Bedtime Story.

Disclaimer: I don't own any material contained within this story. All copyrighted content remains the property of the person, people, or organization that holds the copyright. This story is solely for fun.

AN: Well, I'm trying to stagger my one-shots. The last one had light AxI elements... so I'm going for AxS this time (though most of that won't be very apparent until the end.) Okay, moving on... The bedtime story told is based loosely off of the Dragon Heart movie (Very good movie, by the way, and I highly recommended at least a rental if you've never seen it. But just the first one! DON'T even TRY to watch the second.) Well, I think I've rambled on enough now. On with the one-shot...

"Now you two go to sleep." Seras said as she put two plastic cups of water on the nightstand.

"Wait, Auntie Seras. You can't go yet. We're not the least bit tired... are we?" one twin asked as she cast a look over at her brother.

He nodded in agreement and then added, "Tell us a story, Auntie."

"Yes, a story."

Seras rolled her eyes at the two little ones, but then her face cracked into an amused smile. She loved the twins, loved them like they were her own. And considering the fact that vampires were sterile, sharing the responsibility of raising Integra's two kids was the closest Seras could ever come to motherhood.

The vampire walked back over to the twin beds and tucked the kids in a bit more firmly. She planted a goodnight kiss on each of their heads. "Tomorrow. I'll tell you a story tomorrow. I've got somewhere to be tonight... and I'm already late."

But the twins were not satisfied by the promise of a story the next night. Like all little ones, they wanted what they wanted right then and there. They had no interest in waiting. "No, tonight. I want a story tonight," the girl replied and accentuated her statement by pounding her tiny fist into the mattress.

Seras couldn't help but chuckle. Cassy was getting more like her mother everyday.

"Just a short one?" Tony, the male twin, added hopefully.

Seras let out a little sigh, but then she retrieved a book from the dresser, a chair from the corner and sat down between the two beds. She didn't really have much of a choice. When Alucard turned her, it bound her to the Hellsing bloodline, same as him. And until Integra selected one of the kids to be her successor, Seras was compelled to obey any orders given by either of the willful little rug-rats... unless, of course, they interfered with something Integra had already said.

"Alright, what story would you like?" the vampire asked while opening the red book.

"Tell us one about King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table," Tony exclaimed with all the youthful enthusiasm that only the very young could manage.

And Seras was just about to open her mouth, when Cassy responded. "No... I've already heard all of those. Tell us something new!"

"But I want a story about Old England," Tony protested strongly.

"Well, I don't," Cassy countered with just as much force.

The two twins glared at each other, and poor Seras found herself trapped between conflicting orders. Oh how she hated it when her young masters argued. However, before things could escalate any further, Seras got an idea. "How about I tell you a new story about old England... one that's not in the book?" she interjected.

This seemed to intrigue the two children. They stopped their glaring and, expectant looks on their faces, quickly turned to the vampire.

Seras closed the red book and set it down on the floor. Then she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. This was going to be a little tricky...

A long time ago, in a land not too far away, there was a small, peaceful town by the name of... Cheddar. And in that town lived a young maiden. She was an orphan and had been since the age of eight when a... 'sickness' claimed both of her parents in the same night. …

The girl had been scarcely more than a child when her parents were taken from her, but she knew how to wash and sweep and even cook... some simple meals. And though the town was too small to be able to afford an orphanage, the people who lived there were kind... in their own way. They kept the maiden supplied with a steady stream of simple tasks, ones that served to keep bread on her table and clothes on her back, sparing her the indignity of having to beg.

And over the years, as children always do, the maiden grew. She learned skills in the arts of cooking, cleaning, washing and other domestic duties. And eventually the towns folk began to hire her not out of sympathy but because she was the best at what she did. And this pleased the maiden. However, she couldn't help but feel... bored with her simple life, as if the world was passing her by. She wanted... something, but was unsure what. Until, that is, one of King Arthur's knights road into the town.

He was no Lancelot, no high level knight, just a regular, run of the mill, country knight... barely more than a squire. And he was not young or truly handsome. In fact he was rather old; and his belly bulged, as if he'd eaten a few too many mincemeat pies. And he would not be staying long. He'd only stopped in to buy food with which to refill his saddle bags- for he had a long journey yet a head of him -and rest up a bit from the long distance he'd already traveled. He wouldn't stay in Cheddar more than a single night.

But during that night, he told such fantastic tales- battles fought, foes vanquished and monsters slain. And when he left the next morning, the maiden knew what she wanted out of life. She wanted to be a knight, a champion of the oppressed, a slayer of monsters, a holy warrior of the Lord God. But alas, she was a woman... and of common birth.

