Every time Lyudmil looked at himself in the mirror, he could not believe who he saw. Not only was it because mirrors themselves were unreasonably uncommon in this dark castle, it was because only a short six months ago he was practically destitute. At the time he was recently condemned as a demon for trying to save his only family and dearest village healer, Lisa, from the cruel fate of being burned alive for crimes they never committed. When he was thrown out of his life-long home, he had nothing but the rags on his back and a fading will to live.
He will never understand how he managed to survive those dank nights on his own, hiding beneath brambles and overhanging rock to keep dry from the torrential downpours and guard himself from the evil predators that lurked within the shadows. Never had he been so scared and alone in all of his life. So it was no wonder he became desperate enough to approach the Dark Lord’s son himself to ask for a position as servant; when you hit that deep of a low you would do anything to survive.
Well, he did also owe it a bit to Lisa too.
He was well aware of how lucky he was for Master Alucard to even listen to a word he said. When he approached the Young Lord of Darkness, his hair was horribly matted and in absolute shambles. His clothes were stained with dirt and torn to shreds and his face must have been ghastly at that time (it’s not like he had much to eat). To make things even more unappealing, he was a human invading a world of monsters while bearing no particular talent whatsoever, with the exception of persistence and desperate recklessness. Have all of that on top of the fact that Lord Dracula despised humans, why would he even give him the light of day?
Lyudmil remembered reasoning that even if confrontation with the vampire prince resulted in his own death, at least he would have tried before giving up completely.
And never has a day passed where he felt regret for his decision.
Despite his ragged appearance and complete lack of basic serving skills, Adrian Tepes, who asked specifically to be called Alucard instead, gave him a new set of clothes, a room, and the title “personal servant,” and for the first time in a long time in a long time, he felt a reason to continue living.
It took time for him to learn the ropes of being a personal servant, but he was determined to learn and become the best he could be for his gracious Master. It was a lot of tiring work, but he knew Master could be a lot harder on him (just hearing stories about overly lavished royalty when he was still living in his village made him quite appreciative of how surprisingly kind Alucard really was). So never did he complain. After all, never had he been finer dressed or better taken care of.
Even to be able to build a relationship with someone such as Alucard never went unappreciated. He may have been strikingly intimidating and Godly from the outside, but Alucard really was a kind, strong and wonderful man after he opened up to you. Lyudmil was thankful everyday that he shared such a strong bond with him.
In short, waking up as Alucard’s servant each day really was not so bad, and it was now time to begin another day.
Everyday of servitude began late in the evening. After living in the castle for awhile, Lyudmil adjusted to rising naturally right before dusk. From the thin mattress that sat at the furthest left corner of his decently-sized servant’s quarters, he’d roll out of bed with a hesitant moan then chase the lingering veil of sleep away with a tall stretch, blissfully cracking his spine. Once out of bed, he straightened his wrinkled bed sheets and ran a brush through his mess of silver hair, forcing back his locks as best as he could manage so “early” in the day. With him out of bed and a little more awake, it was time to remove his thin nightclothes and proceed to dress himself in his servant’s attire.
The night when his Master handed him those slick robes of mauve and lavender, he could have sworn he was given them by mistake, for how could someone like him even belong in lavish clothes such as those? But apparently, those were the servant’s clothes, and Lyudmil never whispered an argument about wearing them every succeeding day. The smooth and tight fabric was oddly comfortable, more comfortable than he expected when he first laid eyes upon the garments. Sure, they were a little warm when summer came around, but he still wore each piece with pride, and it was his job to start every evening with respecting his gifted outfit.
This all started with laying them out on his bed first, just to check and flatten out any sort of wrinkles that may have snuck into his clothes while they remained idle in the wardrobe. Once they were deemed proper, he picked out his undershirt and threw it over his head. Then came his trousers, vest and cumberbund.
It was usually at this time he went back to his mirror and carefully clasped the ribbon-like item that would become his cravat. Delicately he grasped the edges and shuffled it beneath his white shirt collar and tied it just so. Sometimes he would have to do it a few times just to ensure his reflection in his personal mirror was perfect.
He looked at himself a moment, ran his hand through his hair again with a pleased smile. He was ready for his gloves, he decided. It was time to retrieve them from his nightstand.
After grabbing them and putting them on, he adjusted his white shirt cuffs beneath them, just so when he put on his coat they would lie nicely. But before the coat came his knee-high boots. Then when the coat was finally on, he looked at himself in the mirror one more time.
Running a hand through his hair yet again and with one more adjustment of his tie and gloves, he knew it was time to start the day.
“Well… Time to start the night, actually,” he smirked to his reflection. He even chuckled to himself at his comment and the silliness of his own amusement to it.
Closing his chamber door behind him, Lyudmil began his daily walk down the long and dimly lit corridor. With only the light of a few weak candles to guide him, Lyudmil could just make out the doors that lay across from his own. They were grander than the entrance to his own room, for that was the doorway to his Master’s quarters. Tall, wide, and red with gold accented doors. For a moment he pondered if he should check to see if Master Alucard has risen yet. Despite his vampiric nature, it was not uncommon for him to rise before the sun set every once in awhile. Habits as such were thanks to his half-blood.
