"Every Day is Like Sunday"
4:15 p.m. The clock chimed the quarter hour, a light striking of the bells reminding the staff to be prepared for the impending company. After all, Her Majesty usually liked tea served promptly at four in the afternoon, but today was an exception. Her guests needed to arrive at a later time to ensure their comfort-something about needing the sun to be a bit lower in the sky. Their timing wouldn't have made a difference today; the skies above Buckingham Palace were gray and cloudy, threatening rain for the past few hours. Fine china was spread and carefully arranged on linen. Plates of wafers, ginger snaps and a small dish of Brussels Chocolates were artfully displayed . A wooden box of Dutch cigars lay off to the far right of table. Wispy steam rose from two pots of tea, while a carafe held some thick, reddish liquid. The servants did not ask any questions.
The doors opened slowly-a small, dignified woman in a pleasant navy wool dress entered followed by a young Welsh Corgi dog at her heels. She sat down gesturing to the dog to lie at her feet. She looked at her watch and smiled. A few moments later, her guests were announced. A tall, slender woman in a charcoal suit, and glasses entered followed by her companion, clad in a sharp, black leather coat, suit, and tinted glasses.
"How good to see you both.," the Queen stated.
"Your Majesty, " Integra began, "It is an honour and pleasure to see you again." She made a half bow to the matron . Her vampire removed his sun glasses and leaned down towards the Queen , smiling.
"Thank you for your consideration this afternoon. ", he said, lifting up her hand and lightly kissing it.
"Of course. Please won't you sit down and join us?" Alucard pulled out the chair for his master and then seated himself.
"Help yourselves-it is a casual affair today.", the Queen stated, "I must say that you seem by far more at ease at less formal functions, Sir Hellsing."
"If you are referring to the charity ball from the other week, yes, I can say that I am more at home in quiet company." The vampire began to pour out cups of tea before helping himself to a few chocolates."I am afraid that I make a rather poor debutante." Integra sipped her Earl Grey and silently hoped that "The Question" would not be asked.
"My dear, one does have to socialize-it cannot be all work and no play . You did spark the interest of quite a few nobles. The Duke of Roxbury seemed to desire your attention – he followed you around like a puppy all evening. Did you not find him interesting?"
"Not in particular. " she stated, adding sugar to her tea.
"I know while you may be more at ease with your artillery and paperwork, a woman of your standing may still need to- intermingle ."
"With all respect, Your Majesty, I believe that the only thing that the Duke is interested in is my title and manor. I found him quite boring and a self-centered person. " The Queen chuckled, her dog's ears perking up with the laughter.
"Still as sharp as ever, aren't you?," the Queen replied. A slight smile spread across her servant's lips.
"My Master is subtle, isn't she ? Would you care for cream?" Both women gestured no. He set down the pitcher and poured a glass of "broth" for himself. Over the years, the Queen had been generous to accommodate his tastes; while actual human blood was out of the question, there was usually warm blood left over from the roasts or hares that were cooked and drained on a regular basis. He took a sip-lovely.
"Subtle like a baseball bat to the temple", Alucard whispered mentally to his master.
"Hush", she chided " Mind yourself."
"What a polite and charming one he is.," nodding to the creature." I wish that I could have such a fellow in my household. And speaking of that, Integra-"
"Bloody, bloody hell…" she thought."Here it comes."
"There still is the looming question of what will the Household of Van Hellsing amount to in the future. You have publicly stated that you do not wish to marry. I respect this greatly, but have you picked a successor to your position, if you follow through on your ideal?" A long sip of tea later, the young woman cleared her throat.
"Your Majesty, as you well know that I have no greater desire than to uphold my post as the head of the Hellsing Organization. However, the thought of what would happen to my family's establishment if I have no heir to take the helm, has greatly concerned me. Anything could happen – I could be maimed or killed in the line of duty, or pass naturally. So, I have put a great deal of thought into this situation. " She took a breath, settling her cup into its saucer. "My late Uncle Richard has two sons. One is still a teenager, but the elder, Andrew, is a Captain in the India Army. He has an excellent record, is a strong leader, and I feel that under my hand and the tutelage of my forces, can be sculpted into a competent, decent addition to the organization. He's a good man who would very much like to mend the rift that was caused at my father's passing. "
"And when would this young man be coming over to England to start his training?"
"He is arranged to arrive next week at the end of the month to become familiar with the manor and to start basic field training with Ms. Victoria and Alucard." Her mentioned servant was charming the Corgi with his fingers, causing the little fellow to roll over and sit up.
"Cookie?" , he asked the puppy. Its eyes went wide and watery.
"So, you will have two Hellsings to look after-my poor boy! Don't you have enough trouble with one?" Intergra cocked an eyebrow- it was a game of "two-against-one" beginning.
"Not at all," the vampire replied. The dog was now begging on its hind legs, whimpering for the treat. " A loyal pet adores its master and always gets what it deserves . Isn't that right, boy?? Now, now, you only get this if your good…" his voice became a whisper "And quiet." The whining stopped and the dog was still as a statue. With a flick of his finger, the wafer was snatched up, and the dog returned to his lady's feet. The Queen was amused-Integra was not.
"Showoff." She thought. Her servant just smiled, fangs poking oh -so slightly out of the corners of his mouth.
"I do believe that this may work out to the benefit of all, but , if you don't mind me saying, I do believe that perhaps if you found the right partner, you may be able to forge your family without losing your independence."