Still the maiden was determined to learn the ways of knighthood; and after her jobs were finished that day, she went down to the town blacksmith and bought herself a sword. It was a simple, iron broad sword, a common weapon, unblessed and lacking any enchantments. But it was a strong blade and well balanced... for the low cost weapon that it was. The blacksmith was a very old gentleman, with grey hair and a long, pointed nose. But he'd been in the smithing business since his youth. He may have been old, but he was still strong enough to cast iron. And his age came with experience, so the weapons he forged were reliable ones.

Having obtained a sword, the maiden next set out to find someone to teach her how to use it. One of the farmers at the edge of town would make a decent instructor. He was a farmer now but had spent his youth in the kings army, no knight of course, just a rank and file foot soldier. Well, perhaps he was a little more than that, for he had survived almost a decade of fighting, long enough to eventually fall in love with a farmer's daughter and leave the battle field behind.

When the maiden first approached the man, he was reluctant to train her. But she knew that his wife was pregnant; and after offering up her cooking and cleaning skills- to assist the man's wife, who could hardly be expected to keep the domestic side of the farm up, given her 'condition' -the man agreed to trade his lessons for the maiden's assistance. So for four months she studied the blade; and she showed such promise that, even after the man's wife delivered, he agreed to continue his instruction.

So for a time, everything was going well for the maiden. That was until... she woke up one night to find a zombie shuffling towards her bed. The maiden's first reaction was neither brave, nor heroic. She screamed, shrieked actually. But it was only a moment of panicked shock, and soon her wits returned. She rolled over and grabbed the iron blade- which she'd been keeping by the side of her bed since she first purchased it. And then she leapt at the monster and slashed at its shoulder, driving her blade through the rotting flesh and deeply into the monster's chest.

The zombie lurched and let out a strange, sort of muffled moaning sound. Then it slumped, dead... 'redead', to the ground; and, with a wet squishing sound, the maiden wrenched her blade free of its chest. She felt rather proud of herself- after all she'd just slain her first monster. In fact- so happy was she that -she nearly skipped out of her house as she went off to find the local priest and inform him of what had happened. Surely, he'd want to know that there were undead on the loose; and doubtless, he would have some idea of what to do about the problem.

But as the maiden exited her small cottage, her pleased expression quickly fell at the sight before her. It seemed that nearly the entire town was out that night... and- other than her -they had all been turned into unholy, undead creatures.

The maiden's face fell as she stepped outside and saw the members of the limping, moaning mob turn their heads to stare at her. She started to subconsciously back away, slowly. She'd defeated one of the evil creatures, but now dozens stood before her. She could not possibly hope to best them all, and she knew that. So she backed away under the gaze of their glowing, purple eyes. And at first they simply stared at her, as if her presence confused them in some way.

But then one of the hideous creatures hissed some sort of 'war cry', and the whole mob began to lurch towards the maiden. It was at that point that she turned and ran. At least the zombies were slow. Surely, she could keep ahead of them. And she did. The mob did not catch her, but they did chase her into the nearby woods. And there... there other zombies laid in wait.

As the maiden ran through the trees, a zombie jumped out and grabbed her by the arm. She yelled, turned and punched the creature in the face, the impact causing it to rear back for a moment. The maiden pulled her sword loose- she knew that she could handle the monsters one on one -and took a fighting stance. But then as the zombie raised its head, its appearance became... familiar to the maiden.

The zombie's skin was rotting off its bones, but still... the face was recognizable. It was the face of the farmer who'd trained her, the one she'd come to consider a close friend over the passing months, the man who had a wife... and a child. And the maiden could not bring herself to fight that man. Even though he was already technically dead, she could not force herself to end his... 'un-life'. And so, she ran again.

And as she ran more zombies leapt at her from behind trees and inside bushes. They grabbed at her, and she had to- almost constantly -twist parts of her body free of their grasp. It was a nightmare. But there was hope ahead. Just a little ways away, the woods thinned and cleared. If she could make it to that clearing, she'd be alright. The monsters would have no more places to hide and pounce from.

And the maiden did reach the clearing. She sighed in relief and stopped for a brief moment to catch her breath. But then as she looked back up, she saw a woman lying on the ground. Cautiously, the maiden approached her. Something didn't feel right; but if there was another survivor, the maiden couldn't just leave her there- for the zombies to catch. And by the time she was close enough for the maiden to see the 'woman's' face it was too late.

