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Aesthete

Summary:
The Great Historian was also the world’s greatest aesthete. He loved beauty, and the finest the world had to offer. Over the years, he had acquired many valuable treasures. He loved them all. They were exquisite, priceless, and irreplaceable.


Notes:
All of this belongs to Stephenie Meyer, not me. I don't really like the actual Twilight books that much, I'm just obsessed with the rim characters. The ones who no one likes are so much more interesting and deep. Especially if they're not Bella. Please don't stone me.


1. Aesthete

Rating 5/5   Word Count 6173   Review this Chapter

The Great Historian was also the world’s greatest aesthete. He loved beauty, and the finest the world had to offer. As a human, he sipped the finest wine, and ate only the best food. The greatest of society dined with him at his home, including Augustus, and Cleophus. Artists from around the world flocked to him. He collected their life’s work without batting an eyelash, and allowed them to paint those dearest to him.

cript type=">mes New Roman'; margin: 0px;">It was nothing to him as he sent away a priceless jewel to the young Isabella Cullen. He did not spare the collection of dust covered Crown Jewels that loitered in his closet a glance. Nor was he partial to the rows of extravagant clothing that hung in his closest. They were made of the finest silks and chiffon, but only belayed his years. It was all extraordinarily grandiloquent and superfluous. They were priceless gems, but they were not treasured by his heart.

Over the years, he had acquired many valuable treasures. He loved them all. They were exquisite, priceless, and irreplaceable. Very few had ever laid eyes on them, and even less dared to touch the valuable items. Cleopatra’s golden crown of Isis, the writings of Saint Augustine and Plato’s original Republic. The sculptures of forgotten names like Antiquitus, Leanortha, and Palos’s statue of the goddess Athena holding a sacred golden apple. They lined the halls of his private wing, and gave his humble library an air of learned importance. The ornate head from the statue of Zeus watched over his office, peering into the souls of the vampires who awaited his judgement. He had flowers from the Hanging Gardens, and scrolls from the library of Alexandria.

All of this, he treasured.

Aro was accustomed to finery. He always had been, and he expected to be for many more years. Never before had he not gotten what he wanted. Once upon a time, a millennia ago it seemed, he yearned for Machiavelli’s the Prince. The owner of the original text was loathe to part with it. He was more loathe, however, to part with his limbs. The volume now stood incased in glass in Aro’s office. He read it whenever he was confronted with a particularly difficult problem. It was the same was Da Vinci’s original Mona Lisa. The Turkish collector gave it to Aro in exchange for immortality. It had been easy enough to kill him and steal the painting away. Yes, what Aro wanted, he got.

His greatest treasure, however, was also the one that took him the longest to acquire. It too had been a fight to get it. It was beloved by all, and none were willing to part with it. It first belonged to a man named Servius Rufus. The old, withered man sneered at Aro’s imploring attempts to ask, to plead, to beg for it. He instead sold it to Calenus, a fat and ill-tempered man for a ridiculously low price. The old man had been cheated in Aro’s opinion. At least he would have been willing to pay a fair price for it.

Calenus hoarded it away, shielding it from the eyes of men all together. He let no one near it. The more isolated it was, the more Aro yearned. His yearning turned into desperation, and he sought out Calenus to beg it away from him. Aro craved it, treasured it, loved it more than any one else possibly could. The greedy man curled his fat lips and scoffed at his supplications, and made it even harder for Aro to access it.

But Calenus forgot one very important thing. Aro always got what he wanted. For twenty-eight years, he fought to own it. Once he had it, Aro vowed to never let it go. Other treasures he had given away or lost over time, but not this one. He loved it above all else, even his own life. He had stolen it away in the dead of night, covered in the bastard’s blood. That, however, was not Aro’s doing. Suplicia had acted on her own, slaying her hated husband in anger. She went willingly with the vampire; she loved him just and fiercely and as passionately.

