Tessa can't decide what she loves most about this new Jem.
She could look at him for the rest of her life and never figure it out, she thinks as she lies nestled beneath the soft covers of their queen sized bed, her head turned so that she gets a perfect view of her husband's face, his cheek pressed into the downy white pillow.
Could it be his hair, the dark strands spread about his head like an inky halo, so very different from the silver shine it once held?
Or could it be his face, tanned skin pulled over high cheekbones, completely in contrast with the pallor he once so heavily carried?
Maybe it's his eyes, those eyes holding so many unspoken words and loving promises, dark eyes shielded from her view as he slumbers, eyelids fluttering with dreams.
The echo of a moonlit gaze rings through her head and she blinks, starting at the images of the 17-year old boy she knew so long ago, the one with a kind smile and selfless soul, a heart overfilled with a completely overpowering love. It makes her almost sad, really, to think of how much he's lost in all of his very long years, and the fact that she's lost just the same tugs at her heart until she can hardly take it, blinking rapidly as she fights to stay focused.
Tessa shifts onto her side, watching him with mesmerized eyes, and recalls how weakly he limped upon his cane, or how hard he coughed up crimson blood that shone on his white handkerchief, or even how sharply his ribs protruded, his skeleton so thin and frail that she had been afraid he would collapse. But now, as he sleeps, his face is more full, the hard muscles of his arms covered by the light sheets, the stability of his body an amazing thing in its own right, and she can't help but find it all a bit ironic, how he could have once been so weak, but have so much happiness within him, and now be so healthy, but have so much sorrow.
Tessa finds herself crying, quick, brief tears that drop onto the pillows beneath her, and she doesn't even notice when Jem wakes, gazing at her worriedly before pulling her into his warm embrace, her cheek resting on his chest as he kisses the top of her head, his long fingers gently carding through her thick, chocolate locks.
Soon after, Tessa decides that what she loves most about this new Jem is the fact that what he is-the sweet, loving, completely forgiving Jem she fell in love with in 1878-is not all that new.
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