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Alucard’s shoulders tensed and he drew himself closer to the counter as laughter erupted behind him. The tavern was filled with wild men and obnoxious women enjoying their time off from their work as evening fell. He kept his gaze on the stone counter and wrapped his hands around his mug of warm cider. He was beginning to regret taking his companions here, but Richter and Maria were getting cold after a long day of hunting in the winter forests, so he thought it good to take them somewhere where they could get warm. 

A huge fire was alight in the fireplace, making the room a little too warm and stuffy for the dhampir’s comfort. The smell of alcohol and husky men did not provide a pleasant environment, and arguments were breaking out left and right. Alucard quickly glanced behind him to make sure his companions were still there. He spotted Richter easily, with his long blue coat, and the lady Maria was sitting nearby, warm mug in her hand as she laughed.

Just a few more minutes, Alucard thought to himself. Then we can leave, then we can get out

A slender hand rested on the dhampir’s arm, and he jumped, looking up from the counter. A young lady was leaning against the counter, her smile sultry, and the hem of her dress cut a little too low. Her eyelids hung low over her eyes, and now both of her hands were running up and down Alucard’s arm.

“Why, hello there,” she said, her voice airy and sweet. “I’ve never seen you around these parts.”

Alucard pulled his arm away from her and set a stern gaze, ignoring her attempts at conversation.  She persisted anyway.

“Where are you from, gorgeous?” she asked, and leaned closer. “Are you looking for a good time? I could show you one for free; someone as beautiful as you—”

Alucard jerked away from the woman and gave her a threatening glare.

“I am not interested in whatever you have to offer,” he said, his voice low. “Now please, leave me be.”

The woman pouted and scowled, slowly walking away from the dhampir as she searched for her next prey. Alucard let out a heavy sigh. Richter suddenly walked up behind him and rested a hand on his shoulder. 

“Hey, Alucard, are you doing okay?” he asked.

“I am fine,” the dhampir responded. 

“Good, good. Maria and I are going to pick some things up from the market quickly, then we can all head home. You stay here, all right? We won’t take long.”

Alucard nodded, and watched as his companions left the tavern. Maria smiled at him and gave him a small wave, before stepping out into the chilly evening air. 

The dhampir turned back towards the counter and took a sip from his mug. A warm feeling settled in his stomach, and he had to admit, it felt nice to be able to enjoy the warmth of human food and drinks. He drank some more of his cider and tried to relax, blocking out the noise of the people around him. 

He became lost in his own thoughts for a while, when a strange feeling suddenly rose up in his chest. He began to feel sick, nausea tugging at his insides. The room began to tilt in front of him, voices and objects blurring into strange colors and sounds. Alucard tried standing to his feet so that he could get some fresh air outside, but he stumbled, and thought it best to remain seated. The dhampir brought a hand to his eyes and closed them, taking deep breaths as he tried to calm down. Something was happening to him, and he didn’t know the reason why. He began to shiver, so he reached for his mug to calm his nerves, or warm him up—whichever was most useful. Alucard took a few sips, but to his dismay, he began to feel worse. He tried to keep himself together, but he was losing strength in his body, and he began to slump forward. Silence engulfed him, and everything went black. 

***

“Maria,” Richter said. “Alucard’s waiting.”

“I know, I know,” the huntress said. “Just one more moment, let me look at these cloaks.”

“Maria. We’ve been gone for thirty minutes. I told him that we would pick some things up quickly, and that it wouldn’t take long.”

“Richter, thirty minutes is not long at all.”

The Belmont sighed. “What do you consider a long time, then?”

“Hm...” Maria thought for a moment. “Four hours. Four hours is a long time.”

Richter choked. “Oh, God, no. Four hours is way too long. How do you put up with shopping for four hours?”

Maria laughed. “What can I say? I like to shop and look at pretty things.”

“Yeah, ‘pretty things’ like Alucard, in your eyes. You know, the man who’s been sitting alone in a rowdy tavern for thirty minutes? The poor guy.”

“Fine, fine,” Maria relented. “Let’s go then. Lead the way.”

Richter smiled in satisfaction, and made his way back to the tavern, with Maria close behind. He approached the crooked wooden door and turned the handle, gesturing inside. 

“Right this way, my lady,” he said with a grin. 

Maria giggled and rolled her eyes as she stepped inside. Her expression quickly fell when she didn’t immediately see a head of pale-blonde hair by the bar counter. The huntress looked around in confusion, pushing past people and shoving chairs aside. 

