Disclaimer: Hellsing belongs to Kouta Hirano.
Author's Notes: Set in a possible future of Hellsing manga, not anime (therefore it could be subject of AU, if future issues of the comic contradict it. Not such a thing yet). Thus don't use anime relationships, events and characterization. They are quite different. Spoilers for the chapter 'Get Away!' Rating will go up in future chapters.
Special thanks: To Puck 3/4, who edited this chapter into Her Majesty's English.
The incessant sound of the hands of the old wall clock distracted Seras. Such a dull lullaby enthralled her senses so much, that she couldn't help but lower her lashes to listen to it. Always the same melody, over and over again.
It made Seras realize that time indeed existed. Even if it remained frozen for her.
How many hours she had spent touching the cold surface of the glass? Since she awoke that day, Seras couldn't help but to trace the mirror with her fingers, her tips did not leave a single spot on the crystal untouched. The routine had started these last weeks, when she had self 'confined' herself with nothing to do. Suddenly, the most amazing thing in the world was to stare at the reflected room through the mirror.
Seras had already memorized the details of the furniture-the scratches of the paint, the texture of the wood and the different shades. She had become an expert at remembering everything inside her chambers. The four-poster bed, the coffin and the cradle next to them. The bookcase, closet and modern gizmos. The Edwardian nightstand and chairs. The multiple pictures that decorated the walls and the elegant vermilion carpet on the floor. All was measured inside her mind. Except one thing.
There was no Seras Victoria returning her scrutinizing gaze. No short blonde hair or crimson orbs. No pale skin and long dress. It was as if she were an invisible phantom and nothing more. Sometimes she doubted if she was real because of this.
Vampires had no soul thus they didn't cast a reflection.
Her hands closed to a fist, hitting the mirror. The glass shattered at once, pieces falling to the ground. She was not a hollow being! Her mind screamed in determination. She was not a monster!
The noise disturbed the child that lay resting in the cradle, crying for her attention. Seras was focused on her bleeding hand, the smell filled her nostrils and an unquenched craving stirred inside her being.
Blood. She must have blood.
Without thinking, Seras Victoria licked the wound clean. Her tongue closed the damaged skin. It wasn't enough. It was never enough when there had been a month without a single drop. It was maddening.
The blood is the life, Seras thought bitterly.
In the past few days, Seras had contemplated eating the insects that crawled on the walls but there were none. She didn't recall when the bugs had vanished. She felt disgusted for the concept. Since when the circumstances were that bad to become a second Renfield?
But they are…
When the baby's sobs became higher, more demanding, Seras snapped from her musings. Quickly, she spun and approached to the cradle.
"Oh dear, I'm so sorry," Seras muttered and picked up the child, holding him close. He smiled brightly to her, ceasing his weeping. How the kid could stand her coldness was beyond her but the warmth emitting of his small body was comforting. Seras started to hum 'Yesterday' to calm him further as she rocked the child. It brought memories back to her. The glimpses of faces, smells and voices that she had almost forgotten.
I must not cry… Seras bit her bottom lip. But she did. The not so young vampire shed some tears out of melancholy, missing the good times when there was a Hellsing around. When she was still in London.
When Seras finished, the boy stared intensely at her with his blue eyes. She grinned down him, wiping away her tears. She was being a nostalgic fool. Alucard would berate her for this if he knew.
"There's a brave boy," Seras complimented, heading towards the door. "Let's get you something to eat before returning to your nap, shall we, Pip?"
"You already baptized him? And with that name, no less. You disappoint me, Seras."
The Police Girl froze in her tracks, recognizing the basso quality of the voice. It could only belong to her Master. The older vampire appeared next to her before she could utter a word. He was cloaked in a fur coat and breeches.
"The sun is setting," Alucard commented, gesturing towards the fleeting light coming from the open window. "You're weak, Seras, you should hunt with me tonight."
There was no suggestion in his tone, but the authority of an order. Seras turned, feigning a serene smile.
"Good afternoon, Master Alucard."
