love is not a victory march
(it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah)
A life for a life. Your fingers, weighed down by deceit and as pale as the moon scratch over skin, nails digging and fists clenching. On my thigh, you spin webs of lies and trickery, black as the night, composing an odyssey, leaving me raw and open, bleeding. Your eyelids brush my skin, as light as moth's wings and your hands find my hair, knotting themselves and pulling. I gasp and your eyes open for the first time, a fiery amber, rippling and burning; I can see everything, who you are, what you will become. Our lips are so close, almost touching; your bottom lip brushes mine when you whisper, You killed him. Then your hands pull on my hair again and I moan, my own hands scrabbling to your chest to push you away roughly.
I know. My finger traces a familiar scar on your cheek, faded pink with time and still. I want to eclipse you like the moon you fear so much; you'll turn the sky red and I'll laugh at how a monster can be something so beautiful. I remember nights you never will. A tree, an old house, a forest, a fight. The scent of the undergrowth and the trees, so dark I could only see your eyes, still amber but burning with something else; a fiercely wild stare, showing me the creature you are. You lock it away for all but one night a month when that monster, the person you will always be, roams free, savage and wild. I can still feel the scar on my chest from when you sunk your teeth into me.
Traitor, you hiss, shoving me away. I told you. You didn't believe me.
My hand hovers above your angular cheekbone, a hair's breadth away yet worlds apart. What happened to us? I cannot bring myself to touch you, despite our close proximity. Your lips part under the weight of your deception, mine under my betrayal. You press a rough kiss to my lips (and god, I want more), wrenching your hands out of my hair and bringing them to my shoulders. I turn my head and you sigh.
How could I believe you? I ask quietly. You didn't give me any reason to.
You stand, your body taut, walking to the window. The moon is especially bright tonight, almost full. You turn, your eyes taking on a feral glint in the pale light; your face has a wild expression I've only seen once before in an era long gone. Your smile is viciously bitter, and you laugh cynically as you say, How could you believe me? Because I loved you. But maybe that wasn't enough. You shake your head and the silence that falls is deafening. You absently brush away the cobwebs at the corner of the windowpane, the silky surface getting tangled between your long fingers. I wished for you, you know, you say calmly, your eyes cast downwards, heavy with sorrow and defeat. Every new moon, every eclipse. I wished you'd come back to me. You give a short laugh but I know from the way your hand clenches that you find this anything but humorous.
I sigh and watch the dust motes dance, waiting for them to settle. I did, I say. I'm here now, aren't I?
But you shake your head, averting your eyes. No, you say. This isn't you. You are not the same person I fell in love with all those years ago.
I look to my hands, the deathly white skin stretched tight over bone, almost translucent in the light, blue veins screaming. No, I am not the same person I was back then. People change, I whisper hoarsely, my voice scratching against my throat. I never—
Your eyes, you say, when I looked into your eyes before, I knew who you were. I could tell what you were thinking, and now... You look outside again, to the black London sky, bleeding silver shining stars. Your gaze lingers over each in turn, pausing that little bit longer on the brightest one of all, drinking in its beauty, everything I could never give you. Now, I don't know who you are. Your eyes are dead. You stare straight at me. And I think they have been for a long time.
My mouth is dry. I swallow and return your gaze. My eyes may have changed, but yours haven't. They may be older and have permanent bags under them, world weary and worn, but I can still see the tiny, terrified eleven year old that I reached out to once upon a time. Under all the scars and determination, under all the misery and defeat, there is still that little child, not quite ready to give up on the world because he has so much still to show them.
Remember, you say, your voice filled with nostalgia and melancholy. Remember those years when we were invincible? The four of us, all together. Your voice trembles, your hands shaking. We're the only ones left.
And somewhere between all the lies and betrayal and death, we grew up and became adults. We fought and suffered heavy losses. We battled and we won, but to win, you must first lose. Their names flash through my mind, emblazoned to the back of my eyes in vivid green, one after another, never ending. Soldiers and the innocent. Heroes and victims. And two names, right at the end. A husband and a wife. A mother and a father. A best friend and a sister. A house blown apart, thick smoke and dust filling the air. The scream of a baby and a whisper, a whisper of a lord not yet vanquished.
And we'll live on, I say, until it is time for us to join them. We'll carry them in our hearts, hold their names high. They have not been forgotten. There are still hushed tales told from unwilling mouths about them. We will not let them die. Their memory will be forever alive within all of us.
And you press a blazing crimson kiss to my mouth one last time and I can taste your unspoken apologies, as clear as they would be if you had emblazoned them in red and gold across the sky. Your body is so familiar. I can remember each contour, each scar. Your warmth is something I have not felt in thirteen years. The way our bodies come together as one is something I found myself craving during our time apart. I missed you.
I feel you smile against me and think, maybe, after all these lonely lonely years filled with despair, I've found myself again.
And on the night of the full moon that you'll never see, two lonely howls pierce the silence, mourning for the fallen and the losses they have yet to suffer; but while there is life, there is hope and hope is all we have left.