Disclaimer: I do not own Hellsing or it's fantabulous characters. I would like to. Alucard is sexy as hell and Seras and Integra seem like mad fun. Sadly no.

This chapter is not brought you by BuzzFestXXIV. Cause twelve hours at a rock concert in the blistering heat is enough to kill anyone's brain cells. It is brought to you by years of reading silly romance novels in the aftermath of brain deadening Exams.

Dedication: To Angel Reaper and Light1 for their awesome one-shots. Here is my attempt.

Note: Well, it's not about killing Vampiric world leaders. But, I can honestly say that I've refound the inspiration for that one so look for it soon. This one was sideways inspired by some work and research I've been doing on a piece of original fiction. Hope it entertains.

This is set in Regency England and as such the language and mannerisms are meant to reflect this. I think I kept most things readable to the uninitiated with context clues and all but if anything gives you pause, feel free to ask and I'll be happy to explain. I think I cut most of the truly foreign out. . I think.


Chasing Midnight

~o~

~o~

She didn't know how she got dragged into this.

Well she knew, she just didn't like it.

Most girls, she knew, would be thrilled at the idea of attending a lavish ball in celebration of their coming out into society. Her friend had loathed the very idea. Viciously. Debutante balls were for weak willed women who wanted nothing more than to catch a rich husband and set up shop as a breeding mare for the rest of their lives.

That was not Integra. Ever.

But when the Hellsing estate demanded it, she had been forced to comply. A ball there would be, filled with the highest echelon of society, the haut ton. A house filled with the rich and depraved all vying to win the affection of each other while casting their eyes on the wares of the newest crop of brides, their physical appearance and their monetary attraction.

But Integra had argued fervently for months. The Regent would not budge. She was a ward of the state, sole heir to a noble line. She would do what was necessary, even if it took His Royal Highness going to her in person to insist it. And it did. One year shy of reaching her majority, she was brow beaten into hosting a grand ball to introduce herself and, more accurately, her family to Society.

Yet, like all things Hellsing and all things to do with its fiery leader, it would happen on her terms.

Which is how Seras found herself dressing up for a lavish masquerade ball.

"Integra, why do I have to be here? I have no money, no family, nothing. These people would mock me if they knew who I was."

"Which is why there is a certain simplistic charm to it being a masquerade," the older girl replied with a smirk. "I'm not about to go through this farce without someone else with a measure of sanity here. All of our other schoolmates are simpering idiots and you have been adopted into the household as my companion. There is no reason for you not to be there, Seras."

The younger girl sighed. "Then why do you get to dress up like a man while I have to dress up like…a Vestal Virgin."

"Because it's my party."

Two pairs of blue eyes met through a mirror, one filled with laughter and the other exasperation.

"Integra, my figure is way to…buxom for this sort of dress. They are going to say that I'm lewd and fast and all sorts of things."

The older girl sighed, lighting up a cigar since they were in the privacy of the younger girl's dressing room.

"Seras, you aren't in London looking for a husband. You are secured in my employ. You have absolutely no need to worry about your reputation." She rolled her eyes heavenward before tapping a quick finger on her friend's cheek. "You look well. It is a good dress and suits you. I'd be willing to wager that you will have more than a few men hounding your heels asking for a dance."

"Or a trip out to the garden to have their way with me," Seras muttered darkly, attempting to edge the low cut fabric of her neckline up a little further. "You just want me to distract them so they leave you alone. You are the one worth a bloody fortune."

"Exactly," Integra smirked, stamping out the cigar with a longing look. She drew on the over coat and before affixing a plain black mask to her features.

"They are going to raise hell at the Midnight unmasking, you know," Seras grinned, turning to look over her companion's shocking attire.

"If they can find me."

The two women chuckled lightly before heading down the stairs.

"We should get Walter to find a few white flowers for your hair. You don't look virginal enough."

"With a neckline like this, the Holy Virgin wouldn't."

~o~

She had a sneaking suspicion that Integra had escaped to the library. Traitor.

