Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow
Pip and Seras walk together across the grounds of Hellsing Manor. During the night the lawn was covered in a thick, fluffy snow. Snow is not something that is often seen in London. At least not a snow that covers the earth in such an all encompassing blanket, a snow that lines every branch of the bare trees as if painted on there by the most skilled of artists.
Seras smiles and her eyes, half squinted because of the glare off the snow, crinkle into happy crescents. One hand swings out playfully in unison with her hip as she crunches through the snow in her white thigh-high boots. The white pom-pom at the end of her scarf swings in the opposite direction, and she's a right jolly elf in her Santa-red jacket trimmed with white fur at the cuffs.
Pip steps casually in his baggy cargo pants with one hand resting in the pocket of his jacket. His long strides are paced slowly enough that Seras's more petite ones can easily keep up. A cigarette hangs lazily from between his lips while his shaggy hair covers much of the rest of his face. Still, enough of it is visible to see that while Pip's eyes don't crinkle, there is a detectable peacefulness about the boy in the relaxed smirk that plays at the corners of his lips, a contentedness in the protective tilt of his head toward Seras.
What strikes Integra the most about the duo as she watches them from the paned window at the end of an upstairs hall, is the way they hold each other's hand. Pip folds three fingers around the tips of Seras's, and she presses her thumb against the back of his ring finger and pinky. They are not clasping, they are not gripping, not hanging on for dear life − the union of their hands is fragile; either one of them can easily let go, but they don't. Integra looks again to their softly glowing faces. Each of them are a complete picture in themselves, but she wonders − if their hands were to be separated, like unhooking a string of Christmas lights from a socket, would the light in their faces go out? She thinks that it would.
Unexpected tears sting the corners of the Hellsing leader's eyes. She automatically slips her fingertips underneath her glasses to wipe them away, and then glances behind her to see if anyone's there. Finding herself quite alone, she looks back out the window. She feels a pang in her chest, and acknowledges what this is all about − she's never going to feel what Pip and Seras are feeling, is never going to glow with blissful, carefree love.
This is hardly news to Integra Hellsing. Girlish fantasies of falling in love disappeared long ago. She doesn't doubt that she'll likely marry someday and give birth to Hellsing heirs, or that it will be a prudent match based on mutual fondness and respect…but love? True romantic love requires trusting someone else with a very vulnerable piece of yourself, and trust and vulnerability are not Integra's strong suits. She will never relax her inherent control enough to let love slip in. She knows she's better off without it, and she certainly leads a full enough life that she doesn't miss it…and yet there is something in the very obvious strength of Seras and Pip's affection that jumps out at her and dredges up a deeply buried longing. A longing she'd better quash before anyone sees the unchecked tear that has trailed down her cheek.
At the other end of the Manor, Alucard is watching the couple through the frosted library window. His fledgling is with that mercenary again. Always with the mercenary. Why she chooses to spend time with such mediocrity when Alucard has – on many occasions − invited her to spend an enjoyable afternoon with him in his lair, is beyond him. Still, when he sees her cherry red mouth turned up the way it is, and the flawless elation that dances through her every movement, he doesn't think a single naughty thought about the short cut of her skirt.
He knows that he could never make her smile like that. Wouldn't have any idea how to go about it or an inclination to do so even if he did know. He's had a life filled with women, to be sure, but they don't do a lot of smiling around him. Screaming out in ecstasy, yes, but smiling? Not with the same levity of spirit, the same happy assuredness that Seras smiles with now.
His red eyes travel to the merc. His stance is not as energized as Seras's, but there is an unmistakable spark about him that flits beneath the surface, a spark that is only ever present when Seras is near. The fool, Alucard scoffs internally. He's given himself to her − body, mind, and soul. That's how he makes her smile so: she knows she owns the poor boy and she's elated by his surrender. Alucard watches with wonder at how the idiot can look so bloody pleased about being her prisoner.
The couple move on and out of view and Integra makes a decision. She's going to put on her coat and boots and go out in the snow. She may not have a Pip's hand to hold, but that certainly doesn't preclude her from enjoying a solitary stroll on her own grounds.
Alucard's red fedora materializes in his hands and he jams it on his head. He's going outside; the bowels of Hellsing Manor suddenly feel very confining.
Integra crunches through snow at the east end of the lawn and looks up at the pale blue sky. In her peripheral vision, she catches a blur of red emerging from the side of the building. Thinking it's Seras and Pip, she steps instinctively behind a large fir tree. She's not sure why she'd want to hide from them, but she peers cautiously through the branches and sees that it's not them at all. It's Alucard.
He's not facing her, but it'll only be a matter of seconds before he senses her presence. Acting on another unbidden instinct, Integra quickly bends and swoops up a handful of snow and whips it across the yard. Her aim is impeccable and the snowball slams into the Nosferatu's shoulder, exploding into fluff and leaving a white blob behind.
Integra ducks back behind the tree and wrinkles her forehead as she wonders what has gotten into her to make her so suddenly playful. Before she figures it out, her vampire is standing next to the tree she hides behind. He raises an eyebrow at her and suppresses a smile.
"Master, did you happen to see who just attacked me − unprovoked I might add."
Integra makes a show of looking around for said attacker, and then looks him squarely in the eye and responds, "Why, I believe it was me."
"You?" Alcuard answers, feigning shock. He watches a delighted spark race across Integra's face as he teases her and feels a rush of pleasure at having pleased her. "That's a terrible shame," he continues. "Because, you see, I am under strict orders from my master to punish anyone so bold as to assault anything belonging to Sir Hellsing, and so now I fear I must−"
He doesn't get to finish, because all the while he's been talking, Integra has surreptitiously pulled back on a large, snow-covered branch, and now she lets it go, flinging a spray of blinding snow into Alucard's face.
She turns and runs away, but two seconds later, he is behind her, holding onto her arm. She knew he would catch her, but it was still worth it. He spins her around and holds her pressed to him with her arm pinned behind her back. He doesn't apply excess pressure or hurt her in any way, but she knows that he could snap her arm off with less effort than it would take her to blink. Yet she doesn't feel a spec of fear in her vulnerable position. She trusts him implicitly.
He looks down at her, his warden, and his lips curl mischievously.
"Say Uncle," he drawls.
Integra's eyes open wide in surprise and she busts out laughing. The word is quite the inside joke between them.
Integra finishes laughing, but still smiles, and the two of them begin walking together across the thick white blanket, surrounded by painted branches and dancing snowflakes. Alucard has loosened his grip on Integra, but doesn't let go entirely. Three of his gloved fingers fold over the tips of hers, and she presses her thumb into his ring finger and pinkie. Her hip and free hand swing out as she navigates an icy lump of snow, and Alucard inclines his head protectively toward her, the ghost of a smile playing at the corners of his mouth.
A/N: This story is for Metropolis Kid, who sent me the gorgeous picture of Seras and Pip that was the inspiration. Merry Christmas!
I have some exciting news! I've been published. :) My original novel "Three Daves" is now available at .com, and my short story I Don't Do Valentine's Day is part of a collection of romantic short stories in "A Valentine's Anthology," also at Omnific. Please stop by my Web site, .com, to check them out.