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


    **Interlude 8 - Death has its revelations

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    Post  Tariq on Mon Sep 02, 2019 3:15 pm

    Fabien would not see the vampire's return - he had long ago succumbed to sleep in a sprawl of loose limbs when Tariq crept cat-like into bed beside him. They slept together without further interruption, the boy pressed to the vampire's chest, the vampire's arm around his hip.

    The rhythm of his days in Tariq's room were remarkably halcyon. They slept through the daylight, the boy's aching body eager for the rest. They awoke to the cool breath of night sighing through the window. Fabien ate well, although the routine of his meals was sporadic and hinged largely on whenever the vampire remembered he ought to. He was, eventually, clothed in loose clothes that bared a great deal of his collar. Rarely was there a time the vampire did not have excuses to lay his hands or lips upon him.

    His inability to remain mobile for long was a burden on the youth and he was prone to restlessness. When the urge to fidget grew overwhelming, the pair spoke. Fabien found if he were careful he could coax the vampire into sharing tales from his long life. These stories often lacked context, unknown names and places that could not be found on a modern map, but they proved a powerful distraction. He told him of children suckled by wolves, priestesses with the gift of prophecy, men who died but whose bodies did not lay down to rest in the earth until they had their revenge.

    He spoke of all things as though he were present to witness them, and it was difficult to distinguish myth from fact, exaggeration from truth, legend from personal anecdote.

    One such story was how he discovered the stranger that had interrupted their bath was still in the house - the vampire off-handedly mentioned she was staying with them. When pressed, he told Fabien her name was Fakhir, and then continued his tale with little space for more questions.

    Further details would be uncovered slowly, like excavating bones from dust and clay, in the next few days - they had known one another for a very long time. He spoke fondly of her, although it was tempered with an exasperation that was hard to place. He spoke of her and her Lacrima - always her Lacrima - as though they were a pair, although details were sparse on what that meant. He idly referred to her once as une sorcière, which was certain to be both confounding and compelling to the boy, who was starved for information on whatever creature it was that was staying beneath his feet.

    The vampire did not abide by the same confinement as his guest and there were long hours in which Fabien was left to his own devices. He had taken once such opportunity to pilfer cigarettes from his room and took to smoking them from the balcony that led out to the courtyard below. The moon-soaked hawthorn tree seemed always to greet him with a stately rustling.

    He could see Colombe's window from the balcony. Occasionally, something moved beyond the glass, but he never caught sight of his friend.

    The vampire returned from such absences flushed, the glittering constellations in his eyes whirling. If the boy were awake he would be hard-pressed to avoid the bloody taste of his master's sharp-toothed mouth on his, his hands pressed possessively under his clothes as though he meant to crack his ribs to get to the heart beneath.

    It was only after about a week that Fabien made the case he was well enough to return to the rest of the house. The vampire resisted, at first, with a reluctance that betrayed a great deal of his enjoyment at having his warm body waiting in his bed for him, but after a day of listening to his protests, he relented.

    “I have an engagement I must keep,” he had said, pulling his boots over his calves. "Fakhir is here. You may speak to her if you wish, although you may regret it once she does." He stood and swept his boy close to press his lips to his forehead.

    "Mind your heart," he said lowly. It was all he had to say before collecting cane and mantle and departing.

    With that, the vampire was gone and the boy was left alone in his room. The bloody curtains stirred gently, the cool evening air sighing through the windows.
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    Post  Fabien on Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:41 pm

    Despite his pleas and wheedling, Fabien did not appear eager to abandon the secure comfort of the vampire's room. He lingered for a time by the vampire's bed, his grey eyes drawn to the sheets they had been tangled up together in but a moment before.

    When the quiet grew too much to bear, the urchin finally departed. He loitered briefly in the hallway, fingers in his hair, before slowly making his way along the corridor towards his room. Once inside, the boy swiftly closed the door behind him, and released a shuddering breath.

    The room had become all the more sullen for his absence. But it looked as though it has been tended to, the air held the scent of fresh sheets and newly swept floors. The sight of it made the muscles of the boy's heart tightened in shame. He shifted his weight uneasily between his feet.

    The boy moved in slow, unsteady steps. When his hands were raised, the shock of blood loss was still visible in the tremor of his sure fingers. The memory of the vampire's teeth were stark upon his throat, and the wound had healed to dark scars, not yet silvered with time.

    He turned towards a mirror to examine himself, and brushed his fingertips over a fresh bruise that was blooming at his shoulder. It was one of many obtained from the vampire's hungry mouth, and his eyes softened in pleasure at the sight of it.

    Fabien turned sharply towards the cupboard which contained the clothes at his disposal. He rifled through the dead boy's garments, before settling upon a crisp shirt of dark blue cloth. Once shrugged onto his bony shoulders, it made his sun-deprived skin appear almost a ghostly white. He laboriously buttoned the shirt up to his throat, and ensured the long sleeves were carefully secured at each wrist.

    He reexamined his appearance in the mirror. Dressed in this way, the dark colour and unusual lack of bare skin gave the boy a more austere appearance. He greeted his reflection with a soft sigh. It would suffice.