She was sprawled out on a peachy chaise lounge. A flimsy crimson gown of crushed velvet draped over her lithe, supple body. Her creamy legs were exposed and seductively tucked into each other. Her tiny hand propped her beautiful heart shaped face so that she could read from a thick, dusty volume while she sipped crimson wine from a gilded goblet. It was studded with thick rubies the size of Aro’s eyes, and lined with emeralds the size of teeth. Her long, white curls were the color of the purest snow, virgin and unmarred. She nibbled on a small, delicate pink lip as she read her book, entranced by its contents. The large, ruby red eyes that scintillated with her every emotion flicked across the page slowly. She liked to read slowly, and learn every single thing she could. For a woman, she was extremely intelligent.

Sulpicia was magnificent.

A warm breeze blew in from the open window. She loved the warmth, and the comfort it brought. Gauzy chiffon curtains blew in the invisible wind, playing with the wind’s long fingers. She was outrageously beautiful, lounging there like the goddess Aphrodite, ready to seduce the ignorant man. She knew of his presence the moment he stepped into the corridor. Theirs was a private wing of the castle for she loved her privacy. Even if they were not the only two in the wing, Sulpicia always knew exactly where he was. She knew him as intimately as she knew herself.

“Beautiful, goddess divine,” he purred to her.

His mate turned her pretty little head to him. Her ridiculously large eyes that dominated half of her face blinked coyly at him. A soft, seductive simper settled on her lips. “Aro,” she cooed his name. “It is good to see you while the sun is still out,”

“I rarely stay away from you for more than a few hours, beautifully beloved,” Aro told her. He smiled at her, as if she did not he was away from her for so little a time. Placing a kiss on her smooth brow, he slipped the thick tome out of her fingers. He glanced down at it and chuckled. “Your poems?” he laughed at her. “You haven’t read these in years,”

Sulpicia shrugged her slender shoulders. “I felt like reminiscing,” she said as a way of explanation. “I am in a loving mood today,”

“I see,” Aro whispered as he brushed a stray lock from her face.

“Do you remember when I wrote them?” she asked her mate. “How naive we were back then, when we were young?”

“Of course I remember, precious,” Aro answered. “How could I forget? These poems were my lifeline all those years,”

“When I was married,” she whispered.

“Aye,” Aro said with a furrowed brow. “When you were married,”

“You look so tense,” Sulpicia whispered. “I am sorry. That was not my intent.”

“It is not your fault,” Aro tried to be comforting, “I do not like the thought of another man possessing you,”

Sulpicia sighed. “That is the past. Let us move on,”

Aro nodded his head in concession. “If that is what you wish,”

Sulpicia smiled. “It is,” She tilted her head. “Kiss me,” she ordered.

Her mate complied. He was her overlord and her master. He ruled the entire vampiric world with an iron fist. Yet, he always obeyed her slightest whims. Had there ever been a time when he refused her? His gentle lips pressed against her pink ones, and she pushed back, hungry for him. He was her whole world, her entire being. Her life purposely revolved around him, helping him with his burdens and tribulations. It was amusing that so few vampires realized the depth of her involvement in politics. True, it was not her world, nor was Athenodora’s. That did not mean that the men of the Volturi did not turn to them for advice. They too were old and wise.

Pulling back, Aro pressed his head against hers, his silky hair fanning over her face and chest. She could feel his dead heart beating fast and strong with love and passion. He leaned up on his elbows and looked down at her. Sulpicia grinned seductively up at him. Her hair spilled around her head like a halo pulsating furiously with her purity. With her long eyelashes and oh so slightly gapped teeth, she was without a doubt the most beautiful vampire to have ever been created.

And he had created her.

*

It was dark, that night. The moon was held away from the world by the thick clouds. No human could see in the darkness that covered the world like spilled ink. Aro, however, was not a lowly human any more. He was something much stronger, something far more superior, and had no trouble seeing the outline of the slowly decaying city. The effects of time that escaped his notice as a human now stood out to him with a startling obviousness. They served only to reaffirm his decision to save her from the vile filth of humanity.

Swiftly and silently, like a ghost, he glided over the tops of the buildings. She was wealthy, she always had been. Her father was a prominent senator of Roma, and one of the wealthiest men in the city. Aro’s family had been counted among his friends until his father lost everything when he invested in the Alexandrian merchants. After that, Servius Rufus only spared the youth derision and scorn. That was why Rufus had married his beloved child Sulpicia to the dastardly Calenus, in spite of her fervid tears. The old wretch paid a fraction of the proper bride price.

