In The Absence of Nightmares
It was the loud pop of burning wood that brought him to.
He started slightly, his eyes flying open to fall upon the comforting blaze in the fireplace. He relaxed.
He began to stretch, but froze when he registered a weight upon him that was not his own.
He looked down.
Curled up into his side, one arm draped across his chest, lay the love of his life, fast asleep.
Her long, curly hair was down, hiding the upper half of her face. Her lips were parted slightly, and her chest rose and fell with even breaths.
He softened at the sight, adjusting his position to ensure she was more comfortable.
He smiled, noting that while she had let her beautiful hair down, she still wore her corseted sapphire silk dress from the ball. Her feet were tucked up into her voluminous skirt.
His smile saddened when he remembered just how long it had been since she’d last slept like this. Her nightmares had taken months to recede.
And even if the nightmares were to one day disappear entirely, the physical evidence of those nightmares would remain.
He involuntarily glanced down again, his gaze skimming the uncharacteristically modest neckline of her dress. A slight puckering of the soft, plump skin there was the only indication of the hideous brand burnt over her heart.
The dagger-shaped brand that matched the one on his own chest.
His breath caught, and he forced the invading memories from his mind. He reached for his sleeping lover. His anchor in a world tainted by nightmares. Out of long-established habit, his hand came to rest on her waist.
She shifted in her sleep. Her hand came to rest over his heart. Over his brand. Her fingers curled loosely into her palm.
He smiled, wrapping her delicate fist in his larger one.
His thigh, trapped underneath her, had long since lost feeling, and he winced slightly, gently adjusting himself once more.
His lover was a comparatively light weight, but she was still an unconscious grown woman.
He didn’t mind though.
He rested his chin atop her curly head and closed his eyes. The gentle, rhythmic sound of her breathing was the only noise in the room besides the subdued crackle of the fire.
So he held her, resting gratefully by her side in the absence of their nightmares.
He wouldn’t wake her for the world.
By Helen Cryestira Viorel, October 10th, 2019