"My dearest," He cradled her in his arms. Shelter, sanctuary, home, she thought as she inhaled his earthy scent. "I have to leave."
Her head still lying on his chest, she breathed, "I know," and she did, she knew he couldn't stay, even as she fought the impulses to grab him and hold on to him so he couldn't leave, she knew he must.
"Well," he smirked, "Whilst thou leave me so unsatisfied?" She smiled at his reference, he would make an excellent Romeo, she mused. An amazing Romeo. Their tale was so similar to the famous duo, too tragically similar. She closed her eyes and tried to commit the scene to memory, the warm, dry heat of the crackling fire, the spicy scent of his soap, the sound of his heart beating inside his breast.
"What satisfaction canst thou have tonight?" She questioned.
"A satisfaction that I shall never again be entreated with," His answer surprised her, she had been relatively certain that the two of them could finish the entire play from the point they had started from. He leaned in and kissed her and it was perfect. It was always perfect, but this, this was even better than usual.
"Any satisfaction thou deems necessary to take, let it be yours tonight," She murmured, fully aware of the alluring tone she had taken.
"I love you," He said, her eyes prickled with tears as his voice, unapologetic, rang out. He wasn't sorry he had loved her; this surprised her more than anything else so far that night. She had been sure that he was sorry that the two of them had fallen so hard for each other. That could no longer be the truth, as she didn't hear pity or hatred in his voice. She didn't hear passion either, just flat empty words. The words themselves probably weren't empty to him but with the knowledge that their reunion was short, she couldn't find enough conviction in those words to warrant the pain that would come when he once again left. She willed herself to stop, enjoy him now and face the pain later. And the pain would come, but, she knew that there was a time and place for it, and now was neither.
"So you're leaving? Tonight?" She sobbed. She hated to ask, to spoil the moment, but she couldn't stand not knowing when.
"They wanted me back tomorrow. They said I could spend one, one," He stuttered for a moment, abandoning his usual pretense of tranquility and peace, "One last night here, one more night before…" His voice trailed off. She found herself nodding, yes, yes one night before. Before what? Her heart screamed but her head knew otherwise. Logically, of course they'd only have one more night together; she had known for a while that their time was running short. She just hadn't guessed how short.
"I'm glad I met you," She whispered in his ear, the room seemed so quiet now, gone was the crackling fire, gone was the rain outside, "I thought I wouldn't be when I found out. I thought it would hurt both of us. And it does. It hurts. But I am glad I met you." The alluring tone of voice seemed like it had happened years ago, decades ago, now there was only sadness and a hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach. No allure. No smile. Tears though, there were plenty of tears.
"Tomorrow is the day," His voice rang loud and strung with an artificial happiness, "Tomorrow is it."
"So soon?" She whispered, of course, that was a blatant lie. It wasn't soon. He had been waiting for years for this. It wasn't soon at all.
"I'll see you in heaven, my dear," He whispered. The cancer had left the man she loved thin and pale. His lustrous hair, the golden hair she loved, had fallen out and the muscles he worked so hard to maintain had not stopped his limbs from becoming more fragile than a pane of glass.
"I'll miss you," She said, honestly.
"And I, you, my love," He smiled, and it was so genuine, so finally happy. She understood it all, curled up on his lap, she finally understood the logic of all of this. He couldn't live anymore. He couldn't. It hurt her to see him hurt and so, for the first time in years, he'd be free. He was buying freedom at the price of her happiness but neither of them cared. She loved him too much to see him in pain and he loved her too much to witness her unhappiness with his pain. In death, he was doing them both a favor.
"Parting is such sweet sorrow." She recited, closing her eyes and falling into one last slumber with her beloved.