A.N: spitting this into two chapters. Since 6000++ words was a little too long for a one-shot.
He'd stared after her car for far longer than he'd ever care to admit before going back.
In the middle of the night he'd woken up with an idea and before the idea could leave him he had started writing.
A woman travelling. Travelling far.
It all started like that and then more ideas came flooding.
When the sun finally shun through his window he had tried and almost falling asleep over his desk. However, as he stumbled back up into bed, his mind just hadn't been able to leave the idea alone.
He'd dreamt of her. Which in it self was odd.
He never dreamt of other people. Only his own figments of imagination.
Yet the woman who wandered through his mind was certainly not just a simply character from his own mind.
A week passes slowly as he tries again and again to perfect this new story.
He frowns as he erases the paragraph he has just written, for only to try it again. How exactly did her hair look in the morning sunshine? Erik tries to think back, but he's not sure how to accurately describe it to the detail he wants.
Discarding his pen in exchange for a paintbrush and pencil he tries to draw her instead. Light strokes of brush and pencil turn into angry rips and large blots of paint as the details just do not come out like he wanted.
She was here for two weeks he mutters to himself bitterly. How could he not remember how to draw her like he wanted to?
"There's someone here for you" Arthur sticks his head through the small gap of the open door to her office.
Natalia drops her pen in shock.
"What? You can't be serious?" her first thought is that Arthur is playing some sort of prank on her.
"I am, he's here. In person." Arthur empathises the word 'person' as if Erik had the ability to sends hologram instead.
"Why is he here?" Natalia takes a quick glance at her e-mail in-box in hopes it will perhaps give some clues. It's only filled with e-mails from other clients. Nothing about Erik.
"I have no idea, but can I send him in? I think his very presence is freaking out poor little Lilli down at reception..."
"Ah, yes. Of course. Se-send him in," she stammers, quickly pushing stacks of paper together to make her desk look more neat.
A minute later Erik walks in. A sketchbook under his arm and a brown leather backpack on his back.
"Wh-what can I help you with?" She asks with an eyebrow raises suspiciously.
He doesn't reply, only pulls the chair in front of her desk closer and takes a seat. Natalia leans away from him as he leans in closer, staring at her intensely with his blue eyes.
"465. Payne's Gray and a hint of 322. Indigo...interesting." he mutters and before Natalia can object he's opened his sketchbook; a pallet of watercolours and a large square pencil-case of colour pencils produced from his backpack in an instant.
She starers in confusion and shock as he makes small circular motions with the various pencils.
Occasionally he whips his head up and stares into her eyes before ducking back down to his paper.
"Wh-what are you doing?" she finally stammers after the silence between them becomes unbearable.
"Drawing you," he replies shortly as he continues to draw the gray-blue circles all over the paper.
"Couldn't remember enough details..." he mumbles as he looks up from his sketchbook, quickly turning a page and putting down the current pencils.
"Hard to determine exact colours from memory," he admits as he starts to hover his hand over the yellow side of the spectrum of coloured pencils.
"Your hair is a...422. Naples Yellow I believe," Erik pries out the pale yellow pencils and hold it up, his eyes flickering from the pencil to her hair "Although I do believe there's a hint of 731. Winsor Yellow Deep and 649. Turner's Yellow as well, but I'll have to use them lightly..."
The two other yellow pencils join the first one and he begins making long and quick strokes all over the page.
Natalia nervously fidgets with her hair, not understanding his reasoning behind the odd shapes he' creating on the white paper.
"Work if you want, I'll just sit here for a while till I have this down correctly..." Erik tilts his head a little to the side and glances quickly up at Natalia.
"I'm not doing anything until you explain why you're here properly! In more than just 8 words even!"
Erik stops his light pencils strokes instantly, carefully putting down his book and pencils.
"I told you I wanted to draw you...it's hard to draw from memory alone, especially when I want perfection. And seeing as I have no photographs of any kinds I had to come here instead."
"No, no, you idiot! That's not what I meant."
"What did you mean then?" Erik's eyes give nothing away, he actually seems genuinely confused over her reaction to him being there.
"Why are you drawing me? What purpose in your mystical word does it serve?" she huffs and crosses her arms, glaring at him coolly.
"Oh..." Erik looks a little embarrassed as he scratches the back of his head. Natalia continues to glare until he seems to pull himself together with a fake cough.
"I...well, I had an idea. Nothing big or anything, I just couldn't leave it alone,"
His gaze falls down to his sketchbook for a brief second before meeting hers again
"A story about a woman, a very beautiful woman. Words alone didn't convey what I wanted, so I needed some drawings, but nothing looked right." Erik sighs deeply.
