His love was like a quiet winter.
Smallest gestures, intuitive gazes.
Like the snow without wind, he let his presence known in through actions than words.
Like the small moments when he refilled her cup before she said anything. Or when he would drape her back with his haori amidst the cold nights. Or when he would take the initiative to chop wood a week before their supply would run out.
Though it took the first few months of living together to get used to it, it always marvelled Chizuru how much he was able to see the need before she could ask. Not that there was always silence between them, of course, but the small exchanges made their feelings known without the need for a grand declaration.
Hajime stood stalk still in the open plain. The first snow had fallen once again. Chizuru opened her mouth to speak, but against the white backdrop, the dark-clad warrior seemed to fit well into the scenery that it took her breath away.
“Hajime,” she beckoned him.
His gaze then pointed towards her.
“If you stay here any longer, you’ll catch a cold,” she handed him his haori and shawl.
“Thank you,” he took the bundle of fabric from her hands and began to put them on.
With the shawl still in her hand, Chizuru wordlessly wrapped the long strip of fabric around his neck. His hands caught hers, feeling the cold from her palms to her fingertips. He brought them closer to him and blew his warm breath on them to warm them up.
Her cheeks warmed at his gesture, bringing a smile to her lips.
“Come,” with her hands in his possession, she dragged him towards their home. “I’ve made us soup to warm us up.”
There wasn’t a lot to do in the winter, other than work their share of wages to buy the smoked and dry ingredients for the season. The winter roots that they sell was a good exchange. With the village still fairly new, she would have a hand in assisting its denizens with injuries and at times, a midwife to some newlyweds. At times, she made a few rounds that lasted for days due to the long miles of travel, with him accompanying her as a chaperon.
And so, another long winter day came to a close, with Chizuru providing him with their nightly meal.
“How was the child?”
Chizuru closed her eyes and shook her head.
“Pneumonia,” she answered, her expression tinted with regret.
“I see,” he lowered his gaze.
“…If I had arrived much sooner… maybe, there would have been a chance.”
Just as soon as the words left her mouth, she shook her head once more and gave him a small smile; her way of letting him know she’ll be alright. And though they finished their meal in silence, as soon as they took care of the dishes, Hajime lay his hand on the small of her back.
“What is it?” Chizuru raised her head towards him.
He lowered his head and pressed his lips to her own. What followed was a spontaneous reciprocation, her hand clutch onto the fabric of his clothes as kissed him back with a little more force. When they parted, she sank into his chest; her arms around him to bask into his warmth.
Upon settling into their futon, Hajime initiated first; combing her hair with his fingers and kissing the spot where the jaw meets the neck. She melded into his embrace, her cold hands touching the side of his neck.
He knew her long enough to know how much these things mattered to her. How frustrated she must have felt to be powerless when it came to a life she couldn’t save. He knew that in bedding her, it wouldn’t rid her of her convictions.
Hajime then made some distance between them to have him look at her in the eye.
“I only know what it means to take a life,” his gaze was sharp as it was loving. “But even I know how hard it is to save one. It’s alright. You don’t have to hide anything from me. Because I know you’ve done as much as you could.”
Her lips quivered at his words. In the short months since she had started making house calls around the village, this was the first time someone had lost their life under her watch. Unable to say anything, she drew her mouth to his and kissed him fervently.
Hands slipped into the gaps of his clothes, wanting to bask in the comfort of his skin. He wordlessly loosened the ties to his yukata, her hands pushing the fabric off his shoulders. His hands loosened her kimono and pushed their covers aside to rid of the boundaries of fabric between them.
Outside their window, snow was falling. Had it not been for the embers that burned in the fire pit beside them, the house would have been much colder. Their exposed skin warmed against each other, his fingers buried in her hair, his left hand sliding down her body to cup her breast. The echo of wet lips smacking, the dampened sound of falling snow; the crackling wood in the fire pit; the sound of his short breaths. Chizuru’s body flared with need, her heart thrumming against his skin.
Hajime left her lips to have him kiss the side of her neck, his hand now travelling down to the junction between her legs. Fingers caressing her, slipping them between her folds; a small gasp escaped her lips, followed by a drawn-out moan as he paid more attention to her sensitive nerves.
“H-Hajime,” her hands dug into his scalp.
He kissed her down to her collarbone and travelled down to her right breast. In the small months they began living together, they were still newlyweds in figuring out what they like on nights like this. The minimum he knew of what she liked was how often she’d bite her lips to dampen her pleasure-filled cries. Or how his fingers caressing her womanhood draws out a heated moan.
Her nimble fingers lowered to his length, the feel of her skin on his almost startled him. For a moment he ceased his ministrations with her, taking in deep breaths as her fingers began caressing him. For what it felt, he gave a heated kiss hoping to hold himself back at the innocent strokes she made. Her breath quickened when his fingers slipped into her, curling her toes as pleasure took hold of her consciousness.
Just as she felt herself becoming undone by his hands, he released her from his fingertips to have her release her hold on him. Short stagnant breaths filled the silence. A billowing wind whipped and whistled from outside. For a moment, either of them was distracted by the sight of snow from the window.
“The wind is strong tonight,” She spoke in a half-whisper.
“It might be a storm coming,” he returned his attention to kissing her lips. “Best you’d warn up tonight.”
She smiled in his kisses, reminded of the little playful side of his. She wrapped her arms around him, grasping his shoulders as he enveloped himself into her heat. Kisses heated and raced. Their hearts palpitating at the sensations of their joined bodies. He pushed his length to and froe into her warmth, her short gasps and moans fuelling his desires.
He whispered her name over and over, between kisses and shortened breaths. Her hips responded to grinding herself against him, the sensations leading her into a slight delirium of pleasure. Skin against skin perspired bodies with small condensed breaths escaping them. Though her heart remained weighted at the death of one of their neighbours, to have him in her arms and caress her like this made it easier to forgive herself a little.
To have said those words to her meant everything.
He grunted, hastening his pace as she sensed him close to his release. His thrusts were a little more forceful. Breaths were now more stagnant. He put his fingers between them to touch the nerve-ending of her womanhood, making his intentions clear to her. The gesture made her groan at the feel of his fingertips, her walls tightened as they reached their pinnacle.
His warmth seeped into her, a feeling of bliss and satisfaction washed over her. She didn’t want to let go of this warmth. Not when he continued to kiss and caress her sweat-covered skin. Not when his sturdy frame blanketed her from the winter air that seeped through their windows.
Without words, they stared at each other’s eyes in the afterglow. He pulled the covers over them, arms wrapped around her in a protective embrace.
“Tomorrow,” she muttered in a sleep-induced daze. “Will the snow pile up again?”
“Who knows,” he brushed a strand of hair away from her face.
Without words, with his little gestures, he let his love be known.
Like the snowfall that falls in silence, where it lets itself be known through sight and not in sound.