Chapter 5 – Pounding
Harry was completely stunned after hearing what Integra had told him about magic, and about the possibility of him being a wizard. So stunned, in fact, that he didn't hear a word of what Walter had said a few moments later. Whatever it was, it couldn't be all that important, could it? After all, he was a wizard…well, he was a fledgling wizard. He could do magic. Probably. Well, he was special…he was…a freak.
It slammed like a ton of bricks, and his silly smile vanished, to be replaced by anguish and tears. Integra was lowering herself in front of him a second later.
"What's wrong, Harry?"
"I'm a f-freak. U-uncle Vernon was right, I'm…" he tried to say, between sobs.
Integra's fury was stoked once again. "No, you're not. They are the freaks in this, Harry. I don't know what you've been through, but I know enough to say no child deserves to be treated like you have. Being a wizard is not being a freak, it's just being different, and there are a lot of people like you in the world, and they all deserve to be treated decently. It's not what makes us different that says what we are, it's how we deal with what is given to us that is important. You are not a freak, understood?"
"She is right, Little Bolt. Good or bad have nothing to do with powers, gained by birth or otherwise, but by decisions we take during our lives," Alucard said.
Harry's nod was uncertain, but his growing curiosity didn't stop his mouth. "What are you, then?"
"I am what I am, Little Bolt. A monster, a beast that killed thousands upon thousands, and that shall keep doing it until my final day. I am the No Life King," he said, the mad grin growing until his mouth had stretched beyond what was humanly possible, showing two rows of glistening fangs. Harry did what was natural, he backed up, almost upending the chair he was at.
"Alucard, stop it," Integra ordered.
"As you command, Master," Alucard replied, and backed up on the menace he was exuding. Harry looked at him again, this time studying the vampire, the so called No Life King.
"Harry, look at me," Integra called his attention, and he turned to her. "Alucard here won't harm you, he's blood bound to treat you as his master, the same way he is bound to me, from what I understand."
"Master? Like a teacher or something? I'm not old enough…"
Integra silenced him with a raised hand and stood back up. "No, not like a teacher. Alucard is a servant of the Hellsing, and now Potter's, family."
"Like…a slave?" he asked, his eyes growing wide.
"Yes, like a slave, Harry," she sighed.
"Who did that?" he asked, affronted.
"Our ancestors did. Your grandfather and my great-grandfather," Integra said.
"No one should be a slave," he murmured, and turned to Alucard. "What can I do to release you?"
Alucard looked at him, deeply surprised, and then a moment later he laughed. "Do you know what I am, Harry Potter? If freed, I could kill everyone in this house, including you, and then the world would be crushed below my feet. Is that what you want?"
"No, but at the same time I don't want to have a slave," he said and turned to Integra. "What can we do?"
Integra was almost as surprised as Alucard was, but her wits returned quickly. She thought about berating the boy about things he had no idea about, but thought better about it. He really had no idea what he was suggesting, and while she herself had her reservations about having Alucard as a slave, the option about releasing him was almost unthinkable. She took a deep breath and looked into the boy's hardening eyes.
"Harry, while in part I agree with you about having a slave, we don't have any other option at the moment. As he said himself, he is too dangerous to be released. However, I think we could start researching ways that this could be done without endangering anyone. Agreed?"
The young boy looked between them, as if measuring what was being said and what he was seeing right now, and he lowered his head. "I don't want a slave," he murmured, and Integra promptly understood what he meant about it. He didn't want anyone to be treated as he had been.
"We'll see what can be done, Harry. Now, I want you to know what we had planned for you for the foreseeable future."
He lifted his head and looked at her once again.
"First, we'll see how far along you are in your education and we shall provide some private tutors to continue your teachings, and yes, that will include a tutor in magic. In the meantime, it has been suggested to us that you should have someone to talk to about what you have been through."
"Can't it be you?" he asked, not really understanding.
"No, Harry, it should be someone with training to deal with these kinds of situations. We were assured that the person indicated was one of the best in all England. Agreed?"
He shrugged noncommittally.
"Second, Her Majesty asked for a meeting, where you will be introduced as my ward."