Even if he was awake, though, he wouldn’t have started his day yet (he usually read a little in the twilight between dusk and night if he were to wake up earlier). So Lyudmil decided to forget checking in earlier than usual and instead continue to his original destination which was to the kitchens to check on Master’s breakfast.
The trek from their bedrooms to the kitchens was a long one indeed, but very much invaluable. Master’s breakfast had to be perfect. It had nothing to do with Master Alucard being particular or anything. It was more due to how his body didn’t allow him much wiggle room when it came to what he could and could not eat. While the half-human side of his body required food for survival, the vampiric half was tolerant to only so much. In other words, there is a real reason vampires don’t always sit down to three meals a day with multiple dishes at a time and it’s not because they are simply satisfied with blood. One of the first nights he worked in the castle he witnessed the consequences of feeding Master Alucard too much of the wrong thing. Not only does Lyudmil never want to see Master Alucard in such pain ever again, that mess was something he wanted to burrow deep away in the recesses of his memory, never to be lived again. He felt himself shutter just thinking about it.
So in hindsight it was worth waking up a little earlier to make sure those in the kitchen were conscientious of the Young Lord’s restrictions. If he didn’t do it, certainly no one else would. Those literal bone-heads of skeleton waiters certainly wouldn’t.
After deeming the meal worthy and it was elegantly arranged upon the tray in his hand, he did another quick run-through of the checklist in his head to make sure there were no more specific chores that had to be done before Master awoke. With every metaphorical box ticked, he started to retrace his steps to return to that aforementioned gilded door.
Balancing the tray in one hand, he raised his other to knock upon the heavy door. He had a special pattern of knocks so Alucard knew it was him.
There was no answer. Not entirely unusual, so for courtesy he knocked again, this time calling his name.
Again, only came silence. Nimbly he twisted the doorknob and forced the door open with a sensitive squeak. Sneaking his head through the crack of the door first, he scoped out the situation as best he could. Finding no movement, he slowly and fully entered the grand chamber only to find his Master still dead asleep, and he couldn’t help but breathe a heavy sigh. It would be fine if he was just asleep, but of course he wasn’t asleep in the usual, graceful and princely way one would imagine. No. He was a curled up mess of blond that burrowed deep into the layers and layers of blankets that cascaded beneath the canopy that hung far over his head.
Lyudmil knew when he was in such a state, it was hard to get him out of it.
“Rise and shine, Master,” Lyudmil spoke delicately as his heel clicks echoed throughout the room, hiding his subtle irritation to the situation he was to face. He placed the tray upon the nightstand beside the bed and began his mission to raise the dead.
“Just leave me be…” Alucard moaned, curling further into his linen fortress.
“Come on,” Lyudmil insisted, turning from the nightstand to the side of the bed which he presumed his master was facing. “We have a whole evening ahead of us-”
“Please, Lyudmil,” he grumbled again.
“Oh, don’t be like that,” Lyudmil said with a smile. With all playful purposes he decided he would pull the covers off of him, just enough to see his pouting, waking face
His heart dropped as he bowed over to pick up the elaborately embroidered comforter and sheets. Lyudmil expected this behavior to be that of a pouting prince, one who stayed up a little too late to read and now he was paying the price. But he found Alucard wide awake with heavy eyelids and an oppressive air of solemn. When he made momentary contact with those topaz eyes, he felt icicles poke at his heart.
It was going to be one of those evenings.
Before he could blink Alucard ripped the blanket from his hands to return to his solitude.
Once again he was asked to leave. Now, Lyudmil could either heed his Master’s orders and leave, or he couldn’t. Yes, he was a servant which meant it was his obligation to obey every command given to him, but it was also his job to look out for his Master’s well being. After all, this was not the first time Alucard woke up to a bout of extreme depression. All occurrences previous he usually left Alucard to himself to grieve on his own. Something about this time, however, made him want to change that.
For a moment he stood back, looking at his lump of a Master with his fists on his hips and thought. He had another set of options to choose from. After pondering all paths he could take, he decided on the one least harmless. He sucked in a deep breath and turned so he could sit himself on the edge of the bed.
Once comfortable on Master’s mattress, he sat up straight and just stared at the tapestries on the wall, speaking with the hope of nudging Alucard to confide in him.
“Do the eggs and toast displease you so?” He said to maybe break the cold silence.
His gesture, however, got no response. So commonalities were not going to work, which left Lyudmil to go with his Plan B. With a pat of his lap and a determined huff, Lyudmil decided he was going to get him out of bed himself.
“Alright. If that’s how you’re going to have it.”
