Coming back to life feels so much like waking up that for a long moment Beatrice believes she's living a dream inside her endless rest.
Battler watches as her eyelids tremble and her eyelashes flutter like butterflies on her cheekbones.
The first breath she takes is water filling up her lungs and she almost panics: she remembers; this is what being alive is. It is being terrified always, always, because you have to trust and hope and believe if you want to be happy, and like this – as long as someone can break your dream – you can't help but live in fear that it won't come true.
She's sleeping in a bed of roses. They're cool and soft against her skin; their scent clogs the air, choking her gently. Beatrice wonders why Battler chose the bed of a princess for a witch like her, and then she remembers – faintly, distractedly – the fairy tales that Virgilia half-sang, half-told her every day during her days in Kuwadorian, before Beatrice decided they were too boring and too childish for a witch.
When she opens her eyes, Battler's face is a blurred image of moonlight and fire. She blinks a couple times and then reality gets clearer, better. His hand is touching hers; Beatrice is trying to remember how to speak, but tongue and lips feel as heavy as stones.
Maybe, at some point, she had wanted to become a princess like every other little girl. But she can't remember when and if such a dream has ever dwelled in her heart. (And perhaps the moment she forgot was the moment she condemned herself to unhappiness.)
This is weird, scary, and a bit frustrating: Beatrice wants to move, and her body is still asleep. Battler's lips are white and his shoulders are tense: he's too unsure of himself, right now, to try and help her sit (is this real? Will she leave me again if I touch her? Will I break her again?).
It's only because this night is a silent one that Battler can hear his name leaving the witch's lips. As her mouth moves around soundless syllables, his eyes grow wide, and Battler forgets his doubts and throws his arms around her.
"Beato…" His voice breaks but he doesn't allow himself to follow its example. Not yet.
Beatrice thinks that he looks slightly older and a bit tired, and she's happy to see that his expression is just as honest as she remembers it.
"Battler," she whispers, "Bat—" she tries again, but his name turns into silence when Beatrice notices the tears in his eyes. For the first time, she can see herself – and herself alone – reflected in them, and this makes her want to laugh with joy. She wants to laugh and cry and punch him too, because he's supposed to be free. This fool should be home, with his family, laughing and making jokes about a legend he will never consider more than a silly story for children.
Beatrice's hands curl around the fabric of the dark suit he's wearing; she grits her teeth and tries to look angry and ungrateful because she knows she doesn't have the strength to force herself to laugh anymore. She has always thought of herself as a selfish woman, but this is the first time she hates herself for it: she wants her bitterness and her disappointment to wash away this happiness, because this is not what she had wanted for him.
"Fool," she hisses, trying to put some distance between them. Battler doesn't let her, though. Holding back her own tears is becoming more and more difficult.
"You i-incompetent idiot—!"
When Battler tries to touch her face, Beatrice slaps his hand away. Her movements are still clumsy, but at least, she thinks, her expression did not waver.
"Yes, yes. I am an idiot, but—you… you are no better than me, Beato." Battler's voice is oddly quiet as he finally cups Beatrice's cheek with his hand. "I know, Beato."
The witch stares at him, unable to voice her thoughts, not daring to hope—
"I know—I know the truth," he says, and his voice grows louder: there are tears streaming down his face, now. And he looks like an overgrown child: sobbing with no restraints and a running nose as he calls Beatrice's name over and over. "I'm sorry," he says, and embraces her so tightly it hurts.
Slowly, tenderly, Beatrice's arms curl around Battler's waist and his shoulders; one of her hands strokes his hair reassuringly. She's crying and she has never shown a warmer smile than the one she's wearing now to the world.
Thank you. And. I'm sorry.
Her dream has come true. There is no need to be afraid anymore.
"You… really are stupid, aren't you?"
I do really—