I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.


    ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

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    Tariq
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    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:46 pm

    Colombe shrank back at his approach, her hands still laced over her head but her dark eyes open. They were hazy with pain and wet with the tears that had sprang unbidden to fill them. Her teeth were clenched and it gave her jaw a hard set.

    She irritably waved Fabien back when he offered to inspect the wound. At his mention of blood a visible jolt caused her body to lurch forward and she quickly inspected her hands, turning them at the wrists to examine both sides for dark smears. She released a soft breath of relief when her search turned up empty. Tentatively, she prodded the sore spot on her crown with the pads of her fingers, wincing at the contact.

    Her eyes wandered up to meet his gaze. Suddenly and self-consciously, she turned her head and wiped her wet cheeks with the side of her hand.

    She looked back up at him when he offered his hand. Her gaze caught the dark bloom of ink revealed beneath the burns on his scarred wrist and lingered there. She furrowed her brow, although whether it was the criminality of his tattoo or the extent of his wounds that had unsettled her was anyone’s guess. Warily, but masked with false bravado manifested in the defiant jutting of her chin, she accepted his hand and lifted herself from the floor. Her palms had new callouses over the soft skin.

    The girl occupied herself with dusting the front of her dress but glanced up at his question as to the cat’s ownership. She gestured helplessly about as if indicating the house and shrugged her shoulders. She jostled for a place at the window, her breath coming in soft clouds from her lips, and reached for the saucer of milk. Gingerly, as though it were something precious, she turned to set it aside.

    The hope sprouting from his question like a weed springing from a crack in concrete seemed to still her. She halted, still bent to place the saucer on a small table, and cast him a sidelong glance. He was silhouetted in the window, a thin trail of smoke seeping out into the stars above his halo of curls. His clothes didn’t fit, perhaps never quite would, clearly made for someone who had never known the hunger he had.

    For one brief moment a dizzying pang of sharp hurt was exposed in that look; as if the boy had dug his fingers into a wound in her chest and squeezed the bloody pulp inside. Colombe shuddered and turned her face away.

    It was another moment before she rejoined him at the window. Silently, she raised herself up to the ledge, wiggling until she had the leverage to tuck her knees beneath her. A moment later and she had successfully clambered onto the slanted roof. It was a practiced motion - clearly this was not her first time squeezing herself out the narrow opening.

    The peak of the roof was behind her, cutting the front of the house and the road out of view. The section of roof she was on formed a neat alcove between gables. The courtyard and the land beyond it, bordered by dark roofs, stretched out beneath her. The aspen trees flanking this side of the house whispered conspiratorially at her presence.

    The girl surveyed this swiftly-darkening domain but found no trace of the escaped feline. She sighed, and put out her hand as though to recruit the boy to aid her in her search.
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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:39 pm

    At the girl’s gesture, Fabien surveyed the small attic room anew, grey eyes lingering with renewed interest on her careful drawings and pinned possessions.  The boy’s attention returned as he felt the girl stirring beside him. He watched her, briefly startled, as she began to unexpectedly make her way out of the window.

    When the girl’s hand was offered to him, it was the urchin’s turn to express doubt.

    Ah, I don’t know if-“he began, unusual caution flickering through his eyes like a weak flame. He sped a hesitant glance towards the door, as a stray thought dislodged itself from his memory, fresh as a clean wound.

    Whatever brief struggle had occurred within the boy’s thoughts, temptation had triumphed and emerged victorious. He claimed her hand a second time, his long, finely shaped fingers enclosing around her own as he hoisted himself through the frame. From there, the boy followed her lead, easing himself through the narrow opening with fluid, effortless movements. His bare feet found purchase on the smooth tiled roof with the same surety as the retreating cat. Cold wind at once took stole the air from his lungs, the breeze made fiercer by the height. It caused the urchin’s sand pale hair to whip across his cheeks, though he was much too excited to let it attack him as cruelly as it had in the courtyard

    Something about the open air affected the youth just as fiercely as it had when he was at the vampire’s side. The boy raised his cigarette to his lips, inhaled, and tilted back his neck with languid pleasure. He exhaled a deep, smoke infused breath into the full expanse of the darkened sky. It seemed so much bigger, so much more open here, than it had been in the small square of garden he had been allowed to enjoy. The hunt for the girl’s cat was momentarily, joyously forgotten as the boy watched dark clouds stretch and fragment across the sky.

