A Leonardo da Vinci fanfic, approx. 2300 words. This scene takes place at the start of Ch. 23 of the main route. SPOILERS!
**This HISHE diverges significantly from canon.**
First: That First Night
Leonardo lifted his compagna into his arms. She felt insubstantial, a cold shadow of the woman she’d been that morning. He pulled her close just to feel the thready beating of her heart. The imperceptible rise and fall of her chest. He did not look at the thin, pale line across her throat.
Le Comte untied Sebastian and checked him over for injuries.
Sebas was bruised, his ribs cracked, wrist broken. “I’m fine. Practically uninjured,” he reassured le Comte.
“We’ll take a carriage home.” Le Comte surveyed the theater. The unconscious thugs. The blood spattered madman. His eyes were dark, burnished rings in his pale face. “I will allow the human authorities to exact punishment here.” He glanced at Leo, clearly displeased. “They will be here soon.”
The carriage ride home was quiet. Sebastian slept, his head leaned against le Comte.
Leonardo could not take his eyes of his cara’s face. He wasn’t sure she would live. Wasn’t sure she should. His mind skipped and slid across their moments together, her precious smile. It was wrong not to let go, he knew. But he couldn’t bear the loss. Not yet. Not when they’d shared such a brief time together.
“She will be fine, Leonardo.”
“She isn’t. We . . . we changed her. It was wrong.” His voice broke and he clenched his jaw against the wave of emotion that threatened to bring him low.
Le Comte frowned. “It would have been wrong to let her die.” His eyes said everything his mouth did not.
At the mansion, Napoleon met them at the door. His eyes were wide, the brilliance gone from their green depths. He let out a breath as if he’d been kicked.
“It’s not as bad as it looks,” Sebas joked.
Dazai quirked a sad half-smile. “At least all your body parts appear to be attached. But Toshiko-san . . . does she have any blood left?”
“The bird looks half dead. We should get some coffee in her.” Arthur hurried toward the kitchen, his expression troubled and heavy with guilt.
Isaac shook his head. “It isn’t coffee she needs.”
Jean studied the two pure-bloods coldly. “You made her a monster like us.”
“This isn’t the time, Jean,” Napoleon snapped. “Go with Arthur. Fetch rouge and blanc. And coffee. It can’t hurt.”
Mozart cleared his throat from where he stood on the stair. “You are leaving a mess, Leonardo. Take the girl to her room and get cleaned up. You do no one any good standing in the entrance.”
“I’ll help Sebas to his quarters,” Napoleon volunteered.
Sebastian brightened at this. “Maybe, if you have time, you could stay and answer some questions I’ve had?”
Napoleon chuckled. “Alright, just until we get a doctor out to look at you.”
“Arthur can attend to them both this evening,” le Comte said, his words following them out.
Leonardo carried his compagna upstairs to her room and laid her in bed. She was as covered in blood as he, her skin and clothes sticky with it. He began to carefully undress her, handling his cara as if she were made of blown glass.
His fingertips traced the scarring on her shoulder. Only a few hours ago, there’d been a ragged wound but already the unnatural abilities of a lesser vampire were changing her. Reshaping her.
“Healing her.” Le Comte’s voice came from the doorway, answering as if he heard Leo's thoughts. “I brought hot water and cloths.”
His old friend set them down beside the bed. “Would you like help?”
“Don’t you think you helped enough tonight?” Leonardo couldn’t help the bitterness in his voice.
Le Comte sat in the chair beside the bed. “What should I have done differently, old friend?”
“We . . . we should have taken out the madman as soon as we entered. We could have - he might have -”
“Could have? Perhaps. It is just as likely that any move toward the stage would have left us in the same position.” He did not say the rest. That the only real choice they had was to let her die or to bring her back.
Leonardo picked up a cloth and wet it. He concentrated on cleaning the blood from her skin and hair, scrubbing it from her nails. He could not escape the feeling that he should have done something differently. His cara should never have been in danger.
