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 8 covers from Christopher's death to well... that would be a spoiler, now wouldn't i?
It certainly took me some time to get used to having another vampire, even if she was only a half breed, living on my territory. Alda abided by the rules I laid down, and she avoided Hector since her presence made him nervous. As long as she was out of sight, he was fine, but he couldn't stand to be in the same room as her. I tended to avoid her when I could, since her face brought back some very unpleasant memories. My relationship with the Belmonts made it impossible for me to avoid her completely, but I gave it a good try.
Hector quickly picked up on it since the bond we shared made it impossible for us to truly hide anything from each other, and he tentatively curled up with me on the library couch late one night after his nap and asked me what was wrong. I took solace from his presence beside me, and I coaxed him up onto my lap before I answered him.
"She resembles Walter." I said as he curled close. 'They're cousins, and she looks a lot like him." I shivered, and Hector looked at me. "She has a face I'd hoped to never see again."
Hector didn't say anything. He didn't need to; he understood.
Despite my uneasiness, Alda settled in well with the Belmonts, and no one was surprised when she and Anghel married the following year. Two and a half years later, in the early summer of 1668, she approached me at home while Hector was asleep.
"Lord Armster," she said with a smile, "it is my duty to report that I am with child."
I gave her a faint smile and stood up from my chair; she was required to inform me first since she was living on my territory, but I was still surprised that she told me before she told anyone else, even her husband and in-laws. Desmond was thrilled that his middle son had finally settled down, as was his wife. Pregnancy made Alda glow, and she could often be found in a favored chair by the fire, her hand resting over the growing child, a faint smile on her face.
Simon Belmont was born in the spring of 1669, and Anghel came to my door and practically dragged me to the lord's house to meet his son. I found the little one swaddled in blankets, cradled gently in his mother's arms, and without a word I picked up a nearby empty wineglass, bit into my wrist, and let some of my blood drain into it. I them offered it to Alda with a knowing smile. She gave me a grateful look as she took it and drank it down. No doubt the birth had left her a bit thirsty. Any injury that she may have suffered would have healed already, further adding to the thirst.
She set the once again empty wineglass aside and held Simon up for me to take. I carefully gathered him to me and smiled down at his tiny face. He was asleep, but one little hand with its tiny claws was peeking out of the blankets, and when I brushed one of my fingers across it, his little fingers curled around it and held on tightly. A cap of thick, curly red hair, the same shade as his mother's, covered his head.
"Uncle," Anghel said quietly from to my left, and I looked up at him, "Alda and I would like for you to be his godfather."
I felt my jaw drop at that. I hadn't fulfilled that role since Trevor, and I had never expected to be asked again. Really, the only reason Sonia had asked me before was because no one else wanted to be a godparent to Dracula's grandchild. Trevor had never had a godmother for that reason. I had been the only one willing to step forward.
"I think you broke him, Anghel." Alda said with a giggle, and I shook myself out of my thoughts and looked back and forth between them.
"Why?" was all I could think to ask.
"You've been away for this too long, Uncle." Anghel said with a smile. "Alda and I believe that since Trevor came out the way he did, despite everything, then that means you know what you're doing. Besides, with his vampiric heritage, if something happens to us, Simon will need someone like you to teach him what he needs to know."
I didn't know what to say; I had never expected this, especially not since Alda was no doubt aware of my wariness of her.
She seemed to know what I was thinking. "Just say yes." she said with a glint in her eye. I looked down at Simon, sleeping in my arms, and I nodded dumbly. Anghel let out a whoop that he quickly quieted when Simon made a distressed whine. I looked down at Simon, ran my hand over his hair, and then I returned him to his mother. I then went home, collapsed down onto the library couch and looked up at Trevor's portrait, still in a daze. I just couldn't believe... after 134 years, I was going to be a godfather again.
I sensed Hector waking then, no doubt because of the swirl of emotions I was feeling, and he wandered in and climbed onto my lap. I wrapped my arms around him out of reflex.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
I only shook my head and showed him a shortened version of the conversation I had just had with Anghel and Alda.
"You still really miss Trevor, don't you?"
"I do." I whispered. "I don't think I'll ever stop missing him. He was every bit as much of my son as you are." My heart constricted, and I took a deep, shuddering breath.
Hector snuggled as close as he could, and I used the bond and the feel of his weight to anchor myself. He went back to sleep in my arms, but I did not take him back to bed. I held him on my lap as the day passed, and I found myself constantly looking up at Trevor's portrait, remembering the words he had said to me all those years ago.
