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Bitter sweetness

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Parabola is no Eden, and forbidden fruits grow stale these days.
It is, however, strangely tempting to stay a little longer.

Rays of a false sun pierce the foliage like amber strings. The hot humid midsummer haze is undistinguishable from dizzying mirages of a dream. They sit by a river, but the water surface doesn't reflect them.

"Here. They taste different though. Better than the real ones. They’re only memories, after all. And probably without any deceased insects."
"Without what?"
"Oh, I forgot to warn you. Figs are usually full of tiny dead wasps."
She almost chokes on one. The Manager chuckles. "Not really."
"...I hate you."

Well, she should have known better than to trust her worst nightmare.

And yet – what does it take to open one’s innermost secrets and sorrows? To walk one’s memories and dreams together? What else if not complete trust?
Not hers. His own.
She doesn’t know what she has done to deserve it. She doesn’t know how to return it, either.

"Hate me, then. Fear me. Despise me.
Anything. Anything but this millenia-long loneliness."

It’s in his eyes. Even in his laughter. Especially in his laughter.

The haunting gleam of a smile and a row of brass buttons. The lingering shadow beside her bed.
No, there is something scarier...
The key from a well. The eyes of Storm. The thorny hedge of pain and denial around a preserved reminiscence.
...The realization that she has seen the Merry Gentleman’s tears way more often than anyone else’s.
What a cruel irony.

Fig wasps are nothing, too. He feeds her his memories, and they’re full of tiny dead hopes and regrets. Despite the sweetness.

"It’s alright." He takes one himself. "Hatred is more merciful than love."