When he removed the arm shield, I half expected to see maggots underneath.
Of course, there were none.
Why, Lucian? Why are you wearing this uniform? I really wanted to ask him yet I could not and I couldn’t understand why I could not ask him. It disturbed me though.
I sat on the bed in the officer’s quarters and watched him take the armour off, a piece at a time, automatically yet for each part he dissembled, he would linger over the placing of it on and by the wardrobe beside the door to the washroom, taking his time and letting his fingers slide over the items with exquisite care and reverence, and yes, even love.
Things had gone well, I thought. There had been moments. I was still partially dismayed, partially surprised and partially proud that he had managed to intercept the lightning I had tried to throw at the former Lord Chancellor. He had such astonishing reflexes. He was much faster than me yet I was glad that he had stopped me. I had lost my temper well and truly when I had sworn to myself that I would not, but I had been so angry at his comments, it had just jumped on me from nowhere.
Lucian was unfastening the shin shields, down to an undershirt and a long pair of dark tightly woven under trousers now. I looked at him doing it and wish I could want him as easily and readily as I had always wanted him before.
I had to sigh.
He turned and looked at me.
Get undressed, he sent me gently. It has been a very long day, indeed (and we have to rise early).
I sighed again but could not find it within me to do anything at this moment but to just sit there.
He came over to me and stood before me, looking down at me. I had to put my head right back. He reached out towards my face and when he touched me, I couldn’t help myself - I had to move back fractionally. Of course, he noticed well enough and in response, went down into a crouch before me which brought us onto eye level with one another.
Have no fear. I will not – engage in any activities that would be – uncomfortable to you. I meant to be friendly.
I’m sorry, Lucian. I don’t want to be like this. I want to want you like I did before.
(Memories of many women, hysterical of men after having been violated) Can you not heal this?
I – have healed my body.
But not your mind.
How do you heal a mind? If I knew how to do that, ... (I could heal you)
He sighed and shook his head, stood up and went into the washroom. When he came back, he was entirely undressed and once again, it hurt me to not have an immediate response to his grace and presence.
I felt like crying.
He slipped under the blanket and turned towards me, supporting his head in one hand.
He said nothing and sent nothing other than perhaps a single low level vibration of calm and re-assurance, and eventually I began to thaw enough to make my way to the washroom also and to endeavour to get out of the dress that had been sewn onto me, and those bizarre undergarments. I wrapped myself in a towel, pulled all the many pins and fastenings from my complicated hair and spent a long time scratching with all ten fingers on my scalp. I took a long time to get washed and eventually it occurred to me that I was hoping he would be asleep by the time I was done so I would not have to talk to him or have him offer me encouragement, or comfort, or kind words or any of those things that I really didn’t want to hear tonight.
When I had realised what it was that I was doing, I took charge of myself and drawing the towel tighter around myself, steeled myself to enter the room. Lucian was lying on the far right hand side of the bed, turned outwards, on his side with his eyes closed and his legs lightly drawn up. He was relaxed, shielded and pretending to be asleep.
Quickly, I made my way around the other side and slipped into my half, similarly turning my back on him and keeping the towel tightly wrapped around myself beneath the blanket.
It occurred to me that I was absolutely terrified he would sneak up on me in the night.
(Hurt, angry) I won’t. I give you my word of honour.
It isn’t that I am afraid of.
And I didn't know, had no idea, until the answer simply stood in the room, That I might call you Conna.
He rolled over then and sat upright in bed and said out aloud, “And if you did, I would take it as a compliment and know that I can make you feel as safe and protected as he did.”
I shook my head into the pillow and felt a sadness weigh me down, dimming me as though those awful nights were coming back to me.
Lucian, could you hold me (like he did)?
He sighed deeply and slipped back down, hesitated momentarily and then moved across so he would lie behind me, cautiously shaping his body so it would fit mine, watching me minutely for my response.
It felt comforting, strange, wrong, right, - ah, help me Lucian. I don’t know what to do with myself.
He placed his arm about me and found my hands held tight before my breasts, holding them easily in his, put his mouth into my hair. I didn’t understand myself at all. Why was this alright, why was this fine and even producing faint tingles in my body, yet I could not look upon him as himself? What had happened to me?
Shh, he said. Shh. Remember the blue and green. Be still and sleep now. You are safe, with me and from me. The past is in the past. Thelein will die in a few short hours. Just sleep. Sleep now. All is well.
I was aware that he was sending underlying pulses of relaxation to me and I only fought briefly. I allowed myself to be bathed by them and by his gentle words and slowly, a piece at a time, a part at a time, I dissolved to him and let him take me into the night.