blues peer

RACOON RUN (Day 1 First Meeting AU)

The bright green light beckons to her, inviting her to move forward, to cross the four-way intersection. She presses onward, eager to get home, to succumb to the comforts of her bed, close her eyes, let the day fade, and have the night take her completely.

Sleep. It’s what she desperately needs after spending hours negotiating the terms of her deal with Toshimura Tech.

It’s all very exhausting now, dealing with people who think so lowly of her because of her surname. At least before, before her brother’s insanity took the lives of thousands, they’d hidden their contempt. But now, they’re so willing to openly disparage and belittle any one with the name Luthor.

She doesn’t need to wonder why they’re still willing to deal with in spite of their apparent hatred.

Money makes for marvelous motivation.

So people come, propose their deals, continually buy Luthor merchandise, so her stocks maintain and never plummet, all thanks to their genius bloodline.

But unlike the Luthors before her, she doesn’t care about the glory, the prestige, the wealth, or the power. She ultimately doesn’t even care about what they’re saying or how they feel about her family. They are but faceless strangers who spout their opinions as though they mattered when in reality they’re unwarranted, unwanted, and ultimately meaningless.

It’s not like she committed the crimes herself so she doesn’t harbor guilt. There’s no real reason to be obligated and absolutely no desire to pay for what her family took.

So why does the youngest Luthor continue on this path?

Because the Luthor in her craves to subjugate, to see those who feel as though they walk amongst the clouds, those who believe themselves superior, those who feel they are beyond reproach quiver in fear and look upon her with a mixture of defeat and awe as they realize that Lena Luthor is damn good at what she does.

She relishes in the feeling of her victory, revels in their defeat, committing to memory how her heart races, how adrenaline fuels her, how charging warms her veins from her spine to the tips of her fingers.

Depending on who her partner is because she has had some rather euphoric entanglements, it’s almost better than sex.

A blur, golden and blue with a hint of red, crosses the street.

Luckily she’s an adept driver with quick reflexes so her foot finds the brake pedal easily and the tires screech, the brakes howl, as the car skids along the road.

She stares at the obstacle. Before her is a gorgeous woman, of blonde of hair, statuesque build, wearing a blue blazer, navy jeans, and an apple red collared button up shirt, sky blue eyes wide with panic looking like much like a deer caught in headlights stands unmoving.

Lena isn’t in the business of helping others.

But there’s just something about the woman not just her obvious attractive looks because she’s encountered her fair share of beautiful women in her line of work, models and actresses and the like, that prompts the businesswoman to step out of her car and offer her aid.

“Oh my god! I’m so sorry!” the stranger begins. “There were raccoons!” she exclaims suddenly and receives a raised brow.

Lena grasps the door of her car, perfectly manicured nails displayed, as she leans gently, openly observing the stranger she almost ran over. She tilts her head and allows her curiosity to get the better of her, allowing herself to engage the other young woman openly.

“You were running away from raccoons?” Lena doesn’t bother to hide her amusement.

“Yes!” the blonde explains as she holds her hand up where a black ball of fur situates safely in her palm. “I was walking and I heard crying, so I checked out what it was. There were these raccoons, huddled together around a box!” she continued, frantic and breathless and utterly so worried. “They were going to eat her so I fought them off and took her and I was running but they were chasing me and then I crossed the street.” Lena didn’t think it was possible but the stranger’s eyes widened even more. “I never jaywalk but I felt the situation called for a little law breaking,” the woman, breathless by now, explains. “I’m sorry if I got in your way! It’s just I had to save her.”

“It’s quite alright.” Lena can hardly find herself to be angry with such a beautiful and good Samaritan. “And how are you both doing?” it occurs to Lena then, that this conversation might be better had somewhere off the road.

“I’m fine but she’s bleeding horribly.” the woman looks at the injured ball of fur in her hand.

“Hop in,” Lena gestures to the empty passenger seat.

“Oh uh…” the businesswoman can hardly believe it but the woman’s panic visibly spreads on her features.

