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In Your Shadow

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He could feel it, the second he lost their game. Grief settled in the tomb, shrouding the humans in like a heavy cloak, but where normally he could always feel the undercurrent of anger and fear, there was now simply love mixed with great sadness and regret. He stumbled, slumped against the wall. It was over. Their game was finally ending. He was tired, suddenly. So very, very tired. Faintly, he could hear the humans talking, saw them embrace in the distance. Felt their love. Love. Of course. Of course it had to be her. It was always - always - going to be her that finally defeated him. He smiled. At least in this game he had had a worthy adversary.

He let himself sink to the ground, feeling his strength leave him as he became obsolete, at least for now. Perhaps he could rest a while– perhaps he could finally sleep. Of course, Death was never fully gone, never truly defeated, but sometimes, in times of peace, he could rest. Relief washed over him. She had won. He could let go, if only for a little while. He let his eyes fall closed and allowed himself to enjoy the moment. Perhaps he should be fighting it– he wasn’t supposed to enjoy losing, after all, but sometimes even Death deserves a break.

He felt her approach even without looking, felt her warmth and her light chase his lingering shadows away. He opened his eyes. She was worried, he could sense it. His angel, his other, his Love. Always worrying for things she oughtn’t, such as a strange and inconsequential creature like him. She knelt, and he flinched away from her brightness, too weak to withstand the assault of love and happiness that radiated from her. The shadows swirling around him rallied, shifting closer, wrapping him in a strange mist meant to protect him from her light. He – foolish as he was – didn’t want their protection.

“Raven… Raven what’s wrong?” Her voice was filled with sorrow as she reached out to touch him. He smiled at her, an expression which did not belong on his face, he knew, and which never looked as kind as he wished it would. Even so, she seemed to like his not-smile so he tried, on occasion, for her sake.

“Hush Little Dove, it’s alright. I lost our game, is all.” He said, gently touching her hand, the shadows that surrounded him engulfing it’s bright shine and shrouding her in darkness. But he was weak, and her light shone right through it. She gasped, and he saw tears fill her eyes. That wasn’t right. She had won. She should be happy. All he ever truly wanted was for her to be happy. He reached out and touched her cheek, gently brushed the tear away before it had the chance to fall and burn him with her care.

“It’s alright Love… It’s alright. It’s how it should be. When one of us wins the other loses, you know that’s how it works.”

She shook her head furiously, her smile replaced by a worried frown as she pulled him off the ground, swept him up in her embrace. “That isn’t right Raven. We both belong here. We– No! I do not want to win if it means losing you!”

He laughed softly, leaning their foreheads together, relishing in her touch, in her closeness.

“But Dove, you will never truly lose me. Death is never far, only resting.” He said, gentling his tone as he closed his eyes once more, “I will be back sooner than you wish to see me, I promise, and then our game will begin anew.”  

She pulled him closer, held him tightly, and he relaxed into her hold, allowing her to claim him for her own. As though he had not always belonged to her in the first place. Perhaps he could stay with her, here, be her shadow, should she allow it. He did not realise he had spoken the words aloud until she replied, softly: 

“Of course, of course, my Raven, my shadow, always.”

The last thing he felt before he slipped into a deep slumber, was her kiss.