The war was over, the final battle won, and now the real hard work began. Fighting a war was no picnic, but cleaning up after one? That was harder by far. Dead had to be counted and buried, and as if that weren't enough there were wills to read and estates to divide.
Harry James Potter, last of the House of Potter, also of the line of the House of Black, Leader of the Light after the passing of Dumbledore, Saviour to the Magical Society of Britain, and War Hero to the rest of Magical Europe... had dirt stains up to his ears, literally, from all the grave-digging.
He only stopped grave-digging when he received summons from the lawyers of Gringotts, when they had processed property division enough to be able to call him for yet another will reading where he was a beneficiary.
"That's the last one," a voice said from behind him as he stuck his shovel into the earth over another grave, freshly filled, the tombstone clean and new at the head of it.
Harry turned sharply at the voice. "Hermione," he greeted. "What brings you out here at this hour?" he asked. It was barely dawn. He'd been digging all night.
"I got a letter," she answered. "Asking me to deliver another letter to you," she said, and held out the envelope.
Harry frowned as he accepted it, and carefully opened the envelope while Hermione cast cleaning charms over him. They were no substitute for a proper washing, but it scraped the dirt off.
"It's from the Queen," he said as he stared at the page before him.
Hermione nodded. "I know," she answered.
"It's a summons to appear before her," Harry said. "Today at noon."
Hermione blinked. "I'm not surprised," she replied. "You'd better clean up and get going."
"I dub thee, Sir Harry James Potter, Knight of the Realm," the Queen said as she held the sabre steady in her wrinkled hands and tapped it on each of his shoulders. "For your services to our kingdom, above and beyond what anyone would, or should have asked of one so young. Rise, Sir Harry Potter."
It was a private knighting. Only the Queen herself, the servant who had brought the sabre in, and Harry were in the room. He was glad he'd been able to buy a good suit between leaving the graveyard and reaching his home and bath. It wasn't a brand-name suit or anything, but it was serviceable and tidy, and for a knighting? Well, better than the dirt-stained things he'd been wearing before.
"Now Harry," the Queen said once she had dismissed the servant. "With that done, I would like to discuss some things with you."
Harry nodded in silent acceptance, unsure where this would be going.
"The editor of the Daily Prophet is an interesting man," the Queen said. "His publication is controlled by the Ministry, which is a travesty, but he and his reporters are not. He sends me a letter every week containing all of the facts of what is going on in the magical world, not the gossip and rubbish he is forced to print."
Harry blinked. So that was the why and the how of the Queen deciding to knight him.
She smiled as she saw the realisation in his eyes. "Yes," she said. "And now, young hero, I have done what is proper as a queen by rewarding your efforts. Now, let me do what is right as a person by expressing a concern for you."
"Concern, your Majesty?" Harry asked, confused.
The Queen nodded solemnly. "You have become a rich young man very quickly, and a hero to the magical society. Any gold-digger worth her wonder-bra is going to be chasing after you, and the smart ones probably have been for the past few years already to try and get a jump on the others of her breed."
Harry's mind, involuntarily, flashed to Ginny. She had certainly jumped from boyfriend to boyfriend a lot before she'd latched onto him.
"And your society will expect you to marry," the Queen continued. "That is what heroes must do after all, when their wars are over."
"Must I?" Harry asked weakly.
The Queen chuckled at him, amused. "The people will say so, and your gold-digger will insist most pressingly," she assured him. "But I have a solution, of sorts."
Harry nodded slowly, showing that he was willing to listen. She was his Queen, of course he would listen.
"A Lord of my Round Table has recently passed, leaving his only daughter as head of the family. Integra is young yet, just two years younger than you, but in time she will also be required to marry. The continuation of her line is important for the safety of the Empire," the Queen stated. "My solution is this: I want you to marry this girl. Not yet of course, but you will have time to get to know one another until Integra is of age. A marriage arranged by your Queen will keep the gold-diggers at bay."
