Disclaimer: Own neither Harry Potter nor Hellsing nor Dracula. It's all property of other people, and I'm not quite clever enough to make money from it.
Warnings: Spoilers for HP up to and including DH, mild cussing, violence
A/N: This is a sequel to Call me Mina. You can read it on its own, but it makes better sense if you've read the other one before starting this. The style is a bit different but, hey, it's been three years – I'm a different person now.
I want to apologise to everybody who reviewed Call me Mina and/or added it to their alert/favorite. I meant to write a sequel since about the fourth positive reaction I received, and I started a few times, too, just… it never quite made sense and the imagination faltered. Yet, do not despair, ladies and gentlemen, for here it is, the brand new, ready to be devoured, following a successful older sibling of a story, the Nothing like Harker!
Nothing like Harker
Chapter One: God And My Right
2nd of June 1999
There are things in your life you know you can't escape from.
But you try.
Then again, isn't trying to escape from things you know you cannot escape from one of the things that make you human?
Harry wished he were free to curse, but the walls in this place echoed with every single step leading him to what was promising to become his damnation, and he was reasonably sure that a whispered word would carry just as well. There were places you didn't curse in: churches, McGonagall's classroom, the Buckingham palace…
What in the name of Godric Gryffindor was he doing here?
"Explain this to me once more. Maybe I'll get it this time," he muttered.
Ginny, still miffed that he hadn't offered her his arm and therefore she had no one to hang onto and had to walk on her own two feet – which was proving unexpectedly difficult in the high-heeled shoes she had chosen for the occasion – huffed. Neville and Ron gave Harry commiserating glances and Luna kept on humming, staring into space. Harry was afraid she would wander off, so he had charged Neville with keeping an eye on her; the boy unfortunately took it a bit too literally and was currently going cross-eyed because of it.
Hermione pushed past her hulking giant of a boyfriend to the front of the group, paused to get a better look at a statue on their left and was rammed into by Ron, who couldn't stifle his cursing – and it did carry just like Harry thought it would.
"Control yourself, Ronald!" Hermione hissed, apparently nervous, despite looking even more radiant than she had for the Yule Ball. She was a veritable ball of jitters, and that made Harry's palm itch. He wanted to take out his wand and blast the first thing that jumped out on them… gods, how he wished they were in an evil, haunted, cursed mansion instead!
"Just suck it up, mate," Ron told him, towering over Hermione's head, perfectly ridiculous in an all-muggle tuxedo. And wasn't it unfair that Neville and Ron could wear tuxedo, while Harry had to go in a robe? "This is hopefully the last-"
"You just had to jinx me!" Harry grumbled, and did as advised to: sucked it up. But nobody could make him go quietly, and he would do his best to ensure that Hermione suffered, suffered, suffered for forcing him into this.
"You cannot ignore the Queen's summons!" Hermione protested in undertone, jabbing Harry's side with her wickedly sharp elbow. She looked around furtively, probably checking if anyone had heard her use the politically incorrect title of Her Royal Highness, and ducked back to the tail of the group, making Harry feel yet iffier about the entire happening.
He, personally, had never spared a thought to the royal family. He had learnt about them in school, but in the magical world they had simply not been mentioned and it never occurred to him that some kind of an idiot would think to mention Harry to them. This was craziness. It was crazier than Dumbledore, crazier than Cockroach Clusters, crazier then-
He froze. Neville walked right into him and jostled him, but they didn't end on the floor and that was the most important thing for the moment, because there, right in front of him, filling a half of the hall, was a group of soldiers, all of them in green uniforms, unarmed but still dangerous looking… And in front of them, in the uniform of the Commander and with an honorary sabre at her belt, stood a tall, veela-like young woman.
"Jonathan?" Integra said so dumbly she might have kicked herself. She should have expected to meet him again one day, but too much happened and daily lethal danger pushed a chance meeting with an odd stranger out of her mind. She had had someone do the reconnaissance on the few things she had gleaned, but the person was most likely dead now and she had never read the report (if it existed at all).
