'The halls, despite the absence of people, are never empty; fire permeates through even the most silent and secluded of places. On most days it felt comforting and protective, but tonight its glow is a vigilant observer, the crackle a roaring reprimand-
He moves deeper into the shadows.
His head is filled with a great pounding that accompanies every movement, making it seem like each step reverberates off the walls.
-He almost misses her in his haste.
He isn't surprised to find her waiting, unhidden, beneath a narrow archway, nor does that the light he wants to escape from surrounds her.
He struggles to remember why this particular hall is important - why it is dangerous to be found here - but the thumping in his head has transformed into a consuming ache that obliterates further reasoning.
Besides, she would never move. She chose this place, as she had all the other places before; it had been clear from the very beginning that all he need ever do is follow.
(And they haven't been caught yet, have they?)
The darkness quivers in tune to firelight, cloaking a thousand watchful eyes. He imagines their unseen faces, mouths open in a collective hollow wail, wrong.
His pulse begins an erratic thrum while she only looks at him, unmoving. Unafraid. Icy tendrils of shame traverse across his chest and spreads painfully to his limbs.
She approaches him until she is close enough that he feels more than hears the rustle of her silk robe. The smell of her damp hair, rich and fragrant, envelops him.
This has to stop, he wants to say, but when he comes to he is against the wall, rigid and shuddering.
"You don’t have to fight me," she mutters in his ear.
He catches the angry hiss of flames emitting from within the archway, but then her hand comes up to his face.
Her palm ghosts over his cheek -his scar-, his jaw, his mouth. She traces the outline of his neck and he knows she can feel his skin prickle underneath her finger.
"I like you best like this, Zuzu," she whispers, punctuating it with a laugh and a cruel press of her body.
He wants to shout enough!
The shadows around them writhe violently now, smothering and scornful.
He shuts his eyes toward them and the word that comes out of him in a scratching breath is please.'