The day after his beloved was sold into slavery, Aro betrothed himself to a wealthy widow. Corphunia died weeks after the wedding. Aro was suddenly rich, young, and available. His heart had not changed, though, in its adoration of Sulpicia. It was one fateful night that they renewed their love affair. He loved her; he always had. Aro was sure that he would never tire of her burning touch, nor would his desire for her passionate kisses fade.

He yearned for her, and he always would. That was why he was determined to steal her from that bastard that was her husband. Calenus was no fool. Many of the young nobles of the city vied for her attention on a daily basis, despite her marital status. Though she never spared the foolish men two glances, Calenus locked her away in their home, demanding that she mother their children, his children. Children that Aro secretly believed were his. He knew for sure that her young child, her son, was his. She named in Cerinthus in honor of their secret love affair. Calenus was less than pleased, but could not prove that Sulpicia was unfaithful. She was too clever for her old husband.

“Sulpicia,” he whispered into the darkness. He crouched in her window, observing the room he knew so well. Her room. Calenus’s room. Her husband’s room. Their marital room. How many times Aro had claimed her on that bed, against the wall; her soft cries were the sweetest music. He would never tire of her calling his name. He loved her. “Sulpicia, are you there?”

“Aro?” a soft, demure voice called out in the inky darkness. His heart swelled with joy as he heard it. It had been far too long since he last heard his name fall from her lips. She sat up in the bed, completely bare. Her fast, oafish husband slept peacefully beside her, unaware of the illicit exchange.

“Sulpicia,” he called out to her again.

Her lovely gray eyes immediately saw him crouched in her shutterless window. She gasped in surprise, and slipped off the bed. His eyes trailed over her form. Her lithe body had become fuller, more rounded after she bore his child. His enhanced eyes saw the bruises that mottled her torso clearly in the moonless night. Her snowy hair tumbled around her shoulders, ratted but still beautiful. He could smell Calenus on her; the bastard attempted to claim her that night. He was too late to save her from that cursed fate, but was determined to save her from a lifetime of them.

She pulled an opaque robe over her form. Her smooth, womanly stomach was still visible, as were the swells of her perfect breasts. She bit a full, red lip as she walked over to him, unashamed of her nakedness, or her body. He was used to seeing her after her husband had had his way with her. It disgusted him, but such was his love for her that he was willing to forget it to be with her. “What are you doing here?” she asked him.

“I’ve come for you,”

“You’ve been gone for two years,” she whispered to him. “You have secluded yourself away in your home, and have only answered my letters. You refuse to see me, speak to me. After being parted with your love for so long, do you truly believe I shall bed you again upon sight? Do you think me Venus’s whore?”

Her beautiful, weak human eyes could not see him. The obvious changes to his face were invisible to her in the lightless night. She thought him to be the same man who fell in love with her when he was a boy.

“Look at me,” he told her, “Do see what I have become? I could not subject you to my whims when I was in such a tumultuous state,”

“What do you mean?” she hesitantly asked him. She was worried, unsure she wanted to know why he was suddenly in her window. He had not climbed that height for nearly ten years. In his youth, he had been rash, and prone to dullardish things. Time had given him the sense to use the servant’s entrance whenever he wished to see her. She was shocked to see him in her window.

“The curse of Hell has claimed me. I am now the predator of man,” he confessed to her. There was little use in lying. Come dawn, she would see him for the monster he truly was. Sulpicia needed the truth, not a lie. He would not grieve her so.

“Don’t speak such curses in my house!” she glanced back at the slumbering man. “If Calenus hears you, he will surely have your head. Committing such sacrilege, Aro, what are you thinking?”

“There is no jest, my beautiful,” he told her in dark, somber tones. “I speak to you the truth, nothing more.”