The boy, now two years older and much wearier, was still as annoyingly different from all the human sheep around him as before. As though he had stepped out of a child's tale, with his wildly flying black hair (messy hair in Buckingham palace! And she didn't even have to pay to see it!), sparkling green eyes and the stupidest glasses worn by anyone that was not Alucard. At least they were not yellow.
"Hi," he said nervously, grinning.
A red-haired young female at his shoulder glared at Integra, who couldn't have been fazed if she had tried. The school-girl wore an impractical – if lavish – dress of an unconventional cut that could not have hidden a weapon unless it was strapped to her thigh, thus if she needed it she would have had to search for it under that multitude of skirts for half an hour before she would find it. Obviously, not a threat.
Jonathan turned away from his companions, and did a little smile that sparked a tiny déjà vu. "I didn't expect to meet you here."
"You should have," Integra said, shrugging, while she watched in the large mirrors on the wall how her men regrouped behind her, directed by Walter who was standing a bit off to the side, looking inconspicuous. "I'm in and out of this place."
"Wow…" Jonathan said – in the exact same mildly awed tone as he had used two years ago when she had jumped over a fence. He glanced around himself and shivered.
Integra, with wry amusement, noted that he was more intimidated by the building than by the soldiers in front of him.
"What brings you here then?" she inquired, regarding yet not heeding Walter's hand-signs.
Jonathan shrugged again, looking somewhat lost. "I don't know," he complained and glared at a young woman behind him that held herself like a teacher – straight-backed and strict. "She does," he grumbled, "but she wouldn't tell me. I suspect they couldn't have dragged me here with a pair of hippogriffs if they had told me."
He really was like a fairy-tale escapee, down to the metaphors he used.
"We will see," Integra replied, not really good at encouragement. She stepped up, proud when she managed not to laugh at the red-head's bristling, and leaned closer to Jonathan, lowering her voice to add: "In a few hours. Her Highness isn't really very fast. If I didn't know better, I would say she enjoys the ceremonies."
"Ceremonies," Jonathan repeated in a cold voice, glaring at his stern companion, who initially cringed, but then drew herself taller and adopted a haughty expression.
"It won't kill you," the young woman said.
Jonathan clearly believed it might. Integra sympathised. A moment later the double-winged opened and Jonathan went a little green.
Integra smiled. "It will not kill you."
He flashed her a deer-in-headlights expression and then, suddenly, he straightened his spine and inexplicably became the very picture of a fairy-tale hero. The red-head at his shoulder swooned.
Integra in a split-second reevaluated her acquaintance.
"You'll have to tell me about your war," she said, startling Jonathan's entourage. They seemed to dislike her greatly. Two years ago she would have been bitter about it, now it was but a source of mild amusement. In two more years, she suspected, she would hardly notice it. Already she was too accustomed to seeing corpses of these 'ordinary' people to be anything but indifferent about whether she inspired confidence in them. If they were alive, she was doing her job well.
"Afterward?" he asked, and then the crowd was moving and they hardly had time enough to smile their mutual agreement before they were separated and swept inside the small ballroom: Jonathan in a group of teenagers, Integra surrounded by half of her soldiers.
"You have an interesting friend, Sir Integra," Walter remarked with a faint tinge of reproach, which was as much disappointment in her as he ever showed; he apparently disliked that Integra knew someone he had never heard of – someone that had not been thoroughly vetted.
Showing no emotion, Integra glued her eyes to the Queen and, with a hand on the hilt of her sabre, stood at attention.
After what felt like three hours, but most likely wasn't more than one, Harry's legs were as numb as his mind. He stared at the wall above the woman that, he was informed, was his Queen, and wondered where the heck had this all-important personage been when Death Eaters were murdering children.