    The urge to run hit him as fiercely as it had in his room. It sang through every part of his body, he could almost feel the movements before they happened. He could see himself finding his footing on ledges, toe after toe, as he picked his way down the side of the house. He crushed the thoughts inside himself and closed his eyes, but the conflict remained visible. It lingered in the strained, sorrowful look that had melted into the muscles around his darkly ringed eyes.

    Eventually the urchin interrupted his own thoughts, and turned towards Colombe with a small, weary smile.

    “No luck? I would try to call it, if I knew its name.” He murmured, lifting the cigarette back to his lips.
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    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:54 pm

    A flicker of doubt darkened Colombe’s eyes when the boy hesitated in joining her. Her fingers curled inward like a wilting flower. But when Fabien accepted her hand she hoisted him upward with the rough hewn strength that only came from hauling heavy buckets of water and scrubbing blood stains from linens. Once he had gained his footing she took a step back to give him room on their patch of roof.

    The air smelled of smoke and the brittle edge of cold frost. The girl tucked her hands beneath her arms and huddled closer to the slanted gable that diverted the worst of the wind. Her dark gaze traced like a stroke of ink over the fences and small buildings that clustered behind the house. It returned tentatively to the urchin who had joined her on the roof. She silently contemplated him as he contemplated the sky.

    Pale wisps of bitter smoke drifted lazily around her hair before being whipped away by the wind, but she did not seem to mind. She did not turn her eyes away when he smiled at her.

    His question seemed to jar her from her thoughts and she eagerly turned back to search the ground for her escaped friend. Her enthusiasm dwindled as her hunt proved fruitless and she turned back to the boy as though to respond. The girl’s eyes widened. A small gasp escaped her mouth and she pointed down into the darkening courtyard. The cat’s eyes flashed as it leapt from the balcony where it had evidently been lurking and onto the cobbled courtyard. It did not pause to look up at them before sauntering out the bars of the gate and into the land beyond, fading to a smudge of ash. Colombe watched it go with bright eyes.

    When it had well and truly disappeared from view, the girl slumped against the wall, wincing as the motion jarred her still-sore head. In the gloom of twilight she might have been a ghost, pale and perched protectively in the little alcove. She was sulking, as evidenced by the hunch of her shoulders and the petulant set of her mouth, but there was little genuine melancholia skulking in her countenance. In fact, she appeared to be enjoying the excuse to clamber out onto the roof, and her gaze continued to flit over to the boy as though to be sure he was enjoying this excursion she had provided. She shivered as the sky blackened and the chill of the night air around them deepened.
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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Wed Mar 15, 2017 4:17 pm

    Fabien’s spine straightened, and he turned his attention to where the girl had indicated. The boy was slow to spot the retreating feline, and was about to turn back to her with a look of confusion when the sleek shape caught his eye. The boy immediately appeared to liven, his limbs tense with expectation, as if he hoped the cat might work its way back in their direction. Then when it did not, he was content to watch it stalk away, stealing small glimpses of the girl’s expression before it disappeared from sight. When her companion was completely lost to them, the boy’s lips twitched into a small, crooked smile.  A soft, husky laugh escaped his throat.

    “Well. Dommage.”He sighed, expelling a lazy breath of smoke. “And I wanted to meet it. “

    The boy lifted a hand and swept a twisted strand of hair away from his eye. He kept his eyes trained on the gate for a moment or so more, before turning back towards the girl.

    “Ah, je suis envieux. It must be nice, to leave when you want.”

    The youth moved to stand beside Colombe, close enough that their arms were almost brushing. His storm cloud eyes slipped towards the horizon, where he eagerly sought the first winking lights of the city to emerge. If he strained hard enough, he was sure he could make out the ghostly point of a gothic church spire.

