Credence likes to think of himself as dutiful. He wants to do the right thing. He wants to be good.
Being good isn’t easy though. Credence constantly falls short, fails in his attempts, and so he dutifully accepts his punishment. If he can’t be good enough, he can at least be dutiful. He takes the pain, the white-hot lashes, the feverish agony as his skin breaks and crimson blood beads along the pale surface.
He deserves this, doesn’t he?
But then he’s introduced to a different kind of pain, a much more pleasurable one. It’s like the wine at communion, rich and sweet, but it leaves a tart biting note in his mouth.
Graves is kind, his touch comforting, but their interactions always leave an ache in Credence’s soul. He longs for more, dreams of Graves’ encouraging words and whispered promises. His nights consist of Graves’ touch, purposeful but feather light, trailing his fingertips across Credence’s sinful flesh. He arches into that painful embrace, craving for a firmer pressure, for his body, for his heart, for more. Credence awakes gasping for breath, his sheets sticky and head clouded with shame.
This is what that expression must mean—flying too close to the sun. Credence only feels whole when he’s near Graves, when they meet secretly in dark alleyways and abandoned streets. His whole body lights up when Graves looks at him with such warm affection and confidence. And yet, it hurts. Graves shines with such brilliance, it’s blinding. No matter how hard Credence tries to reach out and grab that glowing magnificence, grasping at rays of pure, unfiltered light, his hands always come back empty and burned.
This must be his punishment and Credence gladly accepts it. Graves makes him feel safe, makes him feel wanted but it’s not without its price. Still, Credence will return time after time, soak up every bit of Graves he can, even if it destroys him from the inside out.
Credence may not be very good but he refuses to waver in his duty. He’ll do what Graves asks, he’ll make Graves proud. Even if it means his own destruction, even if it means burning at the stake alive.
What better way to surrender than into the all-consuming flames of his desire?