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He is waiting for her, as he always is. His eyes shining with excitement and his arms out to embrace her.

She’s never once mentioned to him how much she needs it, how much she looks forward to seeing him in the doorway when she pulls her car into the driveway, but he must know. He must, because he’s waited every day since they got married.

“Mrs. Hellsing,” he greets, with that achingly beautiful expression of sheer love on his face.

“Mr. Hellsing,” she replies, and after so many times of this she still finds herself unable to repress a stupidly loving smile in return. “Good evening.”

They kiss, brief but passionate, before they’re interrupted as always by the clumsy padding of little feet and the cry of a clear and joyful voice.

“Mummy!”

Her smile widens, and he relinquishes her so that she can stoop down and scoop up their daughter in her arms. “Miss Madeline,” she cooes, kissing the little girl’s nose and making her giggle. “Good evening, my sweet little lady.”

 


  

“Good morning, Sir Integra.”

With a perfectly precise snap, Walter pulls the curtains wide open. The immense king-size bed is seared with sunlight, illuminating the small mountain of blankets that conceal the head of Hellsing. 

His master has never been one to do things in halves. She does not wade into the cold water, she does not blow on her tea, and she does not wake up slowly.

So when the combination of her butler’s voice and the bright morning sun is not enough to get so much as a grunt from Integra, Walter is already concerned.

“Sir Integra?" 

A closer inspection proves that his master is indeed under the covers; he can see strands of her hair spread over the white sheets and shining in the sun. “Sir Integra,” he repeats, and debates for a moment before gently pulling away the blankets. “My apologies, but it really is time to…” 

He trails off. As someone trained in the art of murder, it’s easy for him to tell that his Master is too still, her breathing too slow for simple sleep. 

Immediately he steps back, turning to leave the room and find the nearest servant. “Get Dr. Trevelyan on the phone immediately!” he barks. “Tell him that Sir Integra… Sir Integra isn’t waking up.” 

 


 

 

“When did she wake up?” Integra asks Alucard, kissing Madeline’s cheek one more time as they make their way as a family to the kitchen. 

“About three o’ clock.” He has her hand on the small of her back, as he so often does when her arms are preoccupied with holding their toddler. She likes his need to touch her so casually as they walk. “It took me a little while to settle her down for the nap, so she slept a little later. About an hour and a half in all.”  

“Three?” Integra echoes, before giving their daughter a playfully admonishing look. “Did you give Papa a hard time when he put you down for your nap?”

“I din’t, Mummy,” Madeline replies, although she’s avoiding her mother’s eyes with a crafty smile. 

“You didn’t?” says Integra, giving her a little shake. “You didn’t give Papa a hard time? Are you sure ?”

Madeline dissolves into squeals and giggles, gripping her mother tightly. “No, no, Mummy! I din’t, I din’t!”

“Hmmm.” The noise is skeptical as Integra and Alucard exchange a weary yet fond look. “Well, then. I suppose you’ve been a good girl today, and it’s time for your dinner.” 

Ever since she decided that she would in fact want children, she had always vowed that she would never spoil them. Her mother had been lovingly strict, and she planned to follow through. But actually having a little life giggling in her arms was a very different story, and it wasn’t as if Alucard was about to play bad cop. 

“Alright, alright,” he said, beaming at Integra as she placed Madeline in her high chair. “Time for our dinner. I hope you ladies are hungry…”

He didn’t know how to cook when they met. But when she confessed to him on the first date that she could burn water, he lied and told her it was an amateur passion of his.

A few weeks before he proposed, he admitted that he scoured the internet for any free resources on cooking that he could find the day after their first date. It didn’t take long for the lie to become truth; five years later, she can still see the pride in his eyes as he presents a new dish to her.

He always tells her how much of an inspiration that she has been to him, how much she has changed his life.

How grateful he is to have her. 

 


 

“We just have to be grateful that she’s only unconscious,” Seras says, her tone soft. Still, she’s teary as she looks down at her master’s master.

Only unconscious?” Alucard barks from behind her, pacing and bristling like an angry dog. “This is… this is ridiculous. Fucking absurdity. Humans and their damned illnesses… where is Dr. Trevelyan?” he calls suddenly, turning to menace the nearest maid. 

