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the Barclays dance together under the light of the stars
It was a dark night, the rain clouds blocked the light from the moon and stars but Agnes didn’t mind. She sat at the edge of the small cavern she and Roman were calling home for the time being.
She thought about what her life had become. It had only been a couple of months since Roman dug her up from her grave. The time has both flown by and dragged on. It was weird keeping track of time again. Weird but comforting. Though there were times where she’d lose track and confusion would flood her mind. Thankfully whenever that happened Roman was there to set things right.
Most of the time Agnes felt either numb or consumed by sadness and fear. Occasionally she could feel anger bubbling but that never lasted long because her thoughts would take her down the path in her mind that leads to darkness. And that darkness is mostly pain, which triumphs over her anger. Despite that she did have moments of clarity, of calm, and even moments of happiness. Roman was the source of all of those moments, but he was present for all of the bad moments as well and she was grateful.
There was a lot to learn about the new world she’s found herself in, both the kindred world and the kine world. It was overwhelming how much things changed during her centuries underground, and a lot of that change she would never get to experience.
She hugged her knees to her chest, reaching up to feel the deep scars on her face. She winced as memories flooded her mind, quickly dropping her hand. She then rested her chin on her knees, watching the rain fall.
Roman has been attempting to find a way for them to leave Europe. She wasn’t entirely sure why leaving France wasn’t enough, but she enjoyed the idea of getting as far from Bernard as possible. Even if he didn’t know she was out of her grave.
Agnes and Roman left France two weeks after Agnes rose. They made their way to a coastal British town, or rather they made it near a coastal town. They found a cave to stay in. It wasn’t very large, but it was big enough and deep enough to provide them with the space they needed.
Roman was further in the cave, able to watch as Agnes shrunk in on herself as her thoughts turned darker. There were moments where he’d see her, the real her, but those were brief as her trauma would take over her thoughts once again.
She didn’t talk much, he didn’t take any offense to that fact. He was content with the silence as long as it meant he was around her. Though he desperately wished she would open up. He wanted nothing more than to know her.
He felt a twinge of pain as he watched her reach up and wipe her face, wiping away a tear that had fallen. He had wanted to give her some space, worried that she was getting overwhelmed
or annoyed with his constant hovering, but he couldn’t stop his feet from carrying him closer. He could not stand by while she suffered alone.
“Agnes..” he spoke softly, frowning slightly as she turned her head away, “do you..” he wasn’t sure what to say as he slowly lowered himself to sit next to her, “is there anything I can do?”
He watched as Agnes shook her head but stayed silent. He wasn’t able to tell if his presence was a welcomed one or not, and slowly the anxiety of her not wanting him near ate at him. He pondered what to say next, deciding to give her an exit to this conversation should she want it, “I.. Do you want to be alone? I will go, if you want..”
It was silent for a moment. He decided to take her silence as an answer, so he shifted, preparing to get up until he felt a hand grab his arm and he heard her fragile voice whisper, “please don’t leave me”
He responded by shifting closer to her as he put his hand on top of hers, “I will never leave you, Agnes”
She sniffled, finally turning her head so he could see her face. She didn’t look directly at him, instead she gazed out at the landscape before them, focusing on the sounds of falling rain. She kept her chin on her knees, one arm wrapped around her legs as she remained in her ball. He watched her intently, taking in her features and admiring her.
Roman held onto her hand, removing it from his forearm so he could hold it with both of his hands. He watched her for a while before he looked forward and took a deep breath in and then let it out, causing Agnes to look towards him, curious as to why he would take such a breath when they have no need to breathe.
Now it was Agnes’ turn to look over his features, her worries pausing momentarily as her appreciation for the man next to her flooded her mind. From the moment she first met him she knew he was special. The connection they shared was undeniable. He was everything she needed and more. He was everything she wanted.
She wanted to open up to him, she wanted to share herself but there was so much she wasn’t ready to discuss. She felt she needed to fix herself somehow before she was worthy of love. She didn’t think she could love him the way he deserved, not when her mind was still trapped in that box. She was terrified that she would never feel sane again, and yet, Roman did give her hope that one day her mind would be hers again.
The silence remained unbroken as Agnes studied his profile and enjoyed the feeling of his hands holding hers. He turned his gaze back to her, catching her staring at him. She quickly looked away and he couldn’t help the smile that teased at the corners of his lips.
Wordlessly, he got up, still holding her hand. Agnes looked up at him as he rose, beckoning her to join him. She allowed him to pull her to her feet, keeping her gaze on his chest as he stepped closer, gently grabbing her other hand.
The two have been close to one another before. Roman has held Agnes many times while she’s needed comfort. But this was different. It felt much more intimate. Agnes couldn’t help but relax, her mind now focusing on the man in front of her and how calm yet nervous he made her feel.
Gently, he put his finger under her chin, guiding her gaze upwards, “may I have this dance?” He asked, surprising Agnes. She didn’t know there was a dance to be had but the question made her heart swell while also increasing her nerves, in a good way.
“Always,” she whispered, barely audible but Roman heard. He smiled, carefully wrapping an arm around her as his hand closed around hers and he guided them into a slow dance. He wanted to pull her in as close as possible but refrained. He knew how he felt about her, but he decided to keep that to himself as she had far too many troubles. He didn’t want to add anything else to think about to her plate.
He suspected she felt the same for him as he did for her. There were hints of her love everywhere. He could see it in the way she smiled at him when she thought he wasn’t looking and the way she would sit up waiting to rest until he laid down next to her. He saw it in her laugh, a very rare but beautiful sound. And he saw it every night when she first woke up, she always looked for him, reaching out whenever a bad thought plagued her mind.
