Did that warm sound slip from her mouth, a silken shadow of the intensity with which her heart was suddenly beating? Or was it in her mind, a last thought as the torrent swelled and engulfed her right to her crown?
Her hands clutched fine fabrics - crumpled cloth beneath her grip - but it was meaningless next to what was on the other side of layers of velvet and cambric. He had stepped through the boundary, or she had, and now he was real like she had never let herself believe he could be. She could feel the strain of his clavicles as he bent to her, the heat beneath chilled cloth, muscle and presence - she had never, never been aware of the presence of another human being like this. It felt as through she had previously walked through existence muffled within a fine membrane, separated invisibly from the things she thought she perceived and touched. Now though, another had come within her cocoon and Philippa's entire person knew what it meant to be starved of touch. She knew that she had been starving her whole life, and she had not even realised it.
Moving from his shoulders to his skin, her grip dismissed the tyranny of fabric as she gathered his face between her palms. He bowed to her and yet still she had to rise to her toes in order to lie her cheek against his. Philippa was dizzy with the rushing of her thoughts, inarticulate with gratitude, a swirling flood that could only repeat over and over, overlapping and ceaseless - my love, my love, akşim, sevgilim, canım, cicim. Behind closed eyelids she felt him yet more keenly with her other senses: the movement of breath and blood in his neck, the shifting of muscle as he swallowed a gasp, cheek to cheek, but not yet holding her in reciprocity.
Her eyes fluttered open next to his face, which sparkled with blonde stubble like the winter fields around them. It was rough beneath her palm as it was rough against her own hot, flushed skin. His composition - high, sweeping cheekbones and the sharp swerve of jawbone meeting the softness of his earlobe - fitted perfectly to her hand. Her fingertips quested against the downy hair that grew at his temples and her thumb roved over skin that had been tightened beneath the November winds.
She met his eyes, swayed at the point of contact: still on her toes, still a little apart from his body, she was anchored by a prelude only. When had she really looked into his eyes like this before? Had she always held back, flinched from whatever she might see there and need to act upon? The enormity of it was too much, the sense of him peering into the depths of her bared soul and simply falling in, the two of them dragged beneath the swell. His eyes were blue like the clear North Sea - she knew that, she'd known it already, what was the newness of the colour she now perceived?
The trace of pain remained in his features, clinging like the last leaves did to the branches, but his gaze dropped from her eyes to her mouth, and hope bloomed. His own lips turned a shy curve as he moved towards her. Long, cold fingers in her hair, his touch made her think she was standing beneath a waterfall, and his kiss followed, bending her close, her body drawn against his, suspended within the moment and the sensation.
As though battered by the weight of water from above, as though trapped in the roaring deluge, Philippa heard no sound but the excitement of her body, and she felt her legs tremble. It was ridiculous, involuntary, a physical whimper that belied the concentration of her mouth as she pressed back into the kiss.
And the kiss - his mouth was firm but supple, tender though the desperation of desire led to sloppiness. His laughter against her mouth, his breath intermingled with hers, his taste like pine resin and fresh herbs. She wanted to take all these things and hold them to her forever: to be briar and rose entwined, a thicket blooming together, inseparable. Again, again, thirsty for each other, their mouths met and savoured each new touch, each with undimmed sensation.
The world beyond might have ceased for the selfishness of love at last realised. Her husband was now in the world of presence, confirmed by touch, as real only as she knew herself to be. But he smiled beneath her next, reaching kiss and moved his hands to her arms, her neck, her face, holding apart for the difficulty of his breathing to show, his red cheeks and glittering eyes.
"Another kiss shall have my life ended,
For to my mouth the first my heart did suck;
The next shall clean out of my breast it pluck."
"Oh Philippa," he said, and it echoed through the space they shared, syllables she had never before heard pronounced in this rich tone.