The poor woman chokes out a noise and turns to rush off and find Walter. Or perhaps she just wants to escape the vampire’s wrath. 

It's not as if Seras could blame the maid. She doesn’t fear her master anymore, but she still knows he cuts an imposing figure. “Master, please,” she says softly. “Not in front of her.”

“In front of-“ he echoes, before letting out a humorless laugh. “Foolish girl. She can’t hear a word we say. Whatever’s happened to her, she’s not with us at all.”

A pause, and then he knocks a lamp off Integra’s desk with a terrible, violent clatter. Seras flinches, despite herself, and watches as he swears and melts into the floor. Instantly, the room feels brighter, and she realizes that he was letting his shadows run wild.  

He’s taking Integra’s condition worse than anyone else, even Walter. If Seras was feeling more up to the task, she would be nursing one of her favorite theories, but she hasn’t got the energy. 

After a few more minutes of staring, it all becomes too much. She reaches out, hoping that brushing her hand against Integra’s smooth, dark cheek will cause those familiar lines of annoyance to crease as sharp blue eyes pop open to glare daggers at her.

But alas, her gentle touch doesn’t even invoke an involuntary muscle twitch.

“Where is your mind, Integra?” she whispers before she can stop herself, her eyes tearing up slightly. “What are you seeing? Please come back to us.”

 


 

“Adi might come over tomorrow,” Integra tells him. “He’s visiting our parents for a few more days and says he needs to see his niece a bit more before he goes back to traveling.” 

They’re cuddled on the couch, barely watching some silly action movie; she’s finally gotten out of the pantsuit and is now very comfortable in a bralette and leggings. He loves that bralette; even as they talk, she can tell he’s eyeing the mint-green lace. 

Still, he responds to her happily. “Oh yeah? That’ll be nice. I found a good recipe for apple fritters, and I know he loves those.” 

“Apple fritters?” Integra echoes. She narrows her eyes. “Don’t you have to fry those? I don’t know if-” 

“I’ll make sure Madeline is fast asleep. She won’t get anywhere close to the hot oil,” he assures her with a sweet kiss to her temple, and she grunts but is pacified. A pause. “Integra?” 

“Yes?” 

He pauses again, and she looks up at him in slight alarm. But he’s beaming, his eyes misty with happiness. “I love her. So much.”

Now she smiles widely too. “Oh, Alucard…” A tender kiss to his cheek. “I love her too. So much.” 

“I can’t believe she’s ours ,” he admits, his voice full of quiet wonder. “Her little hands and feet…

“I know how you feel,” she says softly. “I know exactly how you feel. She’s a miracle; it doesn’t feel like she should even exist. But I’m so grateful she does.” She pauses for a moment, her eyes on the movie. At that point, she’s been distracted so long that she has no idea what’s happening on screen. “And that you exist, too,” she adds finally, blushing as she looks up at him. 

He looks back at her, and his expression is so moved that she nearly looks away. “Integra,” he whispers. 

They kiss, pulling back to smile at each other. “You’re so beautiful,” he whispers. “My beautiful Integra.” 

Another kiss, deeper this time, and he sighs and pulls her closer. “My beautiful, devastatingly sexy Integra, whomst I’m going to plow into the mattress tonight.” 

She chuckles, even though it turns her on. “Just say ‘whom’, you absolute barbarian.” 

“No,” he murmurs teasingly, one of his hands moving lower to grope her ass. “I misuse grammar, because I’m a bad, bad man...” 

“You make me sick,” Integra teases him back, even as her tone becomes sultry and she reaches to tug him down for a kiss..

 


 

“What do you mean, she isn’t sick?” Alucard says in disbelief. He’s so shocked that he forgets to look threatening. 

Dr. Trevelyan looks relieved at the lack of an outburst, but he also still looks grave. And that worries Alucard more than anything. The Hellsing family doctor has seen a plethora of illness and strange conditions in his years of service; not much phases him. “She isn’t ill, at least not in the traditional sense,” he explains. “I’ve taken her vital signs, listened to her heart and checked her body’s responses to external stimulation. Nothing is out of the ordinary-” 

“Except for that she won’t fucking wake up !” snaps Alucard, as he remembers his temper. “You’d call that ordinary?” 