“You are no longer a man?” she cried in soft coos. Her eyes scanned his face in alarm, looking for some hint of levity. His crimson eyes met hers straight on, and she cried out. His handsome face was now perfect, as if it were carved in ivory by the master artists. His skin was the color of the serene moonlight; his hands that cupped her cheek were smooth and icy. “Oh, Aro,”

“Do not fear me, Sulpicia,” he told her. “I mean you no harm.”

“I trust you, Aro,” she immediately answered him. She did not hide the love in her voice, nor the truth. Sadly, she did not hide the trepidation either. Brave Sulpicia did not fear for her life, it belonged solely to Aro. She feared for his, and what Calenus would do if he were to discover them. Her husbanded already loathed Aro. If he knew about the clandestine affair or Aro’s new burden, he sure would have him crucified.

“I have come for you,” Aro told her.

“Where will we go, Aro?” Sulpicia leaned into his touch. Though it was icy, it gave off a familiar, loving warmth. He cherished her, and she adored him. Sulpicia had always known that she was created to be Aro’s wife. Her father foolishly ignored Juno’s plans for her. She now had to suffer the abuse rewarded to those who disobey. “Calenus will ransack your home,”

“Then we shall leave Roma all together,” he told her.

“Calenus will search all of Macedonia if need be, Greece, Troy and Egypt if he needs to to find us. We will never stop running,” she told him.

“Then let us run,” he promised her. “Let us run forever, until the stars fall and Kronos awakens from his slumber. We will run until then,”

“Then we will run,” she agreed. “Fetch your son and we shall leave this all behind,”

Aro nodded and stole off to the child’s room. Unfortunately, when he arrived, the child was screaming for its mother. Nursemaids comforted Cerinthus, and cradled him to their breasts. They could not quiet the wailing child, and Sulpicia’s three other sons awoke from the dream laden slumbers.

“Manei,” her old, Eaon, called out to his nursemaid. “What is going on?”

“Your brother is hungry,” the old woman told him. “Return to sleep,”

“I am no longer tired,” the boy told her.

“Do as I say, “Manei instructed.

“Manei?” Cosa, the boy Aro was closest to, sat up as well. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. “Why is Baby Brother crying?”

“Because he is hungry,” the old nursemaid replied tiredly. “Anoka is feeding him now.” When she turned to the small boy, she caught sight of Aro. “Demon!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. “DEMON IN THE HOUSE!”

Cosa turned to look at Aro in fear. His dark eyes caught sight of the monster, and he screamed in terror. Eaon, the bravest of the four boys, leapt out of bed. His hand fisted around the play sword his father had fashioned for him. He charged for Aro, who vanished like a specter in the night. The other nursemaids were calling for help, for the sentries who were employed by Calenus to protect the children.

Aro ran over top the large house to get back to Sulpicia. He needed to take her and flee. Before long, they would realize that it was he who was the demon, and attack his home. They needed to be far away from Roma by the time Dawn’s spindly fingers painted the horizon. He arrived back at the window just in time to see Cosa burst into his parents’ room.

“Mother, Mother!” he cried. Skidding to a halt, he screamed as his eyes adjusted to the gory sight before him. Sulpicia stood, tall and proud, painted in her husband’s blood. Aro’s heart lurched with pride. She kept surprising him. The knife was still warm as it fell from her hand. Cosa ran screaming back to his nursemaid’s bosom.

Sulpicia might have started for her son, but never made it more than a step. She was suddenly swept up in Aro’s strong arms and running over the roof before the sentries burst into the antichamber. Aro clutched her tightly to his chest as he ran, shielding her from the truth of her actions. He ran far away from the city, far from civilization. For two days, he ran without resting. Sulpicia did not sleep in that entire time, nor did she speak. She stared at his face, as if that was the only thing that kept her alive. Perhaps its was. She murdered her husband and abandoned her children for him. Aro truly was all she had left. She was all he had ever had.

“Here, we are safe,” he told on the third day. He had taken her to an empty cave high in mountains that Roma did not have. They had traveled far away, past the land of the Gauls. Geography had never been her focal study, but even she was not obtuse enough to think that they were going to be caught by the Roma army.

