Colombe was glad to see him, glad to have him whole and unharmed in her room. There was, as was so often the case, nothing that need be said between them about his sudden disappearance. Fabien wheedled about her injured arm, which she deflected, until, exasperated, she indicated it was an accident and left it at that.
He spent the rest of his day in a dark humour, cigarette smoke tangling in his hair while he remained preoccupied with unhappy thoughts.
When she retired to sleep, he joined her, creeping into her bed like a cat craving attention. She did not protest, nor did she draw away from his hands where they grasped for comfort. Her body radiating heat against his made for a confounding night as the restless boy tossed and turned and dreamt of dark hands and white teeth. He awoke with pebbled skin raised in shivers, the copper taste of blood on his tongue and a dull ache deep in his stomach.
The sky outside the attic window was black and dotted with the silver pinprick of stars. It cast grey light in slanting shadows about the room. The bed was empty save for his body in the twisted blankets - his friend was gone, no doubt busy with her own work. The fabric obscuring the walls rustled in a suspicious tones at his awakening.
Eventually, it was clear Colombe would not return and he would have little choice but to make his way downstairs. The warm smell of yeast still clung to the dark kitchen. Rounded loaves of bread squatted like gleaming toads on every available surface, covered with a thin piece of fabric to protect them from dust.
The house was quiet and cloaked in characteristic shadow. However, the boy would be interested to catch the faint sound of gentle murmuring coming from the next room.
Should he follow the sound to its source, he would quickly find his way to the sitting room. The large bay window curtains had been partially drawn back to allow silver moonlight in. A single lit lamp cast warm light on the shape of Fakhir sitting languidly on the sofa, her legs tucked beside her.
Laying at her side with her head on the vampire's lap was a woman Fabien would certainly have remembered meeting. She was pale as ashes, radiantly white in the soft grey light. The tip of Fakhir's finger was pressed to her lips, and the stranger's bright eyes were fixed on the vampire. Fakhir murmured something in a language Fabien could not decipher, her voice liquid and warm, and when the strange woman laughed he could see the dark red stain on her mouth where the blood of the vampire's fingertip had smeared like the juice of a pomegranate.