One uneventful evening, Athlem was channeling her inner feline-ness, basking in the sunlight by the reading room’s window with a volume stolen from Horatio’s library — it still made very little sense that Etzion royalties needed their own separate archives — when she noticed that she emptied her satchel of dried plums. She stared at it in lazy annoyance, then convinced herself to leave her warm spot.When she stepped into their room, Horatio was where she left him in his usual rigid efficiency, scanning the monolith of a volume set before him, presumably about strategies or spells, though he was already holding out her desired bag to her as his piercing eyes stayed on the page.
“I still don’t understand how your teeth are intact after you’ve devoured cartfuls of these in the matter of days,” He muttered as she took the bag with glee, pecked him on the cheek in wordless thanks. “How are you feeling?”
“These little beauties are keeping my food down,” Seeing that the other chair was five steps away, she opted for a more comfortable spot upon his lap before fishing out another plum and examined it.
“Ew,” Horatio wrinkled his nose at the wrinkled, fruity abomination.
“Do you want to kiss me now?” She nuzzled, pouted, giggled as he frowned in conflicted indecision.
“For the first time in my life, I shall refuse that offer for the safety of my mouth.”
“It’s not that bad! Even a fetus can handle it.”
“Our child is going to be born more sour and wrinkler than any newborn if you keep eating that,” He mockingly wailed. “Oh, the horror.”
“So, you mean our child will grow up to be just like you? That is not far from my expectations.”
“Hey!” She giggled at the tickle of his prickly stubble as he nuzzled her neck, pecked at her cheeks.
Then she wrestled him from his tickling advances, laughing, cupped his face and wandered amongst the lines of his features while leaning into the gentle circles his hand were drawing on her back. She traced the narrow bridge of his nose, the hiding his piercing eyes and observations, the darkening eye bags — which she was the proud author of for the past fitful night of cravings or nightmares or vomiting or a hellish concoction of all of the above — the thin lines at the corner of his eyes deepened by the above mentioned fact, his cutting cheekbones, parted lips. Stubborn, beautiful, beautifully stubborn, she placed her forehead against his.
The eloquence always escape him when she was with him, but his mind strove to mend: Her hair was glossed with streaks of sunlight, her eyes narrowed by subtle puffiness of sleeplessness and motherhood, but he hardly noticed. The lines of her frame, her round cheeks and nose, all streaked with sunlight, she was always so blindingly beautiful. Fragile, stubborn, succinct. A single lowering of her lashes, a pout, or a single phrase, and he would be fulfilled, blessed.
“I am,” she went back to cupping his cheeks, tilted his chin “too much in the sun.”
Of course, she meant not the highlights of her hair, and he wanted to verbalize his understanding, realized he didn’t need to. She leaned in, he met her, tasted sweet.
Then the taste sour, he realized, “Ugh, you didn’t.”
She pulled away, giggled devilishly, leap off of him and ran for the door before he could tickle her. He spat, reached for water to stop the burn of his tongue.
“Good day to you,” She waved childishly, disappeared behind the door to return, he presume, to her favorite perch in his reading room.
He stayed there, trying to savor the sour, sweet of her upon his lips as he grimaced, laughed, opted to lose interest in his volume and pursue a much greater importance.