Disclaimer: Without Prejudice. The names of all characters contained
here-in are not mine. No Infringements of these copyrights are
intended, and are used here without permission.

Summary: This story is yet another addition to my series of
vignettes (Alfred's Prayer, Dinner, Dinner Date, Family

Thank you, Heybats for the beta.

The Anniversary
by DC Lady

He looked forward to her visits, which had become more frequent over
the past couple of months. The darkness that cast its usual shadow
over the massive house was not as foreboding in her presence,
especially this time of year.

The anniversary. Bruce Wayne would never be mistaken for congenial,
but during this particular time of year his disposition would
take a dramatic turn for the worse – keeping those near
him off balance and uncertain. They were no less fortunate than the
man himself, who would re-live the memories of that one event which
had changed the trajectory of his life.

This year, Alfred was more hopeful, believing that the Princess'
presence would somehow lessen the fury these anniversaries would
normally conjure. He'd allowed himself a hint of optimism he
hadn't felt since Thomas and Martha Wayne lorded over the Manor.

He placed on a tray the jasmine tea he prepared for her arrival then
made his way to the hidden elevator, taking him to the
Batcave. Yes, this year will be better,' he thought as he
stepped into the darkened cave. Hearing voices, he hesitated,
weighing whether his presence represented an intrusion. His optimism
was short-lived as Alfred heard the tormented tones of Batman
cryptically telling the Princess their relationship was over. My
mission has suffered because of us,' he heard him say and after a
moment of uncomfortable silence, Gotham must come first.'

Alfred briefly warned Diana what this month had meant and the
changes in temperament she would likely encounter. He never
expected this. Alfred was certain Bruce's newfound devotion to
Diana would lessen the emotional impact the anniversary
produced. Just wishful thinking,' he thought with remorse,
watching her tearful departure. Alfred sadly shook his head then
banged the tray roughly on the table. "Prideful,
arrogant…," he muttered under his breath.

"Not now, Alfred. I'm in no mood for a lecture," Batman

"Good, because I am in no mood to bloody give one." The
butler suddenly felt tired. Very tired.

"It's not like you to give up so easily," Batman replied,
his voice harsh with sarcasm.

"Perhaps I am old and tired. Perhaps for the first time I
realize that I've failed in my duty to you. Worse, I've
failed in my duty to your parents."

Batman dismissed the older man's ramblings. "You have not failed.

The decision is mine alone."

"A decision made out of fear." Alfred shook his head sadly.
"It is obvious that I have not given you the proper help and
guidance that you required as a child and require still. He turned
to leave. With his back to the Bat he continued. "You could at
least have faced her as yourself," he stated as Bruce was in full
Bat regalia in mid-day. "Was it necessary to use Batman for this
purpose? She deserved better." With that he left, leaving
Batman struggling to maintain his control.