"This glaring hue… is not my color," she said to him.
"Really?" Cross hitched his eyebrows. "A diva should wear the color that matches her dignity. It looks good on you."
Maria ran her hand down the red silk he brandished. The cool fabric glinted weak silver under the light.
She imagined a Chinese dress, embroidered with golden dragon and purple gentians, fringed by yellow brocade on the sleeves, slit high at one side of her legs.
She imagined a Victorian dress, sewed to match her figure, embroidered with little roses at the bodice, every petals studded with a pearl, draped by snowy muslin of the same hue.
She imagined dresses so beautiful that a queen wouldn't be ashamed seen in them.
Maria shook her head.
"It's not my color," she repeated.
Red looked good on sallow skin. The color made it slightly less dead.
He chose her red silk, red gauze, red muslin, red velvet, with only a touch of dark color —a red so dark that it looked nearly black.
He chose her reds that reminded him of the time when she was alive; reds that complimented her figure as no other color could: pale skin, red lips, green eyes, and dark locks.
It gave Cross no satisfaction. The beauty—still, eternal, dead—was nowhere near the grace of the child-woman in peasant's drab blue that he had seen years ago. With grime in her locks, soot on her face, she had sung the most divine Ave Maria for the most banal audience.
He had found her and elevated her from the mud of society; had meandered in his journey again and again, reluctant to bring her to the Black Order. Surely, those old men didn't-–never—deserve her.
He was a connoisseur of beauty. Something as sappy as love would have to wait a very long time—if not eternal—to find his name on its board. But, it bled into him all the same, tentative and transient. Then, it burst into nothing before he had the chance to acknowledge its damning existence.
It was frustrating, at most. He mourned and regret. But never -never, he had once sworn, would he lose himself to longing.
Yet it was what he found himself doing. In time like this. In the witching hour between sunrise and black night. It was regret, at first. Always regret. Then regret segued into mourning. Then a tapestries of reasons and what ifs flew over his mind, like flock of ravens, cawing over dead bodies —and they refused to pause, to consider his black, black heart. They mercilessly picked him free of the mask of reasons, letting the paroxysm of longing burst forth.
Body was only flesh —as denotative as it could be. It meant nothing after what he had seen inside—the peasant girl in drab blue, looking as dignified as a queen—left.
It wasn't fair.
But really, who he was to question fairness? There wouldn't be akuma if there was a scrap of fairness in this world —the Earl would be sitting on his majestic chair in the deepest of hell, unable to come up and damn the lambs of God; kids would act like kids normally would and there'd be no more killing machine in the name of Order.
The Noah —hell, the Noah wouldn't choose a helpless brat as its avatar.
And, this whole sentimental business wouldn't be such a pain to him.
Sentimentality evoked his appalling side. Someone would have a merry day seeing him like this —and perhaps bring about the whole town to gawk at him in the process.
If someone said it was okay to be fucking human to his face—damn that Tiedoll—he would kill, really. And paid hell.