Disclaimer: I own nothing
Summary: Its Christmas day 100 years in the future and Henry Fitzroy awakens as he always does to find his immortal lover has made her yearly visit.
Rating: T for adult situations.
Author's note: a short Christmas companion fic to a fanfic I'm writing featuring my original character Kathryn.
Until Next Year
Christmas Day 2109
Henry Fitzroy bastard son of King Henry VIII and vampire, awoke as he always did, rising up from the suffocating darkness, breaking through once more to grasp at life for one more night. His body arched beneath rich satin sheets a harsh gasp escaping his throat as he took the first breath of the evening and slowly began to drag himself to full alert. A moment of confusion followed as he sluggishly tried to dispel the lingering fog around his thoughts.
The sense of something extraordinary overwhelmed him for a moment and he lay still as the last remnants of himself pieced themselves together. Euphoria hung in the air around him, humming and pulsing from billions of hearts and minds. A small chuckle rose from his lips "Merry Christmas." He wished the world.
He slid out of bed and paused to listen to the excited rhythm of a more-than-human heart echoing throughout the apartment. His own leapt with bitter-sweet joy in response, as it did every year. She's here.
Slipping into a pair of jeans and a loose shirt he opened the door and stepped through. The living area had been completely transformed, a Christmas tree in the corner glittered with golden pine cones and pale white lights, red berries and miniature wooden toys hung from the branches. At the top a number of twigs had been bound together to form a pentagram sprayed gold, with a light strategically placed at its centre to make it glow and complete the traditional picture.
The rest of his apartment seemed to hum with light; he smiled brightly when he noticed the sprig of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling fan above the sofa and presents wrapped in red and gold littering the floor beneath the tree. He paused to admire the effect for a few moments, noticing the subtle differences to last year's decorations and committing them to memory trying to guess what those changes mirrored in her.
Every year for the last hundred years his immortal lover Kathryn, the shape-shifting half demon he'd encountered as a young woman returned to him, bringing Christmas with her. He'd awake on Christmas day to find his condo decorated, presents under a tree and his lover ready to chase away the darkness and the loneliness. Her scent was everywhere, it permeated the air tickling his senses and wrapping him in a protective cocoon of cinnamon and spices. He could sense her watching him, in what form he could not guess but he did not turn, she would not allow him to see her just yet.
"The bathroom" he instructed.
The soft padding of paws sounded and he turned in time to see a fluffy white tail disappearing behind the bathroom door. A snow fox then, he approved of that form. He waited impatiently for her to emerge.
At last the bathroom door opened and a young woman stepped out her eyes twinkling and a delighted smile on her lips as she ran her hands over the red cocktail dress clinging to her curves.
"It suits you." He whispered walking over he reached out then hesitated, his fingers hovering just above her skin, almost afraid that he would feel nothing beneath his fingers, smiling shyly she reached up and brought his fingers to her skin.
The warmth of her cheek met his touch he lingered tracing the line of her jaw before brushing a blonde lock away from her eyes. She allowed him to lean in and drink in her scent his breath against her neck.
"I knew it would." He breathed.
With an embarrassed laugh she pulled him to her, tangling her hands in his hair clinging to him with unbridled joy.
"You always did have good taste." She answered. He pulled back grinning but didn't let go of her just yet.
"Its beautiful." She whispered. "Thank you."
He didn't answer, content to just look in her eyes and feel her skin beneath his fingertips. The blush that rose in her cheeks delighted and stirred him and he was elated to know that it was nothing to do with hunger. "Merry Christmas." She said shyly.
They sat before the tree on the couch hands entwined, fingers tracing circles around each other. It was a habit they'd developed over the long years, from the moment of being reunited they'd not been able to let the other go until they must. The touch was too important, too real.
Henry stared enrapt at the woman sitting with him, he'd written this moment in his books, he had countless paintings of her hidden in the depths of his apartment and here she was in the flesh, his Kathryn. After another year of facing the world alone she'd returned to him and he was like a drowning victim who'd at last been able to take that desperate breath.
She raised her wine to her lips watching him trying not to look over at the presents like an excited boy.
"I missed you Kathryn." He told her brushing lazy circles with his thumb over the back over her hand. She smiled knowingly tightening her grip in acknowledgement of all he couldn't express with those words.