“Alucard, do try and let the doctor finish,” Walter says tersely. It’s easy for the vampire to see the lines of worry on his longtime comrade’s face, and it makes his stomach feel even more oddly tight.

“Thank you, Walter,” Dr. Trevelyan says. He sighs. “There is clearly something wrong with Sir Hellsing. She is in a coma of some sort. However, it has not been physically initiated. Physically, she is in perfect health. I suspect, therefore, that there has been some magical or supernatural influence on her. Most likely while she slept. That is as much as I can surmise.” 

A pause. “Integra would know,” Alucard murmured, and his voice was weaker. He was almost muttering to himself. “She’d know what was wrong. She’s read so many books about that sort of thing…” He huffs, shaking his head, and turns to head into Integra’s bedroom to sit by her bed. 

Seras, Walter, and Dr. Trevelyan exchange nervous looks. “He’s lost it,” Dr. Trevelyan murmurs. 

“Let’s hope not,” Walter says sharply. “I am still unclear on whether Sir Integra’s waning influence will in turn release his bindings.” 

“I don’t think he’ll do anything rash,” Seras says, though her tone sounds doubtful at best. 

Walter merely grunts. “I’ll be on high alert these upcoming days, Seras, and I highly suggest you do the same.” 

He regards her carefully, and she realizes that he’s wondering whether or not she’ll side with Hellsing on the off chance that Alucard goes rogue. She stiffens. “Of course I will. I don’t want you to think otherwise. Hellsing has been good to me.” 

 


 

“Fuck, that feels good ,” Integra murmurs, her head lolling back. Her voice is a low whine. 

When he lifts his head from between her legs, he’s grinning like a fool. “Oh yeah?” His voice is raspy, his lips wet. “You like that?”

Integra narrows her eyes, kicking his back gently. “Don’t push it. You promised me more than just teasing, if you’ll recall.”

He chuckled. “You’re right, you’re right. More of this, or…?”

To answer his question, she clumsily sits up and pulled him by the shoulders until he’s on top of her. “I’m not going to plow myself, am I?” she teases, wrapping her legs around his hips. 

He groans. His mouth presses hot kisses into her neck, his hands caress her breasts, and she moans in return. “You’ll always have me there to do that for you,” he promises hoarsely. 

Tonight it’s slow, passionate, as it so often is. She lets out keening sighs with every thrust, wrapped around him as their bodies rock together.

“Love you, love you, love you,” he murmurs, and when she comes it’s her entire world. 

 


 

“There’s an entire world of research about comas in these books!” Seras whines, closing the book in her hands and throwing it across the table. “Supernatural, magical, whatever the bloody hell. How are we going to pick one?”

“We will,” Alucard says, without even looking at her. 

Without even telling her to stop whining, without calling her police girl. She had been whining specifically to get a reaction from him, because he has been so solemn that she’s almost convinced a part of him is dying too. 

“But… I just don’t know,” she says softly, picking up the next book in her pile with a heavy heart. “There’s so much to choose from. And… ooh. Witches. Witches are real? Have you met a witch?”

For the first time, Alucard looks up and at her properly, and his eyes glow with a newfound ferocity. “A witch,” he hisses, “That’s it. That’s what I smell.” 

“Really?” For the first time in a while, hope breaks through Seras’s frustration. 

He nods. “It’s the hint of sage.” Without another word, he sinks through the floor and Seras is left--as she somehow always is--to trek through the house and find him.

 


 

For some reason, she finds this game of theirs alluring. She puts on a white lace nightgown and plays the virgin, while he gets a manic look in his eye and plays the vampire. He ravishes her, but she often ends their romp as the mighty vampire hunter. Even if she’s the one getting staked in the most traditional sense.

Perhaps it’s the sheer physicality; her neck is a highly sensitive erogenous zone, and he finds it very alluring.

Perhaps it’s their shared obsession with horror movies; they’ve gone through every quality film out there, and all of the terrible ones as well. 

Or perhaps it has absolutely no meaning whatsoever. 