“I promise I’m not some sleazy stranger who’s going to drug you before I have my way with you.” she teases, hoping it’ll ease the woman’s nerves. “I’d rather you be fully conscious and aware for that.” perhaps it’s taking things too far, but Lena isn’t one to half ass anything.

“It’s not that!” and Lena waits for the blushing blonde’s excuse. “Well, I couldn’t possibly trouble you any more.”

The youngest Luthor regards the woman, observes her, and sees that she’s radiating with honesty and regret that’s so pure and tangible that it practically lingers in the air. It’s so unlike what Lena encounters. She’s too used to backstabbing and greed and lies and deceit and underhandedness and the darkness of man’s heart but now she finds a light so bright it’s nearly blinding.

A smile forms, genuine and warm and inviting.

“You should put aside your modesty,” the businesswoman advises in a gentle manner she never believed she could possess. “I don’t think the puppy should wait any longer for proper medical attention.” her reasoning is sound so the blonde nods, jumps into the car, completely throwing her previous reticence out the door.

It takes a while but after Lena makes a call to her assistant, they manage to find an emergency animal clinic near the outskirts of the city.

As soon as she parks the car, the woman rushes inside, leaving Lena to grip onto the steering wheel. She’s served her purpose, brought the package both safely to the intended destination, so now she’s wondering why she’s leaving her car and walking toward the building to follow after the stranger and the stray.

Just as she opens the door, she’s met yet again with bright blue eyes and golden hair.

“You’re still here.” the blonde visibly brightens and Lena can’t remember a time when her presence ever had such an effect on anyone. “I thought you’d left.” the stranger seems to realize the negative implications of her statement. “Not that I’d blame you! I mean, you already did enough driving us here after I almost made you run me over.” Lena finds her hand reaching, fingers moving to tuck a stray hair behind the stranger’s ear. It’s completely involuntary and Lena can’t think of the last time she acted without calculating her movements with precision. “You don’t have to stay.” the stranger says, calmer than before, but the look in her eyes tells the young Luthor she doesn’t want her to go.

“I’m not one to leave during a crisis.” Lena finds herself willing to stay.

“She was missing a leg, that’s probably why they threw her away.” the blonde murmurs as she looks behind the doors, where the injured creature is currently being attended to. “I did a piece on puppy mills a few months ago,” the stranger informs. “They throw away the ones they can’t sell.”

“Not all life is precious.” Lena can’t help the words flow from her mouth.

“Isn’t that a bit harsh?” the blonde queries, not biting or acerbic in any way, seeming completely unfazed by the raven haired stranger’s nihilism.

“Perhaps, but it’s my truth.” it’s a harsh lesson she learned early on.

“Why are you here then?” her tone is cautious and curious, eyes filled with gentleness that allow Lena to know she isn’t being judged. “I don’t want to sound rude or anything,” she pushes on and the businesswoman waits patiently for her to clarify her earlier query. “But you seem like a busy woman what with the fancy car, the assistant, and your suit…” her cheeks are tinged pink as she her eyes trail over the businesswoman’s attire and Lena realizes that attraction is probably reciprocated. “But you’re waiting here with me…” their eyes meet and bright blues peer into hers, not with expectation, but with genuine concern like she absolutely cares about what Lena has to say.

“If I maybe be honest,” Lena can’t remember the last instance when she was completely truthful. “I find myself wanting to stay for you.” she doesn’t bother masking her intentions because today’s events prove one should live in the moment.

“Me?” it’s apparent the stranger doesn’t want seem to believe she’s worth Lena’s attention as she fidgets in her seat, completely flustered.

“Well, mostly you.” she clarifies. “And a little for her.” she gestures toward the door. Lena isn’t met with skepticism so she ventures on. “See, animals are different.” Lena answers, letting her know she isn’t offended. “They react according to their nature while humans, most humans,” because the stranger is clearly unlike anyone Lena’s encountered, “Well we pretend we’re civilized but in the end we lie and cheat, ultimately answering our baser instinct we struggle to mask.”

“And what would that be?”

