A recent discussion on BBTV prompted me to skim through an old story in which Gabriel turns Catherine into a vampire. The story was not exactly my cup of tea, yet it had an intriguing premise. If I asked each one of you to think up an ending for a story like that, what would Vincent's reaction be, what would happen, I think I would get exactly the same response from each of you. So that's what I wrote - the only possible ending to the story.   

 

A Heart Whose Love is Innocent

Moira Keeley

 

She was a wild thing now. Haunting the streets by night; slinking into the deep, dark basement of an abandoned building during daylight hours. One in her position had to sleep in oneís native peat, and a half dug out wine cellar afforded her the earth she needed to lay her head upon when the sun was in the sky.

She could not kill. That was the impetus for her escape from Gabriel. He was named for an angel, but in the search for immortality, turned himself into an agent of the devil instead. He dressed her in white flowing robes, a shroud, so she would remember what he had turned her into each minute of the day, or rather, of the night. He forced her to drink blood, first his own, than that which he brought to her in large ornately decorated cups. Finally, he had forced upon her what was supposed to be her first live victim. She balked, attacked him instead. Her strength was amazing and she clawed at his barely living flesh with a vehemence that caught him off guard. She flung herself from a window, falling from a great height but then turning in midair and finding purchase on the building faÁade; she climbed quickly to the ground and escaped into the dark woods surrounding the estate.

The beast forund her that first night. It was almost dawn and she needed a place to lay her head. Sheíd turned around and there he was. She wasnít frightened; she was after all, a beast herself. But Gabriel had warned her of the consequences if she was discovered. They would hold her down, stuff garlic into her mouth, then they would nail a wooden stake through her bleeding heart, and finally they would cut off her head.

Perhaps this was not the golden beastís intention. She could not know, for he only stood there, tears streaming over his cheeks, panting with exhaustion and emotion.

She didnít stick around to find out. She fled from him as she would have from any other being. She found shelter in the wine cellar and made it her day time home. But at night hunger forced her into the streets. She could smell blood, smell it in throbbing veins and in ones where it had ceased to flow. That was her third night out. Sheíd found a gang banger in an alley, the blood still pouring hot from his inert body. With a feeling of both revulsion and famishment she knelt to try and satisfy the craving, but then he was there again. She stood up and backed away, hissed at him. He stepped over the body and tried to catch hold of her. She eluded him, spitting and hissing all the while. He was not deterred. He kept coming at her. She turned to scale the building but he caught her. Thatís when she discovered his strength nearly rivaled her own. She fought him off, managed to escape, just.

And so it was, night after night. His pursuit was relentless. He would not give up on her. She eluded him repeatedly but still he would find and follow her again and again Ė Van Helsing with fur. And those blue eyes. Infuriating. They reminded of her clear blue skies and quiet sun filled lakes. All the things she would never see or have again.

She feared he would find her daytime retreat, but he did not. She was losing strength and agility though. If she did not manage to feed, would she die? She did not know.

Finally, on a damp starless night, he cornered her under a stone awning. She got her first real look at him, and he at her. The way he stared at her. She glanced down at herself , and realized her dress had ripped open, exposing nearly half of her breast. She ran her hand over the exposed flesh and then turned and stared up at him. He averted his eyes, ashamed. Was that what he wanted? Would he leave her be then?

Unexpectedly, she stepped up close to him. He drew in his breath. She smiled seductively. "What do you want of me?" She asked in a low, breathless voice. He opened his mouth to answer but she moved up against him and was rewarded with the feel of his stiffening flesh. She reached for his hand, guided it behind her to the crevice between her upper thigh and buttocks, so he could feel the movement of her grinding against him from both the front and the back of her. As he fought for self control she plunged her long nailed fingers into his hair; grasping the back of his neck and pulling his mouth down to hers. She ran her tongue against his white fangs and then between them, forcing open his mouth.

He succumbed, wrapping his other arm around her and opening his mouth and his body and his trust to her. But the rasp of her own fangs against his, the taste of blood as their passionate kissing broke through the flesh of his warm and her cold lips, pulled him back to the horror he was facing.

He drew himself gently back from her, breaking the spell they were both under. "Catherine," he whispered. "Not now, not like this."

But she was more surely lost than he. The warmth! She had been so cold, so terribly, terribly cold. Her torso was numb with indissoluble frost. Her limbs were like frozen things, with fingers and toes like fragile ice icicles. But he! His body was a furnace. - his wet mouth brimming with lava - his groin pressing into hers was a burning meteor blasting a glacier.

The fearsome thing that possessed her soul leapt up in her then. She flashed back into a feral, hunted animal. He who had so much warmth inside of him denied her, even as he had warmth to spare, warmth he could give if he chose.

He saw the change, and despaired.

He held out his trembling hand to her. "Come with me, Catherine! Let me bring you below. I will protect you, and care for you and comfort you. Whatever change has been wrought in you, we will find a way to undo it together."