    Once satisfied, he departed the room, his muscles tense and jaw clenched. It had been easy in the vampire's company, to forget his concerns, his neglect of the few who still spoke his name, or held any affection for him. But with the vampire gone, he was without anchor. Suddenly his thoughts were drawn towards his friend, as though tethered to her by fine thread.

    The boy made his way towards the kitchen with stumbling haste. His legs were still uncertain, and his progress stalled entirely when a wave of dizziness caused him to seek support from the wall.

    When he at last reached the kitchen door, he took time to compose himself before entering. He straightened his spine, and sought to conceal the weakness that left him short of breath and bent of spine. Then he entered, smoothing down his shirt as he desperately sought to appear carefree and distracted.
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    Post  Tariq on Fri Sep 06, 2019 2:28 pm

    The master of the house, in the indifference his lack of sight afforded him, tended to keep the house in perpetual dark, and Fabien was no doubt accustomed to following the trail of light Colombe left in her wake to find her.

    A warm glow leaked from the edges of the kitchen door. Even more appealingly, the smell of freshly baked bread wafted in delicious swirls down the hall, tempting the boy forward with a beckoning finger.

    The source of the fragrance emanating almost palpably from the room would not be difficult to find once he had entered; most of the available surfaces in the room were covered with the appetizing swell of bread in various stages of rising dough or cooling, golden brown, in their molds. They filled the room with warmth and the tang of yeast and dusty flour. A sweet, resinous smoke hung thin in the air, mingling with the scent of fresh bread.

    Fakhir dominated the room. Her shoulders were bare, her skin the deep black of rich earth and the tight ringlets of her hair cascading in a dark halo around her head and down to her hips. She was occupied with the fire in the stone oven. Her hands were dusted white.

    Seated at the small table to the back of the room was Colombe. Her back was perfectly rigid and did not touch the chair, her hands clasped tightly in front of her. A cloth bandage was wound around one bicep.

    She maintained the image of a hostage despite the lack of chains, and her dilemma was clear - to escape anywhere but exactly where she sat would involve crossing the stranger’s path. Fakhir did not intentionally block her way, but the clear distaste in the girl’s body language conveyed that the stranger was an immovable obstacle nonetheless.

    When Fabien entered, her dark eyes lit up. She appraised him from across the room - the wan skin beneath her brother’s clothes, the lack of immediately visible wounds - and unclasped her hands to turn in her seat. Her gaze flicked to the stranger as though to gauge her inclination to pounce, and then back to Fabien.

    Fakhir was engaged in a steady stream of one-sided conversation that did not pause at the intrusion.

    "-grows best when fed on blood, of course. As all things do." She straightened and dusted her hands together in a cloud of white powder.

    "Well, boy," she said as though continuing a conversation, although she had not yet looked at him. "You are in time. This one has nothing to say-" She idly gestured toward Colombe, who wilted in her seat. "But you will eat my bread, yes?"

    She was rather abruptly armed with a kitchen knife, the blade of which she used to gesture to the larger table at the center of the room. Her amber eyes took him in - the dark lash peeking above the collar of his throat, his solemn expression - with a flash like golden sunlight rippling in black water She inclined her head in a manner that suggested he had little ground to disagree. “Come then, sit.”
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    Post  Fabien on Sat Sep 07, 2019 9:25 am

    Fabien paused at the entrance to the kitchen, one long fingered hand outstretched to support his weight against the door. The boy's feline eyes grew wide, his attention uncomfortably split between the delicious scent off bread, the stranger's silhouette dark against the fire, and his friend.

    At the sight of Colombe, the boy's sharp expression thawed like spring grass under sunlight. His lips twitched into a slight smile, before he quickly turned his head aside, the muscles of his throat tight.

    "Oh- ah, oui. Oui, of course Madame, j'adorerais certains." He murmured thickly.

    She would be pleased to find the youth in no need of further prompting, and he slipped obediently into a seat as instructed.

    Once settled, he released a soft, exhausted breath that loosened the muscles of his shoulders, and caused his narrow chest to sag into the edge of the table. Then, remembering himself, he hoisted his spine upright with the strained effort of a sleep deprived school boy.

    The urchin studied the amber eyed stranger, knife in hand, with lips parted as he floundered for words.

    "Ça sent très bon, and you have made so much." He prompted in the hopes she might elaborate.

    If an opportunity to glance at Colombe again arose, he seized upon it. Time had given them the chance to develop a myriad of ways of communicating. Ways of speaking across a room with nothing but the arch of a brow, the turn of an eye or twitch of a fingertip.

    The urchin's grey eyes narrowed upon the girl's bandaged arm, and he gave her a look of questioning concern.

    Whenever she moved, his bruised eyes quickly
    returned to Fakhir.

    "I am sure Colombe appreciates this rest from her chores." He said slowly, choosing his words with the trembling caution of a gambler rifling through a particularly weak deck.