“We covet.” she sounds much like she’s told the stranger one of her most guarded secrets and Lena supposes she has. She’s never had the opportunity to share her insights. “Humans are instinctively greedy.

“You don’t think animals are the same?” the blonde’s forehead creases adorably.

“Most take only what they need while humans take everything they want.” Lena shakes her head, offers a bitter smile. “My apologies, I should be lifting your spirits, not dampening them.”

“You’re perfect.” Kara’s eyes bulge, shocked at her own forwardness, while Lena merely smirks. “I mean you’re fine,” she shakes off her nerves. “I mean it’s fine.” Kara’s mentally kicking herself but those green eyes just renders her speechless, they captivate her full attention and apparently turn her brain to mush. “I like hearing what you have to say.” the blonde assures. “I’m so used to people sidestepping my questions but you, you answer them so honestly.” she appreciates the sentiment greatly. “I’m sorry too, for asking so many questions, reporter’s habit I’m afraid.” Lena’s hand itches by her side as she finds herself wanting to comfort this stranger.

“But how ever will we get to know each other if we don’t ask questions?” and she finds herself almost desperate to know this woman who doesn’t seem to have an inkling as to who she is. “So long as it’s all off the record.”

“Of course.” the blonde promises as she raises her pinky toward the businesswoman.

“I can’t say I remember the last time I was made to pinky promise.” Lena says as she lifts her own hand and links their pinkies together, receiving a blinding smile from the blonde whose eyes are also twinkling in delight.

“Well, I take my pinky promises very seriously.” the stranger remarks resolutely.

“I don’t doubt that.” it doesn’t escape her that neither of them had moved to disentangle their appendages. “So I suppose this means you aren’t in the habit of making pinky promises to complete strangers?”

“You’re my first.” she peers deeply into the Luthor’s eyes.

The businesswoman’s response is cut short by the ringing of a cellphone. She looks at the blonde’s blazer where the sound was emanating from and watches as the stranger seems to realize she’d been staring like the emerald pools hold all the answers to life’s questions.

The blonde fishes her cell with her freehand, seeing as the other is still linked onto Lena’s, looking at the caller ID before glancing up at Lena.

She can easily see how torn the stranger is between her and whoever is calling. Lena gives the blonde a nod, detaching their link before stepping aside, moving toward the chairs in the lobby to give the stranger space to take her call. The blonde smiles apologetically before answering her phone and Lena takes a seat in the lobby, trying not to listen to the phone call.

She can’t help how her eyes remained glued to the woman whose name she has yet to learn.

The stranger fidgets, allowing the businesswoman to discern she feels guilty. Lena notes how the blonde’s shoulders relax, perhaps she’d offered compensation for whatever grievance she’d caused and has now been forgiven.

It’s clear that whomever is on the other end of the phone is important to the blonde and the youngest Luthor can’t help but be curious. The stranger refocuses her attention toward Lena after hanging up on the phone. She sits beside the businesswoman, smiling, but it’s clear that the tension hasn’t completely left her body.

“Boyfriend?” Lena asks because she’s direct and doesn’t see the point in torturing herself over it.

“No boyfriend.” she responds with an emphatic shaking of the blonde’s head. “No romantic entanglements whatsoever at the moment.” the businesswoman smirks as the blonde blushes, clearly they both know she’s announcing her availability a little bit too eagerly. “That was my sister.” she’s all too quick to assuage Lena. “We were supposed to have dinner tonight but you distracted me.”

“I hardly think I deserve all the credit.” she gestures her head toward the doors and Kara nods.

“Well you and the puppy.” bright blues follow her gaze. A crease begins to form as worry takes over her features completely. “Think she’s okay in there?” Lena reaches out, boldly taking the stranger’s hand in her own.

“I’m sure they are doing the best they can.” she doesn’t want to give the stranger false hope because even though they haven’t really met, Lena doesn’t think she can bare to see the brightness fade from her captivating blue depths. She links their fingers together, offers soft reassuring squeeze that seems to relieve a little of the blonde’s worries.  “And you know, we must not forget the raccoons you were running from.” she looks thoughtfully. “I’ve never known raccoons to give chase.”