    He turned to look at the girl once more, her sullen expression enticing a mischevious spark of life into his sharp eyes. He gave her a playful jostle in the side with his shoulder, as though they had been friends for years. “This is my punishment for sneaking up on you, ah? It will come back for food though, non?”

    The boy allowed a moment of quiet to pass between them as the darkness grew more complete and engulfed their little corner of the roof. When it seemed he might not speak again, his lips parted, and breath hitched as though he had meant to ask her something. But whatever it was, it was suddenly rejected and he swallowed the thought stiffly.  

    Tu fumes, Colombe?”He offered her the end of cigarette, pinched between two bony fingers. His hand had begun to tremble a little with the cold, though he made no complaint. “I think it would be better if we had wine to share out here. It feels like a good place for wine.”
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    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:18 am

    The loss of the sun softened the sharp edges of the building nestled around them. Unconsciously, the girl had drawn closer to Fabien as though pressed forward by the cold and the dark. Twilight settled over the city in a colourless haze through which the faint glimmer of distant lights began to flicker to life like will-o’-wisps in fog.

    Colombe quickly gave up on attempting to track the cat’s progress through the gloom and she diverted her energy instead into perfecting her sulk. Her attention returned to the boy but did not linger long. Her gaze was like that of a wild deer’s, flicking warily from one rustle of browned leaves to another as she surveyed the land below. Her dark eyes were watchful and her shoulders were high and tense.

    Her mouth curved into a frown at his comment about escape. However, she did not voice whatever thoughts she had on the matter and allowed silence to lapse between them as the boy strained for a better view of the city. The sidelong glance she cast him as he neared suggested she was painfully conscious of his closeness, but she did not pull away. Her gaze followed his and she squinted as though to try and make out the shape of what held his attention.

    His jostle at her side was a surprise and she stiffened. There was something awkward in her body language, as though she was not accustomed to this comradely contact and was not quite sure how to receive it. However, she did not shrink from the touch. The barest hint of a flustered smile touched her lips and coloured her cold cheeks. She shook her head and shrugged as though to say it was impossible to guess at fickle feline whims. The axis of her body changed almost imperceptibly, a subtle tilt that kept her shoulder within a hair’s breadth of the boy’s arm.

    Her wariness returned at the hitch of his breath and her eyelashes fluttered as though with a shiver of trepidation. Her chest stilled and her throat bobbed. She seemed to be holding her breath.

    However, his next offer prompted her to release the air in her chest in surprise. The girl’s expression brightened as she contemplated the cigarette pinched between his fingers. Her gaze flicked to his face and she wrinkled her nose at his suggestion of wine but her eyes quickly returned to the proffered tobacco.

    Cautiously, she accepted it, her hand brushing against his cold fingers as she gingerly held the cigarette between thumb and forefinger. Blue-grey smoke coiled over her nose as she lifted it to her lips. Her first puff was tentative and her cheeks expanded as she rolled the smoke in her mouth. Her second attempt immediately triggered a coughing fit as the stale tobacco seared into her lungs and burned raw in her throat. She gasped and waved the cigarette back to Fabien, her hand on her collar.

    The spaces between her coughs were punctuated by a bubbling sound that might have been sobbing; it would take the boy a moment to realize that Colombe was laughing.
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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:42 pm

    “Ah, so no fan of drink then?” Fabien murmured, arching an eyebrow.

    He patiently awaited the girl’s response, his grey eyes searching her expression with a look of gentle curiosity.  When her fingers extended towards his hand, the boy’s crooked smile deepened at the corners, and half revealed a brief glint of impish teeth. He continued to observe his the girl with bright interest, amusement glittering in his half-lidded eyes.

    Colombe’s response provoked a renewed bout of low, husky laughter. He reached for her instinctively, his fingertips almost brushing her shoulder as though he might place hand there.  But before the touch landed, his fingers slipped away his movements towards her still hesitant and unsure.

