’ll help you get some sleep while I work on these legs.”
Valeria nodded and chugged the liquid, which was warm and chalky. All it took was a few dazed minutes and before she knew it, she was sleeping once again.
*
Alucard POV
Alucard had been in the library when he sensed his mother’s return. He marked his spot in the tome he was reading and headed toward the main hall to greet her. She’d been gone for a little over a month, and, though Alucard didn’t typically worry about his mother, the amount of time she’d been gone had begun to concern him. That concern didn’t even compare to his father’s, who’d gone so far as to move the castle to be no more than ten miles from her at all times. Surely Dracula would beat him to the main hall, also going to greet her as soon as he detected her.
As he drew closer to the hall, Alucard noticed another scent mingling with his mother’s, an earthy, almost rancid scent. He found her in the hall leading a donkey which appeared to be carrying a rather heavy load.
“Mother, you’ve returned. Welcome home.”
Lisa smiled kindly and embraced him. “Adrien, you’re looking well. Tell me what book did you have your nose buried in this time?”
“Some tome about botanical properties. Horribly dull, I’m afraid,” He came closer to the donkey and recognized its load as a human body. “What is that?”
“Ah, yes. She’s a traveler I came across. Fell off her horse, I think. I couldn’t just leave her there.”
Alucard wrinkled his nose as he glared at the woman. “Are you found her on the road and not in some sewer?”
Lisa chuckled. “Adrien! Be nice, she is our guest for now.”
“A guest?” Another voice echoed from across the room, which could only be his father. The man walked towards them with superhuman grace, almost seeming to glide across the floor. He smiled at Lisa and bent over to kiss her cheek. “My love, what have you brought with you? Surely not some stranger you encountered in your travels?”
Lisa nodded and pointed at the girl. “She was seriously injured, Vlad. I couldn’t just leave her there, not when I am fully capable of helping her.”
Dracula sighed. “But Lisa--,”
“Vlad.” Lisa said firmly, giving him a stern look. If there was one thing his father could not stand, it was Lisa’s disappointment, or worse, her anger.
He huffed and waved his hand in dismissal. “Very well, but she can stay only until she has recovered, no longer,” Lisa smiled up at him. “But whatever you do, please remove that filthy creature from the main hall.”
“Of course. Adrien, will you help me lift her? She’s not terribly heavy but still,”
Alucard grimaced at the thought of lifting the dirt-covered woman. Not to mention she smelled like a hound after a hard hunt. He wanted to say no, but he knew that, for some reason, his mother was invested in helping this woman, so he supposed the least he could do was help her do so. “Ah fine. I’ll need to take a bath afterwards though.”
Lisa shook her head. “I knew you’d say something like that. Come, I’ll get my things and follow you to the guest room.”
Alucard lifted the woman and draped her arm over his shoulders. She wasn’t heavy, as Lisa had said, a mop of raven black hair covering her hair. As he carried her, he noticed her attire to be very different from the local standard: it was leather for one; the inside seemed to be lined with fur. Her pants were rather tight-fitting, too and he was a bit surprised a woman was even wearing pants. She must have been a traveler and, judging from the stench coming from her, she must have been running from someone.
He arrived in the guest chambers and sat her on the bed as gently as he could. As he lay her on the bed, her hair flew back to reveal her face and Alucard was taken aback by her appearance. Her skin was swarthy and had patches of dirt from where she fell. But her face was incredibly beautiful, with soft cheekbones and plump lips. His eyes lowered to her rather full bosom, but he quickly averted them. His attention was drawn to her legs as he propped them on the bed and they were almost grossly twisted.
Lisa brought her vials and herbs in to the room and began setting up. “Adrien, will fetch some firewood, dear? We’ll need to warm this room up some.”
Alucard stood there for a moment, still transfixed by their guest. She looked peaceful, but he could only imagine if she were awake, she’d be in terrible pain. His thoughts were interrupted when Lisa lightly tapped his arm.
“Are you…ogling our guest, Adrien?” She asked with a smirk.
He felt a slight heat rush to his face as he turned away and tried to play it off. “Ahem. Ah, no, I was just—trying to inspect her injuries,” The look on his mother’s face made him want to turn into a bat and fly as far away as possible. “Right. I’ll go get the firewood.”
Alucard turned away and rushed off to find the firewood, still thinking about this strange woman his mother brought home.

