And I will keep you warm if you keep me grounded {tm}


And I will keep your warm, if you keep me grounded

She begs him and he is at the mercy of her every syllable, servant to her any wish. There is a self awareness spawning in the space where they stand but do not stand, a delicate silk thread of possibility, and he watches her eyes watch his mouth. His smile is kind, but knowing. If she ever thought the plainness of him was for a moment captivating, then he is in turn spellbound by the contrast of her, his enthrallment multiplied tenfold.

It’s foolish, he is aware it is. He feels foolish sometimes, when he’s running himself ragged learning of death magic and plotting ways to destroy himself just to get a glimpse of her again. There is nothing they can offer each other beyond some charade of companionship - a long dead man clinging to a bright vivacious example of what he cannot remember and cannot touch. A golden fleece beyond his reach, who’s essence he clings to like an imaginary lifeline.

But she is so unlike that which he knows. Everything contradictory and complex, with vocabulary spicy and tinged with something exotic, and a thousand colors bursting forth from her every expression, her every infliction. For a man who knows only grey in thought and scene and identity, she is nothing short of a miracle. She is like the first new creeping break of sun, bold and a shock to the system, after months of cold winter where only hopelessness and shade flourishes. If she could be bottled and compacted down, she would bring a high price in his realm where color and vitality are the only currency of any significance. How can she ever know she holds this kind of worth to him? That though he is but a haunting she stumbled upon by accident and does not echo is his shambled memory like the color green, she too now has a place carved out there - somewhere secret and safe.

He cannot answer her question simply (it’s too complex for labels, what he feels), so he says nothing. Only ducks his gaze and gives her a soft smile again, this one a bit deeper, a bit more clandestine.

“That doesn’t surprise me,” he says with a fond chuff, not at all shocked at her gumption to solve the mystery of a long forgotten death. “ I would even pity the fairy who dares stand in your way. But perhaps a large furry lorse will indeed strike a chord in someone’s memory. If there is a someone still alive who remembers me yet.”

She turns from him, laughter rich and melodic and he cocks his head, listening. He would like to make her laugh again. He waits till the tail end of it to answer, whispered. ”Both.”

He is patient and still, watching with face impartial and open as she visibly struggles with herself. He wonders if she is lonely, seemingly out of habit of talking about herself. He suddenly feels embittered at having nothing of his own to share, nothing to offer as collateral to ease her discomfort with such trust in him.

He shakes his head. ”You speak beautifully,” he assures her. He draws close to her once more, wanting to steal her distress and wanting to apology for prying at all once. He almost puts a stop to it, gathering the breath to tell her so. But he can see her steeling herself, her posture strengthening with her resolve, and so he waits. A silent shadowy confidant.

Of course - of course she is royalty. Her every breath betrays her of the secret. And Jack sighs, finding some release in knowing. It answers many questions he can not ask her out loud. The way she stands just so, straddling the line between grace and rigidity. The accent and refined manner of speech he’s privately deemed the most alluring possible. Her diplomat half-truths and her compassion for those who might be weaker. That turn of her head that makes her far too elegant - untouchable. And he has the strangest urge to kneel, to properly show respect to her stature as he’s been trained to do.

Trained to do? Another unexplained act of muscle memory he can neither justify nor recall. He will look into it once they’ve parted.

His eyebrows furrow as the aria of her voice falters, colors with a quiet regret that’s almost a shade of sadness if it weren’t so proud. He steps into her space, slowly, lifts his hands to frame the delicate shape of her cheekbones, wanting to pull her focus back to him. He has a wild thought that this is not unlike cradling a burning ember between his palms. He cannot feel her, but there is the potential to be scalded, a flame waiting to ignite at any moment. If he was alive, he would never have dared such an informal move on a noble born lady. Some small win for being deceased.

”They are so quick to judge what they cannot understand. It scares them,” he sighs, wishing he was a better wordsmith so that he might alleviate even some small bit of her alienation. ”I am sorry, lady, for what you have lost.” He leans in, forehead just hovering a paper-thin space from her own golden brow. It’s quick, done with closed eyes, and then he retreats. Back to a comfortable casualness.

He grins, tone teasing now. ”Perhaps it is a blessing they do not see you as I do. Then they would all cower at your magnificence and then you’d be forced to rule Shaman yourself.” His silvery eyes glitter with mirth. ”How tiresome. No more late night conversations with handsome dead men. Only meetings with fat, long winded politicians. Perhaps it’s better this way, hmm?”

We will never burn the light out
Luke Stackpoole


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