Disclaimer: I do not own Hellsing nor the characters Seras Victoria, Integra etc. Hellsing or Alucard. Nor do I own The Nutcracker and the Mouse King or the ballet The Nutcracker. I DO own Aidan and Wynne...which is all that matters really.

Note: Well this just went weird. Ah well. Happy Christmas!

Dedication: To my father who is the only person I know who could cite information on antique guns off the top of his head even though I didn't list all the details out at all.


Seras looked at the hand stretched out towards her. It did not waver nor did it demand, it merely asked. She stared at it, occasionally glancing up to look into his eyes, thoughts chasing chaotically in her head. Something deep inside her was telling her that if she took his hand, there was no going back. It would be done in that moment. She should be wary of that hand stretched towards her. Yet…what possibilities….

Slowly, heart beating loud in her ears, she reached out and placed her hand carefully in his. It gripped hers firmly and a grin flashed on his face. It was the last thing she saw before the world went black.

-

Light bloomed golden and the grip on her hand changed, giving escort and leading rather than grasping. The world slowly came into focus as she was drawn forward and eventually the blurred colors became a whirlwind of elegantly dressed dancers. She found herself in a room that was larger than any she had ever been in and decorated with the greenery of the season. To one side stood a large Christmas tree, decorated with hundreds of tiny candles twinkling almost magically. The entire atmosphere of the room was gay and bright as laughter bubbled over in conversations around the room and the graceful dancers smiled at each other in the beautiful patterns they created.

She was still taking in all these tiny details when she realized that the strange man who had so magically brought her here was leading her onto the dance floor. Her steps faltered at the realization, knowing full well that she was not dressed to match any of the people in attendance. He seemed to recognize her hesitation and paused long enough to look down at her apparel with a secretive smile.

Confused, she looked down and gasped. Gone were her simple evening fineries and in their place hung an elegant gown of finest red silk and black laces, an elegantly embroidered corset and hem with a full skirt and bustle. Shocked, she looked up to meet his eyes only to find that same amused grin and approving eyes. He continued their trek to the dance floor, ignoring her blushing cheeks and shy anxiety. Without a moment's hesitation, he swept her into a dance and, in that moment, all other concerns were lost.

How long they waltzed, she could not say. Time seemed to stop when he held her in his arms and moved them around the lavishly decorated room and all she could do was stare up into his fathomless eyes. Something in those depths called to her, promised her delights she had never known and…something more. Who was this man and why had did he call to her, why had he asked her to come to him?

"You may ask me any question you like," he spoke calmly as they danced.

She nodded, brow furrowed for a moment before giving herself a mental shake. She knew nothing of this man who had taken her far from home. It was time she learned.

"Who are you?"

He grinned. "I am called by many names and more titles. Most recently, I have been called Alucard."

"Wh-…," she began, cutting herself off as she stared at him, unable to gather the courage to ask what she wanted. Then, memories of a magical fire and his sudden presence in her room as well as the magical entrance to this beautiful dance and the clothes she wore. She took a steadying breath. "What are you?"

The gleam in his eye turned approving and he whirled her in a quick turn of the dance before dancing them closer to the edge. Ever graceful, he twirled them off the dance floor and then escorted them out of the room and onto the open balcony never breaking the fluid motion he moved with. They were out the door and standing in a gently falling snow and the atmosphere seemed as different then as it had been from her room.

Still, he had not answered and she looked up at him expectantly. It was then that she noticed him pulling the long red coat she had first see him in from the air and putting it around her bare shoulders. Amazed by the actions as well as the sudden generosity, she could only stare up at him, speechless once more. He seemed to find humor in her, a small smile curving his mouth, before he stepped away and his expression grew shuttered and unreadable.

"Long ago I was a prince and then what some might call a king. Now I am neither. In my homeland, I am praised as a savoir and in the lands of my enemies I am scorned as the devil that brings the sins of hell. To some, I am nearly a god incarnate, believed to be capable of all things and to be worshiped and praised and, to others, I am an abomination, a monster to be eradicated from the earth. I am all of these and none of these."

"What do you say you are?" she asked, curiosity and a tinge of fear coloring her voice.

"I am a monster. Your kind has called me many things over the years, but monster is the most frequent. I live by taking the blood from others and mine is a life of eternity. In some places, I am called vampir. In others, nosferatu. The question is: what do you say I am?"

She bit her lip a moment, eyes still locked with his. "That man from last night, was he like you?"