"When did you get here?"
"Early this afternoon, though it was difficult in the snow."
His eyes widened slightly. "It's snowing out?" she laughed as he tugged her up from the couch dragging her to the windows where the day blinds still lay over the glass forgotten in her return. Henry hit the button tightening his grip as they rose slowly to reveal the dark flakes cascading past the window, blanketing the city in soft fluffy heaps.
Kathryn's eyes sparkled as they gazed out together. "You do know you live in Canada, snow should be nothing to you." She teased.
He laughed brightly. "Any other day, but not today." Six hundred years old and he could still be the 17 year old boy-prince he'd been before he died.
She smiled and lightly removed her hand from his, he immediately turned to watch her make her way over to the tree. She turned grinning brightly at him the lamplight adding orange highlights to her wavy blond hair. "I suppose I'll let you open your presents now then."
His mouth curved and he glided towards her again seeking another soft caress.
"Having you here is enough of a gift."
She smiled sadly and touched his cheek leaning in to kiss his lips tenderly. "But still, it's good that I come with all this." She teased him.
"I just need you." He assured her. His eyes slanted quickly to take in the small pile.
"Are they all for me?"
She settled beside him as he took the gifts one by one unwrapping them with tenderness. A copy of her latest novel not due in the shops for another four months, rare and exquisite rugs and wall hangings for his bedroom, a full length leather coat, a new mobile- "better than that brick you insist on using."- and at last a final parcel. He reached for it but her hand on his arm gave him pause. He looked at her questioningly and was alarmed to see her eyes shining with fearful tears.
"I-I wasn't sure if this was right of me…" she whispered picking the crimson object up and smoothing it in her lap like a sleeping babe. Her eyes rose and held him searchingly. "Do you regret anything Henry?"
Startled he drew back as flashes of memory tightened his throat. The long painful years of his life stretching away from him made the room seem suddenly darker, and in amongst them a face and a name branded into his heart and soul. Kathryn was young for an immortal, barely 120 years but he'd shared with her the most profound years of his life and the most painful when that time had come to a bitter, inevitable end. She waited patiently for him to gather his thoughts her fingers trembling in his cool grasp.
"Some things." He admitted hoarsely.
"But do your memories give you pain? Does-" she took a breath. "Does remembering Vicki, hurt you?"
The vampire closed his eyes as her face formed in his minds eye. A woman of quiet beauty, strong and independent and yet so vulnerable at times it had made him ache to hold her and hide her from her fears. She'd been dead for so long, but he still loved her as passionately as though she could come to his door at any moment. He still mourned her loss, that was the curse of his immortality, but the good times gave him a warmth and strength he'd never felt before. Vicki Nelson had changed him, brought the creature out of the darkness and into the light and he found himself on a daily basis thinking, "What would Vicki do?"
"No." he said at last, surprised at his own admission. "There is no pain, no regret."
She searched his eyes for the truth of that finding quiet assurance in his steady loving gaze. He took the gift from her and slowly peeled back the paper.
A leather bound photo album sat among the folds of glittering paper. He swallowed hard. For years he'd avoided portraits and photo's of past friends and lovers, they served as a reminder of constant loneliness, of loss. He stared at the book for a long time conscious of Kathryn's fearful gaze. She was trembling, on the verge of tears and he realised as he reached out and caught her fingers once more that he wasn't alone and would never be again as long as she was still in the world. With shaky smile to reassure her, he gently opened the pages.
There she was, his lost love, his warrior, his Vicki. She was smiling at the camera rolling her eyes slightly with her hair pulled back in a messy bun, unruly strands slipping out to frame her face and brush the back of her neck. Her office stretched out behind her, the desk scattered with the piles of paperwork she'd never filed and hardly ever completed. Her glasses were on the tip of her nose and he could see her brushing them back with an impatient finger moments after the shot had been taken. It all seemed so long ago, so archaic compared to the life he led now.
He suddenly remembered how to breathe. Kathryn had leant in, her hand on his cheek. He closed his eyes feeling her there reminding himself what was real and at last opened his eyes overwhelmed by this wonderful gift she had given him.