    "Do you know why her arm is bandaged, Madame? Did something happen?"
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    Post  Tariq on Sat Sep 07, 2019 12:55 pm

    Fakhir appeared satisfied with the boy's quick obedience, and she turned back to the oven once he had taken a seat. The rounded loaf of golden-brown bread she brought to the table glistened obscenely with the rich butter that had been brushed over the crust. A faint dark mark, not unlike the imprint of a kiss, was visible beneath the sheen.

    "He rises," she said, as though this in any way answered his unspoken question. She quartered the loaf with experienced presses of the knife's blade. Wisps of steam coiled upward. "And is cut down, and must be eaten. How good it is that you can still eat the bread."

    She turned away and Fabien took the opportunity to glance meaningfully at Colombe's bandaged arm. She followed his gaze and absently reached to graze the dressing with her fingers. Her eyes met his and she gave a slight shake of her head as though to say it was nothing. Her brow furrowed questioningly, but before he had any chance to respond Fakhir returned to the table with a plate and the moment was dissolved.

    The stranger placed a thick slice of bread on the plate and slid it in front of the boy. The cord strung with what looked to be thin, pale shells around her neck rattled with her zealous movement.

    "Eat," she said. With the word, curls of smoke escaped between her teeth. She idly reached for the long, thin pipe that lay discarded nearby. The smoke that she inhaled was sweet and wholly unlike tobacco. It disappeared into her chest and, unnervingly, did not return.

    She sat in the seat across from him and rested her chin in her hand, the carved wood of the pipe held loosely in the other. She did nothing to veil her naked interest in watching him.

    "Hm?" she said absently at his question. Her bright gaze flickered to Colombe, who stiffened. "Non, I do not know. She does not bleed."

    She rolled her palm toward the girl in laconic invitation. "Go on then, girl. What happened to you?"

    Colombe's eyes dropped to the floor and she shook her head, the line of her jaw clenched. Fakhir shrugged and returned her attention to Fabien.

    "Unimportant," she declared. Smoke curled from between her lips. She scrutinized him with a gaze that pierced like golden arrows. "It was not your Sayyidi." As an afterthought, she added, "And it was not I."

    She tapped a long nail impatiently on the table. "Eat."
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    Post  Fabien on Sat Sep 07, 2019 4:05 pm

    Fabien's finely shaped eyes followed the loaf as it drew near. The peculiar mark on its surface did not escape the boy's attention, and he regarded it with growing unease as he shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

    When the stranger spoke, he watched her movements with unashamed fascination, grey eyes wide, and lips just a little parted.

    "You ah - will also not eat then, Madame? It seems a shame, when there is so much."

    The urchin watched as the plate slide towards him in quiet dismay. When his eyes turned back towards Colombe, they quietly pleaded for guidance.

    "Merci." He murmured, unable to disguise his growing regret.

    This time the boy was not so quick to diligently obey Fakhir's instruction, His lockpickers fingers hovered by the edge of the plate, and he began spinning it slowly with the irritating grind of porcelain on wood.

    "Oh." He replied distractedly.

    When Fakhir turned her attention to the girl, he lifted the slice to his lips, the tremble in his hands all the more pronounced when they were raised. The boy looked between the pair, his lips parted as though with intention to bite, until something in the stranger's words caused him to pause.

    "My Sayyidi?" He enquired, while he overturned the slice between his fingers with the finicky dislike of a pampered child. "Oh. Monsieur."

    The sharpness of Fakhir's prompting put a stop to the boy's procrastination. With a look of solemn resignation, he sank his teeth into the fragrant bread, and took an ample, if not un-enthusiastic mouthful.

    But despite the urchin's reservations, he was soon devouring the bread with a hungry relish. After a slow swallow, he managed to meet her eyes, butter coursing down his chin and moistening his youthful lips.

    "Monsieur tells me you are very old friends, Madame." The boy commented thickly, and roughly wiped the back of one quivering hand over his mouth. "He says many good things."

    Even after so much time under the vampires roof, he still ate with the feral inelegance of a starving pauper.
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    Post  Tariq on Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:45 pm

    Fakhir paused at the boy's question, her ripple of laughter having something of a jackal's bark to it. Her teeth were sharp in her mouth.

    "Ridicule," she said. "How would I eat it? Does Sayed Tariq tell you such foolish things?"

    She perched on the edge of her chair to watch Fabien eat with unabashed interested, the line of her spine inclined toward him. Her bright, amber gaze took in the tongue and teeth of his eating, the flex of his torn throat when he swallowed. She did not appear to much mind his indelicacy.

    "It is good, yes?" Despite his hesitancy, the bread was rich with flavour, the texture flaky and buttery on his tongue. It was likely the freshest the urchin had ever had.

    "It will give you some strength, put the blood back in you." Colombe lifted her head at this. With the stranger occupied, she had been inching forward as though to quietly make her exit.

    Her plan was thwarted when the stranger leaned forward to place another slab of bread on Fabien's plate and called over her shoulder, "There is enough for you, girl." She froze and shook her head, tucking her feet back under the table that served as her oasis.

