i cry until my bodyache
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 11 - Strg: 31 - Dext: 30 - Endr: 30 - Luck: 31
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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#1
Amalia
The Infirmary.

Amalia groans weakly as the familiar ceilings come into focus, dark and oppressive as they have ever been. She hates this place, always has. As a child her mother would drag her here, forcing her to sit through lessons on science and medicine, tonics and herbs. But the body never interested Amalia: it was the mind, the soul, the spirit which captured the girl's thoughts, held her captive by its vast promise of something grandiose and unattainable. While her mother preached of broken bones the girl dreamed of memory and myth, history and starlight and parchment and ink.

Things only soured as the girl grew older, hormones and loss sewing bitterness, discord. The grandmother who kept peace was lost to the pair, leaving Amalia and her mother to fend for themselves, both too heartbroken to empathize, to stubborn to yield. Who can say what truly drove them apart? In time the fruitless lessons stopped, as Amalia began to spend more time in the library and the loss of a medic bound Rishima to her patients.

Despite being relatively uninjured, the girl finds it hard to stir: there is an exhaustion in her bones unlike anything she has ever known. Everything hurts, from heel to head. Letting out another weak groan she tries again to rise, and succeeds only in rolling onto her side, a deep sigh of defeat escaping her lungs.

Why is she here? The memories are unclear. Something about Long Night... is it the Long Night now? Of course, that makes sense: she must have come to spend it with her mother, despite her loathing of this place. Where was Rishima, now? Probably tending to a patient: she always has more time for others than her daughter, or so Amalia thinks bitterly, shaking her golden head.

With one last burst of energy she manages to prop herself into a seated position, legs swinging over the side of the bed, head dropping into her hands as she gasps for air, panting through the pain which grips every fiber of her being. What happened to her? Snippets form in her puzzled mind: a perch. Fire. Fish. Nani? No, that is not right- her grandmother is dead.

Or is she the one who died?

Is this death?

It hurts so much, everything hurts. Fear grips her heart like a vice, clawing at her lungs. "Ma?" she calls softly into the silence, head in her hands, hair in her face, a lost child, yearning for someone to guide her. "Mama, are you there? I- I'm scared."

Rory
Leatherworker

Age: 29 | Height: 175cm / 5'9 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 3 - Strg: 16 - Dext: 17 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 8
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#2
stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires
He was a caged, wounded animal: a wild thing in a stone tomb. The ceiling above him was unfamiliar. The walls were cold, dark, hissing at him.

He wanted to run, into stars and sunlight, into the forest, into places where the breeze touched his face and lifted his spirits. He wanted to touch trees—living things—and smell the scent of life come again, of snowmelt and snowdrops, hear the birdsong that came in with slanting sunrays. He wanted the comforting sounds of goats browsing for food as the new blades of fresh green grass pushed up from a wet, yellowed carpet; Vaya's warning bark at something only she saw.

The coppery glitter of sunlight on Bakshi's thin summer coat, the fuzz of winter left behind in drifting clumps of bay hairs.

But all he had was stone.

He was tired. Healing was an exhausting pastime, and one that rhymed ill with Rory's restlessness. He had been duly informed that it was still the middle of Long Night, so going back out into that senseless dark was out of the question. And yet, as he replayed the events in his mind, he thought of the red antlers. He thought of how nothing of the dark had attacked them. Oh, they had been there, at the edges of his awareness, things that wanted to eat them—but none had come close.

He wanted to take the antler like a torch and flee into the monster's teeth, see what hid behind its dark, dark smile.

And maybe—foolish and drunk on both relief and frustration—he would have, had he not been injured. As it was, each time he moved, one injustice or another done to him screamed a protest.

Yet he was sick of sleeping. Sick of laying. Sick of this stone building that made his heart run.

Someone had found him a long, loose shirt. It was draped over his lean body, and he sat cross-legged upon his bed, blonde hair undone and spilling around his shoulders. On the bed closest on his left lay Amalia, who by some miracle yet lived, though she hadn't woken.