He understood the necessity of this play-act and was willing to go through it, because there wasn't the judicial system in Britain (whether wizarding or muggle) that would prosecute him for the same reason why the Royalty had honoured him. It was good to know that if someone would decide, twenty years from now, that they don't need the former Boy Who Lived in their way, Harry would not be charged with the murder of Tom Riddle.
Harry's legs disagreed with the procedure, but he was cynical enough to acknowledge that Elisabeth deserved her bit of gleeful cruelty toward her unappreciative subjects.
"Come forth, Harry James Potter!" exclaimed a man in a ceremonial costume, which looked like it had survived centuries under an Endurance Spell.
Harry couldn't find it in himself to be surprised. He walked forwards, stopping just in front of the step up to the throne, keeping his eyes forwards and his back so straight it was painful. Having his friends in the crowd bothered him little, but the other fifty people – ceremonials, soldiers, Knights and royals – those were observing him too. It was like the Great Hall after a new rumour spread, only filled with incomparably more important people.
"Kneel, Harry James Potter."
This was swiftly getting ridiculous. Harry obeyed, of course, but it made him feel yet more on edge than he had been before. His fingers were itching for his wand and his senses extended, so that he was hyperaware of the movements of all the people in the room. Hardly anyone moved, in fact. The ceremonial stepped away, leaving the kneeling Harry alone in the middle of all those looks.
Silence fell – the kind of silence where none of the audience dared to whisper, or even scratch their nose for fear they would disturb it and garner attention. He felt like a rabbit they were going to have for dinner. Still, he wasn't going to go quietly. If he had ever been good at anything, it was surviving.
"We, Our Majesty, by the Grace of God Queen Elisabeth the Second of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, recognise the service of Harry James Potter to Our Kingdom. At the tender age of seventeen years, this man stood up against the self-proclaimed criminal Warlord Tom Marvolo Riddle, murderer of hundreds of British citizens, defeated him at a great personal cost, and sought no recognition or remuneration."
The words were coming from the aged woman in splendid gown in front of him – the Queen – but Harry couldn't find rhyme or reason to them. The sentences were too long, too loquacious, and they had little to do with him. Yes, he had known Tom Marvolo Riddle, and he had hated him and fought him, but he had had no choice…
"We are most impressed by this man's deeds, and wish that he were as great a servant to the crown in the future-"
Servant? Harry wasn't a damn servant to anyone!
"-and therefore We bestow upon him the honour of the Knight of the Round Table."
There was finally a murmur from the crowd, a shocked susurrus of disapproval. Harry was almost glad he had no idea what had just happened, because he was less likely to blow his top in public like this. He hoped his soul had not just been signed over to the Devil – or the God, or any other deity. Harry managed to keep his face straight while the fifty-some people stared at him, but he was hellbent on retracting his friendship from, if not outright kill, Hermione. He especially hated that she really meant well and, technically, he had no moral ground for vengeance.
"Rise, Sir Harry Potter."
The ceremonial approached and placed a sabre into his hands. Harry gripped it, without the slightest idea of what to do with it. This was bloody ridiculous. He – Harry, an eighteen-year-old barely graduated wizard – was a damned Knight.
He bowed and took his place in the crowd, far yet from comprehending what had just happened to him, childishly devising ways to use his new status to get back at Hermione for forcing him to go through this without preparation, but she was probably so proud of him right now that it would only make her happier. He would have to be craftier than that.
He gritted his teeth and tried – futilely – to convince himself to be patient. The rest of the wait was positively hellish, but eventually the neverending ceremony had to end. Harry's legs screamed in protest, but he refused to show it while he was in the spotlight.
"Jonathan!" a female voice called him on the way to the exit.
Harry turned, amused and appreciative that she still used his cognomen, whether in jest or because he still didn't know her name.
"You were right," he told her, bracing himself against the scowls of her – and his own – bodyguards. "It didn't kill me… but it was a damn near thing."
He noted the weapons changing hands, passed from those soldiers that had been waiting outside and guarding the room to those who had gone inside with their Commander. Mina's eyes glided from one ornate mirror to another, following the departure of the huddle of older men with sabres on their belts.