    Fakhir sighed and turned back to the boy. She cocked her head when he spoke of Tariq. "Many good things? Then he tells you lies, too," she said, humour raking across the words. Smoke coiled from between her teeth when she spoke.

    "And I'll have you know he is older than I." The playful satisfaction in her tone suggested the misunderstanding of his words had been intentional.

    She leaned back in her seat and studied him from across the table. The shine of her eyes was unnervingly animal. "What else has he told you, boy? Has he got you romancing death already, hm?"

    She clicked her tongue against her teeth. "I've never known a blind man who had such an eye for beauty." It did not quite feel like a compliment.
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    Post  Fabien on Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:27 am

    From the way in which he devoured the bread with his eyes, it was clear Fabien did not appear to object to a second helping. He flushed at the stranger's laughter, and lifted a hand to itch the skin around his torn throat.

    "Uh - well non, I -There is much I do not know about you, Madame. You do not eat, then?"

    As soon as a fresh slice was placed before him, he sank his teeth into it with a sigh of satisfaction.

    "Mm, oui, c'est merveilleux," he murmured passionately,

    Fabien ate with the speed of unforgotten poverty. He did not pause to savour the taste, did not stop until he was  unthinkingly suckling butter and crumbs from his quivering finger tips.

    "Non. Monsieur Tariq would not lie to me" the boy replied with the unnerving conviction of a fresh faced acolyte.

    But her words enticed the corner of his mouth to twitch into a small smile that abruptly faded when his eyes veered back to Colombe. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, a look of quiet apology in his eyes as he returned his attention to Fakhir.

    "So, if not good things about you, will you accept interesting things?" He replied, meeting her eyes for a fleeting moment, before the intensity of her stare caused him to look away.

    It was not until the talk of death left her lips that he looked to her again. Then his grey eyes were so sharp with interest, they were almost luminous.

    "He - he has told me many things on that subject also, Madame." A shadow passed across the boy's expression, and he appeared troubled. "Though I am not certain I understand your meaning."

    The urchin's limbs grew lax as he sensed an invitation to quench his curiosity. He drew a knee up to his chest as his frail attempts at refinement were forgotten, amd eyed the half dissected loaf with hungry eyes. Slowly, he brought his arm to his mouth and coarsely dragged his tongue from the edge of one rope scarred wrist to the curve of his palm.

    "Monsieur also tells me you are une sorcière. Is this true?"

    The urchin watched her lips carefully as he awaited an answer.
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    Post  Tariq on Sat Sep 14, 2019 2:15 pm

    Fakhir regarded the boy across the table with eyes bright as glowing coals. Her expression at his palpable confusion was difficult to read, but her silence spoke a great deal.

    "Only the blood," she answered flatly. She lazily lifted the thin stem of the pipe to her lips and inhaled, the golden gleam of her gaze lingering on him. Twin curls of smoke coiled from her nose. "Only the blood of those that live."

    This answer appeared to be the last Colombe could bear of the conversation; she stood abruptly and, without making eye contact with either of them, skirted the wall until she reached the pantry door. She slipped inside as quietly as a mouse. The sound of her footfall ascending the creaking stairs was thinly audible.

    Fakhir did not so much as glance her way at the departure. She was occupied with the boy's praise, which drew a smile to her lips.

    “So it is,” she said, returning the pipe to the table.

    His conviction at his companion's honesty raised an eyebrow.

    "Is that so?" she asked. Her fingers idly tapped a rhythm on the tabletop. If she had more to say on the matter, it was swept away at Fabien's talk of death.

    "Of course he has," she said. She watched with interest as his tongue licked glistening butter from the curve of his palm. "It is in your eyes, how he has you courting the shadow."

    She clicked her tongue against her teeth and rose as though to stand. However, the boy's bold question halted her and she paused.

    She muttered something he could not decipher in a sigh of smoke and sank back into her seat.

    "What would you ask of me if I were? To find hidden treasure? For love, that you may lure some sweet thing here that your Sayiddi might tear them apart?"

    She shook her head ruefully. She reached across the table to pinch off a piece of bread from his plate and held it between thumb and forefinger before her, her elbow resting on the table.

    "Would we like to find out, hm?" she said. Something coiled with dark humour through her tone. He was not given the opportunity to respond. "Look at me, boy."

    Her gaze was bright as a flame and difficult to maintain but, should Fabien comply, he found it became easier. One moment more and it was difficult to look away from the molten gold of her eyes.

    "Bien," she said smokily. The praise was warm as hot cider on a bone-cold winter night. "Now, let us think on the past."  

    "Tell for me a memory…" She contemplated for only a heartbeat before striking on it. "Of your sister. Tell me something she has said to you." She did not give any indication of how she knew of his sisters. Her voice was tranquil, silky in its self-assurance, and her amber gaze did not waver.
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    Post  Fabien on Mon Sep 16, 2019 4:25 pm

    Fabien again became quite still at her answer. His expression was thoughtful, and quietly anxious. But his pulse was fierce beneath his skin, and the boy's twitching fingertips betrayed his excitable energy.

