August felt a familiar pang under his ribs as he watched the whirl of dancers, his gaze fixed upon a lean figure dressed in rich gold and cream. Robert was with his new wife and although his face was hidden August knew it would be stretched with a broad smile. A wedding on All Hallows Eve was more than a little unusual, and it had certainly set tongues wagging amongst the ton, but the bride had insisted and Robert was a fool for his darling Eliza. As he should be, August thought sharply to himself, and I should not be entertaining these feelings. He was glad once more for the mask on his face. He'd fought his unnatural urges towards his friend for too long to betray them now. It was an occasion for happiness, not painful smiles and jealousy.

He glanced at the wide mirror set into the wall and studied the beautiful creation hiding his shame. It was a red fox, painted delicately and with astounding detail. So much so that the auburn of the fur blended to near seamless perfection with his own hair and the muddy brown of his eyes seemed just a little golden from within the eyeholes. The guests had all cooed and applauded when the wedding breakfast had finished and servants brought out masks, all tailor made for each person so they might be ready for a masquerade ball. No expense had been too great for Robert to lavish upon his bride and August dreaded to think what the lot had cost. Certainly a great deal more than his own increasingly meagre funds would have stretched to.

He couldn't help the critical eye he turned on his clothes. His blue jacket was just a touch shabby should anyone look too closely at the cuffs and the cravat serviceable but the knot overly simple- a sure sign that a gentleman had dressed without a valet. It shamed him to stand here amongst Robert's friends and family and know that on the day his friend needed him most he could offer neither good appearance nor heart felt support. But August's aberrant constitution and gambling father continued to betray him.

"Lord Wrexham, is this where you've been hiding?" August grimaced and took a swallow from his wine glass, noting the excellent vintage. If nothing else he would eat and drink well enough here to sustain him for a day or so.

"I was just enjoying the dancing Lord Stanley, though I'm not a dancer myself." He answered politely.

"Hmm…I wonder Lord Wrexham if you have had occasion to take offence at Lord Percy?" The obnoxious man glanced pointedly at Augusts clothing and he felt the heat of embarrassment rise in his cheeks.

"Robert and I are as good a pair of friends as any Lord Stanley, unfortunately one of my domestics was less than careful yesterday and I have been left without satisfactory wardrobe for the time being." The lie flowed smoothly, as August had hoped it would, as he feigned a look of mild irritation.

The Lord sniffed and his jowls wobbled alarmingly. The upper half of the man's face was covered by a mask resembling a cockerel and August hid a smirk at how well it suited someone who spent their time strutting and twittering.

"Yes, of course. I think I see Lady Spencer, do excuse me." The abrasive gossip fled, no doubt to spread Augusts story.

At least the fat fool could serve some purpose and he wouldn't be forced to repeat the rubbish again. It was becoming increasingly difficult to hide the slip of the Wrexham family into poverty. His father's gambling debts ate away at the monies earned from the estate and anything left could only be spent on the most necessary of amenities. August had used some of the last savings from his mother to dabble in risky but high reward investments. Time would tell if any played out well, but he had little of that left- the last of the savings had been spent on Robert's wedding present.

August fought the urge to collapse where he stood, hysteria creeping through the cracks in his heart. Robert, dear hansom Robert whom he'd followed like a happy puppy since they'd been boys was leaving him for a wife. There was a hollowness inside August, a place that Robert almost filled, but now he was taking someone else into his heart as if August had never existed. Heat prickled in his eyes and hastily August blinked and took a hold of himself with a mental shake. This was nothing, damn it, he'd known this day would come. Robert had withdrawn from him more and more over the months of his engagement, too busy with Eliza to take time for a bachelor friend.

"You seem rather sad."

August flinched and stiffened at the soft voice, turning to find a beautiful black cat mask and a man dressed in purple so dark that it looked like the night sky.

"Do I know you, sir?" He demanded, prickling slightly at the idea that someone had seen his pain despite his hidden face. The voice and form of the stranger was unfamiliar…and yet he could swear he knew him.

"No Lord Wrexham, although I have been an admirer of yours for some time we have never had the good fortune to meet in person. I am Mr Richard Everett, a cousin on Eliza's mother's side." The voice from beneath the mask had a strangely smooth rhythm and quite against his will August felt his muscles loosen. A long fingered hand was offered and August found himself returning the grip without realising he was doing so.