Harry's jaw dropped and he gaped at his Queen silently for a moment. Then he snapped his jaw shut and bowed. "Thank you, my Queen," he said softly.
She smiled, rung a bell, and a new servant appeared with a briefcase.
"These are the details on Integra's family, estate, and why it is so important that her line continues," the Queen said. "Read these tonight, and go to the Hellsing estate no later than tomorrow."
The mansion was empty when Harry reached it, or at least, there was nobody at the gate to stop him or at the door to welcome him. The seventeen-year-old set his bag down – a duffle was easier to carry than a trunk, even a trunk with feather-light and undetectable expansion charms, which this bag also had – and pulled out his wand.
"Point Me Integra," he instructed it as he held his palm flat beneath the stick of holly.
It twirled around a couple of times before setting on a direction.
Harry left his bag by the door and followed the way his wand pointed. It turned him down a hallway, and pointed down a flight of stairs.
"Where, oh where, could you be?" Harry heard a voice calling. "Little niece... My precious little niece... My cute fraulein. Heir to the Royal Order of Protestant Knights, the Hellsing Agency, last and only daughter of that line. Inegra Fairbrook Windgates Hellsing."
Harry frowned as he tucked his wand away and followed the voice instead. That didn't sound like someone with friendly intentions towards the girl.
"Please understand Integra," the voice called out. "I've been waiting for my brother, your father, to die for the last twenty years. Then he gives the family headship to you instead of me. He made me nothing more than your steward. I have a right to be a little upset, don't I?" the voice asked, almost pleasantly. "Hellsing is mine!" the voice growled next, and Harry heard a sound.
Having lived the past seven years mostly in the magical world, Harry shouldn't have a great deal of experience with guns. His uncle did own a few though. Hagrid had bent the barrel of one, back when Harry was eleven, the shot-gun. Vernon Dursley still owned an old blunderbus he couldn't get ammunition for though, as well as a new shot-gun he'd bought after the old one had been so thoroughly twisted out of shape. As well, Dudley had purchased a pistol not long after turning sixteen – when the War had really picked up and even Dudley had realised he'd need some way to defend himself against wizards who would try and kill him just for being related to Harry.
It was Dudley's pistol that made the same sound that Harry had just heard. It was the sound the gun made when Dudley was making sure it was ready to fire. The sound of a gun being cocked.
Harry ran faster, and finally spotted a group of three men walking down the hall, each carrying a gun in one hand.
His eyes went wide as, just a little way beyond them, he spotted a girl standing in an open doorway.
"Found you, Fraulein," the central man said. It had been him Harry had heard talking, and it was him who fired his gun, even as Harry drew his wand.
As she screamed and fell, Harry cast three spells in rapid succession. Petrificus Totalus may have been a first-year jinx, but it was effective enough against muggles unable to reverse it.
"Hu-Who are you?" the girl asked as he moved to check on her injury, stepping over the men he'd just caused to topple to the floor like unbalanced statues.
Harry smiled. "Harry Potter, and if you're Integra?" he asked.
"Then according to Her Majesty's order, I'm also your new fiance," he said.
"Fi-fi-fi-fiance?!" Integra yelped. It was clearly news to her.
Harry nodded and gave an apologetic smile. "I hope we can be friends?"
Integra smiled weakly back at him. "Well, I think you just saved my life," she pointed out.
"I do have a saving-people thing," Harry agreed with a self-depreciating chuckled, then stopped as a new sound reached his ears, and slowly he turned. "Ah," he said.
"The corpse -!" Integra exclaimed softly, shocked to see it moving.
Harry smiled down at her. "The vampire," he corrected. "Her Majesty gave me a very tidy and comprehensive packet of information about Hellsing when she told me who she wanted me to marry," he added, and stood.
Without fear, he walked over to where the vampire was licking up the blood that had been spilled when Integra was shot by her uncle.
"Prince Vlad Tepes of Wallachia," Harry said firmly. "What are you doing on your knees, licking up spilled drops like a starved dog?"