“Aro,” Sulpicia said in her grave tones, “You must claim me,”

Aro grinned ferally at her. “As you wish, my beautiful little trinket.” His hands cupped her face and brushed away her matted hair. It was covered with Calenus’s blood, but he did not care. She had never smelled more like that bastard, but this one time, Aro would relish in it. It was not only the smell of Calenus that covered her, but it was his blood––blood that she willing spilt for him.

“No, Aro,” she pulled his hands away from his face. He pulled his head away from hers and looked at her with beseeching eyes. He did not understand what she was saying. “You have had your way with my body, and with my heart. I have forsaken everything for you. The time has come for you to claim me, not just physically, but eternally. All others who have any claim to me are dead, and I surrender to you. Make me yours in the eyes of the law,”

“You wish to be joined with me eternally,” he whispered. “As my companion in this misery,”

“Yes,” Sulpicia whispered. “For eternity,”

“Very well,” he told her. “Don’t cry out,”

“I am strong,” she told him as he kissed her neck. “I will not cry out,” she moaned out when he kissed her pulse. “I am strong.”His touch set her heart on fire and yearned to fully posses him. She loved him so. Without warning, he bit out. Sulpicia’s mouth fell open her and her pretty gray eyes opened for the last time. Even during child birth, she had not experienced such pain. True to her word, she did not cry out. She could at least be strong for Aro.

*

Aro was intemperate in how he sought his pleasures; he made no apologies for it. It had been bred into him from birth. He enjoyed what his wealth and position afforded him and took pleasure in many vast and varied ways. Sulpicia had been the perfect match for him in every way. She never refused him, no matter what he asked her. In return, he gave her everything he could. They were an equal and balanced, cherished and loved. They always would be. Together, they bravely faced eternity.

“Do you have any regrets?” he asked her. “Any at all in this life?”

“I wish that I had intervened whenever young Isabella was brought before your in the throne room. The matter should have been settled then and there. I wish I had intervened when we thought the child was immortal. There are many regrets that I have, Aro, but none of them matter now,” she told him. “Nothing matters now,”

Aro pushed his lips against her throat. “I feel the same way,” he whispered.

*

She had missed him all the years that they had been apart. Calenus may have been a fat oaf, but he was not blind. He knew that his tiny wife was in love with another man. In his mind, it did not matter. He knew that the orphan would never have her, and that made him proud. Yet he was oblivious to the fact that she craved him. In her sleep, she would fearfully call out his name. When she cried, she imagined that he was holding her and not her lecherous husband. When they made love, she pretended it was Aro’s hands groping her body, not Calenus. How did he not know?

sweat poured off her body as she writhed in between the cotton sheets. She could feel his warm breath burning against her swollen flesh. It was wrong, she thought. A sin, she knew, as she fisted his hair, pulling him closer. For so long, she had been untouchable, impervious to the world. They all looked at her, reacted to her, but they did not know her. They had feared her. But as her virgin curves pressed against the thin folds of her nightgown, she knew he didn't care. To him, it didn't matter what her past was, who she married. All he wanted to know was her. And she was willing to let him. His smoldering gaze raked over her. He luxuried in the feeling of his superiority. She needed him, like she needed oxygen, and she would do anything for him. She submitted completely to him, and that chauvinistic side of him reveled in it.

Her back arched up from the down bed. She seemed to gravitate towards him. She craved everything about the noble in her bed. Sweat poured from her body, making her ivory skin glisten in the silver moonlight. Her hands fisted in the silk sheets as her head tossed in abandonment. She shrieked for him, called out his name into the black abyss around them. He stopped, and hovered over her, watching every move she made. In the dead of the night, she surrendered to him completely. Where was the poetic woman and her mysterious principles of life now, the darkness that created her laughed as the undulating curves and domes of flesh emerged every now and then from its shadows as she twisted in her pleasure, snakelike and delicious. Her mouth was parted as though she was drinking in the obscurity, rendering herself drunk in its tasteful promises, letting herself seduced by its attractive hue. Was it truly unconsciousness that allowed her to stretch out her delicate fingers into the void of night--and was it unconsciousness also that allowed her to extract from its uncertain depths a filament of dream, an idea of solidity… her blunt nails ground against skin of an almost liquid countenance, as cool and silky as water--that which resides between the visible and the unseen, the tangible and the unreal-–running through her nerves, drowning her in an ecstasy of sensation.

