Forever In Paris - Part One

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By Ariskari
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The night was crystal clear and heartbreakingly beautiful. A thousand, thousand lights filled his vision, making the entirety of Paris glitter around him. Even the river reflected the lights, mingling with the stars trapped in its depths, making it look like a velvet ribbon shot through with gold and silver. It was almost enough to console Johan that he was never going to see it by daylight. Because how could the harsh light of day ever compare to the Parisian night? Every blemish and stain laid bare rather than decently cloaked by darkness. And while it would have been a dream come true to explore the world of Dumas and Hugo by daylight, to walk along the rue de Rivoli and see the sunlight shining off the statue of Joan of Arc, the nightlife of Paris left him with more than enough to occupy his time. The opera, the theatre, the ballet…all very enjoyable pastimes that helped break up the monotony and loneliness of his present existence.

Tonight, however, Johan had a much baser interest he wished to indulge. Further along the bridge, admiring the night time view of the city so much she wished to put it to canvas, was a young woman of quite staggering beauty. Full red lips were caught lightly between white teeth, dark eyes glittering in the reflected light as she concentrated on her work, heart shaped face framed by thick waves of shining dark hair. An enticing prospect even if she’d been human. As it was, being the only other vampire he’d encountered since arriving on France, she was too irresistible a woman to simply pass by.

Johan strolled casually towards her, hand trailing along the cool barrier and making no effort to hide his nature. There was no way she could have failed to notice him…but she didn’t look up at him once. He paused a respectful distance away. Up close she was even more breathtaking; he could have spent the entire night just standing watching her paint. However, doing so without a proper introduction was most improper and she still hadn’t so much as glanced his way. Johan took a few steps forward to come up alongside her.
“Good evening,” he said.

“You’re in my light,” she said by way of response.

Johan’s mouth dropped open at this curt reply. Granted, it was an acknowledgement of his presence but he’d expected something a little less…abrupt.

“Surely your light is coming from the gas lamp to your right,” he spluttered out. “And I am in no way casting any kind of shadow on your work!”

Her brush stilled on the canvas and she finally turned that dark gaze on him. “Are you an artist?” she asked.

“Well…no,” Johan confessed.

“Do you, in fact, deal with art at all on a regular basis?”

“No…” he said once again.

“Then by what authority do you claim to dictate where the light I am using comes from.” She gave him a superior look and turned back to her work, clearly not expecting any further response.

Johan did have a little trouble formulating one, opening and closing his mouth several times before sound actually came out.

“Do you greet all strangers so discourteously?” he asked.

“As I don’t recall inviting, much less desiring your company, I shall handle your interruption as I see fit,” she said calmly, continuing to paint. “I’m not in the habit of entertaining fools.”

Johan let out a surprised laugh. “A fool am I? You’re very quick to judge, what makes you so sure I’m a fool?”

Her eyes flicked back over at him, amusement twinkling in her dark eyes. “You’re still talking to  me when all I’ve done is insult and disregard you. Its hardly a sign of intelligence from you.”

Johan had to admit she probably had a point there. Pestering a vampire that wasn’t being very welcoming was not conducive to continued survival. But he hadn’t spoken to one of his own kind for so long he was willing to take a couple of risks.

“I suppose that’s fair,” he said, shifting so that he now stood next to her canvas. She paused in her work again and looked up at him through her lashes. “I’ve always been a fool for a beautiful woman.”

“Whatever beautiful women you’re used to,” she said. “Flattery will not get you anywhere with this one. Especially when I’ve already made it quite clear that I’m busy.”

“Then how about something more substantial than simple flattery?” he asked with a teasing smile. “An invitation to my box at the theatre?” A moonlight stroll through the Tuileries Gardens? I’d even take you dancing if your tastes run that way.”

She sighed and set her brush down before collecting herself and looking at him full in the face, her expression curiously blank.

“You are really not going to leave me be until I engage you in a satisfactory manner are you?”

“I don’t easily give up when trying to form a new acquaintance,” he countered cheerfully.
She finally gave him a smile, red lips parting to reveal perfect white teeth, with just a hint of fang. “Perhaps I can break you of this unfortunate habit.”

That she was older and more powerful than him hadn’t been particularly surprising. Johan was, after all, only ten years dead. But her being that much faster than him really took him by surprise. She leapt from the chair and grasped his wrist in such a blur of motion that he hadn’t even registered it before it was too late. Then he was hurtling through the air, over the bridge and down towards the black waters of the Seine. It didn’t look anywhere near as velvety and enchanting this close.

