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The moon comes crashing down, flattening the town, red fire rushing through the window and engulfing everything she knows. Anju’s arms tighten around the man she loves, no longer a man, her tears thick in her eyes and her heart frantic in her chest. The misery is what destroys her first. She wakes with a wordless gasp and wide-open eyes, staring up at the dark wooden ceiling of her inn. Her pulse is beating so fast that it almost hurts to breathe. Her hair’s stuck to her face with sweat, her black glued to the sheets. For a long moment, she just lies there, shocked to be alive.

Then, slowly, she turns to see her lover—her handsome husband, sprawled out beside her in bed, tucked so close that his cologne tickles her nose. He’s taller than her, broader: a beast of a man that blocks out the starlight through the window, but she knows it’s still late from the shadows on his face. His purple hair is messy from rolling about earlier, his nightshirt pulled down over one shoulder. The blankets rise over him, comforting in their weight. Seeing him is a greater comfort.

It brings her back down. It reminders that she’s safe, that that was only a dream—a nightmare. His lashes stir against his cheeks, and then they’re lifting. His red eyes pierce into her, as striking as the day she met him, when they were both younger than the figure in her dream.

He smiles at seeing her, like he always does. Then it settles and becomes a frown. He shifts a fraction closer, voicing around a yawn, “What’s wrong?”

“Just a dream,” she murmurs. He lifts a hand to rub his eyes, and before he can even ask if she wants to talk about it, she’s rambling, “You turned into a child. At least, physically. A demon cursed you, I think? And a thief stole your mask, so you ran away before our wedding, only I didn’t know any of that at first—I was alone at the front desk, thinking that you’d left me. I felt so hopeless. And then when I did find you, we were more mother and son than lovers. And I decided I’d stay with you anyway and just wait until you were grown and I was old, but by then time was up, and I knew neither of us would age even another day.”

Kafei blinks tiredly and mutters, “Mother and son, huh? Our mothers would have a field day with that one. Maybe don’t tell them—they psychoanalyze us enough.”

She smiles knowingly. But she doesn’t think that dynamic meant anything odd about their relationship. It wasn’t really about them, which is a strange thing for one’s own dream, but she got the sense that they were only a string of side events along a greater story. Maybe she’s just not remembering right—it’s already fading.

It’s hard to wallow in anything wrong when she’s snuggled up with someone she loves, warm and pleasant. Kafei even leans in to press a kiss against the crown of her head, yawning, “Love you, Mama.”

She playfully swats his arm and can’t help but smile. He’s grinning when he pulls back, but then his eyes are closed, and she knows he’s ready to drift off again.

She’s willing to do so too, to try for better imaginings. When she rolls over, he automatically drapes his arm around her waist, pulling up close to embrace her. She’s asleep in seconds and this time just dreams of cute cuccos.