Whatever the reasoning, today it ends right as the first rays of sun creep in the room--waking up early being the only way the parents of a young child can enjoy each other. Taking a moment to muster her energy, she rolls them over so that he’s illuminated by the light and giggles breathlessly as he feigns a snarl and curses her family’s name before mustering up a pathetic death rattle.

Then they kiss, get showered, and he makes pancakes. 

“How many smaller ones should I make for the little princess?” he asks, flipping a large one perfectly even as he grins at her over his shoulder. 

“Mmm, she shouldn’t eat too many,” Integra answers, sipping her tea at the kitchen table and trying not to grin back at him like a fool. “Perhaps four? They are tiny…” 

“Then four it is,” he says, his voice almost a croon. After a moment more of cooking, he places the finished large pancake onto a plate and dots the pan with four small silver-dollar sized rounds of batter. A moment later, and he speaks.  “Integra?” 

“Yes?” 

“I love her. So much.”

She looks up at him and… he’s beaming, his eyes misty with happiness. 

“I love her too,” she says, but she’s frowning slightly. Something seems off. 

“I can’t believe she’s ours ,” he admits, his voice full of quiet wonder. “Her little hands and feet…”

The inflection of his words gives her the strongest sense of déjàs vu. 

“I know how you feel,” she says, and now her skin is breaking out in gooseflesh. For some reason. She forces a chuckle. “I think the sex is messing with your brain, Count . Just make the pancakes.” 

 


 

“All of this bloody text is hurting my brain,” Seras laments, mostly to herself as she massages her temples. “And I still can’t find any chapters on where witches hide. Couldn’t these academics have written books that people would actually want to read?” 

“Keep reading, Police Girl,” Alucard grunts without looking up. 

Seras sighs. It’s difficult being around him, now that he’s like this. She actually misses his stupid jokes and snide comments.

It’s also difficult to stay focused on research while she’s in a constant state of worrying so deeply for Integra. After so long without waking, Dr. Trevelyan had prescribed her an IV, and even still she seems thinner and paler. 

Not to mention the fact that Integra had confided in her some time ago that she’s terrified of needles. It’s stupid, because she’s unconscious, but Seras feels bad all the same. 

As she takes a break from the research to rub her eyes, Walter rushes in. “She… both of you, come!”

Moving inhumanly fast as vampires do, Seras and Alucard arrive just in time to see Integra in the midst of tossing and turning, smacking her lips and groaning. It’s over as soon as they come in, though, and when it’s over, it's as if it never happened.  

Walter catches up, running into the room, and it’s clear that he’s disappointed. “I thought… perhaps she was waking up,” he says softly. 

The look on his face is heartbreaking. No one’s ever told her this, but Seras has always been able to tell that he raised Integra like a daughter.

“That’s a good sign,” Alucard says quietly, and when Seras looks over she sees a savage smile on his face. He steps forward, gently taking Integra’s non-IV hand and squeezing it. “Master, you’re fighting it. I can tell. Don’t stop; we’ll get you back soon enough. I’ll slaughter the crone responsible, and make her choke on her own blood.” 

His words are violent, but the expression is somehow so tender that Seras has to look away. “I’ll go back to the books, I’ll keep looking,” she says softly. “Something’s telling me that we’re close.” 

 


 

Something has been off, lately.  

Integra can’t quite put her finger on it, but she can sense it. She decided to start studying Alucard more carefully, trying to keep her mind sharp. She’s worried, after all. He’s decidedly too young for dementia, but she’s heard of early onset cases before. 

Not that she’ll bring it up to him, of course. Not yet, anyway. There’s no point in worrying him for no reason. 

It’s certain phrases, she begins to realize. Nothing too significant; remarks about cooking and the like. Is it her imagination, or has he suggested making apple fritters around twenty times now without ever actually making them? 

Is it her imagination, or has he suggested the same silly action movie every movie night? When she tries suggesting something else, he gives her a blank look.

Is it her imagination, when sometimes, out of the corner of her eye, his form flickers? 

And thus, the first stirrings of fear and paranoia begin.