Chapter Text

Valeria POV
When she woke after what seemed like days, the first thing she felt was a terrible pain in both of her legs. She winced as the shooting pain only increased when she tried to touch them. Valeria looked around the room and spotted the woman who’d brought her here. What was her name? She grunted as she attempted to sit up yet again, but to no avail. At least it helped Lisa notice her.

“Ah, you’re awake. Sleep soundly?” The woman smiled, illuminated by the candle light.

“Yes, thank you,” Valeria glanced down at her legs, only to see that they were covered. “Could tell me what happened to my legs?”

“Not so fast. I’ve brought you into my home and treated you, the least you could do is tell me your name.”

Valeria balled her fists up under the blanket and sighed. “My name’s Valeria and I came here from afar. Does that satisfy you?”

Lisa chuckled at her answer. “Sassy. Well, I suppose I shall tell you about your legs. They were in pretty bad shape. I had to do bit more than with a standard bone break. Even my husband had to pull out books to figure out what to do. But we figured it out, however--,” Lisa lifted the blanket off her legs. Valeria gasped when she saw how hideous they looked; both were swollen and bloody and had some sort of pins sticking out them. “You’ll not be walking for at least the next 2 months. The bones need time to heal, to fuse back together. So, for the time being, you’ll stay here, as our guest.”

Valeria sighed and released the sheets she’d been grasping tightly. Not being able to move for two months was not exactly ideal for someone who’d been constantly moving for the past year. She could at least find out where she was. “Well, I thank you for taking care of me. I’m truly grateful for your help, but-- I’d like to know where I am, if you don’t mind telling me.”

Lisa furrowed her brows at the question. “I—would love to tell you, but it’s a bit complicated.”

So that’s why she was dancing around the subject. “Or you could just tell me what country I’m in and what castle this is. That would be enough.”

Lisa fiddled with her tools. “This is Wallachia and this castle, well, belongs to my husband, Vlad Tepes.”

Tepes? Valeria’s eyes grew wide with fear. How could she have been so stupid to wander so close to the Impaler’s territory? Where she was from, Vlad the Impaler was a bedtime story used to frighten small children. It was only when she came to Europe when it became apparent they were not just stories, but the actual man still lived in Wallachia. What the stories didn’t mention, was that he had a wife. Or was Lisa making all of it up?

“Ah, I figured you’d heard the stories. No need to worry though, Dracula won’t hurt you, at least not if I have something to say about it,” Lisa smirked as Valeria held her frightened gaze. “Just jesting. But in all seriousness, my husband shan’t hurt you. He’ll be minding his own business, so you needn’t fear him. Our son though…,”

A son? Since when did Dracula have a whole family? How did the people of Wallachia even sleep knowing two vampires lived among them? Lisa filled a pewter cup with water and walked over to the bed. “My son, Alucard, he can be a recluse as well, but he’s a bit more curious when it comes to this sort of thing. Again, he won’t harm you, but--,” Lisa tried to hide a grin but failed. “You do have an awfully attractive face…”

Valeria blushed slightly at the compliment, but missed the meaning behind it. She grabbed the cup of water Lisa was offering and drank it greedily. It was only then when she noticed how hungry she was and really couldn’t even remember the last time she’d eaten.

“Oh, you’re probably hungry. Alucard will be bringing some stew up in a bit. Can’t have a guest starving to death.”

Valeria nodded. From what it sounded like, Lisa didn’t get many visitors and it seemed like she actually enjoyed the company of others. “Thank you for this. I don’t even know how I could begin to repay your kindness.”

Lisa stroked her chin. “Actually, I do have an idea of how you could do just that,” Valeria raised her eyebrows at such a quick response. “It’s a very simple thing: be friends with my son. Alucard doesn’t exactly need friends or anything, it’s just--, I think it would be good for him to have one, someone to connect with.”