Glancing at the blade in his hands, Harry made a guess that those were his fellows in the Order of… what was it again?
"If you could keep your melodrama in check," Mina said with a hint of exasperation, "I would like to invite you for tea – and talk."
Harry ignored Ginny tugging on his sleeve and inclined his head, thinking. He needed someone to explain about the mess he had just been sunk into, and it would have to be someone he trusted. A distant memory resonated, and while his curiosity drove him to find out as much about the mystery that was Mina, his Slytherin sense of self-preservation urged him to be cautious.
"Vlad wouldn't mind?" he asked.
The butler, standing on the edge of Mina's group, paled rapidly. The soldiers shifted and Harry became hyper-aware of them and the firepower they wielded – the ones inside the ballroom might have left their weapons outside, but they had already re-kitted, and looked unhappy… kind of… in a way a marble statue can look unhappy.
Mina smiled viciously. "Just let him try anything…" she said darkly. Apparently, the dynamics have changed and Lord Dracula was being kenneled by his mortal lady.
"I'd be delighted, provided you can guarantee my continued wellbeing."
"Don't, Harry!" Ginny practically ordered. Harry swiftly extricated his robe from her grasp and stepped out of her reach. She moved to follow, but Hermione caught her arm before glaring at Harry.
"Are you sure? It doesn't sound safe…"
Harry, for whatever reason, felt that he could trust Mina. That didn't mean he would rely on her, but he had his wand on himself and no qualms about using it.
"Neither was the hunt for Horcruxes," he said with a shrug.
"You cannot seriously compare that!"
Harry seriously did. He glanced at Ron to ask his opinion, but Ron's eyes were quite affixed to Mina's uniform-clad chest. Luna was still gazing off into space, which he tentatively interpreted as her default approval with his decision.
Neville hummed. "You're sure you don't want me to go with you?"
Harry honestly couldn't imagine it. Or perhaps he could, but he wanted to go on his own, like a stupid Gryffindor, like a child hero. He didn't want another in the danger with him, and he didn't want to share the experience. Maybe, one day, he would introduce his friends to Mina, but for now the other war would have to remain a secret to his friends.
"No. I'll be alright."
"He's coming with me," Integra said, leaving no room for debate. The Captain nodded and stepped back. Jonathan – Harry, she recalled with a hint of marvel; it was still difficult for her to think of Jonathan as a Harry – stepped up next to her, waving goodbye to his companions, seemingly unconcerned about the armed force that practically enveloped them as they walked side by side through the wide corridor toward the side exit.
Cars were waiting there, and Walter had somehow slithered into the front of their procession and was holding the door open for them. Integra ducked in and moved over, making space for Jonathan. He sat and put his new sabre across his knees, looking uncomfortable. Walter closed the door and circled the car to sit next to the driver – for the first time since Integra could remember. He made it look so natural that it wouldn't have occurred to Jonathan just how much he disrupted the usual order of things.
"I threw a wrench in the works, didn't I?" Jonathan asked, smiling at her. He seemed to delight in disrupting her world-view.
"Going by experience, the protocols don't work more often than they do. I wouldn't let regulation stop me," Integra replied.
For whatever reason, that made him laugh. The car moved and he leant back into the leather, watching London pass by. Pellets of rain splattered against the windshield and the wheels sent sheets of rain over the walkways.
"After all, what are regulations worth in times of war?"
"I feel almost lucky," Jonathan replied. His thumb absently stroked the sheath. He looked up, with eyes as weary as Integra remembered them, but a degree of content in his face that was new. "My war seems to have passed over so quickly… It did not, really, it had gone on for decades, but I have been there for seven years and then it was over. At that time it seemed like the world was ending. Now…" He shook his head.
"Now what?" Integra prodded, wondering herself what the world would be like if the war was over. It never would be, of course – for her it would end only with her death – but the idea was fascinating.
