The rain pounded down like the sound of his own heartbeat, flowing through the streets and dimming the atmosphere. Standing outside of the church, meekly holding his bag in front of him, he could only wonder what in the world he should do. This was his last chance, wasn't it? If he let this pass, he would never get another. He didn't want to—did he? Nobody ever wants to leave Eden—and this was the only place he had left…

…What if they don't accept me? I'm not human… I'm not… pure…


He looked up, startled, and for the longest of lingering moments saw René standing before him. Then he remembered—René was far and away, across the Channel—it was this Devereaux, Adrién Devereaux was the one who had followed him. René Devereaux had been left behind, with only his destiny to guide him. Even so, James's heart didn't bother to calm itself. "Y-yes?"

There was a look of concern in his soft brown eyes. Much like his father—and René—there was barely a hint of an accent in his voice. He could very easily pass for an Englishman; his life from this point on would be easier than James's ever was… "Well… Are you sure about this? I mean… You can always come stay with me, if you want."

He tried his best to feign optimism, if only for a second. "No… My father warned me about this—about the Revolution, and all. He always said… This is the one place I can always return to, no matter what happens." He looked down to the ground, struggling to bring a smile to his lips. "I'll be just fine."

Adrién didn't seem convinced, but there was little he could do about it. "…All right. If there's nothing more to be said, then… I'll be going."

Neither of them said a single goodbye as Adrién walked off into the rain. James watched him leave…a single stroke of scarlet cutting through the foggy air, red like blood, fading into the distance… He unconsciously felt his throat tighten, keeping him from crying out Adrién's name. No, no matter how much Adrién looked like his younger brother, he could never be a replacement for René—he could not follow. He wanted to follow—he could not follow.

If I went with him, I could just pretend, couldn't I? Like nothing changed from before that night… But… It could never be the same… Not without René… Never…

He looked up to the darkened sky, blinking water out of his stinging eyes; he wasn't sure if it was the rain or his own tears. It always rained like this in London, he vaguely remembered… Rain… Just like that night…

Hesitantly, he moved his hand up to his neck, feeling the bite mark—where René had caressed his skin, not quite so long ago… He could still hear the screams, both his own and those of Monsieur Devereaux. James had never felt so humiliated and yet so devastated all at once, for letting himself be taken advantage of so easily, nor had he felt so exposed, his soul laid bare for all to see. He had always yearned to be with René—never to be cursed like him, and that's what he had become.

He could never find another. He could never find another who would be so kind, so caring and understanding, so dedicated… James could never find another who would be so willing to murder his own father, for even daring to harm him. He could never find another like René—he was truly one of a kind.

But now he was fighting in an unknown war across the sea, overshadowed by the weight of the Revolution and Napoleon's might. James could never hope to hear from, let alone see him again.

And so, James now felt horribly alone—not even twenty years had passed in his life, yet he was already doomed to a solitary existence. Not even God had the lowest of pities for one such as him.

But would the church take him in? That was the one thing that worried him the most, as he and Adrién were fleeing France. He had sinned for living among the Devereauxs; he had sinned for loving René; he had sinned for becoming this evil creature, and would sin for every day thereafter that he continued to exist. Yet, despite all of this, James never felt as though he had truly sinned—he only felt cheated, cast out of Eden by a serpent named Monsieur Devereaux. And now he was one of them.

Did that make René evil, as well?

As they were crossing the Channel, Adrién had told him of the Devereauxs' curse—an unnatural disease which forced them to consume the lives of others in order to survive. They were never human in the first place, but even among their own kind they were unusual. Mme. Devereaux was untouched by this curse, as was Adrién, but René had inherited it. James could only pray that Monsieur Devereaux hadn't passed it on, as he fed on James—but there was no way he could be sure.

But he did know that he could never stand the taste of blood in his mouth. He felt the fangs from that night, but he vowed never to use them.

Now, he had a choice to make. He could enter the church and face rejection, or he could follow Adrién and spend his life in false happiness. Neither path would lead him to Eden—neither path would lead him back to René. It was difficult to say which would cause the greater pain… But there was no consequence without trial, was there?

The arched doors of the church loomed above him. Hesitant, still unsure of the decision he was about to make, he reached out his hand—

Suddenly the door opened, a pale face peeking out at him. Startled, James froze, not knowing what to do, what to say, oh, God, I should just leave

"Can I help you?"

By now, there was no escape. "Er—I, uh… M-my name is James Harris, and… I…" He wasn't entirely sure of how to explain his situation. If his father were here, it would be so much easier, but who was to say he hadn't been killed on the way back to London?

"Did you say Harris?"

"Er… Yes… I'm the son of Robert Harris…"

"Oh! Come in, then; don't just stand there, you'll get a cold."

Had they been expecting him? Perhaps his father had sent word ahead of him…or perhaps he was still alive? At any rate, he picked up his bag and followed the other man inside, down a long corridor before reaching another room. "Go right on in," he said. "Father Harris is expecting you."

Father Harris…? "A…All right…"

He went inside to see his father—alive—wearing a priest's frock he'd never seen before. But more surprising than this was Mme. Devereaux sitting next to him, a calm expression on her face. After the two of them left the Devereaux Manor over ten years ago, James never expected to see either of them again… But now…

"James… We've long anticipated your arrival."

He felt his heart pounding again; he didn't know whether he was happy to see either of them or not. "Y… Yes, father. …It's been a long time."

"And it seems that you've grown into quite a young man." Father Harris smiled congenially. "I'm glad that you've decided to leave that house of sin. It must not have been easy to break the hold of Satan."

James wasn't surprised to hear him speak this way about the Devereaux Manor. He could vaguely remember him saying such things while he was still staying at the Manor, himself. "Yes… I am fortunate in that I wasn't killed before reaching this country. France has grown all too dangerous." He turned to Mme. Devereaux. "But… Madame, I am not entirely sure why you left…"

A sphinx-like smile came to her face, as she stood to look him in the eyes. Although she was fluent in English, she still spoke with a heavy accent, just as he remembered. "It is like you said, young Master 'Arris; it was too perilous to remain in France for much longer, with ze way zat things were going in Paris. Monsieur 'Arris convinced me of ze evil ways of my husband, as well as my children—I could not bear to live zere any longer."

Her voice seemed distant to James, as his gaze was fixated solely on her appearance. She must've been nearing her forties, yet she didn't look a day over twenty, her blood-red, unnaturally scarlet hair cascading over her shoulders, accenting her same-colored eyes and ivory skin… It was the sort of inhuman beauty that belonged to only their kind, the sort that could only be passed down to her son…


Somewhere in the distance an angel was playing the pipe organ—somewhere far off, somewhere too bright and pure for his dirty soul to see. But he could hear it. It was faint at first, but grew louder and louder, wavering, echoing throughout his mind and erasing every other sound; a haze gathered over his eyes, clouding his vision as he felt himself losing consciousness. It was a strange feeling—being surrounded by those whom he thought would love him, would forgive him and allow him to repent for what he had done, and yet… It never existed… He knew…

Like drowning in pure water… The waters of Eden…

He had never been in Eden. Eden never existed. Eden was no place that could ever truly exist.