What Price Honor
I trace a hand down his chest, my fingers walking the path that is his scar. The skin is taught and surprisingly smooth, so different from rest of the pale pink skin. A red blemish that dots across him, the last remnants from a war so long ago. The scar of the conquering hero, as is required for the savior of the world.
He permits me my wandering fingers without much of a choice on his part, the rest of my body already draped over him, depriving him of any true options. Somehow, however, he's still cold, skin dampened by sweat but freezing underneath. I can feel the ice inside him, the empty shell of a heart that once was. I shiver slightly, a small tremor in the dark, for I know exactly what it was that murdered his capacity for love, that shattered all his hopes and dreams.
It was me.
I ask him my customary question, as I usually do once our bodies have separated and our limbs have untangled. "Do you love me?" I whisper softly, my chin pressed upon his chest as I look up into his eyes.
"I love you," he says, lying through his teeth. We both know it: I can see the pain in his eyes as he speaks it, and I can see through the fake smile he presents to me. For his part, he knows that I realized long ago that he could never love me, not truly, and never completely.
Tonight, something in me changes. Tonight, I am not satisfied with the self-deceptions that we keep with each other. Tonight, I want more.
"Tell me the truth," I say now, louder than before.
A moment passes, heavy in the air of the room. Any pretence at a smile is dropped, as his eyes dart away from the sight of me and concentrates on the painting at the far end of the room. "You don't really want the truth, darling," he sighs, closing his eyes now.
I prop myself up on my elbows, my bones denting the surface of his scarred skin. "Oh, I want the truth, darling," I answer, not really knowing why the hell I'm doing this. Do I really want to hear it? Do I really want to acknowledge once and for all why he has stayed with me?
Yes, I decide, I do.
He doesn't speak right away, simply waiting, waiting with his brilliant eyes hidden away while he concentrates. Centuries pass in the moment, and I seem to stay here forever.
"I can't," he whispers, as we lock stares. I'm the first to break away, throwing the covers off of me and rising from the bed, grabbing my dressing gown along the way.
"Like hell you can't! You're just a bloody coward, that's all," I fume, tying up my robe angrily as I turn back to face the bed.
His eyes are stormier now, more dangerous. Good. Maybe now he'll be finally honest with me. Maybe he'll let the truth out. Maybe he'll show some goddamn emotion for once.
"Don't…" he begins warningly, but it won't help. I'm angry now, more furious that I have been since we've been together. I want answers and I want them now.
"Tell me the truth! For once in your life, just tell me!" There are tears behind my eyes now, and I realize that it is far too late for this conversation to be happening, for there are realities between us that I can't bear to take.
So I tell him the answer myself, hoping it won't hurt so badly if I say it. "Would you be with me if you had a choice?"
I glare at him, angry beyond measure. "Would you be with me if I hadn't been carrying your child?"
He doesn't say anything now, and a deadly silence takes over the room. A sob forms in my throat, an even though I know the truth had been in my heart all along, I can't help but feel the sharp stab of pain in my chest as I crumble to the floor, destroyed.
A moment later, and he's beside me now, holding me to him on the ground as I cry, the tears soaking into the carpet beneath me. He's holding me in his arms, tight and safe, but he's still cold, so goddamn cold. And I know that I knew it all along.
"You know that I want to take care of you, right?" he whispers into my ear once I have calmed down a bit.
"I know," I breathe, not trusting my voice any louder.
"And you know that I'll always be here for you and our son, okay?"
I nod, as the tears continue to slide down my cheeks, staining the skin below.
And now, now his emerald eyes finally meet mine, as a smile containing all the sadness in the world emerges onto his face. "But I can't give you my heart, darling, because it isn't there for me to give. It's gone, and I don't think it's ever coming back."
"Harry…" I murmur, and suddenly I'm in his arms, safe and protected as he carefully lifts me up onto the bed, pulling the blankets up around me. He pushes the hair back from where it lay upon my forehead, and I smile at him then, a mirror of his.
"I'm so sorry," I whisper, even as my eyelids grow heavy and everything around me begins to fade.
And as I sail away into the netherworld of night, I can his voice reach me from a distance.
"I'm so sorry too, Cho."