    If he meant to delve deeper, his probing questions were silenced by his friend's hasty retreat. The boy gave her retreating shadow a quick glance, before he leaned in toward Fakhir. Her words had him now, abd the urchin was breathless with curiosity.

    "You speak as though he has done so before. To others." He murmured stiffly, a growing unease etched into his features.

    When she returned to her seat, the boy visibly startled. "Ah, non Madame, I-" he attempted to interject apologetically. His pale skin flushed with colour once more, and he looked down to his hands.

    The flaxen haired youth had been partially attempting to meet her eyes, but at the directness of her command, he immediately gave her his unwavering attention.

    Now that he had little choice but to confront the beauty of her eyes, the boy became easily entranced. His lips parted, and his bruised feline eyes grew heavy lidded. The softness of her voice caused the fine hair on his arms to rise.

    "My sister?" He repeatedly sleepily, tasting the weight of the question in his mouth. "A memory." The words spilled easily from his pointed tongue.

    "I remember… she does not cry out in pain, but she is white, so white. Skin whiter than ma mère's bleached sheets. I think that scares me the most. The white, and the blue of her lips.

    She asks me "Will I die?" In her small, child's voice. Like she is merely curious. Like she thinks I hold all the answers. And I answer as though I do. I say non, non it will be alright.

    So then, she asks a different question. She asks me if her leg will right itself, after the dog's teeth have ruptured so deep. And I distract her from the worst of it, from that bone showing through. So white.

    Then she asks me softly, "Will I walk strong again? Will I keep up with Cecile, in the fields?" And again I lie, I say oui, oui. But she never loses that limp. She never sprints, wild and free, through the woods again. And she never trusts me quite the same way."

    The urchin released a low, pained breath. His eyes were very red.
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    Post  Tariq on Sun Sep 22, 2019 11:25 am

    Fakhir's gaze was level. The steady glow of her amber eyes did not waver as the boy shared his painful memory. She listened attentively without interruption, her head tilted to one side.

    "Very good," she breathed when he concluded, her white teeth flashing sharp in her mouth. Her gaze did not leave him. "This one is swollen with sorrow, hm?"

    She leaned forward across the table, almost as though to take his hand. Instead, her eyes narrowed and, unbidden, images swirled like motes of dust in his mind, spiraling too quickly to make sense of - the acrid wet earth of a moonlit alley, a flash of pain in the bones of his wrist, the bitter sobs of a child shadowed by a torn curtain, a tall man's sharp silhouette in a doorway, firm hands around his throat, a familiar voice snarled thick with want, "I will be the one to tell you how much you can take…"

    It was over in a flash. She broke eye contact and the images settled back down into the silt of his mind. The severing was jarring when she looked away.

    "Oui," she breathed, leaning back and holding two fingers to her forehead. "So much pain for such a young one." She murmured something he could not understand and glanced sidelong at him.

    She was silent. Her furrowed brow suggested she was deep in contemplation. The floor above their head creaked and it drew her from her thoughts.

    "It is good, I think," she said at last. "That you would not find comfort in an illusion. Pain has its own clarity, yes?"

    She leaned forward and tapped a finger lightly on the table.

    "But we can ease some of the sting." When she turned that golden gaze to him once more, it was bright with enthusiasm. "Think again, boy. Do you not remember how your words comforted her? How she slept, and rested, and her body did the work of healing how best it could with your oui, oui in her ears?"

    Something strange happened then. Fabien could clearly recall the words he had spoken aloud minutes before. And when he returned to the memory, he saw the truth of Fakhir's words; the stillness his assurances gave his sister, how she nodded, and her eyelids grew heavy, and she found rest.

    It was wholly impossible to tell if he had merely overlooked this peace, or if it was something she had somehow planted in the fertile soil of his memory.

    She crossed her ankles to the side of the chair, satisfied. "There is the answer to your question." There was cunning writ into the features of her face. "Perhaps it was not the right question."
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    Post  Fabien on Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:06 am

    Fabien was silent for some time after, his thin limbs still and pulse wild in his throat. He looked for a time, as though he wished to run from her. To flee the warmth of the kitchen and retreat to his master's bedroom. The whites of boy's eyes were still stained red, the slanted lids heavy with sadness.

    His eyes moved away from her, and the boy released a low shuddery breath and examined his quivering fingertips. He swallowed thickly, and rediscovered his tongue.

    "Non, I suppose I did not." He agreed softly, and his voice was still tight with emotion. "Maybe it was not a good question to ask at all."

    The boy looked stung, like a child who had reached longingly for a cat, only to be met with the slice of a claw instead of softness.

    "And now you have gained some knowledge of me. Something that I did not offer, that I did not want to share." There was a shard of distress in the boy's tone, and his eyes were dark with displeasure. "And still I know nothing of you."

    The urchin lowered his leg as though he intended to slip from his seat and flee her company. But instead,  his body inclined forward in his chair, as though the stretch of table between them was a frustrating barrier. When she met his gaze, his grey eyes were fierce with interest beneath his disheveled hair.

