Nikola spent the night by her fire, draining bottles of wine. He was working his way down from the most expensive in her cellar to this current specimen which claimed to be from some lover of hers.
Three weeks and he still hadn't left the safety of her Sanctuary. This wasn't like him at all. When Nikola felt the need to hide – he hid better than this, in tombs and abandoned ruins where no living thing could find him. It was something that vampires were especially good at – vanishing.
This wasn't vanishing. This was sulking.
On the first night of the fourth week, Helen appeared at the library door. She rested against the frame, her arms folded. Heaven knows what possessed her but she was wearing a thigh-length dress made of heavy, soft material suitable for the winter weather outside. Her only adornments were ruby earrings a long lost lover had bestowed on her and dangerously high heels that she shouldn't really be wearing in the house, let alone on her precious, polished floors. Still, this was Nikola and he looked like he was in desperate need of cheering up.
"I'm not going to stop drinking your wine," he moped, apparently not bothering with a chair tonight, for he was seated on the rug.
Helen slinked into the room, deliberately swaggering until she came to the rug. She waited patiently until he tilted his head up toward her. As always, there was a glint of something in his eyes. "I thought you might like some help drinking it," she shrugged.
Nikola didn't say anything. Instead, he offered her his glass and settled for the bottle.
Carefully, she settled herself down beside him on the rug, accepting the glass which she slipped slowly. If only to lift his spirits, she didn't bother wiping the glass.
"Are you going to give me a clue – or do I have to guess?" she licked her lips, the wine old and beautifully complex on her skin.
Nikola was his usual, silent self for a while, staring at the fire. "Doesn't it ever bother you?" he asked after a while. His long fingers played with the rug, tugging at it like a troublesome kitten.
"I'll admit, on occasion your perpetual vagueness bothers me..."
"Helen, that's not what I meant," he replied too quickly. "I'm a century old."
Helen paused, tilting her gaze to him. Nikola was the youngest of the group and he'd always look it too. Helen had seen evidence that she was aging albeit very slowly. James was now entirely dependent on a rather cleverly collaborated machine Nikola had been good enough to build him and Nigel was nearing the end of his life. John – well – who could tell how many years John had lived. His talent of bending the world around him made it impossible to tell. Nikola – he was the immortal.
"Nikola, you're younger than the rest of us – and if you're worried about vanity for vanity's sake, you don't look a day older than when I first met you." And sometimes that unsettled her. He had retained that look of innocence.
Nikola set the bottle of wine down – uninterested in it. "We have lost too much. In another hundred years – or even fifty, how much will we have left? How long can the mind endure..."
Realisation struck her and she nearly dropped her glass.
"It's Katharine's birthday..." she whispered. He nodded. "Nikola -"
"She's fading, Helen. Even with the memory I have things from that time are starting to dim. I – I don't want to forget the things that mattered. Who will I become if I am not a collection of my past, Helen? What kind of person forgets the important moments of his life..."
"We're not meant to be immortal, Nikola," she had settled closer, her wine forgotten as well. He was right, though – as usual. She had forgotten large parts of her life, tucked them away in a corner of her mind that had been overwritten. "There's no way of knowing how we'll cope – physically, I mean." They had discussed this in the beginning but that was so long ago she could barely recall...
"Your bedside manner is atrocious, Dr Magnus," he managed to tease softly, despite the sadness in his tone.
Nikola was quiet again, staring into the flames.
"What if I forget you..."
Helen felt his cool hand brush over the back of hers. They rarely touched. Touching was not something either of them ventured to often. Their friendship was more complex than an old wine and fragile, like the hopeful flicker in his blue eyes.
"I'm not going anywhere, Nikola," she replied softly, her thumb daring to brush back against his.
"If there is only one mystery that I have successfully unravelled form the universe, it is its inevitability. One day I will loose you – then I will forget you and honestly, Helen, I have no interest in a world without you thwarting my plans to rule it."
He still wasn't looking at her and for that, she was thankful. Nikola hadn't seen her blush. How could he still do that – make her nervous and yet unable to stop a smile?
"I have no objection to you ruling the world after I'm gone – providing you treat it well."
Nikola turned without warning and she was caught by his unguarded eyes.
"N-Nikola..." she stammered, unsure of what he was doing as he reached for her. His hand cupped her cheek, her skin warm against his. "One memory," he begged of her softly. "One moment that I can hold on to." He was leaning closer, his gaze flicking to her lips and then back up to her eyes.
"This isn't a good idea..." Helen murmured. She didn't pull away, though. If anything, Helen had leaned towards him as well. She was curious – of course she was. A lifetime of his flattery had cemented him into her dreams where she wondered what it would be like if they were ever to move beyond friendship.
He whispered something in a language she couldn't understand before the first, soft graze of his lips against hers. Nikola was gentle and uncommonly nervous as he pressed into the chaste kiss. This wasn't something he stole or tricked her into, this was a deliberate kiss that threatened to melt his heart.
It was her that ventured further first, slowly parting her lips against his. She flicked her warm tongue over his lips making him gasp, his lips dutifully parting for her.
They'd unleashed something.
Helen's glass of red wine was knocked over as they fell to the rug, tugging at each other's clothes, moaning softly into kisses that never seemed to end. She turned her head and let him drag his smooth, human teeth up the long curve of her neck. He distracted her with kisses that flitted over her skin until they vanished into each other, clinging to the only thing in their lives that remained constant.
Nikola was making a memory of her.; a perfect recollection that he would visit often in his dreams where it would be kept safe from the conspiring universe.
Later, they curled up close together with his jacket laid over them. The fire was warm while the storm outside made the ancient walls of the building tremble.
"Inevitable..." she murmured.
Nikola grinned against her shoulder, nipping it. "Sheer persistence..." he corrected.