Part the One Hundred Twentieth: Charity’s Longings
“No,” said Hope, moving away.
Charity stopped, her lips now less than an inch away. She moved no closer, though she did not move back either.
“Move back, please, I… I cannot do that,” Hope continued. “Do not commit the same act Andrews did.”
Charity released Hope. “I would never force myself on you, ever,” she protested as she sat back on the beach. The waves washed ashore over where she sat in the sand. She did not complain about suddenly getting wet.
“But you know I do not feel that way about you. I could never return your attentions in that way.”
“So you have said, but… Is it always going to be such? Is it ever going to matter what I may do for you, no matter the act, that might allow you to return what I feel?”
“I am not cold to your feelings. I know well how you fancy me-”
“No! It is not just some ‘fancy’ as you say,” said Charity, visibly shaking as she tried to control herself. “It is not something as frivolous as that.”
“What are you saying?”
“What I feel is… beaucoup plus profond. It may have just been a fancy briefly at first, but in the time we have been together it has gotten far more… It feels like a spreading vine, covering me like it would a house, working through every crevice of me. It draws me in, pulling me towards you…”
“It sounds like what Andrews was trying to say,” said Hope.
“No! He only wanted his wick dipped, nothing more, like cochon vulgaire! I want more than that, and I am willing to give you everything for it. My soul, my life, everything!”
There was a long silence after Charity declared herself, the only sound the waves coming ashore with greater intensity, threatening to pull her out with the tide.
“And if I refused you here,” asked Hope, “what will become of you?”
“I would throw myself on the same blade I killed that man with. I would rather die than go on without you.”
“And if I could not satisfy your desires, what then?”
Charity sighed with tightly closed eyes. “In all truth, I do not know how long I could last being so close to you but unable to touch you. It would be like being chained to a wall, just out of reach of water.”
Hope looked down for a second before her head kicked back up. “I know! I could offer you a token, like ladies used to give their knights. That might be something.”
Charity sat in the rising water, her mouth agape.
“I got myself this looking glass,” she said as she reached for it. “I thought it would be nice to have, and it would be…”
Hope produced the remnants of the looking glass in her hand, the handle connected to only half the empty frame. She looked where the mirror had been and emptied out the shattered pieces of glass and broken frame into the surf.
Charity gave a slight laugh as she said, “It seems, mademoiselle, that your favor leaves me still longing and unquenched.”
Hope looked between the broken glass and Charity, trying to figure out how to satisfy her…
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