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Since the Day You Were Born

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Lyudmil left his bedroom with a bright smile, closing the door behind him and nearly tripping in his haste. He laughed lightly at himself, thinking nothing of it as he made his way down the hall. Today was going to be a great day, and Lyudmil was excited. It was his master’s birthday. Lyudmil had big surprises planned for Alucard, and he was eager to make his master happy. 

The sun had just set, and Lyudmil assumed that Alucard was still asleep. He decided not to wake him just yet, as he wanted a head start in preparing for his master’s big day. 

As he made his way to the kitchen, Lyudmil wondered if Alucard would even realize what day it was. Lyudmil only knew because Lisa and his parents had been good friends. Lisa would sometimes mention things about her son, and Lyudmil would overhear as he attended his parents. Even then, Lyudmil had been intrigued by the young dhampir, which is why Lyudmil came to seek him out in the first place. 

Lyudmil remembered Lisa telling them once about how Alucard—Adrian—had been given a drawing set for his birthday, and that he had seemed like the happiest child in the world. Lyudmil couldn’t help but wonder how Alucard would react to such things now. The dhampir seemed to look upon events such as this with indifference. To him, it would simply be another day of sullen wandering of the castle halls—Lyudmil wanted so desperately to change his friend’s mind.

The servant arrived at the kitchen and began to gather ingredients for a cake. He wasn’t the best at baking, and one time he almost set the entire kitchen on fire, but he was motivated and wanted to show his master that he cared. With the advanced tools and supplies of Dracula’s Castle, Lyudmil had access to materials that were uncommon or overly expensive in Wallachia. He was going to take full advantage of those resources—nobody else would, anyway. He was planning on making a small cake topped with honey and raspberries—nothing too extravagant, but within his skill set.

Lyudmil began to hum quietly to himself as he mixed ingredients. He opened a window to let in some moonlight and fresh air. Rain clouds were moving in with the breeze, and he hoped that they would quickly pass. He wanted today to be perfect.

Lyudmil finished preparing the cake and pouring the batter, then he left it to bake. While waiting, he decided to prepare the gifts that he had gotten for Alucard. The servant made his way to his bedroom where he stored the gifts, and noticed that his master’s door was still closed. Lyudmil still wasn’t ready to wake him quite yet, so he passed the door quietly and shut his own door behind him. From his closet he pulled the items out and laid them on his bed, making sure he had all the pieces. When he checked them over and decided that everything was in order, he gathered the gifts up in his arms and took them to one of the castle’s nicer dining rooms. The servant stored them in a cabinet for later, then went back to the kitchen to work on the cake and prepare breakfast for his master. He had a lot to do before the night began. 

***

A knocking sound reached Alucard’s ears as he slept. He pulled his blankets further over his head and sighed as he tried to ignore the noise and go back to sleep. His body felt heavy in the early twilight hours, his mind wanting to return to his forgotten dreams.

“Master Alucard!” 

Lyudmil’s voice came through the door. Alucard groaned and turned over to face the opposite wall. 

“Master Alucard, it’s time to wake up,” Lyudmil called again. “May I come in?”

The dhampir hummed in response, and he heard the door opening, the dim light from the hallway illuminating his room. Alucard sat up slowly and propped himself on his pillows. He was surprised to see Lyudmil holding a tray in his hand. Lyudmil must have noticed his expression, and he smiled.

“I have breakfast for you here,” the servant explained. “No need to get up and eat in the dining room.”

“What is the occasion?” the dhampir asked, still slightly confused. 

“Happy birthday, Master Alucard!” Lyudmil grinned. 

Alucard’s eyes widened, a small gasp escaping his lips. “How did you...?”

“No need to worry about that,” Lyudmil winked. “Now, I would eat with you, but I have some things to attend do, if you don’t mind.”

“Yes, of course. Thank you, Lyudmil.”

Lyudmil smiled again and closed the door as he left the bedroom. Alucard sat and stared at his bed sheets. He had completely forgotten about his birthday. He had no idea how Lyudmil had even known. The concept of a birthday didn’t really matter to an immortal. It saddened him, in fact, to count the years of his life, knowing that the number would increase to no end, until he had finally had enough. There was no point in adding up the years of misery. Not when he had nobody to share them with. 

