lavivi: scan from Hellsing manga of Integra and Alucard (chivalry undead)
[personal profile] lavivi
Yeah, I wrote this a year ago for my two bestest Hellsing friends who actually understand what I blather about. I probably should have posted it here too then, but I didn't get it finished until after Christmas Day. But here it is now, anyway - and I awfully wish I could post it to [profile] integraxalucard  , but I just realized it would have to go under a very loose definition of shippy. Dammit.

Ah well - here we are now!

With a Stake of Holly Through His Heart

The first loud shriek of “Dad!” told Walter the students had begun emerging from Platform 9 ¾. Closing his book and setting it on the seat beside him, he got out of the car to stand by the side facing the platform wall.

In little clusters, the black-cloaked children of varying heights appeared before the wall, splitting off in both directions before him as they caught sight of their families – or, alternatively, wandered rather aimlessly in search, eventually settling out of the way on their trunks to wait.

His quick eyes spotted Integra just as she was walking away from the wall, wheeling her trunk behind her, her face muffled by her hat and scarf. She didn’t look up, but had clearly seen him as she was making her way directly toward him, through the crowd. Walter stepped further forward, waiting to greet her. Finally, as she reached him she looked up, giving a small nod without smiling.

Slightly startled by her reserve, Walter bowed his own head with a faint smile, murmuring, “It’s good to see you again, Sir Integra,” as he moved to store her trunk in the back compartment of the Rolls-Royce.

Just as he had opened the door to the backseat for her, a loud, mocking voice rose across the noise of the station:

“Oy, Hellsing! Why don’t you get your butler to open doors for you at school, too?”

Turning his head sharply, Walter spotted the heckler – a boy probably around Integra’s year, with unkempt curly hair and a hard, belligerent face. He caught Walter’s eye and his expression changed to fear, as he seemed to realize he was looking at a man capable of murder. The boy took a couple steps back, clearly hoping to disappear into the crowd.

Walter turned back to where he was, but Integra had already disappeared inside the car.

Once home, Integra didn’t speak of her fall semester, but proceeded straight to the work she had been doing, or learning to do, when she had left in the summer. It was very difficult; far too much for the hands of a fourteen-year-old who hadn’t been acquainted with any of it for quite a year yet, but Walter helped her, teaching and also doing his best to let her know she could take it on slowly, the last of which efforts she doggedly refused to recognize.

A couple of days after she had returned home, Walter took advantage of a pause as she worked in her office, meticulously studying the details of recent cases.

“If you don’t mind me reminding you, Sir Integra – Christmas is only nine days away.”

He watched her pen come to a stop partway down a report. After a moment she said, without looking up, “There are Christmas bonuses to the soldiers and all employees, correct? Where are the files of those, and when should they be delivered?”

This took him aback, but he answered, “I’ll bring you those records – they’re normally sent on the twenty-third.”

The pen resumed its slow progress down the page.

Walter regrouped mentally for a moment before cautiously beginning again. “Sir Integra, I was hoping more that we could discuss how you would like to celebrate the holiday – here in the house.”

This time Integra did lay the pen down, with an almost imperceptible sigh, and raised her head to look at him. “Walter, could we…simply not do anything?”

Walter looked at her. It had been a long time since he had felt brokenhearted.

“Of course, I’ll write out the bonuses, and – attend church on Christmas Eve – whatever else I must – but please, Walter…I’d rather not do much else.” She looked at him imploringly from behind her hand, as she rubbed her hair by her temple. “It doesn’t feel like there’s much point…when it’ll only be you and myself in the house….” Catching herself, she added, “And you can have the day off to go somewhere, if you like –“

“No, thank you, ma’am,” Walter said, very firmly.

Integra’s attention dropped back to her desk, though she didn’t pick up the pen again. Walter took another moment to recollect. “At least – some decorations, indoors and outdoors, might be all right?”

“Yes, I suppose so.”

“And,” he ventured further, “a little Christmas music over the sound system?”

“As long as I can’t hear it.”