The vampire stilled for a moment, his head and body still bowed over the spilled blood. "I am a starved dog," he answered with a low, growling voice. "And I have not been called by that name or title for a very long time," he added, and looked up at Harry then. His red eyes glowed out of his pale face and from behind his curtain of black hair.
"Well then, dog," Harry said with a wry smile, "come and bow at the feet of your new mistress," he bid with a gesture back to where Integra had finally gained her feet again. "Follow the direction of her hand and be sure to never bite it, or I will make you suffer a far worse prison than this one."
"Quite the promise," the vampire noted, and looked at Harry with a measuring gaze, "for one so young. Though, I do believe you are one who could follow it through."
With his arms still locked behind his back by the leather straps, the vampire rose from his knees to stand at his full, impressive height.
Harry refused to be intimidated, and gazed serenely back.
The vampire walked over to Integra, and before her, lowered himself to one knee again. "My master," he greeted.
Integra narrowed her eyes at the vampire. "What did my father call you, if not your name?" she asked.
"Your father called me Alucard," the vampire answered.
Harry chuckled. "Quite the sense of humour," he quipped.
"What?" Integra asked, and tore her eyes away from the vampire bowed before her to her fiance across the room.
"Alucard. It's 'Dracula' spelled backwards," Harry explained.
Integra smirked. "I like it," she admitted. "Very well, Alucard," she decided, and then looked across at her traitorous uncle and his two flunkies. "They need to be dealt with," she said.
"I can do that," Alucard offered, a little eagerly, a dangerous gleam lighting in the pits of his eyes.
Integra scoffed. "I have no doubt," she allowed darkly.
Since the family retainer was away doing something on the continent, Harry set himself up in the room next to Integra's. This was the room he would be staying in until he and Integra were comfortable enough with each other, and old enough legally, to marry and share their sleeping quarters.
Not long after, it was time for dinner, and the set-up pair discovered just how extremely different two people could be.
"I'm really not used to being waited on," Harry said plainly as one of the Hellsing servants (come out of hiding now that Integra's uncle was no longer stalking the halls with a gun in his hand) set his dinner in front of him. "Or sitting at such an empty table."
"What are you used to?" Integra asked, taking the opportunity to learn more about the older boy that the Queen had decided she would marry. Integra, for all that she objected to the idea of an arranged marriage in this day and age, could appreciate her Majesty's taste. Harry had not only saved her life, but was very attractive. She was only fifteen, so that was a pretty important factor for her right then.
Harry chuckled. "Well, I'm used to eating at tables filled with my school friends, noise all around and having to translate what people are saying when they talk with their mouths full... or else I'm used to doing the cooking myself," he added, recalling meals at the Dursleys as well as at Hogwarts.
Hogwarts had house elves, yes, but they weren't servants the way the people at Hellsing mansion were. They cooked the food, it appeared on the tables at set times, and then you served yourself.
"And for the last year, I've been used to eating whatever I could scavenge to cook over a camp fire," he added as he recalled that fact, and smiled briefly for Integra. "But that was guerilla war conditions."
"Guerilla war?" Integra repeated, eyes wide behind her own round glasses.
Harry smiled. They were certainly an interesting pair, aesthetically. Him with his pale skin and dark hair, her with her darker skin and pale hair, both of them with round glasses on their noses.
"Yes," he answered. "I just won a war, oh, a few months ago now," he said, and blinked. Had it really been a few months ago? "I just finished burying the last of the dead yesterday. He was a good friend. He... it took a while to find all the pieces of him."
"Oh, I'm sorry!" Harry apologised. "This isn't really proper dinner conversation, is it?" he asked.
"Not really," Integra agreed with a weak smile. "But it's better than no conversation at all, and the things that the Hellsing Organisation does... I need to be able to handle that sort of thing."