Alucard quickly shook the thoughts away, trying to put himself in a better mindset. He took the tray from where Lyudmil left it on his nightstand, and set it onto his lap. He hadn’t eaten breakfast in bed in a very long while. Now that he thought about it, he had done so on his birthday before, when he was just a child...

 

“Happy birthday, Adrian!”

Lisa entered her son’s bedroom, with Vlad close behind. Adrian opened his eyes and sat up, a grin spreading on his face as he greeted his parents. 

“Mother! Father! You remembered!” he exclaimed happily.

“Of course, son,” Vlad said. “Who would ever forget the birth of their only child?”

“I certainly wouldn’t,” Lisa smiled. “When you were born, I thought that you were the most beautiful child in the world.”

Adrian beamed as his parents sat on his bed. He noticed a silver tray in his father’s hands and looked at it quizzically.

“What is that?” he asked, pointing to the tray.

“It’s your breakfast,” Vlad said calmly, a small smile on his face.

Adrian’s eyes widened. “I can eat breakfast in bed?!”

Lisa laughed. “Of course you can, sweetheart. It’s your birthday! You can do whatever you like.”

“You would probably say that even if it wasn’t his birthday,” Vlad commented. “Adrian, I think your mother spoils you too much.”

The little dhampir laughed and hugged his mother. Vlad ruffled his son’s hair and handed him the tray. Adrian took the lid off and discovered pancakes with fruit and nuts. He smiled up at his mother before taking a bite.

“It’s my favorite!” Adrian exclaimed. “Thank you, Mother, thank you!”

Lisa placed a kiss to his hair. “Of course, sweetheart. Anything for my little prince.”

 

Alucard snapped out of his reverie and rubbed his eyes. He slowly removed the lid from the tray: pancakes. Lyudmil knew him so well...

The dhampir quickly finished eating and got out of bed. He got dressed and decided that he needed some fresh air, so he left his room and walked down the dark corridor to the stairs. Alucard descended and made his way towards the back of the castle, where he came upon a large gilded door. He opened it quietly and stepped out into the castle’s courtyard. A light breeze hit him, and he could hear leaves rustling softly in the trees. 

Alucard pushed his hair back and gazed up at the moon, clouds moving in to obscure the pale light. He sighed as he walked around the garden and towards a small pond, frozen in the winter air. The surrounding foliage was dusted with frost and flakes of snow. The dhampir sat down on a nearby bench, his hands resting in his lap as he tried to stay calm. 

***

Lyudmil was back in the kitchen, putting the toppings on the cake. He was pleasantly surprised to find that he had baked it nicely—it might have, in fact, been his best culinary creation yet. The servant poured honey onto the cake, and topped it with freshly cut raspberries. He carefully picked up the cake tray and carried it to the dining room where he had left the gifts, his boots clicking as he walked down the hall. Lyudmil set the cake down on the long table, and decided to go check on Alucard. The cake and the gifts were ready; the only thing missing was his master. 

Lyudmil climbed the stairs back to their living quarters, and he knocked on Alucard’s door. 

“Master Alucard!” he called, trying to keep the excitement from his voice. “Master Alucard, are you in there? I’d like to show you something.”

There was no response, so Lyudmil opened the door. His master wasn’t there. Lyudmil wasn’t too surprised—Alucard probably went to the library or the laboratory to pass the time. He left the bedroom and walked down the corridor to the library. He entered, but saw no sign of his master. 

The servant was about to leave, but he noticed that the curtains over one of the windows were hanging crooked, so he went to fix them. He glanced out the window as he adjusted the fine fabric, looking out over the courtyard. A dark shape caught his eye, and he was pleased to discover that it was Alucard, sitting on a bench by the pond. Lyudmil’s expression quickly fell as he noticed the dhampir’s posture. His was slumped over with his head in his hands, his long pale-blonde tresses floating gently as the wind blew. 

“Master Alucard...” Lyudmil murmured, before quickly leaving the library to greet his master. 