“I probably shouldn’t have kicked them but I didn’t know how else to save the puggy.” she shrugs. “Lex, my older sister,” Lena can feel her heart caught in her throat upon hearing the name. “Oh she hates it when I call her that.” the blonde shakes her head, no doubt mentally chastising herself for her error. “Alex, always worries about me.”

“Oh?” Lena can’t help the crackling in her tone.

“She thinks I’m reckless.” the youngest Luthor listens and can’t help bit think there’s truth to Alex’s words seeing as the blonde seems to be prepared to share her entire life story to a complete stranger. “I’d like to think I’m just a little impulsive.” she asserts. “But over all I consider myself responsible and independent given that I have my own job, my own apartment, I vote, and pay my taxes.”

“You sound like an upstanding citizen.” Lena continues to tease.

“Well, I wasn’t lying when I said it was my first time jay walking.” the blonde responds appreciatively, knowing that the businesswoman isn’t just asking questions to get to know her but is also hoping to ease her worried mind.

“You mean you’re not always rescuing puppies from being eaten by rabid rodents?” she receives a playful shove in return for her teasing.

“I’m having a lot of firsts tonight.” the reporter discloses.

“You’re not the only one.” Lena assures because it’s important for the woman to know that she too isn’t in the habit of helping strangers. “You know, I think our first reaction speaks a lot about the kind of person we are.”

“And what kind of person do you think I am?” the blonde looks upon her, doe eyed and innocent.

“You’re obviously very helpful.” not many people would risk rabies just to help a half dead pup in a box. “Compassionate.” she peers deep into those bright blue depths. “Exceedingly kind.” Lena compliments. “Astonishingly beautiful on the inside and the out.” she’s rewarded by a shy smile accompanied with burning reddened cheeks.

“Now who’s being exceedingly kind?”

“I’m only being honesty.” Lena asserts. “It’s very rare that but I find myself trusting you so easily.” her upbringing taught her not to trust so easily because all people want is to take advantage.

“Well, I would never betray a pink swear.”

“Of course not.” because this stranger before her is so obviously open and trusting. She’s everything Lena is not, everything Lena long thought gone from this world. “You have a big heart.” Lena finds herself turning away. “You should be careful who you give it to.” because there’s darkness in her heart, one that could easily temper the blonde’s light.

The stranger’s response is cut off when the doors open, revealing the vet standing with a kind smile on his face, and suddenly she can feel it easier to breathe.

“She’s doing fine.” he assures. “She’s resting.”

“May I see her?” Lena looks at doctor pointedly, because her assistant called ahead to let the hospital know so they could ready the accommodations of Lena Luthor and an injured puppy. “I know it’s late but…”

 “You’re certainly welcome to.” he leads the way after giving Lena a reassuring nod.

They stand by the operating table, watching as the fragile puppy breathes easier, the blood cleaned off her fur, looking much more relaxed despite being wrapped in bandages. Much to her surprise, she reaches out before the blonde can. Her hand makes contact with the puppy’s head as she gently begins to run her fingers through her soft fur.

It’s hard to imagine that this pitiful creature could warm her heart, but she finds herself succumbing to the puppy’s charms, to the way the pug practically melts into her hand when she scratches just behind her ear.

The blonde reporter reaches out to pet the puppy as well. When her fingers brush against Lena’s, a small blush stains her cheeks.

Their eyes lock and they smile.

For the first time since the death of birth mother, Lena finds herself hopeful. She looks forward for tomorrow and what the future holds for herself, the kind hearted stranger, and the recovering pug puppy.

XXXX

They walk toward the entrance of the apartment building, shoulders brushing against one another due to their close proximity.

 “I just realized my apartment doesn’t allow pets.” the blonde recalls as they stand directly outside the entrance of her building. “I mean, I’m sure it’s going to be a while until she’s released but I suppose I should start finding her a home soon.” her brows furrow as she lists all the people she knows that are dog enthusiasts.

