She was too thin, they said. Gaunt, almost. Her natural slenderness pared to an unnatural leanness. She did not much care. She preferred it so. Her face in the mirror looked hard, strong, its bones and tendons visible, the arches of her collar and cheekbones, battlements and ramparts raised.
Against what, she could not rightly say.
She hardly thought of her lover anymore even when she heard his name. The woman he had secluded under his trees had been softer than she now. A weak-willed, arrogant woman who had assumed the world would be hers if she wished it so. It was not so.
If she thought of him at all, it was about the safe things. Not the dream things, not the warm-and-heavy kind of things.
His eyes. Marksman's eyes, someone had told her once, not meaning to hurt.
The way he held harp strings on the edges of his fingers. As if they were strands of hair. Sometimes, they were.
His mouth was too thin and ironic to be considered perfectly handsome. Vaguely roguish.
But that was a dangerous thought.
It had been a long day, the sun beating too hard and brilliant against the windows.
She drew the curtains and stretched herself on the bed, propped up a little because she did not wish to fall asleep. Her pulse beat in her left shoulderblade, just under the bone, hard and slightly fast though nothing had startled her.
Or was it anticipation she felt?
Her own feelings were difficult to guess these days, though she could read others' easily enough in the sidelong looks, the slight tension in the hands of the servants when they handed her anything. The questions, always the questions.
If she wanted for anything…
There was no rosewater on her thigh. No white ribbons in her hair. She smelled of sleep, not ready.
Without wanting to, without meaning to, she slipped over the edge into dark, into dreams, her fingers curled upward on the coverlet, her head leaned back uncomfortably against the headboard.