Catherine backed up against the brick wall of the corner he had trapped her into.

"Undo? There is no undoing. I am what I am. Only death can restore me to what I was. Will you kill me then? Run a stake through my beating heart. Remove my head from my body? Is that why you follow me? Is that the only mercy I can look forward to from you?"

She slunk away sideways, hissing, her eyes darting about for means of escape.

Vincent groaned in pain. "No, no, never. Your heartÖ is my heart. I would give it to you out of my body if I could, for it belongs to you as much as to me. Our hearts, they can only beat together; I could no more harm yours than I could my own."

He moved to take her in his arms again. She placed her hand upon his chest and he stopped, gazing into her eyes. She sunk her nails into his flesh just over his heart. He cried out and fell back in pain and surprise. She drew back her hand, glaring at him, and then sticking her hand into her mouth, she sucked his blood from her fingers, smiling at him.

"It tastes sweet," she told him.

He didnít attempt to touch her again, instead he dropped to his knees, holding out both his arms.

"Catherine, please," he begged, "let me help me youÖ please."

She sidled away from him and quickly scampered to the top of the building. But she turned back when she reached the roof. He hadnít pursued her. He had fallen forward and was beating the ground with his fist, crying out in agony. A stifled cry rose to her cold lips. Her life before this was nothing, a blank to her. But it seemed as if there was a golden mist forming in the dark behind her. Had she been warm once? Had she been loved? Was it possible that she could be saved?

Then she heard Gabrielís cold voice in her head. The curse could never be undone, heíd told her. Life as she was, or a cruel death was all there was to look forward to. Perhaps it, death, would be a relief after all.

She was aware of him. The sleep she slept during the day was like a stupor, and she could not move her limbs. But she felt him lift her, carry her through cool, damp places. How had he found her? Had he sniffed out the smell of his own blood on her fingers? She could not know.

His body burned her flesh as he held her against his own. But he lay her down on a bed of cold earth and she slept again.

She knew night had come. She always knew now. She sat up and looked around her. She was lying at the end of a narrow cave. About a half way to the entrance, there were multiple shining objects hanging down at different levels. She moved closer and inspected them. Crosses! Dozens of them. A length of twisted garlic ringed the same area. She sniffed. And holy water, she could smell it. She sat back glaring at the triple threat. She was trapped.

He sat just beyond, quietly watching her. Infuriated, she jumped to her feet and screamed at him. She hissed and spat and railed and shrieked. She allowed the demon Gabriel had implanted in her full rein.

He watched her quietly. The only hint of emotion was an intense sympathy which radiated from him and that even in her fiery state she could feel.

Finally, she grew quiet. There wasnít much else she could do. Breathing heavily, she dropped to the ground, eyeing him.

"Why are you doing this?" she finally asked.

He studied the ground for a moment, then looked up at her.

"I love you."

She looked away. "Since when?"

He snorted, a half a smile forming on his lips. "Since always."

"What are you?" she asked.

"Something different." He gazed at her. "Like you are now."

She rose, walked about her small space. "You say you want to try and cure me. It doesnít look as if youíve had much luck with yourself."

"No," he answered quietly. "But I am not a danger to others."

"And I am," she sneered.

He nodded. "I am afraid so."

She leaned against the wall of the cave seductively. "Youíre not afraid of me, though."

He shook his head. "No."

She ran her hand through her hair. "Then why stay outside?" she leaned forward, running her hand down the length of her body. "Come to me then," she moaned.

To her surprise he rose up and stood quietly regarding her. Gently picking his way through the hanging crosses, he moved toward her. She stood up straight herself as he walked to the middle of her circle and faced her. She flew at him suddenly Ė grasping the vein in his throat between her sharp fangs. He responded by lifting his head slightly and gently closing her in his arms. He stood calmly waiting.

She loosed her hold and pushed him away. "Youíre a fool!" she cried.

He opened his arms for her to come into again.

She turned from him uneasily. The temptation was enormous. She wanted his heat as much as she wanted his blood. More than that. She just plain wanted him.

"What do you plan on doing with me? You might as well kill me outright, since Iíll starve anyway."

"Did I not tell you that I would care for you and heal you?" He gazed at her quietly. "Sit down."

She did, reluctantly. Yet she found she wanted to obey him, put her trust in him. Even the monster inside of her could not erase that Ė her trust of him.

He sat down in front of her. Bowed his head and pushed his hair to the side, exposing his neck. He lent toward her so her mouth was inches from the vein. She jumped up.

"I canít."

Quietly. "You can."

"No!"

"Yes. Iím not telling you to drain my body completely, just enough to keep you healthy."

"But donít you know what happens then?" she cried. "Donít you understand how it will be?"

"Youíre worried I will become what Gabriel has made of you?"

"Yes."

He lifted up his hand to her, she hesitated, and then took it.