“Alucard?” she called. “Alucard, are you in here?”

She glanced back at Richter, who looked confused.

“Is he not here?” he asked. 

“I don’t know, I don’t see him anywhere. He shouldn’t be that hard to spot...”

Richter frowned. “All right, we need to split up, ask around for him. I’m sure he’s around here somewhere.”

***

Alucard woke with a gasp, chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath. He soon noticed that something was restricting him, and making it difficult to breathe. He was reclined on a hard surface, and he tried to sit up, but he couldn’t move. Alucard told himself not to panic, but it was difficult not to. He didn’t know where he was, or what was going on. 

The dhampir closed his eyes to gather his thoughts, then he opened them and looked down. He saw that there were chains wrapped around his body, and he was tied down to a stone counter—a thick block of stone that was coarse and rough on his skin. The fact that he could feel the stone brought his attention to his clothes. His cloak and coat were missing, as well as his vest, gloves and cravat.

“What happened to me...?” he muttered. 

The room was dark and windowless, with only one wooden door behind him. The air was damp and musty, and it smelled like dirt and stale alcohol. Before he could think of what to do next, Alucard heard the door open behind him. A faint light shown in the room, and four tall figures walked by the stone counter. One of the figures held a lantern above Alucard’s face, and he squinted against the light after being in total darkness for so long. 

“Well look what we have here,” a gruff voice said. “It’s awake.”

Alucard’s heart sank in his chest as he began to realize what this was. 

“Oi, I’d hope so,” another voice said. “Or else I’d have to wake it up so it could cower in fear at what we’re about to do to it.”

Laughter broke out in the small room, and the dhampir’s heart began to beat faster in his chest.

“What do you want from me?” Alucard asked, his tone dark. “Why have you done this?”

One man laughed, a large man with ripped sleeves that showed off his arms. 

“Because, night creature,” he snarled. “You are disgusting. You’re a filthy abomination upon this Earth when you’re all alive and put together.”

“We need your parts!” another man chimed in; a shorter man with a large beard.

The man holding the lantern—a brute with a dirty coat—hung the lantern on a hook above Alucard’s position. 

“Vampire fangs are worth a lot if you know who you’re selling them too,” he said. 

The last man, a scrawny one, moved up and grabbed Alucard’s hair. 

“And hair like that!” he shouted. “That will earn us at least a few weeks’ salary.”

The dhampir hissed and jerked his head away from the scrawny man. 

“Release me, or you shall regret everything you’ve done up to this point,” Alucard said. “I am not what you think I am.”

“A vampire?” the man with the coat asked. “Yeah, right. You’ve got the eyes, the teeth, and the skin of a monster.”

Alucard struggled against the chains once again, but he noticed that they got tighter the more he moved. 

“Those chains are magic,” the short man commented. “Try not to move around too much, or your insides will lose their value in the trading business.”

“We’re traders, you see,” the large man said. “Just passing though. We’ll be in and out in no time.” He leaned in closer to Alucard’s face. “Nobody will even notice that you’re gone...”

Alucard jerked again, but winced as the chains pinched his skin. 

“As if anyone cares about this creature in the first place.”

The men laughed again, and the man with the coat began to unbutton Alucard’s shirt. The dhampir could do nothing but watch in horror.

“Oh?” the man paused. “What’s this, now?”

The other men gathered around and their expressions became those of curiosity.

“What is this, creature?” the scrawny man demanded. “Who was able to do a number on you like this?” 

He traced his rough, bony finger along the large scar that ran across Alucard’s chest. The dhampir shivered as he remembered the trauma that earned him that scar. 

“Now tell me, creature,” the scrawny man continued. “What sort of weapon did this? How was somebody able to leave a scar on a vampire who can regenerate?”

“It is something you will never be able to replicate,” Alucard said. 

No weapon would be as powerful as the claws of Count Dracula.

“Is that so?” the large man mocked. “You think so little of us, do you?” He pulled out a hunting knife. “We’ve been in this business for years. How dare you doubt us, little monster.”

The man suddenly plunged the knife into Alucard’s thigh, and the dhampir cried out in pain. 

“Oi, quiet it down!” the short man said to his companion. “They may be loud out there, but we don’t want to take any risks!”

“Right, right,” the large man said. 

