Samantha Lee’s Picture Choice: 2
Conversation is an underrated activity. Words...words are powerful, more powerful than people give them credit for. A bunch of sounds shuffled together, that's all they are, and yet they're able to convey millions upon millions of different meanings, birth thousands of different languages. Every emotion, every idea, every thought that a mind can conceive, words can encapsulate and share, putting them out into the world for us all to embrace. Take out the actions, take out the expressions, and what you're left with, what it all boils down to, is conversation.
Conversation. Two souls using words to exchange pieces of themselves. It doesn't matter what those pieces are - even the barest of utterances hold importance, hold relevance. It's...it's the most beautiful way our souls have to touch each other.
He opens one eye but somehow manages to convey at least three eyes' worth of wariness. A totally unmerited response if you ask me; you'd think I was one of those women prone to wild and crazy ideas in the middle of the night. Which, okay, I am, but I still don't think that look's merited.
I glare at him. "Don't give me that look, Tru; I'm hardly all THAT bad. Not even kind-of, sort-of."
"Only someone who has never been on the receiving end of your present look would believe that."
Frowning, I try not to pout and sigh instead. "You should at least hear the follow-up before reacting. It's really not that bad."
Another skeptical look. I'm beginning to take offense. "Hm, and yet, lumina mea, you have yet to enlighten me with this not-that-bad thought."
"It's Christmas. Or it will be. Soon."
"Thirteen days, unless it has been moved again."
"Right! And, no, it hasn't. That I know of. I don't really pay attention. Anyway, that's not the point!"
"It seemed like it might have been."
"Pretender to the throne."
"Ah, yes, of course, silly me. What is the point?"
"I believe you declared Halloween your holiday. As I recall, you said it carried the right ethos."
"I'm a necromancer, Tru - Halloween carries the PERFECT ethos to be my holiday but this isn't about official holidays. And before you say it, it's not about Yule either. It's about-"
"Christmas. Yes, I seem to recall hearing that once or twice before. I am still, however, rather confused about why."
I flop down beside him on the bed, wiggling about until we face each other on our sides. He's cool. I'm hot. It's perfect.
I smile and his lips curl with his own, but he doesn't say anything, waiting for me. He does that a lot - wait for me. It seems, sometimes, like we spend whole decades, centuries even, with him waiting for me. Gods, the man must have been a right monstrous beast in a past life to incur the karma black enough to have earned me as his mate.
And I must have been a saint to have earned him as mine.
"Do you remember Paris?"
"You tried to kill me."
"Only because you were there to assassinate me."
"Lumina mea, you had just killed a nest of my mother's elite guard."
"Who had also been sent to kill me!"
"After you butchered a squadron of vampires in Germany."
"It was an accident!"
"How does one accidentally kill five vampiric warriors in an empty field, lumina mea?"
"They wanted to eat me, Tru. As in, literally devour me piece by delectable piece as though I were chocolate cookie in a kindergarten classroom. Admittedly, I may have, um , well...overreacted. I hadn't MEANT to kill them. Thus, accident."
"Da, of course, accident. Is the long line of...accidental corpses your point? Because, if it is, lumina mea, I must say it does not seem very...Christmas."
I glare, far from amused. "No, Tru, the corpses are not my point. Although I'd like to point out I DID gift wrap a couple. Anyway, do you remember your would-be assassination attempt?"
He smiled. "Lumina mea, we played that game for nearly a century. There were many, many...many - how did you say? - assassination attempts."
I nodded. "Yup. Like, hundreds." Our relationship had gotten off to a start rockier than most. Fortunately, we fell in love before either of us actually succeeded in killing the other or this story would be radically different. And infinitely darker. Probably bloodier too. Bleh. Moving on. "Do you remember Paris 1943?" I press.
"It was the first time we fought on the Eiffel Tower. You had daggers. I had a sword. We danced on the rail because you said if we were to fight on the platform it would defeat the whole point of being on the Eiffel Tower. You were barefoot and your dress was torn. I never asked how that happened."
I knew he'd remember; he remembers everything. Well, almost. "You did ask," I remind him. "I told you I'd had a busy night."
"Ah, and did you elaborate?"
