A/N: Well it's been nearly a year since I updated this. I honestly had no plan to continue, but having Halloween approaching once again put me in a creative mood. So I am please to say this story is no longer on hiatus! Enjoy, and please leave a review! :)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Hellsing, its characters, or anything affiliated with it.
'Good god, that's an awful lot of people,' Integra thought as she gazed across the room of flabbergasted guests. The ballroom had dropped into deathly silence; the orchestra had stopped playing its melodic tunes, and all idle chatter had ceased. Integra could have probably heard a pin drop if it weren't for her heart beating faster than the hump-rate of an aroused Chihuahua.
Too proud to let her nerves show, Integra mentally steeled herself and descended the stairs with her two vampires in tow. All eyes were following her, or at least she thought so at first; but after careful inspection she was somewhat pleased to note that some of the guests were gawping at something, or rather someone, behind her. This was confirmed by the mental rumbling of Alucard's laughter as it echoed through her mind.
'I think you've delivered your desired effect, master,' Alucard chuckled through their bond, whilst taking long, deliberate strides behind her. 'But judging by the scent of several dozen aroused gentlemen -and dare I say a few ladies- I'd say that dear Seras has you beaten on other fronts…notably in the breasticle department.'
Integra caught the sound of a whine from the draculina, but luckily it was too quiet for the rest of the party to hear. 'Weakness is unbecoming of you, Seras,' She chided. 'You are the childe of Alucard; become the maniacal uber-bitch I know you're capable of.'
Seras stiffened a little, but continued her pace behind her master.'Right, yes sir. But if any old men put the moves on me, I'm going to drag them into a private room and rip it off.'
Integra was about to caution Seras against bodily mutilation, which was apparently frowned upon in civilised society, but she had ran out of stairs, and now found herself facing the towering figure of Sir Irons - who had meandered his way through the large crowd to meet her.
Almost in unison, the pair came to a halt, and Integra felt a prickle of anger well up within her; after all, she was currently facing the smug bastard that had forced her into this situation in the first place. With a bit of effort, she repressed the desire to have Alucard shove a cactus up the no doubt tight rectum of the man, and forced a pleasant smile to grace her lips as she him up.
A few moments of silence passed before the room became loud again with the sound of music, and the guests resumed their chattering and acquaintance-making; nobody dared to try and eavesdrop on a conversation between the two most intimidating humans in the room. Especially when one of them had a pair of bloodsuckers for chaperones.
"Sir Irons." Integra acknowledged, extending her hand.
"Sir Integra," The man replied neutrally, taking her hand in a firm handshake. "After all these years you still manage to surprise me."
"Oh, really?" Integra asked. "What have I done this time?"
"I never knew you could throw a party," He gestured around the bustling ballroom. "Apparently I was mistaken; it seems you do know the meaning of social frivolity after all."
"Well I really didn't have a choice, did I?" Integra asked, further tightening her grip on the elder knight's hand before releasing it.
"I don't know what you mean." He deflected.
"She was referring to you going over her head and telling the Queen she was invited to a ball that didn't yet exist." Alucard butted in with a defensive growl, and Sir Irons bristled angrily at the vampire's interruption.
Frustration already building, Integra held up her arm as a barrier between the two men, both of whom had egos too big for one room.
"Alucard, go and mingle with the guests," She commanded. "And take Seras with you. She needs to learn from a gentleman how to socialise."
"I shall be happy to teach her, my master." He bowed in acceptance.
"I don't know what you mean," Integra said, brushing him away. "I was talking about one of the men over there. Now go."
If Alucard wanted to protest, she gave him no time, for Integra turned straight back to Sir Irons. "Alucard's impertinence aside, he was right," She said, before adding. "You did go over my head. That was a mistake."
"Well someone has to make sure this organisation continues," Sir Irons retorted, as if it were his self-righteous duty to do so. "And if you're not going to actively look for a husband, we shall bring one to you."
"Yes I noticed," Integra said, wishing already to excuse herself to a distant balcony so that she could inhale half a pack of cigars. "How many 'potential' husbands must I turn down this time?"
"More than last time," Sir Irons affirmed strongly. "And you'll be pleased to know that a good deal of them aren't relations of the convention."
"Imagine that," Integra faked a gasp. "I actually have some variety for a change. Tell me; are some of them modest enough to have an income smaller than six figures? Or are the plebs still off limits to me?"
Sir Irons' brow furrowed deeply, and Integra felt half tempted to bait the man even more.
"These men come from varying walks of well-bred society," He said hotly, though keeping his voice quiet to avoid unwanted attention. "It would be in your best interest to at least attempt something of this evening; otherwise I shall be forced to encourage the Queen towards more drastic measures."
"You needn't bother with it," Integra said, waving away the invisible threat. "I'll have you know that I actually intend to play this little game of yours, for once."
"It's good to hear that you're finally seeing reason to this." Sir Irons said triumphantly. Integra knew that if the man were a bird, he'd be fluffing his tail feathers. Oh if only he knew that was in store for him tonight!
"I didn't say that I'd find a husband tonight," Integra reminded him. "But if it pleases you and Her Majesty that I try, then try I shall."
"That's all that we ask, for now."
"Good. Now, shall we get this game started?" Because I know you're going to regret it.
"She did what with a melon?" One of the young ladies asked between fits of giggles.
"You heard me," Another said cheekily, her cheeks flushed by the flow of wine. "And they found him the next day, hanging upside down, starkers, with nothing hiding his 'you know what', save for a lace doyley."
Walter fought the growing urge to roll his eyes; he was getting far too old for this. After twenty minutes of being hounded by Sir Iron's about when Integra's non-existent marital situation, he had managed to escape the man, only to find himself trapped by the vixens of vulgarity. He actually preferred the term: gossiping, wine guzzling sluts. But he couldn't really say that out loud, so Vixens of Vulgarity it was.
