Memories, like oil on water, have a habit of rising to the surface. Though she had said barely a handful of words, they had swelled, grown in his mind like rice in boiling water and they unlocked the memories that he had so carefully locked away deep in his mind. Concious, he could suppress them. But when sleep finally lifted away the control of his thoughts, they stole through, like a poisonous mist, colouring his dreams. A weak moon turned his room monochrome, illuminating flickering shadows on his face as his eyes skittered beneath closed lids, etching out his dreams.
He saw her the next day; the blonde. She looked shaken and avoided his gaze. He cornered her in the small cafe where they had lunch.
"Where is she?" He demanded, 'she' being obvious.
"S-she won't talk, just locked herself in her room." The blonde squeaked. He rolled his eye in vicious contempt, disgusted at how much so little had cost, leaving her and going to the accommodation where she lived.
"I need to see her." He repeated over and over to everyone until they finally allowed him to open her door, hovering as an anxious entourage.
Her bed occupied the corner furthest from the door. It was neatly made, the cover striped in various shades of blue and purple. Her laptop hummed quietly, clearly ignored on the desk. Her sodden shoes were akimbo at the bottom of the bed, the blue carpet tiles a shade darker in an uneven ring around them.
His eyes took in all these little details before he could muster the courage to lay them on her. She was in the furthest corner from him, back against the opposite wall, knees wedged tightly against her chest. Her was slightly darker in places; damp still from the night's rain and trailing over her face, hiding it from him. Her clothes were the same as the night before, now rumpled. Her arms were folded tightly across her torso, as though holding it together desperately. He saw with a sickening blow to the stomach, ugly red gouges covering them, weeping blood that seemed indecently bright.
Her name was whispered. The sound of his voice seemed to act like an electric jolt. She errupted from her corner, screaming at him to leave, pushing him out. After receiving several deserved slaps, he grasped her wrists, firmly, not enough to hurt her. She struggled violently against him, sobbing bitterly.
Her name again, a command for silence. She froze, her hair concealing her face again, her breath coming in short bursts. She smelt like summer rain. Slowly, her face tilted up to his, the hair falling away. Shock loosened his grasp and he stepped away. Deep purple blossomed high over one cheek and her lip had been split.
"Who did this?" His accusation contained a white-hot fury that she flinched from.
"Your flat mate." Her voice was dead, cold, like her eyes.
Once expressive, they now faced him blankly, accusing. A knife twisted in his stomach and he stalked out abruptly, without a look back. Her unspoken accusations and questions were too much to bear when the marks of how badly he had failed her were too clear for him to see. To everyone else, he seemed hard-hearted, cruel when there wasn't a single word from him following that. Four weeks later, he was seeing her around university again. Her eyes, however, remained blank when they faced him. He noticed that the number of friends surrounding her gradually diminished.
It was the last week of the semester. He walked into the lunch hall, his eyes finding her in her usual place. She was still a creature of habit and routine. He had once mocked her for it, now, he was grateful that he would be able to find her. His habits had gradually started to change to suit hers, an unconcious imperative from his desire of the now forbidden contact they had once shared.
Her head was bowed and she ate quickly, yet still elegantly. For the first time, she was completely alone. He sat in a position to watch her unnoticed. Friends of his came and went-his ex-flat mate keeping a clear distance, his bruises now faded. For the whole hour, she remained entirely alone, people he knew to once be her friends now keeping a clear distance. She flicked a blank glance around the room, wordlessly passing their table and leaving mechanically. She wore long sleeves, despite the scorching heat.
Later, he was doing shopping for essentials, he passed a psychiatrists on his way home. Glancing in the window, he caught sight of a familiar figure. Her slender-fit plain black hoodie was as familiar to him as any item of his own wardrobe. Her hair, silken, lay in all its glorious vibrancy, long and tumbling down her back. Her storm blue eyes held every turmoil, lowered unconciously to shield onlookers from her pain. She was dressed entirely in black, eyeliner ringing her eyes deeply. Studs and various items of clothing designed to repel friendly conversation covered her completely. Her face was paler than ever, the skin almost translucent. She had been crying. A nurse appeared, calling a name he couldn't hear and she looked up, catching his gaze accidently. She flinched visibly before following the nurse. He continued on his path, deeply troubled.
The morning light struck the window, illuminating the room in what felt like harsh light. He was on his back again, eyes open. Two tracks glittered on his cheeks where the memory of her in that waiting room had wrenched every shard of suppressed pain and shame for what he had done out into the fore of his mind. The weight of it froze his limbs until a soft knocking caused him to stir. He pulled on jeans, leaving his chest bare as he answered the insistent caller, wiping the trace of the memories from his face as he pulled open the door, which gave a soft sigh.
He barely had time to give a tired 'what?' before her scent hit him. Sweet-spicy, like incense and sweet flowers and sandlewood and musk. It roused memories of long nights, her weight perfectly balanced with his as their bodies tangled before it wasn't just the memory of her weight in his arms, it wasn't the memory of her lips on his.
He kicked the door shut as they staggered to his room, absorbed in each other to the point that mundane things such as walking seemed an irritating task. He didn't stop to question this, the sensation of her kiss both new and familiar but infinitely sweeter and more electrifying than before. The idea of a dream flickered in the recesses of his mind, dismissed by the sheer intensity of the moment. Their breath mingled, quick bursts. Their hands tried to touch as much skin as possible, holding the other as though to merge with them. To part was to leave an essential part of being behind, unbearable. Finally, the semi-crazed intensity passed. She was back where she belonged, nestled in the hollow of his collarbone, her body draped over his.
His hands held her close, as tightly as he dared, feeling as though she were made of sugar-glass and might shatter if he breathed too harshly. She eventually propped herself on one elbow, her eyes finding his with a deep and serious intensity. He could see the faint pale lines of where she had left weeping red chasms in her arms. It pained him to see such an obvious and permanent mark of his betrayal. His hand found her cheek, stroked it with incredible tenderness.
"I'm sorry." He murmured, the truest words he had spoken. "I love you."