***

Alucard sat still and stared at the frozen pond. The surroundings were familiar—frozen water, icy leaves, and a gentle breeze blowing through his hair. He remembered sitting here before, but he had felt warmer, happier. What was missing from the scene? The dhampir closed his eyes and bowed his head. He had to remember, he had to know...

 

“Adrian!” Lisa called. “Come, sit down here, sweetheart. Your father and I have a few gifts for you.”

“Presents!” Adrian said excitedly, as he sat on the stone bench in the courtyard. 

His mother sat on the left of him, while his father sat to his right. They provided a barrier of comfort and protection from the chilly winter breeze.

“Here, honey,” Lisa said with a smile, as she handed her son a covered basket.

The young dhampir removed the cloth and his eyes went wide. He pulled three books from the basket—two fairy tales for his collection, and one unmarked book. Adrian opened the book and looked at his mother, a confused look on his face.

“It’s empty, Mother,” he said. 

Lisa smirked. “I know it is. You can fill it with whatever you like. Drawings, stories—you can even keep a journal.”

“You write notes, Mother. I’ll be just like you!”

Lisa laughed. “Yes, yes you will.”

“Thank you, I love them!”

Lisa squeezed her son in a tight embrace and kissed his head. 

“All right, son, it’s my turn,” Vlad said.

Adrian set the basket down and turned to his father. Vlad stood up and moved in front of the bench, putting on a full display of class and elegance. Lisa smiled, entertained. The vampire reached into his cloak calmly, and pulled out a short black scabbard. Adrian’s jaw dropped and Lisa gasped. 

“Vlad! You got him a sword?!” she exclaimed. 

Adrian jumped to his feet and ran towards his father, showing off his fangs in a massive grin.

“It’s only a small training sword,” Vlad said. “I think he’s old enough now to learn how to use one.”

“Father, Father, can I hold it?” Adrian asked, bouncing with excitement.

“Of course, son,” the vampire said. “But be careful. The sword is a weapon, and weapons must be respected.”

“Yes, Father.”

Vlad handed the scabbard to his son, and Adrian took it gingerly. 

“May I take it out?” he asked.

Vlad nodded his approval, Lisa standing warily nearby. Adrian wrapped his slender fingers around the silver handle, and pulled it up and out of its sheath. It was a bit heavy for his stature, but he managed to reveal the glinting silver blade. His eyes widened as he gazed at the sword—he loved it already, and he knew he would devote many hours to learning how to use it. 

“It’s beautiful...” Adrian breathed. He looked up at his father, who was smiling proudly. “Can you teach me how to use it now? Please, Father, I want to learn!”

Vlad chuckled. “Perhaps this evening, son. I can tell, you’re going to be a natural.”

Adrian smiled again. Lisa looked at her son standing proudly with his new gift. He was no longer the little boy who she could carry in her arms, but he would always be her child. 

“Happy Birthday, Adrian,” Lisa said. “You’re growing up so fast...”

 

Alucard jumped as something touched his shoulder. He gasped and turned his head to find Lyudmil sitting beside him. 

“O-Oh, Lyudmil,” he stammered, trying to calm his breathing. “You...scared me.”

“My apologies, Master Alucard,” Lyudmil said, but his expression quickly fell. “What’s wrong?”

“What?” Alucard asked, confused. 

“Your face...” Lyudmil reached his hand out, but didn’t touch the dhampir. 

A choked breath escaped Alucard as he touched his face, nearly numb from the cold. He pulled his hand back to find that his gloves were wet. The dhampir didn’t know what to do as he continued to stare down at his hands.

“Is...everything all right?” Lyudmil asked, although he knew the answer. 

“Yes, yes...” Alucard muttered. “Excuse me.”

The dhampir stood briskly and entered the castle. He climbed up to the third floor and stepped into the library. He needed to get his head clear before talking to Lyudmil, and the library had always been his safe space. 

