“Lucifer,” she whispers.
He breathes it in, breathes her in—her lips, the hollow of her throat, the space between her breasts. Down and down over waist and hips—the softness between, the strength there. He slips her thighs over his shoulders and worships in the only way he remembers.
It’s been so long since he truly prayed.
Her cries ripple over his skin in waves of sound, her hands tangled in his hair to ground him. But he’s still floating, barely clinging to his flesh in the sea of sensations and memories and desires finally come to fruition. It’s intoxicating, this, and he drifts as she rises.
When she finds her pleasure, the rush reflects back to him, and the current drags them both under. He dreamt of her taste when all he had was ash, of her tender touch when he could only afford to be cruel, of her moans when there were only screams. He can’t help bringing her higher, carrying her into depths that never used to be so kind.
She speaks nonsense, voice soft and breathy, but he knows no language better than pleasure. Her back arches, her legs tighten around him, and he carries her through it. Finally, he’s allowed this. Finally, neither of them turn away. When she comes down from her heights, she sighs and cups his cheek, and he rises to kiss her again. His penance, meted out so sweetly. His sins, met with their forgiveness. There’s such mercy in her that she lets him linger, lets him find what he’s been seeking on her lips and tongue.
With a soft susurrus of skin and sateen, she turns them, and he goes willingly. She slides on top of him and slips her shirt off, and he forgets everything else. She’s naked, now, dragging her nails over his chest, and it is everything he imagined. He is naked too, open, vulnerable, and he lets her take what she wants. Anything she wants. Everything she wants.
Incredible, he said. He still can’t believe it.
She rocks her hips and holds him there between her legs, pinned to the mattress. But he has no desire to move. All his desire is for her, whatever she desires. He has none left for himself but that she see him, truly, fully. That she know him and not run away. That she have him, all of him, to do with what she wishes.
He thinks she might speak—might ask him a question he would be helpless, now, to not answer—but instead she leans down and presses her moans into his mouth. He takes them gladly, pure and thick as honey, gaze shifting between her, here, in front of him, finally, and her reflection above, framed in stone and shadow. The mirror of this desire—he can’t look. He can’t look away.
She paints the warmth and glory of her touch over his cheeks and down his jaw, his shoulders, his chest, his waist, his hips—making and unmaking him. Leaving him clinging to her presence, the only light in the darkness. Marking out her sovereignty—Heaven and Hell have no claim on him anymore. Only she can have this. Only for her will he renounce all else.
And then she pulls herself up to kneel, lines them up, settles against him, and he can’t breathe, can’t think, can’t see anything but her eyes darkening, her lips parting. Can’t feel anything but her body taking him in. There is pressure and heat—suffocating, blinding—and he is undone by it, by her. He reaches up, untethered, and she finds his hand in the night, presses their fingers to her chest. She moves, and every wave washes over him in unholy baptism. She hums her joy by his ear, and there’s such grace in it. Her hair—no longer golden but all the more sacred for it—frames his face, hiding all else, and she is the only thing left in the universe.
The sun has gone away, the stars dim, but she shines all the brighter for it.
He finds her hips with his hands, finds her lips with his, and they breathe together. Blood rushes in his ears, beats in his chest, and he can feel her everywhere. Every inch of skin ceded to her joy, her pleasure. Every drop of blood, every mote of light, every speck of divinity he has left, hers. He works against her, and she gasps. She brushes her fingertips over his cheek, and he sighs. There is no mirror now—when she sees him, she sees him—not a mirage, not a reflection—and it’s everything he’s ever wanted.
And when they fall together, he is lost in her, everything he is made new, made hers. A dawn of her own making—light bringer, morning star, rising over the mountains. Her hands clutch at him, and he finds her there, in that silence of moans and panting breaths. In the air clinging to the surface of the planet as it spins. In the aether where everything comes from, where everything must one day return. In the darkness of the void before there were stars, or meaning, or definition. She rests her cheek on his chest, drifts into sleep, and he looks up at the ceiling, at their reflection in that dark glass.
Minutes pass, and the hush descends further, like evening, obscure and unknowable. Like the day, filled with all its revealing light. He is in the wake of the storm, not its eye, now, drifting on a placid sea. He’s lived his life in the maelstrom—he wasn’t made for calmer shores. But now the current has slowed, the tide gone still. It is perfect. She is perfect. They are perfect. There is nothing left to seek, nothing left to find. Nothing left to give, nothing left to lose.
It’s all done, now. All gone.
And isn’t that what love is? Isn’t that what it’s always been? From the beginning of time, even. Giving someone everything he has, everything he is? His heart, bloody and raw, clasped in palms not his own, hoping to find a little warmth before it’s crushed, or dropped, or simply forgotten? Or his soul—whatever use it still is, pure light of Heaven shot through with hellfire—tempered in the glow of whatever scant joy he’s been allowed?
Is this how contentment is supposed to feel?
He brushes her hair from her face, traces her lips. He imagines the oceans in her eyes like he did when he was too far away to see them. And maybe he still is. She is beautiful, kind, strong—a gift, truly. One he no longer wishes to turn away. No one has ever put such faith in him—he can’t help but return it. No one has ever had so much hope that everything will work out. And she loves him.
And he loves her, doesn’t he?
He has known her fully. He has been truly known. A gift, to see and be seen. And she isn’t running away. So long he’s waited for this. Millennia to see the first gasp of dawn, to know how the colors feel when he can finally reach them. So many things have come between them, but there’s nothing left separating them. It’s all he’s ever wanted—the only desire left in his broken soul, in his ravaged heart.
So why does it leave him so cold?
He sighs, and she murmurs in her sleep. He puts his arm around her, puts a soft, wanting smile on his face for when she wakes. But he doesn’t want for anything else anymore. There are no more desires to fulfill besides hers. He doesn’t want to rage at the heavens, or lose himself in some simpler pleasure. He doesn’t even want to run away. He sacrificed so much of himself to Hell—too much—and it was all in vain. He’s sacrificed too much of himself to her, and now he only feels numb. But he can’t lose her. She’s the only chance he has left.
Incredible, he said. He still can’t believe it.