From beneath his ebony hair, he stood as an ingenious parody of the gentleman- and the kiss she received from him much resembled his appearance…yet she preferred this satirical delight by far. She knew reality only too well – too long she had been hiding behind its numerous curtains. Too much reality only shuns your vision of everything else. Is it not what a woman yearns, after all? Ever unsatisfied, ever asking herself why these things that occupy her life never seem to completely fill her… perhaps it is because a woman is only rarely offered the chance to feed her own darkness – it is not deemed as healthy to do so, and yet, she would rather a full cup of delicious poison than a half-cup of tasteless, too-young wine. Must she really pick out fruits from the realm of the unknown, the realm of all that is imaginary and indefinable, in order to reach satisfaction?

Their moans filled the frigid night air. The intense differences between the night around them and the pulsing heat that engulfed them was striking. Heat shivers covered her entire body as she reached for him. Everything about him beckoned to her; a beacon of heat that lured her away from the road, a raging inferno that would have made Dante weep. Every time he was near her, it felt like she was melting. Every time she touched his face, his arm, caressed his hand, his lips—she would pull away wondering if her delicate skin would blister. The covers were glued to her sweaty limbs as she shifted-–like tortuous serpents of rose-hued silk they wrapped around her legs, her waist, her small white hands. She felt their soft caress with a giddiness that was not in her nature.

A hand shoots out of the darkness.

“Sulpicia! Sulpicia!”

She moaned from want. The heat of his skin pressed against her, the feel of him consuming her--she needed all of him. This was more than the need for love. This was something more carnal, more humane--no, this was something more animalistic. This was the was the indominantable urge to be fucked and be fucked ruthlessly. Hot, clumsy fingers scramble their way through the knotted sheets and find her skin as she shivers-–she had been sighing, moaning, her forearms pressed against her chest, hands on her face and tangled in her hair. A frown marred her beautiful face. Luxuria in person, a writhing sin in silken sheets--her throat extended as she burrows her head into her cushion, collarbones delicate in the moonlight, and her gown stretches over her curves, outlining her breasts, transparent folds plunging into the shadow between her legs, catching between her fingers as she spreads her hands over her skin.

She stops when his grip turns iron--when his fingers twist as he seemingly tries to snap the frail bone. He looks at her with his pathetically innocent eyes, grey strands falling over his face. He looks at her with the anxious eyes of a husband, the ignorant eyes of a partner who fails to notice the changes in the woman with whom he has chosen to spend his life. Down-to-earth, he thinks it is over--he believes all their troubles ended. She has disregarded her lover, that she will stay faithful.

But he has no idea.

He shakes his wife into consciousness, looming over her, his naked chest casting a shadow over her, cutting her out of moonlight’s reach. She slowly, slowly opens her eyes, lashes ungluing from the tear stains freckling her cheekbones. Her mouth is parted, her eyes are heavy, drunken with sleep and…as if he could guess.

“Are you all right?” he whispers to her.

“I was dreaming,” she whispers back, conscious of their child’s presence. Cosa lies in unaware slumber, his crib just a few feet away from their bed.

“A nightmare?” he asks with concern. “From back then?”

“No,” she vigorously shakes her head. “Not that. You.”

“What?” he asks, though he is not confused. His wife is so reserved, so poised, that it rare for him to her wantonly beg like this. The undertone in her voice tells it all. She did not even have to say it for him to understand. But it was odd, she rarely asked for him. She usually fought valiantly before she submitted. He always loved a challenge.

“I need to feel you. On me,” she groaned, desperate. “Please.”

He answers by pulling her into a passionate kiss. It is not as passionate as those of Aro, nor does it make her weak with desire. But such is her need, that he will do. It’s ironic that she thinks of her husband as second best…

*

Physically, there was no woman to best her. Not even Didyme or Athenodora matched her grandiose beauty, though they tried. Aro found himself becoming more and more like Calenus with every passing day. He was not blind to the way men looked at her, especially those in his own coven. He was aware that Felix fantasized about her. Jane had had more than one ‘talk’ with him about it. No one was allowed to look at her like that except him.

