Gift for: ElectronicQuillster wooot
Title: City of Light
Holiday Level: A True Haunting
Genre: um...d/a I guess
Rating: I guess it could be 3rd-5th, but it's probably a lil 1-st-2nd years
Characters/Pairings: -grins- Rar
Summary: A trip abroad, a ghost or two, a city of light. And at the end, the stroke of midnight to mark Hallowe'en.
Warnings: no warnings, really...theme of general darkness, though -gasp-

It was called the City of Light, but she didn’t think tonight it lived up to its name – not with the storm clouds covering the night sky and the mist from the evening rain spreading out into every crack of the city. She felt the warmth of him next to her, walking briskly along the deserted street; he navigated effortlessly through the alleyways and side streets. Wherever it was they were going, he knew his way without hesitation, and his stride was purposeful. Was it just her, or were they hurrying?

“Regulus,” she whispered, falling a step behind him. “Regulus, wait.”

He didn’t turn, but instead continued on, his pace steady and unyielding. “We have to keep moving,” he muttered quietly into the night.

She stopped this time, forcing him to as well. When he turned to grab her hand and keep going, she evaded his grip and said, daring to shatter the night silence, “Why? Where are we going?”

“I can’t…tell you that,” he answered, his voice barely a whisper. He didn’t elaborate. The Eiffel Tower sparkled weakly in the distance, masked by the dark clouds.

“I’m not going to blindly follow you around Paris,” she said more defiantly, still refusing to lower her voice.

He looked uncharacteristically uncomfortable. “Marie, we have to keep moving.” He paused, looking around the empty streets. “Please,” he added, sounding almost desperate.

“You brought me on this trip, and now you’re just dragging me around alleys and acting all secretive! Regulus, what is going on?” She crossed her arms over her chest and stayed where she was.

“You just have to trust me,” was all he said in response, and he continued walking. While she wouldn’t admit it, she was surprised that he had just left her standing there. She inadvertently shivered and very suddenly felt frightened. Without him next to her, the air was colder and the mist seemed thicker. Though she didn’t want to, she jogged a bit to catch back up with him; being alone by herself was worse than being alone with him.

A little while later, they came upon a pair of ghosts gliding down an empty alleyway, conversing in hushed voices. They immediately ceased conversation when they saw the mortals approaching. Marie heard one of them whisper harshly to the other in French, “Shut up, Phillipe! Don’t let them hear us.”

She had half a mind to yell back at them in French, just to show them that she could and that she was smarter than they thought, but Regulus laid a hand on her shoulder and guided her away. Behind her, she heard the ghost named Phillipe say to his friend with a chuckle, “Mortals can be so ignorant, wouldn’t you say, Pierre? We should’ve wished them an early Happy Halloween…”

Ten more minutes of walking brought them very close to the Eiffel Tower. She gazed up appreciatively at it; she’d always wanted to find herself at the top of it, looking out over the city, feeling the cool wind on her face, listening to the sounds of Paris. But as they came to the bottom of it, she began to feel her heart sink as she assumed they’d walk right under it without stopping. Regulus didn’t seem to have time for sightseeing on this trip, whatever it was they were supposed to be doing. She doubted a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower was part of tonight’s mystery.

It turned out that she was wrong.

Regulus stopped so suddenly at the base of the tower that she almost bumped into him.

“So you speed-walk all this way and then just stop?” she mumbled indignantly. It was a moment before she realized where exactly they were and that Regulus was staring up at the Eiffel Tower with a twinkle in his gray eyes. “Regulus…” she began, also looking up towards the heavens with a smile threatening to play across her face.

Saying nothing, Regulus turned around on the spot and instantly disappeared. Searching for where he had ended up, she finally saw him standing at the very top of the tower, a small grin spreading across his face. She watched as he nodded slightly, telling her to join him. Trying not to look too excited, she too turned around and a second later appeared with him on the top of the Eiffel Tower. The view was breathtaking.

Despite the more than tangible mist that veiled the city and the absence of Christmas-like string lights illuminating the trees, Paris looked more amazing than she could ever have imagined it. It might’ve been Regulus standing next to her, making the cool air that much warmer. It might’ve been the way he had brought her here without giving away the slightest hint. It might’ve been the fact that it was just her, and just him, and just the city – he had given her the city tonight.

“I love you,” he whispered softly into her ear, his breath warm against her neck.

She found herself at a loss for words. What was she to say in such a perfect moment? All she could manage was an almost inaudible, “I love you, too.”

He turned her around to face him, and his features became more serious. It was then that she noticed the circles under his eyes and the way he looked more worn. Something wasn’t right, even if he was trying to make it seem like things were fine.

“Do you remember a few months ago when I told you what I…what I was planning on doing?” he asked, looking determinedly into her eyes.

She lowered her eyes. Of course she remembered. How could she not? “Yes,” she answered, bringing her eyes back up to meet his.

The sadness in his eyes was more than evident. She hated to see him like this. He continued, “I did it. Last week.” It was him who lowered his eyes this time.

“Regulus,” she said, forcing him to look at her. “Regulus, I understand. I do. If this is what you need to do, I’m here for you.” She could tell that he felt horrible about bringing this upon her, but she wouldn’t let him. “I love you, and I’m not letting anything get in the way of that.”

His eyes flickered momentarily to his right forearm, which was covered by his black cloak. “I just don’t want anything to happen to you,” he admitted. “Marie, this is dangerous. Something could happen to me, too. You have to know that.”

She looked scared but defiant. “I do, I know. Regulus, we’re going to get through this.”

He nodded, just as defiant as her. Without saying anything more, he pulled her into a gentle kiss. They captured everything in that moment; it was only them, both of them, together and strong. When they parted, he paused a second before telling her something else. “Marie…everything is going to change tonight. All of our lives are going to be different. All of us. You have to understand…I will always love you, and I’ll always be me, no matter how things may seem. I love you,” he finished, and she saw his eyes move to his forearm again. Somewhere in the distance, a clock struck midnight and rang out over the city. It was Halloween.

Suddenly, Regulus let out a sharp gasp and grasped his forearm. “Regulus!” Marie exclaimed. “Regulus, what’s wrong?” She reached to pull back his sleeve. He tried to stop her, not wanting her to see what was there, but she was too quick. When she pushed his sleeve back off of his forearm, it was her turn to gasp.

There, like a tattoo imprinted permanently on his skin, was a skull. But it was more than a skull – there was a great snake protruding from its mouth and it was glowing horribly. Burning. Before she had a chance to ask, Regulus answered her question, “It’s the Dark Mark. All of his followers are given one. It – ” a sharp intake of breath “ – burns when he’s calling.” He paused and looked into her eyes again, this time longingly. “I have to go.”

And with another quick kiss (it was almost like it was stolen, the kiss, like he wasn’t allowed to kiss her anymore), he was gone.

The city was deserted.