I'll be back. I promise I'll be back. Wait for me, please?
How would I know?
I stopped breathing as the implications hit me. It did fit quite neatly together; Trevor coming back as a quarter blood once more, but again, how would I know? Simon wouldn't remember, so he wouldn't be able to tell me, and he was years away from being old enough to express such a thing anyway. Hector shifted in his sleep and mumbled something, and I felt my eyes move down to him.
He could see souls.
I was suddenly filled with excitement, and I had to stop myself from shaking him awake. Hector needed his sleep, and waking him up to make him look at souls would have implications that I never wanted him to think. It would have to wait until he was awake.
The night couldn't come soon enough.
Come nightfall, as soon as Hector had fed, I asked him to look at Simon's soul, but to my disappointment, he didn't understand what I was asking and said that Simon's newborn soul was very powerful, but nothing more.
"What are you looking for, Tată?" Hector asked with a frown as I sighed in disappointment.
"Nothing, child. Nothing at all."
Hector looked at me in disbelief, but I refused to say anymore. The night passed quietly, though he kept shooting me worried looks off and on, and the two of us went to bed as the dawn approached.
Perhaps having a Walter look-alike on my territory finally caught up with me. Perhaps it was the emotional storm of becoming a godfather again and the disappointment of Simon not being Trevor reborn, but I had my first nightmare in centuries. In it, I was in a large empty space that was completely dark except for a faint light that was shining down on Trevor. He was walking away from me, and seemed oblivious to my presence after I chased after him, calling his name. I caught up to him quickly, but just as I reached out to touch him, a pair of arms caught me from behind, and I was yanked backwards and held against someone.
"Did you really think you could run from me?" came Walter's voice in my ear, and I screamed and tried to wrench myself out of his grip as he laughed and began to drag me backwards. I reached out to Trevor as he continued to walk away, to do what exactly I didn't know, and I woke up screaming as Walter threw me down to the ground.
"Tată!" Hector's horrified voice was the first thing I heard as I sat bolt upright in bed, and I stuffed my fist in my mouth to muffle the scream that was ringing about the room. "Tată!"
I threw the blankets off of me and vanished from the room. I'm not sure why I ran, and I certainly had no idea where I was going, but I fled the house without a thought for my half dressed condition or for the frightened child I had left behind. I left the wards and ignored Kerwin and Silvanus calling out to me. I just needed to run, as fast and as far as possible.
Of course, outrunning Silvanus is impossible.
He suddenly appeared in front of me, and I ran straight into him. His arms came around me, and I shrieked and tried to get away from him, but it worked as well as it had years ago that night at Trevor's grave.
"Joachim." His voice spoke into my ear, and it echoed through the bond we shared, as well as down through his bond with Hector and back to me. "It was just a nightmare."
I shook my head and tried again to push him away.
Call out to him, Hector.
Tată? I could hear the tears in Hector's mental voice, and it was that that finally began to bring me out of my hysterics. Tată, please come back.
I gasped as reality seemed to rush back to me, and I looked up at Silvanus.
"Joachim." he said gently, and I responded by bursting into tears. I bawled into his shoulder as he picked me up and began to carry me home.
"I don't know exactly what brought it on." I said in a low tone a few hours later. I was seated in the rocking chair, with Hector asleep in my arms. He had pounced on me the instant Silvanus had set me on my feet in the living room, and he had refused to let go of me since, even in sleep. Kerwin had come to sit with him, while Celia had stayed at home with Matatias, who had also been awakened by my terror, but he had since returned home, leaving only Hector, myself, and Silvanus in the house. Silvanus had come up with a chair from somewhere – had he conjured it? - and he was looking at me in worry.
I sighed heavily and rocked the chair. "I just... Trevor promised me that night that I spoke with him through the whip. He promised that he would come back to me, but Hector said that Simon wasn't him. Maybe it was just disappointment."
"You haven't dreamt of Walter since Kerwin declared you independent." Silvanus pointed out.
"No, I haven't. I don't know why. Alda... Alda's face still makes me uneasy when I see her. I know she's not him – for God's sakes she and Anghel just asked me to be Simon's godfather! - but every time I see her face, my heart makes a little jump."
"Did you accept?"
I sighed again. "I did, but I'm not sure why. It feels like..." I trailed off, at a loss for words.