He couldn't seem to form the words to thank her and instead draw her into a fierce embrace his head buried in the crook of her neck nuzzling gently trying to show his joy through touch alone. He felt her relax under his grip and then the dampness on his skin as she began to weep.
"I wanted so much to give you this. Every year I try but, I was so scared you'd hate me for it."
"How could I hate you for this?" he whispered. "I haven't seen her face for over a hundred years. I was beginning to lose her."
She laughed softly. "Never. You'll never forget her, she wouldn't let you."
He pulled away wiping a tear from her cheek and returned his attention to the album. The second page made him laugh aloud. Vicki standing with her hands on her hips in classic style her mouth open in argument while the young woman opposite her rolled her eyes in amusement.
"I forgot how young Coreen was." He whispered, running his fingers lightly over her dark hair.
Kathryn's eyes sparkled when she told him. "I found her family."
A broad grin split his face. "Still going strong?"
She chuckled "All two hundred of them. Generation after generation thriving over time, all because of her. The latest, a little girl in the new Europe colony, is called Lydia. She's beautiful, and in a few years she'll look just like her ancestor."
Henry chuckled. "Something she'll never know."
"She will. The father has asked me to research the family tree."
Henry chuckled. "Apparently not realising that you know it intimately already." He looked at her lovingly. "How long before you hand over the research?"
She shrugged. "It'll take awhile to make the copies but at least four months. I have to make him think I've worked for the money."
Henry shook his head looking down at the photo tenderly. "How can you live looking constantly to the past?"
"Because I will live forever, I want them to too." She brushed a strand of hair from his smiling face. "And because I might not live forever."
"This doesn't bring them back you know." He told her sadly. The weight of long experience behind the words.
"I know." She hung her head. "But it means they won't be forgotten."
Henry kissed her tenderly. "The years have made a historian out of you."
The night grew late as they turned page after page laughing and crying over shared memories until at last he felt the warmth of the sun beginning to creep over the horizon and the familiar tiredness settled over his eyes. He drew his lovely companion up into his arms and claimed her lips, feeling his desire battle with his fatigue and smelling her own rise under his tender touch.
"Bed." He whispered.
When he awoke the next night the red dress was sitting where it had fallen in a pool at the foot of his bed and a warm body was draped half atop his. He relished the feeling of skin on skin and buried his head in the slightly tousled nest of blonde curls resting a top his chest. He allowed himself a few minutes to just feel her there inhaling her scent, the warmth of her body entangled with his and the steady rhythm of her heart.
After a while Kathryn's breathing changed and her eyelashes tickled his chest. A ripple went through her skin like water reminding him of her demonic origins. Her mother had been human but her father had been a chimera demon. It was from him she gained her ability to shape shift and her immortality. He remembered the night he'd first met her, a frightened child in a strange country naked and unconscious in a back alley, the scent of murder in the air and her lover's blood on the street. Years had turned that child into the eternal woman in his arms. The woman that would leave him again. Sighing his twisted to place a lingering kiss on her head curling his body tighter around her.
"When will you leave?" Henry asked quietly. Kathryn sighed against him her fingers curling the tufts of hair on his chest in lazy circles.
"I don't want to talk about leaving, what makes you think I will?"
He snorted catching her fingers in his before her gentle ministrations clouded his mind too much. She shifted to gaze at him with sharp blue eyes.
"Because you always do." He whispered bringing her fingers up to his lips. "There's too much of the world to tempt you."
She shifted so that she was suddenly straddling him, her lips crushing his with desperate need. He smiled against her and gladly deepened the kiss his hands rising to tangle themselves in her hair.
She pulled away and held his gaze lustfully. "I find you tempting enough." She whispered huskily. He allowed her another kiss before flipping her on to her back firmly pinning her body beneath him.
"How long?" he demanded.
Kathryn sighed regretfully. "Thursday morning." She whispered. The day after tomorrow. Henry growled low cursing the sunlight that would take her where he could not follow. Her heart broke as his eyes clouded with disappointment.
"So soon?" he hissed.
She nodded reaching up to brush one dark red curl off his face. "I'm needed in England, another baby is due and I want to see it."
He groaned dropping his body over her,s and hiding his face in the crook of her neck his breath hot on her skin, his lips brushing the vein pulsing just beneath the surface. She felt the thrill of danger with him this close but knew that he wouldn't feed from her. Her blood offered him no nourishment a thought that both relieved and saddened her.