"Do you hail from the Hertfordshire area as well Mr Everett?" He managed, although his brain felt truly muddled. August frowned down at his wine glass. Had the grape become more potent? A single glass shouldn't affect him so much.

"No, in fact my Lord the whole family originally comes from Lancashire, not far from Pendle." Was it August's imagination or did Mr Everett's voice sound almost like a caress despite the ordinary nature of his words.

"My-my mother and I…" He found himself slurring, his feet confusingly unsteady.

"Used to spend a great deal of time in West Yorkshire, I know my Lord. As I have mentioned, I've admired you for some time," August frowned and wobbled, he felt an arm circle his back and caught a deep musk as he blinked owlishly at the cat mask…was it smiling at him? "You seem a little unwell, perhaps a walk in the gardens will restore you."

If August could have protested as he was led through a small side door he would have, but speaking had become impossible through the haze that filled his body. A small noise whined from his throat and the hand at his waist squeezed ever so slightly tighter, although whether it was in comfort or warning, he didn't know. The cool air in the garden hit him hard, it would be November tomorrow and there was a chilly bite in the air. The shock of cold managed to half wake him from his stupor enough to pull away from the firm body at his side.

"What's happening?" He whispered, voice still slurred.

"Hush now my Lord, let me find us a place away from prying eyes." August was taken into a firm grasp once more and led into the walled garden Robert's mother had always been so proud of where he was settled onto a bench.

"Mr-Mr Everett-" August was cut off by a sudden yank at his mask and a hot mouth covering his own now exposed lips. He gasped in shock and the kiss was instantly deepened. Despite himself August moaned. A tingling heat was spreading through his body from every place that Richard Everett was pressed against him and it drove back the autumnal chill in the most pleasing fashion.

But as suddenly as it had begun, the kiss ended and August could only blink at the now unmasked man before him. Mr Everett was not a fashionably hansom gentleman, but in the lights from the house August could see enough to know there was a rugged, timeless appeal. The half light bled details and colour but he could make out dark curling hair, high cheek bones, a squared jaw and fine lips. August stared at those lips in a stupor and blushed as he realised his member was throbbing in his britches. He tried to shake the confusion out of his head, growing mortified that he'd allowed another man to arouse him. A gentle hand took hold of his chin and a thumb stroked along his face.

"Now, now my Lord, it hurts that you think to deny me. You're mine August." The last was a hot whisper, warm against his ear. It sent a tremble through August's body that he couldn't deny and he couldn't help but lean into the caress against his jaw. There was something that had been important to him, someone who also had dark curls and beautiful lips… even as his mind groped for the thought it slipped away in a haze.

"That's right my love, he doesn't matter, he never did. All your troubles will fade away, just give yourself over to me like you want to." There was a hypnotic lull to the rich voice and August frowned even as his body relaxed into the arm slowly winding around him.

"I-I know you…" He whispered, feeling a flicker of memory.

"Yes love, you've dreamed me, although for a time you fancied it was him. I place no blame on you though. He does bear a passing resemblance in colouring perhaps. You must be sure not to mistakes us again though. He could never have completed you, loved you the way I will." The gentle chiding in the tone made him feel a little ashamed, it hurt to think he'd disappointed this man.

"M-Mr Eve-" He started.

"Richard, always call me Richard."

"R-Richard," August paused, his muddled head unsure but starting to clear a little. Pendle? He knew that area, knew the truths and half truths of the folk that could be found, if you knew where to look. His mother had taught him that. "You are one of them…the people my mother knew."

He was rewarded with the pale flash teeth through the darkness and a tightening embrace.

"You do know me." A rich, happy chuckle sounded and fingers tangled into his hair in a soft caress. "Well then my love, I confess- I am a witch."

August shuddered and wrapped his arms around the man before him, clinging to the only thing that seemed steady in the wave of dizzy knowledge that washed over him. Real, it was real.

"And what am I?" He asked, knowing the answer. Knowing that stories his mother had once told him over and over again.

"You already know. Your mother was a good friend of my people before she passed to the other world, she suspected long ago." Richard guided August's head to rest against his firm chest where he breathed the richness of velvet and musk like a heady drug. He should resist, it went against God and Nature but everything about the man was like pure intoxication.

"Familiar, I am your familiar." At his words it felt like a weight lifted from his body, August smiled the first genuine smile he'd managed in months, if not years. There was a tight sensation in the place that felt so hollow, stretching as if ready to accommodate something enormous.

