AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the final chapter. I hope you enjoy it. Stay tuned on livejournal for news regarding new upcoming stories.
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For the last ten years, it was my eyes you looked into and stood your ground, my ears which heard your orders, my tongue that refuted your sharp words, and my hands that threw back the hammer on the gun. When the world ends, I'll still stand by your side. If the country burns to the ground, I'll be there to dust the ashes off your collar.
Slowly, she wound her arms around his neck and pulled him close.
"I remember now," she whispered, "you're the one who saved me."
The bullets went into his back. None passed through. His blood splattered over her white dress as she stood before him, her eyes wide. A spot of blood landed on her cheek. She didn't move to wipe it away. With a start he realized he had forgotten to take on Arthur's shape. Then, she asked him a question.
"How did I forget?"
He had no answer for her. Slowly, she reached up and touched his face with both hands. Behind him, he heard the Wild Geese talking amongst themselves in confusion.
"How did I forget?" she asked again. Her voice was soft and airy, like she was talking in her sleep. "What could possibly make me forget?"
Slowly, she wound her arms around his neck and pulled him close.
"I remember now," she whispered, "you're the one who saved me. Now and then and countless times in between. You saved me. Alucard."
His was numb. Everything swam together as she pressed her body against him, holding him tightly like an old love coming home after years apart. Yes, it felt like years. It felt like years since her heard her real voice.
Then, she pulled away, gazed into his eyes, and punched him in the face.
"This is your fault!" he heard her shout in anger. By the time the stars in front of his eyes cleared she had drew back her arm and hit him again. "I don't know what you did but this was your fault, wasn't it?"
"Don't give me that look! Do you know how much work I missed? Do you even know how catastrophic this could have turned out to be?" Memories seem to be flooding back to her. She rubbed her temples. "Oh God… I've been running around dressed like…" She looked down, suddenly aware of her state of dress, and wrapped both arms around her chest. Her face was turning an angry shade of red.
He reached out to her. She tried to push him away.
"Don't touch me, you git! You will pay for…"
He grabbed her wrist and yanked her into his arms, holding her as tight as he could without breaking her spine. She struggled, cursing and reprimanding him, but a few moments later fell silent and relented to his embrace.
Pip stiffened, looking around as if hoping she was addressing someone else. Walter and Seras looked away innocently, avoiding his pleading gaze.
"I understand you were running your mouth to the Geese, telling them you happened upon me in a dress, is that true?" Pip swallowed thickly. Integra leveled her gaze on him, a cigar between her teeth. She waited. "Well?"
"Yes, sir," he blurted out. "I'm sorry I intruded when I shouldn't. I didn't mean to see… even though I think you looked damn good, I mean…"
"Quiet," Integra said evenly. Pip clamped his mouth shut. "It didn't happen. You saw nothing. You were hallucinating from inhaling too much smoke on the shooting range."
Pip blinked. "Uh…"
"Understood?" Pip nodded quickly. "Good. You can go now."
As Pip scuttled away, Seras and Walter stepped forward. Integra folded her hands and turned to them. "I only have this to say to you both," she said, and, taking the cigar out of her mouth, favored them with that rare smile. "Thank you."
Walter bowed. Seras stood at attention and saluted. "It was our pleasure, my lady," said the butler.
"And officer Victoria?" Seras nodded. "You may burn the maid's outfit if you wish. If you wish to keep it, I recommend keeping it out of Captain Bernadette's reach."
Seras scratched her head sheepishly. "Uh…"
"You already burned it, didn't you?"
"Alright then." Integra gave the two a nod. "You are dismissed."
As the office door closed behind them, the one she'd been waiting for stepped out of the shadows. He stood before her, removed his hat, and bowed deeply. She took a long drag from the cigar and fix her eyes on him.
"You," she said, "let's go over the results of your little trick, shall we?"
Alucard nodded with a smile. Despite her continuous threat to dismember him, he hasn't stopped smiling since their little adventure on the range this afternoon. It was really starting to annoy her.
"Starting with the fact that you tempered with my mind without my permission. It was a dangerous move that could have left me in a permanent mentally crippled state, thus putting the entire future of Hellsing at risk. Then, instead of coming clean to Walter, you kept your wrongdoing a secret. You put my life, my reputation, and Hellsing itself in jeopardy. Not only that, Pip Bernadette and Enrico Maxwell saw me in a dress.
"And let's not forget the incident in my bedroom. Did you really think you were going to get away unscathed after assaulting me in my own house? And in my father's body, no less. Although I do commend you for have enough sense to control yourself before it got out of hand. Otherwise we would be having this conversation through the dungeon door.
"And finally," she sighed, "you gave up on me. And that, Alucard, disappointed me the most."
"That's what happened in the end, wasn't it? You gave up and decided to let me stay that way, possibly forever. What made you think that was the right move?"
He looked past her at the rising moon. "I was under the impression that, by forgetting me, you would be happier. I thought by sacrificing your memories of me, you would find the happiness you desire."
"How noble of you," she chortled. "You don't make that decision, Alucard. You do not decide how this household runs, you do not decide what I need to remember or forget, and most of all, you do not decide whether I want you in my life or not. That decision is mine and mine alone."
He nodded. "Understood, master."
She sat back in her chair. There was a lingering wistfulness in her eyes. "In the end," she said slowly, "I suppose you did this because you felt I was keeping too many things from you and from myself. I'd say you've had an eyeful these last few weeks. And to a point you are right - I shouldn't be so poignant about hiding these things from you. Is there anything else you want know?"
Alucard shook his head. "I think I have all the answers I need. More than I bargained for, in fact. And I take full responsibility for this matter. I will gladly take any punishment. But before that, I only have one question."
"The things you said that night - are they true?"
She smiled. "You will never know, and that, my dear servant, is your punishment."