Normally, she would not have minded, knowing well that it was best for everyone that her tempestuous mistress be away from those who would rile her anger. But in this case, she felt somewhat betrayed as she was left alone with what felt like hordes of gentlemen eager to betray the sacred vow of the Vestal Virgin in the darkened shadows of the garden.

More than once hands had wandered to places they shouldn't. More than once she had been forced to duck her head away from the mouth of an overzealous dancer. At one point she had even had to struggle to keep her mask on as one falsely called gentleman attempted to seduce her in one of the antechambers.

She waited as long as she could before her temper finally snapped. She had to leave the madness before she found herself doing violence to the next man who assaulted her. And while it was a charming thought, she knew that the next man could very well be an Earl or a Duke and her life would be over.

So it was that she turned and began to trek up the stairs from the lowered ballroom floor. And so it was that when she crested those stairs something, a strange urge she could not give name to begged that she turn to look down into the crushed crowd of Society. And so she turned and so she saw him staring up at her.

Immediately, her pulse grew more rapid in her throat and her breathing became uneven. Still he stared and she felt frozen to the spot, pinned into immobility by the power of his fierce eyes. His lips curved up on one side into something that mocked a smile and, from across the room, he began to approach her. Step after purposeful step brought him ever closer and she could do nothing but watch, fixed by his gaze.

He wore a mask but it was useless. He was only a little taller than most men but his presence seemed to dwarf all others. He could enter a room and capture the attention of everyone in it. His hair shone as obsidian and his eyes as carnelian. He fascinated women and instantly earned the respect of men. He was new to London Society but instantly a legend.

Some called him Count and other's Prince. She couldn't say she had ever heard him answer to either but, then, she had only seen him from afar as she sat on the sidelines at the rich festivities Integra had grudgingly attended. The closet she had ever been was at the Covent Garden fireworks display where he had stood some distance away, eyes fixed on the fading explosions. His pale skin had reflected the dancing lights and in that moment she thought him beautiful.

Then, as if sensing her thoughts, he had turned his face and their eyes met. For that second, they were the only ones in that crowded pleasure garden, the only ones in the world. And then Integra had called for her and her attention shifted. She glanced away for a mere second only to find him gone when she looked back.

And here he was.

Who he was…that was a mystery still entirely left to be uncovered.

Her thoughts were chaos and time seemed to slow only to rush forward as suddenly he was there, standing before her, smirk still curving his lips and hand stretched forward. She swallowed hard, eyes glancing between his hand and the haunting glow of his eyes.

"My lord," she finally murmured, bobbing a slight curtsey. "I was just about to retire outside to escape the…the heat of the ballroom. If you will, um, excuse me."

"A magnificent idea. Shall I accompany you?"

Her breath caught, her body suddenly playing tricks on her at his very nearness. Glancing over, she found the great clock, not more than a quarter hour before midnight.

"I'm not sure that is a wise idea, my lord."

"Are you afraid to see who I might be when the mask comes off?" he chuckled, taking her arm and escorting her through the open doors of the terrace despite her objections.

"N-no, my lord. I'm fairly sure I know who is behind the mask."

His chuckle echoed out over the deceptively still night, chasing shadows around topiaries and stone walls.

"Are you? Then tell me who you think I am."

She blushed furiously, glad once more for the mask that obscured her features.

"T-they say you are a Prince from a foreign land. Others say that you are a Count fleeing your country. The men say that you are here to start business enterprises. The women…." She trailed off, embarrassment overcoming her.

"The women say what?"

His voice was a purr as he looked down at her and she felt that she could lose herself forever in those eyes if she let herself. His touch was intoxicating and his voice like music for the hurt in her soul. She stared up at him, unable to break her gaze and realized in that moment that this man was dangerous. Behind the humor of his eyes, she knew there were secrets and misdeeds and horrible things. But worse, behind those eyes lay a man who made her want to give up everything she had just to look into them a little longer.

Abruptly she pulled arm from his hand and took a step away. With a determination stronger than any she had shown before, she pulled her gaze away and looked out into the night.

"The women say that you are looking for a bride. That you are seeking a woman to take back to you to your homeland."