Alucard lit a few candles and sat down at a table. Books and papers littered the surface, but he paid them no mind. He noticed that the curtains were moved away from one of the windows—a window that faced the courtyard. From his seat, he could see Lyudmil standing from the bench and making his way into the castle. Alucard looked up at the sky, and watched as clouds completely covered the moon. The library darkened, with only the golden light from the dying candles chasing away the darkness. A gust of wind hit the windowpanes, loud and powerful. Light raindrops began to fall. He felt lonely. He had to clear his head, he had to calm down. He felt so alone...

 

“They are beginning to suspect, Lisa!” Vlad cried. “You shouldn’t go out there anymore!”

Adrian flinched at the loudness of his father’s voice, every syllable audible from two floors up. The dhampir sat quietly in the library, at a table near a window. His mother’s voice replied, just as loud, just as passionate.

“There is nothing to suspect!” she exclaimed. “I am only trying to help them, Vlad, don’t you understand?”

“I do, but they do not,” he answered. “I will not allow them to hurt you.”

It was late in the moonless night, and Adrian remained seated. His parents asked him to meet them in the library. He had been waiting for about an hour, but he was old enough now to know when to be patient and let things run their course. Things like the serious conversations that his parents had recently been engaging in. Conversations about humans, and witchcraft, and potions...

“Vlad, you do not need to worry,” Lisa said. “I will be just fine. I promise.”

Vlad sighed. “You know I am leaving tomorrow. I’m just worried, Lisa. What if something happens? I won’t be here to protect you. I will never forgive myself...”

“Don’t speak of such things. Everything will be all right.”

Adrian listened to their footsteps as they climbed the stairs to the second level. Had they forgotten about him? No, surely not. They would never. 

Thirty minutes passed.

Adrian felt slightly upset. He told himself it was selfish, but it was the truth. He stared down at the table with his hands clasped in front of him. His birthday used to be such a special occasion. From sunrise to sunset, his parents would pamper him and stay with him and love him.

Now he just felt alone. 

He had hardly seen his parents all day. It felt ridiculous, but he missed his younger years, when they had nothing to worry about. Why did things have to be different?

He felt his consciousness slipping away, his head falling into his arms on the table as he drifted into the world of sleep...

“Adrian!” Lisa cried. “Adrian, sweetheart, I’m so sorry.”

The dhampir turned his head and sat up as his mother approached him. His father was already by his side.

“You...forgot,” Adrian said quietly, and he regretted it immediately.

“No, no, of course not, honey. Your father and I just had some things to discuss, and I was helping him pack for when he leaves tomorrow.”

“We just lost track of time, son,” Vlad said. “We’re sorry, we did not mean to keep you waiting.”

Adrian nodded and looked down. 

“Adrian, are you all right?” Lisa asked, lifting his chin. 

He nodded again, afraid of what might happen if he opened his mouth to speak. 

Vlad crouched down so that he was eye-level with his son, still seated in the chair. 

“Adrian,” he said. “For your birthday this year, you can have whatever you like. Ask for it, and it shall be yours.”

The dhampir took a shaky breath and felt his eyes tearing up. Vlad’s cool, calm expression fell, and he placed a hand on his son’s shoulder. 

“What is it, son?” he asked. 

“Don’t—” he choked. “Don’t leave, Father. Please. Th-That is all I ask for.”

Vlad wrapped his son in a warm embrace. “Don’t cry, Adrian. Please don’t cry.” Vlad found himself mimicking his wife’s words. “Everything will be all right.”

 

“You were wrong, Father,” Alucard said quietly. 

That had been the last birthday they had celebrated. Both of his parents had still been alive then.

A tear ran down his face. The door to the library opened. 

“Master Alucard,” Lyudmil’s voice came from behind him. “Are you busy?”

“No, no, not at all,” Alucard wiped his face, but was horrified as he felt more tears begin to fall. “D-Do you need something, Lyudmil?”

“I wanted to show you...” the servant trailed off as he stood before his master. “Master Alucard?”

Lyudmil knew that Alucard had been upset all day. He was hesitant to ask why, as he didn’t want to invade his master’s privacy, but the least he could do was try to comfort him. A birthday celebration would surely cheer him up. 

“Lyudmil...” Alucard said softly. “I’m sorry, what did you want to show me?”

