Henry woke to an incessant tapping noise. The clock on the nightstand read 02:27 in glowing green numbers, and it took him a moment to recognize the sound as someone knocking on his patio door. He stumbled downstairs, still in his pajamas, and stopped just short of the doorway.
It was Eliza, also wearing pajamas, her hair a tangled mess around her face. She continued knocking, apparently not seeing him standing there, until Henry opened the door.
“Eliza?” he said. “What are you—?”
Without a word, she threw her arms around his neck, clinging tightly. Henry caught her automatically, but then didn’t quite know what to do with his hands. He patted her shoulders, hoping that she would let go and explain what was wrong, but she only clung more tightly.
“Eliza?” he tried again, but she still didn’t move, and he let his arms settle around her waist.
She wasn’t crying – her breathing was erratic, but he couldn’t feel any tears against his shoulder. Henry stood still for a moment, just holding her, then he shivered. Since Eliza was wearing even less than he was, he figured she would be cold, too.
“Eliza,” he repeated. “I’m – we need to go inside.”
She shook her head, eyelashes flitting against his neck, and he shivered again, for a very different reason.
“You don’t have to let go,” he wheedled. “But let’s go inside and sit down. All right?”
This time, she nodded, and he carefully shuffled them inside, sliding the door shut behind them, and managed to arrange both of them on the couch. Eliza loosened her grip, but didn’t let go entirely. She tucked her head under his chin, bent knees over his lap, and just continued to hold on.
As her breathing evened out, Henry let out a long breath of his own and tipped his head back along the back of the couch.
She would tell him what this was all about, eventually. Until then, he would just hold her.