He gave the knife a sharp twist in Alucard’s leg before grabbing a rag from a nearby table. It was filthy and slightly damp, but he shoved it into the dhampir’s mouth nonetheless, to smother his screams. 

Alucard’s chest rose and fell in smothered gasps. His leg was going numb, but not before he felt the knife being ripped violently out of his thigh. Blood poured from the wound at an alarming rate, and he felt himself getting dizzy. 

“I’ll ask you again,” the scrawny man said slowly. “Where did you get that scar?”

Alucard couldn’t speak whether he wanted to or not, due to the rag in his mouth, and the men laughed at his efforts before the scrawny man moved to pulled the rag away.

“Careful,” one man warned jokingly. “It might bite you!”

The men laughed again.

“Right. As if it would take that risk, knowing what we can well do to it.”

The scrawny man grabbed the rag, but as soon as it was lifted away from Alucard’s mouth, the dhampir lurched forward and sank his fangs into the man’s hand. He shrieked and pulled his hand up, jerking Alucard’s head back in the process. But the dhampir was resilient, and he bit down harder.

“Get it off! Get it off!” the man screamed. 

The trader’s blood dripped into Alucard’s mouth and onto his white shirt. A man punched him hard in the face, forcing him to release his grip on the scrawny man’s hand. The dhampir groaned, but used a bit of his energy to cast a small spell.

“Dark Metamorphosis,” he whispered to himself. 

“What did it just say?” a trader asked. “What’s it doing over there?”

“Look!” another exclaimed. “Look at its leg!”

The human’s blood moved to Alucard’s leg, and his flesh was woven anew with the added magic of the spell he cast. The dhampir suddenly received another blow to the face.

“Tell me what gave you that scar!” the large man shouted. “Or next time, I’ll gut your insides!”

Alucard remained silent in defiance. 

“All right. Have it your way.”

The man approached with the knife again. Alucard exhaled slowly and closed his eyes. 

Cold metal quickly sank deep into his abdomen, and with the rag removed, he cried out in pure agony. 

***

Richter searched through the old tavern for his dhampir companion, when he suddenly heard what sounded like a muffled scream. His eyes scanned the surroundings, but all he saw were big burly townspeople and overturned furniture. With a sigh of resignation, he made his way to Maria, who was on the other side of the tavern. She was speaking with an older lady, asking if she had seen Alucard. 

“I saw a young gentleman over there by the counter,” the woman said. “Don’t know where he disappeared to, though.”

Maria sighed. “Thank you, I’ll keep looking.” 

The huntress turned and saw Richter coming towards her. She frowned and shook her head. 

“I don’t know where he is, Richter,” she said. “I’m worried about him. What if he’s in danger? What if—?”

“Stop, Maria,” Richter said gently. “Don’t think about such things. He can take care of himself.”

“But why would he leave without saying anything?”

“I don’t know, but I’m sure he had a good reason.”

Maria stared blankly past Richter's shoulder, trying to figure out what to do next, when a man suddenly caught her eye. He was a scrawny, rough-looking man, and he was carrying a pile of what looked like clothes. 

“Richter!” Maria gasped. “Richter, look! That looks like Alucard’s coat!”

“Maria, wait—”

Maria was already making her way towards the man, and Richter had no choice but to follow.

“Hey! Hey, mister!” Maria called. “Where did you get those clothes?”

The man stopped and stared at Maria. 

“I was told to wash them, now get out of my way,” he replied, shoving past her.

“How rude—hey! Hey, come back!” 

Maria followed the man, and leaned around him to observe. She noticed blood on his hand, and there was more streaming down his arm.

“What happened to your hand?” Maria asked.

The man ignored her and continued walking, as Richter caught up to them. 

“Those are puncture wounds, Maria,” he said quietly. “Two of them. Like fang marks.”

Maria nodded and they followed the scrawny man outside. As soon as they were out of the tavern, Richter grabbed the back of the man’s shirt and cornered him against the wall of the building. 

“We will not ask you again,” he said slowly, angrily. “Where did you get those clothes?”

“Why do you care?” the man asked defiantly. 

“The man you took those from—he’s our friend. He’s gone missing. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about—”

“Yes, you do!” Richter exclaimed. He put his hand on his whip, which was hanging from his belt. “And if you want to go home unharmed tonight, I suggest you start giving me some information.”

Maria took a defensive stance behind her companion. 

“Go on!” she said. “Speak!”

