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What is Love?

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In Vanitas' experience, love was not something kind or gentle or sweet. It was cruel. Painful. Agonizing.

To be loved was to experience the fiery abyss of hell.

Vanitas learned this lesson a long time ago with the blue moon vampire. She had claimed to love Vanitas and every day Vanitas wished she didn't love him quite so much. Somehow, any sort of love people had for him became twisted and wrong, and because of this, he was terrified of being loved by anyone ever again. He would not allow himself to be subjected to that kind of torment for a second time, and he swore he would never love anyone either. For how could his love be any better than the cursed vampire's when that was the only experience he had in the subject?

But, with no warning, that solemn oath shattered completely when he first laid eyes on Jeanne.

She was magnificent.

Her beauty, her strength, her very being took his breath away and left him stunned. He had heard terrible, wonderful stories about her from Vanitas of the Blue Moon, but to actually behold her was something else entirely. He couldn't take his eyes off of her. Even when she nearly took his head and he claimed to be disappointed, he thought her gorgeous. He was utterly enthralled.

And when she begged for the safety of Luca, willing to do anything to protect someone she cared for, his enrapture for her deepened. He had never know or seen such selfless care and devotion before, and that someone like the Hellfire Witch—known for her destructive power and indomitable strength—could feel this for Luca amazed him. And, if it was even possible, she became even more beautiful in his eyes.

At that moment, he truly wanted her to be his. And so he kissed her and asked her to marry him. He was overjoyed and not deterred at all by her apparent disgust.

It was then he knew he loved her, and he grew afraid. For himself, and for her.

After some time, Vanitas realized that this love he felt for Jeanne was different from the love known to him. There was no malice in it, no fear or mockery or anger. He didn't want to possess her and his love didn't harm her.

Most of all, he expected nothing from her in return. Especially not her own love.

It was so different from the love he received from Vanitas that at first he thought, maybe, he had confused the feeling with something else. After all, he just wanted to shower her in praise and help her in any way he could. He wanted to be the shoulder she would lean on when in need. Nothing at all like what the Cursed Vampire wanted from him.

And maybe that was okay.

Maybe this was what love was supposed to look like and he could love Jeanne without hurting her. He went about it in a way that people didn't understand, and maybe it was a little twisted, but he did the best he could with what he knew. And he promised himself he would never, ever love her the way the Blue Moon Vampire loved him.

Because he didn't want love to break her like it broke him.

Vanitas loved Jeanne, but he did not want her to love him back. Vanitas was just fine with her hating him. In fact, that was part of the reason he loved her so much. It kept her from getting too close.

That way, she could never feel for him that twisted, distorted, ugly thing Vanitas of the Blue Moon always told him was love. That way, she could never hurt him.

He didn't think he could take much more pain in his life, and love was nothing but that.

However, when he saw Jeanne in need, succumbing to the curse left by Vanitas of the Blue Moon, he wanted to help her. He didn't even care about the inevitable pain it would cause him. He was used to pain after all. So he unclasped the top buttons of his shirt and offered her his blood, to stave jet craving for the crimson liquid life.

It comforted him to see how resistant she was to the idea. How much she didn't want to hurt him, even if she did hate him. It touched him in a place of his heart he thought long dead.

She looked so angry and unwilling, a cute scowl on her face, that he couldn't help but smile at. Jeanne was just so radiant, she almost scorched him just with her very presence.

Hellfire Witch, indeed.

And then she asked him with disbelief and horror clear in her trembling voice, "What... are you thinking? My fangs... could kill you... they might pour poison into you... why do this!?"

This made him pause.

He knew well the effects a vampire's fangs had on a person. He had experienced it many times, again and again and again. It had never stopped. But this time was different. This time he was willing. If only it could ease her pain just a little.

His face carefully blank, Vanitas answered, "...No real reason."

He didn't see her surprise as he continued talking, "Right now... you could say I don't much care what happens."

A realization came to him as he remember something.

"No wait," he leaned forward, forcing her to move farther back against the banister, "That's not it. I'm intrigued."

He thought of the peaceful look on Dominique's face as Noé drank her blood, the intimacy of the moment and wondered aloud, "What would it feel like to have you drink my blood?"

Will I feel that way too, since this time it is my choice to give my blood? Will I feel that peace? Am I capable of it?

"Wha...?!" Jeanne exclaimed with a mix of worry and shock, but Vanitas spoke on as though he hadn't heard her.

Grabbing her wrist, he continued with his melodious voice, "That's right. Either way, I'm... in love with you, you know."

Placing her hand on his cheek, he looked her directly in her mesmerizing eyes, "Come... Jeanne."

With a petrified look of horror, Jeanne started to reject his offer, "No... No! I don't want.. not your blood..."

Something must have changed her mind because suddenly she bit savagely into his neck and pushed him to the ground.

And it hurt.

He felt like his very blood burst into flames and started to consume him. Every single blood vessel screamed at him in agony and Vanitas had to clasp his hand over his mouth to keep from crying out.

He asked this of Jeanne and he didn't want to discourage her now by showing his pain.

He did feel vaguely disappointed that this hurt just as much as it always did. No peace or calm came over him like it did with Dominique. This didn't really surprise him though, he wasn't a vampire after all, but at the same time, he found comfort in it being his choice and all at once the situation became better.

Looking up at the moon past Jeanne's head as she came up for air before biting him again, Vanitas removed his hand from his mouth, and with a pained smile said breathlessly, "I see... This... isn't... all that bad... actually."

Eventually, her thirst was satiated and she pulled away from him. She refused to look at him out of embarrassment as she rose and he found that quite endearing through his blood loss addled mind. He couldn't see clearly and he was suffering from lightheadedness, so he stayed where he laid.

"Oh," Jeanne said, seeing his unmoving form and moving to help him up, "I'm sorry, I should have realized..."

Her face grew to one of consternation as she remembered just who she was talking too, and Vanitas couldn't help but laugh as he stood on unsteady legs.

"It is no problem, my dear," he started with his usual smile, ignoring his blurring vision, "that's what I'm here for."

He couldn't see what expression she made, but suddenly she snapped to attention, "We have to go back to Master Luca!" and without giving him any time to argue, she grabbed him and headed back to where they came from.

Vanitas could only smile and follow along shakily. "Jeanne," he thought fondly and a bit wistfully, "you really are something else."