    "Is that then what it is to be a witch, Madame? To have such influence over another? To alter thoughts, to make me feel those things? Or this is what the blood gives you? Is that how it works? And you are ageless too, like Monsieur? The same as he?" The boy's voice was breathless with aching wonder and fascination.

    "How then was it that you met? How long ago? Did you know him before - when he was alive, like I? But then you must have died too - and how-"

    The urchin flinched then, and drew a breath as though he had been startled by some apparition. He lowered his eyes back to his hands.

    "Je - je suis désolé, Madame. I-I… grow too zealous. I do not wish to offend. I know there are many things I must not ask." He caught the flesh of his lip between his teeth, and his pale skin reddened beneath his golden hair.
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    Post  Tariq on Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:37 pm

    Fakhir's sulphurous gaze could not seem to stray long from Fabien's face - like fireflies, her eyes alighted and lingered on him. She made no move to bar his exit should he choose to pursue it.

    Her smile bared a great deal of sharp teeth.

    "It is my nature to take what is not offered and does not wish to be shared." Her tone was not unkind, despite the gentle insinuation that slithered around the words like the smoke around her ivory teeth.

    "But oui," she relented, settling back in her seat even as he leaned forward in his. "It is good that you know something of me."

    The vampire bore his breathless questions with growing amusement, her bright eyes watching him intently. She cut him off at the mention of her being like his master.

    "Ageless, yes, though he has known more ages than I. How else may we be the same?" There was a note of mirth in her voice. Her amber eyes flashed when she leaned toward him.

    "We share the blood. We prowl and run and lope, shadows on a ruined wall. We sleep by day and swarm the splendid night. We are as mirror glimpses; moving soundless, abiding as beetles in walls. We have died, but live, and take our pleasure from the blood of those that yet live."

    Her eyes had grown distant, as though the words were something to be recalled.

    "Our kin - bruxa, strega, pharmakeion, witches - weave and spell lives like spiders to their web. Influence others, yes; alter thoughts, yes. Bind and banish and bewilder; yes. Such things are also of my nature."

    Smoke rolled over her tongue with her laughter at the questions that followed, and it seemed to return her to the conversation. "Non, I did not know him in life. A thousand fogs have visited his family mausoleum, a thousand rains have drenched his tomb. The chisel marks were erased by mist and water and sun. His name had vanished with the flowers and the grass and the marble dust long before we met."

    The vampire quieted when the talk turned to her own death. She considered him in silence a moment before responding to his hasty apology, "There is much to know from a person by the questions they ask."

    "I was killed, as most of our kind are. Death is rarely kind to those who outwit it."

    Fakhir paused to press her lips to the stem of her pipe. The resinous scent of the smoke filled the kitchen with its heady warmth.

    "I will tell you more of me, if it interests you," she breathed. "But I have heard a question beneath your questions, and will tell you this: to know a person, you only need know what gods they worship. I need not ask what god it is you have devoted yourself to."

    She fixed him with that funeral pyre gaze. "Do you know what god your Sayyidi worships, boy?”
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    Post  Fabien on Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:30 am

    Fabien barely appeared to draw breath as he listened to Fakhir speak. He listened in silence, his body still eagerly bent in her direction, and his storm cloud eyes wide.

    The urchin remained happily enthralled by most of what she had to say, an open mouthed and attentive audience. But when the subject shifted back to his master, his expression became especially luminous with interest.
    Soon his heart was a throbbing wildly against his ribs, and a further string of hungry questions lured in wait at the back of his throat.

    "Oui, it interests me very much." The boy breathed, his muscles tense beneath his dark shirt.

    The boy was panting at the table, begging for information like a half starved dog begging scraps. It was an effect that was only broken by her question.

    A look of confusion then wove its way into the boy's expression. The urchin slowly shook his head, and the smooth plane of his brow became creased as he turned her question over in his mind.

    "But he has - ...there has been only scorn … when I have mentioned holy things to him before."

    "So then it must be an old God, Madame? From the past? From long ago?"
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    Post  Tariq on Sat Oct 12, 2019 1:13 pm

    The pale baubles strung on the cord around Fakhir's neck rolled and rattled as she leaned back. The hollow sound was familiar, and it would not take Fabien long to recognize it as the clatter of bone on bone.

    "It is an old god, yes." She basked in the boy's confusion, clearly enjoying leading him to the point she was making like a calf on a halter. "But not a holy one." The smoke that curled from her lips was like incense from a cathedral thurible.

    "A god he has made an altar to in this very room, an altar of blood and bone and boundless curiosity." Like the master of the house the humor in her tone had a bite to it.

    She leaned close over the table, the points of her sharp fingers splayed on the table. Her voice fell rough and low. "It is his own hunger that he worships above all else, boy. Hunger is the god whose wrist he bites at. It is his hunger that turns all he breathes into a wine of yearning, kindles him to a flame of blood."

    She paused. "Is he only gentle to you once he's taken-" She eyed him. "...something, from you?"

    She did not await confirmation before continuing.

