They don't speak to one another. Not for -- no, she doesn't know exactly how long. Time's turned strange. She has trouble noticing it. She stays in bed and looks out the window. A tiny square of outside world, beyond her House of Dreams. It should be more interesting, she thinks dimly. The sky, the trees, the distant hint of sea. They should mean something.
Gilbert is often by her side, of course. He and Marilla take turns in this vigil at her bedside. With Marilla, it's easy to cry, at least. Marilla is the first person she ever cried to. It comes as naturally as breathing. She tries to find the words for this feeling, because she thinks sometimes that words are best with Marilla, who isn't so very good with the sweeping intangibles of things. She has always done this. Stumbled and traipsed through words until she finds the right ones, the ones that will make Marilla understand. There is an awful part of her that wants to believe Marilla can't understand, will never understand. Marilla who was never a mother. But this is a lie and Anne knows that. The sorrow on Marilla's face says that her heart breaks for the baby, but the true tragedy would have been Anne dying with her. Marilla is not quite ruined yet.
I wish I were dead, Anne sobs sometimes against Marilla's shoulder. (Do the words come out or does she only think them?) I wish I had gone too, and then I wouldn't have to feel this way.
But she is careful not to dream up heavens.
Gilbert sleeps in the chair by the bed. His bones must be in agony, must feel like an old man's bones. But she cannot quite bring herself to reprieve him back into bed. She wants his arms around her and she wants never to touch him again. She thinks how happy she was, nights and mornings right here, his kisses and his hands and his laughter, sweetly familiar and wonderfully new. How like a silly perfect miracle it all seemed.
One morning -- she knows it's morning because the room has turned bright, starkly bright -- she wakes up to find him looking at her. She hasn't looked at him enough, she realizes with a start. And she used to be so good at it. The sight of him now -- his handsome face so sad and hollow, unshaven and full of shadows.
Still, he smiles just a bit (oh, his sad, dear mouth) when he sees that she's awake.
She wants to close her eyes again. The sunlight is so unsympathetic. She can't see how she and it will ever reconcile.
But there is her husband. Her husband and his sad ugly grief. It is not like Marilla's, brittle with love, a promise murmured into her temple that the pain will fade. Gilbert's face tells the truer story. It is not a thing that will mend with time.
She holds her hand out for his. He gets up slowly to take it. She tugs him down onto the bed beside her. She releases his hand and they do not quite touch.
"When I was young," she finds herself confiding to the very white ceiling, "I was so sure my hair would be my lifelong sorrow."
To her surprise, she laughs a little. It's a horrendous sound, exactly the wrong sound for this room full of pristine death, but it makes her feel better. He laughs too, a hoarse laugh like a cough. He reaches over with his cherished fingers, and loops one of them fondly through her red hair.
And she waiting | Downton Abbey, Anna/Bates, 324 words, written for mollivanders
That Daisy is all starry eyes for Thomas, and that Thomas is the last man in the world to merit it, is common knowledge below stairs at Downton. Everyone seems to have made a silent pact to regard it with good-natured affection; never to tease, but never to warn her against it either.
This works well enough for all involved -- save for Mr. Bates.
"It's a shame," he declares in his usual way, all quiet and conviction. "A nice girl like Daisy shouldn't be mixed up with the likes of Thomas."
"Oh, I wouldn't say she's mixed up," Anna answers, smiling a bit. "Daydreaming to be, maybe."
"What a waste of a daydream," Mr. Bates scoffs, a twinkle in his eye; Anna bites back her laughter as Thomas passes them, scowling.
"I wouldn't worry," Anna continues, once it's just the two of them and the narrow hallway. "She'll get over it in time. William's been making eyes at her, and there's no one sweeter. It'll just take a bit of growing up for her to see it. That's all."
"So once she's grown up," Mr. Bates tests, "she'll be wise enough to give her heart only to men who deserve it?"
"Yes," Anna says, suddenly quite aware of just how narrow the hallway is. "I think she will be."
For a moment, he looks at her. There's not much in a moment, but there's enough to be sure. She isn't the only one who feels this. She's not Daisy, wasting her daydreams.
"I'm glad to hear it," he says then, breaking the gaze. "It seems a shame for a good woman to do anything else."
He is the best of men, John Bates, and so utterly determined to believe himself the worst of them. It's part of why she loves him so, and part of why some days she would like nothing more than to slap (or kiss) some sense right into him.
This love will be your downfall | Merlin, Merlin/Morgana, 700 words, written for zombie_boogie
5. One day, they will meet over coffee like old friends, waiting for Arthur to wake up. Each will look at the other, and for the first time they will not think How untouchable you are.
4. She will be the first to find out his secret. (He will be on the ground at her feet, at her mercy, and she will be so ready to bleed the life out of him, pathetic loyal pup that he is, wasting all his devotion on an unworthy king, and then his eyes will go gold, his voice will go ancient, and it is not just the magic that knocks her down, that steals the breath right out of her. It is the knowing. It is the memory of standing in Gaius's quarters, weeping, begging him to tell her that she is not alone, that she is not a monster. It is knowing that he watched her writhe and fade, watched her heart turn black, and did not give a damn, did not think it worth his time to save a useless pretty thing like her.)
For the first time since she left them all, she will cry. But not until he's lifeless as a doll at her feet. And quickly -- by the time he wakes (for of course he always wakes: this is a war that does not end), she will have gone.
He will wake sore and battered, guilt pecking at him like a murder of crows. He will regret what he has done.
3. They will dream of each other. In a manner of speaking.
Morgana does not dream while she sleeps, but she will think of him in her last moments before she drifts into the black. She will think of how well he wears his hatred; how it makes a man out of him at last. She will think of his terrible face, sorrowful but unrelenting, as she gasped on the floor at his feet. She will think of him at her feet. Gasping. She will imagine digging her fingernails into his skin; will wonder if he would beg mercy or just keep looking at her like that, daring her further with those hard hard eyes.
Merlin will dream properly. In daylight hours all he does is hate her, fear her, follow her, fight her without her knowing. So it will make sense when she follows him into sleep. She will wear different faces: sometimes soft and frightened, imploring him in velvet murmurs to save her; sometimes diamond hard and red-mouthed, coming closer than she should but never close enough.
2. She will come to him without knowing why, at first. She will not know quite why she trusts him; why she remains silent with Gwen, with Arthur, but Merlin is the one she gives her worst secrets to. She will try to tell herself that it is because he does not matter -- he is only a servant. He isn't family like Arthur, or everything else like Gwen. This will not ring quite true. She will trust the feeling without any reason to; the sense that if anyone can help her, it is this boy, this sweet lowly boy.
He will want to tell his secret right back -- more than he's ever wanted to tell anyone else, Gwen or even Arthur, when she's staring up at him with so much openness on her face. But she is the king's ward and he is a servant and he will not quite trust her enough (in spite of everything, in spite of how the same she feels, of how he knows what it would be like to touch her now; like summer rain, like lighting). It would be too easy, he will think. This is a burden he carries alone.
1. The first time he sees her, he thinks she's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. He can't imagine touching her. He can imagine not being able to imagine touching her, though; he dares anybody not to, looking at a girl like that.
The first time she sees him, she thinks, What funny ears. He looks so much more like a boy than a man. Poor harmless thing won't stand a chance against Arthur.