Mein Herz

The last ghoul fell to Arnaud's attacks, the death rattle in it's chest a relief after a long fight. He turned to me, the colour returning to his deep blue eyes. The look was the only wordless gesture that was ever able to pull me back to reality. I smiled back, putting down my bow, and letting the viol fall silent once more.

"Wondeful playing, mon amour, as always." he smiled, putting his brush away and putting his hands on my hips. I laughed as I always did. A living stereotype of a french artist he was.

"Mein Got, Arnaud, we're still standing amongst the corpses of monsters, surly there is a better time to flirt." I didn't pull away, I never did, but this was different. He pressed closer to me, and his lips found mine. I was taken by surprise, and pulled back, but he persisted, something urgent in the kiss.

He pulled back, a smile on his face, but not the usual smug satifaction that he had when he got away with something. There was something almost tragic behind those eyes. So deep I could get lost in them. I smiled back and took his hand, squeezing for a moment before packing up my instrument.

The trip home was one of quiet contemplation. I hummed a song to myself as we walked back to the Way back to our little hovel in France. My familly always comes back to France and back to Rue d'Auseil. I put the viol back in her place and fell comfortably into my chair. Arnaud poured our drinks and sat by my side.

"Perhaps…perhaps it is time we stoped, cher. Maybe just for a time? Took a vacation." He spoke so suddenly that I jumped a little in surprise. I just looked at him as if he had two heads. I didn't need to speak, he knew what I would say.

"I am just tired, love. Maybe just a month? It's July now, we could do more in August." he sighed, a little sad.

"Arnaud, you know I love nothing more in the world than you, but this is…Pflicht…duty. If you are tired, the Hand can put me in touch with another…"

"Non, non, I want to spend this time with you. Just please…" I almost felt his heart breaking, as he knew I would not listen. The night was silent like a tomb, and we shuffled through the motions of our lives before laying together for the last time.

My dreams were the same as always, that black hand reaching through the window, and slowly strangling life from not only our world, but many others. I knew this would happen if I didn't keep playing. Maybe it would happen even with my playing, but I could not sit by and let it happen, no matter how inevitable.

When I woke Arnaud was already awake, speaking to his mother on the phone. They were close, like my family, drawn together by a sense of duty. I smiled for a moment till I heard the sadness in his voice. I made a point not to listen in, assuming it was familly matters and waited for him to be done.

"Good morning, mein herz." I smiled sweetly, hoping I could cheer him from his mood, but he did no answer, only glancing at me.

"You slept well?"

"Like lumber." This didn't even afford his usual laugh. He only nodded and beckoned me to breakfast.

They day was slow, not a single call from the Hand, or any others who usually called upon us. Arnaud started to look more and more hopeful, till late in the evening when a call came. We were needed, and his face fell.

"Please, my love, I cannot go with you, but I do not want to let you go…" his voice cracked, as he fought with himself. I was taken aback and didn't know what to say, so I just stared.

"Just tonight, please…" his voice became desperate, as he begged me to do the unthinkable. There was no arguning, I was called and I would go, with or without him.

"I will call the Hand. Another will meet me there and I'll be back before the morning. You know I will always return to you."

"No you wont. Not this time." he broke, falling to his knees, the deep blue hidden by tears.

"You have never doubted me what-"

"Mother has seen this day. This day everything goes wrong! She say that the ways will not work, she saw that the Library will be closed to us!" he choked. "And she saw that you leave me."

"I will return to you, mein herz, with or without the ways, or the Library or anything else. I will always return to you, but you know I cannot shirk my duty." I picked up my viol, and my pack, knowing his mother was rarely wrong, and that I may have to charter a flight home.

"She did not see whether you return." he said as he grabbed my hand. "I need you, Claudia, I cannot survive without you, and I'm begging you, with tears in my eyes, do not leave me tonight."

I pulled him up, kissing his cheek and squeezing him for a moment. "Ich liebe dich, mein süßer."
As I wrestled away from him, I could hear his heart break, but I cannot shirk my duty. What my heart wants, and what his heart wants is not important, especially if what his mother saw comes to fruition. I opened the Door, the Way to where I was needed opened, and stepped through.

"Je t'aime, ma vie. I will wait here for your return, or for death to claim me, I will always believe you will come back to me." The words ring in my ears still. It's dark, and I don't know how long I have been falling, or where I will land. The Ways are broken, and the Library is closed. I will have to charter a flight home to mein herz.

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