The first time they met it was raining out. Heavy, thunderous clouds rumbled angrily like the fabled dragon of St. George and curled themselves around the British Isles. The tiny local pub wasn't very full – most people had more sense than to stay out all night in this kind of weather – but the homely sounds of chatter seemed to fill every corner of the bar. Cigarette smoke lingered around the ceiling like the warm, malodorous tendrils of mist that would hang about the commons and cemeteries on summer mornings. Arthur Kirkland sat at the bar adding to that smoke. He wasn't there to drink, or to meet friends. The buzzing chatter of pleasantly inebriated old fools would generally sooth his mind when he was troubled, but not even the bar could sooth this needless unease tonight.
There was a stranger tucked away in a corner of the bar, where the red-gold light of the weak bulb barely shone. He was dressed in a stiff, dark suit which was neat and formal, a stark contrast to the way the man was slumped, defeated and exhausted-looking against the stained countertop.
"Excuse me," he found himself saying, polite as ever, "But I was just wondering if you're alright? I know it's none of my business, but you look like you could use someone to talk to."
The man looked up. He had pale blond hair that had been ineffectually pulled back from his face with a ribbon. But that didn't stop the wings of his fringe from framing a gaunt, wan face. The stranger's complexion was unhealthily pale, and he had large bruise-blue hollows under his pale blue eyes. A slight shake of those white-gold locks was his only refusal. Despite that, the Englishman continued,
"I'm Arthur, by the way, Arthur Kirkland," the man nodded and extended a hand. They shook. The stranger's grip was firm but his hand was icy cold and as pale as his face, "My God, man, you're freezing!" his only answer was an eloquent shrug. Seeing as he wasn't being openly told to stuff off, the Englishman continued to probe.
"You're new in town?" A subtle inclination of that weary head. A faded, wry smile.
"Staying long?" A gentle shake.
"Just passing through then?" another nod.
"Are you intending to speak to me this evening?" A smile and another shake.
"Right. Do you mind me talking to you?" Shake; vehement this time.
Arthur smiled and carried on talking, chatting mildly about this, that and the other thing while the strange man did nothing but gesture his responses. And yet those gestures seemed to carry their make-shift conversation as well as any words could.
Before long it was midnight and the bar's patrons were steadily drifting off. Arthur looked around awkwardly. He didn't want to leave this man alone, but at the same time he needed to go home.
"Erm, do you have a place to stay tonight?" the Englishman asked, looking anywhere but at those intent blue eyes. He only remembered just in time to look back up and catch the stranger's answer; shake.
"You can stay with me if you like?" Nod. Arthur smiled, pleased to have earned that level of trust in such a short space of time. He didn't stop to consider that he might be the stupid one in this situation for trusting this man.
"Smashing, shall we head off then?" That slight inclination of the other man's head made the green-eyed man happy. He stood up, paid for the tonic water he'd had while he was talking and watched as the stranger did the same. But he had drunk nothing. How odd. But perhaps he was just tired, as travellers are wont to be.
They walked side by side through the chill, misty night, kept warm by an amenable silence and the wet scrunch of shoes on tar.
How it happened, Arthur was never quite sure. One minute, he was unlocking the door and chatting over his shoulder with his strange, rather old-fashioned- (almost period-) looking guest, welcoming him in, and the next, it was two in the morning, and their conversation was finally winding down. He'd told this man everything. He had just talked and talked and talked. They were sitting on the Englishman's bed and his head was in the stranger's lap. The stranger's long, cold fingers stroked through Arthur's hair in a calming rhythm until he fell asleep.
Morning light the colour of weak tea filtered through the windows of Arthur's room, waking him from his sleep. Blinking lazily, he looked around for the black-suited figure of the strange man who had- the Brit stopped dead in his thoughts. That man had slept with him. In his bed. When there was a perfectly serviceable guest room just across the hall. Oh, maybe he had moved to the guest room, seeing as he obviously wasn't in Arthur's bed – that thought made him cringe again.
