The Sacred And Profane
by Juanita Dark

It's in your heart; it's in your art, your beauty
Even in this world of lies, there's purity
You've got innocence in your eyes
Even in this world of lies, you're still hopeful
Yard of Blonde Girls ~ Jeff Buckley

Something that was half corrupted could only let you down. But he had been trying so hard - and his intentions were honourable - and that was what, in the meantime, mattered. He was like a child in a concrete playground with a new set of rules.

She ran an experimental tongue up the side of his throat (he twitched, smiled, put his arm around her). His skin was cool, cooler than hers. Was he like a reptile that needed to lie in the sun? Did he feed off her goodness?


She had taken in the mottled skin, the broad arms for mangling, crushing, killing; the claws, the brutal mouth, the teeth, and the eyes that were so empty she couldn't see a soul there; and she wondered if that side of him had one, or if all his rightness was squished into the side that wore a human face - like a half moon.

And how big was his soul in quantifiable terms? Did he have a whole one for his mortal form and none for the beast? Or was it split down the middle in a tug of war between the both sides - where the stronger got the prize? She saw the sunlight ripple on his skin, shine on the dark hair - so she knew he was no vampire.

There were moments, though, when his eyes - his human eyes - were so distant and cold that she wondered if sometimes he scared her. That far off look, like faraway he saw something in the past he couldn't change.

And the smile.

When he smiled with that far off look she didn't know what to say or what to fear. His past or her future. Part of him had - and still did - enjoy the freedom of evil, just as part of him knew that evil wasn't free - it came at a price.

When that inscrutable gaze focussed on her in the mornings, he always kissed her forehead. It was then that she felt the shift; the weight of his actions revisiting him, as he felt the great gift of her love. That mortal man shrank back from the pollution of his birth, a legacy that could only spread and consume and destroy. It was his destiny to end things. Yet his love for her - and by her, her sisters - was a foil to his former malevolence. His only redeeming point.

He couldn't help lying - she knew that for a fact. He said he actually meant the words when they came out of his mouth but...

"You forget to mean them later," she supplied.

And he had said, not about the way he felt about her.

"What makes those words any different?"

His reply had been that they were different because they came from his soul, not his mouth.

And Phoebe, well Phoebe was an incurable romantic who wanted to believe that love of the soul could exist. She, after all, had harder evidence than most: from foresight and empathy, to Piper and Leo, and kisses that skipped worlds and lifetimes to spread their fire against her lips, against her throat. Love that demolished hierarchy and underworld indiscriminately.

Prue didn't like Cole being there in the mornings but he could always shimmer out of sight. She was sure her sister still sensed him - kind of like brimstone - and burnt treacle - the sweetness he left in her mouth and along her bed. The one she was pretty sure one day would combust under the sheer weight of lusty unhealthiness it was party to.

She carries a glow down with her to the breakfast table, and feels their world (hers and Cole's) locked away in that room - burning steadily like an ember. Cole's coal (she's so ditzy in the mornings). She remembers that they - the Halliwells - don't have a smoke alarm because all the incense and witchy ritual, not to mention the demon immolation, would have it ringing on a daily basis. Perhaps she should find a preventative spell for fires. She racks that one up with the one for reversing broken tables that Piper's been after them to find - and realises she left Prue's car keys upstairs.

Turning she finds Cole one step behind her - friendly eyes and a smile that fills from seeing her. His fingers dust the hair from her face.

"I've never not seen you as a blonde," he says, incidentally. (Who said this had to be a sane conversation?)

"Really? Because I have pictures."

Mutual smiles beckon proximity; his hand rests proprietarily on her shoulder and that - that makes sense.

"You forgot your car keys," he says, holding them up.

"Not mine," as she takes them. "Prue's." Her voice is, she realises, buzzed to a hiss whisper.

"I could give you a lift."

Her hand slips under the coat, against his side, where Piper (erstwhile ignorant of his true nature) had sliced away his flesh; they kiss on the stairs. Against her lips and her senses, he vibrates. His hand is hot against her cheek.

"Maybe..." She replies, her voice husky.

"Phoebe?" Prue's voice. In the living room, heading to the hall.

"Later," she finishes.

Cole's eyebrows raise appreciatively, apologetically. He thinks about it, then shimmers; her hand falls away as he insubstantiates. A discreet exit.

Prue appears below, her top uni-strapped, and always the stance of a warrior.

"Phoebe, have you got my-"

"Car keys? Right here." She holds them up to her sister's scrutiny, the key ring dangling around her thumb.

Prue squints up at her, and her school bag feels that much heavier. Way to go with the guilt.

"Is your hair getting darker? Because I swear-"

"It's just the light," she says. Or lack of it. Then tries not to smile as Cole shimmers in behind her eldest sister, winks at her, then disappears.

Coming down the stairs she adds:

"Maybe I'll let it grow out."


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