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Conquest of Paradise

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“It’s quite a sentimental memory.” She admits, poised and graceful, the faintest hint of a blush on her magnolia white skin. “As a girl I…I had hoped to become a schoolteacher. Someone respected by society.” Irene glances at him, violet eyed and sweet. “I think I may have underestimated my vanity.”

A short burst of genuine laughter leaves Sebastian’s lips, one he was not quite prepared to divulge, but he recovers himself quickly, surprised by the soft amusement he feels towards this woman. “If it should bring you any pleasure,” he smiles, eyes brilliant with mischief, “I had a rather ungodly dream myself. Would you like to know what it was?”

Irene glances around them. The still and silent woods run with tall ebony trees outlined in the silver-grey smoke of the moon. They are alone (it is most improper) and he is a mere servant but decorum was a fickle bird and Irene could be malleable when she wished.

Instead of rebuking him with denial and dignity, she leans closer, taking his proffered arm. “Amaze me then, Mr. Michaelis, for I can’t imagine you as less than immaculate.”

He chuckles, breath low and sweet against her ear. Gradually, he slows his pace until they are standing side by side, arms linked and Irene’s skirts brushing against his neatly pressed sable suit. Yet the currents are shifting and Sebastian, intoxicated by her guileless grit, draws her close so they stand face to face. Irene tilts her head, blonde waves cascading down her back as she looks at him, eyes tender and so serenely beautiful. A wave of contentment—foreign but precious—washes over him and for the first time in centuries, Sebastian revels in the calm grace of borrowed tranquility.

One hand comes to brush against her cheek, white gloves touching silken skin. “In my younger years, Miss Diaz,” his voice became low, his eyes flickered down to her mouth, “my sole aspiration in life,” his fingertip came to trace her Cupid’s bow mouth, searing his touch—possessive in its totality—into the berry red of her lips, “was…” his voice was a murmur as he brought his face closer and closer towards hers, half an inch, just a centimeter more and—“to eat.” He breathed out, breath hot against her half parted lips.

Irene blinked.

She blinked once.

Twice.

Three times. And—

“My darling if I could only photograph your expression, I would carry it with me for the rest of my days knowing that it was I, Sebastian Michaelis, who gifted you with such a look of genuine surprise.” The mellifluous quality of his voice rang with suppressed laughter, playful and human, before Irene, graceful in gait and lovely in elegance, came to.

“Why you treacherous—!”

Her sentence, filled with false rage and reluctant laughter, fell to pieces. His lips came to press upon hers, drawing Irene closer, weaving his fingers through her winter gold hair.

Her pearl studded barrette came undone, falling to the forest floor. Sebastian heard her laughter, a harmony so pleasant he could not help the pride that filled him, knowing it was he who had evoked such a sound from her lips.

This, then, was happiness.