As he sat up to check, the blond noted two things. One; he was still wearing the same clothes as he had yesterday, and two; there was a little card on the pillow beside him. A pillow which looked slept on. Not only that, but there was a long, pale blond hair that had caught on the pillowcase coiled neatly into the dip someone's head had pressed into the eiderdown. The card was made of heavy cartridge paper and had neat, fluid script on it in blue ink. It was an old-fashioned calling card.
Monsieur Francis Bonnefoy
So the mystery man had a name. A French name. Monsieur Francis Bonnefoy. A nice name. Arthur would never admit it, especially in front of his Francophobic family, but he really liked the language. The French people he'd had a few unfortunate experiences with but the stranger – Monsieur Bonnefoy – seemed nice enough. But the time was not written in that old-style faded blue ink by the careful point of dip-pen. The time was cut into the thick flesh of the paper by the unfeeling nib of a navy-blue, not-entirely-functional ball-point pen. The one that Arthur was pretty sure was sitting on his bedside table. But the neat, fluid calligraphy was the same; hand written by Monsieur Bonnefoy himself.
The time. This evening? Was Francis asking to meet him again tonight? That would be nice. But where was his enigmatic new friend now? It was barely seven-thirty. Had the supposed Frenchman left already? Where had he gone? What was he doing? Was he speaking? Was that why he hadn't spoken? Was he ashamed of his accent? Did he have an accent?
Arthur Kirkland considered himself a practical person. And yet so very many trivial little questions were chasing themselves in a game of on-on around his head. As soon as 'Will I go this evening?' was tagged as on, it collided with, 'Will he be there to meet me?' and so on. It was insufferable. Even his work reflected it. Instead of working half-heartedly on the half-started novel with the half-baked plot, he found himself opening a new document and beginning to type. Beginning to describe the low-class pub he'd been in, the way the weak light had glistened wetly on the sticky wooden bar top. How there had been a pale, blond man in a rigid black suit across from him. How, little by little, the royal blue ribbon had slipped from the man's hair until it finally fell. How the plush velvet of it had caressed his cheek at quarter-past one that morning when it had taken the final tumble from mysterious Francis' hair. A long blond hair had pulled out with it, tickling the Englishman's skin where it landed.
God, this sounded like a romance.
Arthur wrote until he ran out of things to write. He wrote about waking up and about finding Francis gone. He wrote about finding the calling card in his stead.
Had he wanted to wake up beside that stranger? Had he wished himself drunk, so that they might have an excuse to sleep together?
With a frustrated snort, the author pushed himself back from his desk and stormed to the kitchen for a calming cup of tea, leaving the cursor to blink accusingly at the empty study.
Twelve cups of English Breakfast blend, a ridiculous number of excursions to the bog and round-about eleven hours later, it was time to head off to the bar. To see if that was what Francis wanted. Sure enough, there was a man in a stiff suit tucked away in the corner of the bar. Arthur took a few moments to assess his appearance. Better than yesterday. Less ashen and more naturally pale. Though not by much. His hair wasn't tied back today. It was loose and fell in soft waves around his face. His suit was a different cut to yesterday's, though Arthur made the mistake of thinking it black until a shift in the man's posture let light dance across the silk, revealing its midnight blue.
That shift, he realised, was Francis staring at him staring at Francis. Awkward. He walked over and sat at the bar, ordering a beer and smiling at the man he assumed was French, "Bonjour, Monsieur Francis," he said quietly.
A low, throaty staccato filled the corner they occupied, and it took Arthur a moment to realise that it was Francis laughing. His smooth lips were still sealed, but he was laughing none the less. His Adam's apple bobbed like a Halloween game in his mirth. It was quite odd, almost mesmerising, to hear that from a man he had assumed dumb. Francis hadn't said a word the night before.
"You're not mute then?" he asked in a scandalised tone. Here he had been thinking that though some natural defeat or trauma, his new friend was incapable of speech. But that sound showed none of the markers of those cursed to silence. He just refused to open his mouth.