In a way unusual to servants, he twisted himself around so he could actually crawl across the bed. The bedframe creaked under Lyudmil’s knees as he started crawling across the wrinkled cloth to the mass in the center. He curled his gloved fingers beneath the thick hem that covered over his head, revealing the blond curls that were not so much curls anymore but a heaping mess of tangles and knots. Lyudmil looked at the eyelids that hung heavy over his eyes and refused to open them despite his servant’s presence. There was a purposeful nuzzle into his pillow, the kind that showed how much he really did not want to get out of bed.
Alucard reminded Lyudmil a lot of himself. Those few days after being exiled while bearing the pain of his family’s death were practically impossible to survive for he felt no motivation to do a thing. Just as Alucard would, some days he would rather sleep all day, just to avoid another day of living through that pain. He could even recall the days he forgot to feed himself.
He learned though, that he needed to be given a purpose to survive these troubling days, and this came to him in the form of servitude. If he was never given a purpose to break through those days of darkness, he surely would not be breathing right now. So he was going to do the same for his Master and push him through this slump in any way he could.
And he knew the best way to start was to get out of bed.
He reached his arms over Alucard's torso, almost wrapping him into a hug. It was a little uncomfortable, especially because he was still on his knees trying to pull him up. For someone so thin and spindly, Alucard was quite the cumbersome deadweight. Lyudmil was sure there was an easier way to actually do this, but he was invested in the position and he couldn’t go back.
It wasn’t that Alucard was resisting though. He just didn’t help as Lyudmil tried to pull up his heavy body.
“You’re making this quite difficult,” Lyudmil muttered beneath his breath.
With determined huffs and a pulled muscle in his shoulder, he managed to pull Alucard’s body from its lying down position to a sort of hover in his arms, letting his hair curtain down the side of his face to the plush mattress. He was an oversized ragdoll in his arms and Lyudmil had to force all subtle feelings of aggravation deep into his belly. But his effort was worth it for in a few moment’s time with the addition of pure determination, Lyudmil flopped back and both ended in a sitting position across from one another. His body was a bit slumped and his arms hung heavy at his sides and his hair was covering any expression on his face. It was a picture of complete defeat and exhaustion. His thin, white nightshirt collar was completely untied, revealing his unblemished chest unceremoniously, and the cloth was all wrinkled from deep sleep. He was just staring down, cloaking his eyes with his long and thick sable eyelashes. But at least he was sitting up, which was Lyudmil’s goal.
“There we go,” Lyudmil said as he positioned himself into crossed legs on the bed. He held onto his bright smile and reached over his hand to brush a prominent curl from his face to behind his ear. “Sometimes it feels nice to get up.”
Slowly, Alucard rolled his eyes up to look at his servant with his striking gaze. “Thank you,” he said in his deep and luxurious tone, parting his chiseled lips for a mere moment. Then his sights reverted to what they were before. The sadness came back, and unexpectedly, he started slumping forward, and soon his forehead landed upon Lyudmil’s shoulder.
It made Lyudmil stiffen and he felt his face go red. He was at a momentary loss at what to do in response to such a gesture. For how long he has been here, never has Master Alucard gotten so close to him or was suddenly so personal with him. Maybe it looked like it was just him being tired enough to fall forward, but Lyudmil could tell that wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, he has grown used to the aura given off by someone in a state of sincere sadness and pain. It felt like he was really using him as a support, physically and emotionally. Especially when he spoke again.
“I miss her…”
Lyudmil felt the deep sadness sneak inside his own chest when Alucard said those three simple words. The prince was always so strong and very good at putting on a face of indifference whenever he was confronted with anything, including the memory of his mother. So to hear how he whimpered while pulling himself into Lyudmil’s warm body, his heart broke.
It always hurt to see Adrian in such a state of depression, especially when all he could do was hold him close and rub the back of his head with a servant’s hand. He’s confided in him before about his feelings, but Lyudmil was seeing deeper than he ever had before, and he wanted to say the right thing.
“I know,” Lyudmil replied with a low and sincere hum. “We all do.”
All of a sudden he felt Alucard just sink a little deeper into his hold, telling Lyudmil he was just in need of some comfort and nothing more. It told him that this was enough. So Lyudmil didn’t push any further. All he could do was let Alucard stay in his arms as long as he needed, and that was okay.
This wouldn’t be the first time such sadness overcame him, but Lyudmil was glad to be there for him this time because he knew how valuable support was in these times of grief. He was his servant, yes, and it wasn’t in a servant’s job description to play full emotional support. But Alucard was his friend, and he grew to care deeply for him, especially when he could relate so much to what he felt.
And deep down he knew that Alucard was there for him too. Deep down he knew it was because of Alucard that he could wake up and be happy with a purpose to live everyday. So this was the least he could do and maybe do the same for him by simply letting him grieve with someone instead of grieving alone.
After all, he really did miss her too.
The only sounds heard came from Alucard’s heavy lungs, and that’s how it remained for a while after. And when he heard another deep “thank you” from the man on his shoulder, Lyudmil found himself with a solemn smile, knowing and reassured that he really made the right choice in coming to the castle six months ago.
And he will be ready for anything everyday, as long as he was at Alucard’s side. There really was nowhere else he would rather be.