Valeria was taken aback by the request. She didn’t consider the request to be difficult or anything, but she wasn’t exactly the best herself at making friends. “Umm, sure, I guess I can do that. It can’t be too difficult right?”

Right as Valeria said that, Alucard opened the guest chamber door with a pot of stew. She visibly gulped when she saw a grown man walk in. For some reason, she’d been under the impression, that this Alucard was a young boy, one who needed his hand to be held constantly or had snot running from his nose. How wrong she was; Lisa’s son was clearly an adult, at least half a foot taller than his mother, with hair a similar color to hers. Lisa smiled at him as he sat the pot down with the most unbothered expression Valeria had ever seen.

“Thank you, Adrien. Our guest is awake now, her name is Valeria.”

Alucard continued to look completely uninterested. “Hmm,” he said in bored tone.

Lisa kept going. “She’ll be here for a while, in order to recover. Perhaps you could lend her some of your books to help pass the time?”

Alucard scoffed. “Are you sure this…person can even read?”

Valeria rolled her eyes at his pomposity. “Yes, I can read and I can also speak for myself, I don’t need anyone to answer for me.”

Alucard briefly looked at her then turned away, presumably to get those books. Lisa came to her and prompted her sit up on the thick pillows to eat and, as she did, Valeria noticed that Alucard paused in the doorway for a fraction of a moment, then kept walking. Certainly, this most interesting man would be a challenge to make friends with, or someone so handsome.

Chapter Text

Alucard POV
Seeing the woman awake gave Alucard pause when he walked in the room. Not only was she somehow more attractive when awake, her eyes were a warm hazel color that followed him attentively. As he walked to the library for the books his mother had asked for, he noticed his heart was beating much faster than it had before he’d walked in the room. Damn it, Alucard, don’t act like you’ve never seen a woman before, he scolded himself for being so flustered. In truth, he had seen women before, he used to help his mother with examinations and treating patients, so he’d seen quite a few. He just wasn’t sure any had been as beautiful or mysterious as this Valeria was. Where had she come from? How did she end up falling off a horse in Wallachia? If she was running, why? All these questions swirled in his mind as he ran his fingers over the many books in their library. In fact, he was so deep in his thoughts, he hardly noticed his father standing over a tome in the middle of the room. Alucard glanced at the book he was reading and shook his head.

“The Properties and Anatomy of Bones in the Human Body? Seems mother has you doing her bidding too.”

Dracula snorted softly. “Yes, it seems so. She’s very invested in this girl, I believe. I haven’t seen her so excited to treat a patient in a while.”

“Why? It seems like an unnecessary hassle to me.”

“Lisa likes a challenge. And with the shape that girl’s legs are in, she has her work more than cut out for her,” He closed the rather large tome and tucked it under his arm. “But your mother has given you a task as well?”

Alucard nodded. “Mhm. She wanted books so the girl could read. To be frank, I’m surprised she even can.” Valeria. Her name is Valeria, he reminded himself internally.

Dracula chuckled, which sounded more like a low hum. “You shouldn’t make such assumptions. There’s no telling who this girl is, though more than likely she’s some commoner who stole a horse,” He walked to exit the library. “In any case, she may prove to be—interesting company.”

With that, Alucard was left alone with his thoughts and the books. He continued to browse for anything that might seem interesting to Valeria. He passed over books that talked about botany or herbalism, she didn’t seem like the type to be interested in that sort of thing. He almost passed over a book about constellations and astrology that had been a favorite of his when he was younger, but grabbed it for the sentiment of it. Alucard took four more books from the library: a book of Greek and Roman mythology, a copy of The Divine Comedy, a copy of The Decameron, and book of poems by Rumi. He had never read any of the books himself, but he felt she might enjoy them, and if not, could at least occupy the time with them. At this point he hadn’t realized just how much time he had spent looking for books and, against his better judgement, walked into Valeria’s room without knocking on the closed door. He flushed as he realized she was washing herself and naked.