Until now. He saw her roll the other way, facing away from him. She stayed like that for a moment, and he watched her with unbridled curiosity, his blue eyes dark, guarded; he did not like this place, and it showed in his tired face.

Then she sat up, back against him, and cried out for her mother. Rory didn't know who that was. He didn't know why she was scared either, but who wouldn't be, in this place?

"Amalia," he said from behind her; his voice was gentle, like he was steadying a horse. "Everything's quite alright now."
burn scars crawl up the left side of his neck and onto the lower left half of his face
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 11 - Strg: 31 - Dext: 30 - Endr: 30 - Luck: 31
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
Change author:
Posts: 1,745
MP:
#3
Amalia
She does not know how she got here, only that she is tired, more tired than she has ever been in her brief and eventful life. She has no way of knowing the cause of this: that her brain and body were deprived of oxygen and frozen, and even now her neurons are struggling to warm up and awaken. Her memory is cloudy, fragmented, unsure. There is red there, and fire, and family, and loss. She thinks she has forgotten something.

She cannot remember what.

It is not her mother who answers; of course it is not, it never is. The voice which speaks her name is male, soothing and gentle in the darkness, and deeply, horribly familiar. Amalia half-turns but stops, held back by something tight in her stomach, her chest. Looking at him suddenly feels like a terrible idea; the thought of it makes her nauseous and ill, heavy with doubt and confusion and guilt. She does not want him, she wants her mother. She is not ready to stop being a child.

A shiver courses down her spine, visible beneath the thin nightgown in which she has been dressed. Cold, she is so very cold, starved for life and light. She remembers a dark night with a darker sky, and the scales of a silver fish. The man behind is an answer, but she fears the question she has to ask, the knowledge she needs to solve this puzzle, the picture that it will paint in her drowsy mind.

Mostly, she fears her own part in the tableau.

So she does not turn to him, does not say his name. "My mother worked here," she says instead, speaking to the silence, to the stone. "She delivered babies. Helped the sick. Eased the dying."

Everything is not alright, she wants to say, to sob, to scream. I am alive, and they're still dead.

A heavy sigh; her arms shake slightly, trembling with the effort of keeping her upright. "I have always hated this place."
Leatherworker

Age: 29 | Height: 175cm / 5'9 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 3 - Strg: 16 - Dext: 17 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 8
Played by: Neowulf Offline
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#4
stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires
He didn't know what he had expected, but it wasn't this.

His gaze sharpened; darkened. Their Long Night had begun with camaraderie, a sense of excitement at the adventure of figuring out how a week cooped up together—and with Wessex—would work. Rory had never had anything but family to keep him company for Long Night, and he had found he was quite looking forward to the strange break to routine despite the circumstances causing it.

But that all went to bits when he found out the fox opted to stay in the barn instead.

And then they had ridden out—still together, as one, drunk on fear and possibility, faith and hope.

Yet there they were, two islands in their own seas, a lost soul on a bed each. He didn't understand what kept her from turning towards him. Surely it was not fear of seeing the burns crawling up his neck and across his face? She had seen them in the bloody light of the antlers, after all, he knew she had.

"My mother worked here," she said, and the fabric of his shirt and the fabric of the bed cover whispered as his legs unfolded. She went on: "She delivered babies. Helped the sick. Eased the dying." And Rory's bare feet touched the cold, cold floor as he stood up, a ghost in the lonely ward.

"I have always hated this place," she said as he moved lightly across the floor, his eyes intent on her, reading the silent language of her body. "I hate it too," he said gently, so much closer; would she not shy away from his presence he'd climb onto her bed and sit next to her, otherwise, he would remain standing just behind it. She seemed broken, fragile, and it hurt his heart to see her that way. "But for different reasons, I think."
burn scars crawl up the left side of his neck and onto the lower left half of his face
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 11 - Strg: 31 - Dext: 30 - Endr: 30 - Luck: 31
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
Change author:
Posts: 1,745
MP:
#5
Amalia
There are pieces forming in her mind, a jigsaw puzzle taking shape despite her abject desire to keep the full image at bay. She does not know, does not want to know what she did: the grief in her soul is enough to manage, without context to lend its weight to her guilt. A fox. Fire. Horses. Darkness. Red. The red still lingers at the corner of her eye; Amalia turns her head, blinking as the antler comes into view. Has it always been on her bed? It glows with a steady, comforting light, and on instinct she reaches to pick it up, clutching between bone-white knuckles as it settles in her lap. She feels safer with it, somehow. A little stronger. A little less afraid.