 


  

Emboldened by Integra’s stirring, Seras and Alucard work harder. Finally, they find two pieces of information invaluable to them: one, that English witches tend to reach the peak of their power in caves, and two, that they have to be within a mile’s distance of their victims to induce a comatose state.

There are only two caves within a mile’s distance from Hellsing manor. Easy as that. 

Seras and Alucard set off as soon as the sun sets, and they’re right on the first try. The scent of sage is so powerful when they walk in that it’s nearly overpowering. 

“Remember, Police Girl, she’ll come at us with every trick she has,” her master murmurs as they walk through the cave quietly. “But if you focus on your third eye, you’ll be able to see through it. All of it.” 

“Yes, master,” she whispers. She’s so nervous, she doesn’t even register the nickname. Sometimes she has difficulty focusing on her third eye; she’s still not exactly sure what it is, after all. 

There are a variety of traps inlaid in the mottled walls of the cave, some easily detectable and some not. At one point, acid rain falls from the stalactites, and it burns so badly that Seras has to sit for ten minutes to heal and recover. All the while, of course, Alucard berates her for never drinking any blood. Of course, he takes mere seconds to heal.

By the time that they find the witch, she’s still in a bit of pain and very irate, but still pauses to take in their surroundings. 

It’s the largest cavern they’ve seen yet, with a raised section of rock forming a neat platform lit liberally by waxy candles. A middle-aged woman in a brown cloak sits cross-legged in the center, her eyes closed in focus. She opens them in a moment and grins. “Took you look enough. Don’t think that I’m going to fight you all by myself.” 

A cacophony of creaking and grinding noises is the only warning the two vampires get before they are set upon by a small army of living rock. 

Even Alucard’s manic grin fades when they discover that the creatures regenerate as quickly as he does.

 


 

Her fear quickly escalates. 

Even when she tries to ignore it now, Alucard keeps glitching. And the more she looks, the easier it is to see. His speech catches, repeats, his form keeps flickering, his eyes glow red or sink blackly into his skull. 

One day she’s brave enough to bring it up, but he looks at her absently and his pupils slit. She never mentions it after that.

And then one dreadful morning, she realizes that Madeline has chosen the same outfit to wear as the day before. And the day before that, and the day before that.

Her blood runs cold, her mind racing. It isn’t just Alucard. My baby, oh, God, my baby.

And it isn’t just Madeline, either. It’s deeper, she knows this. As she sits in the bathroom one evening with the door locked--the only place she knows Alucard won’t disturb her--she tries as hard as she can to remember exactly what happened at work that day. And fails. 

Come to think of it, does she know exactly what she does for a living? She knows that she’s answered when people have asked, but she doesn’t remember what she answered. Nor who asked. 

With each discovery after nasty discovery, things get impossibly worse. As if her fear takes form, shadows began to flicker in and out of view. Furniture moves every time she turns her back, auditory hallucinations cry her name. 

And she can’t even begin to figure out how to escape it, because part of her doesn’t want to escape it. It’s as if she’s trapped in a living, breathing hell of her own creation.

Until one day she gets home from work, and he is waiting for her. And when he says “Mrs. Hellsing” with that same achingly beautiful expression of sheer love on his face, she can’t bear it. 

“I don’t think you’re real,” she blurts, and her throat aches with the threat of tears. “Oh, Alucard…” Surprising both of them, she falls into his arms and buries her face in his chest. 

“Integra…” His words trail off, even as he wraps his arms automatically around her, and she knows that he has nothing more to say.

“I’m sorry,” she murmurs, looking up at his blank expression. “I’m so sorry. I want you to be real, I… do you remember how we met? God, Alucard, please. Tell me how we met.” 

This is one of his prepared scripts, she knows. He immediately relaxes with a smile, leaning in to kiss her forehead. “Oh, you remember. I ran into you on the sidewalk with a mug full of coffee. You were so angry, and I was so spellbound. I offered to pay for your designer suit, even if there was no way I could afford it, simply so that I would see you again…”

“And I was so mad at you,” she murmurs, looking up at his vacant, glitching expression. A tear trickles down her cheek. “So mad, but so very soon I was falling in love, so happy… Do you remember our wedding day? I don’t. God, I don’t, but I’m so glad it happened, I’m so glad…” 

Now Madeline comes running, her beaming face oblivious to her mother’s distress, and Integra pulls away from Alucard to scoop her daughter up for what she knows to be the last time. “It’s time to say goodbye. I’ll miss you, I’ll miss you so much. Madeline, I’ll never forget you. I will always love you.” 

