Sixty years after the Great Houses War, Selene’s private quarters, Ile de la Cite, Paris

“We need to talk,” Emmanuelle said, slowly, carefully.

“About what?” Someone was squeezing fingers of ice around Selene’s old, old heart. Her gaze locked with Emmanuelle–marked the eyes, bruised in the dark oval of her face; saw the shaking hands. No. Please, no.

Emmanuelle opened her right hand. In it was a small brown paper packet, carefully wrapped; but Selene could feel its heat even from where she was sitting. “Please tell me you haven’t.”

Emmanuelle grimaced. “I can’t. You know it.” Her eyes were wide; her voice barely shaking, with no hint of the deep tones she’d had, back when her lungs were being corroded day after day. Selene remembered walking at night in the infirmary, watching her sleep–watching the pallor of her skin, the light playing beneath it, wondering how long it would take for her body to fail her–even Fallen, after all, had their limits.

“You were cured,” Selene said; knowing, as she said it, that it was untrue.

“I’m not sure you can ever be cured,” Emmanuelle said. She moved closer to Selene, and pushed the packet in the palm of her hand, wrapping her lover’s fingers around it. Selene didn’t move; even though the thought of what she held was repulsive. Fallen blood could be replenished; flesh, too, scabbed and scarred over; but bones never came back. No wonder they were so prized, so potent; and no wonder the heat in her hand seemed to be that of an incinerator; the potency that of death.

“You want my help,” Selene said, flatly.

Emmanuelle took a deep breath. “For breaking the addiction cycle? You’ve done all you could. I’ll go see Aragon or Julie.”

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