The zombie in the light, pink dress lunged and, latching unto the maiden's legs, pulled her down; and the sword in her right hand fell to the ground. The maiden tried to free herself. She tried to fight back. She punched and did her best to kick the zombie off, but it was no good. The horrible creature stubbornly held on and began to crawl up the maiden's body.

There was nothing left for her, and she knew it. There was no way she was going to get out of this one. She groped for her sword, but it was just out of reach. And then, just as the fowl monster reached the maiden's neck and looked down at her- a smile seeming to play across the zombie's putrid flesh -there was a loud thump behind them.

The ground shook; and just as the monster was about to bite into the maiden's flesh something jutted through the zombie's chest. It was strange, sharp, pointy, the barbs looking like a cross between bone and steel. And then the thing, whatever it was, opened up- so that it now covered a larger area than the hole it created; and the zombie was pulled off of the maiden.

For a moment, the maiden just gaped in surprise. But then she rose to her feet and saw her... 'rescuer'. It was a dragon, a large, red, powerful dragon, the sworn enemy of gallant knights... and devourer of young maidens. She froze in fear. Zombies were one thing, but dragons were quite another.

And as the maiden stood there, staring at the great beast- who still had the zombie it had pulled off of her impaled and suspend in the air by its tail -with a shocked expression on her face, the creature leered at her; and then it winked. And the maiden suddenly knew that, unless she did something quickly, she would become a snack for the fearsome dragon.

Her sword was nearby, and she dropped and rolled over to it. She grasped it firmly, rose and charged at the beast. The dragon... did nothing, and the maiden jammed her sword deep into its scaly hide. And then, the dragon did do something. It laughed.

"My, my... aren't we a feisty little maiden?" the creature cooed in a deep, rumbling... yet somehow velvety voice as the maiden struggled to wrench her sword free of his hide. "Here, let me help you with that," he continued and, reaching over, effortlessly pulled the iron blade from his side. Blood spurted from the wound and landed on the maiden as the dragon held her sword to her. "Would you care to try again? Perhaps you'll have more luck next time," the beast mocked in an amused tone.

And the maiden shook her head and ran. She ran as fast as she possibly could, faster than she ever had before, faster even than when the zombies were chasing her. Sure she'd wanted some excitement. She wanted to be a knight, but this was just bloody ridiculous! There was a whole town full of zombies and now a monstrous dragon? She was all alone, without even so much as a shield to block the beast's flaming breath. She couldn't possibly be expected to fight under such circumstances.

The church wasn't far. Indeed, she could already see it, resting comfortably on its little hill. That was her only chance, her only hope of salvation. If the priest was still alive, he could do something against the apparent flood of darkness. Surely he could do something, hold it at bay if nothing else. He was her last hope... if he was alive. She prayed that was the case as she dashed the rest of the way and, panting like a dog during a summer heat wave, threw the church door open to discover that... Yes, yes he was still alive.

The priest turned to the maiden and seemed a little startled by her appearance. But then his demeanor shifted into a kinder stance. "Why whatever is the matter, child? You look positively pale... and frightened beyond reason," he said, drawing near the maiden.

And she finally lowered her guard. She'd made it to the church, and the priest was still alive. Everything would be fine. The maiden caught her breath and then replied, "Father, something terrible has happened. The town, the whole town is infested with zombies, and-"

"Oh, that," The priest replied, cutting the maiden off, as he wrapped and arm around her. "Don't worry, I already know all about that."

"Y-you... You do?"

"Yes, of course," The priest continued as he began to lead the stunned, confused young woman down the church aisle. "You see... I'm the one responsible for it," he said as they reached the end of the aisle and the maiden saw a bloodied, pagan alter had been erected in front of the pulpit.

"N-no," she whispered in disbelief as she felt something cold pierce her chest and drive itself into her heart. Looking down, the maiden saw the handle of a small dagger protruding from her left breast. She couldn't believe it. She just couldn't. She'd survived zombies and dragons just to be killed by the very person she thought would protect her? The maiden was in a state of pure shock as she saw blood beginning to seep out of the wound. "W-why?"

"Why? For power, of course." The priest began to pull the blade out, but just then the whole front section of the church caved in on itself as the great, red dragon came crashing through the roof.

"Power? What does a pathetic worm like you know of power?" the creature shouted, and the priest trembled from the sight of the beast.

But after a moment, the man seemed to recover from his shock. He snapped his fingers, and a multitude of zombies pored from the sides of the church and into the main hall. "I'll show you power."