A little.

She hears the movement of the man behind her and stiffens for a moment, terribly lost and unsure. He holds the key to understanding, she knows: he can unlock the thing she has hidden away, the reason she is here, her sins. He will be her undoing, and yet she yearns for him, for anyone, for the comfort of a touch on her narrow shoulder, a hand on a body which no longer feels quite hers.

Amalia does not raise her eyes from the antler, does not dare look at the man, afraid for what she will find in his face. It is cold in the infirmary, colder than it ought to be: the skin on her arms has raised to pinpoints, and she shivers once again. She can feel him now, the warmth that seems to radiate off his skin. They had come so close to something special, something magic, and she had ruined it by running off to chase the grand unknown. A week of peace and friendship, in the dark but not alone-

Why could she not have been content, accepted what she had without always wanting more?

"I am sorry, Rory," the girl whispers to the antler in her hand.
Leatherworker

Age: 29 | Height: 175cm / 5'9 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 3 - Strg: 16 - Dext: 17 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 8
Played by: Neowulf Offline
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#6
stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires
He was not a creature of grudges and bitterness. He was a child of the light, a child of summer, a peacekeeper: the patterns his thoughts took were not those that led into darkness and despair, and thus, he did not instinctively guess what was on her mind. He was left grasping for whatever seemed the most logical to him, thinking how he would have reacted, had it been he who had so recently returned from death's door.

And he had no clue how he would, did not quite consider his own ordeal to have brought him that close to Ludo's guiding light. Besides, his own awakening had been rather bizarre, though that was a story for another time.

So he was at a loss as he gently climbed onto the bed next to her, settling his narrow frame next to hers, a steadfast, solid presence. He was calm, and that was what animals liked about him, and he figured that was why most humans allowed him close. In a way, it made him comfortable and invisible, unless you were looking for him.

He knew not to rush, sensing her tipping point was still quite near, so he said no more as he slowly moved his legs from under him and over the bed's side, letting his feet dangle in the cool air. It was a bit too cold for it, really, but he wanted to sit next to her—sit like her, as if the likeness was yet another reason for her not to shy away.

He felt the shiver course through her body, and the sigh he released was gentle, pensive, as he stared ahead through the gloom. Eventually his line of sight was broken by an uninteresting wall.

In the end, patience paid off. Had he had mobile ears, he would've flicked one in silent recognition of her voice, but as it was, he had only the body language of the body he had been born into. So he allowed his shoulders and head to angle slightly in her direction, still not quite looking at her, just as her apology seemed to fall more towards the antler in her lap.

He let the silence fall again. One second. Two. Sorry, for what? For discovering his reckless, dreamer's streak—for being the errant spark (so little had been needed) that set him ablaze, running into the monster's teeth? He was alive, so he was cautious, but the recent changes had begun to unearth something he had thought had been dead and buried for good.

"As I said," he began, still quiet, still gentle, his nearest arm extending slowly to try and wrap around her shoulders, "it's quite alright. What makes you feel like you have to apologize to me..?"
burn scars crawl up the left side of his neck and onto the lower left half of his face
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 11 - Strg: 31 - Dext: 30 - Endr: 30 - Luck: 31
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
Change author:
Posts: 1,745
MP:
#7
Amalia
The bed shifts; the body moves. Amalia is aware of it; she feels it acutely in her skin, every nerve tingling as he draws near, yet her mind remains adrift. This is not her: it cannot be, for who is she to be here, alive, deserving of his presence, his forgiveness, his friendship, his life? She who nearly lost it all, she who still feels Ludo's touch. The antler is her only anchor, red as blood, red as life. White knuckles that are not hers grasp the thing. It feels real in her palms.

