I'm an old fic writer and manga/anime fan who has always had a soft spot for the Japanese take on European vampires! I've seen the Hellsing anime and own the translated manga volumes up through #6 as of May 2005. Haven't read a great deal of Hellsing fic yet, but I'm looking for good stuff.
This is a short prequel to the manga, or a bridge between Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and "Hellsing". Alucard is present at the wedding of Mina Harker's daughter in 1927, and learns who her future descendant will be. Extensive quotes from "Dracula" and Biblical curses from Deuteronomy 28, and the marriage service from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. There is some A/U revision to the aftermath of Dracula's destruction in the novel, since in the Hellsing timeline Dracula was not destroyed but literally reversed, into Alucard.
My thanks to Sir Hellsing/Thess whose advice was invaluable in revising this story. Any errors or omissions are mine alone.
The Fruit of Her Womb
by Madame Manga
I cannot imagine that good luck will follow when a vampire is invited to a wedding. Not that I have been invited, in the stricter sense; I was commanded to be in attendance tonight, and I have obeyed the command. Had I any choice but to obey? However, they had no need to apply coercive measures. Was I amused at the thought that my presence would cast an inevitable shade over the brightest hour of a young woman's life?
Perhaps I am easily amused these days.
The anxious bride strikes me as a pretty thing, though not as lovely as her mother, who presides over the occasion like a queen. She did not greet me as she greeted her guests, of course, nor even look me in the face. That has not been a habit of hers; I fear she has never truly forgiven me for ravishing her beside her unconscious husband. Even less has she forgotten the years since. If she pitied me as a young woman, that gentleness of spirit is long departed from her. Thirty years have passed since those three nights of passion; still her hatred for me burns brighter than any other of her human emotions.
So it seems a double irony that I should be present at the nuptials of her daughter, for a vampire's aura spoils the wine and causes the heifers to drop their calves. Did the mother not fear some blight would fall on the match? That the girl's womb should close, her husband's manhood wither, their love itself sour into unhappiness or worse? All those fates befell the woman in whose marriage bed I took precedence. If Van Helsing had destroyed me instead of preserving me for his purposes, her life would have taken an altogether different shape; certainly she might have been a mother more than once, or her sole offspring might have survived the terrors of birth without the Herr Doktor's guilty, agonized labor added to that of the mother. How she conceived a child at all from that impotence of a husband I do not know. It does not matter; Jonathan Harker's blood is not concerned with mine: only that of the woman he married.
The text the priest gave for the wedding sermon was "The greatest of these is love." The most degraded of these is love, I believe. I have not faith, I have not hope. I do not remember if either of those treasures ever was cradled within my breast.
I do remember love. From the past, I know that I too could love. I look at the mother of the bride and feel something rise within me, like a memory of desire, or desire corrupted. Its outlines are familiar, but its heart? Black and rotten, a corpse poisoning a well.
I fear that in the matter of my presence here they had as little choice as I, and less pleasure in the irony. My sense of humor was never a common one. When in life a man amuses himself with executions performed by slow impalement, in un-life his pleasures are likely to be even more rarefied. Rare they have become in my case. Less active, yes, as they are pleasures of observation, of waiting: whilst mortality decays and my own incorruptible flesh remains. Time is my greatest commodity.
The priest is speaking.
"…and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men's carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which matrimony was ordained.
"First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name."
'Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build a house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof.' I smile; the Devil is quoting Scripture to himself. It has always amused me.
"Therefore if any man can show any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace."
Oh, I will admit I am tempted to speak, but I merely keep my smile. The mother's eyes brush past me again, that sharp half-glance as if she meant to confine me only to the periphery of her vision, the barest necessity of acknowledgement. But she is more aware of me than she is of the guests or the groom or even the bride; she cannot help it. Neither can I. My gaze pursues her.
I am slaved to her, to my lovely Mina. Graying she may be, lined of face and throat, and yet I am her slave. That is the hold the Hellsings have on me: that Mina Harker lives. The daughter of her body who stands before this congregation now, trembling in white lace and clutching a nosegay of virginal roses, is my daughter too by right of the bond I share with her mother; and my lover in spirit; and my Master to come, if all goes as they intend. I have never touched her; they have never allowed me to do so, and I have not offered.
Tonight I will.
"I, W-W-Wingates Hellsing, take thee, Lucy W-Wilhelmina Harker, to my w-wedded w-w-w-wife…"
Puppy. A sneer crosses my face at the groom's stammer. That stupid, flaxen-headed puppy of an anglicized Dutchman, the puling brat of Abraham Van Helsing's senility, hastily conceived off a bovine Amsterdammer when they finally realized no other course was open to them. He is sixteen, and was born to marry this wife alone; they have known from childhood that they had no choice but each other once they came of age. So they fancy themselves in love, I gather, because of some romantic destiny. I could show them destiny, if I cared to. He holds her hand; he puts a golden ring on that fair finger. I tremble with rage as the bride trembles with sentiment. What are this girl's true sentiments, I wonder? Can she love a puppy when her rightful lover is a Hellhound? I have never even spoken to her.
"With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."
They kneel, they pray. I twitch with discomfort and as a distraction from holy words sincerely spoken, I examine the ladies' dresses. I do not like these modern fashions, the short skirts and straight bodies of the gowns. I can see the knees of the bridesmaids, alternately bony and plump. I have never considered the shape of a woman's legs her finest quality. Mina does not wear her gowns so short, and for that I am thankful.