That made Harry's eyes goggle, and the action amused Integra greatly. "Do not worry, it shall take some time to set this meeting up, and in the meantime we will teach you how to behave in front of her, so you don't make a fool of yourself and us."
"Third, we will try to find the state of affairs of your parents in the wizarding world. This might take some time, because nowadays we have no contact with them. We're trying to find a way in without having to resort to more strong handed tactics. Understood?"
"Good. Now Walter here will take you to your room. You should find some appropriate attire for your use there, and you're free to roam the house at your will. I do not want you to go outside without adult supervision, and I ask you to respect and listen to the adults that speak with you. Right now I need to finish discussing some matters with Alucard, but later on we will sit down and talk, just the two of us. Agreed?"
Harry nodded again, and Integra smiled slightly.
"See you later then, Harry."
"Now, young Master Potter, if you will follow me?" Walter said a moment later, bowing slightly and pointing to the door.
The young boy stood up and followed the aged retainer. Before he was out of the room, Integra called.
"Harry? I almost forgot," she said, holding a pile of letters in her hand.
His eyes lighted up, and he ran back to her.
"Thank you…what should I call you? Sir? Integra?" he asked politely, while grabbing the bundle.
"For now, if you want, you can call me Integra. Later on, we shall see."
"Then thank you, Integra. And thank you, Mr. Alucard," he said to the silent vampire.
"Call me Alucard only, Little Bolt. I am your servant," the No Life King replied evenly.
"You are not," he said resolutely, and turned back to Integra. "Until later."
"Until later, Harry."
A few moments after the door closed behind the young boy, Integra turned to Alucard.
"Now, explain this all to me, Alucard."
A fleeting thought about making her squirm a bit for his answers passed through the vampire's mind, but he decided for bluntness.
"His ancestor was a smart man, Sir, far smarter than I gave him credit for, back then. When he bound me, he added a backup clause to the binding, which I only felt when the boy approached me. There is a secondary binding to the Potter bloodline, and as far as I can tell is almost entirely dormant. He can use some of it to order me around, but it has no real power unless I give in to it."
"That is interesting. I believe that if no other Hellsings existed, the full bond would befall upon Harry and his descendants," Integra mused.
"That is probably correct, Master. However, I do believe you have no intentions on testing it now," he added with a smirk.
"Insufferable vampire," she grumbled in response. "Now, why weren't you affected by the wards you said were protecting him?"
"The only explanation I have is that the wards are not directly tied to him, they're probably tied to his direct blood relative. His aunt, I believe," Alucard replied. "Makes some sense, if you think about it. His parents were wizards, and I believe they would want him to have a wizard's education when the time was right. It would be quite difficult to do so if the protections were tied to him directly, anyone with a hint of ill-will towards him would have to be kept at a safe distance to even be able to live normally. A child with a small grudge because a teacher gave Harry a bit more attention than usual would probably fall down almost immediately in excruciating pain."
Integra nodded. "Is he safe here?"
"I believe so. My mere presence near him makes most of the sheep's tricks of discovery fall down short. His ties to you reinforce the blood-based magic between us, which feedbacks to him, so he gains another level of protection. Besides, like my binding makes me bound to protect you, so it does him, and I know Richard Potter's bag of tricks, they did little to affect me. If they didn't discover anything new or more permanent, there is very little they could do to stop me."
The head of the Hellsing Organization stood up and looked out of the large window, but remained silent. Alucard, after a bit of time, spoke again.
"Having second thoughts, Master?"
"No," she answered, without turning around. "I could do no different, after learning what Harry went through. However, I fear we might do him more harm than good in the long run, Alucard. This is not the life for a child."
"Speaking of your own experience, Integral?"
"Yes…no. I cannot compare our experiences, Alucard. I was never abused, I have no inkling on what Harry suffered, and I had my father by my side for a few years, I knew his love. Harry had nothing of it," she said, turning around and looking at him.
Alucard nodded silently. "I was raised on a time that beatings were a common way to treat our children, like a sword is mauled by the smith so it can be given proper shape and then its edge. However, I know a sword beaten once too many is just a misshapen piece of metal. I know and feel that the boy has been mauled too much, now it's time to put him into the fire again, shape him and give him his edge."