"Are you basing this character on me?" she can't hide the disbelief in her voice
"Yes," He admits after a minute of agonising silence. "I don't choose who my 'muse' is...it just happens."
"So what exactly are you going to do now? Sit here while I work?"
"Didn't think that far actually,"
"Of course you didn't," she rolls her eyes at his words, tapping her fingers impatiently on her desk.
"I'm not sitting here as your model for nothing,"
"I can pay you if that makes it better?" Erik suggests, not a single trace of sarcasm or joke in his voice.
Blushing, Natalia stares intently at her diary instead.
"Let's make a deal..." she picks up her pen and chews the top thoughtfully "You explain more about you idea and tell me more on how and where you find inspiration, and in turn I might let you draw me."
"I can't just explain everything," Erik frowned, glaring slightly at her "If anything, I'll have to show you where my inspiration comes from. Words alone are not enough," Erik picked up a pencil and spun it around his fingers. "Besides, why are you so interested in knowing about my source of inspiration?"
Diverting her gaze to a series of books she had edited and helped publish, Natalia took a deep breath and began to explain.
Erik remained silent as she told him everything.
How she never had any talent in anything "creative". From dancing to writing; art to poetry.
She had no talent for any of them. Despite years of dedication and a small fortune spent of trying to find something she was good at, Natalia had come out empty handed each time.
In the end she had given up trying to be creative herself, setting instead for helping others be creative.
She omitted to tell Erik that the thought that she had inspired him to make something – that she was technically someone muse – made her so happy she could have embraced him on the spot.
Nodding in understanding, Erik stood up from the chair and reached over the desk to take her hand. A little uncertain, Natalia let him pull her up from her own chair.
"I'll show you then," he smiled softly, and she finds herself thinking that maybe, just maybe; he's not as cold or distant as she first though.
Perhaps they're both a little similar like that she thinks. Neither willing to open up until the other has proven themselves worthy of such an 'honour'.
While she prefers to keep everyone at an arms length, just this one time it won't be such a bad this to let him closer.
She still can't believe she's back in the middle of nowhere. Driven here by Erik even!
The car ride was filled with strange music from his car's stereo, but somehow Natalia didn't mind. It was nice to sit and stare at the scene flash past as Erik did all the driving.
By the time her bags are put back in the room she occupied the last time they're both tired.
However, before Natalia can suggest they take a nap Erik drags her outside.
"I need to show you something," he mumbles as he hands her some snow-boots and a thick knitted scarf and mittens.
They walk though the deep snow with minor difficulty, Natalia following after Erik, using his footprints so she doesn't have to stumble and tire herself out on making a path.
Everything is so peaceful and serene around them. The snow glinting in the deep orange glow of the sun that's slowly starting to set behind the moutains.
He stops in front of the lake, brushing off some snow from a bench before taking a seat.
Hesitantly she takes a seat next to him, wondering why he brought her out here.
"Do you believe in magic?" He asks out of the blue.
"Magic? No...I don't think I do. Not any more anyway..." She used to as a child, loving anything that would give a hint to magic being real – be it books and performances.
"Ah...," Erik nods sombrely "These days I am only met with odd looks and a shrug whenever I mention magic. People no longer believe," he sighs
"Should they?" she tries carefully
"Yeah. They should. Because magic still exists – it's everywhere," he gestures around them with a slight twitch of a smile on his lips.
"It's only changed slightly over the years you see..."
"How so?" Natalia leans in a little closer. Erik has a glint in his eyes, so different from his normally dull and uncaring expression.
"We humans like to define things – put names on things that previously were nameless. We need to know every little detail of every little thing. That in it self is rather spectacular if you think about it."
Erik chuckles "Many centuries ago science was known as magic – but even if we have given it a new name, I do not find it any less magical. I mean...How can they look up at the night sky an not see the wonders in front of their eyes?" the way he speaks reminds her of a small child telling his mother about a newly made up adventure.
She can't stop staring at his growing smile as he continues to talk
Perhaps she could break the illusion he seems to have about the word with logic – but he seems so innocent and happy as he sits there surrounded by pure white snow, tall trees and sky-high mountains. Like everything is magic and dreamlike to him. Natalia can't destroy such an imagery and not feel like she's killing a part of his soul.
She had asked him to tell her where his inspiration came from, thanking him by cynicism is too low of a 'crime' for her to commit.
"Interesting idea you have there, Erik." she giggles lightly, smiling just a little at him "Why don't you ever tell others about this?"
"I think they'll just laugh," He shrugs "but even so, I don't think my feelings will ever change. I just don't like sharing my magic...except for with you,"
"Thank you," she mumbles as she feels the heat rise to her cheeks
"Everywhere I look I see magic. Not spirits and invisible things...Just little moments of wonder. They inspire me,"
"Can you tell me some examples?"
