Undiscovered Country

BY : Philippa MaQuente
Category: Hellsing > AU - Alternate Universe
Dragon prints: 1468
Disclaimer: I do not own "Hellsing" and I make no profit from this story.


Prologue



            “You are free.”



            A cracked yet dignified voice emerged from a now-silver head and a wrinkled countenance. Two gloved hands, one bearing a sigil and one plain, were draped across the folded, bare hands of the voice’s owner.



            Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing lay on her death bed. Only two stood by her to watch her final moments. Ever faithful, Seras and Alucard’s faces were downcast and solemn. The spoken words had stirred a deep reaction in both.



            “Master…?” Alucard’s throaty rumble betrayed his incredulity.



            “No longer, Alucard.” She gave a short cough, and they waited. It cleared. “I have kept my womb barren for more reasons than you might think. Only a Hellsing can hold sway on you through blood; in turn, only a Hellsing can free you.” The one good blue eye left to her (the lost, a sacrifice for triumph) glowed fiercely with youth and vigor though her body no longer matched. She was 91 years. “You’ve served my family for generations enough, Alucard, and I free you. A life for a life.” Weakly Integra gripped her former servant’s hand, and as if it knew, the sigil faded from the glove he wore.



            “Thank you, Countess. My dear Integra.” Alucard bent and pressed his mouth to her forehead, no teeth, just a display of his reverence. She turned the glowing eye upon her younger faithful servant, the girl for whom she’d held such fondness. They had been together now for sixty-five years, thirty of those without the one who had brought them together. It was a vast, complex and deep love between them.



            “Seras… As a last act of your love for me I have but one request.” Seras looked at the woman she alternately called boss, friend, and even lover during those lonely years.



            “Anything, Sir Integra.” One last fond smile for the perky blonde. One last sweet cupping of her cheek. Seras’ shadow hand cupped the withered, thin fingers in return.



            “Don’t let him suffer loneliness again. Please. Follow him.” Seras couldn’t help but feel two hot crimson streaks pour from her equally vibrant eyes, and she nodded, her voice too choked. Integra delivered them a final smile. At last she drew up a rather large hatpin, and without a word, stabbed the pad of her left index finger. The two of them watched with stuck breath as a bead of red slowly swelled upon her outstretched fingertip. She held the beautiful, aged hand above the mouth, first, of Alucard. With tremendous ceremony he extended his tongue and waited for the last taste of his Master, the last he would ever have, to descend. When his sanguine bead had fallen, the finger moved to the other, and Seras too accepted the gift with grace. Parallel tears ran down both the faces smiling sadly upon the dying granddame. With satisfaction, Integra lay her head down.



            The last smile she would ever wear faded. Her last orders were given, her last boons granted. Integra’s eyes slipped shut. It was not dark behind the lids, as she had expected. Light shone through them, and somewhere ahead of her voices were calling. Father… Walter… Sir Penwood… The mercenaries… Heaven awaited the knight of Protestant England.



            Her life at last tidy and complete, she was gone.



            Seras wept bitterly. Alucard closed his eyes in dignified grievance. It was an hour before they could stir from her bedside in order to make the announcement. Seras gently unfolded the sheet, now gone cold, and draped it over the face still smiling, as though merely asleep.



***



            The funeral came, attended by the solemn few precious friends Integra had left to her, including the King (for her Majesty had died some years before) and the descendants of the Round Table. The great Sir Hellsing had no family left to mourn her, and of the many lives her organization had saved, none knew her very existence, much less her name. Her burial-day was gorgeous, sunny and warm, unlike most days in England, and under a black parasol Seras felt a bitter humor. Was this how she would have liked it? No misty veil over her death as in her living? The ironclad warrior-queen had shed her armor at last.



            After the interment and small gathering, the grave pair stood alone in a quiet mansion. There was no more organization, no more soldiers. The empty home was a tomb. In silence together they walked the halls, knowing it was their last sleep within the magnificent old building. It had already been donated to the King for use as his majesty saw fit. ‘Perhaps a children’s museum’, Seras suggested. The King had smiled.



            They visited the rooms they themselves had haunted with her, and him- remembering each life perished and every friend gone- the true curse of Nosferatu, and the truest power.



            Seras felt on the edge of weeping, but the bare hand nearby grabbed hers and held tight. He was dressed in a fine cotton suit, dusky black, with of course, blood-red straight tie, Windsor knot. A linen shirt buttoned underneath was the same soft charcoal shade. His hands bare. Even hers, bare after so long. His firm mouth and eyes were enough to help her swallow the lump in her throat.



            “These people were the firs’ real friends I had, Master…” It was hard to compose, but she did it. In her arms were photos and trinkets, odds and ends left of their time at Hellsing. All they would remove from this house were a few personal effects.