Francis' answering smile looked like it wanted to split open those sharply angled lips in a sensuous smile, but it didn't. Instead the suspected Frenchman shook his head, looking up at Arthur from under eyelashes that were just a shade darker than blond. Tangible rays of sunshine against a clear, crystalline sky. That was what the Englishman thought of. A light, airy spring sky, the kind that was fresh and clean and, and, and beautiful. Those were eyes he could get used to looking at. Eyes that he wanted to get used to looking at.
"Then do you just not want to talk to me?" he asked a little forlornly, but trying to hide it. It would be nice to hear Francis speak, especially after hearing that enticing little chuckle. Arthur endeavoured that he would make Francis laugh. That was his new objective. Assuming that the other man actually wanted to talk to him. Arthur held hope when the formally dressed man shook his head.
"You don't want to talk to anyone, do you?" A tight lipped grin greeted his question and Francis shook his head. No, he didn't want to talk to anyone. Arthur sighed in relief.
"For a while there I thought you had something against me personally," Francis rolled his eyes at that suggestion, as if to say, 'What could I possibly have against you?' Reassured, the Englishman moved on to his next subject of choice – the Frenchman really had no say in the topic of conversation if he refused to open his mouth and speak.
"Are you going to stay over tonight?" Nod.
As Arthur headed for his bedroom, Francis followed at his heels. The Englishman didn't know where to look, "Ah, yes, er, look… There's a guest bedroom across the hall if you'd like," he said, not wanting to seem un-gentlemanly and order his guest to bed, but also not really minding where Francis slept.
The Frenchman took a step forward, and Arthur raised his head just in time to see a fond smile on the other's pale face as long finger's carded though his host's hair.
"You want to finger-brush me to sleep again?" splotches of colour glowed in Arthur's cheeks as Francis nodded.
That became a little habit of theirs. They would talk until bedtime, once in bed; Francis would comb chill fingers through the Englishman's short blond hair until he fell asleep. In the morning, Francis would be gone.
Three months of a habit made a routine. So Francis and Arthur had a routine. The Englishman almost didn't need to look at his French – friend? Room-mate? Boyfriend-without-benefits? – lodger to know what he was trying to say. Francis had a presence that communicated his meaning as well as any words could. This vow of silence, seemingly self-imposed, because there were so many times when he looked at Arthur as though he was simply dying to say something but steadfastly refused to open his mouth. On a couple of occasions he had resorted in his exasperation to taking a pen to paper and explaining his thoughts there. Though sometimes it was in French. The Englishman learnt more about the French language in ten minutes of Francis' elegant scribbling than he did in any class he'd ever taken.
Francis was going to be a little late tonight, and that suited Arthur just fine. Since meeting his strangely nocturnal house-guest, his days and nights had been reversed. It was nice, on the occasions when his friend wasn't going to take up his evening, to wander around the town at night. So many different things came out at night – he barely missed the sun at all. Everything was brushed in silver and shadows, clear moonlight bleaching the colour from plants, cars and people alike.
A scuffling in the dim alleyway to his left caught his attention.
Humans are stupid creatures. The only creatures on this earth that will run towards a cry of distress instead of away from it. It was as such that Arthur walked towards the muffled yelp of surprise rather than back towards the relative safety of the more populated main road.
The scene before him knocked a gasp from his lungs. That single, quiet exhalation turned Francis' head from the neck of the young woman who had fainted his arms to Arthur, standing frozen in the mouth of the alley. It was very obvious to the Englishman what the man who had been sleeping in his bed for three months had been about to do. Though he didn't suppose now that Francis had ever slept. The way his lips were parted over her neck, the feral, predatory angles of his stance. He had been about to bite her. Bite her. Like a…. Like a…. his vocabulary cheerfully supplied the word vampire, but his mind baulked at the very suggestion of Francis being anything than a very odd man. One who was never around during the day. One who never ate or slept. One who dressed like he was from the 1800s. One who was unnaturally pale and rather beautiful.