    “Ha, oui! They are strong, non?”He replied agreeably. “You need to go slower. You  should try again sometime, it gets better.”

    He accepted the stub of the cigarette back from her, twisting his wrist to receive it back between his smirking lips so that he could take another slow draw. The boy paused, holding smoke between his teeth as his eyes drifting back to the dim glow of light on the horizon. He exhaled slowly, luxuriously.  

    “Expensive, though. He had fine taste, the owner of these.”

    After he had spoken, the boy seemed to startle suddenly, as though concerned he had spoken to freely, too carelessly. His sharp eyes flitted back to the girl, as wide and tense as that of a young stag caught unawares.

    The boy quickly looked away. He pinched the stub from between his teeth, before shaking it once to extinguish its glow. He held it contemplatively for a moment, before with a lazy flick of the wrist it was gone. Not thrown away, or discarded and left to tumble down the curve of the roof. It was merely gone, vanished from sight, leaving his long fingers splayed and his palm empty.  He curled his fingers inwards, and withdrew his arm to wrap around his chest.

    “Ah, but it is cold tonight.” His voice was almost a whisper.
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    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Sat Mar 25, 2017 7:44 pm

    Colombe’s laughter did not fade even as the coughing fit that had overtaken her subsided. She wiped her eyes where they had grown watery, the tears wetting her cheeks, and shook her head in refutation of the boy’s offer; No, I think that was enough for me. Her cold cheeks were flushed and her dark eyes were not quite as hooded as they had been. They gleamed with the warmth of her mirth.

    She did not notice Fabien’s immediate contrition at his loose talk. She nodded in preoccupied agreement, settling back against the wall where she was sheltered from the worst of the wind’s bite. She wrapped her arms across her chest and wedged her bare hands beneath her armpits.

    The girl cleared her throat as though to loosen the rasp of burn from her raw throat. Their breath formed gentle clouds at their lips.

    The stars cautiously peeked out in shimmering pinpricks beneath the hazy black of the night sky.

    The boy’s hand gesture drew the girl’s attention and she watched with silent interest as he extinguished the smoldering cigarette in the air. The hot singe of smoke still scented their patch of roof. When the stub disappeared from his fingers she tilted her head in amusement, clearly taken by surprise by the display of chicanery. She continued to watch as he resettled into position as though waiting for it to reappear, tumbling free of his too-large clothes, perhaps. When it did not return she opened her mouth as though to interrogate him about it but frowned, her dark brows knitting together, and remained silent.

    His whispered observation appeared to return her to the present. Her dark gaze flicked up to the sky and she sighed a puff of condensation into the cold night air. Reluctantly, she peeled herself away from the wall. She stood for a moment, swaying softly on the rooftop like something made of rag and straw that had become lodged there by the wind, before slipping past him. She sat before the window and paused to spare the gathering darkness one last look.

    Her eyes, wet and dark, caught the boy’s gaze and she offered him a small smile. It was melancholy and coloured by something else - Sorrow? Reluctance to return to the still house, maybe? - but it was genuine all the same. And then, without a word, she wriggled her way through the narrow opening and back into the cool confines of her room.
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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Sun Mar 26, 2017 2:34 pm

    Fabien watched the girl’s every move.

    He watched each measured, swaying step she took, stalking her route from his side back to the window.  When she lingered for a time, relishing the twilight air, the boy fixed her with a look of such startling intensity. His lips were half parted, his feline eyes slightly narrowed against the bracing wind as strands of curling, flaxen hair stirred across his cheek.  It was as if he were seeking a way into the chambers of her thoughts, to break open the barrier of silence between them like a rusty lock. There was so much he wanted to ask her, he could feel the questions thick within his throat, hard on his tongue.

    When her eyes met him once more, the boy’s limbs stiffened. His expression seemed almost guilty, as if he’d been caught doing something wrong, taking something from her that he hadn’t been granted permission to have. But it wasn’t long before he returned her look, his crooked, boyish smile twisting its way back across his mouth.

