Requiem: Death Shall Have No Dominion
by Darth Stitch
DISCLAIMER: Trinity Blood was created by Yoshida Sunao (R.I.P.) and is now an anime directed by Tomohiro Hirata and produced by the studio GONZO, as well as a manga drawn by Kiyo Kyoujou.
AUTHOR'S WARNINGS: Trinity Blood is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the Roman Catholic Church/the Vatican is portrayed as a military power as well as a spiritual one. The series also strongly implies major and controversial changes in the Church, such as women being bishops and cardinals as well as romantic relationships and quite possibly marriage between members of the clergy. If this disturbs you, do not read any further.
Earlier stories in the Milk Tea series can be found on my FF Dot Net profile. And in reading order they are:
Milk Tea & Thirteen Sugars
They Think That They See Flowers
All I Wish Is To Dream Again
What I'm Looking For
If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Kudos to xiayou who was the first person to spot Himura Kenshin making a cameo in Abel's universe in the last story. I just could not resist. Also kudos to Eltara and Kirro for spotting the wee rurouni wandering about. This newest fic is a WIP but not as epic as Broken Wings. Um…. that kind of epic adventure is reserved for the next fic. Oy vey.
One – No End To Be Found In This World
There is no end to be found in this world.
Sleep, my beloved.
Your life goes on.
You were born, and you lived.
You will sing the song of hope, won't you?
- Translated from "Requiem," by Lisa
The wood of his coffin is cold and hard against her cheek.
His touch has always been warm and gentle against her skin.
Roses surround this simple, elegant casket that will serve as the bed for his final sleep, their sweet fragrance blending with the scent of melted candle wax.
He has always smelled soap-and-water clean, the faintest hint of incense clinging to his cassock, as well as the fresh air, the sunlight, his milk tea and those thirteen sugar cubes he insists on having.
Before they closed the lid over him, she saw him lying there, silent and unmoving, his beautiful face utterly still, like carved marble. They whisper that it is as if he lies merely sleeping, not dead, the Prince under an enchantment, instead of Sleeping Beauty.
Abel has always been a restless sleeper. He sleeps on his side, murmuring half-coherent words in his nightmares. He is always soothed by her touch and often, much, much later, she will wake with him curled up around her, his arm a warm band over her middle, his face half buried in her hair.
Esther understands now, how it is possible for Abel to mourn Lilith for 900 years. She too does not want to leave him. The notion of spending the rest of her life without him by her side is unthinkable, unimaginable – already she is conscious of that empty, aching place in her heart which he alone filled. And it is all her fault.
Abel had told her to stay aboveground, once he had found her, assuring her that everyone else in AX was there to rescue the Pope. It stung that she was in effect being sent to safety because at that moment, she would be more hindrance than help. She had not been allowed to go armed when she accompanied the Pope to the underground Ghetto and so she was pitifully easy prey for Dietrich.
Ah… Dietrich, beautiful boy, once her dearest friend, his betrayal adding its own considerable weight to her already heavy burden of grief and loss. He claimed to love her, though perhaps this was no facet of love any sane person would acknowledge. Her anger and fear fed his delight at her predicament, caught once more in his trap. She had tried for calm but she had no doubt Dietrich might have chosen to indulge his twisted passions for her, if it were not painfully obvious that he was pressed for time. Learning that he too had been slain by Cain came as an afterthought in her sorrow for Abel. She had already mourned Dietrich once; now he was indeed nothing to her.
Perhaps, this disregard was its own best revenge. Dietrich would not have appreciated being relegated to the background.
The guilt is as heavy a burden as the grief, overwhelming, unbearable. Abel had saved her life so many times, in so many different ways and she offers poor, pitiful repayment in return. Sorrow and soul-deep regret keep chasing each other in her mind and heart, offering no respite from the pain.
It was bitterly ironic that she should be no safer aboveground than she was below. A single man had broken through the ranks of the highly-trained Royal Guard, leaving untold death and destruction in his wake. Esther had run out when the commotion had started, seen Captain Mary Spencer lying hurt amidst the rubble, hurried to help her, hating her own helplessness. She had been stunned to see this strange man, dressed in white, wearing Abel's sweet, absent-minded smile, speaking in Abel's atypically diffident mild manner. The resemblance was uncanny, except for the golden sheen of his hair. But unlike Abel, he was utterly indifferent to the chaos he had just wrought, all of them completely beneath his notice.
It was like looking at Abel through a distorted mirror. There was something not quite right about this man, something terrible and dark that his mild-seeming nature seemed to belie, rendering him all the more frightening.