The man suddenly pulled out a dagger and nearly cut Richter with it, but the Belmont was quicker, and he swung his whip, catching the man’s hand with it and pulling him to the ground. The scrawny man tried to escape, but Richter kept him pinned down.

“Would you like to see how this little conflict will end?” Richter asked. 

The man shook his head. Raindrops began to fall as the sky darkened. 

“I-I don’t know what’s happening to him now,” the man stuttered. “But my men had him in a room, a secret room in the back of the tavern.”

“Now, how did our friend end up in there?” 

“I-I paid the bartender to spike his drink. It wasn’t my fault! I was following my boss’s orders!”

“I’m sure you were,” Maria mumbled, disgusted.

“What are they doing to him?” Richter demanded. 

The man suddenly slammed his head into Richter’s own, catching the hunter off-guard. He squirmed free and got to his feet, throwing the dhampir’s belongings to Maria before bolting down the street.

“Come back!” Maria cried, as she began to chase after him.

“Maria, no!” Richter called. “Forget about him, we know where Alucard is now. We need to get back inside.”

The huntress sighed. “You’re right. Let’s go.”

The two bolted back into the tavern, and shoved their way to the back of the building.

“Over there!” Maria exclaimed. “Look!”

She pointed to a small wooden door with no doorknob. It was located in a dark corner behind the counter. Richter jumped over the counter and pulled the door open.

“Hey! You can’t go back there!” the bartender cried, but the hunters paid him no mind.

Richter froze in the doorway of the dark room, Maria right behind him.

“What is it?” Maria asked. 

“It’s...empty.”

***

Alucard struggled against the big men who held his arms back, but with blood pouring profusely from his stomach, it was difficult to stand, much less fight back. The men had taken him outside, and were leading him away from the tavern. The sun was setting and rain was falling heavily. 

“Have it your way, monster!” the large man said. “If you don’t want to speak, we’ll leave you here to rot!”

The dhampir lashed out, and with a swift, weak motion of his claws, he cut deep scratches into the trader’s arm.

“Beast!” the trader shouted furiously. “You’re going to regret that.”

He rushed at Alucard and slammed him into the stone wall of a nearby building. The dhampir’s head hit the wall hard, the sound of his skull on the stone resonating down the alleyway. The impact dazed him for a moment too long, and he was shoved to the ground. The big trader pinned the dhampir down, and drew his knife. He held it against Alucard’s jaw and slowly cut deeply through his flesh, the blade nearly hitting bone. The dhampir refused to cry out, even when his fang began to pierce his lip as he held back even the slightest whimper. 

“Is that not enough for you, creature?” the trader asked. “Don’t you worry—I’ll make you scream.”

The man suddenly moved the knife down and sliced Alucard’s stomach. All he received from the dhampir was a sharp hiss. The large man stood to his feet and looked at his companions. 

“Have at it. I’m tired of playing its games,” he said. 

“Our pleasure,” the trader with the coat snarled. 

The short man delivered a swift kick to Alucard’s side. The dhampir writhed in pain as the impact reached the wounds on his abdomen. The short man grabbed his pale-blonde locks and pulled upwards, forcing Alucard to follow. By now the dhampir was limp and losing consciousness. His eyes were nearly closed, and he was trembling. He heard a knife being unsheathed, and he felt the blade graze across the stands of his hair. Alucard fell to his knees, and noticed a lighter feeling around his head. 

“Look at this, you vampire bastard!” the short man called. “This’ll get me plenty of coin—the hair of a night creature!”

The men burst into obnoxious laughter. His mind couldn’t process what all was happening, as he felt the world tilting around him.

Then all he could feel was smothering darkness.

***

“We have to search the town,” Maria said, and she immediately turned to exit the tavern. 

The huntress walked briskly down the cobblestone streets as the sun dipped below the horizon. She then picked up a slight jog, which soon turned into a sprint as she frantically searched every corner of the town. Richter made sure to stay close behind. They stopped after about half an hour, with still no sign of their dhampir friend. 

“Richter...” Maria said, her voice shaky with worry. “I’m scared. What if he’s really hurt? What if someone took him far away? I-I can’t—”

“No, Maria,” Richter said. “Don’t think that way. We’re going to find him, I promise you. Don’t give up.”

Maria bit her lip and nodded. The sky was dark, and the rain was falling heavily now. Maria was cold and tired, but she had to keep looking. She walked past building after building, glancing down different alleyways. As she turned a corner down a particularity dark alley, she gasped and froze.

“What is it?” Richter asked. 