The dragon merely laughed and blew out a gust of fire, the flames acting almost alive as they twisted and turned, consuming every last zombie. Then the great beast reached over with his right hand and grabbed the terrified, pagan priest. The man shrieked louder than the maiden ever had as he was dropped into the creature's open mouth and swallowed whole.

Finally, the shriek died with a belch of flame from the dragon, and then the creature looked over at the maiden. And for a moment. She thought she saw something... sympathetic in his cold, reptilian eyes; and for some reason that made a bittersweet smile cross her lips.

"Such a waste," The dragon commented, his voice sounding distant, thoughtful. Then with one great step he was right in front of the maiden, staring down at her. "You don't want to die, do you?" The maiden thought that was a bizarre question to ask. Of course she didn't want to die. "Would you like to come with me?" the dragon continued, and the maiden thought that question was even stranger.

Couldn't he see that she'd been stabbed through the heart? The dagger was still in place, acting as a 'plug' and slowing her blood loss, but she was already as good as dead. She wouldn't be going anywhere. Still... She nodded her head at the creature. Were circumstances different, she would go with him. After all, despite what she'd heard about dragons, this one seemed different. He'd already saved her twice... sort of. And he could've killed her when she'd attacked him, but he didn't. Oh, how she wished his appearance hadn't frightened her so much during that first meeting. Perhaps then she would not be lying on the dusty church floor, feeling her life slowly slipping away.

To the maiden's surprise, the dragon opened his left hand to reveal that he was still holding her simple, iron broad sword. He held the blade up to his chest and used it to cut into his thick, scaly hide. The maiden simply laid there, with a shocked expression apparent on her face, as the dragon lifted up a section of scales, revealing his own beating heart. And then, to the young woman's further shock, she saw him use her sword to cleave the vital organ in two.

A fiery scream of pain escaped the dragon's mouth and his face twisted into a grimace. But the creature did not die. He stooped down, holding the smaller, still beating section of his heart in his hand. And almost tenderly he whispered to the maiden, "This is the part where you close your eyes."

She did just that. And then she felt the dagger in her chest being moved around- making the wound larger -before being pulled out. It didn't really hurt, not too badly. The maiden had lost a lot of blood. Her heart beat was slowing, and her body was already starting to shut down. All she had was a distant, almost detached sort of knowledge of what was happening to her. And then, everything changed.

Something new and foreign joined with her dying heart, and suddenly she felt... alive again. She was still weak from the blood loss, but she wasn't dying any longer. She would live. She would live.

The dragon lifted the maiden up and carried her from the church, and then she saw a knight riding towards them. The dragon stopped in front of the knight and bent his head. "The town has been cleansed, my master," he said submissively.

And the knight's helmet came off, revealing long, platinum-blonde hair that twisted in the blowing wind. "And what do you have there?" the knight asked in a commanding but obviously feminine tone.

"A survivor," the dragon answered.

"A survivor?" the knight replied in a dubious tone. "She looks as weak as a kitten. What happened to her?"

"She will grow stronger, Master. She was stabbed through the heart... I gave her a piece of my own, so that she might live."

At that revelation, the knight looked completely taken back. "You... you gave her your heart?" she exclaimed in astonishment.

"Yes... As long as I draw breath, she shall live. Her strength will return quickly, Master. And I have no doubt that she will prove herself a worthy servant... as, I hope, I have."

The knight looked thoughtful for a moment, but then she nodded. "Very well, Dragon. You may keep her... but keep in mind that I'm holding you responsible for her."

"Understood, my master." The dragon bent his head till the tip of his largest horn touched the dirt.

And then the knight turned away. "Come now. We must be getting back to Camelot. The forces of darkness are growing stronger each night, and soon my father will have need of us again." So saying, she replaced her helmet and began to ride off, atop her towering steed.

The dragon looked down at the maiden in his hands. "Yes, we must make haste to Camelot. I suspect your life has just become far more interesting, and you will need to rest and recover your strength, my feisty little maiden." And with that, the dragon spread his wings and took off into the night sky.

"Wow," Tony exclaimed as Seras finished. "What a story!"

"Yeah," Cassy agreed. "But... what about the rest of it? I mean who's that lady knight? Why does she have a dragon for a servant? What did she mean by the forces of darkness were growing stronger? And what happens to the maiden next? And what about the dragon? Why did he save her? And what did he mean by, 'As long as I draw breath, she shall live.'?"

Seras laughed lightly. "Other stories, for other nights, I'm afraid. Right now you two need to get some sleep. It's waaaay past your bed times now."

"Awwwwww," both children wined in unison.