Arthur Hellsing had died almost exactly a year ago – two days after Christmas, though given how his state had continued about the same for the week before, Walter doubted (since he had been so regrettably absent) that Christmas day had been well celebrated in the Hellsing house. The Christmases before that had traditionally been small…with the presence of Richard Hellsing…but Integra had always seemed perfectly happy with the approach of Christmas as a day she could enjoy with her father. It truly was understandable now with the prospect of this lonely Christmas, the anniversary of her father’s death, her stress trying to manage the organization, and whatever problems there were at school – that Integra didn’t want to think about the tremendously family-oriented and cheery holiday. With indefatigable optimism, however, Walter smuggled in a Christmas tree, though he did not miss Integra’s wince when she caught sight of him decorating it.

Once, too, Walter tried to talk to her about the anniversary of her father’s passing. The conversation culminated with Integra resting her head on her hand and her voice emotionless as she said, “He died a year ago, why would I cry now?”

It was perhaps in something close to desperation that he turned to Alucard.

“You’re concerned because…she’s not excited about Christmas?”

“I see that as more of a symptom of a larger problem, which I’m sure you’ve noticed,” Walter answered, perhaps a touch testily.

“Hm.” Alucard’s smile stretched wider. “She’s spent the year trying not to feel. It’s not a surprise she wants to ignore this holiday, with all its overstuffed emotion.”

Walter had noticed over the summer Alucard’s ability to rile Integra up, usually with positive effects, and this was part of why he had talked to him now. Integra didn’t seem to be reacting as much to Alucard now, however, or at least not the same way; Walter did discover her once in the library, looking exhausted even as she was fast asleep next to Alucard, leaning back with her head against his chest while he brushed her hair with his fingers absent-mindedly. It wasn’t entirely what Walter had had in mind, but he hoped it did her some good anyway.

The days until Christmas passed one by one, while neither they nor the decorations nor anything else seemed to be making any change on Integra’s attitude. But when she opened Christmas Eve with the clear intention of treating it like any other business day, save the church service she would attend in the evening, Walter could not keep from expressing his dissatisfaction more strongly than he ever had previously.

“Sir Integra, there is truly nothing so urgent that it requires you to spend this day here in your office. You have more than earned the right to relax today –“

And for the first time, Integra snapped at him.

“Walter, I am the leader of Hellsing and I will spend the day as I choose – there’s nothing else anyway I want to do, could do instead and would actually enjoy, knowing my time would be more profitably spent here. I already told you you have the day to yourself, if you will just drive me to the church and back tonight, and if you’re so concerned about Christmas Eve I’m sure you want to spend it yourself in some way better than worrying over how I’m spending my time.”

Walter understood better than anyone how the stress afflicting Integra would cause her to lash out like that; nevertheless, he could not escape feeling the smallest amount stricken as he quietly made his apologies, bowed, and departed. He did not visit her again that day, but let the house-elves bring her tea and lunch, until it was time to leave for the service.

She had changed into an old dark green velvet dress, with very light trimming of white lace around the collar and cuffs; it was almost too small for her. She had one of her veiled hats and a dark pair of gloves; as she passed through the doors outside, in the dusk and falling snow, Walter had for an instant a flashback of how she had looked a year ago, after her father’s funeral.

The drive to Westminster Abbey was silent; once they arrived, Walter accompanied her to the section where she and her father had always sat before.

The service presented was as perfectly routine and reassuringly unsurprising as every year. There was indeed a comfort in how one could find on this day of the year the same choruses and words spoken over those in the pews, no matter what had happened during the course of the year or how those in the pews changed.

Afterward, Walter waited as Integra was stopped by a few people who had known Arthur; he could see her answering a few words to each before finally slipping away, to the street where he had gone to fetch the car.

They had only just cleared the district of the abbey when he heard Integra’s voice, oddly subdued, in the back.

“I’m sorry, Walter.”

He hadn’t quite had enough time to react when she continued, “It was wrong of me to shout at you as I did earlier.”