“Don’t let it eat you, Leo. She is alive. Be thankful that now, you have more time together. Even if it is outside the natural order.” Le Comte sighed. “What will you do now?”
“I don’t know.” Leonardo had no better answer. He was beginning to feel dizzy and his limbs trembled as he tried to finish cleaning and dressing his compagna. He couldn’t think about the future tonight. It hurt too much to think past this moment. This task.
Le Comte stood and gestured to the chair. “Sit. I’ll finish up.”
Leo wanted to protest but he was too tired. He sagged into the chair, his vision narrowing to a dark tunnel.
“You are so stubborn,” le Comte sighed. “About everything.” He gently dressed the girl for bed. She was in better shape than Leonardo, not that his old friend would ever admit it. By the time her tucked her in, Leo was passed out in the chair. His head lolled back, dark circles under his eyes.
Leonardo lost himself in dreams and nightmares. His compagna, thirsty and depraved, hunting humans and draining them to the death. His compagna in the library, snuggled on his lap. A book shared between them. Cara lost to bloodlust. Safe in his arms. Depraved. Innocent. His mind staggered between the two extremes, uneasy in the knowledge that she was forever changed. That he was to blame.
Le Comte made sure his old friend was comfortable before going to check on Sebas. He found him in the kitchen, making coffee. “Sebastian.”
“Ah,” Sebas gave a weak smile. “I thought with all the commotion, the residents could use some coffee or tea.”
“You should be resting.”
Sebastian shrugged. “For me, this is restful. I cleaned up and changed clothes. Arthur checked me over and said I’ll recover. I laid down and . . . I can’t . . . when I close my eyes I see . . .” He took a breath, steadying himself. “I’d rather be here, if that’s alright.”
Guilt, held at bay, now flooded the pure blood. His guests. His responsibility. Sebastian was hurt, physically and mentally, and it was his fault for not protecting him. Time would fade the memories and heal the body, he hoped. But right now, Sebas was raw with the horror of it all.
Le Comte stepped close to Sebastian and pulled the stoic butler close. For a moment, Sebas tensed, uncomfortable with the closeness. But he collapsed into the warmth of the embrace, quiet sobs wracking his tired body.
When his tears stopped, he stepped back. His expression was one of embarrassment. “I apologize. I’m not, not normally so emotional.”
“You have nothing to apologize for. Now, go to your room and sleep. You will not dream. There will be only peace, and rest.” Le Comte put his will into the words and his eyes lit with that inner power.
Sebastian felt the certainty of it wash over him. He relaxed. “Yes, I suppose I should get a few hours in before breakfast service.”
“Take as much time as you need. I will see to things here.” He watched Sebas yawn and then tiredly limp from the kitchen. When he was gone, le Comte finished the coffee and tea, and made little sandwiches. Then he carried it out on a tray. As he expected, the residents were crowded around the girl’s room. Surprisingly, it was Mozart that stood in front of the door.
“She wouldn’t appreciate you all barging in and watching her sleep,” the composer said coldly.
“I just want to make sure she’s alright,” Isaac replied, crossing his arms.
Vincent added, “There was a lot of blood.”
Theo nodded agreement to this.
“You should let me in at least. I am a doctor.” Arthur’s expression was strained, his usual playboy grin absent.
Le Comte cleared his throat, getting their attention. “Arthur and I will sit with her for now. I suggest the rest of you sleep. If you can’t, I’ve made tea and coffee. You are welcome to partake.”
Jean gave him a dark look before striding off.
That one would never forgive him, he thought. His eyes strayed to the girl’s door. Would she feel the same? His chest constricted at the thought.
After everyone took their drinks and dispersed, le Comte and Arthur went into the room.
Arthur immediately began a brief, but thorough examination. His eyes lingered on the thin, pale line at her neck, and the raised scar on her arm. “What happened?” His voice was thick with emotion, though he tried to keep his expression neutral.
Le Comte explained how they’d found her and Sebas, how he and Leo tried to subdue the madman and his thugs without killing. The cost of that mercy, as Leonardo tried to reason with Andre.
