When I come back to myself she’s whispering my name like a mantra. Not the bastardized version they use in Landfall, but my real unpronounceable name that my gran gave me.
“Illahee. Come back to me, wee one. Come home.”
And I do, like I’ve always done.
We gave it everything we had, but it wasn’t enough. I remember that much. I remember the sound of the door closing on the darkness outside, two footsteps and Sarah’s hands on my waist warm through the thin linen of my tunic. Her breath was on my shoulder, her hands clenched, the fabric tore… nothing.
I focus on the ceiling first, a darker color than I remember and hanging heavy with pregnant drops of liquid. I’m still muzzy, time-slow like those seconds before a fight, and the drops seem to drift rather than patter down around us. One falls on my face and Sarah flinches back from me far enough that I can see her in the light from the broken lamp. Behind the curtain of her black hair her eyes are huge, frightened. Sarah is never frightened. She brushes the drop from my cheek with cold fingertips, sucks absently at the moisture. Her mouth is already stained and it takes me a moment to recognize my own blood.
I remember relearning her with my fingers and tongue, tracing the line of her jaw, nipping at the curve of throat and ear. I remember she said more, and I said more, and I looked down along the length of my breastbone at her as she slid lower. I remember memorizing a crack in the wall, my head thrown back as she taught us both this new body. I remember she said… nothing.
My throat is raw as I try to swallow. Sarah shifts me closer to her, working one arm free. A glass of water materializes in her hand, or maybe it was only telekinesis, I can’t tell which variety of cheating this new Sarah might prefer. She feeds me tiny sips, murmurs again that I’m all right. I agree with her and watch her swallow her fear like cool water. Around us the rain of my blood still falls.
There were no boundaries between us then, nothing but skin and sweat and whispered curses in any language we could call to mind. I need to be inside you, she gasped, and I agreed, and she parted me with her fingers, her tongue, but it still wasn’t deep enough so… nothing.
“Did you get what you needed?” I whisper, reaching up to touch her face. I’m still sore and achy but it’s the kind of post-healing ache that I can shrug off. I shift my shoulders, tighten my belly, checking what I can feel against half-memories of blood and pain and desire.
Sarah half-laughs, but her eyes are still too dark. She licks her lips, scrubs the back of her hand across her mouth, pushing the stain around but not really cleaning herself.
“I needed too much,” she says. “I always need too much from you. This? This never happens again.”
She stops me when I try to bring my arm up to cradle her neck, complete the circle we’re making.
Her mouth was on my hip, in the curve of my bones, testing my belly with teeth and tongue. Her hands were everywhere, inside and around me, puppeting me, catching my cries before they could escape my mouth. Are you afraid, she whispered then, and I lied into her palm. She asked me again as her teeth closed on my thigh, and by then I was beyond lying.
“Never again,” she tells me for the last time, tucking me into my bed alone. The sheets are no longer torn, the bedframe is whole. The lamp and table have reknit themselves under her gaze. She unhappens the night with her magic and her words and leaves me emptier than before she came, my sparse cabin even barer for her absence.
“What do I call you now, my Sarah,” I ask as she shakes Moira’s shawl absently until it has sleeves and a hood.
She considers for a long moment, pulling her shoulder-length brown hair back into a short tail.
“I think… Elizabeth.”