“Adrien!” His mother cried at his entrance. Valeria covered herself with her hands as best she could.

Alucard stumbled over his words. No smug remark could get him out of this. “Er, my apologies, I—didn’t know that--,” He glanced at Valeria, who’d turned away in embarrassment. “I’ll—leave the books on the floor.” He stammered as he promptly set the books on the floor and rushed out of the room. As he closed the door, he finally managed to take a breath. What a terrible time to have walked in!

For the brief moment he’d been in there, he felt like his heart was beating louder than ever before. And the way a particular part of his body responded was not appropriate at all. What is your problem, opening a closed door without knocking? He scolded himself yet again. He wasn’t sure why he had done that; he’d seen the door closed. Maybe he just hadn’t fully registered that there might have been a reason why it was. In any case, the thought of embarrassing himself made him slightly irritated. His thoughts kept swirling, bringing up mixed feelings about Valeria. On one hand, Alucard didn’t care about what she thought of him, but he didn’t want to be seen as a pervert either. He found himself wanting her to like him, regardless of what he actually thoughts said.

As he came to his own room and slammed the door, he began to slide his hand down his pants. He wanted to stop, he knew it was wrong, but it seemed as soon as his hands began trailing up and down his chest, it became involuntary. Alucard tried not to think of his mother in the same space as Valeria, instead imagining her large breasts in front of him. He moaned as he stroked his member close to cumming, then let himself down from the edge. As his release came, he bit his lips so hard (so no one could hear his moans), he drew blood. He lay back on his bed, breathing heavily and covered in his own semen, running his hands through his hair. If just a glimpse of Valeria’s naked body could do this to him, he was in serious trouble.

Chapter Text

Valeria POV

 

The bath had been calming and felt fantastic, especially considering she’d been traveling for weeks. Lisa had helped her undress and prepared bath water for her. She’d been enjoying the feel of warm water on her body and the relief of finally being clean, when Lisa’s son, Alucard, so rudely barged in. She’d felt utterly exposed as she felt his eyes on her. The interaction had even flustered him, making him practically drop the books he’d brought her. Lisa had merely sniggered at the incident, more specifically the look on his face when he realized what was happening. She apologized as well, even with a not-so-well concealed grin on her face and set the books on the table beside the bed. She left afterwards, promising she’d come around to check on her at some point.

 

It had been a mere thirty minutes since she’d left and Valeria had only glanced at the books Alucard had chosen. She’d heard of none of them except the book of poems by Rumi and, honestly she was surprised someone with such a violent reputation even owned something so emotional. Maybe Lisa truly had changed Dracula for the better, made him appreciate the art of mere humans. Valeria remembered Rumi’s works from her childhood; her father always praised his genius and artistry. He’d even taken her to see the poet’s tomb every year, a trip to the interior of Turkey that she always looked forward to. She smiled sadly as she picked up the book and began reading. She focused intensely on every line, considering its meaning and what Rumi must have felt when writing them. She remembered when her father used to recite the love poems to her mother and gift her with flowers. Everything was happy and peaceful until her father was killed in a supposed accident, though it was more likely that his competitors killed him. Valeria was lost in thought when Alucard entered the room, arms crossed and a sour look on his face.

“Mother wanted me to check on you, make sure you hadn’t killed yourself on accident.” He informed her, hardly making eye contact.

How rude. Valeria huffed and looked up from her book, staring at Alucard, hoping to force him to make eye contact. “I’m fine, thanks.”

Alucard merely blinked. “Good,” He turned to leave but then stopped. “As for what happened earlier, it was an accident. It shan’t happen again.” And with that, he exited and closed the room door behind him.

Valeria slammed the book closed in irritation. What a jerk this guy was! First, he was so rude as to invade her privacy, then not even apologize? Was he always that rude? Lisa had treated her kindly, so why couldn’t her son at least be cordial? She found it surprising that he was so different. Must take after his father, Valeria thought. She supposed she couldn’t blame him too much, living basically in isolation would make a person hostile to strangers. Yet she wanted to fulfill Lisa’s request, it was the least she could do to repay the woman’s kindness, but Alucard was making it awfully difficult, with his sulky ways and rudeness towards her. Maybe there was a way to make herself more open to a friendship. She mulled it over in her head and decided she would ask Lisa what he was interested in. Maybe, just maybe, there was a way to overcome this seemingly large obstacle in the way of repaying her debt to Lisa.

