When you freeze, you tell yourself you're so strong. You tell everyone to keep away because you don't need them. But really, it's because you're afraid; because you know that if anyone shows you any warmth, your whole persona will melt away and you'll have no form to take. You know, the second you're touched, you'll shatter.

She finds you cowering in a corner, in the room you set up for him to prove you still had some control. A room that, now that the bonds of the curse have started to snap like ropes strained to their breaking point, splitting thread by thread, has become a cruel parody of its intention. It stands testament to everything you want to tear right out of yourself - the weakness, the mood swings, the fear.

You want to hate her for seeing you like this. You want to make this her fault. But she sits down beside you, not saying a word, and gently puts a hand around your shoulders. Something inside you breaks like the overwound spring of a toy, and you can no longer hold yourself up. You lean against her, into the warmth of her body, and you hold onto each other. The sound of her breathing calms you just enough to break your defences, and for the first time in years, you begin to cry.

You are scared she will leave, but she never does. You know you are unlovable, pathetic when you cry, and there is not even a curse to bind her to you - what does she want from you? But she continues to hold you, and let you hold on to her.

When you have recovered enough to speak, you manage to choke past your closed throat, "Why? Why are you doing this?"

She answers without hesitation. "Because I care about you."


"Because you're worth caring about."

You'd never considered this before. Worth fearing. Worth obeying. But not worth caring about. Not even when you were god.

You'd always thought that, if you weren't a god, you were nothing. All your life you'd been the head of the family, a figure of fear, a mythological being. You'd never been given the chance to just be a person. Somewhere in the back of your mind, you'd always assumed that you wouldn't be very good at it. In this moment, the dense knots of that fear begin to untangle. When you've cried all you can, you feel an emptiness different than the one you are used to. This isn't the black hole that's been spinning inside you all your life. It's a blankness like a white page, waiting for the first touch of ink. It's light. The type of light that stings your eyes and scorches your skin but fills you with the energy to keep from freezing.

The walls you've built around yourself lie in ruins at your feet, and you finally let yourself leave their confines and walk into unfamiliar territory, exposed like film.

You wipe your tears on your sleeve and she helps you stand up. "Thank you," you say, trying to keep your voice steady. "I'm not - I'm not used to people doing that type of thing for me."

She nods. "I'm sorry things were like that for you."

"It's not your fault."

"I know, but… I wish I could have changed things."

Your mouth feels odd, and it takes you a moment to understand why: you're smiling. "You did."