Lyudmil held a hand out to Alucard, and the dhampir took it, standing from his seat. To Alucard’s surprise, his servant moved closer and wrapped his arms around him. It was comforting. Lyudmil was solid and warm and there. Alucard couldn’t help but return the embrace. He closed his eyes and let the last of his tears fall. 

Alucard didn’t make a sound, but Lyudmil could feel his friend trembling against him, longing for the warmth of another person’s company. 

“I want to show you that I care for you,” Lyudmil said. “I’m here for you, Master Alucard.” Lyudmil broke the embrace and smiled at his friend. “But also, it’s your birthday, and I have a few things that I would like to give you.” 

Alucard’s breath hitched and he stiffened. “Lyudmil, you did not have to do that. When did you even—?”

“Hush now, don’t worry about it, Master Alucard,” Lyudmil said, a bright smile on his face. “Come on, follow me.”

Alucard followed Lyudmil down a flight of stairs. His servant led the way to a large dining room. The dhampir didn’t visit it often, as it was very large for only one person, but he entered nonetheless. Lyudmil pulled a chair out from the head of the table, and gestured for his master to sit down. 

As he sat, Alucard immediately noticed a covered silver tray on the table. The dhampir watched as Lyudmil went to a cabinet and pulled out a few items that were wrapped in cloth. A small blush peppered the dhampir’s cheeks as his servant smiled and placed the items on the table. 

“Happy birthday, Master Alucard,” Lyudmil said, as he uncovered the tray.

Alucard took in a sharp breath as he saw what was underneath. There was a cake, topped with honey and raspberries. It looked very nice, and smelled just as good. 

“Did...did you make this, Lyudmil?” he asked quietly. 

Lyudmil smiled. “I did. I made it for you.”

Before Alucard could thank him, Lyudmil cut a piece and put it on a plate, placing it down in front of the dhampir. 

“Go on. Try it,” Lyudmil encouraged.

“I want you to have some too,” Alucard said. 

“But it’s yours. For your birthday.”

“It’s mine, and I want to share it with you,” the dhampir said, a small smile pulling at his lips. 

“If you insist, Master Alucard,” Lyudmil said, cutting a piece for himself. 

Alucard took a bite, and savored it. The cake tasted just right, the honey melting in his mouth, and the raspberries providing a pleasant tangy flavor. 

“It tastes really good, Lyudmil,” Alucard said shyly. “Thank you.”

“I’m glad you like it,” Lyudmil said with a smile, as he enjoyed his own piece.

Once Alucard finished his cake, Lyudmil reached for the gifts. The first one was small and delicate, wrapped in white cloth. He handed it to Alucard, who took it gently in his gloved hands. 

“Lyudmil, what is this...?” Alucard murmured, slightly flustered. 

Lyudmil grinned. “Open it and find out.”

The dhampir moved the cloth aside and stared at the item beneath. It was a quill pen with a large maroon-colored feather. The metal tip was made of elaborate silver.

“It’s beautiful,” Alucard breathed, lifting his gaze to his friend. “Thank you, Lyudmil.”

“Don’t thank me just yet,” Lyudmil said playfully. “There’s more.”

He gave Alucard a second cloth-covered bundle. This one was taller and larger. It was heavy in Alucard’s arms as he took it. As he removed the white covering, he found a stack of books—three in total. They were brand new, with pages trimmed with gold. New stories to add to his vast collection—he knew he was going to enjoy them. 

Before Alucard could thank his companion, Lyudmil was already handing him the final item. This one was wrapped in black cloth, flat, and light. The dhampir unraveled the cloth, but soon realized that the fabric was the gift. He held it out in front of him to reveal a cloak. It was pitch-black on the outside, reminiscent of the twilight, but the inside was what caught his attention. The inner trim was red, but the material was no ordinary fabric. It shimmered, glowing faintly in time with the slow, calm beat of his heart. 

“Do you like it?” Lyudmil asked hesitantly, when Alucard did not look up. 