Mina's beauty is in noble throat and fine cheekbone and eye, in the proud turn of her head. Her beauty will live forever, because her beauty will be ever preserved in my immortal eye and mind. That is what I see before me today, this day of October the third, nineteen hundred and twenty-seven: thirty years after the iron wine-tang of her blood last entered my mouth. The sweet steel of her face, the silk of her hair. She was mine, so nearly.
"O eternal God, Creator and Preserver of all mankind, Giver of all spiritual grace, the Author of everlasting life; Send thy blessing upon these thy servants, this man and this woman, whom we bless in thy Name."
Van Helsing is ten years dead, Harker did not live to see his only child's second birthday. This family is headed by a woman, and as long as her true heirs live on this earth, I am their servant. She beckons me forward, a quick imperious gesture without meeting my eyes. I bow and obey.
Kneeling before the couple, I offer my hand. The groom knows me; he flinches. The bride has seen me perhaps twice in her eighteen years, and only from a distance. She is innocent of me, or so she might believe. I keep my head lowered, my hair concealing my eyes. I smile.
"Remove your glove, Alucard," Mina prompts me. The contact of skin is necessary to seal the bond, it seems. That strikes me as entirely fitting: flesh to undead flesh in the marriage bed. I slide off the glove; I turn my naked palm upwards and wait for the touch of the bride.
She is warm. Sweet. Not as sweet as her mother. How could that ever be? But I clasp her soft hand in mine and I search for the heart of her. I can see to the marrow of her delicate bones, the yielding, guiltless thoughts that flitter in her brain. There is no steel in her. She will be no Master of mine. Neither will her children be masters, for how could the whelps of that puppy ever hold Alucard in leash? I begin to laugh. A great, harsh, ringing sound that outpeals all the wedding bells.
"The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail."
The bride gasps, she tries to pull away, but I hold her fast. I must see more! She cries out to her mother, who flies to her. She cannot break my grip, and so seizes me by the hair. The guests rise and jostle, afraid and confused.
I feel Mina's fury, her nails in my scalp, but she cannot strip the dark joy from the moment. The bride weeps in fear. I see their doom, the Hellsing's doom, in the fading flower before me. They meant to chain me forever with this rite, the hound of Hell a lapdog for a girl to tease. I am a weapon. Only the knowledge of Abraham Van Helsing could forge me; only the child of Wilhelmina Murray Harker could wield me. In due time, I shall again be a sword in my own hand: in the hand of the son of Dracul. Only steel can grapple steel…
"Stop! Alucard, you will cease this instant!"
The blight has fallen on the vineyards. I do not care if I am the cause or merely the means of revelation. Time is on the side of the immortals. Time and I have conquered at last!
"Let g-g-go of Lucy!" the groom yelps. I quote Scripture to him instead, still laughing.
"And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away... Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and thou shalt eat the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters."
He splutters and stammers, declaring his intention to defend his new consort from all perils. I turn my face to him and let him see my eyes. The milksop turns white to the roots of his insipid hair.
"Puppy, would you beard the Hellhound for his prey?" I rise from my knees and draw the bride to me. She sags against my breast. Her head reclines like a flower too heavy for her slender throat-stem, and I meet her upraised gaze, her eyes wide and waiting. Already she recognizes the Lord who must take his precedence in her marriage bed…
They are all struck dumb; the priest lets fall the book. Mina wails and her nails rake her cheeks. But suddenly I see deeper into those gentle eyes, beyond that doom as I believed it was. Deeper than the girl herself or even her innocent spirit, to the unfathomable core of her womanhood. In the dim future my sight reveals, a further generation of Hellsing awaits me. I stop laughing, and I look.
Another girl. Eyes blue as steel. A child with a sword in her hand. She does not wear short skirts, this warrior child of Hellsing; she is girt for battle with her flaxen mantle fallen about her shoulders, like a virgin's silver shield. She holds her sword as a burning cross before her, and behind her, Hell will follow, a faithful hound to his Master.
I let go my embrace and stand back, knowing my face bares everything. My limbs fail me and I sink to my knees again. My lips quiver, my fingers twitch. With what emotion do I tremble? The little bride cannot affect me thus. She is nothing, a wilted nosegay. Through her heirs, she holds me; in her womb, twice removed, lies my everlasting fate. She shall beget queens, though queen she be none…
The guests take their seats, the priest retrieves his book. Gradually the room falls silent, and all I can hear is the beating of one heart. "Alucard," Mina orders me. "Repeat the words." Her hand descends on mine, sealing it again to the hand of her daughter. "Repeat them now."
"And you, their best beloved one," I say, trembling still, "are now to me flesh of my flesh; blood of my blood; kin of my kin; my bountiful wine-press for a while. I am thy companion and thy helper. I am to be punished for what I have done. I have aided in thwarting thee; now I shall come to thy call. I shall cross land or sea to do thy bidding; and to that end, this."
I pull up the sleeve of the bride's white gown. I open a vein in her wrist with my long sharp nails. When the blood begins to spurt out, I take her hand, holding it tight, and press my mouth to the wound. Her sweet virgin tang enters me, so like her mother's, and the wine-red blood stains the white lace.
I feel Mina's hand in my hair again, pulling me back; the bond is complete, and I must drink no more of this vintage. One taste to last me an immortal lifetime. Until another is born, a woman of her line who burns white-hot with war. I shall taste her one day, and on that day, my love will have its deliverance from the grave.
"Those whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder," says the priest. He raises the communion chalice.
And I answer with all my heart, black and corrupt as it is, "Amen."