"Not really," Harry objected, and reached for the wine glass that had been – rather purposelessly – set out. After all, no one dining that evening was old enough to drink. "What you need to be able to handle, Integra Hellsing, is blood," he corrected, and drew his wand to slice open his palm painlessly. A spell for drawing blood that healers used. He'd never been taught it, as such, but Madam Pomphrey had used it enough times while he was under her care.
She always checked his vitamin levels, determined he was too skinny.
The blood flowed from his hand and into the wine glass, and when it was a quarter filled, Harry healed the wound.
"How...?" Integra started to ask.
"Magic," Harry answered. "I'm a wizard, it's genetic and I can't explain it, but I can use it," he said, and pushed the glass away from himself towards the centre of the table. "As I was saying, you need to get used to blood – and what vampires do with it."
"Is that permission?" Alucard asked, materialising by the table.
"Yes, oh starving dog," Harry answered with amusement. "If you can conduct yourself in a gentlemanly fashion, that glass of fresh wizard's blood is for you. Virgin wizard, even, which I'm sure you will enjoy all the more."
"I will," Alucard agreed as he raised the glass delicately. He swished the glass and sniffed the liquid contained within as though it were truly wine, and then he took a sip. "You have been tortured," he said softly as he lowered the glass, a great deal of Harry's blood still in it. "Among... many other things."
"I have," Harry agreed. "Does it change the taste so much?"
"It does," Alucard answered, and took another sip.
"I'll not ask for the specifics," Harry quipped dryly.
"It seems that you are dining with us for now, Alucard. You might as well sit," Integra said. "Pull up a chair and join in the conversation."
Alucard smiled and sat in one of the chairs along the mostly empty dining table, the wine-glass of blood still in one white-gloved hand.
"Harry," Integra said, and then halted, trying to put her thoughts into a sentence. "You seem... very calm about dining with a vampire. The Hellsing Organisation is charged with the duty of keeping the British population safe from, and safely unaware of, the existence of vampires."
"Well, I am a wizard," Harry pointed out. "Something which I would have had to keep secret from you if the Queen hadn't sanctioned my telling you. Besides, I was named godfather to the child of a werewolf not long ago. No, Integra, dining with a vampire doesn't phase me."
"A werewolf?!" Integra exclaimed.
Harry nodded. "Remus was a good man, a tired man," Harry sighed, "and now a dead man. That war I mentioned. My godson has no parents because of that damn war. Just me and his maternal grandmother."
"Is... is the child a werewolf too?" Integra asked hesitantly.
Harry shook his head. "He's two months old and breaking things, but not transforming at the full moon," he answered. "You can't judge every werewolf by one though. Remus was, as I said, a good man. The werewolf that bit him, however, was decidedly not. The 'monsters' are as variable in their inclinations towards the ideals of 'good' and 'evil' as any human is."
Integra nodded in understanding. It was an important lesson to learn, and one that her father had also been teaching her when he finally passed on. It was a lesson that her uncle's actions had certainly driven home.
The budding, arranged couple spent the following week together, getting to know each other and settling into being in charge of the Hellsing Organisation. Harry had some practical experience with leading people, and Integra had been raised for it. Once they had arranged themselves around how the other did things, felt out the strengths and weaknesses, the pair were able to settle fairly well into a good working system.
Integra was more able to find needed information so that she could give the orders that needed to be given. In and of herself, she was also an excellent shot with a pistol, and had a fair hand with a blade, but she was a commander, not a warrior.
Harry, on the other hand, was a fighter, a man of action. He didn't do well when he had to sit at a desk and designate tasks or delegate duties, though he could sit over a map and plan just fine. He led by example and where he fell short he was a willing student. The men were shocked, however, when Harry turned to Alucard to teach him.
So was Integra – and she was the one to call him on it.
"I've had one truly good teacher when it came to lessons on monsters and fighting. He was a werewolf," Harry answered. "No one knew 'monsters' like he did. Now tell me, Integra, who would know the best way to use weapons of war, but the most experienced warmonger still haunting the earth?" he asked.
