This is a short something written (belatedly) as a Christmas gift for Shiegra. The scene centres around Kheo and Ryar, who are two characters from an earlier fanfic: but it's not necessary to have read that to read this.

Short stuff isn't my strong point, but I thought I'd give it a go :)

I hope you enjoy it - Ki.


The waves crash outside and he crashes with them.

The ocean's in his heart these days, and he hates it. Hates every crest, carrying him up and up, carrying him on stolen kisses, on a wash of guilty whispers, on the hands that curl around him. Such soaring promise is only followed by the rolling tumble down into misery, hopes smashing into foam and sand: he is rejected and desolate, his pleas lost under her turning tide.

Back and forth they go, in something which he would regard as a game under other circumstances. Guilt and love rule her, as they always have, and she undulates between the two. He consoles himself with the thought that when love conquers guilt, she comes to him. Better that than the other way around.

He loves her for it, and loathes her for it.

She can think of him only in flashes, as if the whole is too much to bear.

The first time he laid her down with the sound of the surf trembling in her ears, his eyes were dark and astonished, and Ryar saw her reflection framed in their depths like a promise of the days to come.

They had been young then, and full of the follies of youth.

Now they are growing old, and in her ageless shell she feels herself diminish with each day that passes, incarcerating herself in the dumb silence of her flesh.

It was a different silence that first night: the awed hush of a temple, waiting for judgement and blessing. It had been long minutes before he did anything but look at her as if he would hold time suspended and exist within it forever, content to cosntruct his world from nothing more than a girl and boy sat together.

In the moment before the first kiss, she had understood something of his stillness. The world had paused on its axis as gracefully as a dancer waiting for the beat: in that instant of unknowing grace, everything was waiting for change, and a thousand kisses bloomed in her mind, sweet and slow and warm and light and firm and hard, a tangle of lips and teeth and tongues that could be anything.

The possibilities were endless, and when his mouth finally settled on hers, they would be replaced by stone certainty. And that was what caused a pang in her heart: waiting for the loss of wonder.

She pulls him back, time and again, until he can hardly recall how long he has been caught in this simple rhythm. From her, to her, these are the motions which separate all else, defining his days.

Even when he is not with her, Kheo can feel the ghost of her against his palms, slickly silken, and in the insipid flesh of other women, he searches for her.

Beneath a brazen moon, their skin is the same opalescent colour, their eyes too can swallow down the lunar light, but always comes some pivotal gesture which breaks his illusion. They are clumsy in their desires, gauche and greedy things who have none of her subtleties.

They wonder at the look in his eyes before he leaves them – and it always he who leaves, never them – and he despises them all the more for their lack of comprehension.

Yet he knows that eventually, some night will come when the loneliness is too much and he will seek out their feeble solace once more, prying her ghost from their bodies.

Sometimes he thinks it is her ghost he loves: the woman who sits in court and sometimes raises her voice to sing a listless lullaby is as one dead. He longs to snatch her from those who torment her, to let his hands and his words and his cursed feelings draw the music from her once more, but knows it would make him just another jailer, caging her with her indecision.

He will wait, and one day, some day, she will come to him, not in furtive flight or guilt-ridden fervour, but beneath the stark sunlight, her back straight and her head high. In the meantime, he plays at politics like a bored child playing Cat's Cradle, gritting his teeth and waiting with a patience he doesn't really have.

Surely she will choose him.

Long before he was ever a king, her hands had crowned him, fingers snagged in his hair as his kisses fell like rain on her throat and collarbones. Later, he had spoken idly of their future, building the months ahead with a surety that she had shared.

Thorns crown him these days, and though he gives a hundred vague reasons for the change, she fears the truth is something darker.

He has come to love power, and his hunger will not be satisfied by something so simple as her. Other women grace his arm these days, lovelier than she, wittier than she, each a reminder of what she is not. Lords and ladies bow before his feet and plot behind his back, and bring tribute to him. He has always craved respect: she supposes he has it, or something approximating it. What place has her feeble love in that world?

Now she only flees to him when the desperation is too much, and when she is sure he is alone.

Still, crownless and quiet, he will take her in her arms, and be the boy she once loved.

She does not love the king, who will not protect her from the knifing words of the courtiers, nor the politician, who is a flawless actor. The man he has become is unknowable, and she knows that more and more of the king sits in his eyes now.

The boy is becoming a faded memory, and when she comes to his door one night and sees only the king, she will make her excuse and leave, and shed bitter tears for his passing.

Then she will be truly alone.

Whatever secrets he has, small and petty or vast and devastating, they never so much as flicker in his face now. Maybe she is the only secret he has.

Maybe she is all he has ever had.

The thought is nonsense, but she wishes for a moment it were true.

He is a martyr under her eyes: that is the truth.

He loves her: that is the truth.

He can no longer wait: that is the tragedy.

Thanks for reading. I'd absolutely adoring hearing what you think.