Carefully, and looking rather forlorn, Francis set the woman down and stepped over her unconscious body towards Arthur, who took several rapid steps backward, "Get away from me!" He snapped, and much to his surprise, the vampire stopped walking, both of them clear of the alley and standing in stark moonlight.
"You're- you're a monster!" the Englishman hissed, taking another step back, eyes not leaving the other's face. Eyes that were frozen wide in horror when Francis opened his mouth, inviting lips drawn back in speech,
"Yes, I am." Arthur barely registered the sound of the Frenchman's voice. He was far too busy watching the way moonlight glittered on his teeth.
"Stop following me!" Arthur bit out, scared out of his mind as he stalked through the night with a vampire by his side. His heart was beating like a rabbit's and the way his blood was pounding made him nervous. Could Francis hear that? Could he read his mind? Did any of the novels hold a basis in reality? Was this even reality? Had he not just hit his head on something when he woke up? Or was he still asleep?
"I am beside you, cher, not following," Francis said quietly. His voice was everything that Arthur had imagined it would be and more; rich, smooth and refined, fluid and delightful to listen to. If it wasn't for the flashing, needle-like teeth that filled his jaws, then the shorter blond would have liked to spend a few hours simply watching him speak. But Jesus. Those teeth!
The vampire's jaws were filled with hundreds of narrow, pointed teeth that looked too much like shark's teeth to be at all comfortable. They were pearly white and looked wickedly sharp. And even if Francis' voice and his warm, reassuring accept wrapped around his words in a way that made Arthur want to topple into the other man's arms and forget about the fact that he'd just attacked a woman… Those teeth…
Hurriedly, Arthur trotted up the front steps of his house, wrenching the door open and attempted to slam it in the French vampire's face, only to be thwarted by a well-polished shoe. Francis looked mildly unhappy about the whole situation, but somehow the human doubted that that was because he'd slammed the door on the creature's foot.
"You're not welcome here anymore!" he said, leaning all his weight against the wooden barrier that he was pretty sure was the only thing that was stopping him from becoming vampire chow. The pained look on Francis' face deepened, and Arthur bit back the urge to apologise and open the door.
"You watch too much television," the immortal sighed, "Rescinding my invitation will do nothing, not after you have made your home mine. Though that is not technically true. You have made my home yours. You never needed to invite me in." The bottom dropped out of the Brit's stomach and his green eyes widened as he slowly turned his head to take in his home. Victorian era architecture. It was a little pokey, but it was the perfect bachelor pad. And all around it were signs that Francis had been living here. There was a faint smell of earth, a single wine glass besides a bottle of vintage (he'd encouraged Arthur to try some, enjoying that his host had enjoyed it). An apron folded neatly and hung over the back of a chair (Francis had enjoyed cooking for the other, even if it had taken him a while to get the hang of the kitchen). A small pile of antique French novels sat beside an armchair for when they would sit and read, comfortable in the silence of each other's company.
"This is your house?" He whispered fearfully, yelping in surprise as Francis pushed the door open and stepped inside. Arthur found that the vampire was at his back, hands on the Englishman's hips and face pressed into the crook of his neck. They'd stood like this before; only then Arthur hadn't known that he was lunch.
"Oui," Francis breathed, lips moving over his neck, and it took Arthur a full two minutes to realise that not only was the Frenchman kissing him, but also that he liked it, "Thank you for keeping it safe for me." They were soft little kisses, and Francis' cool, plush lips were supremely pleasant against his skin. Arthur wouldn't deny that he'd imagined being kissed by Francis', and that like the real ones, his imaginings had been tender and sweet.
However, unlike in his idle fantasies, that temptingly kissable mouth housed a full drawer of steak knives and it wasn't desire that pulsed in his veins, it was pure terror.
"Do you make it a habit to play with your food?" Arthur asked, breath coming short and voice trembling, but still making some vague attempt at bravado.
