His fingerprints reminded her of tree rings. She liked that about him, thought it significant somehow. When they were together she would grab his hand and examine the lines - the faint and the many, not the dark creases - as if she was trying to decode him. As if she was constructing some hypothesis on their fundamental differences, or deciding that they had none.
She could decide whatever she wanted, he supposed, but it wouldn’t change the facts. There was magic inside of her. Magic in the very way she moved. Standing beside her, the air smelled cleaner, and he wasn’t sure if that was because she was magic, or because he loved her.
And he did love her. He loved her like he’d never known love in his life, and who knows, maybe he hadn’t. Nothing like this. He’d breathe her in if he could. He’d inject her magic straight into his veins. She was everything he wasn’t, everything he’d been missing. The kind of carefree he’d aspire to be but never grasp. She took his worn out life and repurposed it into something useful, something beautiful. He woke up earlier every morning because he couldn’t stand the excitement of existing - a way he hadn’t felt since he’d arrived there a decade before - and he had her to blame for that. No, he had her tothank for that. He’d stopped blaming her for his happiness a long time ago.
He let her have her way with him. If she wanted him to chase her through the forest, he’d chase her, no matter how much faster she was. If she wanted him to be her prince, her knight in shining armor, he’d shelter her from storms and talk her down from nightmares. If she wanted to touch him, he allowed her to touch him, and tried not to think of her small hands on his chest, turning every breath of clean air into an effort.
There was nothing he wouldn’t give her. He was weak, he was in misery, he was in raptures, he wanted to cry when he held her in his arms. The sunny smile that broke across her face when she spied him would drive him to madness sooner or later. He’d never wanted anything as badly as he wanted her.
“How do I feel about you?” she echoed his question one quiet afternoon, and her flushed cheeks, her downcast eyes, told him everything he wanted to hear. “It’s… a big feeling.” Her small hands, gesturing. “It inhabits my entire being. Warm, and… it frightens me.” Her silver eyes, seeking. “It’s like I have to remind myself how to breathe.” His hands, in her hair, drawing her close enough to know how mutual the feeling was. “Oh God, Ulquiorra…” his name, whispered in agony against his temple, “I can’t breathe.”
And neither could he.