*
Lisa POV

 

Dracula chuckled as Lisa recounted the day’s “incident”, as she called it.

“His face was absolutely priceless!” She laughed as she mimicked Alucard’s reaction to walking in on Valeria.

Dracula laughed again. He almost had a hard time imagining his usually confident son would look so embarrassed. Or that he would be so ignorant to open a closed door without knocking, especially having lived with parents who were very ‘active’ and intimate. “I imagine our guest didn’t appreciate that very much.”

Lisa sat on her husband’s lap as he sat in his chair by the fireplace. “Of course she didn’t. She was in a very vulnerable position, after all. She blushed almost as hard as he did,” She smiled again. “I sent him in there to check on her. I’m curious to know how that went down.”

Dracula snorted. “Knowing Adrien, he probably brushed it off like nothing happened. He most definitely didn’t apologize, if that’s what you were hoping for.”

Lisa sighed. “I had my hopes up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was precisely what happened. That makes my request that much harder for her,” Dracula tilted his head. “She asked what she could do repay me, so I asked her to be friends with Adrien.”

At that, Dracula was genuinely puzzled. “Why?”

“Because he needs friends, Vlad. Genuine human connection, a relationship with someone other than us. I want him to experience that at least once in his life.”

“And how do you plan to convince him that he even needs such a thing? And that he won’t be disappointed to find that most humans are not worth forming such a connection with?”

Lisa tilted her head in thought. “Well, I was actually hoping Valeria could do that. They might need a little nudge though.”

Dracula was silent for a moment. “Do you think this Valeria is someone worth knowing, worth forming a ‘genuine human connection’ with?”

“I believe so. She hasn’t shown any otherwise. My intuition is telling me she’s got a very interesting background, too.”

Dracula huffed a low laugh. “Ah yes, intuition, a truly infallible well of reliability.”

Lisa rolled her eyes and chuckled at his sarcasm. “Trust me, Vlad. I think this may go much better than you think.”

Chapter Text

Alucard POV
A week had passed since Valeria first arrived at the castle and Alucard had gotten no step closer to developing even a cordial relationship with her. Well, that may have been an understatement, as she seemed to forget his earlier trespassing. At least it seemed that way from the words she spoke to him each time his mother sent him to check on her. Every day it was the same; he would ask if she was fine and she would say yes, returning to her book after making direct eye contact. Alucard had to admit the eye contact made it harder to leave her alone; for some reason, he had this indescribable urge to hold her, to touch her. But it was pointless if she didn’t feel the same. As he approached her chambers, this time without his mother’s prompting, he was determined to make himself appear more polite.

Alucard cleared his throat to attract her attention from her book. Valeria merely glanced up at him, then returned to her book. “Ahem. I’ve noticed you haven’t touched any of the other books I brought you. Are they not interesting enough to grab your attention?”

Valeria remained silent for at least an entire minute before she realized Alucard would not leave with his question unanswered. “No, it’s not that they’re not interesting, but I actually have a history with Rumi’s poems.”

“Oh? Enlighten me,” Alucard dragged a chair from across the room and sat. He tried to keep an unbothered expression on his face, but his actions spoke otherwise.

Valeria stared at him, trying to determine if he was serious or just playing games with her. He looked uninterested, but his eyes seemed genuinely interested in her answer. “My father, he loved Rumi’s works. When I first learned how to read and write, he would have me write his couplets for practice.”

“I see. I don’t think I’ve ever read any of his works before. I’m guessing you would recommend it, since you’ve spent an entire week on one book?”

She snorted. “To most people, yeah. Not sure someone like you could appreciate what Rumi has to offer.”

