A/N: A birthday present for Bri. I was in the middle of writing this when her birthday swung round, and finished it super-quick so that I could get it to her as a somewhat belated birthday present, rather than an incredibly belated birthday present.
Summary: The roses change from coal to red whenever she comes to visit. Cass/Raph.
"Why do you come here, anyway?" said an imperious voice.
Cassandra, startled, turned her eyes from the setting sun to her bare room's doorway. Her green eyes widened in surprise.
Cassandra had rarely seen Amy Sorel, and even then, only at a distance. Now that she got a good look at her, she wondered if Amy went out of her way to look ill. Her hair was an angry red shock against her skin. The black dress with the white lining emphasized her paleness, making her look almost like a ghost.
She had coal black roses in her hair.
"Well?" she demanded. On a lesser girl, the expression on her face might almost be deemed a pout.
Cassandra was confused. She found herself trying to come up with an explanation that wasn't ridiculously trite or hideously untrue and settled with the obvious.
"I'm not sure,"
Amy crossed her arms, furious.
"Then why do you come?"
"Because I want to," the words were out of Cassandra's mouth before she had a chance to stop them, and she clapped a hand over her traitorous lips in shock.
Amy started, clearly as surprised as Cassandra.
There was a moment of silence, and then Amy burst into tears.
"You make them red!" she yelled through her sobs, "You make them red!" and she ran from the room.
Cassandra walked to the doorway and paused.
A coal black rose had fallen to the floor.
- - -
Cassandra walked into the library, twirling the rose by the stem. Left, right, left, right, the rose spun like a petalled ballerina.
"Come here," said a soft voice, "The room is dark where you stand,"
She looked up. The candles hadn't yet been lit, so the room was dark but for the fireplace, where a fire crackled and burst.
He stood there, silhouetted in fire and shadow. An uneasy smile made its way across Cassandra's face as she walked to the hearth.
"You haven't lit the candles," she said, pushing some hair back. The fire was almost uncomfortably warm.
"My dear Cassandra, you have a talent for stating the obvious," Raphael took one of her hands, golden in the firelight, and kissed her fingers as though she were a queen, before collapsing elegantly into an armchair with a smirk.
"Are you actually going to light the candles?"
"Why bother, when I can see your form quite well without them?"
Cassandra made an exasperated noise and went over to the mantelpiece and found a taper. She lit it carefully in the fire, and lit the candles on the mantelpiece. Slowly, walking in a circle, she lit all the candles and lanterns in the library until it glowed.
She turned around elegantly, her skirt swirling around her, and blew the taper out, before going and resting it back on the mantelpiece. She fell into the chair next to Raphael, resting her legs over one of the arms and tilting her head upside down to smile at him.
"You are," he told her, "A silly little girl,"
Cassandra twisted so she was right side up.
"You just don't have a sense of humor,"
There was a moment of silence.
"I spoke to Amy earlier this evening," said Cassandra, curious as to how he would react.
A smile so small and soft it was barely noticeable crossed his face.
"She was wearing one of these in her hair," added Cassandra, handing Raphael the rose.
"Yes, there's a trellis up the side of the castle nearest her room. She's quite fond of them. Since we came here, the roses slowly changed color from red to coal black. Of course," he said shifting himself and looking over at Cassandra with half-lidded eyes, "They turn red whenever you visit,"
There was a moment of silence.
Had Cassandra and Raphael turned around, they would have seen the button-brown eyes that looked at them through the door, and seen how they vanished once the roses were mentioned.
- - -
It was the next night and Cassandra found herself curled up in the chair, dozing over her book when she heard boots click along the floor.
Holding herself very, very still, she reached down to her sword, lying next to her, and started to slowly unsheathe it…
A few more clicks and Amy walked into the firelight, cradling a blood-red rose. She sat cross-legged on the floor next to Cassandra, running her thin fingers around its petals and stem. She must have cut off the thorns beforehand, because she didn't catch her skin on it.
"Red as roses," said Cassandra softly, brushing her fingers against an angry red curl. Amy looked up sharply, wary as a wildcat.
"You're the one that turns them red," said Amy, turning back to the rose. Her sleeves were slightly belled, baring white wrists and arms as the coal-black cloth fell back to her elbows. She looked back at Cassandra, almost resentfully. Her blood-red eyes shone in the dark, and Cassandra fancied she could see the twine of bloody vines and coal-black petals in their depths.
"Amy, why do you hate me so much?" Cassandra's voice was hushed, as if the two were in a graveyard.
"I don't hate you," said Amy, pressing the cold petals to her pale cheek, "I just don't understand you. You're all…bright and clean and shiny. We're not. We're black and darkness and moonlight and blood,"
There was silence. Amy's eyes were wide, and there was something akin to fear in them.
"If you stay with Raphael long enough, you'll get black and bloody soon, too,"
The girl walked off after that somewhat enigmatic comment, leaving behind the blood-red rose.
Cassandra picked the rose up by its stem and then let out a sharp 'ow!'
She'd pricked herself on a thorn.