“I’d kill the bloke if I got my hands on him,” the Englishman frowned.
“I am sure there are many who feel the same under this roof,” le Comte replied. He was conflicted himself. The taking of a human life was a terrible crime, but it could also be a mercy.
Eventually Arthur left to look for some fudge and another cup of coffee. Le Comte was left alone with the girl. Leonardo’s compagna. Or, she had been. He wasn’t sure what his old friend would do now. That he loved this woman was obvious, but Leo had a penchant for suffering.
He was lost to his thoughts until he heard a gasp from the bed.
She woke with a strangled cry, her hands flying to her throat, her eyes wide and frightened.
“Ma cherie, you are safe,” le Comte told her as gently as he could. “You are home.”
“I - my throat! That man cut me!” Her fingers traced the edge of the scar. “Was it . . . not as bad as I thought?” Her eyes found his, begging him to lie, to tell her she was fine and all the fears she had on waking were just remnants of a nightmare.
Le Comte reached for her hand, stroking the back of it with his thumb as he guided her away from touching her neck. “It was a mortal wound, ma cherie.”
“Then . . . I . . .” She began to cry. A broken weeping that tore from her chest.
He pulled her into a tender embrace and let her cry into his shoulder. Her whole body shook as she emptied her tears, letting her fear and pain out. Le Comte stroked her back, and said nothing until she finished.
Her head lifted and she looked him in the eye. With a voice so low it was almost a whisper, she asked, “Where is Leonardo?”
“Resting.” He helped her settle back into bed, propped up on pillows. “He was shot several times, and even with a pure blood’s constitution, he will need time to recover. As will you.”
She looked down at herself, scrutinizing the marks left by the madman. “I feel alright though. Tired, I guess. And hungry.” Her belly growled to make the point.
Le Comte handed her a sandwich and a cup of cold coffee. “I can get you something fresh, but eat this for now.”
She took the food and began to eat. “So. I died and you -”
“I brought you back, yes.”
“I’m a vampire then. I’ll have to drink blood. I’ll live for hundreds of years. I-I,” she paused and looked up from her sandwich. “I can’t go home.”
“Ma cherie. I will not keep you here against your will. If you want to leave, all I ask is that you stay long enough to learn how to live with your new hungers, your new abilities.” Le Comte let her drop her eyes first.
She took a deep, trembling breath, “I don’t know if I can stay. Leonardo will hate me now. If I am here, he will go.”
Le Comte shook his head with a quiet chuckle. “He will never hate you, ma cherie. He will be upset. And he will take time to come to terms with your change. But hate you? No.”
“He hates himself,” she sighed.
“I don’t think he hates himself. I think that he hates being apart from the seasons of our world. Unchanging, always outside the close-knit affairs of humans, their short-lived loves and losses. He doesn’t believe long life is a gift because for him, it’s meant being alone.”
Her fingertips traced the flowers on her blanket. “I know he had lovers in the past. Why didn’t he try to keep any of them with him? He didn’t need to be alone.”
Le Comte smiled and took her hand. “Cherie, would you take everything precious from the one you loved? Would you make them watch everyone else in their life wither and die? That is what it means to turn someone.”
“Then why do you do it?”
“You wanted to live.” He avoided her question, pretending she'd only asked for herself. His finger followed the lines of her palm as if to read some meaning there as he considered how best to answer. “I turned you because I couldn’t bear to watch you die. It was my fault you were there, in that theater. I failed to protect you. I could not fail to give you a second chance.”
Her eyes narrowed as she watched his face. “And Leonardo?”
“He agreed to the change. He could not do it himself. It broke his heart to see you like that, but I think it hurt him more to believe you might hate him.”
“He let you take that onto yourself.” She caught his hand in hers, stopping his motion. “I don’t resent you.”
Le Comte laughed. “I am glad, ma cherie. I have enough enemies as it is.” He extricated himself from her grasp. “I will prepare something more substantial for you to eat.”
As he left the room, light began to peek through the gaps in the curtain, heralding a new dawn.
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