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A slow, dirty smile crept across Revyn’s face when he looked up and saw Melivani come through the door. She knew that smile. His cock was probably half hard and she hadn’t even said hello.

The shop was empty of other people, which was both good and bad. It looked like he'd dusted the shelves since last time she was there. Maybe a bit of rearranging the merchandise. It looked overtly tidy, like he'd had some nervous energy he didn't know what to do with.  Melivani pretended not to notice.

No excuses not to get on with it.

“It is good to see you again,” he said, leaning on his elbows in that too familiar posture. She noticed he didn’t use her name. Then again, she didn’t tell him her new one and maybe he realized that the old one didn’t fit anymore. 

Melivani shrugged one shoulder. “I need to talk to you.”

He straightened a little and she could practically hear his erection deflate behind the counter. “Is something wrong?” He sounded nervous as Khajiit in an Imperial prison. 

She could only imagine all the worst case scenarios that flashed through his head. She had bone-break fever. Was in love with him. Pregnant. She tried not to grin. Maybe there was still a little power in knowing why she came.

Maybe she should just blow him and leave. At least she knew how that would end.

“Don’t look so nervous,” she said. “It’s not like that.” Fuck, she even let him off the hook. What was wrong with her?

He frowned anyway and crossed his arms over his skinny chest. 

She half rolled her eyes at him. He was so dramatic. She supposed that was part of why she’d liked him in the first place. Also why she enjoyed fucking him. He made such a big deal out of everything. 

“Listen, I’m only passing through but I’m not sure I’m going to be back to Windhelm again. Maybe not ever. And I know you probably remember more about my tits than you do about my childhood, but I needed to say something.”

“Thelsa, it’s n-”

She cut him off. “Call me Melivani. Thelsa’s dead.”

“I doubt that,” he snorted. “Or you wouldn’t be here.” His face took on a sour expression. “I wondered why someone as pretty as you wanted to fuck me in the first place -- once I knew, that’s when it made sense.” That’s when the rest of what she said seemed to hit him and the tension wrinkling his forehead faded. “You’re leaving?”

“I left a long time ago, Reyvn.”

He put his hands on the counter. His fingers flexed, just slightly. “But you came back.”

“Not really,” she said. She paused and looked at his hands, all knobby knuckles with a tracery of visible veins under his skin. His years showed in a spattering of dark violet freckles. She looked up at his face, familiar and strange all at the same time. “But I need to know something, before I go.”

He nodded but didn’t say anything. Looked uncomfortable. He was about to feel a lot worse, she expected.

“Why were you so awful to me back then? Especially once Ambarys suggested you should marry me. Was I really so disgusting you couldn’t help yourself?”

Saying it out loud felt like casting a fire rune and waiting for him to walk into it. The silence that followed made her skin crawl. Revyn’s lips were a strangled line in the middle of his bloodless face. He seemed like he was trying to hold on to his dignity but with a defeated sigh, he deflated.

“It wasn’t about you,” he said. “Ambarys found out I was trying to court Suvaris Atheron and he hated the idea. Said she was a collaborator. So he made a lot of noise about marrying you instead. I thought he was going to ruin my chances so I had to make even more noise about not wanting to.” He snorted. “Not that it mattered. Suvaris was bedding Torbjorn to distract him from her skimming off his books. She only cares about septims, not love. And I did, love her, that is.” He grunted. “At least I thought so.”

“Same way I loved you, I think,” Melivani admitted. It felt strange to say it. Felt like shrugging off her rags in that dungeon cell and standing naked in the cold. 

“Is that why you came here? Why you-” He couldn’t finish. 

Melvani leaned her hip against the counter, flipped her hair back over her shoulder with forced nonchalance. “I wanted to prove to you and to me that I was different. To prove I was better than you said I was; than everyone said. Not sure it helped.”

He shot her a sad smile. “Makes sense now. But whatever your reason, it was-It was good. I’m-” He cut himself off, hunting for the right words. “Are you sure you won’t stay?”

When he said goodbye before, she thought he knew better, but apparently the sense had worn off in between visits. 

“You know I can’t,” she said. She didn’t elaborate. She knew he was smarter and better connected than he let on. She knew he would have asked around. Every good merchant knew about the Thieves Guild or didn’t stay in business long.

“I know.” He smiled with sad eyes. “Just one more prime opportunity I missed.”

“I’m not a shipment of grain, Reyvn.”

He was at a loss for words. But then again, it wasn’t every day that someone from your past waltzed in and broke up a relationship neither of you were ever in. How could he respond? There wasn’t anything he could say that would change things, other than what he already had.

It wasn’t about you.

How many things had been like that and she’d taken them personal? Fuck. She was going to have to rethink everything. 

But that rumination would have to wait until later. Best to fuck off into the sunset now, before Reyvn lost the rest of his composure. She used to care about him after all. Maybe still did, at least a little.

“You know,” she said. “I understand. There were a lot of things that went wrong in my life because everyone is afraid to talk about anything involving feelings.”

Reyvn nodded. “You haven’t just gotten prettier.”

Melivani smiled at him. Might have been the nicest thing he ever said about her.

When she walked out the door, it would have been a neat, clean ending if she felt better, but she still felt like shit. Maybe she was always going to feel like shit. Maybe shit was just who she was. But it didn’t matter.

She did it anyway. For the second time in her stupid life, she was honest about something important. First time while wearing pants. Who knew, maybe someday she would get good at something other than stealing and fucking.

Probably not, but it was nice to imagine.