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As Water to the Thirsty

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You smile at the apparition in front of you, now a mirror image of the count’s favorite portrait. Your magic worked, transforming the white goat into something resembling his former self.

He beams, moving to pull you into a hug, but his arms pass through your body with some resistance. Like swimming, you both feel tension, but not enough for a solid embrace. Lucio growls in frustration and you see his blood-red eyes grow glassy.

He reaches for you again, softly this time. His hand is cool and somewhat corporeal, but permeable, as the surface of the water in the fountain. He makes a small sound and turns away.

You feel for him, three long years without a touch, people reacting in fear or confusion. “Hold on. I think I can do something about that. You won’t be able to speak to me while I’m doing it, though. Do you want me to try?”

To Lucio, the choice was as simple as breathing. To give up his voice for a moment in order to have real human contact. Actual touch. He wonders if the sun will be able to warm the form you’ll help him take.

“Yesss!” His voice hisses into your mind, anticipation practically dripping from the exclamation.

He stands in front of you then, almost vibrating with excited energy and impatience, letting out a low needy sound. You mutter the spell softly, pressing a hand to his chest and nearly stop when you feel the once fluid-like density of the ghost firm and warm under your touch. Lucio feels it instantly and grabs your hand in both of his, clutching it tighter against his chest.

You take in his expression, watching his face go from elation to relief to overcome with emotion in a few seconds. You let him scramble to press in close then, hugging you tightly against him. His fingers dig into your shoulders hard enough to bruise, trembling faintly.

You feel his shoulders shake, gently at first, then his whole body is wracked by silent wrenching sobs. You don’t have to hear him for your heart to ache. Your arms wind tightly around the man, one hand coming up to stroke through his hair.

It’s quite a while before he pulls back, wiping his messy face on his sleeves. He moves to step out of your grasp, but the arm you have around his waist tightens as you speak. “We have to keep contact with some part of ourselves or the spell will break.”

So he presses his forehead to yours. Hot panting breath ghosts over your lips as the man just rests there, eyes closed. Recovering from the outpouring of emotion and drinking in the feeling of skin against his own. Your hand comes to his cheek of its own volition, cupping it gently, thumb caressing when he presses into the touch.

You feel the hunger and exhaustion from using your magic begin creeping into your senses. You won’t be able to hold the spell for much longer. You speak softly, compelled to warn him. “Lucio, my magic won’t last much longer. I’m so sorry.”

His face twists in anguish for a beat before he presses in again. Burying his face in your neck, rubbing his cheek across your skin. He tilts his head up and places a barely-there kiss to your jaw. When you turn to accommodate his actions the man threads long fingers through your hair and tugs you closer.

You allow it without hesitation. When warm, dry lips meet yours your tongue slips out to swipe at his bottom lip in invitation. Lucio melts into the kiss, lips parting to allow your tongue entrance. He tastes of ash, but his breath is hot against your face and his tongue stirs against yours.

Just as his tongue curls around yours, the spell fails and for a split second you hear his moan of pleasure before it transforms to one of sorrow when he slips through your body, stumbling to the ground.

He crumbles then, sobbing once again, fists gripping the dirt beneath him. You want to comfort him, but your magic needs to recover. So you settle for kneeling in the dirt beside him whispering promises of how you’ll bring his body back, how you’ll just keep doing this in the meantime. How your magic would last much longer if you hadn’t used a lot of it to transform him into his human form. You say anything you can think of until his cries die down to sniffles.

And you mean every word. He may not have been the best man in his last life, but you feel it somewhere deep that he’s changed. He’s worthy of a second chance. And you’ll do anything in your power to give it to him.