Scene 7

D didn't stop moving. Not when Maria rained her fists upon his chest. Not when the guards tried to halt him in tracks because he didn't acknowledge their very existence. Not even when he uncereminously kicked down the door to the chambers of the as-of-yet unnamed council and while most everyone in the room stopped and gapped at him.

No, he did not stop until he had placed his burden into the hands of her waiting and befuddled husband, his brother. A look was shared between those bonded by blood and that was all D need have said. The dhampire knew that his half-brother was aware that his secret was known to him. Maria was quite indiginant as she called D any number of silly and insulting names and within the dhampire's mind arose the image of Doris in all her glorious outrageousness as he'd lifted her all those years ago. Where had all the years gone? How many had he known and lost; unwittingly seduced and left?

Their eyes were upon him again as they were but a few hours ago. From the looks of it, little had been accomplished save Valin's face growing even darker and a smear on Davenberg's face where the food had evidently met its end. Richter let out a laugh and Caitlyn threw him an annoyed glance, one he either didn't see or acted as such for his smile remained intact. Amelia was staring at him intently, expectedily, as if she knew what his next few words would be.

"Winterborn."

Now Alucard became even more stunned. He settled his wife into a chair and rose to met his half-brother, long hair fluttering behind him. "What?"

"You shall call the council 'Winterborn'."

Richter clapped his hands. "I think it's brilliant. He's refering to the fact that we gathered during the start of winter."

"Something like that..." D uttered. He did not need to look upon Maria to know her green eyes had found the floor unduly interesting.

"It's appropriate enough. But does that mean...?" Caitlyn's gaze intensified.

D folded his arms, hat tipped low enough to hide his porcelian face again. "Save me a seat."

Not affording the Council of Winterborn a moment to rejoice or bemoan his decision, D left the chambers, heading back out. Leftie would likely give him an earful (or was that handful?) for giving in and getting involved, particularly with all the complications and connections abound. But the dhampire left him little opportunity to take such an advantage for he kept his hand tightly clenched. Already he could feel the symbiot twisting and turning, demanding to be opened so he could commence his "insight" into the development. So it was with almost relief that the vampire hunter heard the sound of footsteps and turned to meet them.

Ameila. She had donned a lovely little white fur coat and was staring up with that same expectant expression. "Thank you, D."

"What for?"

A tilt of the head made her brown hair bounce. "For agreeing to this. It's not your way I know. Even for the money, you'd have run away by now. I wonder what keeps you here."

D didn't answer.

Suddenly, she smiled. "Come with me. I want to show you something." The young woman took his hand in hers and tugged, trying to lead him. With no idea what to do as of now, the dhampire let her drag him throughout the myraid hallways and antechambers of the castle. It didn't take long to reach the destination--she clearly knew the area well--and before twenty minutes had passed the two were outside, standing in the path of the snow-strewn garden. It fell like tiny ice crystals, slithering over the broken marble columns and fountains that had frozen over. D didn't feel much cold and Ameila was suitably dressed so neither noticed the drop in temparture.

Even for one as icy-hearted as he, the dhampire acknowledged that it was a sight to behold.

"Look."

He'd already seen it. Dozens of ice scupltures crafted into the most bizarre and elegant of designs. Dragons. Demons. Angels. Castles burning with snow. Bridges assaulted with ice. Ameila danced among them, her reddened face lit up with delight. The intricacy of the art was obviously detailed. It must have been a regular thing for those of the castle to do. Amelia then returned to his side and took his hand once more, smiling up at him.

"Have you ever touched them with your bare hand before?"

"No..."

Before D could contemplate her intentions, the young woman placed his left hand upon one of the scupltures, fingers spreadeagle. It was a strange sensation and not entirely undesirable. The dhampire was unaccustomed to anything remotely feeling like this--he was much more use to touch of his sword's hilt. Yet something about this feeling was like opening up a part of his mind, to do something not to defend or destory but just to experience.

It was then that D realized something most unfortunate--Leftie.

"Mmmmm...I wonder how that tastes..."

"Don't!" His voice was barely above a whisper yet conveyed all his commanding presence. And still the symbiot ignored him. D could feel the tongue of Leftie's caressing the icy surface and could sense the same wonderment from him. Thankfully Ameila didn't take notice, instead turning her attention to another of the scupltures and eying it for all its delicate design. While she was occupied, the vampire hunter removed his hand. Or tried to.

"Move." The word was barely more than the wind.

"I...can't." came the the unususally muted voice.

"What?"

"I'm...stuck."

The dhampire's dark eyes trailed over to the young woman. She was still heeding the scuplture, her gaze very distant, lost in thought. Her smile was broken and complete at the same time. When she turned back to him D straightened by the scuplture, hiding his hand.

"You're cold. You're beautiful." Letting out a sigh, she smiled. "Just like those ice scupltures."

D was also something else similiarily descriptive of mounds of carefully crafted ice. Silent.

With a spin of her heel Ameila went back to gazing at the scupltures. "You want to know why I went back to Valin, don't you?"

Not particularly but it served as a good distraction while he dislodged his hand so the dhampire gave an affirmative grunt from his throat. Ameila then spouted out a litany of her life, most of which the vampire hunter barely heard, preoccupied as he was by the annoying predicament of his hand. Every so often he'd hear a tidbit that brought his attention back to her as he stretched his fingers in hopes of freeing them, half of a mind of cutting off his hand altogether.

"Don't you dare!" hissed Leftie. "Don't even think it!"

"I just might," was D's deadpanned response.

"...I was alone. Frightened. I had no one...no one that cared anyways." A sigh. "For all his hurtful words and the times he...hit me...Valin was there when it counted."

Almost free...

"You understand, don't you, D?"

D muttered an assent.

"They buried him." There was uncharacteristic sardonic laughter out of her. "What a stupid mistake. He was sleeping all that time, slowly healing, trapped underground by the wards they'd placed around him." Ameila stopped for a few moments, perhaps coloring the memories in her mind, fresh as that day. "He called to me and I...I went to him. Hours of digging him out, discarding the holy symbols, dragging him from the hole."

Just a bit more...

She swallowed, hands clasped together. "I had no one...You understand. I took care of him. And he took care of me. Sure we fought, and sure his temper flared from time to time but in the end we were always meant to be together and so, I married him. Funny how things work out, hmmm?"

...and Leftie finally released from the icy hold, giving D just enough time to fold his arms as the young woman turned back to face him. Her countenance was full of apologies and a desire for understanding, for support for her decisions. To the vampire hunter it seemed she needed him to believe in it, not for him, but for her.

But how could he encourage her own self-destruction?

There wasn't a chance to respond, however, as Caitlyn appeared. Her face was hard. "You both must return immediately. I fear our hopes for any sort of peace have been ruined before we could even begin. You both must come quickly!"

"What has happened?" D's voice held none of the distress on Ameila's face. His was as the ice scupltures.

"There's been an assassination."

That's all it took for Ameila to let out a cry and hurry inside again, long skirt fluttering her haste. Caitlyn gave D an indecipherable stare before going back inside herself.

"Ooooohhh, this just gets better and better, dosen't it, D?" Leftie chuckeld tauntingly. "And you're willingly in the thick of it!"

The dhampire answered by following the two women into the castle and soon the garden held nothing but ice and snow once again.