He chuckled again but this time the sound was more intimate. It curved around her skin and sent shivers down her spine.

"Is that what you would like to be the truth, Miss Vestal Virgin?"

"I-It isn't my place to say," she stammered, forcing herself to keep her eyes away from him.

"Perhaps it should be," he commented idly.

Whatever her reply might have been, it died on her lips as she felt a night cooled finger stroke the bare line of her neck.

"Do you know that to marry a Vestal Virgin after her commitment had passed was considered a high honor?"

"Like wining the prize mare after she's retired from racing," she scoffed. Silence fell after the comment and she could feel his eyes on her, daring her to look back.

"You are an unusual woman, Miss Virgin. Do you not seek the comfort of your gender in getting married?"

"No."

The answer was succinct and softly spoken but it felt like a scream in the silence. She had never admitted to herself out loud that she didn't wish to marry. She had never thought it possible after her parents' death. Maybe all those years of it being taken for granted that she never could had made her decide she never would.

"Stranger still," he murmured stepping up behind her. "And here you are, a Virgin committed to tend to the sacred flame for much of your life. A dreary idea." A snort of amusement left warm breath on her neck and she stiffened as she felt him lean in to nuzzle it with his nose.

"Y-y-you shouldn't be doing that," she stuttered, cursing herself for her own immobility. "It's not proper. I'll be ruined."

Laughter rolled down her skin and she shivered, unable to stop the sudden pleasure at the sensation.

"Spoken like a true virgin of the times. But for one who has no plans of marriage, can you really be so concerned about having your reputation ruined? Do you fear that they will ostracize you? That you will lose your place in Society?"

"N-no," she gasped, jumping slightly as she felt his teeth graze her skin. "I don't care about them."

"Then, little Virgin, who do you care about?"

Words left her at the strange question. She cared about Integra and Walter. They had taken care of her for years but would they reject her if they found out about any activities like what he had in mind? No. They would stand by her. Integra might even laugh at the idea of her taking a lover.

Was it the idea of her long dead parents? So respectable and truly good, would they have felt shame at her actions? Perhaps but they were good people and had forgiven every trespass she had made as a child. In their blessed afterlife, she was fairly sure they would forgive her any wrong now.

So what was it? What did she care about so much that this was such a bad idea? What harm would come to her if she just let go and gave in? What harm except the pain that would come when she took her mask off at midnight and she was seen for the lowly servant she really was?

"You don't even know who I am," she murmured sadly.

"I will find out shortly," he promised, sharp teeth nipping the sensitive skin of her neck.

Then, before she could protest further, he took her shoulders and turned her to face him. And then she was in his arms and his lips had captured hers in a searing kiss. All sanity fled her mind and she gave in to the rushing stream of sensations that threatened to drown her completely. Never before had she simply let go and given in. Never before had the blood in her veins felt like fire, the touch of flesh electric. She was overcome and she loved it.

And then the clock began to strike and she felt the shift of his hands from her neck, creeping up to the fastenings of her silken mask.

And reality came crashing back to her.

She tore herself from him, panting at the effort and the passion she could still feel in night. For a moment, she could only stare at him, triumphant expression still clear in his eyes despite small indications of surprise. They stared at each other as the sounds of the ballroom flowed around them. The clock rang the hour, each chime echoing the last, and laughter filled the night air as everyone began to unmask and the unnamed naughtiness was given identity.

And while all that chaos went on, she could only stare at him, breath harsh and loud in her ears, standing only a few feet apart. The chiming of the clock seemed to go on forever and, as she stared into those bottomless eyes, he carefully removed the mask that had shielded his features. In the pale light of the moon, he was as handsome as she remembered and she found herself wavering once more.

Then he took a step towards her.

The spell shattered and the clock sounded its last note. She turned on her heel and ran into the darkened garden, slipping from sight quickly. She ran and escaped the suffocating feeling of desire and with each footstep she damned herself, knowing full well that there would be no recovery from this night. There would be no end to the new ache that had been kindled in her heart. Eyes nearly blind and without looking back, she ran.