"Yes, you hadn't been the first to try and kill me that night. I was a popular girl."
"And what became of my predecessor that night?"
"Predecessors - plural - it was a team of two. Oz ate one and I, um, well the other, he, um..."
"Eventually. Probably. I think."
He sighs and shakes his head, the amusement in his eyes belying the indignation in his expression. "One day, lumina mea, you must learn to go for the quick kill."
"I do do that! Sometimes."
"Lumina mea, your quick kills can be counted on a single hand."
He's right, but that hardly matters. I glare.
"Paris. 1943. It was Christmas."
"I had thought your dress, ruined though it was, seemed rather festive. It may have been the Santa Claus on the skirt."
"It was a reindeer on the hip and I happen to LIKE Christmas, okay? Especially the clothes. I loved that dress too. Its destruction is what prompted me to start buying everything in doubles, just in case."
"You wish for me to find you this dress? The reindeer one from Paris 1943?"
"What? No! I have like a dozen. It has sentimental meaning."
"Because you wore it to fight barefoot on the rail of the Eiffel Tower?"
"No, nut, because I wore it while we kissed for the first time."
"I thought that was Venice. 1925. You had kicked me in the chest but caught my arm before I fell into the canal. You pulled me towards you, kissed me, then pushed me into the canal, laughing."
I rolled my eyes. "That was me kissing you. Doesn't count. Paris was you kissing me."
"Lumina mea, the first time I kissed you was in Sri Lanka, 1957."
"No, it wasn't. Although, that reminds me that I've really got to rescue you from feral gremlins more often."
"All those teeth, lumina mea, are not to be taken lightly."
"It's the venom you really need to take care with; their bite's just the delivery mechanism. Your gratitude was endearing though. It wasn't the first time you kissed me though; that was Paris, 1943. When you caught me as I slipped."
"You do not slip."
"Everyone slips sooner or later. I just do it more spectacularly than most. I think we should go back."
"No, Christmas 1943."
"Lumina mea, the last time we sought to travel in time, we had to - what did you call it? - take the long way home."
"It wasn't that bad, Tru-"
"It was five-"
"It was awhile, yes, okay, I admit, but it wasn't...it wasn't so bad. It was like...interactive history. And, come on, we saw some cool things, met some cool people, and accomplished loads. Oh, and, and, also, and we now have so many aces up our sleeves it'd take all of Vegas to actualize this metaphor. Probably Monte Carlo too."
He nods, agreeing, and sighs. "Once, though, was enough, lumina mea."
"There's more ways than one, Tru, to relive the past."
"Oh? Even when one is not in Paris? Or France? Or Europe?"
I laugh. "At least we've got the right planet. And the right company."
"Are you saying you would like me to try and kill you, lumina mea?"
"Maybe we could...skip to the end."
"Ah, da, yes, I suppose that I could do."
I smile. He kisses me, his arm coming around my waist to pull me roughly towards him. The cool, clean touch of his aura washes over me, his cinnamon-like scent teases my nostrils. I let my hands sweep up his arms and around his neck, tugging him closer, a growl rumbling in my throat as I deepen the kiss.
Dumitru chuckles, breaking the kiss. "I have a gift for you, lumina mea."
"Outside. In the garden."
"That's so far away."
"But worth the effort, I promise."
I narrow my eyes but acquiesce, rolling out of bed and scooping up Dumitru's discarded red silk dress shirt to put on as I go. There's a dusting of snow outside; it's cold enough that I can see my breath fogging in the air, cold enough that it bites at my exposed flesh. But I don't care. I can see Dumitru's gift.
It's a pear tree. He's planted it just in front of the fountain and tied a big gold bow around its slender trunk. Something dangles from its bottom-most limb, something gold and glittering. I move closer and realize it's a necklace, its charm some sort of stylized bird like a tailless peacock or a pheasant or a quail or...
He's given me a partridge in a pear tree. It's the first day of Christmas and my true love has given me a partridge in a pear tree.
What a goof.
His arms come around my waist, his cheek coming to rest on the top of my head. "Merry Christmas, lumina mea."
"Do I get turtle doves tomorrow?" I ask.
"I love you."
"For all eternity, lumina mea."
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