Jonathan shrugged. "Now I've been knighted for doing my damn best to stay alive, and a woman I've hardly heard about all my life expects me to serve her. Why?"
Integra contemplated it. The answer was simple, but it was a reasoning with no depth behind it. The truth was that as she had become older and her thinking more complex, so had Jonathan, and the world around them presented more difficult problems for them to solve. They had been chosen, by accident of birth, to be there in the front lines, standing between the sheep and the wolf.
"Because that is who we are, Sir Harry. We are the servants."
He sneered, and Integra was surprised to see his face could turn so ugly. "I didn't sign up for this!" he snarled. "I fought when I had to, but I didn't volunteer!"
Integra honestly did not know what to tell him. She had not volunteered for anything either, but she had been raised to think of her service to the country as her holy duty and honour. She taught herself to think of Hellsing as her source of power and the sense of her life. Who would she be without her fight?
Nobody. She would have nothing. Morbidly, she realised that she wouldn't have a chance on a smidgen of respect from Alucard, and that was a pathological way of defining herself, indeed.
Nothing of that was anything she could have told Jonathan.
"But if you didn't have to fight, you would have volunteered," she said in the end. It was what she would have done.
Jonathan didn't reply.
They arrived at dusk.
Mina, to whom it finally occurred to introduce herself as Sir (not Dame, without explanation for the oddity) Integral Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, the commanding officer of the Hellsing Organisation and a Knight of the Round Table since she was thirteen, explained to him in fairly vague terms what was the purpose of the armed forces she commanded and where they resided. Hellsing Manor therefore didn't come as much of a surprise: it was monochromatic, dreary and foreboding.
"He must like it here," Harry remarked after he climbed out of the car – the door was again held open by the omnipresent butler.
Mina snorted and patted her front pockets. The possibly last thing he expected was for her to recover a cigar and put it in her mouth. He was probably gaping while she lit it up and pulled a draught. She breathed out a little cloud that stunk of nicotine.
"I don't suppose you smoke," she stated rather than asked, and set out toward the gates.
"I don't," Harry replied, keeping the distance of a few steps, because the cigar really smelled bad. It was nearly painful to see such a beautiful woman do something so disgusting.
As if she heard his thoughts, she laughed. The butler held one wing of the front door open for them and Harry hurried up – it was better to breathe the smoke than to stay outside in the cold and rain.
The inside of the Manor was very different from the palace. There was little decoration and hardly any paintings. The walls were mostly bare and, when Harry paid attention, he noticed the amount of security – men who saluted when Mina passed and cameras installed in ceiling corners. This was a fortress. It made sense, but he still hadn't expected it.
"The parlor is ready for you and your guest, Sir Integra," the butler informed Mina. "Will Sir Harry be staying for dinner?"
Harry winced at the address, but Mina didn't even blink. She ordered dinner to be ready by nine o'clock (obviously the schedule was a bit different in this place) and decided without asking for Harry's input that he would be present for it. He was more amused than offended, still so out of his depth that he was glad she had spared him the decision.
"We won't go to the parlor, though," Mina continued. "I have work to do. We'll be in my office."
When Harry remained standing still, perplexed by the proceedings, she gripped his forearm and pulled him along, letting go only after she was certain that he was managing to walk on his own. She walked up a wide staircase, passed several more saluting uniformed men (no women, though) and led Harry into a vast – absurdly vast – room with nothing in it but a checkboard floor, a checkboard carpet and a desk on the opposite end, with one chair on either side. Paradoxically, for such a well-defended place – the 'office' had a row of floor-to-ceiling windows covered with nothing but thin curtains.
"Take a seat. Walter will be in momentarily. I have to look at the inbox."
Harry obediently sat down. Mina sank into her chair with a sigh of relief and immediately reached for a stack of – standard muggle A4 – paper that rose higher in the upper left corner due to the amount of staples it contained. Within a minute the door opened; Mina only glanced that way and then ducked back. Her eyes followed the lines of whatever document while the butler – Walter, apparently – crossed the expanse of space and settled a tray with the oddest collection of tableware onto a vacant part of the desk. There was a teapot, two cups, a bowl with sugar and a tiny jar of milk, a plate of crumpets, an open bottle of wine and two wine glasses, and an ashtray.