"In only the most basic of ways."

"But he was a vampir?"

"Yes."

"And you…killed him?"

"Yes."

"To save me."

He grinned. "Yes."

"Then…to me you are my savior."

His smile grew softer, more considering. "Tell me then, are you not afraid as you stand next to me?"

"Yes, I am."

"Yet you call me a savoir."

She smiled. "Because I don't think you want to hurt me."

He grinned widely, almost visibly relieved, before holding a hand out to her once more.

"Tell me, what is your name?"

"Seras Victoria."

"Well then, Seras Victoria, will you come with me, into the night?"

She hesitated, her hand stilling in its motions as it reached towards his. "Do you mean…become like you?"

He did not answer her, instead frowning as he peered down into her wide eyes. Slowly, his lips curved upwards again and the expectation of the offered hand changed.

"Tell me, Seras, what are your dreams?"

-

"I used to have a family once," she whispered as they stood on a hill looking down at a silent and empty house. It was a beautiful piece of architecture that sprawled in opposite directions, a home of a wealthy man.

"And now your home lies empty?"

"It isn't my home. Not anymore. We had never been wealthy, just enough money to support the land and ourselves. My father worked as the local constable and magistrate. He was a good man. My mother supported him and worked in the loyal parish. She was a truly good woman. They were good people who never harmed anyone."

"What happened?"

"A thief broke in. He had come from London. He wanted revenge against my father who had arrested his brother. They think his original intent was merely to rob us of our possessions but when he found mother and father still awake, he changed his plans. He shot father then stabbed him when the shot did not do the job. Then he turned to mother. He killed her in her struggles then…did things."

"You watched?"

"He didn't see me. Not until I…."

"You attacked him."

"I killed him."

"Do you regret that?"

She looked out at the darkened house, faint memories echoing in her mind. It stared back at her alive with possibilities, everything that might have been.

"No."

-

The world sharpened around them and she found herself standing on a crumbling wall looking over the remains of a castle, now in ruins.

"I had a family once, too. A purpose."

"What happened?" she asked, looking up at him curiously.

"I suffered betrayal after betrayal. War is a harsh world to live in and it tears apart more lives than any other on earth."

"Did it destroy yours?"

"It destroyed my family," he amended quietly. "I was the destroyer, Seras. I will never lie to you and tell you otherwise."

"You lived here didn't you?"

"Yes."

She smiled sadly. "You have been alive a long time, haven't you?"

He grinned. "Yes."

"And you've been alone all that time haven't you?"

His smile faltered and his eyes clouded over, unreadable to her as she looked up into them.

"Yes."

She looked out at the crumbling stones of what must have been a fine castle and wondered at how one survived the fall from all they had ever known for such a long time. To be ruler of a land and a warlord and then to exist as a monster, out of sight from all who would know him.

"How did you survive?"

The excitement returned to his eyes and once more he reached out his hand.

"Let me show you."

-

"They stole it from you, didn't they? They stole all your power the moment they stole his body from your home. They put you in a school for weaklings and stole your strength, sapped it away from you each day and every night until you were molded into what they thought you should be."

As she listened to his soft phrases, the world solidified around them and she found herself standing in a den of destitution and iniquity. Unwashed bodies lay in various states of dress and nourishment and the stench of decay assaulted her.

"Where are we?"
"This is what happens to those who let their strength be stolen from them and those who fall prey to their own weaknesses. They fell to their desires and let even their strength and passion become their masters." He looked down at her, appreciative grin on his face and pride in his eyes. "You asked me how to survive but the knowledge was always yours. You never gave up the fight. Even when that trash held you captive, you fought him, never believing yourself beyond hope or options."

As she watched, he stepped behind her, pressing his body close to hers, and bent to whisper in her ear.

"You just require the means to fight."

"But I—"

"You have a fierce will, Seras Victoria. If you hadn't you would never have avenged your parents death or come with me. You would have become an empty shell of a being long ago, no matter what your friends may have tried. And you are a fighter. Can you tell me that you do not ache to enact on the rage those jealous sluts must ignite in you every time they look down on who you are? Can you tell me that you do not wish to see through to destroying something?"

Her breaths came in heavy pants and her head spun at his closeness and the thoughts he was filling her mind with. He seemed to know her so well without knowing and the idea both frightened and excited her. How long had she gone without having a soul understand who she really was? How long had it been since she had someone speak aloud the thoughts she had barely begun to have?

