Disclaimer: I do not own Hellsing, Seras or Alucard. If I did, I'm sure one of them would have kicked my ass sometime ago for writing so slow.
Dedication: To everyone who reads this, especially those who have been going back and reading my older stories. It means more than you would understand.
Most especially to the darling Angel Reaper who gave me the idea. Bless you.
Note: Um...I fell into Tartarus? Got trapped on the Grid? Two by Two Hands of Blue?
Okay, yeah, life has been a bit, um, hectic. Time has evaporated and so even THIS little one-shot, took forever. So if you would like a hint on my time and ability to write stuff, I should note that this was supposed to be posted on New Year's Eve.
I hate life, love you people, and I have further notes on other writings below.
One way or another, she would surely die this night.
The idea of perishing before seeing the glimmer of hope that might bring the New Year was unsettling and distracted her in all her efforts to see that it did not happen. A few pennies more and she might make it in from the cold, if she sold at least one. But would one be enough to survive the greeting of not bringing enough money back? She was so far behind on the rent and she was too weak and too weary to struggle if the method of greeting was violent.
But the alternative was the cold. It had grown so bitterly cold since Christmas and the cheerful night fires that lit homes around her could not warm her out on the street. Her cloak had gone too threadbare and her clothing before it. Another night in the cold would surely kill her as well.
She was doomed.
Time was growing late, the day was slipping into twilight and the night beyond. She should leave the streets before then. She knew from experience that men expected an entirely different sort of service from women who had figures like her should they stay out on the streets too late. Whatever else she may have lost in her life, her pride and purity had not been one of them.
Another fact that drew the censorious eyes of the Church to her.
She looked down at the troublesome wares she was forever trying to sell. She both loved them and never wished to part with them and hated them, perpetually wishing them away, all at the same time. They lived as the last tactile memories of her parents, her mother. A glassblower's daughter, she had brought her father's wares to her new husband. The luxury of the already fine house of the local sheriff had been added to as glassware became a standard presence. But most of all had been the orbs.
"Please, husband, take them. My father said that an Angel came down to heaven and gave him the recipe for these creations. They are Divine and will assist you in your trials with the people of the village!"
"How can you be so sure that they are not the work of the Devil? Do you know what the Church would do to our family if they found out about them?"
"They only show the truth! If they were a temptation of Lucifer, wouldn't they only spread lies and mischief? It will help you bring justice to the people!"
"…as you wish, my lady wife. But the first time they cause harm, they will all be tossed to the stones and ground into sand until not a trace is left."
"As you wish."
She had been just beyond her seventh year when the harm those mysterious orbs caused came to be. They had indeed spoken the truth and her father had been called a wise and just man, telling the world that he needed time away from the trials to judge the matter in quiet. He would slip away and look into the strange creations for the truth and it would be shown to him. Justice would be served and his county became the quietest in the surrounding area.
But those who are judged guilty are never happy to suffer the penalty of their crimes. One night, three such men came back and did…unspeakable things. In an instant, her entire life had been ripped away from her. She had fought them, wounded the leader, but had not been able to save the happiness that she could watch slipping past. She had lain for hours in a pool of her own blood as she stared at the lifeless remains of her parents.
The aftermath had been, if possible, worse.
Though few had known about the source of her father's wisdom, the Holy Inquisition eventually will find all. Add to the fact that she had stepped beyond her place as a young girl child and attacked her parent's murderers and they began to look at her suspiciously. It did not help that the only thing to come out of that night had been the pride she had been born with and bred into. She would stare at the priests as they tried to interrogate her.
It wasn't long before they labeled her a heretic child, but perhaps not one beyond redemption.
For years they had thrown her into the convent, declaring that even if she were beyond hope of being a holy bride of the Church, she would still learn what it meant to be a proper woman. Chastised and beaten at any sign of demonic charm, she had barely survived. When she turned thirteen and refused the first man they brought her to marry, she had been thrown into the holding cells for a month with barely enough food to survive.
She would have died if it weren't for….