Integra chuckled. "You have a point," she conceded. "But I have to be Alucard's master, as a Hellsing, so I cannot be his student."
Harry grinned at Integra. "Well, while I'm still a Potter, and not a Hellsing, I can be, and I'm sure that I will need someone to practice with when I get better," he stage-whispered to her across her desk.
Integra smiled back. "I'm sure you will," she agreed.
So it was under Alucard's instruction that Harry learned how to wield a sword properly ("You really had no idea what you were doing with that thing, did you?") and how to shoot a gun ("Well, at least aiming your spells taught you a little, but aiming a gun is really very different.").
And they spoke as two men who knew they would be living in close-quarters for a very extended period of time.
"The basilisk venom in your blood made it a little spicy," Alucard commented as they fenced. Their conversations may not have been classified as 'normal' to anybody who might have overheard, but they weren't normal men, either.
"Spicy?" Harry returned as he parried. "I'd have thought it would have lent a bitter quality."
"I'd ask how you even survived," Alucard said, "but the taste of phoenix tears is still in your blood as well. I have to ask, were you trying to poison me, giving me blood with such things in it?"
Harry scoffed. "Kill a vampire by giving him poisoned blood? That's a good one Tepes, really, and I'll have to remember it. No, it might surprise you, but I'd actually forgotten about that incident," he answered.
"Forgot?" Alucard repeated. "How do you forget such a thing?"
"I was twelve, and a lot has happened since then," Harry explained simply, and twisted his sword in an attempt to disarm his opponent.
His opponent was Alucard, however, so there were several seconds of shocked surprise from both parties when it actually worked.
Walter returned from the continent, and they went through another adjustment period as the one-time vampire hunter, now family retainer, had to get used to having Harry watching very closely the actions of the man who had left Integra Hellsing alone in the mansion with her apparently murderous uncle.
Integra noticed the way her fiance watched her butler within a day, but had thought it would pass as they got to know each other, just as the initial discomfort between herself and Harry had passed. At the end of two weeks of the same behaviour, however, she was thoroughly sick of it.
So, dressed in her nightgown, robe, and slippers, Integra marched out of her bedroom, into the hall, and then into Harry's bedroom. Without knocking.
Harry had just been reaching for his own pyjama shirt when she burst in, and was dressed only in the bottoms. All of the scars on his well-defined torso were on display.
"Yes Integra?" Harry asked, frozen in place as he tried to keep his tone nonchalant. "Is something the matter?"
Integra's eyes had fixed on the scars and grown large, but Harry's question reminded her of just why she was barging into his room at this late hour.
"That's what I wanted to know," she answered. "What issue to do you have with Walter?"
Harry sighed and turned to face her, forgetting for the moment about his state of undress or that she could see all of his scars. She'd asked him a question, and he was a firm believer in giving answers that meant something, unlike the ones he'd so often received from Dumbledore. However great the man may have been in life, he was still too damn cryptic for a lot of people's good.
"The issue I have with your butler is somewhat compacted by the fact that I am still often thinking like I'm at war, and as such I am very paranoid about suspicious activity," Harry started.
Integra nodded slowly as she accepted that, forcing her mind to stay on why she'd come in here, and her eyes to stay on Harry's face, rather than to let either or both stray to the many, many scars that littered Harry's body. A visible reminder of the truth of his words. He was recently (a month and a couple of weeks) come from a war-zone.
"He left you, alone, in this mansion with a murderous uncle. He left you with no way to call for timely help. He didn't even leave you with a weapon you could use to defend yourself with. Except for a vampire that your father had locked away in the basement. A vampire that, I suspect, that same butler helped to secure there, and knew the reasons for the securing," Harry explained. "That is the issue I have with Mr Dolnez."
Integra blinked as she took all of that in. It was... a more worryingly valid and logical concern than she had previously supposed.
"Oh..." she said softly.