And then she wakes up in Hellsing Manor, sitting up in her familiar four-poster bed. Immediately, she bursts into sobs. 

 


 

They kill the witch, finally. But not because of a surge in their power; something else happens. She loses her concentration, somehow. Her eyes widen, and in that moment the rock figures lose their spark of life. Without hesitation, Alucard plunges a hand through her chest and crushes her heart; he’s got no energy left to mock her, Seras can tell. Both of them are exhausted and barely healing.

“She’s awake,” he murmurs, and puts his clean hand on Seras’s shoulder to take them home. 

When they arrive, Sir Integra is sobbing. Seras’s relief at seeing her master’s master awake is quickly eclipsed by her concern, and she only stops in her tracks when Alucard rushes to Integra’s side.

“Integra,” he murmurs, looking as if he would like to reach out and physically comfort her but clearly too afraid to do so. “Integra, what’s--”

Integra looks up at him, and Seras is shocked to see grief in her eyes. “Don’t come near me!” she shrieks, pushing him away and covering her eyes. “Stay away! I don’t want to see you, get out of my sight!”

He looks as if he’s been slapped. “Yes, master,” he says softly, before sinking through the floor. 

“Master Integra?” Seras says timidly, stepping forward and putting a hand on Integra’s arm. “Honestly, he’s just worried. We were all worried, so worried, and I’m so glad you’re--”

“Just go, Seras,” Integra says, and her voice is teary and exhausted. She pulls away from Seras’s hand, wiping her eyes. “Please. Just go.” 

And so Seras leaves. She’s about to pass out from weariness, anyway. 

 


 

For the few following weeks, one obvious question is on everyone’s lips. What happened to you, Sir Integra?

But whatever Integra saw, she isn’t sharing. Not to Seras, not to Alucard, not to Walter, and not even to Dr. Trevelyan. When pointedly asked about seeing a psychiatrist, she throws a chair at the man. 

It doesn’t take a doctor to see that she’s ailing, though. Mentally and physically. No fencing practise, no runs on her treadmill. She doesn’t drink nor smoke. And she barely eats, already thin from her time being fed only from the IV. 

Everyone is worried, and no one more so than Alucard. It’s unnatural to him, how his master avoids his company. Before her time unconscious, the two of them would drink and gossip together. And now, she can’t even look him in the eye. 

He can’t help but feel somewhat hurt. And lonely; before her time unconscious, Integra had been providing him with the company he never previously knew that he was missing. Without her to speak to, he feels isolated and disgruntled. 

And rejected. Why does she hate me? What can I do?

 


 

She’s always prided herself on her mental strength. 

After her initial outburst caused by her rude awakening, the pain receded enough to the point where Integra could almost fool herself into thinking that she was past the matter altogether. How could she not? The witch was dead, the curse was over. 

But it was when her guard let down that it began creeping back. The memories, mostly. She tries to pick up her fork at dinner and is flooded by memories of coaxing Madeline to eat her peas, causing nausea and grief to roll over her like a thunderstorm. 

She tries to brush her hair and drops the brush like it’s searing hot, remembering how Alucard--the dream Alucard--liked to brush it in long, slow strokes, making sure to get all the tangles out while telling her how beautiful it was. 

And of course, the dreams are the worst of it all. When she closes her eyes, it’s like she’s back there; her dreams of domestic bliss cling to her with no sign of ever letting go. 

The ideal endgame would be that she would fight off her insecurities with work. After all, she’s still Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, and she still has all the same gifts that caused her to thrive in the position; confidence, charisma, intelligence, and bravery. 

But she’s tired. She’s exhausted, in fact. Was this really how her life was, before the witch? Working without end, without anyone to love and take care of her? 

Am I still the same person? Am I still Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing? I don’t feel like her. I don’t… I don’t even think that I fully remember what it is to feel like her.

I don’t even know if I want to feel like her.

