Rating: R for language, and mentions of RAPE and M/M SLASH. Don't like, then don't read.
Disclaimer: Castlevania and its characters and situations are the sole property of Konami. I am making no money or profit off of this fanfiction and no copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: AU. What if Joachim Armster had lived through his fight with Leon Belmont? What might have been different? Well hang on, because Joachim is going to tell you all about it. From his kidnapping and forced turning to his rescue from the ruins of Walter's castle, and from Trevor's birth and to Richter's death of old age, he tells all - and blames it all on Leon while he's at it.
Section Summary: Part 7 covers Order of Shadows up to Christopher's death.
The next two years were quiet. As we had been, everyone kept a close watch in case the one that had killed Soleil and Irina made a reappearance, but nothing happened. Desmond and Zoe kept up with their training, and no one was surprised when, in 1614, nine year old Delores asked her grandfather for permission to join her siblings. Christopher, though he was slowing down as his age began to caught up with him, agreed without hesitation.
Sixteen year old Desmond began to shoulder more and more of the work of being Lord Belmont as Christopher grew tired and slow. During the children's training, he seemed to be the one primarily moving things along while Christopher watched and gave advice from the side.
"I feel awful for leaning on him so much." Christopher admitted as he watched the children, with Desmond in the lead and Zoe not far behind, run a course around the houses, "but I just can't keep up anymore. Soleil..." He paused, swallowed thickly, and continued with a voice that held a faint croak at the mention of his son. "Soleil should be doing this, not me, and not Desmond. I try to handle as much of the record keeping and such for him, but he's been taking care of much of that for me as well. I'm just too tired, Uncle Joachim. If I sit for too long, I fall asleep, no matter what I'm doing or how important it is."
I laid my hand on his shoulder and gave it a light squeeze. "You do what you can, Christopher. I'm sure Desmond understands."
"I know he does, but that doesn't make me feel any better. And now we're hearing faint rumors of a cult that worships Dracula."
I gave him a sharp look. "A cult?"
He nodded. "We're heard nothing firm, just a few whispers and reports of people leaving their homes and families to join, but no one knows where this cult is or how large it is." He shook his head. "We don't need this now."
"Any idea as to whether this cult had anything to do with what happened to Soleil and Irina?"
"The thought has occurred to me, but no, we don't know, but..." He trailed off.
"But?" I prompted.
"I believe that they did. The timing of it all seems too coincidental to me."
"What will you do?"
"Nothing for now. I'm too old and too slow to do anything, and Desmond is too young. I couldn't ask him to go out there and investigate this by himself."
"But he knows about it?"
"Yes, he knows. With as much of the work he's carrying for me, it would be very wrong of me to keep this from him." He turned to watch Desmond as the boy passed us, and he spared us a wave as he went by. Christopher sighed and looked down at his feet.
Things were quiet for another month or so. Desmond practically became Lord Belmont in all but name as Christopher became unable to do many of the duties that the position required. Zoe helped her brother out as much as possible, and even Delores pitched in where she could. Which was their reason – helping their brother – that made the two girls accompanied Desmond to the far end of the Belmont lands one morning. Something had the peasants up in arms, but an aging Christopher was in no shape to go himself. He wanted to, but Simona threatened to tie him to his chair if he got up. He was 66 years old, and he was simply too slow and too tired. She didn't like the grandchildren going off by themselves either, but they really had no other option.
So off Desmond, Zoe, and Delores went, by carriage, and their grandparents waited on tenderhooks for them to return home safely later in the day.
But they didn't return home.
Nightfall came and went, and Christopher and Simona began to panic. I fed a still sleepy Hector, and then I went off to see if I could find them. Instead I found a anxious village, four fresh graves in the churchyard, and stories of an attack from a cult. The thought of what could have happened to Desmond and his sisters made me queasy, but I quickly learned that they had fended off the cultists before they could kill any more people, and had gone after them. Exactly where they had gone, no one knew. I also heard talk of how brave the young Lord Desmond had been and how the people took that to mean that he would be a good Lord Belmont when the time came.
I returned home to report what I had learned to Christopher and Simona. Christopher leapt to his feet, ready to go in search of his grandchildren, but his legs shook, and he immediately sank back down into his chair. He sighed and hid his face in his hands.
"I can't." he said. "I can't go after them. I would either be slaughtered or captured and used against them." He looked out the nearest window and sighed. I lightly touched his shoulder, and then I swept out of the house and returned to my own home.
I found Hector waiting for me – he had picked up on my worry – and I scooped him up and settled down into the rocker with him. He snuggled in like he always did, and I drank in the quiet and the warm weight of my child on my lap and tried not to think of what could happening to Desmond, Zoe, and Delores.
