Disclaimer: Hellsing belongs to Kouta Hirano.
Author's Notes: Set after the war, spoilers up volume 8, chapter 4 (chapter 61). Possible AU warning. There will be alternative ships (and one traditional) inside this story but by all means, the romance isn't the plot, just a spice. I thank kelles for editing this.
"I am an assassin, one who has embraced the ways of Judas Iscariot. For my sins, when the time comes, I will cast the thirty pieces of silver into the temple and hang myself with the halter of straw."
(Section XIII in volume six, chapter four, Hellsing).
- No Straw to Hang Him
The Inquisition had been kept private and brief; the room composed of only a single long table. At one extreme end the Inquisitor was seated, at the other end Anderson, and between them, the participants and witnesses. Only a handful had spoken on his defence, including Wolfe Heinkel. She was wearing a nun's cloth for a change; it was one of the rules she had to assimilate to be called as witness. A formality Anderson disliked.
"Father Anderson is a servant of God," Wolfe had spoken to the Dominical Inquisitor, an aged Italian Cardinal who had never been fond of any of those in Section XIII. He was old enough to have been around during World War Two, he wondered if he had sided with the Third Reich. "You cannot judge him for his behaviour. Nor any of the members of Section XIII, you simply don't understand, Monsignor."
"On the contrary, Sister," he had replied, glancing briefly at his direction. Anderson had kept himself in a straight position, head high, unashamed by his so called sins. "Even your demon spawn section can be taken to the Inquisition as you can see. Otherwise, how did he judge if the late Archbishop Maxwell was worthy of living or not?"
"Father Anderson did that he thought was right, Monsignor."
"And he knew the consequences of those acts, did he not? In previous declarations, one of your partners told us that he was warned about this by even yourself, Sister Heinkel. The fact he allied himself with demonic minions to end Archbishop Maxwell's life."
Heinkel's gaze fell to the ground; she had assented with a mere nod of her head. The room had become eerily quiet as the Cardinal observed Father Anderson through his spectacles. The tension in the air had been clear; he could smell the odour of sweat spreading inside the room.
"Father Anderson, stand up." Anderson had complied immediately. "This is the proper time for a Confession of these sins to me."
"I have already confessed my faults, Monsignor. I can't be absolved of those which I am not repentant," Anderson answered, fully aware that those words would decide his fate in this trial.
"You are not cooperating in this, Father, therefore I don't have another choice," the Inquisitor had risen himself from his seat. "By the power given to me from his Sanctity, the Pontiff John Paul the Second, I condemn you, Father Alexander Anderson, to Excommunication for the offences of schism, alliance with heretics and possible force against the Pope himself."
Wolfe had stood up, protesting, "That's unfair! He didn't put in peril, His Holiness' life!"
"Sit down, Sister lest you shall be judged next," the Cardinal had warned gravely. "Archbishop Maxwell was acting under the Pontiff's commands, to have aided in his murder was a direct strike against the Pope himself. Sit down, Sister, I won't repeat myself." Anderson had glanced at Wolfe, inclining his head in gratitude. Her jaw had been tensed, teeth had gritted but she did as the Inquisitor had said. Clearing his throat, the Inquisitor continued, "The penalty shall be carried out immediately by the Pontiff himself."
The word still lingered inside his mind even after that fateful Inquisition, even after the Pope himself damned him to a lifetime outside the Church until he sought their forgiveness. But how do you say that you were sorry when you did not think that what you did was wrong? No more wrong than destroying the heretics and monsters he had been assigned for in previous missions.
The consequences that simple term haunted his remaining time inside the dark murky cell he had been thrown into. How could something so ugly exist in the Holy See, where everything was stunning and glorious? He gathered that the cell was like him, like all Section XIII, it was ugly to the rest of them, therefore they feigned it did not exist. Anderson was alone with nothing to read or do. They had been taken away even his Bible. How could a member of the clergy be without one? He was limited to lounge on his padded bed and stared at his gloves. His eyes travelled to the bars and the security or lack thereof.
There were only two Swiss Guards outside, armed and skilled but if he wanted to escape, he had no resistance to face him. Anderson's eyes narrowed. Perhaps it was a test of sorts, the Vatican was not stupid, and they knew exactly what weapon they had created. He forced himself to remain still and refrained from trying anything hasty. His circumstances were foul but the thought of spending the rest of his life being hunted down by his former companions was not comforting.