She was shaken from her thoughts by a sudden movement across the room. A haggard and filthy man had risen from his pose over a prone woman and looked at her in consideration. His features transformed from curious perusal to gleeful desire and he began to approach them quickly.

"You see this trash, filth of the world? Once he might have been a strong man but now he is a monster who feeds on the scared and helpless, just as that trash tried to do to you yesterday, just as the man who killed your parents did." He paused before whispering seductively, "Would you have him live?"

"…No."

"Would you have the power to stop him?"

"…Yes."

He ran his fingers down her bare arms, raising her hands up until they were held upright in front of her. She shivered at the sensations and closed her eyes briefly. When she opened them to a heavy weight in her hand, she found a revolver in her hand. She gasped and looked up at the man behind her.

"Aim."

As he spoke, he wrapped one arm around her waist and slid the other until his hand cupped one of hers, steadying her shot.

"Breathe."

She took a shaky breath, staring at the still approaching creature who had slowed slightly in his steps.

"Pull the trigger."

There, she hesitated, staring at what still looked like a man in her eyes. He was a miscreant and clearly meant her harm, but still human. As if sensing her hesitation, the man straightened, looking at her with a mad grin, his eyes briefly glowing red.

A shot rang out and then another and then another. She spent the entire cylinder, panting heavily as she watched the creature fall to the ground and fade to ash.

"Magnificent."

She dropped her arms and turned to look at him in amazement, chest heaving with each breath.

"Would you like to try again?"

She looked at the remains on the ground and at the gun in her hands before looking back at him.

"Yes."

-

She stood panting, the thrill of the past moments coursing through her veins and making her feel more alive than she ever had before. She stood motionless as she looked at the varied remains that surrounded her, all that was left of the massacre that had just occurred. Her shot had been matched by his quick and vicious movements. The blood rang in her ears as the silence enveloped them, almost startling in the difference from the moments before.

Looking down at the gun in her hand, she noticed that one of the vampir that had attacked them had cut into her forearm, leaving a long line of red on the white expanse of her flesh nearly from elbow to wrist. She stared at it, thoughts chaotic and eyes unseeing until a gloved hand came into her vision. He drew her hand up and she looked up at him over her shoulder as he leaned his face into the crook of her elbow. A gasp escaped when she felt his tongue making a slow trail up her arm, sensually lapping up her blood with long, agonizing strokes.

When he finished, she looked up at him, breathing broken and quick. His grin grew knowing and he lowered his mouth to her neck, grazing the exposed flesh lightly with his teeth. She shivered, stiffening in slight shock at the feel of him chuckling against her bare neck.

"There are more things I could show you," he murmured, trailing his lips playfully up her neck until he nipped her lightly on the ear. "Would you have me show you?"

Breathless, she nodded, tilting her head, offering more flesh to his attentions.

"You would have me show you the pleasures you could have?"

She moaned slightly as his hand moved to trace lines down her arm and onto her stomach. The palm of his hand stretched down her torso with aching slowness as his other hand reached up to lightly brush the crowns of her exposed chest.

"…Yes."

Suddenly she found herself turned towards him, pressed hard against his chest and she barely caught sight of his triumphant grin before his mouth was pressed against hers. All sense of reason fled her as his tongue swept into her mouth, laying claim to everything she had. Her hands crept up and laced into his hair as she clung to him, praying that it would never end. She groaned in disappointment when he began to pull away.

"I will show you, if you come with me. Will you come?"

"Yes."

He laughed, leaning his head to her ear. "Then you are mine."

Just as quickly as he had appeared, he vanished and the world went black.

---

She woke to the sounds of someone knocking loudly on the door. Drained of all energy, she could do little more than call out permission to enter, eyes still closed. She didn't need to look to know that the heavy impatient steps that followed the opening door were Integra's.

"Honestly, Seras, you couldn't bother to change out of your clothing? I can't stand the damn contraptions and you sleep in them."

She opened her eyes at last and took a look at her own clothing, frowning at what she saw. Memories of the night before swirled in her head, focusing on the abrupt ending to the delicious sensations the mysterious man had drawn out in her. Yet, there was no sign of him, even after the possessive last words he spoke to her. And she was still in her evening wear from the night before and was positioned awkwardly on her small bed.

Had she dreamed it all?

"Is something the matter? Are you well?"

Integra's voice had gone from sharp to worried and Seras looked to her with as much of a smile as she could summon.