The butler picked up the old ashtray, sitting close to Mina's left elbow, full of ash and the ends of cigars (including the one she had finished smoking just now), and went off, looking quite like a man on a mission all the while. Harry was a little disconcerted by the grace he displayed: like he wasn't a butler in the first place, only as an afterthought-
"You can set it down, now," Mina spoke suddenly.
Harry looked up, but following her eyes to what she was speaking of turned to be quite impossible, as she was still occupied by the paperwork, so he had to stop and think. What could he set down-
Oh. He was still holding the sabre – patches of sweat from his palms were already staining the sheath. He gingerly propped it against the side of the desk and leant back, watching as Mina pushed strands of Malfoy-blond hair out of her face with annoyance. She was unearthly – hardly older than he and already a head of a military organisation for years, silvery-blonde despite her dark skin, and scarily smart while clinging to an ideology that was, frankly, limping.
"This is ridiculous," Harry said when he felt the silence had been going on for too long. "I am not a Knight – I can't be. I want to get married and have kids – after Auror training – but I'm an ordinary w-"
He shut up. He had almost said too much.
Mina was now staring at him over the table – like McGonagall would, or maybe Dumbledore once upon a time, except that she wasn't peering over her glasses like they were wont to do but gazing straight through the lenses. Her right eye was completely obscured by the reflection of the artificial light – no candles in here.
"An ordinary what?" she asked.
Harry looked away. "That's not the point," he muttered to the wall. "The point is that I have been, against my will, made a part of some kind of security organisation I know nothing of, that I've been forced to serve a personage I don't have a reason to respect so far… that I'm here and I don't know what I'm doing here." He turned to her and met her eyes – blue like Dumbledore's but cold, calculating, and free of the patronising twinkle. "I've hoped that you might help me make sense of this."
Mina held his eyes for a while and then she nodded. "I think I understand your position. Pour the tea, and I will tell you about who the Convention of Twelve are and what is their purpose."
Integra supposed she should be patient with Jonathan. She had been bred and nurtured for a life of servitude to the Queen and the Church, and even so the transition from childhood to warfare had been difficult for her. She had had Walter's help and Alucard's mocking but unfailing support. She still wasn't quite the leader her men deserved, but she was slowly and surely getting there.
She understood Jonathan's anger and she was very glad that he wasn't prone to hysterics. He listened to her describe the Round (Oval, if one wanted to be technical) Table, its other eleven members and their respective fields of competence. Nothing, though, appeased him – he still felt injured. He might have been the only person in the world who felt bitter about being knighted.
"Are you going to tell me about your war, Harry?" Integra asked eventually, shifting in her armchair.
"I will try to tell you as much as I can-"
"As you can claim clearance due to your Knighthood," Integra interrupted him, "so I can claim clearance due to mine. We are both technically members of an Order charged with the safety of our country – the Convention of Twelve." She was quickly becoming annoyed at having to repeat herself.
"And I am to be the thirteenth?" he asked incredulously. "Thanks but no, thanks."
"Hardly," Integra shook her head. She couldn't imagine it, either; she was having enough trouble to maintain her position among them. They would not deal well with another child added; never mind that there was no historical precedent for a fourteenth member (the thirteenth was the ruling monarch). Jonathan's title was, at the moment, an unsubstantial honourific. "I did say 'technically'."
"Brilliant," he sighed, "here I go, breaking the rules again." His gaze rested on the sabre. Integra agreed that the weapon was pretty substantial, and her statement might have been an attempt to placate him with a white lie because she was losing her patience.
"Can you honestly tell me that if you were asked to defend Britain – whether against a danger without or within it – that you would refuse?"
