It’s Valentine’s Day. So…
The Song Without the Words (789 Words)
There was no question. There was a pause. But then he lifted his chin and she bent hers, and their lips met, soft. He closed his eyes but she did not, for a while; she concentrated hard on the curve of his features, and felt his breath quicken and shudder even under so gentle a caress. She drew back from him, pale and uncertain. He was equally white and drawn.
‘Is it alright?’ asked Althaer, uncertain. ‘I haven’t hurt you?’
For answer, he reached for her and drew her to him once more. His fingers were icy cold but his mouth was warm, and this time when she kissed him, or as he kissed her, the elf relaxed in it, allowed it. She settled beside him and brushed his hair back, and laughed to see his lashes flutter wide as she stroked the tangled black strands, always so elusive and ruffled.
‘You should rest,’ she said. ‘You’re tired.’
He took her free hand and held it.
‘Stay with me,’ he whispered. ‘You will stay with me?’
She studied his wan, thin face.
‘What is the matter?’ she said. ‘Something’s wrong. What is it?’
His lips trembled. The motion surprised her. But he shut his eyes and turned his face aside.
Althaer was tempted to ask him again. She didn’t. Instead, she rested on her arm and continued to run her fingers through his hair, careful and light. The tension in him eased and he turned a little towards her, as well as he could.
‘Do you love me?’ she asked.
His answer was not given without thought. It was less reflection than feeling, that slowed him.
‘Is that why you kissed me?’
‘Is that why you kissed me?’
He was smiling. She caught the look and almost melted, too.
‘Then why do you not tell me what you are feeling?’ she murmured.
He didn’t reply.
She tilted his head towards her and looked sternly at him.
‘You can’t give me your heart and hold it back, at the same time,’ she said.
For a little while he was silent still. Then,
‘No “if’s”!’ she cried. ‘If you love me, give me your heart, this weak, failing heart of yours, and let me keep it and strengthen it, if I can! I don’t want another. I want your heart—your sick heart. I want it always.’
She hadn’t meant to tell him. She hadn’t meant to let him know. But as she spoke she rested her hand on his breast, and felt more plainly what she had only sensed before.
He caught her wrist and forced her away. He couldn’t explain it, but he had felt her, too, for an instant, as she felt him; her touch was a comfort, but it frightened him, he was so used to pain.
‘Don’t—don’t touch me,’ he said.
She looked at him wildly.
Her voice broke.
With her mood, the weather was turning chill. Grey clouds turned angry and dark, and the first drops of a storm fell cool and icy into the grove. Victor watched her cry, then struggled to raise himself; his broken body allowed him only a strained, awkward success. His hand rested on the fairy’s wet cheek.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said. ‘Here. Here, then.’
He took her hand and drew it to him. He spread her fingers and rested her palm over his heart.
Althaer gasped. She felt the pulse of his life, at once fragile but still alive. She sensed the strained muscle and weakening nerve, the effort of every new beat, more exhausted than the last. She closed her eyes and concentrated there on that weakness. Victor shuddered but kept still. It was a tickling sensation, but warm, as her magic went through him.
At last, she looked at him again. She did not lift her hand.
‘I cannot save you,’ she said.
He blinked. His eyes were wet, his features damp with falling rain.
‘I dared not hope you could,’ he replied. ‘I am glad—so glad—that you tried.’
She kissed him. It was raining in earnest, but she kissed him as surely. He put his able arm around her neck and drew her with him so they both reclined, he on the grass, she on her arm and over him. He shivered with cold and wet, and she pressed her body against his, at once protective and jealous.
‘I will kill you faster than any illness, this way,’ she said.
‘Yes, I imagine you will,’ he replied. ‘I would rather die this way, if it’s all the same to you.’
She snorted. His eyes flashed, mischievous and full of light. He had never looked more beautiful.
Posted in response to Daily Post’s Daily Prompt, “Suspicious,” Sunday Writing Prompt, “Euphoria,” and Putting My Feet in the Dirt’s prompt for February 14. I’m happy to argue all three prompts apply–always ready for a good fight.