"And where, would I find such a man, your Ladyship? Most are by far too less than a man for my taste, and I by far too much of one for them." The old woman chuckled.
"I see your acquaintance with Shakespeare has gotten better, but I feel that you may be missing a more meaningful acquaintance that could be right in front of you." A puzzled look came over the girl's face.
"Interga, you have , a thorny personality , to say it politely. Your'e headstrong, determined, a work-a-holic , and intimidating-and these are your endearing qualities. You have a distinctive character that needs a tremendously strong man to deal with you. However, before you think me unkind, listen." Integra's back went rigid and she adjusted the bridge of her glasses. Alucard just listened with a knowing smile dancing across his lips. The Queen raised her china cup.
"A strong woman, is like a cup of tea. If the tea is of a robust, distinguished flavor, not all my appreciate it. It takes special person to take in its qualities fully, to drink it up for a life time and understand its character." Sir Hellsing took a sip of her own cooling beverage and continued listening. "I feel that this fellow may be perfect for you."She tipped off her cup to the grinning vampire.
If she had been in less polite company, Integra would have spit her Twinings out all over the tablecloth. Instead ,she swallowed hard and chocked up an answer.
"Surely this is a poor joke- I, um" Laughter came from both parties.
"Not at all-after all, he's a loyal fellow who has served the crown faithfully for almost a century-I've always been impressed by the work he's done under MY rein."
"Thank you ma'am ." , he replied.
"He's always been extremely protective of you and tolerates your –what did you call them, Vampire?"
" 'Volatile Mood Swings'?"
"Yes, your wonderfully destructive moments of emotion. He respects you, honors you and even obeys- tell me Sir Integra Wingates Fairbrook Van Hellsing, where in the world will you find a man like this in this day and age?" Integra could not answer- she felt a rich heat spread across her cheeks and her temper beginning to flair. Her companion held up his left hand, studying it.
"Perhaps we could figure out what kind of engagement ring would be appropriate- Emerald cut, Princess, maybe a sapphire, like Lady Diana's. . . " The queen glared at Alucard." Ah, perhaps no sapphire, maybe something antique. . . ."
"You are pushing your luck!"
"Oh, and Sir Vampire, if I may ask a bit of a personal question-",
"Oh Lord, now what-why must you people harass me!!"
"Ask away, Ma'am ."
"Can your people . . . sire children?" Alucard grinned like a Chesire Cat in front of an increasingly angry Alice.
"Don't you DARE be crude about this!! I'm warning you!"
"While the females are sadly barren, it's quite the opposite for the males. We could be quite fruitful." He said, beaming with pride." The children would be Dhampires- wonderful creatures! All the best traits of both worlds-charming, strong, and natural born vampire hunters. Of course, they would serve the crown faithfully, just like their family before them. Wouldn't that be lovely, master?" The last word was said with a caress, and his gloved hand brushed against his master's own. Intergra shot him an icy glare, while crimson showed on her cheeks. Mentally, she imagined a household filled with little red-eyed, blond-haired horrors, destroying her garden, chewing on her paperwork and endlessly tormenting her! Dear Lord!!
"I am going to spike your blood with garlic!!" she hissed mentally.
"Now, now, is that how you show your love for someone who adores your 'robust flavour'? You ARE quite tasty you know."
The mental spat was stopped short by Integra's rising.
"My Lady, the time has grown short, and I must get ready to depart. " She quickly bowed and began to leave, when the Queen, tapped her arm.
"My dear," she said gesturing to the box, "Don't you want to take a few of these with you?" Sir Hellsing grabbed a few cigars quickly and stuffed them in her coat pockets. Her servant began to rise.
"Shall I join you?" he asked. The woman glared at him , her eyes sending a clear warning.
"No, I shall smoke them ALONE, outside-give me a few moments and then please feel free to depart." She commenced with a little bow and turned on her heels, leaving the vampire and Lady to talk amongst themselves. As soon as she was gone, they both giggled. The Queen covered her mouth politely with a linen napkin, while Alucard chuckled into his gloved hand. The poor Corgi looked up, very confused.
"Oh my, wev'e really gotten her riled up, haven't we?"
"She'll survive. But madam, may I ask in all seriousness, were you actually giving your approval?"
"My son, " she said with a good-natured smile, touching his hand lightly, "she is an extraordinary woman who deserves someone to make her happy- and humble from time-to time. I truly believe that you of all men, could do this. " The creature smiled warmly, genuinely into the woman's eyes.
"Thank you, but does it not bother you that I am not human??"
"Hmmm, have you seen what half the Royal Family has married lately? " she replied.
"Point taken." Alucard drained his cup, gathered up his glasses and pushed in his chair. "Thank you for your hospitality, ma'am.," The lady rose, and he kissed her hand and smiled. The little Corgi perked up and barked at him, in turn he reached down and patted the creature on his head. Then he departed to face the wrath of his master, who was by now chain smoking and plotting his demise. The Queen sat back down and lifted her cup to her lips.
"Ah, Wellington, "she said to the dog, "You always were a great judge of character."
"Much A Do About Nothing"-one of Shakespeare's great comedies revolving around a very strong female character, Beatrice.
First Lady Eleanor Rosevelt once said, "A good woman is like a tea bag-you never know how strong she really is until she gets in hot water."
Sapphires are a lovely engagement stone- the Princess of Wales 's ring is quite famous-I have one too- thanks Tom! xoxo