            “I must remember that you are still quite young, Seras. You will have to accept that she is gone, and convert the pain you feel to a flame of memory. I’ll never forget her, and I’ll always love her. All we can do is remember, or suffer what we cannot change.” Alucard ruffled his budded fledgling girl’s hair, as he had when first she greeted him in London, all bloody and grown. He could not help but feel strangely and unnaturally optimistic- so odd for a creature like himself. The world had opened up before him again, but there was a change this time.



            Seras smiled girlishly at his affections and indulged herself by nuzzling back. It felt good to freely express the love of him that bubbled through her, and he felt it radiating back through her mind. Even now that their eyes matched and she had become comfortable in her new skin, there was something so sweetly innocent about Seras Victoria. Yet instead of hiding behind it, she wore its charms with the grace of a strong woman. Before he met Arthur Van Helsing, as Dracula he’d wandered the night alone leaving his brides behind. Greedily did he make them and just as blithely left them to wreak havoc. But Seras had been probably the first ever given a choice. That, and her extraordinary resistance to corruption, had set her apart from the rest. Integra's last words rattled in his brain. So did his own words from the cathedral in Badrick.



            After tucking their treasures into a bag on her shoulder, Seras wrapped her remaining arm around her Master’s and ensnared his fingers. She was wearing a knee-length black pencil skirt and a puffed-sleeved blouse. So odd and new to be in street clothes after spending so much time in uniform. She had even gotten an official discharge, medals, and knighting by the Queen before her death. The young vampiress was officially a citizen once more. They had come to claim the coffins, and after that last remnant of their presence had been removed, it would be time to set her feet to the free world. Where would she wander? So much lay at her back and so much spread before her feet that every step bore the weight of it. The precipice right under her began the real afterlife of Seras Victoria. Had mortality kept her, she would have been silver haired now, perhaps a grandmother. With nature's blessing, dying calm, in bed. But no. She had been given a strange chance in the latest of horrific episodes in her tragic youth: Die… or live forever.



            “I’ll always love her too, Master.” Seras gripped his arm rather tighter than she knew, and he immediately looked at her mind. The waif seemed under an epiphany, and he pressed her close. "But it's almost like no one knows she even lived. In fact... who even knows that I live?" All the time she walked with him to furthest cell it gripped her. She was dead to the world, to everyone except the few who knew of her secret work, and the man next to her. There were no more expectations upon her, and no one to know what past she had clawed out of. Total freedom, but total nonbeing as well. The very thought almost buckled her knees.



            Somehow Seras found herself in her coffin, next to Master’s. The presence of him loomed over her, and his scent triggered a flood of comfort.



            “This is good. You never took time to process your death. This means you are well on your way to being a complete Draculina. Sleep, dragostea mea.” His hand ruffled through her bangs and Seras let him lull her to dreams. Soon enough, when her breath ran soft, he laid himself to rest inside the ancient casket. When the vastly-aged entity Morpheus came for him, he entered the world between sleep and waking. He was within his own soul and mind, with every memory stacked and ready at the need for self-torture. He barely ever dreamed for real. Even when his body rested, it seemed he could never quite find total silence, especially since ingesting that pesky cat-boy. Never truly at rest...



            But hadn’t that been part of the original curse?



            The dreams of his girl had slipped towards peace from an uneasy life. Very “live in the moment,” this one. So caught up in the adjustment to Draculina, and a decades-old insane Major's war, that she forgot her place in the world behind. Acknowledging her death had unlocked years of chains from her yoke. This afterlife was not the heaven she imagined as a child, but it had proved an interesting one to her growth.



            In his own space Alucard wandered his memories, viewing them like ports at whim, and for years often critiquing his own behavior. For so long he had combed through, wondering what he would do once free of Integra’s chain. At best, what had he ever done? Stalked and killed. Even under contract, all he ever did was search and destroy. The sacrifices of many, many lives had come so easily to him through the years. What a change for him to at last retain a servant. One single bride.



            In the land of nod, Seras came to terms with her life as she reconnected to those moments of anguish like ruins in her mind. The suffering had ended. Now it was time for her to grow again in another life. In so many ways, Hellsing had been where she really needed to be.



            A dreaming self of the blonde wandered London’s streets with an aimless step. Flashes bombarded her, glimpses of well known landmarks, and faces, none of those familiar. Around her seemed to be a crowd of regular pedestrians moving in fast-forward. Yet figures stood out, moving at her speed, and very quickly she caught some of their features. A gentle pulse, like a heartbeat, went through her head. There was a knowing smile on that one’s lips, and glowing purple eyes that seemed quite unusual in another corner. Beyond the city she could see a vast expanse of other cities and other grounds, stretching in any direction she chose to look. All of it looked within her grasp, like all she had to do was reach and pluck. Why not start from her birthplace, from London? Where a thousand stories had walked before, and many more ghosts.



            Alucard watched her with mild interest. Should he begin another story in that fated place?



            Why not? He mused.



            Another new beginning. How many would he come to, since he could not find the story’s end?




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