Francis pulled back, turning Arthur to face him, confused, "You don't want me to kiss you? I thought you did. I can smell the want on your skin." Every time he spoke, those fucking teeth…
"And can you smell fear? You drink blood, Francis, and your mouth is on my neck!" The shorter man tried to yell but his voice cracked. Pulling away from the surprisingly unresisting vampire, he bolted upstairs and pulled a revolver from his desk drawer, he shoved bullets into the chambers with shaking fingers, aiming it at the vampire when he appeared in the doorway. Francis raised his eyebrows.
"Cher, that will serve only to ruin my suit, which I would appreciate it if you did not do. Should you truly wish to kill me, you would need to behead me or show me the sun," the vampire said, a familiar melancholic expression on his face. Arthur had never really been able to place that expression. He had always wondered why he looked sad.
"Why are you telling me that?" the Englishman barked. He wasn't going to pretend he wasn't utterly fucking terrified. Had Francis been… feeding from him? Would he become a vampire, too?
"Because three months with you have made up for two-hundred and twenty-three years of misery. I came here to kill myself, Arthur, but you changed my mind. So if you will no longer permit me to stay, then you may as well finish what I intended to start. You were supposed to be my final meal, and yet that inane babble you spouted when we first met gave me pause. You are a fascinating man, and an excellent writer. Do my eyes really look like the 'sky in bright, clear springtime'?"
Arthur choked on his own spit. Several things he gleaned from that speech; Francis had indeed intended to eat him, he had also read the Englishman's diary. Above all, what he absorbed from this was that the feeling was mutual. God damn it.
"You'd let me kill-? I'm not going to kill you," Arthur frowned, waving the gun around a little too carelessly as hysterics set in, "One good turn deserves another, right? You only wanted to eat me! I- Oh my God! Oh, my God! I'm – Does this make me a necrophiliac? I mean, you're dead. And you drink blood. I've been wanting to commit necrophilia for three months! Aunt Mable would just die! Not only am I queer, but my boyfriend is a member of the eternally damned!"
"You think of me already as your petit ami?" Francis asked, a curious smile on his face, head tilted like an expectant puppy.
"You're dead, I'm ranting; shut up!" Arthur snapped, waving the gun in the Frenchman's general direction before continuing on his tirade. He was silenced when long, cool fingers wrapped around his hand and relieved him of the weapon and cool lips pressed against his own in a chaste, if insistent kiss.
Shoving himself away from Francis, he stormed into the guest bedroom, calling back over his shoulder,
"I'm sleeping here!" before throwing himself onto the bed, fully clothed and not even bothering to get under the covers. Despite his best intentions, it wasn't until he felt Francis' weight press into the bed and those much-missed fingers carding through his hair that he could fall asleep.
Of course, once they could speak, it turns out that they fought like cats and dogs.
"You kill people, Francis!" Arthur roared, his face an angry red and a stark contrast to the vampire's snowy wrath,
"Do you want me to die, Arthur? Would you rather I starved than killed?" he shot back, a wounded look in his eyes. "One kill a month is better than an attack twice a week, isn't it? If I attacked people then safety precautions would be put in place. Both of us would be in danger!"
The Englishman couldn't argue with that, but he still wasn't happy about it.
"Bite me," Arthur gasped as they rutted like teenagers on the couch. Francis made him feel dizzy and silly and like both of them will be eternally youthful, despite that he turned down flat the Frenchman's offer to make him a vampire, too.
"What?" Francis asked, showing no staggering of breath or any other sign of his lust. He looked at his English love, completely confused, "But you don't want me to bite you; it will hurt." The Frenchman protested.
"You can't feel pleasure," the shorter man said, exasperated and breathless, "You can't feel pain. You only feel what the person feels when you drink from them. Bite me, Francis. I want you to. I want to show you how you make me feel."