A sudden wind bit through her reminiscence and she realized that full night was upon her. For a moment, she looked around her, lost, before coming to the decision that braving the harsh night was a kindlier prospect than taking her chances with the landlord. Already, men on the street were looking at her with too keen an eye and she knew she had to get out of sight quickly. After a few minutes, she found an alleyway darkened by soot and away from most of the light.
She sank to the cold ground, the preciously damned orbs rolling around her feet. For a long while, she was untroubled by thoughts. Her mind was away from her, blessing her with a moment without worry or hardship. It was taken from her though when a sudden light bloomed above her. Casting her gaze to the heavens, she saw the moon shining above her, the first time in weeks. It was full and brilliant, casting a haze of wonder and awe on the dreariness of her last night.
For a moment, all she could do was gaze up at that achingly tender light that bright no warmth or healthy, only a distant glow that lured men into madness as they sought its fragile comfort. Then she looked away, unable to take it anymore and her eyes fell on the glass at her feet, lit by dancing reflections. She paused, breath held, before slowly reaching a hand towards the cold glass. She had watched her mother and father look into the grim depths before but never had had the courage to look herself.
What would she see, she wondered. What truths could this small creation show her that would give her any Divine grace to save her that night? Would it merely show her the possibilities of things she could not have, a devil's trick in the end?
Still, when her finger lightly touched the glass, chilling her more, she found herself pulling it towards her and holding it to the shining light above.
It was cold. She was shivering uncontrollably but you would never know it to see her face. Set, as always, in grim determination, she looked less like a child, or even like a girl of marriageable age, and more like an avenging angel set to right the wrongs of the world. To look at her, her thoughts were unknowable, but inside the gears of her mind were turning and a plan was coming into fruition.
She would leave.
On the night of the new moon, she would break free from the cage they had set around her and would take a step into a life that was hers and hers lone. She hadn't determined how exactly, but she knew she needed to steal the keys from the guard the next time he came to bring her dinner, whenever that might be. She would attack him full on if necessary.
She would be free.
"Yes you will, won't you, child of the law."
She flinched away from the voice, cracking her head on the stone wall behind her. For a moment, her vision clouded but as the haze seeped away, a strange face came into view, peering at her between the bars of the door. As she watched, the door opened and he stepped in. The light was scarce but she could make out pale flesh framed by dark hair and a blood red cloak.
"You aren't with the Church," she accused dumbly.
"How astute," the man remarked with a lopsided smile. "But that is beside the point."
"What do you want?"
He paused a moment, as if contemplating the answer to her question before nimbly side-stepping and giving her a different sort of response.
"I am here to set you free."
Finally the amusement broke way to laughter and he tipped his head back and let loose a wave of sound that both frightened and delighted her. For a moment, she just stared, mystified but before long, anger began to boil over. As if sensing the shift in her mood, his laughter cut off abruptly. His eyes narrowed and altogether different sort of delight lit the fiery depths of his unnatural eyes.
"That is your answer, child of the law. Now the question is: are you going to accept your freedom?"
"What is the price?"
"You will see, one day."
She stared at him, feeling the weight of his eyes equally on her and the weight of the Church she had been raised to obey. Then, before she could change her mind, she scrambled to her feet, pushed past him and ran as if the hounds of hell were after her.
The image faded away and the glass slipped from her fingers, shattering on the pavement below. Thousands of crystal shards glimmered in the soft light of the sky. Her eyes fixated on the twinkling light until the light shone too closely and she realized that a tear was making its way down her cheek.
Was this the truth she was to be shone? That strange man who had appeared and disappeared like so much moonlight behind a cloud. She had escaped that night but not forever. They had found her, just as they always did. They had dragged her back and the hell after her flight had been worse than the original incarceration had been. They accused her of heresy and attempting to subvert the Holy Mother Church. It had been hell on earth.
She looked down at the crystalline globe that rest against her half-shod feet. Without the hesitation of moments before, she grasped it firmly and brought it up to the light. Hungry for more, she looked into the depths, desperately searching for the images as they swam into reality.