“I could take her.” Lena finds herself saying. “But,”

“But?” she waits, looking as though her entire life depends on Lena’s words.

“I will need help in her care.”

“I could help!” she’s quick to offer her aid. “I’ll walk her, feed her, I’ll even help potty train her and buy her food, and toys, and oh she’ll look so cute in a dress! I mean, if you’ll let me.” she tries to reign in her excitement but she’s practically bouncing on the balls of her feet and all Lena can do is sport a smile that threatens to cut her fact in half.

“You almost died saving her I hardly think it appropriate to separate you two.”

“So I have visitation rights?” her head cocks to the side and Lena can’t help but think that she’s welcoming two puppies into her life.

“You make it sound like we’re some divorced couple sharing custody over our child.”

“Don’t we have to get married before we get divorced?” the blonde riposte’s congenially.

“A proposal already?” Lena teases, unable to help her playful mood. “We haven’t even been on a date yet.” she shakes her head humorously. “Hell, I don’t even know your name.” the businesswoman can’t remember the last time she’d held a conversation with someone whose name she didn’t know, someone who didn’t know who she was.

“I’m Kara.” she extends her hand. “Kara Danvers.”

“It was certainly a pleasure meeting you, Kara,” she takes Kara’s hand into her own, memorizing how warm it feels against her skin, how the simple contact sends tingles down her spine. “And our daughter who we have yet named.”

“Oh right…” expressive blue eyes bulge upon realizing they haven’t named the puppy yet. “What would you like to name her?”

“Since you gave her a second life,” she doesn’t think she deserves the honor of bestowing a name to something so precious. “I’ll leave the naming up to you.” the right and privilege belongs only to Kara and Kara alone.

“I think I’d like to call her Cerberus.” she answers almost automatically.

“Cerberus?” the woman doesn’t cease to surprise. She’d expected some kind of fluffy name to the puppy. “The hound of Hades and guardian of Persephone.”

“I’ve always been fond of Greek Mythology.” Kara confesses. “And I just read this book, The Dark Wife,” for some reason, she doesn’t feel silly telling the stranger all this. “It’s…” she’s kindly interrupted by the raven haired businesswoman.

“A lovely retelling on the lore of Persephone and Hades.” Lena compliments.

“You’ve read it.” Kara finds herself in awe. “Well I just think it’s appropriate for you and I.” and it’s easy to see where the blonde is coming from because Lena is the alluring and mysterious Hades while Kara is the bright and hopeful Persephone so of course Lena finds herself nodding in agreement.

“I’m glad to have met Cerberus and you as well, Kara Danvers.” they continue to stare into each other’s eyes, not searching for anything, but finding comfort in looking into one another’s soul.

“I suppose I, we’ll see you tomorrow for a visit?”

“Of course.” she reluctantly disentangles her hand from Kara’s as she fishes the reporter’s phone from her blazer pocket. As expected, the trusting blonde’s phone is not encrypted. “Call me.” she displays the screen and the blonde’s face turns red as her mouth begins to hang open as she reads the contact name that the businesswoman assigned herself.

“Is…” she gathers her feelings. “May I know my Future Wife’s name?”

And Lena bites her lip, looking down and momentarily breaking eye contact, before regaining the confidence to face Kara head on.

“It seems untoward to ask, given that we’ve only met and haven’t been on a date yet, but may I kiss you, Kara Danvers?” she says her name like she’s committing it to memory as she steps into Kara’s personal space, leaving enough room and opportunity for Kara to back away should she choose so.

“I mean, I think it’s perfectly fine, given that we do share custody of a living breathing creature.” Kara reasons as she finds herself leaning closer.

It’s Lena who ultimately brings their lips together. It’s meant to be a peck, neither wanting to take advantage of the kindness and trust that’s being shared, but as soon as their lips touched, their passions surged and electricity coursed through their veins.

They kissed as though they weren’t sharing their first kiss, both hoping it certainly wouldn’t be their last.

