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Feuilly was most certainly not using gold leaf.

There was no way he could justify the expense for something that would be gone, rubbed off before the night was over. Not when he could use the same coin to buy something Jehan thought infinitely more precious, the bread that ensured Feuilly’s continued life.

And plus, Joly had lectured them on what he believed to be the dangers of certain pigments and metals. Feuilly had nodded gravely, having seen too many painters fall into sickness. Not many believed Joly, especially since he cast his darkest aspersions on innocent white. But Jehan was well enough versed in Joly’s thorough, methodical form of compassion to trust him. And tonight… tonight would involve the intimacies of skin and lips.

Tonight they used not white, but faithful black. Bone black. This time, made not from burned bones but from burned vines mixed with water. Though the name still made Jehan shudder with dark imaginings. The simplest of pigments for the holiest of tasks.

Jehan draped himself over the high arm of the couch, his head resting near his desk, cushioning his head upon his arm and shirt, the fine linen pressed against his cheek. He moved his head against it slowly and appreciatively, settling his neck into a comfortable position for what was to come. A cool breeze caressed his naked back and mingled with the flickering warmth radiating down from the lamp above.

He closed his eyes and took in the scent of the desk’s wood, papers and ink and the linseed undertone of paint. Soon the scents were joined by Feuilly’s as he settled himself behind Jehan. Jehan breathed in sharply at Feuilly’s warmth pressing up against his lower back, taking the mingled scents deeper into himself. This was their own private duet. A song with two deeply interlocking parts.

The faint chink of glasses and the softer wooden sounds of brushes being set out…

Jehan gasped as the chill wetness of the brush touched his skin for the first time, tracing a long curving stroke along his ribs. He almost moved, but bit his lip gently and took a long slow breath to steady himself. Deep indigo blue blossomed in his mind, and as soon as he could speak his voice rang out softly describing the shade.

This was their most private joy, Feuilly’s hand would wield the brush, and Jehan would describe the colors it’s touch brought singing into his mind. A sort of collaborative poetry.

Feuilly’s hand came to rest on Jehan’s ribs, just above his waist, with just enough pressure to steady him, concentration and intention made manifest in a touch. The heat in Feuilly’s hand left a faint wash of red, a glow in Jehan’s mind. The brush picked up the red and mingled it with blue coldness, forming a deeper scarlet. A scarlet that throbbed in his flesh and built into a shudder that he dampened instantly so as not to disturb Feuilly’s hand.

“Thank you, mon âme” spoke Feuilly and without seeing, Jehan could hear the hungry smile in his voice. The next strokes arched up his back with a new intensity, a fierce hungry greenness. Flowing from his waist along the ridges of his shoulderblades to reach the sensitive skin of his shoulders.

He felt several soft curves, close and tight together, forming a whorl. “A rose?” he guessed, and Feuilly made a little sound of approval. “But doesn’t every rose have it’s thorn?” he continued. His mind flowed now and he went on, reciting a few lines from his latest poem, his voice slurred with sensation.

“The flower which was to my tormented heart so dear,
The trellis where the rose and vine entwined could be .”

“That comes later” Feuilly replied wickedly and Jehan shivered. But despite Feuilly’s “later”, soon he felt the soft scrape of fingernails across his back, next to where the rose was drawn. A foretaste. Deep purple, he let it seep into the nearby flower, coloring it. The sensation burned against the background of brushstrokes, sending a wave of heat through his body. The wave spent itself in his cock, and he ground against the rough fabric of his clothes, moaning in desperation.

He could feel more curls, each one carefully formed, spread themselves across his back. Green building upon green, with purple where Feuilly’s fingernails touched. He surrendered himself, making himself completely Feuilly’s canvas. With each curl he could feel something rising within him.

A kiss on the vulnerable place at the back of his neck, a kiss that soon deepened into a scrape of teeth, a pressure delicate but insistent, with a little sharpness.

And then he bit in earnest and the world exploded.

The entire pattern shifted into glowing gold. He would have described it to Feuilly if he could – his mind filled with the haloes of saints on antique churches, dandelions lit by the summer sun, metal pulled glowing from the forge. But all that could pass his lips were shuddering sobs, breathy cries of ecstasy.

He barely resisted arching backwards and grinding himself desperately into Feuilly. He hung there, torn between the desire to preserve the ephemeral art for a few more moments and an ache to touch, but Feuilly was faster, pulling the shirt over his head and pressing Jehan’s chest to him in one fluid motion. His mouth sought out Jehan’s in a deep kiss. Jehan slid his tongue into Feuilly’s mouth and shuddered as he tasted him. Feuilly moaned and moved against him.

When he regained his voice, he would tell Feuilly how he had triumphed where all the alchemists had faltered.

But for now…