"Come now. Go to sleep... or no story tomorrow night," the vampire threatened; and the two twins looked over at each other, worried expressions apparent on their faces.

"Alright," Tony consented.

"But I expect to hear more about these three tomorrow night," Cassy all but ordered.

And Seras smiled down at her young masters. Then she kissed both children again and, having finished tucking them in, made her way down to the mansion's basement. She walked down the cold stone hallway and entered the furthest chamber. There she found her Alucard... waiting for her. He was seated at a small table that had been covered in a deep maroon table cloth.

Two candles - that had obviously once been very tall but were now melted almost to their bases - flickered, casting the only faint light that dwelt within the dark room. And two long stemmed wine glasses - filled with a dark red substance that Seras's nose told her was most definitely not wine - rested at opposite ends of the table.

"You're late," the ancient vampire said in a low, rumbling voice, obviously displeased at having been kept waiting.

Seras flashed him a sheepish grin and apologized. "I'm sorry. The twins demanded a story, and I... Well I really didn't have much choice in the matter."

"Of course not, they are our master's offspring. We are bound to them as strongly as we are to her," the No-Life King replied, and the young vampire before him breathed a sigh of relief. Surely he couldn't hold her being late against her if he recognized that she had no choice in it.

But then the corner of Alucard's lip curled slightly. "But don't pretend that you don't enjoy playing... 'Auntie' to the little tykes. I know you better than that, Police Girl."

Seras flashed another sheepish grin. "Well, sure... I enjoy it. But even if I didn't, it wouldn't make any difference."

"Oh, but it would. But it would. If you weren't always so kind to them, they wouldn't demand so much of your time." Alucard paused, letting the tension build slightly before continuing, "But then I suppose you should be allowed a hobby... or two."

Seras smiled happily and nodded eagerly, and Alucard motioned to the empty chair across from his. Seras took the offered seat and reached for her wine glass. As she sipped it, she noticed an extra robust flavor. She paused for a moment as her face took on a puzzled expression. There was something familiar about the taste. Then recognition passed over her, and she couldn't help but raise an eyebrow.

"The Master's gift to us..." The No-Life King took a sip from his own glass. He swished the thick liquid around in his mouth for a moment before swallowing. "Ah, delicious... even if it does now lack that delightful tinge of virginity."

Seras nodded and took another sip. "Awfully nice of Sir Integra," the Draculina commented as the low, flickering candle light cast dancing shadows across the faces of the two vampires.

"Indeed," Alucard agreed and took another sip. "It was chilled when she first sent it down. But I'm afraid that it warmed while you were off telling bed time stories."

Seras eyed the ancient vampire warily. It seemed he was still a little upset about being kept waiting. "Well, I think it's better at room temperature anyway, brings out the flavor more."

"True," the No-Life king consented as he sipped from the wine glass again. "So... what story did you tell the little tykes?"

Seras hesitated for a moment. "Ours."

"Indeed? And here I thought the Master made it clear that there were to be no vampire tales until her offspring were at least ten... some nonsense about not wanting them to hear about vampires until they were old enough to understand the stories."

"Well... I kind of changed a few things."

"Oh, such as?"

"Well, I sort of turned you into a dragon... for one."

To Seras's surprise, Alucard actually broke out in a fit of deep laughter. "Oh, really? A dragon? That was... very witty of you."

"Th-thank you." Seras smiled at the compliment. "I thought it was fitting... given your name and all."

Alucard grinned and nodded, his mood seemingly having improved remarkably. Then the monster took another sip from his glass. "So, how did it end?" he asked, almost absently.

"How do bed time stories always end?" Seras replied, sounding a little coy. "They all lived happily ever after."

"Did they?" Alucard responded, suddenly sounding a lot more serious than he had a moment before.

Seras's brow furrowed. "Of course, how else could you end a bed time story?" she asked.

"And in real life?" he replied.

And Seras grinned as she understood what he was getting at. "Yes, in real life too," she answered as she got up and walked over and kissed him.

The No-Life King smiled happily as he moved his chair back and sat the young vampire down in his lap. "Happy anniversary... Seras."

The Draculina smiled back up at her master. "Happy anniversary... Vlad," she responded just as the candles finally died out, plunging the room into darkness.

(Well, what did you think? Please review and let me know if you liked it, thanks.

PS. I'm sorry, I haven't been writing as much lately. I've gone back to Collage and I don't have as much free time. But I still write a bit, and I can only hope you all still enjoy what I post. ;)

Have a good day, and God bless.

Metropolis Kid.)