"It feels like you're betraying Trevor."
"It's as good as explanation as any, I suppose. I know it's ridiculous, but... I just can't help it. Anghel and Alda certainly had a good reason for asking me, but the entire thing... it scares me, Silvanus."
Silvanus gave me a sad smile. "You're afraid that you'll come to love Simon like you loved Trevor, knowing that one day you'll have to say goodbye to him as well."
I scrubbed at a sudden dampness in my eyes, and my voice was a little hoarse when I answered. "Yes. I don't know... don't know how Alda is handling it. She has to know that she's going to outlive any child that she and Anghel have."
"Perhaps she hasn't given any thought to it yet. Or maybe she's already accepted it."
"I don't know. I do want to be Simon's godfather, you know. I just don't think I'm ready to face how it will end in however many years from now."
"No one can be ready for such a thing, Joachim."
"No, I suppose not." I yawned suddenly, and Silvanus stood up.
"Get back into bed." he told me. "You need to sleep for a while. I'll make sure that you sleep without dreaming."
I stood up from the chair, and Hector whimpered softly and shifted in my arms before I laid him down in his usual spot. Silvanus waved his hand at me, and the dirt and muck that I had picked up during my panicked run vanished and left me feeling as though I'd just bathed. I stood there watching him for a second, and then I laid down next to Hector. He tucked himself against me like always as Silvanus pulled the covers over us.
"If you need me for anything, Joachim," he said as he gently touched his fingers to the side of the head, "call me. I'll come. You don't have to deal with this alone."
I nodded faintly, and I closed my eyes as I felt the gentle swirl of magic in the room as it put me to sleep.
When I woke next, it was night out, and Hector was shifting in his sleep. I could feel his thirst through the bond, so I got up to go hunt. Since he was still asleep, I imagined that he didn't feel up to hunting for himself. I dressed myself quickly and hurried off, and I felt Kerwin and Silvanus reach through the bonds to check on me as I went, but they said nothing. I was grateful for that; I was more than a little embarrassed by the entire thing – 900 years old and running screaming from a bad dream. Some powerful vampire I was.
I paused for a second as I stalked my chosen victim, when just how old I was actually sank in. Was I really nearing a millennia in age already? Of course I didn't know my exact age thanks to Walter, but...
I shivered and pushed thoughts of that to the side and continued my hunt as I felt Hector waking.
I'll be home soon, Hector.
He didn't respond, but I felt his worry that I was running away again, and I reached out to soothe him as I hurried back home. I found him sitting up in bed and relief flooded the bond when I came through the door. He reached up to be picked up, and I scooped him up and sat down in the rocker before I tilted my head to the side to let him feed. Once he was done, I wasn't surprised when he simply snuggled down instead of getting up to dress himself.
"I saw what you dreamed." he said quietly.
"I'm sorry that you had to see that, little one." I said as I squeezed him. Hector had known enough fear; I had never wanted to see mine.
"You've never... I've never seen you scared before. You always seem so calm."
I laughed quietly. "I've been scared plenty of times, Hector; I just don't want others to see it."
Because Walter would have played off of it. "Habit, I suppose."
"I didn't know if you were going to come back."
"I'll always come back to you, little one. I'll never leave you behind. I was panicked and not thinking when I ran." I kissed the top of his head. "I'm sorry, baby. I never meant to frighten you."
Hector twisted around so he could put his arms around my neck and lay his head on my shoulder, and we whittled away the time until his nap in the rocker. He resisted going to sleep then, even as I assured him that I wasn't going anywhere and would still be there when he woke up. With his history before he came to me, I understood why he was so reluctant to let go of me. I finally rocked him to sleep and was able to put him back to bed. I sat beside him for a few minutes as he slept, gently running my hand over his hair and letting the comforting hum of the bond soothe my still tattered nerves.
The heartbeats of the sleeping Belmonts fell upon my ears, and one in particular caught my attention. The soft, rapid heartbeat of an infant – Simon's – and I sighed and brushed Hector's hair of his face before I stood up from the bed.
It was easy to slip inside the lord's house unnoticed, and I quickly made my way to the nursery, where I found Simon sleeping in a cradle in front of the fire. I carefully scooped him up into my arms, and he made a soft sound before he settled back down. I sank down into the nearby chair and cradled my soon to be godson in my arms and looked at his tiny face. The baptism wouldn't be held until his eighth day, but I was already thinking of him as my godson.