But his own insecurities caused him to believe that he was imagining it. He saved her, she sees him as a hero so of course she’d want him close. That doesn’t mean she will always want him or that she truly wants him at all. He worried he was misreading her.
Agnes had some similar concerns. She could barely think through her feelings for him, but she knew they were there. She knew he calmed her mind and eased her pain. She knew she would do anything for him and would do anything to stay by his side. She knew losing him scared her so much she’d cry at the mere thought. She knew she had never ever felt this way for anyone else.
Roman was always caring for her, always watching over her and doting on her. He never once seemed to mind, in fact he seemed thankful he could be doing anything for her. But Agnes occasionally had a hard time accepting his kindness. She wasn’t special, even though he certainly made her feel special with the things he has done for her and everything he’s said.
He loved her, and she knew that. She just wasn’t sure if she could accept his love. She didn’t feel deserving of his love. Especially when she’s done nothing but be broken. She wondered what all he could do without her, without having someone to babysit and care for. He worried about her and she knew that. She hated causing him so much trouble.
This man was changing his whole life, just for her. He left his home, everyone he knew. Just for her. Sure she didn’t ask him to, she would never ask someone to do that. Yet she felt guilty. Surely he would be better off without her.
“Why do you weep?” Roman asked, tenderly wiping her blood stained cheek. Agnes hadn’t even realized she was crying, not until then. Her instinct was to retreat in on herself but when she met his eyes her words were already leaving her lips.
“Because I am sorry,” she said softly, casting her eyes down with guilt. Roman frowned, cupping her cheek and encouraging her to look at him again.
“You have nothing to be sorry for, ma cherie,” he attempted to reassure her, “the world should be apologizing to you.”
Her eyes softened and her expression turned more tired than worried, “I am sorry for everything you have had to do for me..” she seemed like she wanted to continue but trailed off when Roman stopped their dance momentarily.
“Everything I have done for you I have done because I wanted to. There is no reason to be sorry, Agnes,” both his hands were holding her face now, his thumbs wiping her silent tears as they fell. He was determined to get through to her how special she was,“I will forever be grateful that I am here with you. Every moment I have spent with you is a moment I will cherish. I just..” he closed his eyes, his expression turning painful, “I just wish I could end your suffering. If I could take your pain away I would, even if it meant I’d have to bear it all. You do not deserve to suffer. You deserve the world and more, ma cherie.”
“But I’m-“ she started to argue, planning to tell him she’s broken and may never be fixed. She wanted to tell him he should leave her because that was less scary than telling him she can’t imagine being without him. But Roman refused to hear her speak ill of herself, so he cut her off before she could begin.
“You’re incredible,” he said, returning his hand to her waist as he started to sway with her once again, “you are the strongest person I know. The things you have endured.. I.. I am constantly amazed by you. I know it may be difficult to see how special you are now, but I promise that I will show you. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me, ma cherie. There is no place I’d rather be in this world than here with you.”
Agnes tried to stop herself from crying but she couldn’t. His words warmed her heart, that warmth seeped into the cracks the trauma caused in her soul. At that moment she felt alive. She felt hopeful. She felt loved.
She leaned into him, pressing her face to his chest and wrapping her thin arms around him. He returned the embrace, swaying them side to side while he hugged her close. He blinked away his own tears, kissing the top of her head.
“You are the best thing that has ever happened to me as well,” she spoke, her voice muffled until she leaned back to look at him again, “I wouldn’t be able to survive this without you. I.. I wouldn’t want to”
Her voice was so full of emotion, her pain in the last sentence nearly caused Roman to cry but the love she felt also shined through her words, warming his chest. “You will never have to be without me, ma cherie,” he reassured her, leaning down to rest his forehead against hers, “I will never leave you.”
Her hands rested on his shoulders, his were placed on her waist. They both closed their eyes, foreheads pressed together as they slowly swayed to sounds of rain and nature. They were both quiet as they danced, enjoying the other's company and the comfort they gave each other.
Agnes knew at that moment that this was the reason she survived. She made it through the pain and fear because she was meant to be with Roman. She knew she could make it through anything as long as she had him. He was so honest and caring, and his love so strong she was able to believe she does in fact deserve it.
“I love you,” Agnes broke the silence with a soft whisper, terrified to say it but unable to stop herself. Roman was all that was good in her life. The way he makes her feel, that’s how love is supposed to feel. She kept her eyes tightly closed, even after he stopped swaying.
“Open your eyes,” He requested, his voice low and gentle, his forehead still leaning against hers. Her anxiety was choking her at this point but she listened and opened her eyes, instantly relaxing when she saw his hopeful expression, “now say it”
He wanted to see her when she said it. He needed to know her feelings were true and not her being confused because he’s her savior. His hold on her tightened as he anticipated hearing those three words again.
Agnes expected her anxiety would cause her to shut down, but as she looked into his eyes all her fears melted away. She deserved to be loved. She could accept his love and love him in return. Everything felt right when she opened her mouth to repeat, “I love you.”
“And I love you,” Roman responded, wrapping one arm around her as he cupped her cheek, slowly pressing his lips to hers. He made sure to give her enough time to pull away, but she didn’t and he was thankful.
They didn’t do anything more than kiss that night. Though they did dance a while longer, admiring the other with gentle touches and long looks. When they laid down for their day sleep Agnes rested her head on his chest, his arms wrapping around her, providing the comfort and security that only he was capable of giving her.
“I love you,” Roman murmured as he slowly rubbed her back. He wanted that to be the last thing she heard before she drifted off to sleep; he also wanted it to be the last thing he said.
“And I love you,” she responded warmly, and for the first time in ages she fell asleep with a peaceful mind.