She was so tired, dirty, weak. She was desperate for something to drink, something to eat. She had neither. She barely had clothes to protect her skin from the cold. Her long hair lay in clumps and she wanted nothing more than to sear it at the base of her head. Perhaps she could even use the shorn threads to end her days.
A sigh broke from her as she acknowledged to herself for then thousandth time that she would never allow herself the luxury, the weakness, of an easy death by her own hand. She would bear up at least one more day. If she could survive that long.
"You are a resilient soul."
She looked up, for some reason not startled. He towered over her, his pale flesh seeming to glow in the darkness. She couldn't even bring herself to question how he had come in without her noticing. She could only peer up at him, into those piercing eyes as red as she remembered them and let the only thing she had left slip ever so slightly, her pride.
"Please, please set me free."
He chuckled, reaching down to caress her cheek with his fingertips.
"One day, child of the law. In the meantime, I shall let you go."
She stared at him, confused for a moment, before she heard the door unlock and open behind him. For a moment, she wondered if he were Lucifer come to torment her but in a flash of self-understanding, she knew she didn't care.
"Why are you doing this for me?"
"Why indeed. Try to stay hidden a while longer this time. You will never know if I will deign to come a third time."
She had run so far, so quickly. She had fled to the shell of a house that had once been her home. There was nothing left for her there though. Some distant man of her father's bloodline had taken the lands and claimed all that had once been hers. All except the spheres, locked in the cellar as they once had been. She had gathered them to her and fled as quickly as she had come.
For years she had remained free, surviving on the charity of others and the luck and skill of her mind. Sometimes it was better but often it was worse. She was seen as a pariah, a maiden too old. She refused to lie and claim to be married or widowed. They did not welcome her for long.
And then, as they always did, the Church found her again.
They chastised her and tried once more to rip into her pride and soul. But by then, so long had passed that they finally released her on her own. But who would have her then? With the mark of the Church ever upon her and the eyes of their servants ever seeking to judge her actions, she had little recourse but to fall in with those who cared for nothing but money.
She had to live by her wits without the options of sinners that hid in the shadows. So it was in those precious treasures that had both raised her family and caused their greatest fall that she had found her salvation. She had sold many at first and at a price high enough to keep her from starving. But the Church had heard and whispers had spread and those who had once looked at her in pity now looked at her in fear. Those who would have sought her out for the cause of charity now ran from her as if to save their soul.
One last time, she reached out to the glass at her feet and raised it to the sky, looking deep into the truth that had shown her memories she both loved and loathed. She knew, before the image began to form, what it would show her. Still, like all that scars the mind and soul, her eyes would not be drawn away.
For the first time in her life of eighteen years, she considered selling her body to those who would take it. It occurred to her as she sat in the bleak winter cold two days before she would celebrate the anniversary of her birth. She watched the woman who lived in the building across from where she stood. Her clothing was made of finest fabrics and her hands glittered with expensive jewels. All who knew of her knew where her living came from, had seen her step out on the hand of one of the highest lords.
Could she trade her life for that? Trade the cold and the pain and the everlasting hunger for a life of leisure and warmth. Could she trade life on the edge of living for luxury and the finest?
Could she give up her pride to live the life her parents would be ashamed of?
As she stood, looking at the woman entering the home, welcomed by a cheery fire, a sight at the edge of her vision distracted her. Her eyes glanced over before freezing, her breath stopped in her lungs.
There he was.
He stood, in the light of clouded sky, brighter than she had ever seen him. The edges of light seemed to caress and yet fear the sharp features of his face. The pale features seemed to be carved from stone even as fires lit his strangely ruby eyes. He stood still, his red cloak wrapping around him in the harsh wind. But still, despite the harsh force that seemed ever closer to whisking away, he was unmovable.
Their eyes met and locked and neither moved more than the harsh breathes she found harder and harder to take. The world passed them by without note as they stared. Then, finally, he broke the stillness and reached his gloved hand into an unseen purse and drew out a coin. Gold glinted in the muted sunlight and his smile grew to match its sparkle.