The water was shockingly cold, but thankfully very deep so Johan was unharmed by his sudden dunking. He pulled himself back to the surface, hair plastered to his skull and fine clothes soaked and trying to pull him back under. His top hat floated down to join him a moment later.

“And is this all the reply I’m to expect?” he called up to the bridge. Apparently so, as there was no response to his question. “You could at least tell me your name!” he called again.

This time he heard a faint tinkle of laughter over the rushing water. Satisfied he struck out for the bank.

The woman on the bridge did not leave Johan’s thoughts for several days. Over the course of the following week he contemplated retracing his steps to see if he could find her again, but prior engagements and a run of bad weather kept him otherwise occupied and indoors. However, when the weather turned fine again and he found himself with an empty schedule and a particularly good full moon, he decided to take a walk. If the mysterious artist had appreciated the beauty of the Parisian night, he doubted she would be able to resist the image of the full moon hanging suspended from heaven, reflected in the river.

He was a little surprised at just how pleased he was he’d assumed correctly when he saw her. If he hadn’t known it to be an impossibility, he might have thought her not to have moved at all in the past week. She was sat once more in front of her canvas on the exact same stretch of bridge, in the same deep green gown, with not a hair out of place.

A smile crept across Johan’s face as he approached. He didn’t get quite as close this time, not wanting another drenching, but this time she actually glanced over at him. Although she did then turn back to her work with a shake of her head.

“You really aren’t a fast learner are you?” she said, amusement colouring her voice.

“One of my many faults,” he said cheerfully. When she wasn’t snapping her accent was pure, Parisian, much smoother than his own attempts at speaking French.

“Are you so eager for another soaking that you would come and bother me again? I make no promises to be so restrained with my actions this time if you push too far.”

“I plan on doing no such thing,” Johan said. “Even if the swim was most refreshing. I’m afraid what I came to do was apologise for my abdominal rudeness last week.”

“Which particular bit of rudeness?” she asked, fairly playfully Johan was pleased to note. “There was several moments that spring to mind.”

“The others aside,” Johan said, glossing over this statement for the moment. “I asked your name but didn’t think of providing my own in return.”

“Surprisingly, having not particularly cared for your company, that particular neglect didn’t concern me overly much.”

“Never the less, I shall provide it. You might wish to make use of it in the future.” He dipped into an elaborate bow, far too formal for an acquaintance in the street but too flamboyant for anywhere else. “Johan Dvorsky, at your service.”

She rolled her eyes and looked at him, pausing her painting once again. “Thank you very much for your generous offer, but I do not see why I would require your services. I am more than capable of caring for myself.”

“Yes, you demonstrated that most admirably the other night.” Johan wasn’t entirely sure his suit was salvageable from that, but his land lady had assured him she would do her best. “But I am not talking about those sorts of services. I was meaning in a more…social sense. My offers from the other night still hold.”

“And why would I want to engage with you in a social setting, hm?”

“Because you want to get to know me,” he said with another grin. “And to know me is to love me.” He flashed her a wink and tipped his hat to her. “But I have encroached on your evening long enough. I shall let you return to your painting.”

As he started to walk away, he was invited to turn his face back to her by a musical laugh.

“You really are quite ridiculous,” she said. “But you certainly do have confidence. I’d be careful with that; it can be dangerous in one as young as yourself.”

“Caution is all well and good,” Johan called back. “But if I trod carefully at all times I’d still be stuck in Switzerland with my Sire, and we would never have met. So for now I shall favour my confidence.” He gave her another wink and walked away. Just before he left the bridge he heard her call out to him again.

“Johan! It’s Marie.” He turned to look at her again. From this distance it was hard to tell, but the moonlight glinting on the revealed fangs showed she was smiling. “My name is Marie.”
© 2013 - 2020 Ariskari
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DarthVengeance0325's avatar
DarthVengeance0325Hobbyist Writer

This was a most delightful story and one it was my particular pleasure to read, but you may wish to edit the section that reads, "for my abdominal rudeness last week.”

I believe, dear Ariskari , that you meant "for my abominable rudeness last week", instead? X3 Unless of course for some reason his musculature incited his actions rather than his hormones (insofar as Undead have hormones anyway) or his curious personality. In which case I am no doubt wrong. :D