I held his hands. I held him, shaking in my arms, taller than I, and younger, fragile and broken and shattering. "Shhh," I said. "Shhh," and promised, "I will keep you safe."

"Will you?" he said into my shoulder, and I loved him then as well. Now I understand. I can only keep the world away from us for so long, and only if the world is kept away can I keep you safe from yourself.

Sometimes I wonder if, once again[,] you crouch on a giant's stone head with the river rushing underneath you, and willfully forget that I would try to save you. "I have never been trustworthy," you said, but I do not believe it. I refuse to.

I.

What I love best about Felix are his eyes.

I have never found them strange or eerie. They are beautiful, expressive, and when he touched my face after I was rescued, fingers brushing across the bruises around my eye. I could see in his eyes all the sorrow and guilt that I never wanted, always wanted, and he felt it for me.

"I'm sorry," he whispered, in the dark where no one would hear him say it. That was the first time he kissed me, eyes open and mouths closed, and he was very gentle.

He never apologized again, at least not for anything he'd actually done wrong. Anything else was fair game for those whispered apologies no one but me would hear, but for the things that actually mattered, the words stuck in his throat and never made it through his lips.

But he said it that night, his fingers on my face, and meant it, and I loved him then.

II.

What I love best about Felix is his hair.

It was the first thing I noticed, when they brought him back a tangled, dirty mess of bruised, maddened, damaged from where they put him. Even curled into himself, shaking soundlessly, the color of his hair seemed to shine like copper under rust through the grime. It was tangled, uneven, red. I had never seen hair like that before.

"I won't hurt you," I said, and he looked up at me through the curls of his hair, eyes daring me to tell the truth.

I didn't hurt him. Once, I would have said that I could never hurt him.

He always loved it when I slid my hands into his hair and twined it around my palm, wrapped it around my finger, ran my fingers through like a comb. I loved to watch his face when he sat down and I stood behind him, playing with his hair, eyes closed and expression full of ecstasy, as if he would never need sex again, that this was enough. I loved the look in his eyes and the soft, mewling sound he made, and if the chair was low enough I would lean over to kiss his lips upside down and he would say my name, and I loved him then.

III.

What I love best about Felix are his hands.

He has beautiful hands, long and graceful and slender, callused with the marks of frequent writing. He was the only one who could take my hand and stroke the underside of my wrist with his fingers, and even if I know where he learned it, I cannot care; no one else has ever made me shiver with pleasure so, and I know by the slightly wicked gleam in his eyes that he knows, and it is those times that he leaned over and murmured to me, "I think we've seen enough," and we went back into his room and locked ourselves inside for hours.

His hands traced the contours of my face in the dark, his finger a line around my lips, and I took it in and suckled it, teasing, and loved the way it made him shiver. His hands cupped my face between them when he kissed me, or cradled my head when I was kissing him. When he let me, his hands clenched on the bedclothes as he cried out, hips arching against me and long fingers bent and working against the sheets, and I knew how much he trusted me.

His hands wrapped around my wrists and held me in the hall. ::You drink too much,:: I told him. ::I can smell it on your breath. Anyone can.::

"You hate it," he said, blurry and drunken, and "You hate it. Do you hate me? Do you hate this?" And he laughed, wild and careless, and pulled me by my wrists to him and kissed me, his tongue in my mouth taking the place of my own, hands teasing the underside of my arms, and I loved him then.

IV.

What I love best about Felix is his smile.

People who know Felix would say that he smiles often. People who love Felix know that he almost never does. I know all of his false smiles, and he is rarely without one of them. But sometimes he will allow a real one to show through, and they are one of the most beautiful things about him. They are wild little things, shy and small, not easily captured.

I have only seen it a few times, but I feel lucky to say that at all, knowing as I do how no one else ever has, likely, except Mildmay, and few others ever will. Felix wears his heart on his sleeve, maybe, but not his happiness.

I wanted to see him smile. I tried to tell him about what I was reading, to explain why I loved it so, and he was just watching me with that thoughtful little expression, and all of a sudden he stood up and came over and kissed me, and sprawled across my lap.

::What was that for?::

"I like to hear you happy," he said, and there was that flicker of a smile, and I loved him then.

V.

What I love best about Felix is his voice.

I love the way he talks to me. Lying together, his hands touching my skin and his hair fanned out on the pillow, eyes half closed, he tells me things I know I will never hear again. "You are beautiful, Gideon," he said, and I believed him, or even just the sounds, like the 'mmm' of soft, pleased satisfaction. Sometimes in the dark he doesn't seem real until he speaks, and I have to touch him to be sure that he is still there.

Felix spoke to me sometimes, the nights when our faces were invisible but our bodies knew each other well, of things I know he would never say to anyone else.

"What do you dream of, Gideon?" he asked me, and I told him about the books and the knowing and the understanding, how I want to be able to look at the stars and know why they are placed the way they are, and he did not laugh at me but nodded, seeming thoughtful.

::What do you dream about, Felix?:: I asked, because it seemed right, and he looked at me and his eyes reflected the phases of the moon, the left dark and new, the right bright and full.

"Malkar," he said softly. I felt my stomach turn over, and touched his face as he would touch mine. He flinched and I knew why and was not hurt by it.

::Can't you dream of me instead?:: I asked, and his voice was a faint whisper, as though he feared to be overheard. The ghosts that haunt us never truly fade.

"I can try." He paused, and moved closer to me, almost trembling. "I love you, Gideon. I love you." His voice was quiet, wavering, not quite broken, and I kissed his forehead, and so help me, I loved him then. I loved him then.

"Never mind, Felix. I believe you. Trust me."

"I can't," I said, my fingers throbbing with their pressure against the stone giant's head. "I can't."

Gideon cursed in Kekropian, then said, "The White-Eyed Lady must want you very badly. But she lies to you, Felix. She is not a kind lover, and her embrace will not dull the pain you suffer. And her betrayal will never end. I realize that I betrayed you yesterday, although I did not mean to, and I am sorry. But that doesn't have to be the end between us. Do you understand me?" He stopped, and then said, even more quietly, "Felix, you don't have to be alone."

I all but fell back onto the sidewalk. Gideon was there, warm and green and smelling slightly of cloves but not at all of bitterness and death, and I could hear no voices in my head at all."

-Melusine, pg. 28-9