"Will you never let your family go?" he whispered. His other hand rose to her breast making her gasp as he traced the tender skin there.
"They've grown, they prosper." He whispered, "Do they really need a guardian angel watching over them?"
She groaned beneath him as his hand dipped lower. "You know why." She gasped arching her back beneath his touch.
"Love?" he snorted. "You don't know these people, you share blood nothing more."
She scowled up at him brushing his fingers away angrily. "You of all people know the value of blood. They're a part of me."
"No. Your family are dead, all of them. You cause yourself more pain by getting involved."
She turned her head away and slipped out from under him snatching his shirt from the foot of the bed and storming out of the room. Henry winced as she slammed the door falling back on to his mattress with a frustrated growl. Her warmth still lingered among the sheets, her scent on his pillow.
Henry curled himself around it drinking it in, bitterly cursing her insane obsession with mortal relations. The months she spent away from him had her tracking down the descendants of her family, tracking them throughout the world it was her way of coping with her immortality, but it was also what kept her from him. He'd had no such inclinations when he'd become a vampire, but then, when he thought back to his family he'd be the first to admit they'd been far from loving. His last name attested to his position in that society. Fitzroy, fitz – bastard, roy – royal. Branded the bastard son of a whoring King for eternity. He couldn't possibly understand what the loss of her family had cost her, but he knew what it was like to be on the outside unable to belong. He would spare her that if he could. He slipped from beneath the covers not bothering to dress and cautiously slipped out of the room.
She was standing staring at the portrait of his father hanging above the work area, regally surveying the life his son had built for himself and disapproving no doubt. Henry thought with a dry smile.
He stopped a respectful distance from her though he longed to pull her back into his arms where she belonged. The distance felt too much when she was so close and the ticking of the clock behind him counted down the short time they had left together.
"Do you remember my sister Henry?" she asked at last.
He said nothing. He'd never met the girl but he'd seen pictures over the years and heard so much from Kathryn that he could hardly have forgotten her. They'd been twins, born to the same mother but not of the same father, something only Kathryn had known, and that, only after a she'd met Henry who'd recognised the demon half of her nature. The two could not have been more different. Kathryn with a slim figure and bright gold locks, her sister Beth with deep brown hair and a plumper frame. But they'd loved one another completely, shared a lifetime like the twins they should have been.
"I wanted so much to tell her about me." Kathryn whispered. "I told her everything else. When we were children there were no secrets and then the biggest secret of my life and I couldn't share it with her." Henry stepped closer and she allowed him to wrap his arms around her, leaning into his embrace.
"When she died, she smiled at me and I knew that somehow she knew, had known for years. But she never understood why I didn't tell her, why I couldn't admit to something that made us so much less than what we were."
"She was your sister, and your friend." Henry whispered soothingly. "Nothing could have made you anything less to each other."
Kathryn turned and buried her face against his bare chest listening to the steady beat of his undead heart. "Don't be-grudge me the need for a family Henry. It was all I ever knew, the only constant thing in my mortal life."
She began to speak again then hesitated a small hiccup of grief escaped her lips. He stiffened in response pulling her closer lifting her face gently to plant a loving kiss on each eye and then on her lips trying to draw her grief from her.
"When I finally left them…" she faltered and he waited patiently for her to compose herself and continue. "When I had to leave them, I never told you, but I couldn't stay away. I went back after only a few months as a stray dog. They took me in, cared for me and for another two years I was able to belong."
His heart ached for her. "Oh my darling Kathryn." He whispered.
She started to cry softly. "Can you imagine how much it hurt to be so close to them? To be loved by them but still unable to hold them, to be held?" she shook her head to dispel the lingering memory. "If all I can do is watch from afar, don't take that from me Henry."
Henry rested his head on her's rocking them both gently under his father's accusing stare. "It will only bring you more pain." He whispered regretfully.
She shook her head "Its enough for me to see them happy." She mumbled.
Henry guided her to the sofa pulling her down beside him and curling around her holding her as closely and as tightly as he could without causing her pain. "We always wish to be more than what we are."
She smiled lazily her hands returning to that little bunch of curls on his chest she seemed to love so much.