The dhampir nodded, still refusing to lift his gaze as he stared at the mesmerizing cloak in his arms. He was suddenly hit with strange, overwhelming emotions that he couldn’t identify. He didn’t deserve Lyudmil’s kindness or generosity. How did he even obtain the gifts? When did he find the time to put all of this together? 

What did I do to deserve this?

“Master Alucard?” Lyudmil called hesitantly. “Is everything all right?”

“Yes...” the dhampir’s voice broke. “Yes, I—”

Lyudmil was already on his feet, and he wrapped his arms around his friend’s shoulders, holding him close. He didn’t know exactly what Alucard was feeling, but he could be there for him just the same. 

“What’s the matter, Master Alucard?” Lyudmil whispered gently. “Talk to me, please.”

Alucard sniffed. “Today...this day...it should not be celebrated.”

“Why is that?”

“A day to celebrate my birth?” Alucard cried. “The birth of a monster. A patricidal abomination who should never have been born.”

Lyudmil’s heart sank. “Master Alucard, please don’t say that. You did what you had to do. You’re not a monster, and your birthday should be celebrated just like everyone else’s.”

Alucard shook his head, keeping his gaze down. Lyudmil stroked the dhampir’s hair comfortingly as he stood over him. He was thinking of something to say, when Alucard suddenly choked on a sob. 

“They won’t l-leave me alone...” he said, his voice pitiful.

“What won’t?” Lyudmil asked, worried.

“The memories. I c-can’t take it, Lyudmil! The castle—it’s haunting me, plaguing me with the memories of when I was happy. Before I killed my father—”

Another sob caught in his chest, and Lyudmil held him tighter.

“What do you see?” the servant asked. “What does the castle show you?”

Alucard lifted his head, and Lyudmil knelt down to meet his misty gaze. 

“My birthday,” Alucard began. “When I was but a child. My parents came into my bedroom with breakfast...When I was a bit older, my father gave me m-my first sword...”

“What else?” Lyudmil asked, his voice calm and quiet.

“The last time it was celebrated. They argued, they forgot—” the dhampir wiped tears from his face and looked away. “It was just before my father left on a trip. Just before...my mother...” His voice faltered. “It won’t let me forget.”

More tears fell from his sad golden eyes and soaked through his trousers as he cried quietly, ashamed of himself and sorry that Lyudmil had to see it. 

Lyudmil stood and put a hand on his master’s shoulder. He noticed the distressed expression on Alucard’s face, practically begging for escape.

“Would you feel better if you got some rest, Master Alucard?” he asked. 

Alucard opened his mouth as if to speak, but all that came out was a quiet whimper. Lyudmil offered a hand out to him, and he took it gratefully, standing shakily to his feet. Lyudmil gathered the gifts and led Alucard to his quarters. He opened the door to Alucard’s bedroom and set the gifts down on his desk. Alucard sat on the edge of his bed, a look of pure heartbreak on his face. 

“I am so sorry, Lyudmil,” he said quietly, keeping his gaze down. “I know you spent a lot of time planning for today, and I have ruined it...”

“No, don’t say that, Master Alucard,” Lyudmil reassured. “You haven’t ruined anything. Not at all.” He sighed and sat down next to the dhampir. “You’re just...hurting. I know you are, and I will do anything that I can to help you.”

Alucard did not respond. Lyudmil watched as the sun began to rise, its light slowly entering the bedroom. The servant stood and shut the black curtains, then lit a few candles around the room. He glanced at Alucard, who had his hands clasped in his lap as he sat quietly. His shoulders shook with silent tears, and his heart longed for comfort. 

“Get some sleep, Master Alucard,” Lyudmil said. “Please. You will feel better.”

Alucard sniffed and listened to Lyudmil’s footsteps recede, and the door close as his servant left the room. The dhampir stood after a moment, and silently changed into his nightclothes so that he could rest. He was exhausted, and he felt horrible for ruining what Lyudmil had planned to be a special day. 

He could never do anything right. 

