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Yae does not remember life without Munakata Ryozou. She knows that it exists, can sometimes feel it tugging on the edges of her mind, but she cannot put it into images or words or sounds or smells the way she can with Ryozou. She knows what he likes to eat, how he likes to sleep. She knows what he smells like and the way he smiles with such sheepish charm when she catches him working too late.

She knows the way he took so long to come around, to touch her. She had to kiss him first, his lips warm against hers and just as clumsy. "Are you sure?" he asked, his voice low and rough, his hands firm on Yae's shoulders. Even after she nodded, he kept looking at her for a long moment, his gaze intense against hers. Her will was strong, and he recognized that-- she has memories now of his skin wet against hers, of his fingers fumbling against her and the way his shoulder tasted when she pressed her mouth against it to muffle the gasps.

In the mirror, Yae's reflection stares back, and she thinks, I know this person less than I know Ryozou.

They are married now; Ryozou is a good man and exceedingly gentle. She brings him food when he gets so absorbed in his work that he forgets about his meals. But when she combs her hair alone in the room, she feels very small and very vulnerable.

Ryozou knows what happened to her, but he will not say. He has never said, and she doesn't think he ever will. It doesn't bother her, most of the time, because she knows Ryozou well enough that she is confident his decision is the right one. When she asks, his face grows pale and he looks away. Yae cannot bear that distance for answers that will only hurt her.

She looks at her reflection in the mirror again as she drags the comb slowly through her hair. She sees something out of the corner of her eye, but when she turns, there is nothing there but her koto.

She pulls her hair up as quickly as she can and rises to go find Ryozou. He's probably working already; he seemed restless last night, which is a sure sign. Her footsteps echo in the hallways, and she thinks, this is who I am. I don't need any more than this. I have Ryozou, and that is enough.

Liar, a traitorous voice in her head whispers, but she's at Ryozou's door now and kneeling to enter properly. Surely he won't begrudge her a moment of selfishness to reassure her that she's not alone.