How had that happened?
I ran my finger gently across a soft baby cheek, and I was so absorbed with the infant in my arms that I didn't notice his mother coming into the room. The door quietly shutting finally made me look up, and for a brief moment I wondered if any of the Belmonts had seen me run screaming from my house. Hopefully if they had, they wouldn't say anything about it. I was embarrassed enough as it was.
"Lord Armster?" Alda asked softly. "If everything all right?"
I sighed. "If I'm going to be your son's godfather, Alda, then you might as well call me Joachim."
She, carefully so not to wake Simon, pulled up another chair to sit across from me. "If you you don't want to do this, you don't have to. Anghel and I just thought you would enjoy having that role again."
"I'm going to do it; no need to worry there. I just hadn't been expecting to be asked again. Trevor's mother only asked me because no one else wanted it, and Leon asked me because his best friend had betrayed him, and I was next on the friends list."
"You just seem so distant at times..."
"I've seen generations of Belmonts come and go. I don't bother getting close to most of them anymore, and I also have a sickly child at home that demands much of my time." Not that Hector was all that sickly anymore, but still...
"You don't have to do this."
"But I will."
"But do you want to?"
I looked down at Simon again. "I do. Surprising myself, yes, I do want to be Simon's godfather."
Alda looked over at the dying fire, and with a thought and a nudge, she pushed more wood into the grate and built it back up. The room fell silent save for the crackling flames and three heartbeats: hers, mine, and Simon's.
"I know my presence bothers you." Alda broke the silence after a few minutes. "Anghel and Desmond insist that that's not the case, but I can tell by the way you look at me, and how you try to avoid me if you can." She looked up at me and drew her nightdress tighter around herself, as though to ward off a sudden chill. "Why do I bother you so much? And don't try to deny it; I know it's true."
I felt one corner of my mouth curl up into a sardonic smile. "You wear the face of a man that held me against my will and tortured me for 300 years. No matter what Walter had been when you knew him, he was a cruel, sadistic monster by the time he stole me from my bed and turned me against my will. It was only his death at the hands of Leon Belmont that saved me from the slow death from starvation that Walter had consigned me to. So yes, your presence bothers me, but only because you resemble someone that haunted my nightmares for years."
Alda's face had drained of color, and she swallowed suddenly as though she was trying to not be sick. "I... see. He had... He wasn't like that before. What happened to him?" That last part was whispered, like she had not intended to speak it out loud.
"So Kerwin and Silvanus have told me, but I suppose that even a mother's love can turn into a curse in time. Walter lost everything the night his father died, and part of me wonders if he spent the next several hundred years trying to get it back. When I refused to play his game, he responded with anger and violence. Now I can understand why he acted the way he did, but I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive him for it."
"I understand. Part of me feels as though I should apologize for my cousin's actions."
"Don't. What he did was none of your responsibility. It was nearly 600 years ago, and it's not your fault that I haven't moved on as well as I thought I had. I will get over it in time, just as I stopped fearing Kerwin after he took me into his home."
"You lived with Lord Bernhard for a time?"
"After Walter died. I was too ill to be on my own, and he cared for me until I was recovered." I stood up from my chair then, took three steps, and leaned down so I could carefully place Simon in his mother's arms. I looked into her eyes. "I gladly accept the role and responsibility of Simon's godfather, and I don't want my godson growing up wondering why Uncle Joachim doesn't seem to like Mama so much. For his sake, I will move past this; I just need time to do it."
"You don't have to."
"But I need to. For Simon's sake. I want this godson to grow up loved by all the adults in his life instead of just me. I will not be responsible for giving him conflicting and confusing feelings." I stood up and lightly touched her shoulder as I ghosted out of the room. "Take care of my godson for me, and I will be there at the baptism." I paused at the door. "Goodnight, Alda."
I smiled faintly and swept out the door to return to my own home, where I found Hector beginning to wake up from his nap. He immediately wanted to be picked up and held, and I obliged him, realizing that he still felt a bit insecure after what had happened the day before. I still found it so hard to believe that I had once not wanted Hector and had resented his presence in my life, I thought as I relished the feeling of his arms around my neck, holding onto me. Now I wouldn't trade him for the world.
"Love you, Tată." he murmured sleepily, and the bond widened with the love he was feeling.
"I love you too, baby." I whispered. "I always will."Chapter 8-1 -- Chapter 8-3
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