"Yes," Harry agreed. "'Oh'. But I thought, this once, it might be an idea to try the 'friends close and enemies closer' approach. If Walter were out to get you specifically killed, then there were more direct ways than leaving you to your uncle, and waking up a loyal vampire can't have been any benefit to such plans. If he is instead a spy of some sort for some unknown party, then he may be a potentially excellent asset, as he will be the very picture of loyalty to keep his cover. If he has some other, unknown agenda, then everything he does must be scrutinised until that agenda can be determined."
"Harry," Integra said. "You're starting to scare me. I don't like being scared."
"I'm sorry Integra," he answered softly, and crossed the room to her, his hands gently wrapping around her upper arms in an effort to comfort her. "You just forget about worrying, okay? Leave that to me, and I promise I'll be more subtle about it. If Mr Dolnez brings it up to you though, direct him to me," Harry sighed. "Maybe he and I will be able to talk it out," he said with a slightly joking smile.
Integra relaxed and smiled back up at him. "Okay," she agreed, then looked down from his face to... "Harry," she said softly. "I know you said you were in a war, but... all these scars..."
"And a different horror story for each one," Harry answered softly. "You've had enough of horror stories for tonight though," he decided, and kissed Integra on the forehead tenderly. She really was growing on him. "Go to bed Integra," he recommended. "Tomorrow will bring its own new set of worries soon enough."
Integra nodded silently and looked up into Harry's green eyes again. "Goodnight," she said.
Harry nodded and dropped his hands from her arms, then stepped back.
Integra didn't immediately turn to leave, but looked up at Harry a moment longer before taking a step back towards the door.
Harry didn't know it, but Integra was thinking about how her arms felt cold now that his hands weren't over them, and how the spot on her forehead where he'd kissed her tingled strangely. When the door closed between them though, Harry returned to his bedside and reached once more for his pyjama top.
"I thought it was strange, how you accepted a monster such as myself so easily, yet were wary of the human," a deep voice said, rumbling softly out of the shadows.
Harry sighed, shoulders slumping, and decided to just sit on his bed rather than remain standing for this conversation. "Yes, well, there it is. Now you know," he answered.
"Indeed," Alucard agreed, and stepped out of those shadows into the moonlight streaming through Harry's open window. "And... for all that I have known Walter since we fought together against the Third Reich, I will also take your warning under advisement."
Harry nodded. "You do that," he agreed. "Come for your half-glass of my blood?" he asked casually.
Alucard shook his head. "Not tonight," he answered. "I will be quite satisfied for some time on what I have received from you already."
Harry nodded in acceptance. "Well, if you don't have anything else to discuss?" he asked.
Alucard shook his head. "Sleep well, my lord," he bid with a bow, and disappeared into the shadows once more.
Harry rolled his eyes at the now-vanished vampire. "Such drama," he grumbled, though there was no heat and a fair amount of fondness in his words, as he finally pulled on his pyjama shirt.
Harry was completely pants at the mind arts, whether that was occlumency or legilimency. In all honesty, he blamed Snape for how bad he was, and actually was casually looking for someone who could teach him better, since they were so valuable. If there were other sub-branches that he hadn't heard of, then he suspected he'd be pants at them too (again, the reason he was looking for a better teacher). So when Mr Walter C. Dolnez did approach Harry about the matter of the tension between them (as Harry had suggested Integra tell him to do), Harry did not use legilimency to try and find out exactly why the butler did it.
Instead, he intended to ask. Bluntly. The Slytherin way of getting information subtly, without even necessarily the informant knowing that they were telling, would just give this man room to wiggle out of answering, as far as Harry was concerned. Besides, while he might have done well in Slytherin, while the house of Salazar might have helped him achieve greatness, Harry hadn't been a Slytherin. He'd been a Gryffindor.
"Mr Potter, may I ask why you have been watching me so intensely since my return to the mansion?" Walter asked as he politely set a cup of tea on the desk where Harry had been working on a letter to Hermione.
