Theme Set:→ Valentine's Fest (Such a Gentleman)
Title:→ Chivalry is Undead
Notes/Warnings:→ Alternate ending for Lament of Innocence. Written for allbingo's Valentine's Fest.
Summary:→ It's been over a century since Leon was turned to vampirism, and even after all those years, he still can't understand why Mathias favors him among the rest of his subordinates. Mathias insists that it's because of the bond they share in mortal life, the love he now has for Leon, but Leon can't grasp the gentler side of his Master regardless of how hard he tries. After all, a monster is still a monster.
“What is all this commotion about?” demands the Lord of the Castle, descending the stairs. “Death? Report.”
The Reaper materializes at his side in an instant. “It seems your hound has taken another wave of aggression out on your subjects, my lord. The garden is nothing but ash and charred corpses.”
Mathias heaves a sigh and rubs his temples. “Sparring again, was he?”
“Better he takes it out on them rather than you,” Death interjects, “if you don’t mind me being so bold as to say so.” He hovers along the floor with a host of skeletal horrors following in his wake as he trails behind Mathias. “I still don’t understand why you asked the mortal to join you to begin with, sire, but I will not question your judgment.”
Pushing the large, double doors ajar, Mathias strolls in the garden with a wry smile. “Leon may seem testy sometimes, but he’s come to accept his place at my side. Besides,” he explains and kicks away the burnt remains of a Stone Rose with the toe of his boot, “you have to admit that he’s a powerful ally.”
“Hm…” Death hums and glances over the carnage. “Perhaps too powerful.”
“Every King needs a faithful friend and knight to confide in. I chose Leon because he’s the one person I felt I could trust,” says Mathias quietly as he touches the stone hanging from his neck. “Humanity is such a ghastly thing, Death; you’ve seen its horrors firsthand.”
At that, Death chuckles. “Indeed. A truly interesting species they are, struggling in futility against the Fate beset them by their own Creator. Amusing, even.”
“Leon never did fit the mold laid out for him, nor did I.” Mathias brushes slender fingers against a wall of roses scaling the side of the garden. A smile graces his stern features; Leo never did harm the roses or other flora of the garden during his training sessions. “Chivalrous to a fault, isn’t he?”
“A century of isolation from the outside world has a way of mellowing one, yes.”
Mathias’s smile widens and he turns on his heels to come face-to-face with his knight, standing beneath the shadow of an overhanging willow branch. “That will be all, Death. Leave us.”
“As you wish, sire.” Death takes a low bow and catches the wandering gaze of the Belmont man, studying him as he always did. “Should you need me, don’t hesitate to call.”
After the Reaper disappears into a void of energy, Mathias crosses the garden and offers a Leon a seat on the stone bench beneath the tree. “I take it the augments I made to your gauntlet have improved its performance?”
“Particularly the Fire element,” Leon says softly, not bothering to turn and look at his benefactor. “Are you angry about the state of the garden?”
“Hardly,” Mathias reassures him with a clap on the shoulder, reverting to old habits of reassurance he held during the Crusades. Leon’s heart twinges a little at the gesture and he purposely diverts his line of sight this time, biting his lower lip when he feels Mathias’s eyes on him. Mathias musters another smile and tries to pry his friend open a bit more by adding, “How’s your old sword? Did the augmenting help with its performance also?”
Leon stares down at the sword in his belt, the very same sword and name he denounced to rescue his fiancee so many years ago. It’s nothing but an accursed thing now, an instrument of evil with the blood of countless innocents on it. “It’s fine,” he answers with a frown. “Just fine.”
“You haven’t fed for weeks. Perhaps that’s the cause of your melancholy?” Mathias presses, truly concerned for his friend and companion. “I could have a maid brought from the village and – “
“No!” Leon cuts in suddenly with his blue eyes wide, facing Mathias at last. “I won’t drink the blood of another human again! Not after that incident with the child…I…”
Sighing, the Dark Lord reaches out and pulls Leon into his embrace. “That’s what’s been bothering you, then.” As he runs his fingers through Leon’s hair, soft as the roses the blonde vampire spared from harm, he feels Leon shiver against him. “You should have told me sooner that it affected you so.”
“I detest not being in control of my own impulses,” Leon murmurs with the threat of tears filling his eyes, all red and glassy now. “That child shouldn’t have had to pay for my weakness.”
“That was an accident, Leon, pure and simple,” Mathias gently chides him and tucks a finger under his chin, lifting his head some. “My blood doesn’t have the most pleasant flavor, but if you drink it more often then you’ll regain that precious control. Here.”
Chivalry and gentleness hadn’t left Mathias completely when he turned to vampirism. Traces of Leon’s friend remain within the Dark Lord and as elating as it is to see glimpses of, it’s also a painful reminder of the humanity Leon was forced to leave behind. Surrender is difficult, but Leon takes his situation in strides, reaching for the merciful hand outstretched to him.
“It’s all right,” Mathias says again. “You have no obligation to be gentle with me. Drink your fill.”
Leon is also aware of the preferential treatment he receives from Mathias while the rest of his subjects, even Death, are regarded as mere tools. Friend and confidant, and sometimes lover, is what defines him now. Piercing the cold skin of Mathias’s wrist, Leon groans as blood bubbles up from the wound and into his mouth. He takes great care with feeding from his Master, drawing from the wounds with just the right amount of pressure so as not to tear additional flesh in the process.
“As I told Death earlier,” Mathias says with a chuckle, “you are just as chivalrous as you were in mortality.” His hand finds Leon’s cheek and he slides it along to the other vampire’s jaw, stroking him. “Once a knight always a knight.”
“You’re still a gentleman yourself,” mutters Leon, pushing against the hand caressing him. “Though I cannot understand why you show me such special treatment among your other subordinates.”
Smiling at that, Mathias brings Leon closer and presses frigid lips against his forehead. “You’re not just another one of my subordinates, Leon; you’re my dearest friend and compatriot.” His free hand moves to slide along the other side of Leon’s face and into his hair. Leaning in again, he graces the other vampire with a lingering kiss against his lips. “I love you a great deal. This eternity would be a terribly lonely one without your presence.”
“Still,” Leo whispers, “I cannot grasp or fathom the depth of that truth.”
Mathias sighs and tries his utmost not to frown while Leon is looking up at him, all despondent and melancholy. He pulls the other vampire close again, well into his chest, and resumes running his fingers through those blonde tresses to comfort him.
“Someday I hope you will.”