The long night

The others have left some time ago. I'm not sure how long it has been, but I'm not worried. I know that I have seen them for the last time. But it's alright; we have said our goodbyes.

The last light of day fades outside, casting long shadows over the lone figure by my bedside. I take in the way the light forms a halo around his golden hair, all to aware, that this is a sight I will never see again, either. Although his face is obscured by shadows, I can tell his feelings. Maybe it's because of the tension in his shoulders, maybe it's the slightly deeper breaths he's taking, but maybe it's just the fact that I've known him for so long.

Slowly, I slide a feeble hand across the covers, giving him enough time to withdraw his own, but he does not. There is a slight quiver, as we touch and I hear his sharp intake of air, but he makes no move to recoil. His skin feels hot to my touch, full of life and vitality, so different to my own.
He's a handsome man now, full of strength and determination and I wonder just when this change from boy to adult came about.

Struggling for words, he raises his free hand and states matter-of-factly: "It's getting dark, I'll light some candles", but I shake my head.

"Don't worry, things are fine as they are. Just sit with me."

For a while, there is silence, but when he finally speaks, there is a hint of resentment in his words.

"You're old." he states simply.

"Yes."

"You're weak."

"That, too."

"You're dying."

I nod, and it takes him a while to form his next sentence.

"How can things be fine then?"

I'm not sure what to reply, so I turn my face and gaze out of the window, where I can just detect the last rays of sun caressing the darkening sky. I am fascinated by the shades of red and purple, feeling that in the long years of my life, I've never fully appreciated the beauty of this display.

Only Wolfram's unsteady breaths make me look up at him again.

"I hated you, when I found out." he forces out and I see the glitter of tears on his cheeks. "And I hate you now, for being human."

I remain silent.

"You have no right!" He suddenly shouts, but then, just as abruptly his voice drops to a choked whisper I can hardly understand. "You have no right, leaving me alone like this.

Gently, I take hold of his sleeve and tug, unable to muster more strength. Amazingly, he surrenders and allows his head to rest on my chest, hands fisting at the sheets, as his body is shaken by sobs. My arms are around him and suddenly, all the years seem to melt away. We're children again, and Wolfram comes to cry to me about the latest grave injustice that has been inflicted upon him.

I slowly stroke his shaking back and tell him every thing's going to be alright, just like I did back then. Only one thing is different now. In our childhood, it would have been Wolfram, who'd have dropped off to sleep when he'd cried himself into submission, now it is I who feels tired, so very tired.

I allow my eyes to drift shut.

"Wolfram, I'd like to rest a little. Is that alright?" I am astounded how weak, how drained my voice sounds even to my own ears.

I hear him sniff quietly next to me, but when he speaks, his voice is as warm as the sun.

"It's alright. Sleep. I'm here to watch over you"

I nodd and smile gratefully without opening my eyes.

I feel his hands brushing some grey hair off my forehead, then he presses a kiss onto my brow with such tenderness, as I'd never have expected of him.

"Sleep, brother." he murmurs. And I do, as the long night falls.