Just because he was getting married didn't mean he was giving up one of his last remaining friends. He had every intention of inviting Hermione to the wedding, and was sure that she and Integra would become good friends, if not fast or great friends. Hermione would probably have an issue with Alucard's enslavement, even if that enslavement was for her own good – and the good of every other person in the country – simply because it was enslavement.
"I have been watching you, Mr Dolnez, because I do not understand your motivations, and I'm a deeply suspicious person these days," Harry answered simply.
"My motivations?" Walter repeated, confused.
"Yes," Harry agreed. "Your motivations. Because really, I can't think of a single reason why someone who dotes on Integra as much as I have seen you do would leave her alone in this mansion with her murderously-inclined uncle," he stated, and looked the butler in the eye. "Would you please explain that to me?" he requested.
Walter blinked, but to his credit, he kept his mouth from falling open at the thinly-veiled accusation.
"Miss Integra was not alone in the mansion," Walter answered at last. "I knew Alucard was here, having assisted Sir Integra's father, Sir Arthur Hellsing, in sealing him in the basement, and Sir Arthur himself told Sir Integra of him."
"I very much doubt that Integra would have gone running to the basement for help from a vampire if she had known that specific detail," Harry said frankly. "And that does not answer my question. Why, Mr Dolnez, did you leave Integra with her murderous uncle?"
Walter gave no answer.
Harry continued to wait for one for a full two minutes, plenty of time to formulate a believable lie for most people. It seemed the butler had scruples enough not to lie to him though. Harry sighed and slumped back in his chair slightly.
"Mr Dolnez, that is why I'm so very suspicious of you," Harry said plainly. "I thank you for not lying to me, truly I do, and I appreciate that you do seem to genuinely care for Integra, but your lack of answers is a concern to me."
"I understand," Walter said.
"No, I don't think you do," Harry answered. "Integra trusts you. To her, you are practically part of the family, and to me, it looks as though you care for her to about the same extent. I, on the other hand, trust you about as far as I can throw this building. I have more trust in our resident Nosferatu and his motivations than I do you and yours. So, Mr Dolnez, I will tell you once, and only once, that if you ever again do anything that resembles a betrayal of Integra's trust in you, and I find out about it, you'll be facing the problem of having your insides on the outside. Am I clear?" Harry asked dangerously. "You have used up your one chance by leaving her alone with her uncle," he added for clarification.
He had said 'ever again' after all.
Walter snapped his heels together softly, and raised his left hand over the right side of his chest. "I understand you perfectly," he answered.
"Good," Harry said with a nod. "Oh, and Mr Dolnez? You are Integra's butler, not mine. Keep your fingers out of my desk drawers."
"Yes Sir," Walter answered tensely.
After that little talk with Walter, the atmosphere around the Hellsing mansion relaxed enough that the lady of the manor wasn't feeling an itch under her skin from things that weren't being said. A definite improvement.
"Integra," Harry called across the table at breakfast.
"Yes Harry?" Integra answered absently, preoccupied with the morning paper.
"I've received a letter from my friend Hermione," Harry said.
"This isn't anything new or unusual Harry," Integra answered frankly. "You receive a letter from her every Sunday."
Harry smiled. This was true. Integra had been completely fascinated by the concept of owls, of all creatures, carrying mail. Not little messages in tubes as carrier pigeons, but actual mail: letters in envelopes and packages of various sizes.
"She's decided that we've had long enough to get to know each other now, and is determined to visit and meet you herself," Harry explained.
Integra blinked at that news. "Oh," she said softly. "Well, then I'll look forward to her coming," she decided. "I hope she will like me, since she's practically your sister."
Harry nodded. The first letter had brought up the questioning on the matter, which Harry had answered to Integra's satisfaction. "I'm sure she will," he answered. "It would probably be for the best that she didn't meet our resident Nosferatu, however," he added with a pointed look at where Alucard was lounging in the shadows, having a last sip of Harry's blood from a wine-glass before he would retire to his coffin for the day.
