I. Die erste Elegie
For Beauty is only the infant of scarcely endurable Terror,
and we are amazed when it casually spares us.
She was running, then falling, stumbling, then climbing up onto a shelf, then into one of the airducts. It was oddly clean and disturbingly quiet. It was also rather cold under her fingers, rather sturdy against her palm. Her skirt made swish-swish noises against metal, her breath clashed with muted sounds, echoing around her. Her body moved awkwardly along, uneasily. This wasn't a body she had gotten accustomed to. This had been a body she left all those years ago. And yet...
Then, all of a sudden, she fell. Down, down, and down, like an unending journey through a rabbit-hole. She felt stone underneath her hands and knees, and when she looked up, she saw him. She knew him. She called out to him, his name. But blood moon shone upon his armor, staining it improbably red. His face was twisted terribly, manic eyes crying bloody tears. Yet he was smiling disturbingly gently. White teeth, sharp teeth. Red lips.
Don't let him get to me. Don't let them. Don't let... Keep them away. Keep them away. Help. No. Run. She called and called. Her mouth moved yet no sound came out. She was screaming in her mind, her blood throbs with the terror rushing through her veins. She screamed, she cried. Their footsteps echoing ever nearer. They are going to find me! But he only smiled, his shadow dark and growing. He was fading, slipping through the cracks of stone. Stay!
Stay! She cried out. Footsteps echoed ever closer. The door tore away from its hinges. It was only a second when she looked around at them. She turned around again to find him gone.
She's alone, and this was all very wrong. Her uncle was dead, long dead, a distant memory of a distant past. But he's here and she's here. Little again. Small again. Lost again. Helpless. A feeling she thought she had forgotten. Terrified. A feeling she thought she had grown out of.
Fraulein, Uncle Richard called her. He called her with Major's voice, wearing Major's smile. Fraulein, he said, as a bullet grazed her upper arm. Fraulein, he said, as he stepped closer. Fraulein, as cold steel pressed against her left eyelid. She blinked, eyes burning as gun powder slipped into her eyes. She blinked, and blinked and wept tears of blood.
Who'll help us then?
Not Angels, not Man; and the nosing Beasts soon scent that we do not feel too much at home
In our interpreted world
You're dead. He's dead. Everyone's dead: she wept in her dreams, while around her London burned brightly still.
She knew she had slept for quite some time as waking up was sluggish and a downright struggle. Her eyes--or rather her remaining eye--refused to focus but she picked up the sound of movement, soft rustling of clothes, light footsteps; she felt around for her gun but found nothing. I never went to bed unarmed, she thought, straightening up and getting ready for a fight. Then she heard the familiar clink of fine china, then a scent-cloud of fragrant tea.
"Wa... Walter?" she croaked, cringing as she caught the whiff of distasteful morning breath. Have I been asleep for a year? she wondered. Or maybe cavities formed overnight.
A tray was shoved into her line of sight. Her toothbrush, toothpaste, a glass of water, a little blue-white china bowl and a folded white napkin. The hands holding the tray were too young, too unlined, and Walter was... She looked up at the face, too young and too unlined, mouse brown hair, common face and naive twinkling eyes. So very pedestrian. And not Walter.
With a toothbrush in her mint-foamed mouth she mumbled "You're not Walter" at the stranger. Spitting rather forcefully into the bowl, she took the glass of water handed to her. He seemed mostly harmless, she thought as she gurgled. Anyone who offered toothbrushing-in-bed might not be a bad sort of fellow. Unless there's poison in the toothpaste, or on the bristles, or in the glass of water. What a way to die, she concluded, spitting into the bowl once again.
"You're not Walter," she said, dabbing stray droplets of water, watched pristine white cotton turned crumply and stained.
"But I am Walter," the man answered. Clearing her toothbrush tray then placing a cup of tea in her hands. The tea smelt different from what she was used to. Not-Walter seemed to sense her discomfort. "Sorry about the tea, price of tea in China and all that," he said.
"You're not," she said again. Walter was never this... young, was he?
"Walter Elias Brown" he said. "My father named me after the great purveyor of children's entertainment from across the pond."
"Mr. Brown, then," she concluded, putting the empty cup aside, sliding off her bed and walking straight to her desk (or at least as straight as she could manage with one eye and a head heavy from sleep). "Who are you and what are you doing here?"
"I'm assigned to your organisation by the Prime Minister's Office."
In other words, a government watchdog. And why not here, she thought, since they would need to get funds to rebuild Hellsing; money which the Crown could only provide with the approval of the civil government. Integra had a feeling that she would be at odds with this person. Hopefully she would not have to kill him.