"Do you believe me when I tell you that we once loved each other?"

She knelt down beside him. "Yes."

"That we trusted each other completely?"

"Yes," it was almost a whimper.

He abruptly pulled her close to him, placed his hand at the back of her neck and pushed her mouth against his bare throat.

"Trust me now," he whispered.

She drew in a breath. Tentatively, as gently as she could, she bit down, just so the vein was punctured, but just barely. He stroked her hair with one hand and held her close to him with the other. She hadnít been lying the night before, his blood was sweet. And warmer than anything she could imagine. It coursed through her veins with a slight burning sensation at first, but then just a warm tingling. She had to be careful though, his very life was in her hands, or rather lips. She moved her mouth away, ashamedly wiping the blood from her chin. He gently kissed her on the mouth to reassure her.

She gazed in to his eyes. Eyes full of the sky, and of hope and promise too. My God, what he was risking! Did he understand it even, she wondered.

He began to stand up, but she held onto his arm. "Hold me," she begged, "just a little longer."

He sat down again, stretched out on the ground and gathered her in his arms. "As long as youíd like."

"Then forever," she pleaded.

He left when morning came but was there again at sunset. He sat outside the circle at first, reading the bible to her. Eventually, he put it to the side and came to her, once again pressing his neck against her lips. She did what he asked of her. Afterwards, she asked him to tell her about them, about their love. They sat facing each other, holding each otherís hands. Finally, as she could feel the sun coming up, she lay her head against his broad chest.

"What is to become of us?" She asked.

"You remember what I read to you about the mustard seed, donít you?" He smiled.

"I remember."

He kissed her forehead. "And you mustnít forget."

The third day came and then the fourth, he still seemed like he had before, but with those fangs of his, who could tell? She didnít want to take from him again, and he could not convince her to it.

"Donít you see, Catherine, your concern for my well being is an indication that you, the real you, is returning."

But she would not be swayed. So he left her, and then came back with a looking glass. She turned away.

"Please, donít make me look in that. There will be nothing there."

Gabriel enjoyed having mirrors about, to remind them both of their immortality.

But Vincent insisted, and finally she looked. She was not there, but neither was there nothing. There was a light filled shadow, an outline of a woman in the glass. Almost too ecstatic to breathe, she turned the glass to him. Vincent was there as clear and beautiful as he was in life. She cried out in gladness, and pulled his face down to cover it with kisses. As she grew more amorous he gently drew away from her.

"Not yet, Catherine, we must wait. When this is all overÖ"

She smiled and nodded, not at all hurt the way she had been before. She did as he bid about the other thing as well, sick and ashamed as she was, she would do what he wanted without question now.

He came to her each night, and each night she longed for the ritual to be over.

On the seventh day he had not yet arrived when she awoke. Tentatively, she crawled to the place where the crosses hung. She reached out, breath held, and touched one. It did not burn her. With a cry of joy she sprang forward, released from her prison. She walked into the tunnel, and wondered if she should wait. They were a maze indeed. But she felt him somewhere above her, she was sure of it, and she followed the feeling.

She came upon the bathing chamber first however, and was drawn in.

A bath. Several ladies were there already, and cried out and hugged her. They all knew her! They told her they wanted to visit her but Vincent insisted that no one was to see her in her previous state. She was grateful that he had spared her that shame, even from these loving women. They helped her bathe and change and showed her to his chamber.

He was not there either, so she sat on his bed and picked up the book lying there. It was the bible he had been reading to her. She turned to a marked passage,

"I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall removeÖ "

"and nothing shall be impossible unto you," he finished from the doorway.

She jumped up. "Youíre here."

"Iím here."

She held out her arms. He came to her and embraced her. He pointed to a mirror,

"Iíve hung a mirror for you."

She turned and saw herself looking back. She was pale, and she was thin, but she was she.

""But Vincent, you could not know! You risked your life and your very soul to save mine. How were you so sure?"

He sat on the bed and just smiled at her. She sat down beside him.

"As I have told you; I love you, Catherine."

"No," she said thoughtfully, sitting down beside him. "Itís more than that. I thinkÖ " she reached under his shirt and placed her hand on his chest, where he still bore the scar marks of her nails. "Itís your heart, Vincent. Itís a rare and precious one, I feel that. Your heart is pure and brave and generous. Itís a heroís heart. The blood that flows from here has a special magic that saved me. It comes from the heart of a man who would give everything to and for another, without hesitation, without doubt."

She placed her cheek, where a tear drop had rolled down, over his heart.

"I love you so much, Vincent." Vincent held her, fighting back his own tears.

But suddenly she smiled and gazed up at him. "You said beforeÖ when itís overÖ we canÖ she dropped her eyes, bit her lip.

He smiled in return, moving his lips close to hers.

"Itís not over," he whispered, low and gravelly, "for us, itís the beginning."

 

AND THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER