Fandom: War and Peace

Title: Candle

Author: Shadow Padawan

Genre: romance, angst

Characters: Theodore Dolokhov, Helene Kuragin

Summary: Even after she leaves, Dolokhov still loves and longs for Helene. But it's not all that simple.

He sees her sometimes at the balls. She dances and laughs. There are always men around her. Young officers. Stout, already-married government men. There are always women looking at her. Watching her with such obvious envy that it's practically laughable.

She's always the same. She's always different. Her hair is always in some imitation of the classic fountain style. Her dresses range from coal black, to snowy white, to lusty red, to magical blue. She always throws her head back just slightly when she laughs. She can be amused or condescending, modest or outrageous, edgy or lilting.

She never overlooks anyone, always able to pick out a familiar face in the crowd. She always overlooks him. She sees him but pretends not to notice. Her eyes linger on him, brush over his lips and shoulders and the corners of her mouth twitch just slightly upward before she turns away.

He doesn't think about her. There are other women and other things to do. He never approaches her, never speaks of her. Not even to her brother. Especially not to her brother. But sometimes, when he's alone at night with a single candle lit and set by the window, he sits down and props his chin on both hands and thinks of how her eyes would look in the light of that lone candle. He closes his eyes and imagines the scent of her hair and the sensation of her skin under his fingers.

The bottle of wine is his enemy. It whispers to him, fills him with the urge to write to her. The quill is the wine's accomplice. It leaves neat, bold letters on the blank page in front of him. Words that speak of nothing and everything. That ask her the most foolish questions and in cloyingly cliche terms express his drowning heart's desire for her love. He always burns the half-finished letters. They deserve to be nothing but ash. They offend his pride. Or maybe he offends his own pride, but that is a whole other matter.

He wonders why it's so hard to forget her. He knows her entirely and not at all. She is a beautiful paradox – purely sensual, sulliedly material. She came to him with gentleness. She left with abruptness. She did not love him. She loved only him. He still has her one and only letter. The one composed of only one line: I never loved because I never met a man worth loving. Until now. She's idealistic after sex and practical before it. She loves beauty for beauty's sake and he wishes he could do the same. Because there is something selfless about wanting the sunset to be bright and clear for the sake of it being beautiful so that everyone can enjoy its splendor.

She was never the woman he intended to fall in love with. She was not perfect and the farthest thing from his ideal. She was like him: her hard exterior, her cynical approach to the world. She was nothing like him in her soft interior, the one she protected deep within the walls she built around her heart. Perhaps, if he could find that last, lingering spark in his heart, the last warm light deep within his hardened soul, the ice around his heart would melt and he would be able to love and feel freely again. She could show him, she could bring out that last, lost candle. He almost felt it, almost felt the warmth of that candle every time she touched him. He fed off of her inner-strength, finding his likeness in her and sustaining hope, hope for a recovery from his icy apathy.

He sees her sometimes at the balls. She dances and laughs. He stands and watches her. He never approaches her, never speaks to her. Her warmth is not reciprocated within him anymore.

Because she left and blew out his candle.