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everything i've ever lost come back to me

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isn't always magic.
Sometimes it's just melting.
Where it's black and blue.
Where it hurts the most.
- "Maybe I Need You" by Andrea Gibson

At two a.m. Trent sighs and blinks the grit from his eyes. Rachel's down the hall, too close yet too far, and the Turn take it: he's never going to be able to sleep like this.

On silent feet he pads to Ellasbeth's old room. He knocks on the door twice, gently, then presses his ear to it, waiting. Nothing. Just his house, breathing and settling.

He turns the knob and slips inside. With the curtains shut, he can just make out the shadow of the bed - and little else. He tugs them open enough to let in a wash of moonlight. He only wants to make sure she's sleeping comfortably after being held captive and getting shot - by a gun and his pain charm. She's safe, but with Rachel that's always a temporary state of affairs; a banked fire is still a fire.

Her breath whispers in the stillness, quieter than the drumbeat of his foolish heart. The moon's pale kiss finds her on her back, head turned away from him, and one hand flung palm-up, vulnerable, by her face. His silver circles her wrist. What he'd intended as a gift, a choice, a shield, he fears she's turned into a blade - used to cleave herself from her own power.

She isn't small, but she seems so, dwarfed by the bed.



Like him?

He rubs his chest against a dull ache.

He should leave. If she finds him there...

A murmur cuts through the calm. Though Rachel's eyes remain closed, her head tosses on the pillow.

What is the worst that can happen? She'll beat him unconscious? So what? Algaliarept already did that - and took two of his fingers.

No, the worst that can happen is she'll find him keeping vigil, and in the contours of his face read the truth of what she is to him.

She whimpers in her sleep, a lost, broken sound in the pre-dawn hush, and he sighs, feeling something open painfully inside him, a spring-green leaf unfurling in sunlight. He strokes the back of his damaged hand over Rachel's cheek and watches her expression smooth out. Voice pitched low, he begins to sing, the words halting as he struggles to remember his mother's voice when he was a boy.

"Black and bays, dapples, grays, all the pretty little horses…"