From their expressions at the top I get the feeling they both know exactly the kind of strain this is putting on Kuromama. He’s reluctant to ask her to do more – to ask her for anything with her current level of health – but she cheerily insists on it because it’s what she does. For everyone’s safety, they both need her to do her magic, even if he doesn’t want her to get any sicker than she already is. By the middle panels he looks like he’s resigning himself to it, and she’s trying to alleviate his guilt. And I LOVE this interplay between them. It’s gone so quick, blink and you’ll miss it, but it’s such a lovely little interplay of thoughts and feelings between them that doesn’t even necessary reach the dialogue that they’re saying out loud, and yet it all points to just how open they are to one another.
I love all this, but I’m increasingly convinced that this might just be the last time they see each other, and that makes it so much more tragic in so many ways. Because if Kuropapa had followed his original intention they wouldn’t have even had this final meeting, and this last glimpse of their relationship would never had had the chance to shine through. I don’t know if this IS their final meeting, or if the blessing she gives will change things for the better or worse in the pages to come, but I think it speaks volumes as to just how much their duty pushes it’s way right up into their relationship and forces them into actions they otherwise wouldn’t have picked for each other.
Because with this conversation they become ‘the priestess’ and ‘the protector’ instead of two people who love each other dearly, and they both know that this very well might be the roles they ever get to play.
And yet they do it anyway, because they must. Because of COURSE they do, because it’s who they are – even if it’s not all of who they are. They’re united in this cause, and being on the potential brink of death doesn’t change that even slightly.
And as gorgeous and amazing this all is, Kurogane’s face perfectly sums up all my feelings about what is happening.
BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW WHAT’S JUST AROUND THE CORNER.