 

Alucard’s eyebrows raised. If she felt like that, certainly he could prove her wrong. “Is that what you think? Hand me that,” He reached for the book and she reluctantly handed to him. He opened it only to realize the language was not one he was familiar with. No problem, I’ll learn a few phrases and be done with it, he thought. “I’ll return this when I’ve read all of it. And it won’t take me a week either.”

Valeria grabbed his arm before he could leave and he was surprised by how warm her touch was. “Not so fast. A person can read a book and still not understand it. I want you to answer a single question after you’ve read it: what does Rumi think of love?”

An easy question, or so he thought. For a moment after she released his arm, the absence of her touch made Alucard shiver, left him craving more. She gave him a coy smile and picked up the book about constellations. He felt his heart rate pick up and decided it was a good time to leave. “Very well, I’ll answer your question, though you could have at least made it a challenge,” He smirked. “I’ll return soon.”

Alucard went to his father first to try to decipher the language the book was written in. It looked similar to Arabic, which he wasn’t fluent in but knew enough. He hated having to ask for help, but he’d rather do that than waste time searching for other books in the same language when he could simply ask the man who knew every single book in their library. He looked in Dracula’s study to find him standing over the fire in deep thought. He almost hesitated to disturb him.

“Father, I have a question about this book,” Dracula remained silent as Alucard approached. “The language it’s written in, do you know it?”

His father reached out his hand for the book and glanced at it in silence for a moment. “It appears to be Persian, the high variety written only by the educated. Why did you want to know?”

“I told Valeria I’d read it.”

Dracula smirked. “Is that so? If I’m not mistaken, you’re trying to impress her?” He handed the book back to Alucard. “And from what I’ve read, that is a book of love poems.”

Alucard flushed slightly. He hadn’t realized the entire thing was about love. “No, I thought I’d read it so we could converse about it. Have a meaningful discussion, if at all possible.”

The devilish smile remained on Dracula’s face. “Ah yes, a meaningful conversation. Because that is the proper way to seek her attention,” He turned to his son, the amusement in his eyes evident. “And how do you plan on becoming fluent in Persian in a timely manner?”

Alucard rolled his eyes at the criticism. “Please, don’t pretend like you know about courting; Mother literally threatened you at the door and got you to heel to her. Hardly a boast-able feat.”

“So you admit you’re attempting to court our guest?

Alucard made a choking noise, horrified at his father’s sudden assumption. “That’s not what I--,” He gave up mid-sentence, seeing no reason to damn himself further. “Anyways, I’ll be going now. I told her I’d finish before the week is up.”

“Did you now?” Dracula smirked, waggling his eyebrows at him.

Alucard did his best to ignore him, turning away to go to their library. When he arrived, he felt somewhat dismayed to find Lisa there as well. He did his best to avoid her, treading carefully towards the shelf with the books he needed. Unfortunately, his mother turned around right as he was passing by her.

“Adrien, I haven’t seen you in a bit. Have you been avoiding me?” She smiled at him.

“Not actively, no. My apologies, but I have a task I’d like to get on with.”

“Oh? Isn’t that the book Valeria has been reading?” Lisa asked, pointing at the book in his hand.

Alucard nodded. “It is. I told her I’d read it, since she seemed so interested by it.” Once he saw the smirk on his mother’s face, he almost instantly regretted saying so much.

“She has seemed very occupied with it, hasn’t she?” Lisa gathered her pile of books under her arm. “Well, I’ll let you get to it then,” she turned left out of the library, leaving Alucard alone.

He sighed as he sat down with the translation book he had chosen. He couldn’t believe his parents would take relatively simple gesture and blow it way out of proportion. Even though he vehemently denied it, Alucard himself was not entirely sure why he was doing this. On its own, the task would have been interesting, but being attached to such a mysterious and intriguing woman made him more determined. He wanted to get to know her. And after that touch… It left him craving more, all of a sudden wanting her hands through his hair and in other places. He wanted to know if she felt the same when they touched, or if there was anything he could do to make her feel how he did. Alucard shook his head gently to clear his mind. He would answer her question no matter what.