She was his mate and he was willing to do anything to protect her. Sulpicia pulled him onto the chaise with her. He wrapped his arms around her, and held her close to him. She breathed in his familiar scent, taking comfort that the past three thousand years had not changed either of them. They were one person, two souls irrevocably intertwined.

People did not understand Aro, but she did. For him, that was enough. They belonged together, completely and utterly. The night she awoke as his mate was one of the most passion-filled nights that they had had, despite her dead husband and her orphaned sons. Their son. She was confused, sporadic, starving with thirst, but she ran to his open, waiting, eager--oh, so eager arms. What can you say when it is love? Nothing mattes, and when it is true love, then nothing will keep it in pieces.

They both know of their sin. He couldn’t keep his pants on while she was locked away by her husband, and many women spent loveless nights in his bed, keeping him warm. She knows that it should have been her, but she can’t bring herself to apologize. It was not her fault. He always knew that she should be dutifully buried next to her human husband, but he could not bring himself to let her go. He fears that the next time she walks out his door, she is not coming back, despite the fact that they have been mates for the past three thousand years. Calenus’s shadow looms forever in his mind. History still remembers her as his wife.

The sun was slowly setting in the horizon as he scooped her up in his arms. It is a dance they have preformed every night for the past three thousand years. She tosses her head back languidly, exposing her arched neck to him. It is throbbing with want. He plants a kiss at the junction of her shoulder and neck as he lays her down on their massive silken bed. This night, she will fall again, and he will be redeemed.

In those loveless nights where he has known so many willing women, he shared something with them that he could not give her. Loneliness. With her gentle strokes and loving words, she will take it away. She is here again, she is back home. She is his. With kisses and caresses, first soft and then needy, they shall revive the ghosts of their past, and emotion will shake him and he will touch her as though she were the blazing sun. He will close his eyes and let go, letting her take him away as he carries her to the edge. Everyone who knows them hears the whispered words passing between them, as well as the desperately-spoken names, the gasps and cries, the sighs of completion, the tiny pleas and the softly-spoken but unbreakable vows made. The room is rich with the fragrance of their passion.

To the rest of the world, he is a monster. In her soulful eyes, he is a man of aches, tragedy and yearning. With the rest of the world, he is crass, and rude, arrogant and dismissive. The all look down on him, angry at his power, his intrigue, at everything he is. They see his sin plainly, and they refuse to forgive him. With her, he only seeks to give her joy. Joy that Calenus and Servius stole from her. His only desire is to give her joy, to make her forget her husband and her children, and they both know he shall succeed. He will render her wanton and shameless, ardently alive and charged with need, trembling and drunk on every detail of him, but he will want something more than that. Together, something more equal will take place, and they lose themselves in the night and in each other. She know he will be masterfully careful with her, for she is his only treasure and he values her more than his own life. The misery and longing of so many years will show, and he will drink her pleasure as a lifetime of anguish dissolve when they kiss and become one.

He is a horror, and neither can hide from it. She has done things that she can never take back, but he loves her regardless. He is eternally grateful that God would send him someone like her. Angel incarnate. If anyone were ever to watch them, they would be shocked to see how he responded when she called out his name, the flurry of the desperate emotions she evokes. They would never understand it but even they would think it was remarkable.

He will be tender with her, and when his mouth touches hers in a kiss, it will mean something and promise much. His hands will slide over her reverently and his arms will wrap around her, holding her close, as she responds and touches him in return, drinking in the feel of him. The limits of his control will be tested, but he will not break. He will worship every part of her devoutly, and pay tribute to her limbs, her skin, her lips, her eyes, her hair, and all her smiles and secrets. He will be gentle, slow and strong as he moves in her and their heat melts the pain they have both endured. Tonight, he will submit to love, and become not it’s master, but it’s slave. When this night finally comes, his lips will brush the scar on her neck––her mating mark––and kiss the lingering pain away. Perhaps he will shed tears as she reaches for him with a small, wandering hand and caresses his face as though they were never separated. As if they shall never be separated again.