“Lena,” she whispers against Kara’s welcoming lips. “Lena Luthor.”

It dawns on Kara, then, why Lena asked for a kiss first. The youngest Luthor probably thought she would run upon discovering who she really is.

Lena Luthor, daughter of the deceased yet still renowned merciless mogul Lionel Luthor who was notorious for shutting down plants and displacing the livelihood of thousands of his workers. Lena Luthor, the younger sister of the imprisoned Neo Nazi head Lex Luthor responsible for the deaths of hundreds of minorities. Lena Luthor who is now the head of L Corp.

But all Kara sees is a beautiful woman with the most striking green eyes she’d ever beheld and a heart that’s guarded but still willing to love.

So Kara Danvers finds herself smiling because Lena being a Luthor doesn’t change anything. She presses their lips together once more, determined to show she doesn’t care about the businesswoman’s surname. As soon as they meld, Kara can taste the relief on Lena’s mouth just like Lena can feel her sincerity in her kisses.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Lena Luthor.” her thumb trails along Lena’s bottom lip, cleaning her smudged lipstick from the sides of her mouth.

Lena Luthor stands, watching as Kara Danvers enters her apartment. She runs her tongue down her bottom lip, reveling in the taste of the blonde reporter, the proof that what transpired had been real. Lena turns, heading toward her car.

She slips inside and is about to start her vehicle until her phone buzzes in the cup holder.

A message from an unknown number.

She opens it hastily and isn’t the least bit disappointed when she reads Kara’s introduction. Lena saves her number, dutifully following Kara’s request as she types in Kara Danver’s contact name as Future Wife with hearts and all sorts of lovesick emoji’s around.

She screencaps the contact page, sending it to Kara, who immediately sends her an emoji blowing a heart.

Lena Luthor laughs, loud and carefree, knowing her life will never be the same.

All thanks to a stranger who was running from raccoons.

practicallyperfectlydifferent  asked:

Make You Feel My Love~ Adele (That is if you're still accepting prompts) :)

So…this is from a collection of muses. The first of which is from the prompt that is over a year old. The second of which is @modernamericangirl mentioning Robert having a scar now (which if you don’t know would be fairly large). The third of which comes from planning the upcoming and final chapter of An English Summer. This Drabble is a sort of post-Christmas Special 2015 companion piece to my fic. In other words, how does my pre-canon fic fit in with canon. It’s a bit rambly and a bit stretched in multiple directions, but it wouldn’t leave my brain.

Thanks for this lovely prompt!

—————-/——————

To Make You Feel My Love

Robert closed his eyes and drew in a breath of her, her jasmine scent still lingering behind her ears, the faint rose water of her hair, the saltiness of her own sweet fatigue tickling at his nose and warming the beating space behind his ribs.

It was satisfying. Greatly, deeply satisfying.

It had been too long - much, much too long - since he could do this…really do this. It had been months since the surgery and they’d rekindled intimacy since, but not like this. They’d not really been like this in so long. He’d not really moved, really pushed, really held her close to him in so long, and the exhaustion that he felt, and the dampness of his skin, and the heat of the room, it was satisfying.

Satisfying, satisfying…but most satisfying of all, more satisfying than anything else was her lying there, the weight of her soft and sleepy head on his chest.

In his own darkness, without the sight of a golden flicker of firelight dancing over her bare arm and shoulder, he could better feel her skin against his own. He felt the flutter of her fingers against the plateau of his breast, the tender way they trailed down to his belly, passing lightly over his flesh. He was more aware of the way the velvety touch of her fingertips gently brushed the long scar of his incision, though made nine months prior, still raised and pink.

He felt a flush of quick embarrassment at that, though there was no need. He knew there was no need. Her hand did not flinch; she did not seem to notice, though he was sure she had. How could she not have? But Cora only continued on her path across the expanse of his stomach, her arm soon hugging around him, her lashes brushing faintly over his flesh as she buried her head deeper into his chest.