Integra snorted. "So, are you a sword, No Life King?"
He laughed. "No, Integral Hellsing. I am a hammer, and one who is about to teach one stupid mortal and his family the more creative uses of a smith's tool," he said, and vanished among shadows.
Petunia Dursley's day was still spinning completely out of control. The doctor who operated on Vernon had come to talk to her a few minutes earlier, to say that while the operation was successful, Vernon would probably still need to go through another one in the near future, and even then he would probably need a cane or a crutch to walk for the rest of his life. The damage had been too extensive, as far as she had understood the bullet used was too 'soft', it deformed a lot upon impact, which caused even more damage than usual. Besides, the bullet fragmented, and while they took most or all of the fragments out, they weren't certain yet, so they had to keep him under even more strict watch because he could end up suffering from heavy metal poisoning.
The doctor asked who had shot her Vernon, and she answered the same thing she had said to the policeman who had taken her statement while he was in surgery: she had no idea. Petunia figured it had been the woman who took the freak away, but she wasn't certain. Even then she had given her description to the detective and he said he would do his best with the information, but he would need Vernon's statement as soon as he was conscious again.
Dudley, ever helpful, was munching on a candy bar and remaining out of the way. She had to look strong for her young boy, but all that she wanted now was to find a good, private spot so she could cry. Vernon was crippled, probably for life, their perfect…almost perfect life was shattered beyond recovery.
What had happened?
Her inner musings were turned down short when a nurse came pushing a bed down the corridor, her Vernon laid down on it, still out of it.
"Is he alright?" she asked, frightened.
"The doctor said he's going to be all right, he needs to be under observation for a few more days, but things should end up fine. He should be coming to in the next couple of hours, you should call one of us as soon as he is conscious," the man said, while adjusting the bed and the heart monitor. "If anything changes in the meantime, don't hesitate to call us," he said, and left the room.
Petunia looked at the ashen face of her unconscious husband, the bandaged leg lifted by a contraption, and the final walls of her emotional control fell down, and she started crying.
Dudley looked at them both, completely lost.
If someone asked nurse Ennesby what was her opinion about her job, she would probably answer 'dull'. If someone decided to expand on the question and ask why she thought that, she would say the job itself wasn't dull, but that after a time you felt 'dull' towards it, or you couldn't function. After nearly twenty years of working on this same hospital, it took a lot to affect her. She had been dulled enough by all the pain and suffering roaming around.
However, every once in a while something came along to prove that under all of her barriers something human and very primal still remained. The man currently standing behind her counter was one such event.
He was dressed in an old-looking suit, that looked, age apart, to be extremely expensive. His eyes were partially hidden behind strange yellow-lensed sunglasses, and he had a golden pin holding his tie in place, the only color she could see in the entire black ensemble. This only served to accentuate the man's extreme paleness, and while it surprised her somewhat, it became lost in the sheer presence he exuded. He wasn't gorgeous, he hadn't said a word, but his mere presence was making her body tingle something fierce. She had never felt like that, not even in the prime of her youth when she had the looks and the body to get any man she wanted.
Taking a breath, she tried to focus on something…anything to be able to talk without sounding like a fool. She tried to focus on her computer screen, on her keyboard, but she failed as soon as she locked eyes with him. They…pulled her in, and suddenly her mind wasn't her own anymore.
A couple moments later she returned to herself, the man's complete presence and questions erased from her mind, as if they were never there.
And the dullness returned.
Alucard walked among the corridors of the hospital, people giving him a wide berth without even noticing. He had grown accustomed to it a long time ago, depending on his mood and his intent people either gravitated around him or moved away. Right now, with the intent he was pouring off, he had to admire those who didn't run away immediately to their mommies. If Integra knew she would probably berate him for doing that at a hospital, but he simply wasn't caring.
Once he approached the hall of the room he wanted, he focused his hearing, and as luck would want it, the man had just awakened. He knocked at the door, and without waiting for an answer, walked on in.
"Mr. Dursley, I presume?" he asked, closing the door behind him.