In lieu of hosting the mansion’s regular banquet for the holiday season, Le Comte de Saint-Germain decides to take it one step further by hosting, instead, a grand Christmas party in the middle of the city for the residents, as well as his high-society friends.
Comte had graciously invited Theo to hang up some of the paintings from his ragtag group of artists at Vollard’s gallery, and that’s what you and he have been up to for the past few days leading up to the 25th—looking at the wide array of paintings (Vincent’s included, of course!) to decide which ones will hang up in the hall for all to see. It had been quite a process, sorting paintings and carting them back and forth from the mansion to the atelier and back as you were building your small collection.
Tonight though, this isn’t why the two of you are headed off to Vollard’s.
Well, in truth, you were off to bring back one of the paintings that didn’t quite match the theme as well as you thought it would—you had to find a last-minute replacement. But you’re also here to get some quiet time alone for yourselves, at this one place in Paris you and Theo call, in the dark when the artists have gone home, really just your own.
You unlock the door to the second floor as Theo hauls the painting up in his arms and into the atelier. You’ve made your beeline to the stack of paintings you’d set aside when the view outside catches your attention.
“It’s snowing,” you say softly, carefully leaning the painting back against the stack to approach the window. Little flurries of snowflakes are falling from clouds, elegant and elaborate. The illuminated quarter moon hanging in the sky shines a silvery light on the cobblestone below; you know that once it’s covered with a layer of snow, it will look even more ethereal.
You hear the soft thud of the painting being put on the floor before Theo approaches you, hand snaking around your midsection as if on instinct. You lean toward his warmth, relaxing against his hold; Theo presses a kiss on your temple.
“Looks like we’ll have the white Christmas you wanted,” he says.
You grin. “Ready to lose to my amazing snowball aim again this year, Theo?”
“Again?” he says incredulously. “Let me remind you, mijn vergeetachtige hondje, that I won last year’s without a doubt.”
“Only because Napoleon was on your side,” you say, elbowing him gently. “This time you have to play fair.”
“What part of it wasn’t fair? You had Arthur on your team.”
“You know Arthur can’t hit you because he knows you’ll smack him!”
The two of you fall back into your usual laughter. The comforting warmth of it begins to fill your limbs, straight to your heart; where you relish in being able to get lost in these little memories you’ve collected together, stacked under the tree of your mind like lovingly-wrapped presents.
This isn’t your first Christmas here. And this isn’t your last Christmas here. But you hope it will continue to be just as beautiful as every midwinter you will spend tucked in that space between Theo’s arms he’s made just for you.
“Hey.” He pokes the crown of your head gently with his nose, making you turn. He adjusts his hold around you so instead he has one hand on the small of your back, the other letting your hand rest on his. He smiles at you in that solemn, mid-dream way that lets his bright blue eyes sparkle like starlight. “Dance with me?”
You’re careful as you maneuver your feet around the maze of paintings, easels, and chairs, finding a clear spot in the middle of the atelier, the moon spotlighting it with its gentle glow. “We don’t have music,” you say softly, but press your body close to his anyway, like seeking his warmth.
“It’s alright,” he soothes you, holding you as close to him as he can.
And like that you dance—to the music you can only hear in your mind, in between your exchanged breaths and echoing heartbeats. He’s humming something softly under his breath, a song you’d taught him from the future—not really the best match for slow dancing, but for the both of you it’s good enough. You intertwine your fingers with his so you can feel the callouses in his hands, his firm, steady grip, sure and holding you up. His lips press against the curve of your jaw, right underneath your ear, and the strands of your hair tickle his nose; he can smell your perfume, that one that he got for you.
Outside, snow begins to pile on the familiar cobblestone streets.
Tomorrow, Christmas will be a grand affair. There will be lights and champagne and art and music. But here, tonight, in this secret atelier, in this sacred space, there is only you and Theo—and that is already more than enough.