His mothered had often taken him walking along the moors and peaks of Yorkshire and Lancashire and told him stores of her friends there, the witches, the goblins, the fae. Creatures whose existence had delighted him as a child, though despite begging and pleas from his younger self his mother had always refused to take him with her when she met with them. As he'd grown older he'd come to the realisation that her stories were merely that, tales to excite a child, but now… A familiar, a person who carried part of a witch's soul. The final key to their gift and their heart.

"She knew." Even as he spoke August knew he was right. "Or at least suspected, that's why she never allowed me to go with her."

He felt the slow motion of Richard's agreeing nod.

"I saw you from a distance when you were a child and asked after you, Caroline knew immediately that it was more than casual interest and forbade me from taking you until you were a man proper and had taken your place in society." The man sighed and tilted August's head back, a stray beam of light caught his eyes and August could see that they were a stormy grey and soft with emotion. Richard's mouth closed over his lips once more and this time August couldn't stop himself from eagerly tasting the man's tongue. The small corner of his thoughts that screamed about the rules of society, the wrongness of touching another man and Robert struggled to be heard over the fog of desire but there was no place for it all anymore. Nothing could exist for him except the witch. August hadn't even really seen the man yet, but it didn't matter. Everything paled in comparison to the need coursing through his body.

As if Richard could hear his thoughts the man groaned and pulled August closer until he was straddled across hard thighs. A broad hand slipped down his back and over his buttocks and he couldn't help but arch into the touch, crying out when the hardness between his legs brushed an answering swelling in Richard's breaches. Panting he pulled back, overwhelmed by unfamiliar sensation. August had never been a sexual person. He was of average looks, made worse by the embarrassing colour of his hair, and while he'd visited one or two houses of ill repute when he'd first reached his majority it had never excited him a great deal. Even in his love for Robert, he'd never felt consuming need the way he did with Richard.

"Let us away my love, All Hallows Eve is a night for bonding and I've wait so patiently for your readiness." Richard breathed and August found himself nodding, though they could certainly not walk back through the wedding party as they were.

"Where?" He panted and canted his hips forward, delighting in Richard sharp breath.

"I have an alter waiting for you pet, you will look so beautiful spread across blue silk with me buried to the hilt in your body." August shuddered at the words.

"Yes, take me there." He demanded and Richard laughed.

"Of course, close your eyes." He obeyed the gentle command immediately and felt the world around him shiver for a moment, when he opened them again he gasped.

They were in a clearing now, not a carefully maintained garden. The trees grew thick and wild around the edges and they sat at the centre of a stone ring. The ground around them was covered in a makeshift bed of silks and cushions with a circle of candles at the edge. The light cast was surprisingly bright and August finally truly saw his witch. His earlier assumptions about the man's features were close, he was classically hansom with fine boned features and a wealth of chocolate curls, his grey eyes dark and lined at the corners with the marks of a man who smiled often and easily. He appeared older than August's meagre twenty-five years, looking perhaps a little over thirty. August knew that in reality Richard might be closer to a hundred. True witches lived much longer and aged much more slowly than their human brethren.

"Do you like what you see?" The witch smiled, a dark flush to his cheeks evidencing his arousal. August knew he carried an answering blush.

"You are quite hansom, dear witch."

"And you are quite lovely, dear familiar." Richard stroked at August's hair. "I love red hair, it pleases me enormously that the familiar I have waited seventy years for bears the colour."

In reply August stole a fast kiss, filled with wonder at his own audacity. Richard groaned and rolled them, pinning August with his hips.

"Will you bind yourself to me for so long as we both live? Would you have me take you on this, the day when the barriers are thin? We will slip between and you will never leave my side from this day, my missing piece." The grey of Richards eyes slowly darkened, the pupil spreading outward despite the light until no iris remained.

August stared, mesmerised for a moment, and then smiled slowly.

"Yes."

The word had barely left his mouth when Richard's hand began to tear frantically at both of their clothes. August hurried to help him, eager for skin and flesh and heat. For a moment they became hopelessly tangled and shared a puzzled glance before they laughed and slowed. With patience they managed to bare each other much more easily, but it almost caused August pain to hold himself back from the lean, pale flesh that was revealed until they were both naked and panting. For a long moment they lay together, eyes locked. Then Richard slid until he was cradled between August's thighs, their pricks slipping together like velvet covered iron and suddenly that urgent fire was back and their mouths were pressed together once more.

