a/n: i didn't even mean to write this but here's a drabble that serves as a tag to the story. not as unabashedly fluff as the fourth chapter (margaret has always felt like such a stoic to me; i can't really imagine her being hugely expressive), so if that's how you like your endings, you may not want this. (but it's happier than my hunger games au so that's something? sort of?)

They do not touch while they sleep. They are not those sorts of people.

John faces her, one hand only just reaching across the middle of the mattress (that is the sort of person he is) but Margaret wakes to the blankness of the wall, and to the soft sweep of wind through the window she always leaves open.

She loves quietly. He did not think she would, but she does. The sparking from that night with the book, he waits for it at first. Looks for more notes in every margin, listens for an undercurrent in every argument. And Margaret argues, still, she fights and he fights and they fight together, but the heart of her is all slowness and sun.

"I love you," he says. She wrinkles her nose, one corner of her mouth tugging up.

"I love you," he says. Her thumb feathers over where his pulse beats in his wrist.

"I love you," he says. "I love you."

And when it comes answering out of her, it sounds odd, as though she's speaking it in a language not her own.

A year in, their bedroom is dark, and tears push down his cheeks. Margaret is going pale, her eyes dry as they flutter closed.

"I do," she whispers. "I do, only I don't... I don't quite know how to say so."

"All right."

"I'm sorry."

"I'm not angry."

"You are."

"I don't want to be."

She sits gingerly down beside him. Turns her head, presses it into the curve of his neck. And he thinks of her stillness, of the settling way she has that seems, he thinks, to belong to him.

"I'll try," she says. "To tell you." He feels her mouth move against his jaw.

"You already are."

He feels her smile, too.

They do not touch while they sleep, but Margaret rolls over before her eyes have finished opening. And the dip between her shoulder blades as she turns, the spaces between her fingers as her hand meets his - that's where he learns to look.