Had she turned, had she paused and given him one more glance, she would have seen him standing there, triumph still clear in his gaze. A gaze fixed on a gem that sparkled in the light. A drop of small diamonds that had recently adorned her ear and at that moment, disappeared into the clenched fingers of his fist.

~o~

Her features were in no way out of the ordinary. A good number of English women had blonde hair and blue eyes. It was that very similarity of feature that had allowed her to act as a distraction for her more noble patron. And while most of the women in Society that shared her coloring did not share her more voluptuous figure, as a companion, she was not usually under particular scrutiny.

Especially as Lady Integra Hellsing spent more of her time in the gaming rooms than on the dance floor.

So she felt confident that Lord Poenari would not find her unless she sought him out. The only link he had to her was the diamond earring he had taken from her on the night of the Masque. It was a loss she cursed as it was her last link to her late parents, but better than seeing her face or knowing her name.

She would disappear into Society as completely as she always had. Hers was the role of glorified attendant, to be present and comforting, not to dance with strangely attractive men until dawn. He would never look her way and never find her again. She would once more be the almost entirely unseen lady at the right hand of her mistress.

It was a depressing thought.

~o~

Looking over at Lady Integra, she found her mistress staring at the gentlemen sharing the table with her, features carefully schooled into reveal nothing but her innate pride. It would be at least another hour before she might be needed and so Seras slipped out of the gaming room and made her way quietly onto the balcony.

The night was warm. It had been months since that ball and the Season was drawing to a close as the stark humidity began to drive the Upper Crust to their country homes to escape the summer heat. They would be leaving soon, too, returning to the Hellsing Manor an hour and more beyond the furthest reaches of London. The entire household was looking forward to it, Seras included. Yet, for some reason, she felt that leaving London was making an escape, running away.

With a sigh, she strolled over to the low stone wall made up of a succession of pillars and found the furthest corner from the ballroom to take a seat. Her fingers reached up to press to the small fall of diamonds that hung around her throat. When she had finally given up searching for the missing one, she had presented her problem to Walter. The wizened butler had taken the remaining one only to return it to her a few hours later in the form of a necklace. A smile curved her lips at memory of her own excitement.

"The diamonds capture the moonlight, but your smile is far more captivating."

She started violently, biting down hard on her lip to suppress a scream and grasping onto the stone to prevent her toppling over into the lawn below. Once she had gotten a hold of herself once more, she turned her furious gaze towards the one man she had sought to avoid. His response to her ire was to chuckle softly.

"You thought I wouldn't find you."

She opened her mouth to retort that she wasn't avoiding him, that she didn't care one whit about him, but as she looked into his eyes, the words died on her lips. Her hesitation turned to outrage once more, though, when her gaze fell to his neckcloth and found that her earring had been affixed to it.

"That is mine!"

"Indeed," he remarked, coming ever closer. "I would have returned it to you readily had you not hidden yourself from me."

"I-I don't know what you are talking about," she stammered. "But these are all I have of my mother, my lord. Please return it to me."

"Ah, but if you wanted it returned to you, why did you hide?"

He stepped up to her and with a long lean finger tipped her chin up to look down into her eyes. Her breath quickened at the strange expression that lay in the fiery depths of his eyes as he gazed at her. There was something there that was haunting and captivating. It called to her like the Sirens of legend, calling her closer even as in the back of her mind she knew that to follow would be to seek danger.

"Do you fear me, Seras Victoria?"

"How did you learn my name?" she gasped.

"You are quite well known, little Virgin. Your mistress guards you like the treasure you are. Her flashing eyes and biting words have sent countless would be seducers away from you."

"W-what?"

"You must be truly ignorant in the ways of men if you cannot understand what your fine features and womanly figure do to men, little Virgin," he chuckled. "Add that sparkle of defiance in your eyes and a voracious mistress who keeps you forbidden and you become a treasure all hunters wish to obtain."

Enraged, she jerked her head away from his hand, standing up and away from him.

"I am not some prize! And if that is the game you are going to play with me then I insist you return my mother's earring and then leave me in peace!"

