The silence bit at your ears for some time before letters formed into words – words resolving into sentences that fell forward without consulting your brain. “I…Soren why don’t you…why don’t you ever come after me?”
The question seemed to land on the space between you with equal force to his own, echoing against the stone. Intent on holding his gaze better than he’d kept yours, you squinted against the glare of the morning, allowing the silence to speak it’s volumes as you pulled another lungful of chemicals.
Watching you sputter on your smoke, Soren smiled - not the true smile you’d seen when you arrived, but the kind that seemed to suit the moment – the kind that carried a weight.
“The first time, I convinced my father to dedicate half of the investigators we had on staff at the time to finding you.” You found yourself brimming at the rim of your mind’s barriers as he chuckled sadly, taking the cigarette out of your hand and stamping it out in a discarded rock glass. “I managed to convince him that the story would be worth it…and then I managed to stop him from printing it when they found you.” Absentmindedly, you picked at your cuticles. “After that, I bought three of the best Aurors I could get my hands on – French, I think,“ he broke off, momentarily, chuckling as he wrapped his fingers in your hair. “They stopped cashing the checks when you started sleeping with them.”
Words that weren’t meant to sting seemed to cut deep gashes in your grey matter – handing a glancing blow to an already weakened resolve.
For what seemed like an age, you stared at the outline of your legs beneath the sheets, twirling another unlit cigarette between your fingertips. The brittle paper slid across your skin, leaving dry trails in its wake.
“What was the more glancing blow to your ego? The sex or the fact that they’d stopped following your orders?” You intended it to sound bitingly sarcastic but the softening in his eyes seemed to convey that the week with Paige had done little to mend the cracks in your wall of nonchalance. Where you’d expected him to respond, he merely closed his eyes, tracing a thumb along your jawbone, a peaceful expression passing over his angular face.
“What happened, Lexi?”
You sat paralyzed as he repeated himself for the third time. By now, the morning sun crept across the floor, seeping quietly into every crevice of the silent, stonewalled room. It illuminated the rich tapestries with daylight and shone through the linens, letting brilliant diffused light pass through the triangle of airspace under your bent knee.
Vivid…Too fucking vivid…
Ignoring his persistent questioning, you slid across the mattress, cursing the house elves hospital corners as you tugged at the linen. Soren watched you get up without moving. You felt his penetrating gaze on your bare thighs as you rose to draw the curtains closed against the 10 o’clock sun. He always could stop you in your tracks and, for just an instant, you found yourself frozen in front of the window.
Before you could grip the heavy fabric in your fingertips, Soren’s hands were on your waist – his fingers digging hard into your hips as he spun you to face him. The shock of cold glass against shoulders and spine and your eyes snapped shut against your will.
“Alexis, I know you love me.” His words barely registered in your ears as his skin brushed gently against yours, but he held you roughly, reissuing his assertion without any sign of question or worry.
No part of your mind screamed out to you to rebel – to push him away or free yourself from his grasp. No portion of your reality seemed disturbed by the accusation.
Accusation, is it, Alexis? Nothing says love like complete denial.
“Or you have me pinned against a window. Whichever explanation fits your narcissistic purposes better,” you retorted, pulling his fingers from your waist in an attempt to free yourself.
Psyche and all…
“Deny it all you want,” he replied, releasing you as if he already knew his words took you far beyond movement. “You can’t keep running from this – you always come back.”
You struggled to make sense of his words but they only vaguely registered in the recesses of your mind. An awkward new phenomenon coursed through your body with breakneck speed.
A mind, so generally teeming with thoughts – snerky remarks and insults – drained of all things. Every potion formula you’d committed to memory. Every antidote. Every jynx. Everything you meant to pick up at the market. Only when he shook your shoulder gently did muscle memory recall that breathing was a necessary ill. The memory of his words even seemed to fall away, leaving nothing but the icy quiet and stern eyes that bored into your own.
“I’m standing here.” Even at a whisper, the words stung at every fiber of your being. Waves of nausea mingled with terror and regret, brimming over in a trickle of saline tears as your hand reached out for the stability of the cool sill.
Failure. Disappointment. Fool.