"No, I would not," he replied, faster than he could have thought about it. Although, as Integra knew him – which, admittedly, wasn't very well – he had thought about it in the past often enough to be thoroughly sick of the topic. She knew that his enemy – the Tom Marvolo Riddle, whom Jonathan had called by another name that she couldn't recall – despite having posed as a 'warlord' had not been noticed by the intelligence of either member of the Round Table. Whoever had allegedly murdered hundreds of people on British soil in the span of decades had not been picked up by the police or the media, and that frightened her.
Jonathan was clearly dealing with something supernatural – a different supernatural problem than her own, and apparently even the supernatural problems weren't aware of one another, lest they would have either started a power struggle or joined forces. Nonetheless, what would be Jonathan's reaction to Alucard?
It was already dark outside; the moon would be rising any minute now and Alucard would inadvertently wander in, curious like a blood-thirsty kitten and at his sadistic best, deriving perverse amusement from terrorising the outsider.
Would Jonathan be able to withstand that kind of pressure?
She doubted it.
"Ah, but you might be surprised, Integra," a voice from the shadows replied to her thought, and she had to spend considerable effort to keep her face straight. Jonathan was standing, with his right palm covering the pocket of his robe, obviously on the verge of drawing a weapon, and staring to the right, trying to penetrate the darkness.
"I am a pessimist, Alucard," Integra replied easily, signing her name on the bill in front of her and putting it into the outbox. "If I am ever surprised, it is pleasant."
Jonathan figured out that he was not being insulted – it was good to know that the idea of mind-reading would not shock him incoherent – and that the entity interrupting their conversation was not a direct threat, so he sat down again, without ever revealing that mysterious weapon of his.
Alucard did not feel like playing hide and seek with a stranger who had not panicked upon hearing a voice without a body speak to them, and materialised in the room in his usual attire.
Jonathan cursorily measured him and inclined his head. "A pleasure to meet you, sir," he said civilly.
Alucard, surprised enough not to laugh into the face of the greeting, soundlessly walked closer, scrutinising Jonathan with a stare wholly inappropriate to direct at food. It irked Integra, especially when the boy's only reaction was meeting her eye and raising a questioning eyebrow, as though he expected her to adhere to the niceties and introduce them.
"That is not a reaction I get often," Alucard remarked. Jonathan understood that his attention was being requested and graciously conceded. Alucard found that – and whatever he saw in the boy's mind – amusing. "You are quite clever, for a mortal… but so crude."
"Accusation of crudeness, Alucard, coming from you?" Integra asked, ostentatiously turning to the next of the never-ending forms that covered her desk. She was on her way to making absent lack of attention into an art.
"You have always known how to strike me where it hurts, my Master," the vampire shot back.
When she peeked out of the corner of her eye, he was studying her guest, probably in a vain attempt to return her dismissal.
As soon as Alucard came within reach, Jonathan rose. He looked perfectly benign, and not at all scared – which was probably a first in Integra's memory. Alucard scared everybody except her, discounting the instances when she thought for a moment that he wasn't coming back from a mission.
"Mr Tepes himself, I assume…?" Jonathan spoke a little too softly, offering a shallow bow in lieu of handshake. "It is an honour to make your acquaintance, sir."
"A polite dinner, how quaint."
Integra looked up with an almost tangible purpose. Alucard, like an obedient servant, met her eyes.
"You will not touch him," she commanded, "or otherwise harm him without a direct order from me. Do you understand?"
He muttered something. Jonathan squirmed in discomfort when she defined the possibility of her ordering an attack on him, but he seemed to recognise the necessity of a back-door in case he turned out to be an enemy. She didn't doubt that he had some kind of a back-door himself – perhaps a form of transportation or a familiar he considered dangerous enough to give him leverage.
"I didn't hear you," she reminded Alucard.
"Yes, Master; I understand and acknowledge your order," he said, turning away from her. She didn't care about the lack of respect he displayed for as long as he did follow her orders. Then he spoke to Jonathan: "I remember you."