"I'm fine, Integra. I had a…troubled sleep. Perhaps I am catching a bit of a cold."

The other girl frowned, concern etching a line between her brows. "What was so troubling about your sleep?"

Seras could feel the blush that blossomed on her cheeks at the idea of telling her friend about the night she had spent, whether real or mere visions of her subconscious.

"I..I guess I had a dream about one of those men from the other night. Well a dream about the dream men."

Blue eyes narrowed behind glasses and Integra approached Seras where she lay.

"Are you sure it was a dream?"

"Not really but the opposite doesn't make sense. I swear, Integra, it felt so real but what proof do I have?"

Integra frowned but after a moment the expression softened. "Well, we shouldn't worry about it now. You really must get up and change your clothing. Mass will begin soon enough."

"Oh! Yes!"

Quickly scrambling out of her bed, she struggled out of her dress and into another with Integra's amused help. Only a few minutes had passed before the two were out the door and joining the Fitzpatrick twins in the school foyer.

"Ah, the Bright Star of Day and the Queen of Reserved Manners. A Happy Christmas to you both!"

Seras grinned at the greeting and burst into giggles at Integra's pained face.

"Happy Christmas to you, as well, Mr. Fitzpatrick. And to you, Miss Fitzpatrick. I hope the morning finds you well."

"Happy Christmas to you both, Miss Victoria, Lady Integra. My idiot brother is too stupid to be sick and I am well myself. Are you feeling the thing however? Lady Integra seemed concerned when you weren't down for breakfast."

She shook her head emphatically. "I'm fine. I just had an odd sleep. Shall we go to church now?"

The other three agreed and the four set off for the local church in the sleigh Aidan Fitzpatrick had borrowed for the purpose. Three of the party laughed and spoke amiably about how delightful it was to have a white and snowy Christmas while the fourth looked on in amused silence. And, so, for most of the morning, Seras' thoughts were happily distracted from the events of the night before. But, as the day progressed, they slowly began to creep back to the final question of her mysterious companion.

He had asked her to come with him. He had asked it twice that evening and both times she had understood the deeper meaning behind the simple request. To go with him would be to give up everything she was and everyone she knew and be like him. She would be forsaking her humanity and would be branded a monster. In all likelihood, those she had known all her life would scorn her and she would be as the dead to them. Yet….

For so long, she had been alone. Integra's father had tried hard to make her a part of his family, but with his death, she had been forced to cede to the inevitable. Even with Integra's continued love and affection, she was apart from any true family, rarely allowed to leave the strict academy she had lived in since the tender age of eight. She had always been a thing separate from the rest.

He was offering her the chance to be someone again. To be part of something greater. To be with him. He had laid claim to her and she knew, in those short words, that he had every intention of keeping her for all the time their life allotted.

But could she accept that knowing it would cost her everything she had?

"You look so lost, Star of Light. What is it that confuses you so?"
She looked away from the dancing glow of the fire and to the man who sat before her. Aidan Fitzpatrick was a handsome man. Many girls of the academy had set their caps at him, only for fun, and his presence immediately brought an attitude of play to any dreary school day. Most girls would be seething in jealousy if they knew of how he spoke to her on the school holidays or their games of chess or the many other times they had spent in each others company.

She smiled at him fondly. "I was thinking of the future, of the choices I have to make."

The light of humor left his eyes, replaced by an emotion as yet seen in his depths as a look of earnest intentions settled on his features.

"You don't have to worry about the future alone, Sweet Seras. You know that, don't you?"

Her heart fluttered in her throat as she recognized something in him she knew she should have seen long ago.

"Who else would I worry about it with then, Mr. Fitzpatrick?"

"Don't play coy, my sweet. We both know you know what I am talking about."

She swallowed hard but made no answer. For a moment, he watched her in silence before he rose and walked to the fireplace, leaning on the carved mantel.

"I'm not a wealthy man, Seras. I won't pretend to say otherwise. But, I could take care of you and give you everything you wanted. I could give you a place of comfort. You would never have to worry about how you are going to live or if you have to work. You could spend the rest of your days idle if you choose."

He was proposing to her. The very idea was shocking and, if it hadn't been for the past few nights, it would have been a new light to her murky future. But as he spoke, she saw a future lying before her that she didn't want. Security and knowing where your place in the world was all well in good, but she knew now that she could never live that sort of idle life. She couldn't pretend to be someone else any longer.