After just a moment more, he answered gently, “Thank you, ma’am, though I assure you that you do not need to apologize to me.”

Through the rearview mirror, he could see her profile: sitting still near one window, where the passing lights illuminated in flickers the colors of her dark clothes and hair, which glinted almost like silver in contrast, as well as her face half-hidden under her hat.

“Of course I do, Walter.” Her voice was almost eerily soft and detached. “You’ve been…very patient with me this year. And I know you only spoke up because you are concerned about me.”

“I do what I can, ma’am,” Walter said quietly.

A few seconds of silence passed as Walter drove through the lightly falling snow, and then he heard Integra’s voice again. “And I’m sorry if…I’ve ruined your enjoyment of this Christmas. It seems I have been rather selfish lately.”

Walter almost forgot to brake for the next stop. “That would be the last word I would use to describe you, sir.”

“No, I believe I have been, in my own way,” she argued, with familiar obstinacy. “Certainly inconsiderate of you, which you definitely don’t deserve. However, I do have…a few gifts for tomorrow, to hopefully show you I’m not completely unappreciative.”

He couldn’t help smiling now, even as he kept his eyes on the road. “Thank you, madam, though it was not necessary.”

“Walter, don’t act moronic, you deserve much more than a paycheck considering everything you’ve done for me and the organization this year.”

The next morning dawned very bright and crisp, and Walter rose as early as always to make sure everything was ready and also to prepare breakfast, as the chef had the day off. While he was turning the eggs he noticed, without really looking, Alucard emerge through the side of the kitchen.

“It’s Christmas day, isn’t it?”

Walter glanced at him now to ensure he wasn’t touching the buttered croissants, before answering lightly, “Why yes it is. I’m happy to see you’ve successfully re-oriented yourself to the Western calendar over a year’s time.”

Alucard ignored that. “What do you and Integra usually do on Christmas day?”

Walter paused a moment as he turned the heat off the eggs and covered the pan. “Well, this is the first Christmas where it’s only been the two of us, and there is no structured outline for the day. She did mention she would sleep a little later than she normally does, and then meet me in the parlor with the Christmas tree for breakfast and presents. …I don’t believe she has the intention of attending to any work today.”

“Hm.” Alucard straightened up, and continued to rise as he levitated toward the ceiling. “I’ll see if she’s awake.”

Walter threw him a very sharp look, conveying his displeasure if Alucard woke Integra before she would naturally this morning, right before Alucard’s head disappeared through the ceiling.

Not long after Walter had set up all the breakfast dishes in the parlor with the Christmas tree, Integra entered with Alucard trailing close behind. She seemed to Walter hearteningly sleepy and mildly rumpled in her white, long-sleeved pajamas and messy hair.

She sat down in an armchair and picked up her covered plate from the coffee table. “I suppose you would find it criminal of me, Walter, to change and dress properly before breakfast on Christmas morning?”

“I confess I would, madam,” he admitted, smiling as he took his own seat on the sofa and uncovered his plate. “A very happy Christmas to you.”

“Same to you,” she muttered, still sounding uncomfortable with the traditional lines of the day. “And thank you very much for the breakfast.”

As they ate, her eyes fell on the respectable pile of presents gathered under the tree. “Oh, dear.”

Alucard swept over, inspecting them before gleefully announcing, “They’re all for you, master.”

“Oh, no.” Integra set down her fork to put her hand to her forehead, looking utterly dismayed. “Walter, why did you have to –“

“Now you can’t blame me entirely,” Walter protested, “one of them is from Commander Ferguson.”

“Oh, God.” Integra put both of her hands over her face and made a small noise that sounded like, “augh.” She re-emerged only a moment later, though, to decisively set her plate back on the table and stand up. “Well, if I have to go through it, then you have to go first – I’ll be right back.”