We didn't hear from the children for 14 days. The only thing that kept Simona and Christopher going were the occasional sightings of them. Sometimes Desmond was alone, sometimes he was accompanied by his sisters, but no one knew for sure what they were doing. The only thing we could figure is that they were investigating the cult. Christopher was torn over the whole thing. He wanted to go help, but he acknowledged that he couldn't. He wanted me to go help but understood that I was needed to defend the Belmont lands in Desmond's absence. It was not helped that the Belmont lands extended outside the borders of my territory in a few places, so if Desmond went to those areas, I couldn't follow him. With Trevor's vampiric heritage having long vanished, I had no way to track him anyway.
Nothing bothered the Belmonts this time around, perhaps because Dracula hadn't resurrected. The wards were never tested, and the people went about their daily lives, unaware that anything was happening. I still stayed put however; I had a feeling that if I were to leave, something would happen. And honestly, the cult worshiped Dracula – it was a given that they would likely try and bring him back at some point. If that happened, I wanted to be close to Hector, as our bond, as strong as it was, would still weaken with distance.
Hector was also nervous for obvious reasons.
"You're not leaving?" he asked me three nights after Desmond and the girls had left.
"No, little one." I raked his hair back from his face. "I'm staying right here."
"For certain. I'm not going anywhere, child."
"But what if you have to leave?" His eyes were wide, and I could smell the worry rolling off of him. "What if you have to go find Desmond?"
Sometimes I had a hard time believing that this was the same man who had faced down Dracula without hesitation. Just over a half century of torture and abuse could be expected to cause such a personality change, but it still gave me pause off and on.
"If I were to leave, I would take you to your great-grandfather's first. I won't leave you here alone."
"But I don't want you to leave!"
I gave him a light swat on his bottom as a warning to watch his tone. It also had the helpful side effect of bringing him out of the hysteria he was building up in to. His clothing absorbed the smack, but he still shivered and lowered his face. I tipped his chin up to look at me.
"Hector," I said gently, "I'm going to do everything it takes to stay here, but if, and this is a large if, I have to leave, I will take you straight to your great-grandfather, and I will come home as soon as I can. Do you understand?"
He looked at me for a moment, and then he laid his head down on my shoulder as his arms came around my neck. "Is Dracula going to resurrect?" he asked quietly.
"I don't know, little one."
He shivered again, and he snuggled as close to me as possible. I rocked him. "It will be all right, Hector."
The bond made it clear that he didn't believe me.
Ten days after Desmond, Zoe, and Delores left, Hector and I were lying in bed. He was sound asleep, curled against me like usual, while I was awake and just waiting for sundown so I could go and hunt. With the chance of a resurrection, he was refusing to hunt for himself, and I wasn't going to argue with him over it. A resurrection was a possibility, and he had good reason to fear Dracula.
The sun finally dipped below the horizon, and I slipped out of bed and began to dress myself, knowing that it would be full dark by the time I reached my hunting grounds. I tucked the blankets around Hector, and then I slipped out of the house. I hunted quickly and made my way back home, and I found Hector waking up and rubbing his eyes sleepily. He reached up to me to be fed, and then he dressed himself and wandered into the library to pass the night.
I followed him, thinking that perhaps I might look into getting some games or something we could play together, so we would have something other to do than read. I was browsing the shelves, when I felt Hector's end of the bond go silent, followed a second later by the sound of his book hitting the floor. I turned to look at him to see him staring at the empty fireplace, completely still, and then he leapt to his feet, streaked over to me, and jumped into my arms as the bond was flooded with terror. A second later, as I stood there holding him, I felt the reason for his fear as that dark power rolled through the house.
Hector did not scream this time, he only made a soft distressed whine as I carried him over to the couch and sat down with him on my lap. I heard cries of alarm as the Belmonts were shaken from their beds as Silvanus and Kerwin reached through the bonds to ask if Hector and I were all right. I responded that we were fine, and Silvanus told me to bring Hector to him if I needed. Hector shook his head, and I heard him tell Silvanus no, and Silvanus, Kerwin, and I shared a quick chuckle.
I moved from the library to the bedroom, and I settled into the rocking chair as I waited to see what would happen.
To our confusion – and massive relief – after just a little under an hour, Dracula's presence abruptly disappeared, like it had never been there. Hector and I looked at each other in confusion, and we could feel that we weren't the only ones confused.
What the hell was that all about? Kerwin wondered.
I'm... not sure. Silvanus replied.
Could the resurrection have failed somehow? Celia asked.
Matatias giggled. Maybe Desmond beat him up.
The "adults" of the family laughed at the thought of Dracula being defeated by a 16 year old boy, a 13 year old girl, and a nine year old girl. It was a hilarious image.
But what if he did? Hector asked. Maybe he wasn't ready for them?
He certainly wasn't around for long. Kerwin said, and I could hear the amusement in his voice.