"What more could we wish for?" she asked bitterly, "We're immortal, we should have everything. What more do we need?"
"A normal lifetime? To be born, grow old and die when our time came?"
Her fingers ceased their soft caress and he bit back a quiet protest when she shifted to hold his gaze.
"To die?" she whispered.
He held her gaze seriously; worried that she had tired of immortality so soon. "Would you end it?" he asked fearfully.
Kathryn smiled at the suppressed terror behind the question and some of her old fire made her eyes sparkle.
"That would be very selfish of me." She whispered. He groaned as her fingers danced over his chest dipping lower to grasp him gently. She watched him close his eyes arching his head back and leant in to kiss and nuzzle his throat, startling him with a gentle nip that made him growl with sudden desire.
"My life is yours." she whispered. His eyes opened to watch her in silent awe. "When you die I will follow you gladly." He sat up pulling her onto his lap drawing her lips on to his, nipping and deepening the kiss until she was breathless and in no doubt of his love for her.
"You would follow me to hell?" he hissed fiercely against her.
She pulled away with a scornful laugh snatching another kiss as his eyes became inhumanly black. "Your so old fashioned." She scolded him playfully. "What makes you think we'd go there?"
"We are living sinfully, outside the lord's care."
She tugged playfully at the small cross that was ever present around his throat internally rolling her eyes that out of all the creatures of the night she was to spend eternity with a catholic Vampire.
"And yet if there is a God he lets us do so."
Henry shook his head in amusement. "After all you've seen you still deny God?"
She scowled searching for the right words. "I deny your version of God, and yet I also accept him but a greater idea of him. This life was not made to be governed by ridiculous rules. The church teaches free will but restricts it. Apparently free will does not mean free thought, you're not permitted to ask questions, not permitted to grow beyond the church's control-"
Henry didn't particularly like the direction this conversation was taking; his arousal was evident, a religious discussion was definitely not forefront on his mind.
"What foul creature saw fit to burden me with an immortal philosopher!" he groaned pulling her down on to the couch to gain more control. "You're missing the point." He growled tugging at the shirt, trying to keep from ripping it open out of pure frustration.
"Perhaps." She laughed, shifting her body so that he was agonisingly sure that she hadn't in the slightest. "You know me Henry, I don't like to be caged." She wriggled, clearly enjoying the affect she was having on him and then promptly slipped off the couch and headed towards the kitchen leaving him gaping after her in disbelief.
"You're the only woman who can tease me with philosophy." He sighed listening to her search his woefully empty cupboards. Her amused chuckle brought a smile to his lips.
"So should I brace myself for more of the same in your new book?" he enquired striding to lean against the open door. She was crouched in front of his fridge the shirt riding high on her thighs as she reached to the back for a tub of ice cream wincing as she read the best before date on the lid.
"It's a fantasy, search for philosophy in it if you like but your interpretation will be your own." she shot him a smile as she located a feast of dry meats and salad hiding in his fridge.
"Nice to know you think of me." she saluted him with a piece of turkey before piling up her plate. He watched fondly as she made her way back into the living room curling up on the couch with the plate balanced precariously on the arm, after a few bites she paused glancing tentatively at him.
"Are you...hungry?" she stammered her cheeks flushing with sudden embarrassment.
"I ate the night before last, I won't need to again for the duration of your visit."
"You really do think of me." she smiled.
"Not a moment goes by when I don't." he whispered but she was too busy eating to hear him or was pretending she hadn't but he heard the subtle flutter of her heart, saw the sudden moisture in her eyes. God, if only he could provide all she needed make it so that she never had to leave him, never wanted to leave him. But she was not hampered by the sun, she was free to roam, to see the world and she intended too. He began to feel her loss again, it seemed she felt the same because she was soon abandoning the food and back in his arms kissing him with an earnest that he returned eagerly.
This time when he drew her down with him there was no resistance, no hesitation as she allowed him to peel away his over sized shirt and discard it as far away as his vampiric abilities would allow. They gloried in each other as close as they could possibly get but always striving to be closer.