What if the witch’s curse isn’t over? 

 


 

The breaking point is the magazine. 

The lobby of Hellsing Manor has an array of additions designed to keep waiting guests comfortable; a glass water pitcher, a covered platter of whatever freshly baked goods are in house, a television monitor, a few daily newspapers, and an array of magazines from the last two or three months. 

She goes into the lobby every so often, to greet the decidedly more important guests that come to visit or if she needs to take a shortcut between the library and the dining room. Today it is the latter, and meant to be a short trip. But halfway through the empty room, she stops in her tracks. 

There, prominently displayed amongst the magazines, is Madeline. Or, more accurately, there is a little girl, no more than three or four years old, on the cover of a magazine aimed at parents. 

Integra’s vision tunnels around the picture, blackness creeping in as her limbs grow weak. “No…” It’s a weak noise, pathetic and heartbroken, and she doesn’t even realize that she’s falling.

“Master!”

She never makes it to the floor; instead, she falls into cold, hard arms. Gently Alucard carries her to an armchair, sitting her down and kneeling before her. “Master, I-” 

“Leave me alone.” 

 


 

Leave me alone? She might as well have slapped him, for how raw and gaping her words make him feel. 

Alucard is about to oblige, to sink into the floor and get lost in self-hatred, but something inside him snaps. Technically, she hasn’t given him an order. “Integra, you need to try and help me understand,” he says firmly, reaching out to grip gently at her upper arms. 

She looks shocked at his words, shocked that he didn’t oblige her. “There’s nothing to understand!” she snaps. “I’m fine!” Her eyes are glistening, overflowing with tears.

“Integra, you’re crying ,” he snaps back, reaching to wipe a tear away with his thumb and show it to her. “Whatever’s happened, you’re not fine. You’re the furthest thing from fine. You’re barely eating or sleeping. You’re not working, and Hellsing is suffering for it. At the very least, think of your duty towards Queen and Country. You need to talk about it, and I want to help you.” 

Her expression changes as he talks, from angry grief to simple grief to resignation. He feels as if he’s broken through, and then is completely taken by surprise by the next words out of her mouth.

“Then kiss me.”

His eyes widen. “ What ? Integra...  you’re not well, you need to-” 

“Don’t fucking patronize me,” she hisses. “Don’t you fucking dare. And don’t look at me like some sort of invalid. You asked if there was anything you could do, and I bloody well answered. Kiss me.” 

It’s still not an order. 

And he kisses her. How could he not? How could he not, when he’s been wanting to for years? 

Her lips are so warm, so soft against his. He lets out a soft whine as she grips at him, a hand in his hair as she returns the embrace with such passion that all thoughts of her distress are forgotten. 

The kiss continues, and Alucard’s mind is racing. Can I touch her? Does she want that? He could put a hand on her breast, up her shirt, down her trousers or simply just stroke her hair with the love and tenderness that she deserves, and as he thinks his shadows fill the room and eldritch hissing joins the sounds of their lips...

Suddenly and roughly, she pushes him away. 

He isn’t ready for it, falling to the ground with a soft thud as he looks at her in absolute confusion. “What?” 

“It’s not the same!” she screams, her eyes wild. 

Remembering her fragile mental state, Alucard feels wretched. Taking a deep breath, he rises back up on his knees and cups her cheeks in his hands. She’s shaking. He holds her carefully, trying to ground her. What a joke that is. A mad dog calming its master. “What are you talking about?” he asked carefully. 

“Don’t touch me. Don’t touch me! I’ll never get it back, not ever!” She grips his wrists and tugs, trying to get his hands off of her. “Don’t you understand? It’s not over, Alucard! It will never be over!”

He lets go. There’s no more than a half foot of space between them, but it might as well be an ocean. “Integra,” he murmurs. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

“The curse !” she shrieks, her hands going to her own hair and tugging roughly. “The witch’s curse!” 

“Don’t hurt yourself,” he says desperately. “Integra, please, don’t. Do you want me to leave?” 

“No,” she says immediately, burying her face in her hands. “No, I don’t.” 

So he stays. After ten minutes or so of silence, she reaches out with one hand, and he takes it.