Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Not Forgotten by Ariel Tachna

October 9, 2015

To celebrate Halloween this month, some of our paranormal authors will be sharing with us some free fiction.

 

A Partnership in Blood interlude (takes place after Perilous Partnership)

 

“You seem pensive tonight.”

Marcel Chavinier looked up from his contemplation of the menu—he had it memorized, yet he looked at it every time they met—and smiled at Christophe.

“Do I? Perhaps I am.”

“Should I not have mentioned it?”

Marcel huffed softly in amusement. For a millennia-old vampire, Christophe frequently lacked basic social graces. Or he had decided his great age excused him from them. Either way, Marcel found it delightfully refreshing most nights.

Most nights.

Tonight, not so much.

“Few people care to notice and those who do dare not ask,” Marcel replied.

“All the more reason for me to ask,” Christophe replied. “I am not ‘few people,’ after all.”

Marcel chuckled this time. “No, my friend, you are not. No more than I am. It’s why we are here, is it not?”

“It is, but you have changed the subject. If you wish to drop it, say so and I will not speak of it again, but something troubles you.”

“Magic is an amazing thing. It can take people places they could never otherwise go. It can simplify difficult tasks and reveal secrets invisible to the mortal eye. In the hands of the right practitioner, it can mend blood vessels, keep a heart beating, stabilize all kinds of medical conditions long enough for healing to occur. I was married once, you know.”

“No, I didn’t know,” Christophe replied. “She must have been a remarkable woman to have caught your eye.”

“She was. I met her when I was helping the Résistance.” He caught the surprise on Christophe’s face. “Wizards age more slowly and live longer than most mortals, but I was young too. War came to Paris and age was no guarantee of safety. I had only come into my magic a few months before, not strong enough to be of any real use but young enough to pass unnoticed at times. She was a few years older than I was and shouldn’t have taken any notice of me, but war is a great equalizer. What were a few years age difference when we could die tomorrow at the hands of a Nazi firing squad?”

“I remember,” Christophe said. “Many a vampire met their end that way, out after curfew because it was feed or starve, or dragged out into sunlight when a building was searched. It was a terrible time.”

“By some miracle we both survived relatively unscathed, and a few months later, she agreed to marry me. We talked of having a family, but we were young. We had time. Less than five years later, a car accident did what the war could not and stole her from me. They told me I couldn’t have saved her even if I’d been there. Magic can do many things, but it can’t bring the dead back to life. Today would have been our seventieth anniversary.”

“I would say I’m sorry, and I am, but I know how little such words mean in the face of that kind of grief,” Christophe said. “You don’t live to be a certain age without learning to live with loss.”

“The words are easy to say,” Marcel agreed, “but you are the only one who has said them in many years. The others, Alain, Thierry, Raymond, they don’t even know. By the time I met them, I was already an old man. If they thought of it at all, they assumed I was a widower, but they were young and full of life and I was their teacher, not their friend. Not in the way that encourages asking about the past.”

“Alone in a crowd,” Christophe said with a nod. “I know the feeling well. I much prefer being alone in the solitude of my house. At least there, I can be done with all pretense. Mireille expects nothing from me except refuge against the sun and her salary.”

“She is as wrapped up in Caroline now as all the others are with their partners, I would imagine,” Marcel said.

“I rarely see them. Mireille is kind enough to shelter me from their happiness.”

“Does that help?” Marcel asked. “I look at my boys—for all that they are men grown—and I see hope for the future in the relationships they are building. I won’t be here to see the future they help create, but I have faith in them.”

“Ah, but there is the difference,” Christophe said. “I will be here to see that future, as I have seen the future for dozens of generations. A time comes when hope is no more consolation than memory.”

The expression on Christophe’s face spoke volumes about the memories inherent in that simple sentence. Christophe had revealed little of his past. Marcel had learned little more from Jean, but enough to hazard a guess.

“Were you together for long?” Marcel asked.

“No more than you and your wife. He was a soldier in Clovis’s army, taken captive by the invading Alamanni. We fought with his army, but we didn’t have the protection your wizards offered Jean and the others. Our numbers were decimated. I felt it the moment he died. There will never be another for me.”

“No more than there was for me,” Marcel replied. “You speak of him on occasion, but you never say his name.”

“It would mean nothing to those who hear it,” Christophe said with a shrug. “He is not even a footnote in time.”

“That’s not true,” Marcel said. “He is your Avoué, and that makes him part of all that you have done, up to helping us rescue Orlando and end the war.”

“Childeric,” Christophe said so softly Marcel could barely hear him. “Named after the father of the king he followed to his death.”

Marcel picked up his coffee cup and gestured for Christophe to do the same. “To Childeric and Joséphine.”

Christophe looked halfway between horrified and amused as he tapped his coffee cup against Marcel’s. “To all those who were loved and whose names have been forgotten.”

Marcel sipped his coffee with a smile, grateful that Joséphine’s name would live on in Christophe’s memory now too.

Ariel Tachna bio pic

Find Ariel at her Web site: http://www.arieltachna.com

On Twitter: @arieltachna

Or on Facebook: http://tiny.cc/29npd

 

3 Responses to “Bugs and Hisses Free Fiction: Not Forgotten by Ariel Tachna”

  1. Andrea M says:

    Thank you! One of my all-time favorite series.

  2. Jaime Samms says:

    That shouldn’t make me sad. But it sort of does. Though it also explains so much.

  3. Anne Barwell says:

    Very bittersweet memories which capture the mixed emotions of living a very long life. Thank you :)

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