As much as I hate being the voice of reason here, I added, this could be a trick of some kind.
That is true. Silvanus said. Don't let your guard down until we know for sure what is going on.
That sobered us up quickly, and we hunkered down in our homes to wait for answers.
Those answers came four days later. It was just after noon, and I heard a carriage and horses rolling through the gate, followed by a shriek from someone outside. I looked out the living room windows to see Desmond's carriage rolling towards the lord's house. I held my breath as Simona flew out of the house just as the carriage door opened and a tired, dirty Desmond stepped out. Christopher stepped outside then as Desmond turned and offered his hand to Zoe, and then Delores. The girls were swept up in their grandmother's arms, while Desmond walked up to his grandfather. He was quickly wrapped in Christopher's embrace, and they were taken inside as the carriage went on to the carriage house.
As much as I wanted to go check on them, I waited until the following day, to give them time together., When I came by, the children were all still in bed, and I found Christopher and Simon by the fire in the den. Simona was working on needlework, and Christopher was cleaning and oiling the Vampire Killer. Dried blood and other things on the braided leather clearly showed that the whip had seen battle.
"Did Desmond face Dracula?" I asked as I sat down, and I winced at how loud my voice sounded in the otherwise silent room.
Christopher paused. "He did. The cult's leader succeeded in resurrecting him just before Desmond killed him. The leader, Rohan Krause, was the one who killed Soleil and Irina. He did it to try and prevent Soleil from interfering with the cult's plans to hasten Dracula's resurrection."
"That didn't work out quite the way he intended, then did it?"
Simona laughed quietly, and her husband grinned. "No," Christopher said, "it didn't. Desmond killed him too late to stop the resurrection, but from what he said, Dracula wasn't at full power and wasn't ready for a Belmont to come charging into his throne room so soon." The smile vanished from his face then. "Still... I wish Desmond had not been forced to kill so soon. He's a man for all intents and purposes, but I still sometimes think of that little boy standing in front of his parents' coffins years ago."
The sound of Desmond coming out of his room put an end to that conversation, and the boy looked haggard when he walked into the room. He was clean and dressed in clean clothing, but the circles under his eyes and the slight tremble in his hands showed how tired he still was. Christopher promptly called for the servants to prepare him a light meal as he settled into a chair as close to the fire as possible.
"Desmond?" I asked softly. "Are you all right?"
"I'm okay." he whispered. "I just need some time to... think about all of it first."
"You're home safe now." Christopher replied. "Take all of the time that you need."
"I can't take too long. I'm sure work has piled up in my absence, despite your best efforts." Desmond managed to give his grandfather a teasing smile. We shared a quiet laugh before Simona changed the subject.
"Are your sisters still asleep?" she asked, and Desmond nodded as a servant set a plate down on the small table next to his chair.
"They were curled up together in Zoe's bed when I checked on them before I came out here." He sighed. "I wouldn't have gotten anywhere without them. I dealt with the cult and the creatures they summoned, while they found information for me that eventually led me straight to Krause and later Dracula."
I chuckled and explained why when they looked at me. "If the other noble houses didn't like Zoe and Delores being in on the training, imagine how they'll react to learning that they helped bring down Dracula."
Simona frowned. "Some will think it amazing..."
"... but others will be horrified." Christopher finished.
I gave them a confused look, just as a scowl crossed Desmond's face.
"I will not be lying about the help they gave me." he said fiercely. "If others don't like it and don't find them suitable wife material then that is there problem. I never would have made it to Dracula in time if it hadn't been for them."
"We're not downplaying that, Desmond." Simona said soothingly. "But the fact remains that some will find them... unsuitable for it."
"We will NOTbe hiding what they have done! I will not take all of the credit for Dracula's defeat! That is final!" Desmond snapped when Christopher went to say something. "Any man that wishes to suppress the Belmont blood within my sisters is going to be sorely disappointed when I personally throw him out!"
Desmond subsided and turned his attention to the meal the servant had brought him, while Christopher and Simon shared a look of shock. I resisted the urge to smirk, instead I only slipped out of the house and returned to my own home.
The next day found Desmond up and going about his duties as normal, though the circles hadn't completely faded from around his eyes just yet. Zoe and Delores were also out and about, but they were their usual boisterous selves. No more was said about the subject mentioned the previous night, and the girls didn't seem to know anything about it.
After that, the people simply began to refer to Desmond as Lord Belmont out of respect, and Christopher only sighed and stepped aside. Desmond slipped fully into the role without any difficulty, and life on the Belmont lands continued on like normal for the next few years.
In the spring of 1617, a suitor came calling, seeking the "fiery lady that had helped bring down Dracula.". Though he was quite surprised to find that two ladies had helped in that endeavor, the suitor, one Mathew Morris, became smitten with 16 year old Zoe. He was minor nobility from the distant land of England and had left his parents' estate to seek his own life when he grew weary of the stifling lifestyle they had planned out for him.