He let his masks slip for her, allowing her to see the beast and knowing that she would not fear it, he felt her letting herself go, her body like liquid beneath his fingers writhing and changing in her passion, always the woman but once with fine feathers over her flesh that caressed and tickled his sensitive skin driving him mad with sensation, then course scales deliciously rough. He delighted in the pleasure he brought her in return, memories of the last year and the countless others before merged and mingled so that it seemed they'd been this way for eternity, her absent months and wanderings forgotten, the shadow of her inevitable departure ever present but lost in the light of their passion.
The night slipped away from them so that all too soon Henry felt the gnawing sense of danger that came minutes before the dawn. He lifted his head from the crook of her neck to stare in bitter anger at the lightening night sky. Kathryn, sated and trembling with the fading waves of her passion, blinked wearily up at him noting his agitation. Her heart sank as she realised what the dawn would mean. Henry turned to look down at her his eyes the cobalt black of the beast within, his anguish and the urgency of his final kiss on her swollen lips echoing her thoughts. One more night.
Henry gasped as he awoke and immediately knew that he was alone in his bed and had been for some time. The sheets were cold to his touch without the warmth of her body. The chill surrounded him without her to chase it away, he marvelled at it bitterly. The cold was something he would have to endure once more when she left again.
His heart sank, he had hoped to awaken with her in his arms for this last night. Slipping from the covers he padded naked from his bedroom in search of his elusive lover.
The condo no longer glowed with Christmas lights, the tinsel and holly had been removed leaving the space horribly empty. He found her by the sofa dressed in his shirt, a duffel bag at her feet, she had her back too him. He watched silently as she arranged items of clothing on the sofa, a pair of jeans and a jumper.
Clothes, how absurd they seemed after the nights they'd spent together. A childish pettiness seized him and in a sudden tantrum he swept across the room tearing the clothing from her grasp and replacing them in the bag, discarding the hateful thing in one fluid movement.
Kathryn straightened watching in annoyance as her belongings flew the length of the room to crash against the bathroom door.
"Feeling melodramatic this evening I see." she muttered.
Strong arms wrapped around her from behind drawing her against Henry's broad chest. His lips found her throat making her gasp. "Most people say hello." she mumbled.
Henry said nothing, his fingers grasped the curve of her hips tracing the hateful hem of the shirt she wore. He resolved to burn it for daring to hide her body from him, a betrayal he would not forgive.
His fingers made their way to the first button and began to slowly, sensually opened the shirt baring her body to his hungry gaze. She raised her hand to stop him but he brushed her half-hearted protest aside easily pinning it to her side to prevent further attempts. At last he lost patience tearing the offending cloth open, his hands slipping inside to remind him of the flesh beneath.
He spun her to face him capturing her lips, with his, fiercely cutting off her words. He left her breathless and dazed a fitting punishment.
Stepping back he gently eased the fabric from her shoulders letting it slide down her arms to to pool at her feet. She giggled as he replaced it with his lips trailing kisses across her shoulders and collarbone.
"You know at some point we need to get dressed." she mumbled.
Henry growled low at the suggestion "No we don't."
"You might not notice, but it gets cold in here."
He was gone and back in an instant wrapping them both in the satin comforter from his bed.
"I prefer you in this if you insist on covering up."
He kissed her, brushing her cheeks with the soft fabric then stepped away to admire her.
"If you don't stop staring at me I will get dressed." she warned blushing sweetly.
He smiled then crossed to his workstation returning with canvas and paints.
"Sit for me."
He arranged her by the window looking out at the lights of the city, dark snowflakes cascading past her reflection, sparkling in a thick blanket upon the balcony. She patiently allowed him to arrange her hair so that it settled in waves across her bare shoulders. The sheet he arranged modestly around her naked body, gripped in her tremulous fingers to cover her breasts but allowed to tumble in folds to expose the smooth skin of her back.
Henry settled in front of the blank canvas eyeing his modest sitter critically. At last an idea came to him.
"You're able to partially change aren't you?"
She glared at him, "I'm not making anything bigger before you ask!"
He laughed "I wouldn't dream of it. I was thinking more of adding a feature."
He told her his idea and observed in fascination as she struggled to oblige him her body arched and trembling, sweat beading her brow with the effort of making the partial change. At last she stood before him, two majestic swan feathered wings cloaking her back, half lifted to cast shadows across her features in the candle light.
"I wasn't meant to change this way." she grunted after a while, the strain of holding the change began to show through her serene features.