She returned only a minute later holding, of all things, a folded letter. She held it up before handing it to him, explaining, “Seeing as how it would have been highly impractical to try to get everything for you in here – some wouldn’t fit in this room, and others don’t actually exist yet –“

Smiling, Walter unfolded the letter to behold a typed list. A list of…. Walter’s monocle almost slipped from its place as he read, and when he got to Japanese engine designs, gun lathes, and tea he couldn’t quite keep from making an incoherent sputter ending in, “Sir Integra, really, I must ask –“

“Don’t insult me, Walter,” Integra said, with mock coldness. “I went through the budget extensively and everything is accounted for.”

Alucard, who was reading over Walter’s shoulder, slowly grinned with inhuman wideness. “Oh, that will be fun.”

Integra, meanwhile, was approaching the stack of innocent-looking presents with the recognizable grim Hellsing determination. “All right, I’ll just – get it over with –“

“Would you like some assistance, master?”


Fifteen minutes later, Integra lay on the carpet, propped up by her elbows as she examined with genuine interest two new CDs, a small stack of books and movies nearby, as well as a few pretty and casual outfits re-folded in their boxes. Walter had fetched a pen, and was already happily sketching out ideas for new models of guns on the back of the list.

“I do remember,” he said unexpectedly, “the very first Christmas present you ever gave me.”

Integra blinked, then dropped her head to her arms, burying her face in the crook of her elbow, from which came a muffled, “Oh no.”

“I believe you were about six or seven years of age,” Walter continued unperturbed, “and Christmas morning you brought me an old weaponry box you had found somewhere, and there was a very nice red bow on top. Upon opening, I found inside an orange, slightly transparent water gun, already filled and with a small container of water next to it, which you explained very seriously was holy water.”

Alucard looked delighted.

“Walter, please.” Integra lifted her face up to reveal flushed cheeks – which Walter was also delighted to see, as he couldn’t remember the last time she did have distinctive color in her face from other causes than the weather. Greatly encouraged, he went on.

“Or might you remember a couple of Christmases before that, when after the presents were opened and you entertained the party with some inspired Christmas charades –“

“You must be making this up.”

“I assure you the memory is not the least amount muddled. You were a very dazzling Star of Bethlehem, draped in silver tinsel –“

“For the love of God, Walter –“ Integra was actually kicking her feet against the carpet in mortification. Alucard, on the other hand, was leaning forward, utterly fascinated.

For the final touch, Walter made as though to rise. “Now, I do believe I know where those pictures are kept –“

“No!” shrieked Integra, shooting up from where her head had been pressed to the carpet to look at him, her face quite scarlet now. “Don’t you dare, Walter –“

“Where are they?” Alucard interrupted, grinning. “I’m sure I can find them –“

“You” – she pointed a finger in command – “stay exactly where you are. Don’t move.”

Smirking still, the vampire resettled in his place over the edge of the sofa, while Walter made a small gesture of conciliation. “Well then, may we at least have a re-enactment of your dance that you felt should have accompanied the angels’ chorus to the shepherds?”

It was the last drop needed. Integra made an odd sound almost like a sneeze, and then rolled onto her back, laughing, laughing so her whole body shook. It was several moments before she was able to stop, gasping and holding up her hand as though she wanted to say something. It took her a few tries before she was able to get more than the first syllable out without laughing again, though finally she was able to breathe enough to regain control, whereupon she decisively rolled back over to get to her feet.

“I’ll tell you what we’ll do instead – we can start this first movie you gave me, Walter, that I’ve heard a bit about.” She picked up The Lost Boys and went about peeling off the plastic, while Walter went quickly to the kitchen to fetch more hot chocolate.

When he returned Integra had just gotten the movie started, and as he set down the newly-filled mugs and took his seat again, Integra scrambled back (actually moving like a child her age, he noticed) to take her place next to him. She angled her head back to look at Alucard before ordering with her customary bossiness, “Stop skulking behind us and sit down properly.”

Smiling, he obeyed, gracefully sitting on the other side of her. Integra pulled her legs up, her bare feet almost touching Alucard’s leg while her head was quite close to Walter’s shoulder, and raised the remote to hit play.
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lavivi: scan from Hellsing manga of Integra and Alucard (Default)

April 2009

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