He looked just as tired as Maria felt, and his damp hair stuck to his forehead and fell limply down his shoulders, but he stood tall against the threat of harm to Alucard. 

“It’s him!” Maria exclaimed with a smile on her face. “Alucard!” 

She ran down the alley to the dhampir, but her expression immediately fell as she took in the sight of him. Maria knelt down beside his broken body, Richter coming up behind her.

Alucard lay on his side, blood and rainwater soaking through his thin white shirt. His eyes were closed and his expression was lifeless. Maria noticed that his hair was unevenly chopped around his head. The dhampir’s skin was cold to the touch, and paler than Maria had seen in a long time.

“What happened to him?” Richter whispered. “Alucard?”

The Belmont knelt down and gently turned the dhampir onto his back. There were bruises all over his once marble skin, littered across his cheeks in shades of sickly purple. Alucard did not respond, his chest barely moving with weak, feeble breaths. 

“He barely has a pulse,” Maria said, gripping Alucard’s wrist. 

She moved his shirt up to find the source of the blood, and she gasped, recoiling and covering her mouth as she discovered a large stab wound in the dhampir’s abdomen, along with a deep cut into his stomach. The huntress looked up at Richter with tears in her eyes. 

“Richter, please...” she pleaded. “Please, we need to help him. Take him home. He’s been through so much; why does this keep happening to him?”

Richter shook his head. “Some people are just cruel, Maria,” he said solemnly. “They gain pleasure out of harming people they deem lesser than themselves. It’s sick.”

Maria sniffed and wiped her eyes. “Can you carry him?”

“Of course.”

Richter carefully looped his arms under Alucard’s knees and back, then slowly stood to his feet. Alucard hung limply in the hunter’s arms, not showing any signs of life.

“Those thugs are going to pay for what they did to him,” Maria said, her tone dark. 

“Maria, calm down,” Richter said. “Don’t worry about them right now. We just need to get Alucard home.”

The huntress didn’t look convinced, but she followed Richter as he began to make his way to Maria’s house. Alucard wasn’t heavy at all—in fact, he was almost too light for his stature—but Richter made no comment in order to spare Maria some worry. 

After a while, the hunters finally made it to Maria’s small house. Maria opened the door and let Richter in. He made sure to maneuver around any furniture or doorways, in order not to hit the dhampir’s head on anything. Maria guided them into Alucard’s bedroom, and Richter set him gently on the bed. 

Maria looked at the dhampir, scrutinizing every wound that she could find on his small-framed body. Her heart hurt as she looked at his head, his face...

“His hair,” Maria whispered. “They even took his hair...”

She ran her fingers through the golden locks, still long, but shorter than they were before, sliced sloppily by an unsteady hand with a hunting knife. The dhampir’s once luscious curls and waves were now matted, tangled, and tainted with dirt and blood. 

“It’ll be all right, Maria,” Richter said, in an attempt to comfort her. “We can easily fix that. We just need a little soap and water, a comb, and then you can fix the ends. You’ve cut my hair before, and it looks rather nice.” He gave her a small smile. “I’m sure he’d be happy to let you trim the uneven ends.” 

Maria gave a smile with misty eyes. “Okay.”

The two companions spent the rest of the night taking care of Alucard. Maria removed and replaced his soaked shirt and dried him of the rainwater. Richter dressed the more severe wounds, while Maria cleaned the small cuts and tended to the bruises. Alucard’s body slowly began to heal on its own, but he remained unconscious. 

Maria began to fear that he was purposely putting himself in that state of hibernation, to hide away from what had happened to him. She wondered if he would have even cared if something had gotten to him while he was laid out in the dark alley, in the cold rain.

“Alucard...” Maria said softly. “Alucard, sweetheart, can you hear me?”

He didn’t move. 

“It’s Maria,” she tried again, her hand moving to stroke his hair. “I’m sure you know that already, but I’m here. I’m here for you now. I’m sorry I left with Richter for such a long time. I’m sorry I left you alone in an unfamiliar world.” She looked down at the floor. “If we had been there with you, none of this would have happened. I’m so sorry...”

“No...”

Maria looked up at Alucard, and felt his thin fingers wrap around her wrist. He was cold, and trembling slightly. His eyes were not open, but Maria could see his lips moving ever so slightly as he spoke. 

“Not your fault...” he whispered, voice hoarse. “I-I could have done better...”

“What?” Maria asked, confused. “What do you mean?”

