His lips curl in a sneer as he pulls away, though I cannot tell if the disgust is born from my touch or his unwilling reaction. I know I should ask him what happened in his past to make even a simple caress cause such revulsion. It would help him, at least in the long run, to talk about it, to desensitize himself to the memories. I know firsthand the harder you fight some dark aspect of yourself the more it haunts you; yet face it, accept it, and you render it powerless. But I can’t bear to rip open his old wounds, infected and leaking though they may be. I swore to protect him, to be the one safe, stable, trustworthy aspect of his life. I’m not supposed to cause him agony or remind him of the traumas from which it seems he’ll never be free. If I force him to give voice to all those wretched memories then every time he looks to me they’ll surge back and I’ll become another nightmare, another revenant, another horror he flinches from in loathing. I know my fear is selfish but I spent so many years believing I was a monster – it would break me to truly become one in his eyes. I can’t risk that, even for him.


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