Erik looks out over the frozen lake, staring at something far out in the distance for a minute.
"Like a child making it's first friend," he suddenly replies, making Natalia jump a little in surprise.
"A bird stretching it's wings out for the very first time and taking flight, unsteady and uncertain at first, but soon soaring like the rest," he continues with a smile.
"Winter turning into spring. Or simply how a smile only with your eyes can brighten up your entire face." he turns to her at the last example and smiles at her so genuinely she can't help but blush and smile in return.
He's right, the way his eyes glint and the way there are faint traces of crow's feet by his eyes is truly magical. A sight to treasure and keep tucked away in her heart forever.
"Those are rather magical I guess; little things that you know everyone else can see, but never acknowledge as anything but routine, right?" she'd never fully understood the mind of artists. Always wanted to – never managed to get them to tell her. Yet Erik is pouring his heart out to her; it makes her happier than any words could ever describe. The warmth he makes her feel keeping the cold air far at bay.
Erik nods, his eyes bright and fully of life.
"Precisely, so I will never feel ashamed to admit I still believe in magic, nor will I ever stop seeing it," he chuckles, his hand suddenly over hers.
"My definitions might change, and they might vary from yours; but take a break, step back and look at the world as if you're looking at it for the first time," he squeezes her hand, and even through the thick mittens she can feel his slender fingers wrap around her petite hand.
He stands up and pulls her up with him, the deep snow causing her to momentarily stumble until his hands steady her.
Erik smiles down at her, his own cheeks sporting a faint blush as well – be it cold or something else altogether.
"Is it not truly magical?" he whispers softly, leaning down just enough for her to feel his hot breath against her own cold skin.
"Yeah," she breathlessly replies, biting her lip as she gives his hand a gentle squeeze.
She doesn't lean away or flinch as he leans even closer to her; instead she tilts her head ever so slightly and closes her eyes. His lips are chapped and dry as they meet hers, but so gentle and caring she can't think of anything else but how wonderful yet surreal this all seems.
The snow dampens every sound around them, a white carpet of silence all around them as they pull closer.
Even as he wraps his right arm around her waist he keeps his left hand firmly in her hand, pulling her as close to him as he can.
Natalia licks his dry lips, moaning softly as they both part their lips to let the other explore the other's mouth.
Neither know how much time has passed when they pull apart, both flustered and shaking a little.
"We should go inside," Erik mumbles and Natalia only nods in return.
The road back to his home takes less time than it did to leave it and soon she finds herself comfortable on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate and a large woolly blanket around her shoulders.
Erik soon joins her, his arms soon finding her waist and the second her mug is placed down on the coffee table he embraces her even tighter.
She tries to push him away a little playfully, but the kiss to her neck send her into a fit of giggles and she knows she won't be escaping any time soon.
That night she doesn't need the spare bed.
Nor does she need it the next night either.
And true to her words, she lets him paint her.
First try makes her fidget uncontrollably under his intense gaze; but a few reassuring words and a kiss later, she settles in a little more comfortably.
The fourth time he only does little sketches as she putters about the living room, sick and tired of the walls being so bare and empty. Occasionally he chuckles and helps her hang up a picture when she can't quite reach up, but for the most part he just sits there and follow her movements with his eyes.
It's not until the tenth time that she allows him to draw her without any clothes on.
She's horribly embarrassed at first, but as he sits there; legs crossed and sketchbook in hand, she forgets to feel uncomfortable as time ticks by.
The way his eyes follow every curve and angle of her body doesn't make her uncomfortable, only more confident. It feels odd to lie in the bed as he draws her. However, the love and desire in his eyes each time he looks up form the paper is hard to miss.
"Put them down," she orders after it's been thirty minutes, and Erik complies.
He strips of his own clothes and lies next to her on top of the sheets, his fingers tracing her curves; committing them to memory as if he's drawing her in his mind. Natalia purrs and pulls him in for a kiss, revelling in the attention he gives her.
"I love you," he murmurs softly and without even skipping a beat she knows what to reply,
"I love you too" she whispers in return, feeling his lips on her neck turn into a wide grin before showering her with kisses.
Giggling and kissing him back; Natalia decided that yes, this certainly was the best assignment she ever agreed to take on.
A.N: Well then, there you have it! Some NorBela AU Nonsense that I for once completed! OTL
Not sure if enough feels in this. But oh well. Enough to please Laura to some extent XD
funfact: UU Editorials stands for "United Unicorn Editorials". It's owned by Arthur. He's a bit odd okay, don't judge him.