"Avoiding the subject again, Seras?" Alucard chuckled, eyeing the boy maliciously. Seras' grip on the baby tightened, shooting her Master a challenging look. "Perhaps you would prefer to feed from the little aperitif I brought to you instead of hunting with me. There's a reason why you Christened him like that mortal. Do you remember the flavour of the mercenary's blood on your lips?"
Seras cast her gaze down, gnashing her teeth. How dare he bring up this topic? She certainly didn't speak about his wives, Her Majesty or Integral. Seras knew what issues were better left buried.
"Pip's a good name. I wouldn't condemn him to a callous name like, say, Vlad."
Seras was thrilled to watch the corner of his lips twitch at the barb. She may not be in Integral's category of witty comebacks to Alucard but she had been learning the past century.
"Now you're a clever one, aren't you, Draculina?" Alucard towered over Seras, leaning on her face. He was so tall, looking like a bear with the fur jacket. She forced herself to remain still as his fingertips traced the trail of her shed tears. He brought the fingers to his mouth, tasting them. "Salt and water. No blood. You're indeed drained. It's a miracle you're still standing."
"Perhaps if someone would give back my medical blood," Seras pointed out, accusing. "My condition would be far better."
"Perhaps if someone will stop acting like a child and accept the joy of the hunt, it would be far different."
As usual, there was the echo of mockery in everything Alucard said. Mimicking her speech was a low thing to do. But, he never changed. Her Master was still the same git.
That was in all of what Alucard talked with her about during their brief encounters. To feel her inner predatory self and feed off of the living. Seras couldn't. She was able to smite her foes but she was a police officer, she couldn't randomly attack just because she's thirsty. It frightened her. That was a step forward to becoming like her Master.
"What the hell do you want from me?!" Seras demanded. The built frustration was already intolerable. She needed to know-it was her right. "I can't be who you want me to be, Alucard!"
Alucard silenced Seras by placing his thumb on her lips, it was hardly a gentle gesture. The pressure of it bruised her delicate skin a little bit. "Yes, you will, Seras. And you'll appreciate what you become. Perfection."
Seras jerked her head away from his intrusive finger. "More like a monster, you mean."
"Beauty is on the eye of the beholder. That's stunning for me."
"I still won't hunt."
"Then you'll keep starving yourself…" Alucard remarked with a devilish smirk. "Until one day, you'll lose control and feast on the brat you're holding."
"You never cared for my drinking habits. Not even once have you lectured me for my refusal of drinking blood. Int-someone else convinced me otherwise," Seras corrected herself. Still unsure to speak of Integral aloud in front of him. "Why now?"
"Simple. I still don't care. Living or dying is your personal business," Alucard said smoothly. "However, you're mine, therefore I see fit in your education that you're old enough to predate. Pity that you're quite the retarded child in the issue. Even Lucy understood this far more quickly."
Seras bit down a growl. Alucard was always insulting, pushing, and then claiming that he didn't mind her rhythm. How hypocritical.
"Maybe if you stop moulding me into something I'll never become…"
Alucard's voracious laugh interrupted what she was going to say. "What does the Bible said about not throwing the first stone?" he grinned, brushing the strands of her hair possessively. It brought a chill to her spine when her Master touched her. And not completely unpleasant. "You, also sought that once, didn't you Seras?"
"Well I…" Seras tried to explain, to search a proper defence argument. She couldn't hide anything from him, not when Alucard could read her mind when he pleased. Indeed, in the past, she had chosen to make him company because she was alone and for some… childish desire of making him a better person. It was naïve, she knew better now.
Despite being royalty, Alucard was no Prince Charming. He was the Grim Reaper. The enemy had taken away her Prince Charming. She held his broken body on her lap long ago. Since that instant of pure grief, Seras no longer believed in 'happily ever afters.'
More than a fairy tale, hers was a living, horror fable.
"You're not different from me," Alucard husked in triumph. "You also yearn to sculpt your companion."
The truth of his words weighted on her burdened spirit. No, she couldn't be, could she? Seras always considered herself to be the opposite. Alucard was trying to mislead her, to cloud her judgment. She secretly thanked God when Pip broke on a cry once more
"I cannot talk now, Pip needs to eat something," Seras rocked the boy, silencing him with a sh-sound.