She does not move when he draws near. She has forgotten how to, it seems.

The silence that surrounds them stretches on, a beat, another, into eternity. It pushes like cotton into her throat, dry and stifling, freezing her in place. It is worse, somehow, than the silence of death: at least there she knew what was coming, could see the warmth at the end of the chasm and felt a merciful freedom from fear. Now she is too exhausted for terror. Wrapped in a cocoon of weary guilt, her memories still slow fits and spurts, she is not afraid of Rory's rejection. It is inevitable, she knows, as much as he may delay it. She has caused this. It is her fault.

Her mother is not here. Her grandmother is dead. And in her effort to find them, she nearly brought him along.

Finally, he speaks, and the thing he says is a slap on the back, a blow which deflates the wind from her sails. What is she apologizing for...? "Everything," she whispers back, eyes never leaving the antler in her hand. As though by focusing on that she can disappear into it, shrink down and bleed into bone and light, shattered by the turmoil inside her chest until there is nothing, nothing nothing left to break.

The lightest of touches; an arm on her back. A shuddering sob ripples through the room. She is surprised to realize it comes from her.

She is not sure how long she cries. Like everything else, it is distant, removed, an experience that is happening to her rather than being had. The honey hair which frames her face hides the tears from view, but her body ripples and rolls as she cries, and the snot which leaves her is not subtle.

Seconds - minutes - hours later, Amalia takes a breath. "I died," the broken girl whispers, her deep voice void of inflection. It is empty, just like her. "I died, and I saw them... and I wanted to stay. I wanted to run away from what I had done."

Anger flashes across her face, and her hands bite deeper into the antler. Her body is shaking, though not from fear. There is fire in here now, but it does not burn hot. "I'm a coward."
Leatherworker

Age: 29 | Height: 175cm / 5'9 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 3 - Strg: 16 - Dext: 17 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 8
Played by: Neowulf Offline
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Posts: 389
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#8
stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires
"Everything," she whispered, and,

nothing

his heart whispered back.

She felt so fragile, so thin and so cold; the lean elegance replaced with something brittle, as if she would shatter at the merest errant touch. His palm hovered just above her, the soft exhalation the subtle change to lean his arm against her, fingers curling around her upper arm without holding.

He thought of the ruined, broken perch; of Edy, wild in the night, pulling the beam down; of Jigano's mad, blue eyes, his sharp, white teeth; of the insidious voice whispering in the back of his mind. He thought, involuntarily, of the fire roaring (whispering?) through the compact darkness, striking his chest, licking along his throat and face.

He thought of Amalia, brave and steadfast.

He thought of Amalia, crumpling to the ground, the soul stolen from her body.

He was silent as she cried, his hand tightening around her arm as he ached to pull her into an embrace, yet feared that it would not be welcome—that it would be too much, so he made do with what he already had and tried to hold her as close against his side as she would let him.

"I died," she finally whispered, and still Rory held on to her, his head bowing, his other hand curling into a useless fist in his lap.

He had watched her die, and all his demon-ridden mind had been capable to think was—

No.

"No," he also said, gently, gently, his bruised heart aching for the brave girl sitting next to him. Every step of their ill-conceived journey through the Long Night hell he had been beside her, until the last; every single second he had chosen to spend among the demons and monsters, with her.

She had done nothing wrong. She was to blame for nothing, even though the dark and lonely night pressed on his dark and lonely heart, a mixture labeled 'it was all for nothing', waiting to be drunk during some moment of introspection and anguish. "You are radiant and brave and you are my friend." His free, useless hand moved between them, hoping to capture her chin with his cold, deft fingers, and turn her face towards him.

Away from her guilt.

Back to the living.

