Love is a new concept for Mary, although she knows that Eden began to feel it for xir creations years ago (the ‘year’ is another new concept, a way for the animals to pretend that the passage of time is anything but a platitude). She does not understand love, because it is not a part of who she is or of any of the million other things she has been. But -
It is night time at full moon, the darkness broken only by the pinpricks of the constellations. The two of them lie together in the forest, the leaves dappling their skin with shadows. Eden fades into the background, xir dark skin melding with the night.
It is silent. Not the usual silence of the night, with its added layers of birds and insects, but the silence that only two beings of primordial power can create. They lie close enough to feel each other’s body heat, Mary leeching from her counterpart. Mary is always cold, which doesn’t strike her as fair. It is not her fault that when they split, she got all the endings and Eden got the beginnings. Why should she be punished for it?
Next to her, she feels Eden shift, a motion that wouldn’t have been noticeable except that it shatters the silence that had surrounded them, the silence that feels as if it pervades every inch of her, always and forever. Their sides are pressed together now, dark fading into light, as close to one being as they have ever been.
Mary turns her head, pressing it into the crook of Eden’s neck, breathing in the warmth. I love you, she thinks, trying out the words in her mind and feeling the rhythm of the consonants before daring to say them out loud. She does not think in English, of course, but later this is how she will remember it – words and closeness and a warmth that she will never quite recover once it ends.
“I love you,” Eden says, out loud, and the words shatter the silence and sound as unfamiliar in xir mouth as they do in Mary’s mind.
“Why?” Mary asks into Eden’s neck, because it is what is expected of her. She is curious, partially, and desperate. When you are the endings (Death and Night and Hatred and Winter and) it is hard to understand why someone would begin something with you.
Sometimes, when you’re the endings, you want to end yourself.
“I don’t know,” Eden says, but it is an admission, not an equivocation. “We’re not supposed to, I don’t think. I don’t think we’re supposed to love anything.”
If you could trace everything back, it would begin here. With Eden, just like everything else.
“Who’s stopping us?” Mary asks, reckless because she has nothing to lose, but also because she is afraid of losing everything. “Who could?”
There is silence again, but it is a different silence, more transient – it could be an ending, or a beginning.
Eden sits up, and Mary’s heart freezes. Eden’s silhouette is nearly invisible, a line against the vanished horizon. “No one, I suppose,” Eden says, looking away from Mary. Is xe embarrassed or afraid? Or something else entirely? “There could be… complications.”
“Then why did you say it?” Mary tries to keep the desperation out of her voice. She was never human, but she is afraid of losing her humanity nonetheless, afraid in a way that is too all-consuming for words. Eden is her humanity, her balance, and they both know it.
“Because it’s true,” Eden responds, and that’s the answer, and it always will be. They do not lie to each other.
Mary lifts herself up to match Eden, pressing their sides together once more. Dawn has come upon them without her noticing, the sunlight stretching out fingertips that make everything stand out in high relief, the sharp lines of the world contrasting with the softness of a night not yet fully gone.
Mary turns her head ever so slightly, and Eden is looking at her. Their eyes meet.
It is an end, but also a beginning.