I. Innocent Sleep

Midnight greeted him without kindness when his eyes snapped open against a lengthy nightmare. It left him breathless with uncertainty; his heart raced against monsters until he was reminded to be still by her even breaths brushing against his neck and tickling his collarbone. The numbness of his arm from pillowing her head calmed him, and he fought the urge to plant a kiss upon her brow as his initial panic was put aside. As he venerated her in her peaceful repose, he was nearly startled when a thin voice of sleepiness masked concern mumbled, “…What’s wrong, Soulran…?” She shifted to look up at him, blinking away fatigue without much success.

She was so precious, so adorable in her struggle to keep her eyes open with her lips in a involuntary pout against the exercise.

He merely drew her closer, “Nothing…sorry for waking you.”

“The sun is not up yet…is it?” She nudged her nose against his neck and buried herself deeper into his arms, unwilling to risk seeing the first ray of sunrise that would warrant her leave.

“No, it’s still dark…just sleep, Eleanor.”

She did as he suggested and soon fell back into even breaths. He sighed and shut his eyes too, though for contemplation instead of rest. Why can’t this be forever? The nightmare wasn’t horrifying because of its nostalgia, but the voices that forbade his foolish indulgence in her love, reminding him of her numbered days.

All because of him.

Because of that one confrontation years ago in the dungeons of his deepest fears when she expended decades of her own lifetime to use her power…to pay the price of freeing him from his demon. Was I worth it? He had no right to question such a thing, still every day spent blessed by her love only reminded him of the years lost because of him.

Still, guilt is no remedy, and he could only hold onto his beloved with his heart and soul as though enough concentrated love can crystalize and eternalize.

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