The message was unmistakable. Pulling the thought straight from her mind as he always seemed to have done, he was giving her an offer she would be foolish to refuse. He was the only soul in the world that she knew who had ever given her kindness for no reason at all. He had set her free from her tormentors.
Would he set her free from her pain?
But the light in his eyes dimmed as she stared at that coin, even as his grin grew deeper. That dimming shook her and she stiffened. Slowly, she straightened, reaching her full but diminutive height. Holding her head high, she sniffed and looked away.
Laughter echoed through the space, drawing her eyes to him again. Suddenly, he was right next to her, peering down into her eyes and straight into her soul. His eyes were alive again and that light had come back, a shine that she suddenly recognized as pride. Shaken she opened her mouth to ask him…something she couldn't know. But before she could even stutter, he brought his fingers to her lips, his thumb closing them from sound.
"Still, child of the law, I will let you go. But do not mistake that I will be back."
He only grinned before stepping away from her. Without another word, he turned his back on her and walked down the street until he was out of sight as she fought ever fiber of her being from running after him.
More tears glittered in the bright moonlight as she drew her eyes away from the glowing orb before her. Her breath hitched, once, twice, before she cried out softly and threw the glass at the wall across from her. It shattered into a thousand specks of nothing. One of the larger shards shot back and tore across her cheek leaving a line of blood to crawl down her pale flesh.
The pain didn't even register as she stared at the remains of the visions she had seen. It was the harshest of realizations to see that the only soul in the world that had been kind to her since her parents had died had been a stranger more absent for her life than in it. Glimpses of something strange and unknowable, a force that she could not understand, for ill will or good, he had been an idea, a thought, a dream that would not budge in the hours and years since.
But even he had turned away and left.
She cradled her head in her knees and for the first time in all the years she could remember, she wept without abandon. She knew that the last moments of her life were upon her as the year drew to its inevitable close. In that one moment, just before the end, she would let go. Her tears were silent even as her screaming was echoing through her mind and body.
Which is how she heard the soft crunch of snow under heavy boots. The pace was slow, self assured, coming nearer and nearer to her until they stopped close enough for the wind to send the bearer's garments to dance across her skin. There was a pause, heavy as lead, as the two were still in the falling snow. Then, finally, she looked up.
His red eyes were sparkling with humor as he stared down at her.
"Why are you here?"
"Because you are mine."
She stared up at him, the tears freezing in flakes on her cheeks. His eyes never wavered from hers, nor did the intensity or possessiveness as he looked down at her. Time stopped, moments before midnight, and she placed her hand in his.
AN: I really hope this didn't suck. I've had no time to really go back and reread it and see how well it flows. If it doesn't, let me know and I will re-work it. I kinda wanted to get it posted before I forgot or lost time again or whatever.
Um, yeah, sorry. For everyone who has reviewed Human, Conditional and everyone waiting for more, I AM working on it. I have about half-ish a chapter done but completely ran out of time when I got my new job. Especially with school. But, with school out for the moment, the holidays done and all birthdays for the time being set aside, I'm hoping to get at least one more chapter posted in the next week or two if not more. Once these two chapters are done, I feel that it will go more quickly, but I've said that before so I don't want to lie.
I have started bringing my laptop to work so I can write on my lunch breaks, which is how this got done, so hopefuly that will keep from these LOOOONG stretches of nothing happening again.
I AM having to rework the plotline and timeline and stuff since The Shepard's Tale came out in November but it might help make things more cohesive rather than break anything so hopefully that will be done soon and another chapter out and..yeah, lot of hope here.
Bless all of you.
ANd now I get to go catch up on my READING. I have new chapter alerts sitting in my inbox that laugh at me everytime I check my mail on my phone. It's depressing honestly. (Which also goes as an apology to those of you who I normally read but haven't read...yet. You probably know who you are. ^_^)
Happy New Year!
Til next time...