Rating: R
Summary: A Willow/Giles picture.
Author Notes: Thanks to James McCormick, Just Human and The Bear for Betas.
Disclaimer: Joss is God. All hail Joss. Suing me will get you navel lint and a student loan.

She Is Pressed Down

She is pressed down.

He thinks, at times, that he can hear the magic in her still-growing bones. The soft chords of celestial music hum along her spine, not quite covered by the susurrations of her breath. The magic is changing her he thinks; running a hand along smooth skin over tiny hard muscles. She has changed or the better he believes, for now. He hopes to see her one day, pregnant with power, clothed in the lush curves of an ancient goddess; to press his face into soft, yielding flesh. His own magics were never so gentle. Her heart beats fast, even asleep, like a frightened bird within the cage of her chest. It is always thus; the young speed towards the slowing of age. His own heart long since ceased that giddy anticipation of the next beat. Under her cheek she can feel the slow measured beats of a patient heart, the pause between beats a fraction greater than the last.

He lays himself down.

Her hands are small, and smooth. They have never touched another in anger, to cause pain. They have never curved round a tiny head, tender and frightened. They are eager on his skin, hungry for the next texture; next hollow or curve. His hands on her are large and gentle. His fingers intimate with the pressure needed to extract pain or to inflict pleasure. They are rough with work: the round handle of an axe, the hilt of a sword, the flick of parchment pages. His hands are scarred by the death they have dealt. They are slow on her body, molding gently to each unfinished curve, as if he can feel her grow.

She reaches up.

Her hair is the colour of a sunset, of the burning embers in the remembered fireplaces of home. It flows smooth to brush her delicate shoulder blades when she stands. It fans about her head when she lies pressed to the mattress. It smells to him of springtime flowers in a green field. His hair is duller than it was. It is thinner and covers less of his skull than in years previous. It curls when damp, as now, with sweat, as he bends his head to her flat belly. She is reminded of the winter wind that lashes grey waves upon rocky shores.

He meets her seeking hands.

She has not seen friends die, for her stupidity or her pride. He has not seen people place themselves between him and death. She has never held a lover in the last few breaths before sleep and hated herself for loving him. He has never been held in strong, safe arms, and been carried to bed after a long summer's day at the beach.

He is pulled down.

She is all his world, a gift unlooked for. He is a buttress; wisdom for her youth to lean on. This cannot last and should not be. But it will and it is. It will because he knows but one way to love. It is because she knows but one way to be.

The End
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