    The urchin stalked slowly back to the window as she disappeared inside. Every step he took seemed weighted down, like one walking underwater. Before he materialised, he could be heard releasing a low, heavy sigh of discontent. It no doubt mirrored her reluctance to return to the gloomy confines of the house.  The boy paused by the window, leaning a forearm against the side of the frame. There was something about it that was almost comically theatrical, as if he were re-enacting a scene from a street performance; the pantomime prince come to court his true love.

    “We can come out here again sometime, non?" He asked softly. "It must be nice, in the warmer months.”

    The youth slipped back inside, stretching forward one long leg after the other as he found his footing. His grey eyes sought her in the low-light. He was framed by the dim light spilling through the window, a dark silhouette composed of bony limbs and rumpled clothing.

    Hé, Colombe?” It was almost a whisper. “You know-“

    “-where I might find some cards in this place?”The boy made a gesture in the air before him, dealing out an invisible deck upon a phantom table.

    “That room, mon Dieu, with no windows-“ The boy inhaled deeply, sucking air through his teeth. He released a shuddery, unhappy breath. Clearly the prospect of returning to his room for another potentially sleepless night had begun to weigh itself upon him.

    “-Je vais perdre la tête.”
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    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Mon Apr 03, 2017 1:56 am

    Colombe had already begun her preparations for bed. The next day’s clothes had been selected and draped limply over the foot of the bed and she was rummaging through the dresser. The saucer of milk remained where she had left it, abandoned and forlorn on the small table.

    Fabien’s question drew her attention back to the window and the corners of her mouth quirked up at the affected nonchalance with which he leaned against the window. Cool air breathed past him into the narrow chamber. She nodded - a little gravely, as though the question were one of great import - although her gaze flicked almost imperceptibly to the door to her room. She fished out a linen nightdress as he unfolded himself from the window ledge.

    When he called her name she inclined her head to indicate she was listening, although her attention was still focused on her task. However, his inquiry about playing cards appeared to occupy her and her hands fell still. A ripple of hesitancy flowed through her. She spared him a look over her shoulder.

    His reluctance was nearly palpable, etched into the slant of his bones and his unhappy face. It seemed to spur her toward some decision. She nodded again, without volunteering further information, and turned away from the waiting silhouette before her window.

    She slipped the nightgown over her head and eased it down over her day-clothes. Her arms disappeared into the sleeves and she undid the cotton dress beneath with practiced ease made simpler by the lack of leather stays and straight pins that had been discarded previously. Her gaze was distant. It was only a moment before her arms reappeared through the sleeves of the nightgown and she stepped out of the dress. The shape of the nightgown smoothed over her body without the cumbersome bulk beneath.

    It was a tidy transition that was too efficient to be burdened by self-consciousness. She left the dress in a heap on the floor, her legs still covered by white thread stockings. The girl gestured for the urchin to follow her and made her way down the stairs that creaked beneath her soft step.

    Should he oblige and follow he would find the kitchen below swathed in the full dark of night. The sweet smell of sugar and cinnamon clung faintly to the walls. His guide nearly glowed in her white nightgown, the blurry smear of a benign ghost, and she proved easy to follow. The house was empty but there was something illicit in their furtive movements.

    He did not have far to go before Colombe came to a stop in the parlour. The air of mournful neglect that gathered in the corners of this room were only deepened at night. A thump followed by a sharp hiss suggested she had misjudged the nearness of a table leg in the dark. It was followed by the groan of a drawer being opened and the shuffling of objects against wood. It did not take her long to discover what she sought and she stepped back to her waiting companion.

    She fumbled for his hand, her skin cool against his, and pressed a bundle of fabric into his palm. Inside, as requested, he would find a deck of playing cards bound with a string. They were made of good, thick pasteboard, each illustration a crisp woodcut. They had not been used hard and the edges were still sharp.
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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:01 pm

    Fabien’s weight rested against the window, near to the window ledge they had both just clambered over.  The boy let the quiet lapse between them as he watched Colombe undress. It was nothing unusual for him, to see a young girl disrobe so freely. The girl’s in his criminal band had shed their clothes around him frequently, and often with much less modesty. It shouldn’t have caught his attention the way it did, made his throat tighten and muscles tense in such a way. Perhaps being cooped up in this house had begun to gnaw away at something within him, to enflame appetites that had been only dull embers before.  He no longer had to fight for meagre scraps of food, or enough wood to heat his companion’s bones.  
    Thankfully darkness had drifted in enough to mask his expression. And to aid it further, the boy hastily averted his eyes, and became preoccupied with some trinket pinned to the wall.

