The fire is cracking and popping and I am sitting in the window seat, drowsily watching the fat flakes of snow falling past outside, and thinking of you. I rub at one of the panes, frosted with my breath, and peer into the swirling whiteness. Did I imagine it, or are there two figures out there, dancing; kissing?
I remember the first time I saw you. It was snowing then, too. It was a Christmas Ball and I was bored, as I often was. I had opened the garden doors, taken a step onto the patio and there you were. You froze me with a glance. I had never seen such beautiful eyes in such a beautiful face. You smiled at me, snowflakes caught in your eyelashes.
It was a long time before I took in the rest of you. Your soft, black hair, tied with a velvet ribbon. Your slender body, enclosed all in black. Your long legs in the high leather boots. Your luscious lips and shy smile. When I did, my knees began to tremble.
You didn't say a word to me; just took my hand and led me out onto the grass where we danced among the snowflakes, to the music spilling from the house.
That was the first of many times we danced, but the only time we danced in the snow. When the dance ended we kissed and I lost my heart.
The fire hisses and sighs as I remember the day I lost you. A servant came riding with news that you had been thrown by your horse and were desperately ill. I felt my heart break and I knew that we would never again dance as we had danced before.
So many days flashed through my head as I rode as I had never ridden before or since. So many days of dancing and smiling and kissing. You, smiling down from the back of that great black beast you rode, bending for a kiss. You, dancing in the rain, naked as the day you were born, with that glorious hair flinging out in all directions, dusted with diamond drops. You, lying on the rug in front of the fire, the flickering flames bronzing your skin and making your brown eyes burn amber.
Even now, flames make me think of your eyes; the volcano of passion that hides behind their mildness.
I remember trying to hold on to the memories, the days, the moments slipping through my mind like grains of sand in a timer; a life slipping through my fingers with nothing I could do to stop it... nothing but...
Oh it is still painful, that memory, that moment when I saw you, your face as white as the pillows on which they had lain you. I'm sure, even now, that if you had not been waiting for me you would have been dead before I got there. But you held on; you held on just for me.
When you heard my voice you opened your eyes and smiled at me. It was the most beautiful smile I had ever seen, but it broke my heart because I knew it would be your last. I saw death in your eyes, felt his presence, a cold breath on the back of my neck.
There was no hope in your eyes, but neither was there despair. You were as you had always been, content to accept what was given. Life or death. It was out of your hands and were happy to leave it out of mine. You knew that I wasn't ready; that there had been no time. Perhaps you were ready to surrender yourself to the arms of death, but I wasn't. No matter what I had decided; no matter what we had talked about in the soft glow of the dying fire, I was not ready to say goodbye.
Closing my eyes I shiver. I think there is someone out there, in the snow. Didn't I just hear a laugh? Didn't I just hear a sigh? Didn't I just see the glow as they kissed?
I am so weary. The years have weighed heavily on me. How long has it been; since that day I held you in my arms and watched those beautiful eyes close for the last time?
Today is Christmas Eve. It was the day we met and only four months later you were gone. You brought such lightness into my life, a lightness that could never be duplicated by any other.
"What are you looking so serious about?"
You startled me. You have always had the ability to surprise me, even when I had grown to believe that nothing ever could again. You are soft and sweet and beautiful and, as much as I feared to make it, I have never regretted the decision I made on that day so long ago. Not for one moment over the last three hundred years have I doubted that I did the right thing when I shared my blood with you and took you from your mortal life to share my eternal one.
I think you know. The look in your eyes is soft and understanding. Slowly, in that way you have that is so like dancing, you walk across the room, your footsteps silent, hips swaying in a way that makes my mouth water. Like a cat, you curl up on my lap, your hair loose around your shoulders, your lips moist and pink. I am as entranced as I was the first day, when I opened the doors into the snow and into my heart.
You have something in your hands; a box.
"Merry Christmas," you say with a smile.
"It's not Christmas until tomorrow."
"I know, but this is not exactly a Christmas present, so open it now."
What have you been up to now? What secret have you been nursing? What scheme have you planned? I look at the box and it seems to be just a box. From the look in your eyes I don't think that it is going to explode in my face. Carefully tearing the paper and easing up the lid my smile fades as I stare at the delicate object nestled in its bed of green tissue.
Mesmerised I raise the glass globe, staring at the two figures entwined in a kiss that stills time. Slowly I shake it and watch the snow fall, obscuring them from view, locking them into their own private world where nothing existed outside the kiss.
"Happy anniversary," you say and I carefully lay the globe on the table where the snow settles and the figures, locked in their endless kiss, ignore us as we fall into ours.