The deepest shame for a servant of the Lord. He always gathered his end would be different, that he would die on a suicide mission or that he would fall for his own hand if he offended the Church. His hands were empty now, he did not grasp thirty pieces of silver… There was no halter made of straw to hang him anymore, just he in a cold dungeon and a long wait before him.
Click. There was a metallic noise and Anderson looked up, watching Sister Heinkel enter into the cell with a blank face. She hid her gaze very well behind the shades. "Sister."
Wolfe took a seat on the sole chair inside his quarters. She sat carefully, the state of the furniture was dreadful and cracked slightly to support her weight. "Alexander," she greeted with a nod.
No Father Anderson, no Paladin. Just Alexander Anderson. He grimaced. Excommunication. He could not participate in the Sacraments anymore, even the Holy Orders, his priesthood was gone. His heart pounded faster to that revelation, the real punishment had just started. "How is everything out there?"
"We are barely surviving. Section XIII was blamed by the failure of the Ninth Crusade and the Vatican low reputation across the world. They brought that upon themselves but it easier to use us as scapegoats, I suppose, " Heinkel replied, her lips were twitching, her tone was soaked in bitterness. The woman would never be the same, he gathered, not since Sister Yumiko Takagi went missing after the war. Most thought her dead even if they never found her body, but Heinkel did not lose hope of finding her again. "I am sorry I couldn't visit you before, Alexander. I wasn't allowed."
"What about my orphanage?" The children, they worried him. They were innocent and feared that they would suffer along with him. "Do you know about St. Luke?"
"Father Renaldo is taking care of that, Alexander," Heinkel assured him with a forced smile. "I think he has forgiven us for Maxwell but he is not willing to speak his mind yet."
Renaldo, certainly, the elderly priest had considered Maxwell like a son, ill gotten one but a child nonetheless. "Have faith, Sister, one day all this will be solved."
"It wasn't your fault, I told him," Heinkel added in a fervent tone, not listening to his words. "It was that heretic witch. I told him you were under her spell, she manipulated us, you, me, everyone! Like she does with her pet monsters!"
Anderson moved with alacrity from his bed to Heinkel's side. His expression had darkened, eyes narrowed as he glared down the nun. "Do not insult her in my presence," he warned, "She's the least guilty of us all." His expression softened after uttering that, his hands were shaking. He had nearly lost control, he had almost attacked Wolfe for insulting the Protestant? He forced himself down on the bed again, his head down, sweating like an animal, and it was a similar reaction to the undead.
"See how she affects you?" Heinkel pointed out, not accusing, just sad. There was sorrow on her voice. It was strange, she usually collected her emotions to speak. "And now she's taking you away from us."
The gates opened again, the Cardinal that was his Inquisitor entered. "Rise Alexander Anderson. You are a free man," he indicated, gesturing outside the cell. "Under the conditions of the truce of Midian with the Anglican Church to cease the holy war once and for all," he continued. "Your freedom was requested."
"We were losing," Heinkel snorted sourly. "The world is against us now."
"Free…" Anderson trailed off in disbelief, he stared agape to the people inside his dungeon – Heinkel, the Cardinal, the two guards. He was at loss. "Where I am supposed to go?" he wondered aloud. He had no money or family alive. And he used to be a priest working for the Vatican, he gathered, from what Wolfe said, they were not welcomed in society.
"I believe I have a spare room for you, Paladin," a female voice pointed out behind the Swiss Guards. His heart skipped a beat when the soldiers opened a path for Integral Hellsing. She was dressed with the same green military uniform of the night they met, a formal combat cloth unlike her black suits. He noticed that she was sporting more medals and it was meant to, she was a hero of war, after all.
"You…" Anderson managed to say aloud, hoping he was not staring.
"Yes," Integral smirked down at him, ignoring Heinkel's aggressive welcome as if she did not exist, as if she was not reaching for her Desert Eagles. "Arise, Alexander Anderson," she ordered firmly, there was a triumphal gleam on her blue eyes. "As the leader of the Hellsing Organisation, it's my pleasure to welcome you to our ranks."