The door to the Count’s chambers open soundlessly, revealing the man himself pacing up and down angrily in his room. You frown a little, having expected him to be resting in bed. His frantic movements are interrupted when he starts coughing violently and you hurry yourself towards him to support him.
“I’m fine, I’m fine. Don’t treat me like an old man,” Lucio waves you’re attempts to aid him away but another fit seizes him and this time you truly have to hold him up. It always startles you how light he feels nowadays, just a fraction of the man he used to be.
“They left me, you know. To go on a vacation,” he scoffs while you lead him to the bed, where he drops unceremoniously against a pile of soft and plush pillows.
“I know,” you answer, crawling on the bed to lie next to him.
You had run into Nadia on your way up, she had been dressed in her traveling gear, hurrying to get out. “He’s all yours,” the countess had said, giving you a look of utter disdain. You had merely smiled in response, unfazed by her remark. He had been yours for a long time now, the presence or absence of his wife changed little about that fact.
“Look at it from the bright side, we can enjoy some uninterrupted time together,” you offer, scooting closer to him and Lucio shrugs, knowing you’re right but not entirely ready yet to let go of his frustration. He doesn’t hesitate though to snuggle up completely against you, entangling his legs with yours, nuzzling his face in your neck. The little sigh of contentment that follows is not lost on you and you know it won’t take long before he will have forgotten about his so called friends.
“You’d think they would want to be there for the last days of their beloved count,” he pouts. You go silent, painfully aware of what he’s implying. You know he is sick, you know there is no cure for the plague yet but you always grasped at that last straw of hope for a miraculous recovery. And so did he, this is the first time you hear him speak about a scenario where this doesn’t end with him getting better.
“You’re not dead yet,” you say softly and Lucio notices the change of tone in your voice. He reaches for your hand, tenderly kissing the knuckles before he intertwines his warm fingers with yours. He was always hot nowadays, the fever scorching right beneath his skin.
There was no denying how bad his state was. His bright red sclera, his sickly pale skin tight around his protruding bones, the dark circles beneath his eyes. All bad omens that pointed towards an inevitable end. But even the plague couldn’t stop you from loving him, couldn’t change that he was still the most handsome man you’d ever had the honour of calling yours. You wanted him, desired him, loved him completely and irrevocably.
“I’m not giving them that pleasure soon,” he says and he sounds like his old self again. He’s barely able to lift his own teacup anymore but there’s still fight in him, a lust for life that’s not easily snuffed out.
“Now, my darling. Pet me, please,” he’s pouting at you with big, silver eyes and there’s no way you can deny him anything when he looks like that.
Lucio hums contentedly when you start running your fingers through his hair, massaging his scalp just the way he likes. He’s melting in your hands.
“Dove, you’re too good for me,” he groans, the hands around your waist pulling you tighter against him.
You smile and kiss his temple: “Maybe that’s because I love you so much.”
“Mmmm, say that again.”
“I love you.”
“I love you.”
“Please, one more time?”
“I love you. With all my heart.”
He’s purring like a kitten now, completely relaxed by your words and touch alike.
“I love you too,” he mumbles and you can tell he’s starting to get drowsy, the disease eating away at his energy, his eyes fluttering shut. Sleep quickly overtakes him.
Your hands don’t stop caressing the gold strands on his head for a long time, the movement just as soothing for you as it is to him. It’s moments like this when you know you made the right choice, where it’s all worth it. The betrayal in Asra’s eyes, the contempt from Nadia, the pity from Julian, the pain of seeing the man you love slowly die…It cannot touch you here, in this warm bubble of love and perfection, made for just the two of you.
“I love you,” you whisper, saying it once more, for who knows when your last time will be.