Alucard climbed into bed and buried himself under the blankets. He turned to extinguish the candle on his nightstand, but he noticed something sticking out from underneath his pillow. He removed it, and saw that it was a folded piece of paper. His heartbeat spiked in his chest—not knowing what it was or how it got there made him anxious. He unfolded the paper and found a page of neat handwriting, written in black ink. The dhampir began to read:

 

Adrian—your real name. Your birth name. Not Alucard, or Master, or monster—just Adrian. 

All I want for you is happiness. As my dearest friend, I only wish to see you laugh and smile. You have rescued me from a living hell. I thought everything was lost for me. My family was taken, my home was taken, and I was forced to leave my village, accused of being a demon. I thought my life was over, and it would have been, had you not taken me in. You saved my life by allowing me to serve you and get to know you. I have never made a better friend than yourself. I wake up every night with a smile on my face, looking forward to the moment when I get to say “good evening.” 

Adrian—this name was given to you on the day of your birth. It is your true identity, and it defines who you are. Alucard is not your name. You were not born to oppose your father. Master is not your title. You were not born to rule. Your name is Adrian, given to you because you are cared for and loved. You have been loved, you have always been loved, since the day you were born. 

Adrian—the name of the person who I care about most. I will stay by your side until the very end, my friend, and I only pray that you will not deny me the honor of doing so. I wish you the happiest of birthdays, and I hope that you will have many more to come. 

 

Alucard’s vision blurred as he read the letter, and he turned away so that his tears wouldn’t dampen the paper. He wiped his eyes and looked at the bottom of it, where he found a signed name. 

Lyudmil

The dhampir’s chest ached. He needed to see Lyudmil. He needed to talk to him, to tell him something, to say thank you. Alucard moved the curtain to look out the window, and he squinted as the bright sunlight entered, the sun nearly over the horizon. It was late, he should be sleeping, and so should Lyudmil, but he had to speak to his friend. 

Alucard quietly left his room and walked across the dark corridor. He knocked on his servant’s door and waited, not really expecting an answer, but hoping for one nonetheless. To his surprise, Lyudmil’s door opened, and Lyudmil stood there in his nightclothes, wide awake and wearing a bright smile. 

“Lyudmil, I—” Alucard started, but faltered as his breath caught in his chest.

Lyudmil took his shoulder and led the dhampir inside his room, closing the door behind him. 

“What is it, Master Alucard?” he asked, his voice gentle and comforting.

“Thank you,” Alucard said, wiping his eyes as tears began to slip down his cheeks. “Thank you for everything, Lyudmil. I do not know how to repay you for your kindness. You deserve better, and I am afraid that I cannot give you that, and—”

“Master Alucard,” Lyudmil interrupted, laughing lightly at his flustered friend. “You owe me nothing. Everything I do for you, I do it out of love for you, as my friend. I expect nothing in return. I only wish to remain by your side, and I will be more than happy for the rest of my life.”

Alucard stood still, shaking his head and opening his mouth as if to say something. It didn’t feel right, taking so much from this young man before him, yet Lyudmil stood smiling, tall and proud, ready for anything, and loyal to the end.

Lyudmil stepped forward and gave his master a quick embrace, warm and comforting—such a human action.

“You look tired, Master Alucard,” Lyudmil said, as he let go of his friend. “I’ll go make you some tea, and then you should get some rest.”

Alucard nodded. “Thank you...”

Lyudmil gestured to his desk. “Please, sit down. I’ll be back shortly.”

Alucard did what he was told, and watched as Lyudmil left the room. He felt completely drained. The dhampir stared at the surface of the desk as he awaited his friend’s return. 

***

Lyudmil was glad that Alucard had visited him. He knew that his friend had read the letter. Lyudmil meant everything that he wrote, and he wanted his master to know it. 

He made his way to the kitchen and quickly made two cups of tea—one for him, and one for Alucard. He climbed the stairs back to his bedroom, careful as to not spill the drinks. 

The servant pushed against his door, but froze as he turned and faced his master. Alucard had his head down on the desk, his hair cascading down the side as he lay asleep. Lyudmil smiled and set the cups down on his nightstand. He moved to where Alucard slept, and gently ran a hand over his master’s golden head.

“Sleep well, Master Alucard,” he paused. “Adrian. You will always be Adrian.”