    "He is always hungry. When he scratches that itch he is content, for a time, but it will always return, old and insatiable. It commands he takes all and makes it his, to set his teeth to as it pleases him"

    She stretched, amber eyes glowing, her spine a flexed bow. "He will give you a good death, boy. His god demands it."
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    Post  Fabien on Tue Oct 15, 2019 10:56 am

    Fabien's storm cloud eyes flitted about the room, bright with interest, before he fully comprehended Fakhir's words. Then his attention returned, arrow swift, to her golden gaze.

    The boy was caught off-guard by her comment, and heat returned in a flair of colour to his pale skin. He began idly fussing with the sleeve or his shirt with his lockpickers fingertips, and his throat muscles flexed beneath his skin as he swallowed.

    "I ... I have not really thought on such things before, Madame." He lied softly.

    The growing tension in his jaw suggested he was certainly thinking on it quite intently now.

    Her last words robbed the boy of his enthusiasm like the snuffing of candlelight between thumb and finger.

    He slipped at once into a thoughtful silence, his eyes dark with unhappiness. When he found his tongue again, he fought to keep his voice cool and full of idle interest. But something slithered there, venomous and hard, as though he were caught somewhere between hostility and fear.

    "If that is true - what you say - then why am I living now? Why does he wait to satisfy such hunger? It must be a misery, non?"

    "Why does he check so often here -" he drew a hand to his throat and tugged irritably at his collar, until he had loosened the button to expose his scarred throat to the light "to see if it festers? Why would it matter?"

    "Why does it matter?"

    The boy gave her a hard, questioning look that contained no malice, despite the bite in his voice. Instead it seemed, he was close to pleading answers from her.
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    Post  Tariq on Sun Oct 27, 2019 9:32 am

    Fakhir held the boy's gaze as he digested her words. Her interest flickered like a candle flame, hot and bright, at his words, but she remained silent.

    The vampire's frame went taut when Fabien tugged his collar loose. She regarded the exposed skin of his throat, twining scars and still-purpled wounds, with sharp, animal interest before looking quickly away with a contrite sliding of eyes as though she had witnessed something private.

    "Oh, boy," she said in a murmur, gaze averted. She brushed her fingers across her brow. "How angry he would be if you were to die before he had you."

    She stood then, in a rattle and rustle, and came round to his side of the table, so close he could smell the copper of her breath through the resinous smoke she breathed.

    "Listen close to me," she said. Her teeth were white and sharp in her mouth. "You bring him a great deal of pleasure, and he does not wish for it to end."

    She watched him from the corner of her eyes.

    "Surely that you can sympathize with."

    The trailing touch of her first two fingers where they brushed, as though by accident, on the back of his hand was cool as stone. It seemed at odds with the hot embers of her amber gaze.

    "Perhaps," Her eyes did not quite meet his. "You ought to reflect on what power it is to have something he wants so fiercely, but does not wish to take."

    She lifted his plate from the table and turned her back to set it aside, leaving him to puzzle out this riddle on his own.
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    Post  Fabien on Tue Oct 29, 2019 5:55 am

    At Fakhir's words, the colour bled from Fabien's skin until he was once again bone white. He appeared to look through her for a moment, focused on a dark horizon that had only just started to creep upon him. The boy remained still and unblinking as he became preoccupied with his own destiny.

    Eventually the urchin's entire body shivered, and he resurfaced with a soft gasp and began to self-consciously straighten his spine. His collar was left unbound and forgotten, and when his feline eyes refocused on Fakhir, they were haunted.

    "Un peu, oui."He agreed unhappily, and stirred uneasily in his chair.

    Thereafter, the boy slipped away from the room at intervals, and followed his thoughts back along those troubled paths. But he still clung to her words like candle flame, and when she turned away from him, he was riveted.

    The youth slipped into a solemn quiet, his breath low in his throat as he struggled to comprehend this revelation.

    "But I - I would not know how to-" He floundered, and unthinkingly caressed his hand in the place where her cool fingertips had touched. "He is just so ... ah- " The boy clenched his fingers in frustration, as he struggled for an explanation he had no vocabulary for. "It is difficult to think, when he is near."

    "And it is now a greater mystery to me, that I have survived this long."

    "But you have known him longer than I, Madame." He urged, his voice trembling softly. "I wish you would tell me more of what you know about him. Where it was you met, and how you came to be companions. Why he was alone when he brought me here."
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    Post  Tariq on Mon Nov 04, 2019 1:45 pm

    Fakhir’s back stayed turned to the boy while he spoke. She busied herself with tidying, her hands sure and her steps light-footed. She moved with an easy, animal grace that betrayed the strength that must lie dormant in those loose limbs.

    Fabien’s rumination on the mystery of his survival brought her pause. When she turned back to face him her gaze drifted, as though by instinct, to the exposed flesh of his throat before finding his eyes.

    “What would you have me tell of him?” There was a ripple of humour in the words. “We met in la terre entre les rivières when the moon was hardly a sliver. A long time ago now, to your mind. We know one another.” She tapped two fingers to the corners of her lips, above the sharp eyeteeth in her mouth, as though to illustrate.