Faster than she could react, she found herself in his arms, fingers once more under her chin and tipping her face towards his. She struggled momentarily before realizing that it was fruitless and opened her mouth to scream bloody murder at him but was stopped as his lips captured hers. It was a punishing kiss meant to gain submission but she would not submit. After a few moments, she tore her mouth from his, breath harsh in her ears.

"How dare you!"

He laughed, seemingly amused by her defiance, excited by it.

"What you do not understand, little Virgin, is that you are a prize. And I mean to win you. I mean to take you with me and show you a world that you have only imagined. I mean for you to follow me into the night, gone from all pretexts of a polite society. I mean for you to be mine, Seras Victoria."

Her breath caught in her throat as she stared up at him, struck still at the intensity of his words. Silence held her for a moment before at last, in a small voice bourne of years of neglect and verbal abuse, she asked one question.

"Why me?"

"Because you are magnificent."

She sighed, closing her eyes as thoughts chased round and round in her mind. To run away, it was all she had wanted as a child. School had been…difficult and even the patronage of her higher placed friend hadn't kept her from hearing the harsh words of her status. She was not like other girls. Her hand moved in anger and while she would not question a command from one she respected, defiance had been her only answer to those who she did not. When Integra had approached her upon leaving school and asked her to come with her, she hadn't hesitated. Her life at Hellsing had been one of relative ease and she had no complaints. Except….

Her freedom.

Her thoughts were scattered as he released her and took a step back. She opened her eyes in a flash, confusion marring the line of her brows.

"I mean to have you, little Virgin, but it must always be your choice." He took a watch from his pocket and flipped open the catch. "You have until midnight, Seras Victoria. I will wait for you here."

"Midnight? That is scarce a half hour to decide!"

He shrugged non chalantly. "You have already made your decision, little Virgin. It only relies on whether or not you have the courage to follow it."

Biting down on her outrage at his arrogance, she put forth one final question.

"If I go with you…I will never return, will I?"

Chuckling, he shook his head but once.

"No."

~o~

Integra was just leaving the table when she finally made her way back to her. The older woman's intelligent gaze darted around the room searching until at last they rested on her. She frowned slightly but quickly approached her companion, frown deepening when Seras began to step backwards, leading the two away from the general crowd. When at last they stopped, mostly hidden from the crowd, Integra's frown was tempered with true concern.

"Seras, what is going on?"

The younger girl took a deep breath and met her friend's eyes.

"Integra, it's time for me to go."

For a moment, Integra began to retort that there was no need for all the secrecy if she merely wanted to leave early but as she looked into Seras' eyes, she realized that this was something different. Something very different.

She was leaving.

"Are you sure?"

"…Yes."

"Will…will you ever return?"

Pain narrowed the younger girl's eyes as she shook her head slightly.

"I don't think so. But I will try."

Integra nodded, unwilling to let her emotions overcome her.

"If…if you think this is what is best."

"I…I don't know, Integra. I really don't. But I do know that if I don't…."

Integra nodded before embracing her childhood friend. When she let go, she smirked at the younger girl.

"See if you can find your way to posting a letter."

"I will," Seras grinned before giving her friend one last hug and turning away, quickly disappearing into the crowd.

~o~

The clock was chiming the hour as she stepped once more onto the balcony. His lone figure seemed to glow in the moonlight and his grin at her sudden appearance sent shivers down her spine. She walked to him and accepted his extended hand. Her smile was hesitant but her grip firm as he wrapped her in his arms.

And they disappeared into the deep shadows of night as the clock rang its final note.

Leaving no trace behind.


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Also, I'm adding a link to my private LJ to the profile here since I don't have a proper FF LJ set up for this account. Political, traffic and work rants aside, that is where I also post all updates for what I'm working on storywise. For the curious. . It's about half rant half story. Or something like that.

[Edit: It took like 8 attempts to get the formatting to work here. No idea WHY my previous methods are no longer applicable. I'm just going to assume (as usual) that FF.N hates me. Sigh.]

Til next time!