A single butterfly fluttered past Asher's face, making him aware of the approach of a visitor. A specific visitor, since only one of his travel-companions seemed to be surrounded by butterflies at all times.
It was rumored that Yvette had once ordered Warrick to get rid of his winged entourage, to which he had serenely replied that such a thing was impossible, since the Lord Himself had sent them, and Warrick would not incur His anger by harming His creatures.
Asher would have loved to see Yvette's expression at that statement.
She had responded the way she always did when something (or someone) had displeased her: with calculated violence. And little result.
The night after she had 'massacred' Warrick's butterflies, at least as many of them had shown up, again following Warrick around wherever he went.
Yvette had reacted by banishing Warrick from her bed, which was, of course, not a punishment at all, but rather a reward. It had all been a quite amusing and diverting affair, really. A pleasant break from the parade of Masters of the City who crawled before the Council, assuring them of their absolute loyalty and obedience.
Asher had grown weary of that quickly, too eager for the last Master of the City that the Council would visit, before leaving again for Europe. Or perhaps he had simply grown sick of his travel-companions and their less-than-civilized hobbies.
"Would it be permitted to enter and speak with you?" Warrick's voice drifted in through the open door, interrupting Asher's musings.
"Warrick. What brings you here?" Asher asked, rising and turning. He didn't get visitors that often, and of all of the vampires that were accompanying the Council on this trip, Warrick might well be the least unpleasant person. Though that wasn't saying much, all things considered.
The volume of butterflies increased tenfold as Warrick entered. To his surprise, Asher found himself enjoying the sight of them, just a little.
"Since we will depart from this city tonight, we will arrive in Saint Louis shortly," Warrick started, seating himself in the least comfortable chair of the room.
"Oui, I am aware of that," Asher replied, sitting down as well.
Warrick nodded once. "That means that we will meet Jean-Claude. A person with whom, I believe, you were at some point closely and well-acquainted."
Asher raised one eye-brow. "What are you getting at, Warrick?"
A perfectly white butterfly darted past his face, its wings almost seeming to carress the skin of his cheeck. Warrick smiled.
"Once, I believed that God had turned away from me, because my sins were many and grievous. I was convinced that He would never grant me His forgiveness, and withhold His grace from my guilty soul forevermore. Many are the times that I have cursed His name in anger, thinking that He had turned away from me." Warrick paused for a moment, appearing to consider something.
"I say 'in anger'," he continued, "but I have come to realize that in fact, I was cursing Him in despair, because I was certain that He was lost to me, that Heaven was lost to me. Even in my darkest, most shamefull acts, He never ceased to pour His love over me, kindly reaching out to me, until the day I was worthy of receiving His full grace once again."
"By that, I assume you mean the butterflies," Asher hazarded, feeling slightly uncomfortable. And sincerely hoping Warrick wasn't here to 'save his soul' or some nonsense like that.
"Yes." Warrick sounded awed, like he still couldn't believe it. Asher wondered how long it would be before he opened his eyes to the truth; that the butterflies were simply a manifestation of his awakened powers as Master Vampire.
"And why are you telling me all of this?" Asher inquired, his initital pleasure at getting a visitor mostly vanished.
"Because, based on what I have heard, I think that God to me is what Jean-Claude is to you," Warrick declared. "You have turned away from him in anger, speaking his name as if it were poisonous, though in your heart, you long to be held by him, to return to his side."
"Ça, c'est ridicule!" Asher exploded. "Jean-Claude would be my god? I have never heard such nonsense!"
"Not your god," Warrick protested mildly. "Rather, I am saying that perhaps you should reconsider the truth of your feelings before you are faced with him."
"This - " Asher lifted a hand to the scarred half of his face " - is Jean-Claude's doing. The death of the woman I loved, who also was my human servant, is his doing."
"Yet he too bears scars, for having saved your existence. And he too loved this woman, the lady Julianna. You cannot deny these things," Warrick pointed out.
"He did not save me; he merely prolonged my suffering, forcing me back into an existence I no longer wished. And I cannot believe he truly loved her. He let her die. Is that an act of love?" Asher demanded. "He let her, who deserved to live, die, but saved me, who longed for death."
"He loved you, as you loved him. And still do." Warrick studied Asher's face. Oddly enough, Asher was almost disappointed when he didn't flinch, or hastily averted his gaze.
"Des mensonges et des contes bleus," Asher snarled. "Tu es fou."
"I hope that you will consider my words when you have calmed yourself somewhat." Warrick rose, apparently having said what he had come to say. Asher thought he would be glad to see the other gone.
"The only thing I want from Jean-Claude is to see him brought low and humiliated," Asher maintained.
Warrick stared at him almost sadly. There was a hint of pity in his eyes. "You have seen him brought low and humiliated centuries past already, yet it has not brought you any peace or joy."
"You cannot understand me. You have no right to judge me, to presume to know what it is that I feel," Asher growled. A part of him was angry with himself, rather than Warrick, for allowing the memory of Jean-Claude and Warrick's words to get under his skin this much.
Warrick halted in the door-opening, not looking back. "One last thing, before I leave you."
"What?" Asher wished he'd go already.
"God, as a true immortal, has unending patience and unending love. Jean-Claude, however, is not truly immortal."
Warrick was gone, his butterflies having vanished together with him.
All, except one. It fluttered around uncertainly, seeming to search for something, an exit perhaps. Asher neither knew nor particularly cared.
He watched as it was caught in the flame of a candle, its midnight-blue wings turning to ashes before his eyes as it burned without any other sound than the soft crackling of the fire.