    “And he… did a kindness for me.” Her gaze softened as her words breathed life into the memory. “One he need not.”

    She leaned back against the counter, a line of flour dusting her forearms as she crossed them in front of her. “I need not tell you how séduisant he can be when he wishes it.”

    The vampire considered his final remark in silence before responding. “Sayed Tariq spends much time alone. He is- we are not social creatures. By nature.”

    She tipped her head to examine him. “That he is not alone now is a curious thing.”
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    Post  Fabien on Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:25 pm

    Fabien’s feline eyes turned to watch her movements from beneath the sweep of his pale hair. When she returned her golden gaze to him, the youth straightened and offered her a luminous smile.

    “Everything.” He breathed. “I would like to know everything. I know not so much, only small things he has told me.”

    As she spoke, the boy immediately fell into intense quiet.

    “So then, you are like lovers?” He prompted sharply, his voice strained as he attempted to feign indifference to the idea. The urchin began to pluck at his sleeve, before curling a loose thread around one finger until it was tight enough to whiten with blood loss.

    “Ah, oui, he can be kind.” He murmured, and moved his agitated fingers back to caress the scarred skin of his wrists. He did not pry further then, only nodded as though this, at least for now, was enough. “Et captivant.

    The urchin rocked back in the seat of his chair, old joint and nail groaning as he precariously balanced his weight on two unsteady wooden legs. He shrugged his thin shoulders at her remark, and swept a hand through his unkempt hair as he began to rock back and forth.

    “For now, at least, eh Madame?” He replied with only a hint of bitterness, and his lips twitched into a weary, hollow smile. “Toutes les choses sont temporaires.”

    The boy slipped again into a solemn silence, his dark ringed eyes narrowed with thought.

    “But ah- this I struggle with.” He continued, gently rocking his weight to and fro. “So, you are like him? You have lived a long time, and you must kill to live on. Then to be alone, that I would think unbearable. I would crave another who understood.”

    Fabien’s movement ceased as he turned his grey eyes upon her again.

    “And I thought he was the only one, until you came.”

    The flaxen haired youth released a heavy sigh.

    “May I smoke here with you Madame? I know Monsieur does not like it when he is near.”
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    Post  Tariq on Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:36 pm

    Fakhir’s smile was sharp as her white teeth. “Are you like lovers, jaloux petit oiseau?” she demanded in return, the words thick with a trill of laughter that wasn’t entirely kind. She idly brushed a dusting of white flour from the back of her palm, breathing a greyed wisp of smoke from her nostrils.

    “That is not to what I refer,” she said. “The dead recognize one another. I see it in the eyes, if a person still dreams.”

    She listened in silence to his contemplation of a lonely immortality.

    “Yes,” she agreed without much sentiment. “Others of our kind, the night-kind who prowl and run and take of the blood. We can be companions of each other - to live together, to kill together, as you say.” The shine of her amber eyes was unnervingly animal.

    She smiled without teeth. “He would have you believe he is the only one.”

    The vampire appeared to have more to say, but paused and swallowed whatever words had been lingering at the tip of her tongue.

    “Do as you will,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand. “Sayyidi prefers to keep his senses sharp, so he is not caught unaware in the bath, yes? But I have no such concerns.”

    She stretched out a leg and glanced into the murky dark of the hall as though gauging the time by the lack of light. “There is more to say about the blood. I will think and we will talk again, d'accord? It is a long time since I had answers to curious questions.”
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    Post  Fabien on Tue Nov 19, 2019 11:18 am

    Fabien's nervous movements immediately ceased, and he set to right his chair with a sharp thud. Something flickered within the boy's expression, and embarrassed he looked down towards his hands.

    "That I don't think is such a mystery to you." He replied with awkward softness.

    The youth straightened with renewed interest, happy to divert the conversation elsewhere.

    "You do not dream? Not ever?" He probed, twisting in his seat with the eagerness of a young sighthound.

    Then the urchin fell silent, one arm hooked about the back of his chair as he contemplated what she has said.

    "I - I think I understand wrong. But then, there are more? There are others, like you and Monsieur?" The words were spoken slowly, as though the boy feared appearing not merely incorrect, but woefully stupid.

    With a nervous, electric energy he abandoned his seat and moved to rummage in a low cupboard at her side. After the brief clatter of pan lids opened and replaced, he turned back to the table, clutching his prize between nervous, trembling fingers. He drew a thin hand towards one of the candles Colombe was always sure to light.

    The boy's mind was too full of revelations to offer proper focus, and he did not sense her imminent departure. It hit him fiercely, and his entire body visibly sagged when she announced their conversation had finished.

    He drew his cigarette away from his tense mouth, and exhaled fragrant, cheap smoke into the air around him. "Oh. Oui Madame." He rasped, unable to disguise the disappointment in his voice. "I would like that. You are staying here some time yet, non? I hope so."

    Fabien sighed softly, his eyes dull as though some light which had been briefly stoked dimmed within him. He stared at nothingness, the reed of dirty paper pinched between his thin fingers.

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