    The girl’s movement, her summons to him, was met with a look of surprise. As she began to depart her attic room, the boy suddenly pushed his feet forward and briskly went to join her.  

    At first the youth maintained a reasonable distance, following the top of the girl’s head as she moved through the shadowy corridor. But as they stepped into the murk of the kitchen, the urchin’s pace suddenly quickened. Soon he was close enough to nip her heels with his bare toes.  

    As they moved further into the house, through rooms which bled shadows across the floor, the boy’s breathing deepened.“I begin to regret this.” He murmured, and released a small, tight laugh that held little humour.

    When the girl moved step away from him, the urchin was left flexing his fingers against his side. He remained perfectly still, a buoy left afloat upon an inky sea. His eyes sought out her pale, glowing figure in the dark. But it wasn’t long before he became distracted by the bits of furniture, looming from against the walls like nightmare beasts.

    The boy startled at the touch of Colombe’s hand, his fingers stiffening. But then he relaxed, and accepted the weight of the mystery object within his palm. He carefully un-plucked the cloth, and rubbed his thumb over the familiar wedge of the deck. At once the boy’s nervous expression melted away, shifting into a grin so wide his teeth were visible in the dark.

    He instinctively moved forward, one arm outstretched to hook the girl against his bony chest. Unless she was quicker of foot than he, she would no doubt find herself tangled in the boy’s fierce embrace. Or at least feel the scrape of his arm as he attempted it, and a flush of smoky breath over her hair.

    “Ah, merci. Vous êtes merveilleux, Colombe!” He rasped in a voice that was almost fierce with pleasure.

    The urchin took a step back to draw some space between them, as his eyes hungrily devoured the fresh stack of cards. He subtly flexed his wrist, relishing their familiar weight between his sharp fingers. “I was worried I would rust.”

    The boy became briefly distracted by his own happiness, but after a time his eyes sought her out again in the dark.

    “You are a good friend to me.”
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    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Wed Apr 05, 2017 6:50 pm

    In the darkness that had not so much fallen as risen like a dark veil being pulled over a face, it was difficult to make out more than a fleeting sense of each other’s movements. They were dappled in illusory shadow, nocturnal creatures who had strayed too far from their nests. It lent the scene the same prohibited air as when they had crept down the stairs. There was no reason to sneak, no reason to whisper, nothing taboo in their presence in that funereal room. And yet, their heads were still bowed conspiratorially, twin hearts beating an anxious rhythm.

    Colombe’s pale nightgown was a bright beacon in the dark. She was an easy target and wouldn’t have been able to avoid his embrace had she tried. She was swept up again Fabien’s chest, his clasp unfamiliar and unexpectedly hard with the bone stark beneath the muscle and she instantly tensed, stilling against him like a rabbit paralyzed. She remained there, stiff and ungainly against his smoke-scented clothes, but did not pull away from his grasp.

    When he released her to examine his new prize she exhaled a soft breath like a sigh. Her eyes were bright and liquid in the gloom.

    It was impossible to decipher her expression in the dark, but the girl dipped her head at the compliment as though in acknowledgement - or perhaps to hide a smile. At his last remark she worried her hands in front of her, squeezing her fingers together. If she had something to say on this subject, she did not give voice to it.