"You have done nothing wrong," he said softly, "I saw the stars, and I wanted to go to them." But they had not been allowed to, neither of them; and Rory understood the allure of death. He had heard its low siren song more than once, a serenade bearing both his name and others. "But it was not our time."
burn scars crawl up the left side of his neck and onto the lower left half of his face
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 11 - Strg: 31 - Dext: 30 - Endr: 30 - Luck: 31
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
Change author:
Posts: 1,745
MP:
#9
Amalia
His hand is fire on her skin, a burn against the piercing chill which bites so cruelly at her flesh. Beneath his touch she is porcelain, brittle pallor and cracking skin, a thing which could shatter given just enough pressure at the wrong point. When she cries her bones rattle, ribs and sinew shaking loose. For a moment it feels as though this is the end, and she might as last collapse beneath the weight of her sadness, her failure, her terror, her loss. She thinks of her grandmother, of her mother, of Ludo waiting to take her home, and she aches, again, for that release, yearns to be free of the yearning she feels.

Death is a cold plunge into icy waters: an initial shock, panic and fear, but then the body adjusts, slows, falls. It is the return to air which leaves one cold and broken, aware of the pain that bites and gnaws. It hurts more to thaw and to freeze, and Amalia does not want to hurt anymore. She yearns to succumb to the cold, to let her body and soul ice over and retreat forever away from this place.

But his hand is fire on her skin, and she cannot be frozen anymore.

You are radiant and brave and you are my friend.

A half-laugh, half sob chokes its way from her throat. She lets him capture her chin between his fingers, head turning toward him, eyes still downcast. Her face and hair are damp from tears; she bites her lip, and it tastes of salt. It is a lie, some part of her screams, but for a moment, she thinks, she can accept the lie. Not believe it - she will never believe it - but take it, hold it, wear it as a blanket, a shield against the cold.
She wraps herself in his voice, in the promise of forgiveness at this moment, in this place, where they are both alive.

At last the tension of her body unwinds, and Amalia shifts from glass back to flesh. She can feel her heartbeat in her chest, the breath in her lungs, the cloth against her skin. She can feel him, and he is a beacon, a fire, a tether to the world. Leaning forward, the girl who died falls against her friend, her head finding a place in the crook of his neck, their hair a tangled cascade of honey and blood. "I miss them," she whispers into the space between them. She does not say who- she does not need to. Rory knows the story of her grandmother's death in Long Night, and her mother's fall in this very hall, brought down by a patient's illness. Everybody does.

What they don't know is the child left behind, too quiet to be noticed, too scared to ask for help. She had been alone so long. It is strange, to let someone in.
Leatherworker

Age: 29 | Height: 175cm / 5'9 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 3 - Strg: 16 - Dext: 17 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 8
Played by: Neowulf Offline
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Posts: 389
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#10
stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires
And at last, she was alive again.

Perhaps not whole, perhaps not healed, and perhaps she would never be those things—but her face turned willingly at his touch, though her eyes remained downcast. The low glow of pale and shuttered lanterns reflected upon her wet cheeks.

Trapped, in stone and in darkness, he missed the sun with a ferocity that threatened to pull him apart. He was an animal sitting in the dark, thinking of how fast the brilliant sun would've dried the tears from her cheeks, but out there was only death and snow and darkness and their shortcomings. Despite everything, their courage and their sacrifice, they had failed.

She fell against him and he was more than willing to catch her, letting her rest against his neck and chest; a twitch passed silently over his face as she connected with bruised and broken nerves in his shoulder.

But she was worth more than a little pain and discomfort. He shifted beneath her lean weight, unafraid, brazen now that she no longer seemed like she would flee him, and put both of his arms around her. Held her against his chest. Rested his cheek against the top of her head, one of his hands stroking her back in an absentminded manner.

"I know," he murmured, because he knew: his mother had died ten years ago, driven mad with something (a dream of freedom, perhaps) until she walked into the barrier. She had never told them why, if she thought that she could somehow pass through it—if she had believed it so badly she had staked her life on it, or if she had simply wanted an end.

He still remembered, vividly, the fear and the shock when they brought him and Karlia into the Infirmary, their mother laid out on one of these beds, just as dead as everyone else who went into it. Melted from within.

