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The Land of Heart's Desire

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She was a gentle daydream, a dose of lilac wine. She was still lake water, not to be disturbed, tranquil and beautiful while currents and whirlpools raged beneath a silvery calm surface. Sebastian is amused by her, so pleasantly charmed by the elegance of her wrist when she flicks her hand up; so very intrigued by her voice which, while beautiful, cannot be the sole reason for her success. She is a technical deception, a woman of guile who transcended banality and made herself an awe-inspiring sight. The masses adore her and she takes their love with gracious thanks, courting them back for more each and every time.

It is this reason that Sebastian keeps himself dimly attuned to her presence, to know where she is because there is something so alluring about her. She is painted in all the colors of the sunrise—pale violets, rose pink, and soft creams; he thinks he might adore her hair because it is a shade of blonde that is colder than the sun.

Irene Diaz is not the quiescent songbird of dawn and spring; if she was, she never would have caught his eye.

Beneath her lies a woman of mettle, one able to navigate the knife sharp waters of the Victorian theater. She would have bartered with her words, stayed her will, and relied on beauty, circumstance, and raw ambition to have vaulted herself from obscurity to stardom. There is something about Irene Diaz that is distinctly self made, something so beautifully light and airy—a snow white meringue buried beneath lavender. She is a mystery to him, one touched by stardust and the begonia pink of foreign fairytales.

 


  

“I do not think words will ever suffice in expressing the gratitude I feel towards you.” Irene explains, courteous but suddenly shy as she and the Phantomhive butler converse in her illuminated dressing room. The play’s the thing, she muses with a smile, deciding that this may be her favorite performance yet.

Sebastian, erstwhile, regards Irene with a look of humble indifference, one that has been practiced to perfection. “It was an honor to assist you, Miss Diaz, and I can assure you that your promotional efforts on the Lily of the Valley perfume is payment enough.” Her play, her entrance, her demands—they’ve entertained him terribly well. “In any case,” he gives a slight bow, “I am merely one hell of a butler.” His words are carmine silk, the reddest rubies splayed over a woman’s flushed, bare skin.

He wants to impress her, though he can’t explain why. Perhaps it’s because she too practices the art of theater, waltzing through an endless masquerade of black lace and peacock plumes, awaiting something greater. Sebastian knows she wants more, that she can never be satisfied with temporary because perfection is so difficult to obtain. Men fall to pieces around her and she collects their bounty, marveling with sad dissonance when their gold and splendor turn out to be nothing more than cinders and pyrite.

“Do you grow tired of it?” She inquires lightly, circumstance speaking for her.

Sebastian arches a brow, expression neutral. “Pardon?”

“The false modesty. It must be very exhausting.” She says this with polite curiosity, no hint of mockery in her temperate, soothing voice.

“Ah, you desire a monologue—a soliloquy worthy of Lady Macbeth, perhaps?” He pursues, watching as she laughs lightly, disinterestedly removing two gold bracelets from her right wrist before divesting herself of the diamond pendant around her neck. 

“I do hope you have not come to kill me.” She places the pendant on a dark velvet cushion, movements light and sensible. “I have no Scotland to give you.” 

Sebastian, with his obsidian charm, admits a truth that costs him very little to say. “You are far too lovely to kill.” His breath echoes within these words and Irene, ever observant, pauses to look at him with exquisite concern. “I am sure you have received compliments of a far fairer degree but I do not seek to pry you with honeyed tribute. My sentiments are honest.”

A spark of mischief lights up her lavender eyes, connoting a certainty that thrills the demon and intrigues the man. He becomes hyperaware of her measured footsteps, how her violet dress brushes against the satinwood boudoir and suddenly, they are face to face, chest to chest, and he smells red current and snowdrops on her pearl white skin. “You seem like a man who enjoys speaking in riddles.”

It is a fine declaration. 

He chuckles and his eyes, cardinal red, burn with sensuality and suppressed desire. “Riddlic language belonged to the sophists and orators of ancient Greece. I am but a vessel for their teachings.”

“Again, false modesty. Must everything be a circlet with you? No beginning and no end?” Her voice is studied—well aware—and Sebastian is struck by the perfumed accuracy of her carefully constructed statement.

“A circlet, a crown—both jewel encrusted when you speak of them.”

“Do you think me foolish?” Her voice is perfectly serene but the faint furrow of her brow, the slight downturn of her lips, humanizes her—ever so briefly. “I have ascended to great heights playing the fool. And if I thought I could achieve the same success with you, I would have swooned long ago.”

Sebastian smiles.

He likes her answer.

“Madam, if I thought you plebeian and common, I would have not asked for your endorsement of my master’s work.”

“If all I am is another celebrity—“

Her words, however, are lost when the door of her dressing room springs open and there stands Julius Pitt, looking slightly confused and quite worried. “Irene!” He rushes in, glancing between the butler and the singer with an urgent panic that betrays his assured facade.

She could do much better. Sebastian notes, with a cold hint of disdain. He is pyrite, trying to become gold whereas I—

“Miss Diaz.” He bows, reaching for her hand. 

Julius Pitt looks somewhat livid. 

“Mr. Michaelis.” Her fingertips brush against his. 

“I hope to see you once more.”

And, with an audacity that betrays his station, Sebastian turns her hand over and presses a searing, burning kiss to the soft skin of her palm.

I, he remembers, am but obsidian and fire.

 


 

Sebastian decides he is fond of Irene Diaz—more fond of her than anyone else because she desires no allegiance from her bevy of admirers, only promise. She is a restless soul underneath that gentle calm, searching for something she cannot name with subdued, quiet diligence.

He is fond of her—and he should very much like to have her.