"I hate the way they talk about you." (Name) locked eyes with the Frenchman, her gaze unwavering and fixated completely on him. "I hate the way they look at you. They don't know you like I know you. They all just need to learn their place and shut up. Why don't you ever tell them off, Francis?"
Francis Bonnefois merely smiled softly and shrugged, his crystalline blue eyes not quite looking into the (h/c) haired young woman's own (e/c) ones.
"Because I do not see the need to, mon amour. I don't exactly mind, you see. Let them think what they want. As long as I have you, everything is perfectly fine to me."
(Name) petulantly crossed her arms and glowered, her lips curling into a semblance of a snarl as her eyes wandered to the group of girls that were all huddled together, looking at the handsome blonde man and his companion in a not-so-inconspicuous manner. They were whispering non-too quietly, and their snide voices drifted over to the two on a light breeze.
"He's such a player…"
"Isn't that the fourth girl he's dated in the last year?"
"I heard he dumps them as soon as they refuse to have sex with him!"
"Forget the fact that's he's freaking hot—I wouldn't want to have anything to do with a pig like Francis Bonnefois!"
(Name) growled low in her throat and, just barely keeping in all the harsh words from escaping her lips, grabbed Francis by the hand and yanked him along. Francis spoke not a word, instead preferring silence as he allowed his girlfriend to drag him like some ragdoll all the way from the campus back to their apartment.
The tension between the two just continued to build up as (name) yanked open the door and walked inside, her footsteps heavy with the lead of rage and anger. Yet Francis continued his silent charade, only offering a sad, small smile as some sort of form of communication. He brushed past her shoulder, a light touch meant to be comforting, perhaps, and made his way to the kitchen, where soon the sounds of some sort of meal being prepared could be heard. There was no amusing French singing to accompany the noise of knives against cutting boards, the clanging of pots and pans, or the repetitive chorus of cupboards being open and shut as spices were pulled from the shelves to flavor some delectable dish.
At last, (name) couldn't take it anymore.
"Dammit, Francis, you show me that you're upset about this nonsense right now or else I'm hiding those expensive and foreign hair products of yours!"
Francis stiffened somewhat at that, slowly turning around to show a plastered on smile that seemed to twitch every three seconds or so. "…you wouldn't dare, (name)."
(Name) smirked somewhat, giving him a nod as she came to stand by his side, placing a hand on his shoulder. The smirk turned upside down into a grimace, and she sighed. "…look. I'm sorry. It's just that…in the two months we've been dating, those rumors have been affecting you more and more. You can't hide it from me, Francis. I can see it. So please…talk to me. I'm here to listen. Okay?"
The Frenchman slowly set the knife down that he had been using to chop up some vegetables and stared down at his slender hands for a few moments, before giving a nod and turning to face (name). His expression was tired and withdrawn, his sky blue eyes that were normally so full of vigor and amusement now full of nothing but a melancholic desolation.
"…what if they are all right, (name)?" he murmured, his lyrical accent adding to the softness of his tone. "What if I really am just a horny Frenchie who will sleep with any woman he can get, and then treat them in the most horrid way possible?"
(Name) blinked her (e/c) eyes rapidly, before shoving her fist right into his shoulder in a manner that wasn't all-too light. Not waiting for a protest as Francis groaned, she snapped, "Why the hell would you say that?! They're not right, not right at all! Francis…"
She sighed, shaking her head as her mind went back to a couple of months ago. The most infamous male at her college was a Frenchman by the name of Francis Bonnefois, and he had the reputation of being a womanizer. Alice Kirkland, an esteemed member of the debate team, was currently dating him at the time when a rumor had spread of him being…well, being one to not exactly treat women well. I.e., the rumor was about him having apparently abused his former girlfriends.
Alice hadn't given Francis time to explain and had instantly dumped him, sending the normally flamboyant and effusive blonde into a state of dejection.
That's where (name) had come in.
Now, (name) didn't normally fall for "the pretty boys"—meaning boys like Francis. Those boys with looks so gorgeous it was almost painful, especially with his luscious blonde hair and those amazing blue eyes…yet, it just worked for Francis. Add to the equation his delectable accent, and you had one successful example of a male. (Name) had spent plenty of time throughout the year subtly watching Francis out of the corner of her eye, and found him to be quite the gentleman. He was kind—albeit perhaps a bit too friendly—to nearly every girl, and he was always respectful to everyone he spoke to. He was completely a paradox to what she had expected.
As soon as the rumor of Francis's reputation being squandered had reached (name)'s ears, she had gone to work deducing just where it had come from. It had taken her awhile, but low and behold, she had at last discovered the humble beginnings of such a crude fabrication—or perhaps it hadn't been so humble after all.
