They were washing the dishes together in comfortable silence. He washed, she dried. An easy and almost calming process.
At least it was until she decided to pull her sleeves up because she was warm.
He nearly dropped the plate he was holding out to her. Luckily she caught it before it could fall down.
She set it down and looked up at him, about to ask him what that had been about. But his expression stopped her.
He stared back at her, his brows furrowed, he looked confused and incredibly worried. His eyes flicked down to her arm.
Kata followed his gaze and immediately knew what he was looking at. Quickly, she reached out to tug her sleeve down again.
But Arnar was quicker. He stopped her, gripping her wrist and prying her hand free from the fabric. He held onto her arm and looked at it again.
His expression was so intense that she still didn't dare say anything.
When he finally looked up, she could have sworn she saw tears in his eyes.
“Did he-” He swallowed hard, his voice wavered. “Did he-” He didn't seem to be able to say it.
She frowned at him. What did he mean? “Did Petur do this? Did he mark me so I’d remember him? Yes, he did.” She tried to yank her arm from his grip, but he held on.
Kata felt a shudder run through her when he touched the scar. He caressed it with his thumb, ever so gently.
More tears welled up in his eyes. “Did he...” He took a deep breath. His throat closed up. It was too horrible to think about. But he needed to know.
In the low light, she saw a tear running down his cheek.
“Did he... touch you? Like he did with the boys?” His voice was so quiet, she had to lean in to hear him.
Her eyes widened as she realised what he meant. “No! No, he didn't. No.”
Arnar gave a big sigh of relief. With a shaking hand, he wiped his tears away. His other hand still held onto her arm. “Kata, I’m so sorry.”
“It’s not your fault.” She vehemently shook her head. “It’s not that bad. Really.” That wasn't true. But he didn't need to know that, did he? But when she looked at Arnar’s face she knew that he saw through her. Of course, he did. Arnar who noticed the smallest changes in expression or posture and knew how to react to them. Arnar who was so empathetic to anyone who was suffering.
He looked down at her arm again. The way it lay there on the counter, unmoving, limp. It reminded him of Fannar. He pushed that thought far, far away. It was bad enough that even a year later, he still saw him. He couldn't get the image out of his head. He had wanted Fannar to have a brighter future, he had wanted to give him hope that eventually things would get better. And part of him couldn't help thinking that if he hadn't missed those calls, Fannar might still be alive now.
With still shaking hands, he reached out to pull her sleeve down. Then, for a moment, he rested his hand on her arm over the scar. His eyes found hers again. “I wish I had gotten to you faster. I could have stopped this.”
She huffed and smiled softly. “Don't blame yourself for it.”
But he kept looking at her with that direct intensity, his eyes endlessly sad.
“I don't blame you.”
His lower lip wobbled.
Kata could see he was fighting tears.
“Oh, come here.” She wiped her hands dry on her jeans and reached out to pull him into a hug.
He jumped a little but his arms quickly wrapped around her. He rested his chin on her shoulder, his hands clenched in the fabric of her shirt.
When he had settled in, she began caressing his back. “It’s not your fault, it really isn't. You came to save me later, that’s all that matters. If you hadn't I wouldn't be alive now.”
A shudder ran through him and he nodded.
“Okay?” She leaned back a little to get a look at his face, her hands rested on his shoulders.
He sniffled and nodded again. “Okay.”
She gently squeezed his shoulders and smiled at him.
And this time he smiled back.
“Let's do the rest of the dishes.”
“Alright.” His voice was still a little rough. He quickly wiped over his face before taking a glass out of the sink.
And so they continued.
A comfortable silence settled over them once more.