August dug his fingers into the firm meat of his witch's buttocks and moaned into his lover's mouth. He'd never felt anything like this and he wanted more. Richard's mouth wandered from his in fast licks and nips, trailing down his throat and chest. When those clever lips found his nipples August thought he would die from pleasure, he'd never known the little nubs could harden and ach like that, sending sharp stabs of desire through his belly and groin.

"Gods, please Richard!" He didn't know what he was begging for, but there was something more he knew he needed.

"Don't tempt me too soon love, I must at least prepare you."

August was confused, but when Richard pulled back and pushed his thighs further apart the meaning became apparent. Those long fingers ran down his crack, brushing under his balls and settling at his pucker while another hand began to lavish attention on his straining cock. He felt the steady ache begin to rise in his balls and was about to warn his lover that he was close to spending when a finger thrust into his opening. The invasion was sudden and sharply painful. August tried to pull back but Richard held him still.

"Hush, it will hurt until you are stretched and accustomed, but this is where I must take you." The man whispered and worked at August's flagging cock.

The finger began to work back and forth slowly and the tight passage seemed to ease quickly, the pain fading. It surprised August when a particularly deep push brushed something inside and instead of discomfort he felt a flare of delight that had his prick jerking.

"That's right, relax and all will be well."

August made an effort to do just that, but the single finger became to and the sharp discomfort returned before it too was slowly worked away. Once more he found his hips canting of their own accord and a desire for that place to be filled by more than just fingers rose in his belly. The fingers within him began to scissor and work deeper once more. That special place was caught again and August moaned loudly, writhing at the touch and begging for more.

"You're nearly ready to take me." Richard whispered and August glanced down with half lidded eyes. The witch's member was ruddy and long, the head wide and inviting and he longed to feel it. He reached a tentative hand and brushed the silky skin. Above him Richard shuddered and suddenly August found the fingers gone and his thighs lifted and bent as something slick dribble onto his opening. "Oil to ease my way. I won't have you hurt."

At the final word Richard buck against him and August felt the rounded tip of his lover's cock press against his tight ring before slipping easily inside. It was wider than the fingers and tiny pains raced up his back and hips, but nothing could detract from the pleasure of the knowledge that he was being filled by the witch. August moaned in encouragement and rocked his hips, helping the man slip deeper inside him until they were settled, heavy balls resting against his buttocks. He gripped Richard's hips and felt the man tremble.

"This will be rough love, I cannot hold back." Richard's now black eyes looked strained and apologetic but August smiled and drew him down for a hard kiss.

"Just take me."

Richard gave a near animal snarl and withdrew slightly before slamming back in a punishing rhythm. His thigh slapped against August's flesh with a wet sound as a fine sheen of sweat began to form between them. August moaned, while there were small flutters of pain they did nothing to prevent the absolute pleasure that the hot slickness of Richard's cock within him caused. Each thrust brushed deeper and harder and though he knew he must be moaning like a whore he couldn't stop himself begging for more. He'd never felt complete like this, the space inside him had been swallowed up whole by the man who took him so completely. His prick began to throb wildly and he felt an answering desperation in Richard's thrusts. The climax building between them became a race as the sweat rolled over their straining flesh and their hungry mouths fed at each other. A particularly deep roll of Richard's hips pegged that special spot inside of August one last time and the man arched groaning and swearing as hot ropes of his seed spurted between them. His slick innards clenched and writhed around Richard's cock and the man jerked shakily before freezing, teeth clenched and eyes wild. The organ within him swelled and August felt a hot rush of fluid filling his body before his love collapsed onto him, breathless and sated.

They lay together in silence for a time. August felt comforted by the weight of Richard's body of his own and wrapped his arms around the man's back as their heart's beat a rapid tattoo against each other. Finally Richard's cock slipped away and the man rolled carefully to his side, take August with him in a gentle embrace against his chest.

"Do you feel it?" He asked and August had to focus for a second. Yes, he felt it, the steady beat of another life linked inextricably to his own.

"Of course." He replied.

"You will never be alone, never need to worry. I will take care of you and yours my love." Richard whispered.

"I know." He said, and he did. How he knew he couldn't say, but it didn't matter anymore. He was whole, finally complete. Of course, Richard was forgetting he was a man too, and was certainly capable of fixing his own problems. But that would be a conversation for another day.