A young woman who had apparently been jealous of being rejected by Francis—because she had a reputation of her own for being quite the easy girl—had started the rumor out of spite. It had worked, of course, and within the week Francis had gone from one of the most respected and sought after men in the campus to…an outcast of sorts. Francis had transferred directly from France for the semester due to family issues, so all of his friends were back home in Paris; meaning he didn't exactly have anyone to help him through the entire fiasco.
When (name) had managed to exploit the girl's rumor for nothing more than just a rumor, the complete opposite of what she had expected to happen occurred—everyone continued to view Francis as some sort of defiler of women, and (name) as a fool for attempting to help him.
It stood to reason, however, that Francis and (name) would view one another with affection, and it wasn't too long before they began dating. It also stood to reason that (name) could see the stark contrast to his personality now as compared to back then, and in all honesty…it was starting to worry her. More than she wanted to let on.
"Francis. Look at me." (Name) clapped both of her hands over his cheeks and forced him to look at her once again, giving him a stern gaze. "Humans are cruel. We say brutal things, our conduct can be quite tyrannical…there will always be someone in this world who doesn't like you and is insanely jealous—enough to make you seem like the most inhumane creature on the planet. And yet, Francis, there will…always be someone willing to stand by you through everything. As a guardian angel, perhaps. Not to be presumptuous, but…I like to think that's me."
Her cheeks suddenly flushed a bright red, and she swallowed as Francis blinked rapidly at her.
"…l-let me be like your guardian angel, Francis, and let me do whatever I can to help you. Please. I…l-l…l-l…"
Here, (name) trailed off. She'd never told him those three words that were always the sought after treasures in every movie, novel…
"I love you."
She truly did love him. She just didn't know how to say it. And she was…scared of how Francis would react. He had the habit of outrageous flirtation, but that simple little phrase? Would it mean enough to him? Or…
Would she crash and burn because the angel wings she was hell-bent on growing just for him suddenly forgot how to fly?
"…(name), amour…" Francis suddenly gave her the widest, brightest smile she had seen on his face since the incident—and it was a true smile, not the fake ones he had been trying so desperately to pretend were real. Without warning, he swept (name) up into his arms, issuing a surprised squeak from her, and suddenly raced to the bedroom.
"F-Francis? W-what are you—" (Name) was cut off as he hopped onto the bed, making the hinges squeak as he sprawled across the mattress with her clutched to him tightly. Francis gazed up at her with bright blue eyes—eyes that held more life than she had seen for a couple of months—and stroked her flushing cheeks with a tender caress.
"Merci," Francis breathed, closing his eyes and pressing his forehead against hers, his thumb tracing over the curve of her lower lip. "Merci, (name), merci…no one has ever said such kind words to me before. Oh, mon amour…"
He leaned forward and their mouths connected in a delicate, sweet kiss; lips caught in a gentle promenade of affection, fingers and hands slowly intertwining with one another as skin stroked against skin, tongues rubbing against one another in a smooth, light sweep.
When they pulled away, (name)'s breathing had gone ragged and her lips had become somewhat swollen and shaky. Her cheeks were an even darker shade of red that before, and she stared down at Francis with half-lidded (e/c) eyes. "F-Francis…I-I…" she swallowed nervously, shifting somewhat in his embrace. "I want to tell you that…I-I…l-love you. A-at least I think so. S-so that's why…I want to be your guardian angel and help you…a-and I sound like an idiot right now so I'm g-gonna shut up and—"
Francis placed a gentle finger against her lips, silencing her as he smiled that gratified, fond smile of his.
"Je t'aime aussi, mon amour (name). I love you, too. Which is why I am so glad I have you in my life to be my angel. Mon ange gardien…"
(Name) couldn't speak for a few moments; instead preferring to hide her face against his chest and pretend like she wasn't about to have a panic attack about just admitting her true feelings to the blonde. However, about a minute of nothing but silence passed, and at last she raised her head to gaze at him once more, voice somewhat querulous as she muttered, "B-but this doesn't mean you're not going to stop doing all the cooking…understand, Francis?"
Francis let out an amused bark of laughter, nodding as he ran his hands through her (h/c) hair. "Oui, of course not, mon amour! I'd be a fool to let you near the stove in the first place! Especially around eggs~"
"Hey! You promised to never speak of that again, you ass!"
"You're so adorable when you're angry~"
Although he would never admit it, Francis Bonnefois had been so utterly close to breaking down on that day. To crying, to wishing he was dead, to giving into the darkness that was always constantly threatening to crash through his oh-so-carefully crafted barricade he kept around his heart.
But learning that (name) would be willing to be with him through it all, because she was his guardian angel, had brought the luminescence back to his life.
For that, Francis would never let her fall.