"Are you afraid of me?"
She was sitting at her vanity, brushing out voluminous golden locks that reached the floor now that she was no longer standing. She didn't turn around to face him, continuing to look face first into the mirror. She had known when he had entered, known that he had been standing there for ten minutes waiting for her to turn around.
She would have laughed at any other man for asking her that. She didn't laugh at him. "Not anymore," she answered honestly, continuing administering attention to her hair.
He didn't respond immediately. "Don't you think you should be?"
She shook her head, holding a handful of hair as the rest of it swung free at her back. "If you wanted to harm me, you would have done it ages ago."
"Then you knew I was here." It wasn't a question, and he hardly sounded surprised.
Here, her arm stalled, but it was so brief that most wouldn't have noticed. Knowing him, he had. "Always."
She didn't hear his footsteps on the floor, but she knew that he was moving closer to him. She felt her heart quicken and goose bumps rise on her skin like cold tweezers pulling tiny bits of her skin up all at once. But it wasn't fear. Never. Not anymore. Always.
"Why are you here?" she asked in as conversational a tone as she could muster when she couldn't breathe quite right.
He hesitated. "I wanted to see you."
The left corner of her mouth twitched involuntarily. "You wouldn't have come if you didn't want to see me, now would you?"
He laughed. She had to note that he wasn't nervous, wasn't amused, wasn't relieved. He just laughed. Perhaps because he hadn't done it since it all ended and he needed to remember that he could do it. She swallowed and hoped that he really was just relieved.
"Why did you come here?" she repeated, her voice softer.
At first, there wasn't even the filled silence of hesitation or thoughtfulness. It was empty even though she knew he hadn't left. A moment later, she felt fingers like ice wrap around her wrist, gently, but it still made her jump. She watched as her arm moved away from her hair, her fingers slowly uncurling from the handle of the brush. Fingers combed through her hair, finer then silk, then trailed from her back to her waist. His arms were around her and he was whispering in her ear and now she was shaking.
"Still not afraid?"
She exhaled, breath frosty white. "Never."
"You should be," he told her.
"I'm not," she repeated harshly, swallowing.
He smiled wryly. She knew it. "You never did what you were told."
"You never seemed to mind," she joked, eyes sparkling and teeth chattering.
They remained like that for what may as well have been hours. It should have been unbearable, but she endured, knowing that it was a moment to last a lifetime, knowing that it would never happen again, knowing him and knowing that it wouldn't last. The last was the hardest of all. Knowing him so well and being unable to change that and unable to do anything but want him for it all the more.
"I should not have come," he said abruptly, his voice choked, releasing her.
She spun around, frozen tears gathered on her lashes long before she turned and stared into the empty room.