"A few moments more." he promised. His hands were a blur over the canvas his brow furrowed in fevered concentration.
H smiled at her impatience, flourished his brush for a last single stroke and then finally stepped back to admire his work. "It's finished."
She sighed with relief her back rippling like water as the wings melted smoothly away. Kathryn stretched her sore muscles gratefully. "Well are you going to let me see it?"
Henry smirked bashfully then flipped to canvas to face her. He watched her reaction with pleasure as she beheld the picture. She stood as an angel her eyes on a sleeping city from the condo window, magnificent wings casting a shadow across the reflection as though at any moment she might spread them and sweep aside the darkness that surrounded her. At the angel's feet crouched, head down in the shadows of her wings, Henry had placed himself, a predator but also a protector, eyes sharp and guarded less the darkness dare come any closer to her.
Henry gently set his canvas to lean against the chair and crossed the room to meet her, she opened the satin sheet and drew it back around them both, holding him close, her eyes still on the dazzling painting.
"Well?" he whispered.
She struggled to find the words for him, her voice catching in her throat. He listened to her struggle moved by her inability to express the enormity of what she felt. At last he took pity on her hushing her softly.
"Its for you, your Christmas present from me." she didn't respond. Frowning he turned her to face him and was alarmed to see tears on her cheeks. She blushed at the concern in his eyes and tried to hide her face from him but he held her firmly in place.
"Sorry, I'm being such a baby." she whispered embarrassed.
He drew her close kissing the tears away resting her head on his chest. "Its not that bad." he whispered.
She laughed through her tears. "You know I love it." she chided him.
"I just...you make it so hard to leave you behind." she whispered.
"You could just stay."
He kissed her ending the argument before it began.
She gazed up at him tearfully, trusting him completely. Only one other woman in the last century had ever looked at him like that. He suddenly had an urge to see that woman once more.
"Come on, lets get dressed."
Whatever changes had taken place in the world over the past hundred years one place remained unchanged by time. The size of it inevitably grew, that was one thing time could not change.
Henry stood at the gates of the cemetery regarding the dark silent headstones with a reverence that made his silent companion feel as though she had walked on to sacred ground.
Henry knew where she lay, he'd walked through this graveyard in the years since her death as silent as the snow falling around them, appearing and disappearing like the ghosts that dwelt here. Tonight though he meant to linger.
Steeling himself he clutched his flowers close to his chest, smiled at his companion and stepped among the silent gravestones.
Even after so long it was strange that her remarkable life should leave nothing but those two words carved into old and weathered stone. Henry didn't allow himself to read the rest. The year of her death was permanently burned into his memory, he needed no reminding, and as for the rest, no simple words could some up such an eventful life and he would not limit his experience with them.
Kathryn watched from a respectful step back, close enough should he need her but far enough not to intrude. Vicki and Henry known each other long before she'd stumbled into their lives. She felt no jealousy for the woman who'd held his heart for so long.
He'd loved her with a passion, Kathryn had always understood that, and never would she have stood in the way of that. What she had with Henry now was different, eternal, and, for her part at least, unconditional.
No, eternity was too long to envy a dead woman a few happy years with her lover.
"I miss her too." she whispered.
Henry smiled "I always liked to think, that when she'd died, the world had felt it. That at her last breath humanity had paused, each and everyone feeling like they'd lost something important."
He sighed wiping his eyes. "I wanted them to feel just that fraction of pain for her. It was what she deserved for what she gave up to save them so many times."
They lapsed into silence. The demon standing quietly by, while the vampire knelt on Vicki Nelson's grave.
Kathryn watched a solitary tear escape tracing its way across Henry's cheek.
He wiped it away chuckling in self reproach. "I seem to spend most of my immortal life in cemeteries."
Kathryn smiled sadly. "The stories are true then, vampires and demons do frequent cemeteries, but for the same reason as everyone else."
"Except we mourn for eternity." the vampire told her he traced the letters with the tips of his fingers as though Vicki's soul lay among the cracked and weathered grooves.
Kathryn shivered pulling the coat tighter to ward off the chill of the night. "Do you think...when we die-"
"If." Henry corrected stubbornly.
"When. Will they be there, waiting for us?"
Henry smiled softly his eyes still on the gravestone. "Yes."
