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Love Without Mercy

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Just another love story, that's what they would claim.
Another simple love story - aren't all of them the same?

- “Happiness” from Passion, by Stephen Sondheim

Edward Nygma was the happiest he’d ever been. He probably shouldn’t be. Most people would not describe any day of the past few years as happy relative to the rest of their lives. His nation was being torn apart by the bloodiest war in its admittedly rather brief history and he was exposed to some of the worst horrors of the battlefield daily. He had no right to be so happy. But he couldn’t help it. Dawn light became visible through the curtains and Edward leaned over and kissed the auburn hair of the woman lying next to him. This woman, Kristen, was the source of this irrational joy.

“Would you think me odd if I told you I am exceedingly happy right now? Is there something wrong with me that I am so happy in times like these?” Kristen lifted her head and smiled at him.

"If there is, it’s wrong with me as well. The time I’ve spent with you has been some of the happiest I’ve experienced in years.” She kissed him, and he felt the warmth he had so recently begun to become accustomed to swell within him. But this time it was tempered by a cold knot of guilt.

“Kristen, do you remember when we met?” She giggled.

“You were sitting on a park bench, covered in some poor soul’s dried blood. I didn’t know what to make of you.” Ed forced out a chuckle.

“Yes, but later-” She sighed fondly.

“You looked so sad. And once you explained your circumstances, I couldn’t help but feel bad for you. Little did I know how seductive pitifulness could be.” Ed didn’t really like her using such adjectives to describe him, but he smiled genuinely at the memory.

“Little did I know that chance could be so kind, that serendipity could teach me so much about love.” Kristen buried her face in his neck.

“I thought love was about duty and yielding to the desire on another.”

“I thought love was merely a more intense form of longing.” Kristen shifted her head onto his shoulder.

“But now I know that love is kindness and joy.” Ed sighed. He was sad to cut short this moment of shared nostalgia, but they were running out of time.

“Do you remember what you said to me after the first time you took me to bed?” She lifted her head again to meet his eyes.

“I said I felt like I’d been waiting my whole life to meet you.” Ed nodded, running his hands lightly through her hair.

“Well, you are going to have to wait for me again. I just received orders for my next assignment. It’s in the South and it’s going to be a lot longer than my previous field assignments.” He felt the body in his arms stiffen.

“Oh no! When do you leave?”

“Five days. Don’t be sad.”

“How can I not be.” Kristen sat up, pulling away from him.

“I’ll write to you every day. We’ve made it through my shorter assignments we can make it through this one.”

“It’s not us I’m worried about. You’re being sent south because we’re winning the war. Whose to say you’ll get back before its over? And once it’s over Tom will come back too.” Her eyes sparkled with increased moisture. “Then how will we see each other? You won’t be able to come here anymore, and I can’t exactly visit you in the medical officers’ quarters!” Tears escaped her eyes, Ed reached to wipe them away, but she brushed his hand away.

“What do you want me to do?” Kristen buried her face in her hands.

“I don’t know, I don’t know! I guess we can only carry on as we have and hope for the best.” She sobbed. He crawled over to her and gathered her in his arms.

“I will think of you every moment I’m gone,” Edward vowed, rubbing her back consolingly, “and when I return, we will find a way to see each other.”