"Mr. Fitzpatrick…Aidan, I…I'm sorry."

She paused, desperately searching for what to say. It proved unnecessary when he straightened and turned to look at her once more, a sad smile on his face.

"Don't worry yourself, Beauteous Sylph. I shouldn't have spoken. But, perhaps, you will give the idea more thought and we might speak of it again?"

She opened her mouth to refuse but stopped. Even if in her heart she knew the events of the nights before to be true, it would be foolish to cast aside all hope of anything else without knowing them to be real. And she liked him too much to be unkind.

"Perhaps I will."

He grinned, boyish charm alight in the air once more as he sketched a quick bow and gave her a daring kiss on the cheek.

"I'll enliven your dreams, Dove of my Heart. You will see."

She smiled as she watched him go. Her dreams did not need anything else.

She had found what she wanted.

--

She woke to the softest of touches and the warmth of lips pressed against her own. Opening her eyes, she found a ruby gaze meeting her own. Slowly, a smile grew on her face and she watched in anxious pleasure as he straightened away from her to stand beside her bed. The expression grew into a joyous grin as, once more, he extended an elegant hand to her.

"Come with me."

"Yes."

--

Once upon a time, a fierce prince ruled a war torn land, losing much to his enemies and to his own pride. When all was lost, he gave up his own humanity and turned into a monster. Cold of heart and strong of will, he became a god of his own kind, invincible and immortal, and unforgiving of all who had harmed him. For many years, he trekked the world, uncaring to the pain he caused, concerned only with his own survival and the growth of his powers.

One day, after many long years had gone by, he killed the daughter of a powerful witch, the last in an old family rich in magic. Seeing his unrepentant heart, she cursed him, binding his soul into a large ruby set in silver. The curse demanded that he be bound to the pendant until a girl sacrifice her pure blood unto it and agreed to go with him, loving him for who he was.

Over the years, many girls released the monster from his sleep only to curse him once again when they could not accept him and, over time, the monster who was a prince, learned the sorrow of living without love. And so he was doomed to exist, trapped, until one who could love him could be found.

-

Integra traced a weary finger over the words as she read them for perhaps the hundredth time. Months had passed without sign of Seras and the loss of her childhood playmate and closest friend was almost a physical weight on her. More than once, after she had found the passage, did she ask Walter if he knew where she had gone and if the strange necklace he had given her so insistently was the root of her disappearance. The older man remained silent, refusing all answer but a small, satisfied smile.

She slammed the book shut and walked from the musty library and through the balcony doors, into the crisp chill of the night. Tilting her head far back, she sighed and looked to the full moon above, wistfully curious if it could answer her questions and prayers. When it kept its silence, she looked down once more, eyes closing in pained sorrow.

Instantly, they flashed open once more as she looked to the small shadow she saw on one side of the carved stone wall. Approaching it slowly, she found a box wrapped neatly without a note. She wondered, for a moment, if it would be wise to open such a gift but, eventually, curiosity got the better of her and she carefully pried the paper from the box and opened the lid.

Inside lay a formal men's suit, tailored to fit a woman's body. She carefully pulled the items and held it against her own frame, bewildered yet delighted upon finding that it appeared to have been made direct to her measure, men's slacks and all. She turned to place the items back in the box when she found a small piece of paper laying on the bottom. Quickly, she picked it up and read through the brief contents, a small smile curving her features.

"I'll hold you to that, Seras." She smiled down at the paper before looking once more to the shining celestial body once more. "I'll hold you to that, indeed."

-

Dearest Integra,

I'm sorry for leaving you so suddenly and without word. I regret not saying goodbye and telling you where I was going. So, I'm leaving you this present with the promise that one day, when the time is right, I will see you again. In the meantime, please know that I am happy.

I found my dreams at last.

Love,

Seras


AN: This kinda went a bit differently than I meant for it to. Not really but sort of. If anyone has any comments on any editing or what not that can be done, I'd love to hear them. It's hard to get feedback via email and text message from someone you are used to chatting with so the last portion of this went kinda...unscripted.

I'm fairly happy with it and even though it has almost next to nothing to do with Christmas, it is my little holiday special.

Now back to work on Life Sentence!

Thank you for all kind reviews and of course mountains of praise and worship on anyone who continues the favor!

A very Merry Christmas and a fairly belated Happy Hanukkah, Happy Yule and I'm sure I missed out on Kwanzaa as well. Whatever your holiday, I hope it is/was merry.

Til next time!