Their union came as a surprise to everyone, most of all to themselves. He should’ve gone south, they said, rule with his aunt. He never wanted that.
So now he’s here, in this bleak place, with nothing to do but watch her. She doesn’t like it, he’s aware of that.
But it’s not something he can stop, watching her, never letting her out of sight, always waiting for a glimpse of what was lost.
It happens, not as often as he would want, but often enough to let him feed off of it, to drip life into his veins.
The wind driving through her hair.
The way her eyes sparkle when she’s amused about something.
The smile on her face when she gets what she wants.
A particular gesture, an unconscious movement that has his heartbeat falter.
She doesn’t like him too much, was straightforward about it from the start. But he’s alive, she’s alive, and they do have that one thing that binds them together, the thing that was lost.
He remembers with stunning clarity how he saw her the first time. How his chest had tightened when he heard the ship was arriving. How he had rushed to the shore, hope against all odds in his heart.
How she had come down, alone, no one else, had told him of what was lost. It was kind of her, to come and tell him. He would've wanted him to know, she had said.
And she had been the one who stayed with him through the rage, who bore the brunt of it, who gave him something to hold on to.
She’s not a kind woman, not really. She’s good, she’s just, she’s fearless. She’s a good queen and her men would die for her.
He would too, now that she’s all he’s got left from what was lost.
But sometimes she is kind. Lets him take her from behind, lets him sob in her arms afterwards, doesn’t mind if he cries out the wrong name, the name that’s lost.
She doesn’t love him, he doesn’t love her. But he loves her, that part of her, more than anything, that part of forever from what was lost.
Sometimes he hates her, hates her with a passion, because at least she has it, that part, while he was left with nothing but the cold, naked grief.
He had wanted him, back then. Had pleaded on his knees for her to give him back. She was so angry, then.
You won’t take him away a second time. He’s home.
Then let me go where he is, he’d said, let me come with you.
She was kind. She let him come. And now he’s here, in this place that was never home to him, will never be home to himself.
Surrounded by the sea that he hates, loves, that took what is now lost.
He goes down every day, down to the beach, where he holds his hand into the freezing water, always, always searching for what was lost, what he’ll never touch again.
On some days it’s enough. On some days he wants to throw himself into the waves, anything to be closer.
He thought about ending it, a lot. But then he would lose it entirely, what was lost, what is gone. There’s nothing there.
So he stays, living off those moments where what is lost shines through her.
And the dreams. He hates them, he loves them, he needs them. Dreams of a smile, of a touch, of whispered words of newfound trust and love, only to be taken away again.
Today she joins him on the beach, holds her hand into the water next to his.
“I have a gift for you.”
She does that sometimes. A shell he had found as a child. The blanket he'd slept under when he’d returned to her. He waits.
Hope. What was lost, forever - a child, a niece, a nephew, a bond. His child, her child, their child.
Jon smiles for the first time in years.