"I want adventure!" he said. "I want to enjoy my life, not waste away in their estate, married to a social butterfly, bored to insanity."
Zoe was wary of this stranger with his strange way of speaking and bizarre mannerisms, especially since he didn't speak the local language and knew nothing of the culture. It was only the fact that they had all been taught Latin as a second language that allowed them to communicate at all. Upon realizing that Zoe wasn't impressed, he went out of his way to change that. He immersed himself in the local culture and stopping using Latin as a crutch, which forced him to pick up the language quickly.
Desmond wasn't sure what to make of this man after his sister's heart either, especially when Mathew started showing interest in vampire hunting. After some thought, Desmond agreed to work with him on that – the extra help could always come in handy. They started out small, dealing with wargs and other lesser creatures, and Mathew quickly showed that he was a quick learner. With the money he was able to make from monster hunting and odd jobs from the locals, he set himself up with a small cottage just outside the nearest town. Surrounded by locals only increased the rate at which he learned the local language, and Zoe was shocked at the lengths he was willing to go to impress her.
Desmond, however, was still skeptical, and he penned a letter to Mathew's family, inquiring about him. It took several weeks to receive a replay, but when he did, Desmond couldn't believe what it said. Everything that Mathew had said about his parents' plans for him had been completely true. They intended for him to stay at home, marry a girl with more beauty than brains, and spend his life producing heirs and managing the estate. They pleaded with Lord Belmont to pack up their wayward son and send him home.
"Any inclination I might have had to send Mathew packing vanished at the tone of the letter." Desmond said later during a visit to my house. "I've known for years that Eastern Europe is little more than a primitive backwater to many people, but that was the most condescending piece of writing I've ever had the displeasure of reading. I could almost see the sarcasm quotes around my title. Even if I decide he has no business sniffing around my sister, I won't make him go back if that's what's waiting on him."
A year passed, with Mathew integrating more and more with the locals, and with the Belmonts. He seemed to come alive as the days rolled by, and Desmond reported that he really seemed to enjoy hunting, while not enjoying it too much. Zoe also took note of him, and she was the one to console him when he received a letter from his parents, demanding that he return home or else. He ended up burning it, saying that he would live life on his terms and that was it.
After everything he had done, no one was surprised when Mathew married Zoe in the summer of 1618, with Desmond's blessing. Though Christopher's opinion wasn't counted anymore for such things since he had stepped aside, he also approved of the marriage, and the weight of the word of two defeaters of Dracula settled it for everyone else.
Mathew's parents were not thrilled, when they showed up a month after the wedding to drag their son back home, only to find that he had the protection of House Belmont. They threatened to disown him if he didn't end his "farce" of a marriage to that "barbarian" and come home. To their horror, they quickly learned that not only were the Belmonts very wealthy and very powerful, far more so than they had ever thought possible, but no one tolerated any words or actions against them, especially not against Desmond. Lord and Lady Morris found themselves chased out of the area by angry locals, followed by a threat from Desmond to never set foot on the Belmont lands again. They appealed to the crown to force the clan to hand their son over, but they were laughed out of the court. No one wanted to risk angering the area's protectors. The entire fiasco ended when Mathew's parents disowned him via letter. He was upset by it all of course, but he refused to return to his old life. Besides, he had been their only child, which meant that there was no one to pass their lands and wealth down to
Once that was all done and over with, things settled back down. Six months after she and Mathew married, Zoe learned she was pregnant, and no one was more thrilled than her brother. Desmond had not found that special someone yet, and he was excited to be an uncle. Simona and Christopher were also very happy for their granddaughter, and I think it was the knowledge that their grandchildren were going to be fine that allowed them to finally relax.
Late in the winter of 1619, Simona passed in her sleep. Christopher, despite his frailty, had to be pried away from her by me, and I held him in my arms as he wailed out his grief. Delores and I stayed by his side while Desmond and Zoe tended to their grandmother, and he cried himself back to sleep later in the morning.
He slept the rest of the day, and I had to wake him and then coax him into eating lunch and supper. He then slept the rest of the night through, waking only to go to Simona's funeral in the morning. He refused to join the gathering in the hall afterward, and I took him home, where he promptly climbed back into bed and went back to sleep. I watched over him the rest of the day, but I had to leave him to go hunting with Hector that night.
When we returned, I saw Hector safely home, and then I went to check on Christopher, but my ears were quick to inform me that something was very wrong. I ran inside the house and found what I already knew. Desmond was standing by his grandfather's bedside, his shoulders shaking. Christopher was silent and still, and no heartbeat touched my ears. Desmond didn't resist as I drew him to me and walked him out of the room, leaving Christopher to sleep behind us.Chapter 7-3 -- Chapter 8-1
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