It was expected, of course, that the Knights would bring their daughters to the ball as well; though their main focus was selling their sons to Integra as a suitable husband. But some of their daughters could be the most prolific gossipers in the whole of the British aristocracy, and their mothers didn't help improve the matter either.
However, some members of the convention also reserved the suspicion that Integra was in fact a closet lesbian, so bringing a few ample-bosomed ladies was considered a healthy 'backup plan'; Even if it meant putting up with a torrent of scandalous gossip.
When the assembled gaggle of girls burst into another round of laughter, apparently to do with something involving the Duke of Westminster and an amusingly shaped cucumber, Walter quietly slipped away, regretting his feeble decision to even attempt a normal conversation with such people.
Walter had originally held reservations against 'dressing up' for the evening's festivities, but he had found it rather fun being dressed up, as a vampire of all things. He sauntered around the room, offering drinks to guests and trying his utmost to scare the living daylights out of them. He'd decided it would be good to have a bit of fun before the Queen arrived at six o' clock; then the real challenge would begin: keeping her away from the chaos...and Alucard.
He noted with interest that the vampire in question was currently in the process of interrogating a man who looked about ready to soil himself, and who'd apparently made the critical mistake of making a pass at Seras Victoria.
"Listen to me, pencil neck," Alucard growled in a deep, threatening tone that told of much pain if ignored. "That one belongs to me..."
"It's alright master, I don't mind." Seras interjected, her jovial and slightly alluring tone surprising Walter. "Harry was just paying me a compliment, weren't you my handsome man?"
'Harry' nodded in earnest, and it suddenly clicked in Walter's head what was going on.
Oh my, that's evil, even for you two, he thought with mixed feelings of amusement and pity, for the poor gentleman's sake.
They both did it so well that Walter had almost fallen for the act himself, but he knew better. For one: Alucard couldn't hurt any of the guests, that is unless they threatened Integra; and two: Seras would never call anyone but her master handsome. And even then he didn't think she'd have the courage for it.
Alucard gave a harrumph, folding his arms and contorting his face into one that looked positively livid. "Very well...But if you so much as think of doing anything to her, I'll take a croquet mallet to your testicles. And believe me sir, I'm a hard player."
Harry gulped, but Seras grabbed him by the arm and brought her lips to his ear. "Ignore him; now why don't you come and introduce me to some of your lovely friends, hmm?"
The odd pair wandered off, and Seras quickly looked over her shoulder to Walter long enough to roll her eyes in disgust. He had to hold a hand up to his mouth to mask the chuckle that threatened to break lose.
"That's the third bloke already," Alucard said as he walked over, plucking a glass of wine from Walter's carrying tray. "Honestly, if I knew it would be this much fun I'd have nagged Integra into doing this years ago. I wonder what the record is for how fast you can make a fat aristocrat piss himself? Because I'm sure that I'll best it tonight."
"Alucard," Walter began in a warning tone. "Remember that we cant go too crazy yet; the Queen hasn't even arrived, and then we'll need to wait until she leaves which will be no sooner than eight o' clock. I'm sure that even you can be civilised for but a few hours."
"We'll you're a boner killer aren't you," Alucard scoffed, keeping a dark look on his face for whenever a guest felt brave enough to look at him. "Very well, I shall try; but god help me if the Queen is wearing that delectable perfume she used to wear. I'll wreck her harder than that Miley Sinus chick."
"Miley Cyrus." Walter corrected.
"It matters not," Alucard shrugged. "Sinus, Cyrus; either way I'm gonna go the Queen like a wrecking ball if she's got that sex scent going."
Walter buried his face in his hand. Why me? He asked himself.
The night had been going surprisingly well so far, Integra thought. They were thirty minutes and ten seconds into the ball and nobody was dead; a promising start. If only the same could be said for her current selection of social company.
"...and then she said to him, 'would you prefer I had the salmon!'" Sir Walsh exclaimed, and Integra cringed as those around her fell into forced laughter at his increasingly dry jokes. The only thing worse than him was his son: Nathaniel.
He was a ratty sort of man; tall, thin, with greased back hair and an unhealthily large nose. His personality was much the same, she found. At least Sir Walsh had some form of humour, for his son had none, and didn't even attempt to crack so much as a smile at his own father's blunt wit.
I think I'll clear this one off early on, Integra noted internally. The last thing she wanted was a uptight, horrid man further souring her mood. And she had just the thing to put him off.
'I think I'm going to enjoy this evening more than I thought.'
"I must say, your father's hilarious." She said a few minutes later as they walked around the room. Integra noticed many eyes following them, and soon realised that every moment she had tonight would be under some form of constant scrutiny. All the more reason for her performance to be a good one, she thought.
"I suppose he has his moments," Nathanial said, though he'd nearly chocked on his drink at Integra's declaration. She noticed that his face was a little paler than before, and he appeared to have developed some sort of nervous tick around his left eye.
"You know," Integra said in her best 'innocent' voice. "He's getting a bit on in his years; a room for him would always be open for Sir Walsh at Hellsing should we... well... It's been so long since I've had a father figure around and he's just so funny. I can see it now, the three of us relaxing together in the living room of an evening and-" She stopped mid-sentence, noticing that she'd suddenly been abandoned by her suitor. Casting a quick glance around the room, she noticed the man running hell for leather outside the main doors screaming something along the lines of "Fuck it, It's not worth the dad jokes!"
Integra cocked her head in astonishment. He'd been far easier than expected; she turned around to find Alucard standing behind her with a stop watch.
"Three minutes and eight seconds," He let out a whistle of surprise. "Impressive."
She smirked. One down, two thousand or so to go.