Tentatively, the blue-eyed vampire pressed his lips against Arthur's chest where he could feel a vein pulse. He licked at the skin, teeth scraping across it and making his lover shiver as he undid the Englishman's trousers and lowered himself onto his flushed, hard cock. The whole affair seemed too quick to start; no stretching was needed as Francis couldn't feel pain, and no great amount of foreplay was necessary because one of them couldn't get hard – the downside of being dead.
When the head of Arthur's member was inside him, the vampire bit down on his chest, his razor-like teeth puncturing the skin like a hundred white hot needles. The Englishman grunted in pain and Francis thrust his hips down so that they were locked together. For the first time in two centuries, Francis Bonnefoy felt pleasure. He felt mind-blowingly, indescribably good, and while that pleasure was laced with the pain of his bite, it was still physical pleasure the likes of which he had barely tasted.
It was hard to focus on not drinking too much; he wanted to make this last. This fire in his veins where there had only been scorched earth; he wouldn't lose it in his own haste. Through the sensation that tingled and sparked in every dead nerve ending he possessed, Francis focused on motion; rising and falling, rocking his hips and meeting Arthur's upward thrusts. Anything that drew a moan from the Englishman drew an echo from his lover. The Frenchman's cheek was pressed to Arthur's chest, his fangs no longer sunk into pale flesh. Instead he sucked, lapped and licked at the blood oozing from the small, wide oval of punctures.
Arthur drew nearer and nearer to his climax, his hips bucking jerkily under Francis's steady rhythm. Faster and faster they moved until the unbearable pressure was released and the Englishman came; bliss rolling over both of them, greeted with hoarse yells and moans.
Ecstasy ran in faded starbursts through both of their systems as Francis licked the wound clean. There were already bruises around the punctures and some of them were beginning to scab over already.
Unfortunately for Francis, once the blood on his tongue was no longer fresh, the pleasure vanished, and he was left with only the memory of it.
"I think that I would rather like to do that again, sometime," it surprised the Frenchman that it was Arthur's voice that formed those impossible words, and like a contented cat, Francis curled against his sated mortal lover.
"Fuck," Arthur said simply, staring at the front page of the newspaper, seven months into their belligerent romance.
"Mon amour?" Francis asked, falling languidly against the arm of the Englishman's chair. His relaxed pose stiffened when he saw what had caused his lover such distress;
SERIAL KILLER AT LARGE
The words dominated the front page of the daily newspaper. Below that it detailed Francis' methods, the locations and how measures were being taken to make the streets safer for everyone.
Everyone except the vampire.
"I hate this century," the Frenchman said, voice a forlorn whisper.
"How long can you go without it?" Arthur asked quietly, feeling that to speak too loudly would break something.
"A fortnight at best."
This was not going to die down in two weeks. Arthur took a deep breath, steeling himself. He had suspected that something like this could happen, and he knew that what he was about to do had risks attached to it, but he couldn't see any other way.
"Then you'll just have to feed from me," he said matter-of-factly, challenging Francis to argue with him; a challenge his French lover embraced with open arms.
"Absolutely not! Arthur, one man cannot sustain me. We don't know how long this will take to blow over, but if you try and do this, then you'll be dead before the year is out. Please, let me make you. We'll run away together. I don't want to lose you," if Francis could cry, there would be tears in his eyes. As it was, his face was contorted into the most pitiful pleading expression. He was literally begging and Arthur knew it, but this was one point on which he would always stand firm.
"No, Francis," he said gently, hands stroking the Frenchman's cheeks, "I can't live like you do. Just take from me, please. It barely hurts, and if it keeps you alive-"
"At your expense!"
"Francis Bonnefoy," this time Arthur's tone brooked no argument, "If I have to slit my wrists twice a week for the rest of my life-"
"Which won't be very long."
"I will keep you alive!"
The vampire smiled sadly, taking the wrists Arthur had threatened and pressing a soft kiss to the inside of each, "You forget, mon ange; I am no longer living."
There were few times in his long, dark life that Francis Bonnefoy had so vehemently wished to be wrong than he did now. He didn't want to be spending their ten-month anniversary at Arthur's bedside, but he was. His beloved Englishman was bedridden, too weak to move. His skin was ashen, his hair lank. Everything about him was dull and lifeless while the vampire remained hale and healthy.
