*Translations are in the artist's comments!
She couldn't tell if he was being serious, or if he was simply messing around with her, as he often did. His eyes had a desperate glint, his lips were pulled into a nervous line—but then, he'd always been good at acting in various ways to get what he wanted, though the last thing she'd expected him to feign was insomnia.
"Come on, Francis," she said, giving him a doubtful look. She folded her arms across her chest and studied his anxious expression, trying to gauge its genuineness. "You're not really having trouble falling asleep, are you? Don't you usually sleep like a log?"
"J'ai eu un cauchemar," he murmured. His gaze dropped to the floor, and he shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "I can't sleep now."
Her heart softened at his uncharacteristically hesitant tone, and she relaxed a little, leaning back against the wall. "What was the nightmare about?" she asked, gentling her own voice.
He shook his head, furrowing his brow slightly. "Je ne peux pas te dire. C'est un secret."
"Alors, comment puis-je t'aider?"
"Let me sleep with you. Not—not like that. Just…" He took a few tentative steps towards her, closing the gap between them, until they were a millimeter away from contact, from mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. "I'll behave," he whispered, into her ear. "Je promets."
She tilted her head back to see his face, feeling a blush creep into her cheeks when her eyes met his. Under the melancholy glow of the moon through the window behind him, his features looked even more beautiful than they usually did, and she found herself wanting to touch his hair, which was nearly translucent backlit by the stars.
"What's in a promise?" she asked, abruptly, attempting to distract herself from the skipping of her heart. "A promise is just words, and where's the value in words?"
"Maybe there isn't any value. Words are nothing, really, if you think about it."
"Then how can you promise me anything at all?"
"J'espère que tu trouves un sens dans mes mots. Words are the only way to communicate the nothing we have, in hopes someone will see something in our nothing and make something out of it." He drew in a sudden ragged breath that startled her, and before she could react, he reached out to wrap his arms around her waist, pulling her towards him. She tensed, getting ready to push him away, but then she noticed he was shivering—she was shivering, too, she realized; they'd let the warmth of their beds dissipate into the night.
"Francis…" she began, struggling to make sense of what he'd said.
"Please," he breathed, his voice thready. "Let's just go to sleep together. I won't do anything."
"Don't say no. J'ai besoin de toi."
"Pas 'je t'aime'?" she said, half-confused, half-flustered, both her heart and head in chaos.
He didn't reply; instead, he tightened his grip around her, nearly lifting her off the floor, and opened the door to her room. Then he led her inside, made his way to her bed, and slipped under her covers, before reaching out and pulling her down with him. A gasp of surprise escaped her lips as she fell, but he caught her in his arms and drew her towards him before she hit the mattress. The pounding of her heart filled her head, and for a few minutes, she couldn't hear herself breathe—wasn't even sure if she was breathing at all, because it felt like Francis had stolen the air straight out of her lungs.
When she finally collected herself, she said, a little shakily, "I don't understand. How will being with me help you forget your nightmare and sleep?"
"I don't understand either," he said, giving her a tired smile. "Mais je n'ai pas besoin de comprendre. Some things can't be understood."
"Like love?" she tried.
"Like anything that's beyond reason."
"Is love really beyond reason? Isn't it psychological? Isn't it—"
"Love," he interrupted, gazing down at her with his clear blue eyes, "is lovelier when it can't be explained, when we know nothing of it, and see everything in it."
She opened her mouth to counter his argument, and then changed her mind and let out a sigh instead, too exhausted to question anything any further. "Have you ever considered being a philosopher?" she asked, stifling a yawn. She settled into his arms and allowed herself to enjoy the warmth of having him next to her.
He chuckled quietly. "I don't think a philosopher would agree with what I've said."
"No, you're right. You're just a romantic."
"Quoi?" he said, pretending to be insulted. "I'm not 'just a romantic,' chérie. I'm not a romantic. Period."
"Oh, really?" She arched an eyebrow, unable to help the smile that surfaced at his ridiculous posturing. He brushed a stray strand of her out of her face and tucked it behind her ear, his hand lingering against her cheek before slipping back under the covers to hold her.
"I'm just in love," he said, simply. "And love makes a romantic out of us all."
She felt her pulse quicken for the third time, and finally gave in. "Maybe it does," she murmured, to herself. "Maybe it does..."
"Bonne nuit," he whispered.
"Good night," she said, closing her eyes.
"En amour, écrire est dangereux, sans compter que c'est inutile."
(In love, writing is dangerous, not to mention pointless).
-Alexandre Dumas Fils