And yet, foolishly, Esther had followed him.
Abel had warned her, with the rage and hatred simmering in his normally gentle blue eyes, that Cain Knightlord, his twin, was mad and dangerous. That he would kill without mercy or a second thought.
And still, recklessly, stupidly, Esther had followed him.
The memories are torment but she lets them run their course, her punishment, her private hell.
She can still hear Abel's voice, distorted by the nanomachines and his wrath, screaming his brother's name.
She can still see the shock and horror in Abel's eyes as he beheld her, coming just behind Cain, just as Abel was about to strike down his brother.
She can still see Abel stop in mid-blow, his scythe mere centimeters away from his brother's neck, see the slight movement of Cain's hand, the sudden blast of power through Abel's chest, the final, fatal wound.
She can still see Abel's lips move, her name the last word he would ever speak.
She can still feel the shock of the sudden breaking of their bond, the sudden absence of his beloved presence in her very soul, the agony sending her to her knees. Esther could only curl up in that ball of pain, fully expecting the next strike to send her to her beloved husband's side in heaven but Cain is without mercy, again walking past her as if she were beneath his notice, not finishing what he had begun.
And there are the other memories, the happier ones, which are their own form of exquisite pain.
Abel, singing to her in that gloriously beautiful voice, his laughter, the playful teasing, his touch, his kiss, his warmth, his scent, the little details that made up each precious day they spent together, so pitifully brief.
Even now, she can feel the cool weight of her wedding band around her finger, hidden by her glove. She has been a new bride only a few scant months and now she is a widow, without even the comfort of knowing that she carries her husband's child in her womb, one final memory of their love. That little silver-haired boy or red-haired girl child will only be a bittersweet dream.
She is not conscious of the time passing by, the hours she has spent sitting there. She has not truly registered the presences of the other AX Members – the Professor and Father Leon, both of them trying in vain to calm her down in those first, few hysterical moments of initial grief. She is not conscious of Brother Petros' whispered condolences… he is perhaps the only one outside of AX possibly aware of the true nature of her relationship with Abel.
She can hear the barest strains of music, a sweet voice raised in lamentation, a requiem. Perhaps, she is hearing Isabel's voice once more, the little Spellsinger and Songmaker. Surely, the grim news has already spread to the very heart of the Empire. Surely, Isabel now mourns her lost son in her song.
Ah, God, how can she face Seth, Abel's beloved sister, now?
Esther knows, of course, that they will not let her stay by his side to mourn forever, though this is her fervent desire. So she sits here, for these last precious moments, whispering to him all the things she had wanted to say, had never found the time to express, believing they had all the time in the world.
The Count of Manchester, Virgil Walsh, has now come to Esther with the most absurd of fairy tales.
It was something she might have spun as a lonely orphan girl except that Bishop Laura had been all the family she had ever wanted or needed. That she, Esther Blanchett, a simple nun from the Vatican, was in fact the long-lost Crown Princess of Albion, its new and rightful Queen. That the proof of her royal bloodline was the vivid star-shaped birthmark that adorned her side.
The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen!
If she only has the strength to spare, Esther will want to laugh at the irony of it all. She could barely take care of herself, she had just gotten her beloved husband killed – how could she be expected to run a country?
Lord Virgil speaks desperately to her of the Albionian people, bereft of guidance and leadership with the death of the former queen, beseeching her to come and take her rightful place, that it is her people who are now under attack by the Rosen Kreuz Orden. He speaks to her of honoring Abel's sacrifice, telling her that he is aware that Abel has fought against Contra Mundi for many, many years.
You don't even know the half of it, Esther wants to say, her thoughts casting back to that day in the gardens, when Abel had finally told her everything about his dark and terrible past, the hopeless look in those beautiful blue eyes, only to be replaced by sheer and utter wonder as she told him that she understood and accepted everything.
Didn't I tell you? I'm on your side.
Abel's voice, gentle and always with that faint hint of playfulness, suddenly rings clearly in her mind, as if he was just right there.
And finally, she understands. She can almost feel the warmth of his presence, the shadow of his dark wings, folding her close, safe and loved.
And with that, she finds the strength to stand on her own two feet, to follow Virgil Walsh out into the night, so she can speak her first words to her people, her country, to take up the reins of this new duty.
She cannot tell them about her beloved husband, her best and dearest friend but she can tell them about how he gave her the courage to go on, to keep that hope and faith alive, even when all seemed lost.
Esther stands now, on the roof of Buckingham Palace, the wind in her hair, seeing the frightened masses down below. And finally, she speaks.