"I didn't know they know." She was relieved to find her usual gun in her desk drawer. Nothing had ever been as comforting and as familiar. It was like old and faithful friend. She checked the chambers, satisfied that the gun was also fully loaded and working rather well. Some cleaning would be needed, but otherwise... She sighed again, slid the gun under her sleep pants, cold metal against the small of her back. Home, but no cigar. She slammed her cigar box shut, then closing the drawer with an audible thud.
"We've only just known of you ourselves," his voice broke disturbed her thoughts. "But don't worry, it's still as secret as ever, but Her Majesty thought it wise to share some information with relevant government bodies to ensure the best possible solution for rebuilding efforts."
Government people and their wordy words. "Her Majesty has been busy," she commented instead, moving towards the window, seeing only darkness.
"The consultation began quite as soon as the War started in London," Mr. Brown replied, moving next to her, offering cigarettes, which she took even though it wasn't the brand she usually favoured. "Her Majesty had no doubt that the Protestant Knights will prevail, but she also knew that the damage would be great."
"I don't know any of this. How long was I out of it?" she felt frustration creeping in. She disliked feeling helpless, being outside of the loop, going blind.
"The main battle, we thought, lasted about two days: since the arrival of the Millennium forces in London, to their defeat. Elsewhere, small battles are still being fought as we speak. You were, uh, otherwise occupied for another three days since."
"Two days? It hadn't felt like two days. I don't remember..."
"There hasn't been any proper sun for a while now. Not too long before the time Millennium's forces were deployed, a supervolcano erupted in the Near East. Very good timing of them, really. We, Madam, are experiencing a volcanic winter." Mr. Brown remarked sadly. "And now the sky has been raining mud and blood for days on end. Perpetual twilights, no more than slivers of sun at a time."
And it was only then that Integra realised how dark everything seemed. Only candlelights and small emergency lights. "Ah yes, and the National Grid is still very much out of commission. All working energy supplies, including some found on Hellsing estates, are being redirected to critical facilities. Hospitals, and such like."
"You seem extremely comfortable around my things."
"Ah, not too comfortable. Never too comfortable, I assure you," Mr. Brown said, looking suitably embarrassed. "I admit that I've taken some liberties," he added but quickly raised two hands in surrender, "but Miss Seras Victoria has been very, uh, shall we say, watchful."
"I expected no less of her," Integra replied, sitting down on her desk chair. "And have you had some rest, something to drink?"
"I'm not talking to you, Mr. Brown," Integra said, smiling, her teeth gleaming against flickering candlelights. "Your report, Seras."
"Enough of them, Sir Integra. Sleep and drink, I mean," came the answer, rather sheepishly at first, growing more sombre as Seras materialises in the room. "Twenty Hellsing survivors in all. Three still under Dr. Trevelyan's care, but not critical. Five released to active duty this morning. We've recruited as much new members as we can. All of them from Pip's contacts. They're okay, but they do need some straightening up. I've also been coordinating with government armed forces in eradicating small ghoul pockets around the country. " She seemed rather cheerful, though her movement advertised a bone-deep tiredness.
Otherwise, she looked healthy for someone who's been dead for a long time, he thought. Three days with Seras coming and going like the wind didn't make him any more ready for her abrupt arrival. Seras Victoria, Lady Hellsing, the organisation itself. Undead. Unnatural. He would have crossed himself if he were Catholic. But he wasn't. So he sighed. It wasn't the first time he thought he was in the wrong job.
Wasn't the first time he cursed himself for often thinking out loud, too, he thought as the question inevitably came: "So, why don't you ask for another assignment then? Surely there're some other people Number 10 can send? Someone less... you."
"Well, hardly my fault if you're..."
"Why are you here? What about the Round Table. And the Queen?" Integra interrupted as she leafed through stacks of reports, edging a small emergency lamp closer. Never had darkness so irritated her. So much I need to catch up on. I've been incapacitated too long.
"I don't know about the Round Table, I heard that not all of them survived. But I don't know their names. Sorry about that." Mr. Brown coughed a bit, then continued, "And the Queen... hummm... She's situated at Castle Mey as it sustained the least damage out of all the royal residences. You are to meet her at your earliest convenience, I was told."
"Then we shall go," she decided, already pulling out a briefcase and piling all the papers into it. Mr. Brown wondered whether it was a magical kind of briefcase. A mountain of paper disappeared into a tiny space. The wonders of the undead that he had hoped he would never know.
"The helicopter is prepped and ready to go," Seras added.
"Good. Then, I'll leave Hellsing to you for the time being," she said, walking towards her changing room. "I shan't be long," she added, almost as an afterthought. Like she needed to assure even herself.
"Uh, that..." Seras shifted uncomfortably. "There's some disturbingly high ghoul activities in Llandewi, and I think..."
"And it can't wait, I'm sure," Integra sighed heavily. Aftermath of a krieg, artificial undeads, ghouls, crippled infrastructure, volcanic winter. Loss.