The dhampir merely shook his head, before he felt himself slipping back into the dark. 

“Alucard, stay with me please,” Maria said. “Stay here with me. I know you want to sleep, and you want to shut yourself away, but you have people here who care about you. Richter and I—we care about you.”

“She’s right, you know,” Richter said, walking into the room after putting away some bandages.

Alucard stirred slightly at the sound of Richter’s voice. 

“Thank you...” he mumbled, his voice heavy with sleep and exhaustion. 

“Alucard,” Maria began. “Can you do me a favor please?”

The dhampir hummed in response. 

“Can you sit up for me? Open your eyes?”

Alucard thought that was an odd request, of all things, but he obliged. His eyes opened slowly, revealing his bright golden irises, shadowed by long black lashes. He used his arm to prop himself up, and Maria helped him gently, so as not to disturb his healing abdomen. Alucard looked at her with hazy eyes, half-lidded and so, so tired. 

“What is your wish, lady?” he asked.

“I just want to look at you,” she replied. “I want to see you awake and alive. I only wish that you were happy.”

Alucard averted his gaze, a frown tugging at his lips. “I am content with your companionship and your kindness.”

“But are you happy?”

He took a deep breath as if to speak, but nothing came out. 

“It’s okay, Alucard,” Richter said gently. “We don’t expect anything from you.”

Alucard nodded. “I try to be happy for you. I do. I am sorry that it does not always work out.”

“Sweetheart, don’t apologize,” Maria said. “I know you try, but fate is not always kind to you. I do want you to know though, that Richter and I are always here for you. We are here to help you, and to give you a friend or two.”

Maria smiled at him, a warm smile that only the innocence of the young woman could produce. Alucard felt the slightest bit of warmth inside of him and his lips turned ever so slightly upwards at the feeling. 

Richter grinned mischievously, and it reminded the dhampir of a Belmont he knew centuries ago. Alucard’s smile grew bigger—it wasn’t much, but it was enough to make Maria’s night. She loved his smile, and she loved seeing him happy. 

Maria leaned forward suddenly and wrapped her arms around Alucard. He froze for a moment before returning the gesture. She smothered him in her human warmth, and he loved the feeling. 

“Hey, Alucard,” Richter called suddenly.

The dhampir broke free from the embrace and looked to the Belmont. 

“How would you like if Maria did your hair?”

Alucard nearly choked. “Pardon?” 

Richter laughed at his reaction. “I only meant that she could even out your hair again, you know, get you cleaned up a bit.”

“Richter!” Maria blushed. 

Alucard looked amused. “That would be just fine.”

Maria beamed. “Really?”

He nodded. 

“Okay!” Maria cheered, but quickly calmed herself, slightly embarrassed. “But we can do that in the morning. For now, you need to get some rest, and perhaps we can also hunt down those disgusting pigs who—”

“Maria,” Richter said sternly. “It’s not our place. They will be punished for their sins in the long run. If you go out seeking revenge, you will be just as bad as them.”

And just as bad as my father, Alucard thought, but quickly diminished it.

Revenge was a concept that had affected him more than anyone would know.

“You’re right...I’m sorry,” Maria sighed. 

“It’s okay,” Richter said. “Cheer up, everyone. We’re all here, we’re all safe, and we’ll all get a nice rest tonight, topped off with a hearty breakfast in the morning.”

Maria grinned. “That sounds good to me.”

Alucard nodded in agreement. Richter left the room to go to bed, so only Maria remained with the dhampir.

“Are you all right, Alucard?” she asked quietly. 

“I am fine, lady,” he replied. “Just tired.”

“I’d imagine. Would you like to me to leave so you can rest?”

He looked up at her lively green eyes. “You can stay here, if you wish.”

“Really? Why?”

“I quite enjoy your company.”

He gave her a small smile. Maria couldn’t have been happier. Alucard moved over on the bed, suggesting that she could join him. She happily obliged, getting under the thin blanket with the beautiful half-human. Alucard was trapped between Maria and the wall, but he wasn’t uneasy. The huntress suddenly brought her arm over and around him, careful to mind his bandages. 

“Good night, Alucard,” she said softly, sweetly, and ignoring the fact that he was slightly flustered. 

It was cute.

“Good night, Maria,” he said. “Thank you, for everything.”

“Of course.”

The huntress placed a soft kiss to his forehead, and hugged him tight. 

He hadn’t felt that safe in a very long time.