Kathryn smiled when he stood and took her arm leading her away from the stone and sad memories.
"All of your old lovers? Damn I won't even get a look in." she teased him.
He stopped suddenly she turned to him in surprise. His face was impassive staring at her. She backed away suddenly fearful that she'd said something wrong.
"Do you really not know what you are to me?" he whispered. "After all this time?"
He reached out brushing a curl from her face struggling to find away to tell her, to make her understand.
"In my lifetime, I have truly loved only six people, I count you among them."
He watched the tears rise in her eyes and pulled her in for another kiss preventing her from responding. He knew how she felt, there was no need for more words. Silently they made their way back to his condo.
Henry watched the play of emotion on her face as they walked, thinking about the bitter parting to come. He remembered their first parting back when Vicki was still alive.
They'd barely known each other, could not be certain yet whether she would live beyond her mortal years. She'd been so innocent then but with an unsettling prophesy of things to come.
They'd stood in his condo just before dawn and he'd said so openly:
"I gave up my mortal life for Christina, I will give up my immortal life for Vicki."
She'd smiled sadly contemplating the possibly endless life ahead of her and said "You say that now but that's the funny thing about life. It keeps giving you something else to live for."
She'd been so right.
The condo was cold when they arrived. It seemed empty without the tree and the decorations. Back to its yearly functional purpose. Not home never that. Just a place he felt safe for the daylight hours, a place he could work, shelter. How could it be more than that when Kathryn wasn't with him? It had felt like home these last few nights.
Within moments of stepping through the door Henry had whisked her away to his bedroom, removing her hateful clothes along the way. Kathryn found herself naked among his satin sheets cradled in his arms as he brushed butterfly kisses over her body.
"Let's not waste a moment more tonight." he whispered. She was more than happy to agree.
They made love slowly and passionately basking in each other, committing the smallest caress and kiss to memory as the night marched on and the sun began its relentless climb.
Henry felt it distantly, his eyes snapped open a feral black, fangs extended warning the day to retreat. Kathryn shifted in his arms, he forced his vampiric features to soften for her. He wanted to fight to keep her, but there was nothing to fight, nothing but the sun itself. She sighed burying her head in his chest.
"I'm sorry Henry. I wish we had longer." she whispered.
He curled around her as though to shield her from the coming day.
"Time is fickle, when your away from me I have too much of it, when your with me, too little."
She turned in his arms blinking back sudden tears. "A year isn't all that long Henry."
"You could stay just a little longer. A few more days? A week?-" she kissed him smiling sadly.
"A month, year and forever. Every year you ask-" she whispered.
"In the hope that your answer will be different to the last." she looked away he gently turned her back to face him kissing her softly.
"I never liked cities Henry."
He groaned in despair burying his head in the crook of her neck, "Oh God, I wish I could put you in a cage and tame you till you'd promise to stay by my side." she chuckled.
"No." he sighed in defeat. "Your not to be tamed, there's too much of the wild in you."
"You let me go and I always come back. That's part of what love is."
He held her close treasuring the soft rhythm of her heart against his, the warm of her touch and the smell of her hair. The dawn was drawing ever closer making the hair rise on his neck and his body tremble with the primal fear of the day. He willed it away, willed the sun not to rise and the day not to come, even if the world ended it wouldn't matter, she was with him, he wasn't alone, he would go to his death with his demon in his arms. But the day would come, the sun was even now touching the snow blanketed streets of Toronto.
One final time he looked into her eyes, kissed her lips and repeated his plea.
"Stop me." she begged in return. "Stay awake and stop me."
His eyes sharpened with sudden anguish, God that he could. It was cruel of her to torment him with such words and she knew it.
The day drew upon him snatching the breath from his body desperately she brought her lips to his, taking his final gasp of life into herself before the day could steal it away. His eyes closed reluctantly, his body limp and suddenly lifeless among the sheets. With a small sob she curled her body around him burying her head in his hair.
She lay within his silent embrace for three more selfish hours.
When he awoke the bed was already cold and a small Christmas card lay on the pillow adorned with her delicate handwriting:
"Until next year x."
Note: Would love some reviews and in the new year you'll all be able to meet Kathryn properly when I get my full story uploaded. Merry Chistmas!!!