"Take it," Arthur breathed, tilting his neck to the side, thin, knuckled hand pulling at the neck of his pyjamas, revealing a deathly pale chest simply covered with holes, rings and over-lapping rings of bite-marks littered his beloved's skin.
"Arthur," Francis' said brokenly – everything about him was broken now; his spirit, his heart, his soul – "Arthur, please, you're too weak. I can wait. Give yourself time to rest at least. Please? For me?"
"I am doing this for you, you stupid git," The Englishman scolded playfully, tugging on Francis' sleeve, "Come on. Just drink. You know that if you wait longer, you'll need to take more."
"I'm killing you."
"Do I have to find a knife again? Because I swear on the Great Mother that I will," Francis shuddered and shook his head. The first time that Francis had refused to drink from Arthur – once he had fainted from blood loss for the first time – the Englishman had gone straight to the cutlery drawer and pulled out a paring knife. He'd dragged the serrated little blade across his wrist and let the thick red liquid trickle down his wrist and drip from his fingers until a ravenous Francis couldn't take it anymore. Until he had knelt on the floor, dragging gulps of satiating blood from Arthur's veins while the man stroked his hair and murmured soothing words to him. The vampire hadn't let him anywhere near the kitchen since.
"No," Francis sighed, finding an unmarked spot on his lover's shoulder and biting down quickly so that the pain wouldn't be drawn out. He could feel how lightheaded Arthur was, how weak, he could feel the pain this caused him – a vampire's curse. As if living in eternal darkness wasn't enough, they had to feel what their prey did as they fed – and drank shallowly because of it. He was still hungry, bur he only took a mouthful. He didn't want to hurt his English love any more than he had to.
Arthur wasn't having any of it, "You're not full yet," he said, his voice a little breathy.
"If I were to sate myself I would drain you," he snapped, not wanting to but knowing that he needed it as much as Arthur needed food or water. Of course to leave would mean to be chased, to hunt would mean to be caught. There was no easy way out of this situation. Francis' tone gentled, "Please, Arthur, I don't need any more, you sleep. I don't want to over-exert you."
Arthur took the Frenchman's large, cool hand, examining idly while he spoke, "When I die-"
"Please don't speak of that, mon ange."
"When I die," the sickly man continued, "I will die at dawn. If you like, you can watch the sun rise with me."
Francis nodded, his eyes closed and his lips pursed. He wished he had tears to shed.
"This was a royally stupid idea," Arthur laughed weakly, false bravado firmly in place as they sat on a little slope of lawn that faced the east. He could feel himself slipping away, he had been fighting it all night; the overwhelming tiredness.
"I think I told you that. Several times," Francis' voice held no such armour. He had always worn his emotions on his sleeve and this was no exception. He was hoarse and cracked with feeling.
"If you don't – if you want to leave, you can," his words were rushed as he watched the lightening sky, "This isn't a suicide pact, you can go if you want to."
"Arthur," Francis pulled the once-strong frame into his lap, cradling him to his chest, "What was the point? You've kept me alive just so that we can die together."
A thin hand reached up and turned the Frenchman's cheek and dry lips pressed against his in a tender kiss, "I love you." Was Arthur's only answer.
"Eternally," Francis whispered, eyes fixed on the faintest hint of a disk rising above the peaked rooftops.
"What will happen to you?" the vampire could hear Arthur's heartbeats slowing. His voice was so quiet now, so raspy. Like dead leaves skittering across the pavement.
"I will burn," was the short answer. Already golden light flickered in his hair and on his skin, tiny sparks fighting to ignite themselves. The mortal nodded sleepily
"Look, Francis, it's the sun," Arthur whispered excitedly, his fingers just as pale and cold as Francis' as they wove together.
And together they watched as they full, white-gold sun rose over the rooftops and bathed them in light.