O sweet everlasting Voices be still;
Go to the guards of the heavenly fold
And bid them wander obeying your will
Flame under flame, till Time be no more;
Have you not heard that our hearts are old,
That you call in birds, in wind on the hill,
In shaken boughs, in tide on the shore?
O sweet everlasting Voices be still.
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Louis hasn't ever been one to appreciate an audience. And there in the darkness, I could feel them watching us though I knew that he could not. Their collective thrumming anticipation made of them a singular consciousness, curious and hungry.
They'd been there waiting, restless, for some frisson of connection between us; in fact they'd arrived before I had. Didn't matter. I was for the moment too greedy to pay them any heed, too deliciously shocked by the tender sensation of Louis' palm pressed softly to my cheek. By its contour alone could I define the rest of my body, sparked to life as it was by this touch, and with every monstrous fiber craving more. I turned to press my lips into its center as my fingers drifted up to encircle his wrist, but only barely, feeling there the tantalizing rise and fall of his pulse.
With a gasp, his whole body tensed, and it seemed for a moment as if he would try to get away.
I tightened my grip and opened my eyes.
Books scattered everywhere, dozens of them, and one thick white pillar of a candle that looked as though it'd been burning for years, so heavy and overlapping were the waxen drippings now cementing it to the cold stone floor. Gilded titles flickered in the low light.
He'd been reading aloud in that unobtrusively melodious way of his. I could still catch the subtle rhythm of his words echoing into the silent chapel, could still measure the keen and lovely lilt of the words. Yeats, it had been Yeats. Perhaps he didn't know the staggering irony of his choice. Laughter rose in my throat and died before it could turn to weeping. My lips traced the length of one of his slender white fingers, kissing its tip.
Breathless whisper, colored with disbelief. How sad, the sound of it. I didn't want to look at him.
Leaning forward over me, his free hand came to hover above my shoulder as if he'd take hold of me, shake me, break this refusal of mine to meet his eyes, but he did not. He only spoke my name again, at full volume this time in that rich and poignantly familiar timbre, with a certain sharpness that demanded answering. I winced.
He snatched his hand from my grasp. "Lestat! Please--"
I turned onto my side, away from him, and sighed relief that his unbearable beauty posed a threat no more. I stared at the veins in the marble beneath me.
His hand did fall to my shoulder now, fingers digging hard into the muscle though they made no indentation. "No! Enough of this silence, damn you!"
A beat of stillness, and then the pressure of his hand on me slackened. His palm slipped against the fabric of my shirt just slightly as his anger transmuted into something gentler, more beseeching. A single fingertip brushed across my cheekbone, and his words came earnestly, a cool soft whisper, into my ear.
"Come back to me."
I wanted to shout a volley of curses at the slinking shadows; wanted to let my voice shatter this place and everything in it until God, even in all his staggering indifference, was forced to pay heed. My fingernails dug sharp into the palms of my hands, until a dull prickling warmth that was almost pain spread out across them.
When I did speak, my voice fell flat into the silence, too little intonation to echo back at me from the indefinable darkness. "Louis?"
"What?" Such useless, damnable hope underpinning such a simple word.
A long moment passed in which I felt only the subtle outline of Louis' hand as it moved to rest between my shoulder blades, resignation seeming to define the touch. A scraping then of paper and worn leather across the dusty grit of the floor, and then of pages being turned deliberately. He took a breath, and I thought I heard it catch in his throat, but when he began to read again his words were clear.