"Then, that leaves... What's his name? Cowley? I assume Cowley is still alive," Integra said. Cowley was a new-ish addition to Hellsing as an underbutler. A quiet sort of fellow, Integra remembered from the few times she'd seen him. Small, thin, timid and unassuming. But very tidy and precise, she was told.
"Yes, he's already taking care of the mansion's reconstruction and most other administrative duties. He can be trusted with those duties at least."
"Oh I don't know about trust," Integra said, striding down the corridors, noting pockmarked walls and burnt carpets. The stench of death and the lingering shadows, but not the shadows of those she hoped for most. Outside, an impressive twilight, colours which she had never seen before. "But I'll take what I can get. I at least want to see the mansion still standing when I return."
Freshly dug graves. Red snow falling onto obliterated grounds. There would a funeral pyre on top of a hill somewhere. Almost too much, too soon. God in heaven.
She paused in front of the front doorway, hesitating a little. The doorknob was oddly warm on underneath her fingers.
"We should leave now, if we are to get to Castle Mey in good time, Lady Hellsing," Mr. Brown urged, eyes impossibly bright.
Such an irritating man, she thought quietly. But there was no time to orchestrate painful endings to a man, especially at a time like this. Not really his fault he's a government person. More importantly, there was apprehension. For the first time she felt almost completely lost, utterly defeated even when the battle was won. She looked at Seras then at Mr. Brown and squared her shoulders, her fingers trembling, twisting and wrenching the door open.
"Seras," she called out. "The usual orders for Llandewi."
A cold, suffocating wind greeted her.
"Mr Brown, you may call me Sir Integra."
Yes, the springtimes were in need of you.
Even stars relied on your witnessing presence.
When a gathering wave surged from the past--
All this was your mission.
But could you accomplish it?
As an arrow endures the bowstring
So as to be, in its flight, more than it could ever be.
Nothing stays still.
The 30-year gap between ch.94 and ch.95 was really something for fans to play with, isn't it? I know that there's a lot of fics and discussions around this already, and I wanted to also try making one. Still, I wonder what exactly happened in the Hirano-verse, if there's such a thing But this is what happened in my head. It might even be considered AU?
I was thinking of making it a long story, about the struggle of rebuilding, especially it was like the second Blitz of London. Also the thing about volcanic winters. I chose it because when I was reading the manga, I thought "that's one hell of a long night". Was it an endless night? I vaguely remember that there's a sort-of sunrise around chapter 9 (?) but then it quickly got dark again (Or maybe it's just me being a very poor manga reader, for I do tend to skip around while reading).
I have a feeling what I wrote isn't extremely accurate. But I hope I don't actually miss it by miles entirely. :) Would I be excused by invoking the power of the AU?
Another one, hope Mr. Brown isn't all too Marty Sue or Gary Sue or Mary Sue (eh, post-operative?). But I thought to put him there at first because it seemed quite logical (at least for me, and my mind isn't exactly the straightest or the sanest) to have a government liaison attached to the various Noble-run foundations, especially since they need to dig deep into the country's coffers to rebuild. And he would be there to help Integra and Seras cope with the day-to-day work of rebuilding. I don't know if I'm going to give Mr. Brown some good (i.e. high) position in the government, or merely a mid-management type job.
And Cowley the Underbutler. I've no idea what to do with him. I doubt he'll be Walter as I know Mr. Brown wouldn't be Alucard (heh, as if!) I don't know why he suddenly wrote himself into the fic like that. When I realized that I was typing hiim I was like "w. t. f. Where did he come from!" Maybe he'll be there to provide comic relief. Oh I don't know.
Seras and Integra of course, I hope, I can write how they do some more growing up (not in a bad way). But to have two very solid foundations being taken away from them, can't be very good for them. They were strong before, but I think, at the end (Ch.95) they were even stronger than before, shedding all the awkwardness of youth once and for all. But, also finding a little joy and finding again pieces of childhood that was lost. I don't know if this is too much, but they seemed to be more unrestrained in Ch.95, a little childlike, but altogether more mature as well. Maybe I'm just seeing things.
All in all, these are just ideas. I'm not sure whether they'll come to any fruition. Just my thoughts because one day not too long ago, I sat, became bored, and read Hellsing 1 to ch. 95. Dayum!
Regarding the title of the fic, I'm not sure if it's really any fitting. I might change it next time. It was there because I was loathe to put "Untitled" as title (although, I'm sure it has some philosophical truth in it, especially since after the war, even the titled is left... er untitled). So, that's probably another thing I need to work on: find another, hopefully better, title. Although it should really be the least of my worries, since I have lots more er... 'important fic-related things' to worry about *digs grave*
Finally, the Duino Elegies excerpts are taken from various translations of the work.