“Darling…”

He swallowed down a tightness in his throat at the sound of her voice deep and low, at the sensation of her resting against him, the feeling more familiar - more painfully familiar - than any other.

How often had they done this? How many times had they lain silent, flesh against flesh, cooling their pumping hearts, calming their burning lungs?

Thirty-six years. They’d been married for nearly thirty-six years; two days’ time, the 16th of February, would make it thirty-six, and with some sudden clarity, Robert realized the significance of the number. The amount of years that they’d been married, that they’d been man and wife - it was longer than they hadn’t been.

More of their lives had been spent together than apart.

And in that moment, with Cora’s fingers curling against his side, her lashes brushing against his chest, the warmth of her skin against his own, he knew. He suddenly saw that their lives weren’t really their lives at all…but rather their life.

They’d spent it as one.

An odd, yet gentle panic seemed to spark in his chest at the realization - the realization that more of their life had passed them by than they’d yet meet. More of their life had gone, it had been spent, and only a small collection of years remained.

He’d have less days with her than he had had - less days of the weight and scent and soft embrace of her, less days of her quiet yearning for him, less days of her sweet tiredness after the yearning had been fulfilled.

And he felt…he felt…hollow.

Robert opened his eyes, and he peered down in the golden glow of the room at the crown of her head, the slope of her forehead and nose, the still long fringe of black lashes that had kissed his skin moments before. A few silver hairs in her dark locks caught in the light and glimmered, shimmered, and the panic he felt fluttered again.

Instead of thinking of days left to come, instead of thinking of how to make the most of the time he had left with her, the days left with one another, he thought of days that had been. St Valentine’s Days of years past, of every year past, until his mind settled on the first of them all. The one he seemed to recall clearest of all, every year, with a pang to his heart. The one when she’d whispered that she loved him, and he…he could not say it in return.

When he did not feel it in return.

In looking at her now, he couldn’t understand. He couldn’t understand how he did not love her. How had he not loved her?

Was there really a time when he had not loved her?

Cora shifted her head on his chest, her soft curls moving beneath her head, and Robert smelled jasmine in her movements. Jasmine. He encircled his arm more tightly around her, pulling her bare body closer to his own, listening the little hum she gave in being held nearer to him.

“I love you.”

He whispered it to her, softly, slowly, sincerely. For he did. Oh, God he did.

He did.

“I have loved you so very, very much.” The words he spoke down into her hair made the weight of her head, the jasmine scent of her skin, the soft touch of her hand against his side so precious to him. She was so precious to him. “Oh, my dearest one. So very, very much.”

He didn’t care if she answered. She didn’t have to answer him. He only wanted her to know. He loved her.

He had loved her. He had loved her for far longer than she knew.

Perhaps far longer than he knew.

His arm tightened again around her back, he pulled her closer to him. He pressed his lips to the top of her sweetly graying head and kept them there, closing his eyes again.

It was a moment more, only a small moment more, when he felt her shift in his embrace, and the softness of her cheek lift from his chest.

He woke. With his heart warm and beating out her name inside his chest, he looked down at her.

Her eyes - oh, her eyes - though the skin around them had grown thinner and delicate lines were now etched from all the smiles they’d shared, her eyes were the same. The clear blues of them peering up at him were the same that had been that Valentine’s Day, all those years ago.

Her eyes were the same that had looked at him with such trust, her hands were the same that had clung to him, her lips, her mouth, the same he’d pressed hard kisses to so desperate his lips had lightly bruised.

She was the same, and yet…they were both so different. Daughters, and wars, and marriages, and deaths, and children’s children who looked up at them and knew nothing, knew nothing of their past, only of their present.

Their remaining days were numbered, and Robert opened his mouth to say it again, to tell her, he had to tell her - oh, God, he had to tell her. He loved her. He loved her.

And she loved him.

He felt it. He felt it in how she kissed him, how she’d leaned in and pressed her lips to his, how she let her forehead rest against his, her cheek, then, against his cheek.

“Robert…” her voice was small, so terribly small in their flickering light, and it seemed to echo from years and years ago. “I love you, too.”