It happens in a cycle of eight days.
On day one, he would saunter into the expansive ballroom with food resting on a silver platter. He would leave it by the side of the body on the floor, and if he was feeling extra generous, or if the sex had been that good, maybe a blanket to cover her or a new outfit for her if the old one had been torn to tatters again.
By the second day she’s managed to choke down some of the food. Sometimes she’s truly ravenous, tearing at the tray with bloodied hands to gorge herself on her personal feast. More often than not she picks at it with the tarnished silverware. She’ll dress herself, use the water from the broken fountain to tidy her hair and face, wipe the bloodstains from the ballroom floor, and even rinse the dishes she ate from. She’ll focus on tending some of her injuries before taking a deep breath and leaving the room to find him. On day two he’s always in his ‘study’, a room made of illusions where he sits, his elbows on his desk, hands clasped together, waiting for her to return.
Day three is spent in memories. They touch tenderly, shyly, exploring one another with gently encouraged fingertips and deep breaths. He is very fond of washing her hair. His fingers carded through the damp, red locks that would bring a gentle contented hum into the quiet. She sat still and satiated when he ran the oil slicked comb through her hair
Fourth day. They wake together, dine together, and are hardly apart for any more than a second or two. If the mood strikes, they might even refuse to leave bed and do nothing but sleep and make love.
Day five, they return to the ballroom. She begs him – first on her knees, then pressing her head to his boots, with heaving, mournful sobs, to stop this madness. He wishes he could, but she’s still so broken, so shattered and useless. By the time the midday sun would have peaked in the sky she’s already blind in her sorrow and rage. Blood runs in rivulets from her eyes as she claws at the skin of her arms. Cracks in her flesh form and fill with crystalline glue, a dark blue gem that would shimmer in that blissful afternoon sun. Her gentle hands have turned to claws and she stands poised to attack as the sight fades from her eyes.
With a snap he too transforms, from his arched back grow additional arms that heft him from the ground. His torso fades into the darkness of his rapidly changing form, eyes large, yellow, brow furrowed. Upon his monstrous head grows his crown. He towers over her by almost three times the size before seizing a cane of darkness from nothing, and starting their fight.
Day six is a bloodbath. She’ll dash out with screams of agony and he’ll slam her into the ground. From her back will grow crystalline wings to carry her to his height that he will tear straight from her flesh until the scars refuse to heal over. Over and over he will dash darkness across her flesh and yet still she’ll rise to reach him with her claws. As she battles onwards, golden flowers bloom across bruised flesh. As soon as the third one blooms, she will stumble back to her knees. Injury will begin to knit itself together, the crystal will fade. She will drag herself as nails peel from her fingertips to reach him once more, until darkness and quiet settles around them both.
Day Seven. She starts out in his inhuman palm, and slowly he settles himself back to her size, to holding her broken and battered body with both arms. By some determination of his own choosing, he’ll reward her. Barely conscious, trembling, desire and lust twisting up in his guts. He spends the night regardless, watching her take shallow, unsteady breaths as she bleeds out across the floor with his hands trying to staunch the bleeding.
Eight. He leaves. The day gives way to a long, dark night.
This time, it’s different. Her claws have reached him.
Looking down at her opened hands beat his heart, freshly torn from his flesh. It was nestled in flower petals of the most vibrant reds he had ever seen. Gently it pulsed, beating slowly as his breaths became slower, shallower.
He overflows with pride, how far she had truly come! His blood began to crystalize in her hands, encasing the shuddering organ in a pinkish cocoon.
She raised her hands high above her head, presenting his own heart to him, her eyes downcast. The flowers upon her back had all been lit. The golden cracks trailed up her fingertips and merged with the slow trickle of his own blood.
He traces the hole that runs clean through him with his moral hands. The crown has fallen and vanished. He takes to his knees to whisper to her. She trembles. His head presses against her thigh.
There is nobody to staunch the bleeding, no pressure of palms to focus on the life gently flowing into the ground. There is nobody to return the sight to her eyes.
There is nothing but the bloom in her hands.
A woman is found upon the shore. Her body is badly beaten from the seas. She speaks nothing to how she ended up here. She spends months in silence at the seaside.
Then finally, she pulls a pink gem from around her neck. She lets the sun shine through, letting the shimmer dance upon her face before bringing the gem to her lips and swallowing it in one gulp.
Day one, she raises his body from the sea. She leaves fresh food next to him on the shoreline. She drapes a clean sheet over his pale skin…