It was after midnight when she heard a knock at the door. Torn by the events of the previous days, she could not sleep anyway. For hours she had been awake and stared at the ceiling. She did not need to ask who that was, this gentle but demanding knock. But still…
“Who´s there?” she asked and propped herself up.
“It´s me” replied a familiar voice, “Can I come in?”
She sighed. Of course it was him, and she was not sure if she could stand him being in the same room.
“Sure, come in.” The decision was made quickly, because after all she cared about him.
While he opened the door and snuck into her room, she sat up in her bed, cross-legged, watching him curiously. He placed the lantern he carried on her bedside table and turned around to meet her gaze.
“What can I do for you?” she asked inquiring, “What do you want?”
“I think we are at a point where you have done more than enough for me” he replied softly, “Do you mind if I sit down?”
Briefly, she shook her head. She expected he would sit on her chair, but to her surprise he sat down on the edge of the bed, close to her. The tension between them was nearly visible.
“What do you want?” she repeated sceptically and clawed her hands into her blanket. A helpless try to find hold, he made her nervous somehow.
“I just want to be with you. Voluntarily, not forced to or feeling committed to. I want to be with you without being in need, or being needed. Wanted company, without any deeper reason” he explained and a soft smile flitted across his face.
“And if I don´t want to?” she asked, arms crossed in front of her chest. Her body language was defensive, but her heart had already decided that yes, she wanted him to be here. The warmth she knew too well spread from her chest through her whole body.
Of course he could not know, he already made attempt to stand up.
“If you don´t want me to be here, I will leave” he assured her with a clear voice.
Before he could get up, she reached for his hand and held him back.
“Please stay. It is… it is long-overdue spending some time together. Wanted, not forced, or feeling committed to” she stated, and a fond smile lit up her face.
“I missed you, I missed you so much… and every minute I thought about all the things that remained untold. I truly believed I would never see you again” he admitted, and she noticed the bitterness in his voice. The previous days had been rough, for all of them. Out of a sudden he burst out laughing, his shoulders shaking and strands of hair falling into his face. He looked so young and boyish, she did not even remember if she had ever seen him like this, laughing so freely. This was it, he became insane…
“And now I forgot everything I wanted to say to you. I completely lack the words!”
“If it was important, you will remember” she could not help but chuckle.
He just shrugged his shoulders and started to take off his boots. With a raised eyebrow she watched how he lifted her blanket on the other side of the bed, sat down directly in front of her, cross-legged, and carefully blanketed his bare feet. And when he met her gaze, she got lost, and realized what an impact he had on her. And how she had missed him, too.
“Have I actually embraced you since you are back?” she asked, even though she already knew the answer. They had barely touched, being surrounded by too many people and too many suspicious eyes. And he was right, they had only talked if one of them was in need for something.
“No, you haven´t. But it was never the right moment…” and without waiting for a response, he took her hands in his and dragged her into his arms. “But when if not now?” he whispered.
Feeling his strong arms around her, sensing his warmth and the pressure of his body against hers was comforting, and soothing after all she had been through. She nestled her head against his neck and he started stroking her head.
“You have been very brave, did I ever tell you that? And you still are. I am proud of you, for what you have done and who you are” he said with a hushed voice, “And soon it will be over, then you will be free to go wherever you want. One last battle.”
And the moment he said it she knew there was no way she would leave without him. Because now, in his arms, the first time she felt like she belonged. She wanted to see the whole world, with his hand in hers. But she also knew that this was not appropriate, as the urge to kiss him was not appropriate. Her face still buried at his neck, she bit her lip, having no explanation why she felt like this. She should not feel like this.
“Maybe you better leave” she whispered and her voice cracked.
He let go of her and frowned, uncomprehending.
“Do you feel uncomfortable?” inquiring he eyed her face, studied her expression.
The growing desire for him was about to burst her ribcage, and her heart beat like she ran for her life. How should she explain this?
“Not the slightest bit” she admitted. Hesitating, she reached for his face. Gently she caressed his cheek and ran her hand through his hair. “But you should not be here.”
“Because…?” expecting he leant down to her, his face coming closer.
When she turned her head away, he took her face in his hands and gently forced her to meet his gaze. The flickering light of the lamp reflected in her eyes, and she looked so fierce. His lips curled into a smile.
“We have been close before, and I don´t see why it can´t be like that again.”