"You should take nourishment from it, not to coddle it. It's a bastard, no one will miss it."
"I think I sympathize with the feeling of being unwanted, thank you very much." The scent of the infant was driving her insane. Holding him so close, she could hear the rush of the blood inside his tiny veins and arteries. Pure, fresh, warm.
"Children were your predecessors' favourite victims. I thought it would be good to keep the tradition alive."
It wasn't necessary that Alucard reminded her of the three sisters' and Lucy's feeding habits. Seras had already read 'Dracula' in high school. And what was the point? She wondered if her Master was aware that she knew that wasn't his primal objective.
"But you don't want me to."
Her statement was honest. Alucard yearned for a hunting partner, his equal. He was only placing her between the sword and the wall by his so-called 'choices.' In each case, she would lose. He was a cunning bastard who gave himself too much credit. On the other hand, Seras had no intention to do either: hunt with him or kill the baby. Even if she had to pay with her life the Devil's whispers wouldn't affect her good conscience.
"You're learning," Alucard acquiesced with a sly grin. "That only fuels my expectations to continue. And inside you know I'm right." He gestured towards the broken mirror. She diverged her gaze. "We're soulless, Seras. You'll cast that human side to oblivion.
Seras groaned, already weary of the subject. "If that makes you happy, keep living in your world, Master. I'll stay in mine. Good day." She gave a nod and walked away. But alas, Alucard always wanted the last word and when she arrived to the threshold, the older Midian was already blocking the path. "If it's about me again…"
"Don't be so egocentric, Seras. My word and time do not orbit around you."
Seras scoffed. She had never thought that. His mind games were putting her in a foul predisposition.
"You can't feed the brat because you're departing to Bucharest in fifteen minutes."
Seras' mouth hung open, taken aback. "Only fifteen minutes?! Why you didn't say anything until now?"
"You don't need luggage. And I didn't wish to disturb your masochistic ritual over the mirror."
"Isn't your family in Bucharest?" Seras inquired, cocking a brow. She knew they were in a feud. Alucard and Vlad II, his father, were disputing Romania. The elder argued his right as first monarch and her Master accused him of collaboration with the invaders.
"Yes." Alucard's upper lip curled on a snarl.
"Uh well…" Seras said, uncertain of what he wanted her to do. "Do I lead an assault team?"
"Fight? You?" Alucard snorted. "The little brat weights you, doesn't he?" He didn't wait for her response. "Your body has weakened to such a point that you're useless in combat for now. No, you're my official mediator now."
"What? B-but I need special training."
Seras had no blessed idea of protocol and etiquette. She was a trained soldier, not a diplomat.
"Just smile and threaten them to accept your conditions. Everything will be alright if you follow my instructions."
Seras doubted it but didn't voice her opinion.
"What about Pip?"
"I've hired a wet nurse to take care of him while you're gone," Alucard remarked. "I don't want your mind swaying whilst you fulfil the assignment."
Seras considered the idea of travel. She didn't wish to leave the baby alone, over the two weeks she had nannied him, the vampire had grown attached to the infant. A change of setting would do good to clear her mind. The possibility of acquiring medical blood was tempting. Above all, Seras sought to leave and be in contact with life again. She was festering inside her lair, doing nothing but wailing.
"Oh, you assume that no was a choice, Seras."
Seras shook her head; he wouldn't allow her to win one? Just one time. Victory was too precious for Alucard.
"You guarantee me that Pip will be well fed and unharmed upon my return?"
"Of course. I wouldn't want such a tasty snack to spoil, would I?" Alucard phased away through the floor.
Seras smiled wryly and saw him fade away. To do the preparative of her trip? Or just to haunt her shadow? For a second, she was willing to believe in possibilities of reformation once more. However it passed fast enough. No more than another delusion.
Alucard was just preserving the boy as a hostage. Insurance for her return.
"If I behave like him one day, Pip," Seras murmured to the child, crestfallen. "Do me the favour of running and never coming back. For your own sake." She nuzzled his bald head with affection and shut the door of her chambers. She was looking forward to knowing how crazy Alucard's family was in comparison to him.