    The clop of a horse’s hooves on the street outside caused her to freeze. It was foolish to think the master of the house would return by horseback, but the reality of the lateness seemed to strike her as the sound faded into the distance. She turned back to the boy and made the same motion with both hands that one used to shoo troublesome cats out of doors. Evidently their nocturnal rendezvous was at an end. The boy was dismissed, the cards in his hand his to do with as he pleased.
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    Fabien

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    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Fabien on Mon Apr 10, 2017 10:17 am

    Fabien did not even attempt to conceal his delight. He could barely turn his attention away from the dark shape of the cards clasped in his grasp, and his finger tips twitched over the deck, betraying the boy’s eagerness to get better acquainted with his new gift.
    It was of no surprise that he did not notice the girl’s concern. Not until his eyes lifted to her, and lips parted to ask something, to perhaps make a suggestion.

    Colombe’s sudden stillness captured his attention almost immediately. He responded by mirroring her instantly, as if they were criminal counterparts. The boy’s angled his head like a dog, desperately listening for any soft sounds of movement. Fear bled all colour and joy from his youthful features, turning his skin as pale as the girl’s nightgown. He could hear the vampire’s words echoing in his thoughts, their clear and firm instruction chilling his skin. Do not complicate her service to me.

    When it eventually became clear that they were still alone, the boy released a heavy, shuddering breath. He raked the fingers of his other hand through his hair, once, then twice.

    “D’accord, I’m going, I’m going.” He breathed, as if to convince himself. The soft tremble in his voice remained subtly detectable.

    The urchin took a hesitant step away from the girl, and then paused.

    “Ah, merde.” He hissed.  “J'ai oublié ma lanterne.”

    The boy’s eyes searched the dark expanse of the shadowy parlour. His grey eyes were wide with fear, and his jaw clenched so tightly the muscles of his throat were vivid beneath his skin. He finger’s tightened around the cards with something close to determination, but lacking the courage. Once he had decided upon a route, he began to move away from her.

    Each step he took looked as though it were painful.  The boy moved as if the floor was pitted with barbed wire, his fingers just a little outstretched to feel his way through the dark. As he continued to slip away from the girl, he called over his shoulder.

    “Good night, Colombe. I owe you one, for the cards.”
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    Re: ** Interlude 3 - None wears the face you knew.

    Post  Tariq on Tue Apr 11, 2017 6:03 pm

    Colombe did not echo the the boy’s farewell. She watched him go in silence. Her still shape was like a column of broken marble jutting defiantly through the dark.

    She did not follow Fabien after he had gone. His blundering shape disappeared but for several minutes she stayed, adrift in the gloom. Innocuous sounds of nighttime activity from the street outside bled through the shuttered windows, muffled by the fabric that dampened the silver glow of the moon. She was distantly aware of them. But her mind was occupied with something else entirely, her brow furrowed as she mulled over the boy’s parting words.

    She sensed, despite her earlier fear, that he - she thought the word with distaste - would not be back so soon. She knew it in her bones, without having to be told or putting it into words. And so she allowed herself this moment of luxury, to stand still in the dark without anything to do, without being wanted or demanded of, without a long list of things that needed to be done weighing down on her. For a delicious interlude she just let let herself rest.

    She had known he was going to be gone and so it took her entirely by surprise when she heard the scrabble of a key in the lock of the front door. Before she had even made conscious sense of the noise she had darted across the hall into the kitchen. She threw open the pantry door and bounded up the stairs like a rabbit pursued by a dog, her feet thudding on the creaking wood, and flung herself into her bed. Her heart was pounding so hard that she could feel it in her mouth. She heard the door close with a click and the sound of movement in the parlour. Then, nothing.

    She closed her eyes and gulped in a breath of air. She clasped her hands over her chest. Her fingers were shaking.  Without a sound she began to mouth the same words that were always the last before sleep took her; “Je vous salue, Marie pleine de grâce; le Seigneur est avec vous…”

    The urchin’s words turned around in her head over and over again, blending sleepily with her mouthed prayer, always culminating in the same word - a favour? For her? What else could “I owe you” mean? Colombe fell asleep with her face turned toward the window that wept silvered light into her cramped room, this mystery still unsolved.

    The next day, should Fabien not take care when he stepped out of his bedroom, he would trip over the small tin lantern that was waiting for him on the floor just beyond his door.

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