Integra nodded in agreement. "Shall I have Walter prepare a room for her, or would you rather do that yourself?" she asked.
"Hermione can't stay quite long enough to need a room," Harry answered. "She's very busy these days, but she's determined to make time enough to sit down and have a meal with us."
"Lunch, I suppose?" Integra asked.
"I won't be an issue then," Alucard said simply.
"Bollocks," Harry said with good humour. "I know perfectly well that you're entirely capable of being out and about during the day Tepes. You're just more nocturnally-inclined."
Alucard grinned a grin that showed off his fangs, and didn't deny it.
"When will Hermione be coming?" Integra asked.
"Saturday," Harry answered. "I'll let the kitchen staff know."
Integra nodded in acceptance, and they returned to their breakfast in comfortable silence.
Hermione arrived at the front door of the Hellsing mansion after having to leave her taxi behind at the gate. She had permission to pass the gates and enter the property. Her taxi-driver did not. It might have been a bit of a cheat, but since she had been able to see the front door from the gate (just), she'd apparated the remaining distance.
Harry greeted Hermione happily, and was pleased to introduce her and Integra to one another.
They settled down at the dining table, and before the servants brought out lunch, Hermione asked Harry what he intended to do with himself now that the war was over, and Harry answered that he didn't intend to do anything with himself except be at the disposal of the Hellsing Organisation, which Integra was head of.
Integra had blushed, flattered.
Hermione had raised an eyebrow and levelled at flat look at Harry for his answer, utterly unsatisfied.
"Harry," she said, and suddenly her frown was audible, as well as visible.
"Really Hermione," Harry answered. "Integra and I have been working out how we'll divide the duties of running her family organisation, and I'm quite happy taking her orders, and it's not like I don't have piles of other businesses that I've inherited that I have to manage as well after all."
Hermione subsided, unsatisfied but aware that Harry could be just as stubborn as her sometimes – and recognised that this would be one of those times if she tried to press it.
Then Walter brought in the lunch meal.
"Not a word Herimone," Harry warned softly once Walter had taken up a post in one of the corners of the room. "No getting indignant about rights and equality and slavery. Mr Dolnez is well-paid for his services to Integra, and the position has lots of health benefits as well."
Hermione settled back into her chair, her metaphorical feathers soothed before they had a chance to get too ruffled.
Conversation moved from there to what methods the Hellsing Organisation used to discover and then hunt the vampires that were terrorising the nation, how Integra was adjusting to being head of the family, what Hermione was up to these days (carefully censored because Walter wasn't actually cleared to know about magic, even though he knew about vampires), and finally swung around to the impending wedding.
It wouldn't be for a year or two yet, but it would happen.
"I think Fleur would be a good person to ask about the wedding dress," Hermione suggested. "She certainly looked spectacular in hers, and she designed it herself."
"She did," Harry agreed with a nod.
"As long as it's white," Integra said with a smile.
"It will be," Harry promised.
Hermione giggled. "For the traditional meaning? Yes, you don't have to worry about that. Harry's almost too much of a gentleman about things like that," she said with a smile, which faded into a sad expression. "I blame the Dursleys for that," she commented.
Harry shrugged uncomfortably. "Well, so I don't have much experience of love or positive touch. I'm better now than I used to be," he pointed out.
Hermione sighed. "Yes," she agreed. "You don't flinch from hugs any more."
Integra was listening intently, learning more about her fiance from his conversation with his friend – not that she hadn't asked him a great many questions and received full and satisfactory answers herself, but there were layers to Harry that this conversation showed to her, since Integra could just watch.
When Hermione eventually left – she had returned to Hogwarts for her last year of schooling, which Harry had not, and had only been able to visit them because it was a Hogsmeade weekend. She'd apparated from the magical village to the outer reaches of London nearest the mansion, and caught her taxi from there – Integra fully intended to send a letter to Hermione with the next letter Harry sent her.