And as the blood oozed off her fingers and onto the rose, she had a horrid feeling that Amy was right.
- - -
The night was cold. Cold as snow. Cold as stars, moonlight and stone.
Cassandra huddled in her bed, so cold that she was wearing the warm coat her mother had made for her, thick and warm and comfy.
"I am not getting out of bed," she said firmly, "I am not letting the cold touch any more bare skin than is absolutely necessary,"
"My love, this is Romania," Cassandra jumped. She hadn't seen Raphael standing in the doorway. Leaning into the shadows as he was, Raphael might as well have been a shadow himself.
Black and darkness and moonlight and blood…and coal black roses.
"What exactly did you expect?" smirking, he walked over to her bed. Cassandra shivered in something that wasn't the cold.
"What are you doing here?" she said warily.
"You weren't at the library. I was wondering where you were,"
"In my bed feeling cold," Cassandra's cheeks were pink, her lips red. Raphael smiled in a way that warmed and worried her, before sitting down next to her, rolling her sleeves up and gently chafing her arms.
She stiffened, and then relaxed, although a part of her couldn't suppress the thought that he wasn't as warm as person should be…
He pressed a kiss against her forehead. His lips, at least, were warm. Almost hot, although that was probably just because she felt cold.
He kissed her cheeks next, and then slowly kissed her on the mouth, holding her tightly against him. Cassandra felt as if she were drowning in something heady and warm.
His mouth tasted like blood.
Raphael gently brushed a hand against her cheek and fire raced through her nerves.
"Why do you do this to me?" she whispered without thinking.
"My dear Cassandra, have you any idea how often those words have come to my mind you darling, wretched thing?"
Cassandra had no answer to that, other than to tilt her head up slightly, so that he could brush his lips against hers again…
- - -
…hands sliding up her coat and skirt, along her legs, legs taut with muscles, golden with the sun. His fingertips are cold, his palms are warm; she shivers slightly. His breath is hot on her neck.
A hand slips up to cradle a breast. A cold thumb brushes across a dark nipple – she whimpers, quietly, her hands fist in his cloth. She bites her lip. He pushes her legs open with a gentleness that borders on the patronizing. Fingers, knuckles, hips against her skin – her nails bite deep into his flesh ("Where did you get those scars?" Amy will ask) teeth and lips graze along her neck, chalk white scratches.
He throws her to the bed, off come her nightclothes, sunskin bared to moonlight and the dark. She's hardly delicate, though, and all but rips off his clothes. The silk tears angrily. He pulls her forward, her legs halo his hips and pull him back toward her firmly. He smiles at her demand, then gasps.
"Wench," he mutters. She laughs, throwing her head back. With only the moon as light in the room, her short hair falls back in silver waves. Then flesh meets flesh, her laugh turns to soft cry ("Why is there blood on your sheets?" Amy will ask Cassandra. Cassandra will blush.) but gods he's good (better than the boy she lost it to, all clumsy, wine-soaked, on the grassy bank (she bathed in vinegar after) and all she felt was pain. He bragged.) and she rains hard kisses on his collarbone, shoulder, chest. A finger down her spine to match the scratches that she leaves, and she squirms slightly. Her chin sets and she's stronger than she looks and shoves him over so she's on top, cheeks flushed, eyes wide.
It's more hatred than lust now, dominance and pleasure mixing in the most bizarre of ways. He pulls her face down by her hair, blood on her hands, gasps made more of anger than of want. She hisses obscenities, his mouth throws back hot insults. He calls her 'darling' 'dearest' and it hurts even as she bangs his shoulder on the iron of the bed.
"Call me Cassandra, damn you," she whispers, furious. He smiles, as if she were but a child, and maybe to him that's really all she is. Maybe. But that's not what draws him to her bed and mouth and inbetween her legs (even amongst the pain and hate she moans. He growls, as if insulted. Maybe he is.).
Eventually she wins – or does she? His hands still linger on her hips – "My dear," he says, breathlessly (his cheeks are almost gold – gods, is he flushed?) "I had to stop you scratching me somehow," there's still hot arrogance in his smile, but she pushes and now he gasps. He's dizzy with the realization that this is what he wants. More than her death, her blood, her darkness. He wants her brightness, her sunshine, her smile, the flush that somehow still shines pink on silver skin.
"You're mine," he hisses with a gasp.
"Hardly," she says, but it takes him several moments to work it out through his dizziness and her incoherence. She leans over, pinning his shoulders down, and there's a smile on her face that feels slightly odd, and in her way she's won.
Raphael pulls her against him, twists, she's on her back, she struggles, he leaves a sharp bite on her neck. Blood pools around his lips. She gasps, her eyelids flutter, and she comes.
"Cassandra," he whispers without thinking. Her eyelids open, and her eyes glow green.
(Deep in the castle Amy cries – the roses are redder than she's ever seen.)
She pulls him close, "You're mine," she hisses at him, with a smile on her face that makes his eyes widen.
And when he comes, she whispers out his name.
- - -
The next night falls, and Amy goes to pick her roses. She laughs in glee.
For the roses on the trellis are now as black as coal.