Her face had looked peaceful, though, in a way she hadn't in years.

He couldn't remember if Rishima had been there, but perhaps she had. She had still been alive at the time, after all, but he had not known her well enough to care in the ensuing blur of his world falling apart. He sighed softly against Amalia's hair, the daughter of that ghost, his hand wandering in little patterns over her shoulder-blades.
burn scars crawl up the left side of his neck and onto the lower left half of his face
Amalia Chandrakant
the Shield of Safrin
Baker
Portal Guardian
Age: 22 | Height: 5'6 | Race: Attuned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 11 - Strg: 31 - Dext: 30 - Endr: 30 - Luck: 31
JYOTI - Mythical - Starwhale (Humpback)
Played by: charks Offline
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Posts: 1,745
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#11
Amalia
I know.

He does, though, doesn't he? Amalia does not remember his mother, but she remembers the way she died. Her own mother had come back to the bakery that night, her face an unreadable mask of hurt, silent and disquieting and somewhere far away. Amalia had been sent to bed early, but the girl crept down the stairs to watch and listen as the adults sat, each clutching a bottle of spirits, their voices hushed and emotionless with shock and pain. It was not the first such death. It would not be the last. But it broke them every time.

"I'm sorry," Amalia repeats into his hair, but this time she is apologizing not for her mistakes, but for the world. They are children of this prison, born into a cage. This is their home, and they have suffered for it, sweat for it, mourned and endured and fallen and survived. Perhaps living this close to loss leaves them restless, reckless, makes them more prone to throwing themselves off cliffs. Perhaps he understands the part of her that burns, needs to arc toward the sun and catch its filtered rays, to taste something close to freedom, for what else do they have?

A deep inhale, shaky, rattling in her slender lungs. Her eyes flutter closed and her breathing deepens, her grip on the antlers softening as her hands uncoil. Nesting closer against his skin (so warm, so alive), Amalia lets herself ease out of her fears, exhaustion and injury winning out. She is too weary, too broken, to keep fighting herself, to do anything but succumb. Maybe it is greedy, selfish, further abuse of his kindness and embrace- but Amalia needs it, needs him, the heat of his skin and the quiet waves of his words her tethers to the world.

"Can I here stay with you?" she whispers into his hair, not looking at his face, not willing to see rejection there. Childlike, fragile, hungry and afraid. "For... for right now? I don't want to be alone again."
Leatherworker

Age: 29 | Height: 175cm / 5'9 | Race: Abandoned | Nationality: Natural
Level: 3 - Strg: 16 - Dext: 17 - Endr: 20 - Luck: 8
Played by: Neowulf Offline
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#12
stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires
"I'm sorry," she said again, but he didn't ask or protest; he heard what it was, a band-aid over a scar that was a little rough, a little jagged, but ultimately, healed. Sometimes it ached. Sometimes it was cut open, with surgical precision, and the chasm beneath examined; sometimes it was ripped apart again, revealing the bloody, infected mess beneath.

But he was healing, day by day, and after ten years, it was a scar that was a scar most of the time. So he sighed softly against her hair, silent acceptance of the sentiment. "I am too," he said after a moment, his voice soft and sad, so out of place in the Infirmary with its order, its stone walls, its cold, white sheets and well-cleaned equipment. He was not of this place.

And neither was she.

Yet there they were, blown in with the dust when the doors had opened to the dark; she, killed, he, burned. His body hurt, and that made it easier to pretend that his soul didn't, too.

It was strange to feel needed after so long alone—Karlia had never needed him, his comfort, or if she had, she hadn't been able to admit it to herself. He swallowed against the memory of her. Was she alright, out there in the dark..?

"Of course," he whispered into Amalia's hair, shifting to settle himself more comfortably, and if he held her a little closer, well, who would blame him..? He didn't want her to slip from his arms, to slip away where he couldn't follow, not when he had so recently found her again. "I'll be with you as long as you like."

It was what you did for family.
burn scars crawl up the left side of his neck and onto the lower left half of his face


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