After The Sigils Dry

For the last few months she's asked you the same question every week.

“Are you sure you don't want it to be a tattoo instead? Something permanent?”

Each time you answer more or less the same way. You're sure, you really are; she doesn't need to ask. You'd tell her if …

You'd tell her.

But you won't need to.

You're more sure of that than you've been of anything except the need which first led you to her, back in those dreary days you can hardly remember now; back before you were really a person, just an empty shell pretending.

But she keeps on asking.

Her hand is as steady as it ever was, the brush as warm, the elaborate sigils that stretch across your bare back as charged with magic; afterwards you always feel bright and sparkly, like fresh life was just poured into you, but …

When you first moved in with her, all those days ago, you always jumped her as soon as the sigils dried. It seemed only right to share your joy at the body she was slowly giving you, to revel in the miracle of your flesh.

You've stopped doing that.

She just keeps on asking that question! And whatever doubts she has flow into you and poison your joy; a fearful seed grows in you as well, a mirror to the one you see in her.

It hurts.

Of course it hurts.

You know that pulling it into the light will hurt more.

… but what other choice do you have?

This time you're sitting on the side of your shared bed, legs idly swinging, waiting for her to mix the paints and dyes; she's taking her time, filling the room with scents that have grown so familiar in your time together.

“Are you sure you don't—”

“Yes! I'm sure! Why do you keep asking? Do you not want to?”

It's not like you to raise your voice, not like that; she's taken aback. You really shouldn't apologize, not right away, and thankfully she replies before you begin to.

“I … no, I do, just …”

“Just what?”

Her voice sounds small and scared, so unlike the witch you fell in love with; her shoulders shiver. She doesn't turn to face you.

“You do know that the spell has set, right? It's just maintenance now. You probably don't even need it.”

“… so what?”

“You've got what you wanted. You don't …” For a moment you think she's shaking, but then she braces herself on the table and it's gone. “You don't need me.”

You're at a loss for words as they keep on spilling out of her, an endless flood of bitter tears—

“You can just, just go, just leave, you don't need any of this any more, just enough of a binding to hold everything in place … you can just go off and be yourself, and, and …”

She's shaking and crying, the handful of steps separating you stretching into a small infinity—

Without thinking you step across and wrap your arms around her.

She leans into your touch, into your warmth; she tries to pull away but you hold her tight.

“Hey, hey. I'm not going to leave you. I thought you were getting tired of me, with how you were asking that …”

Her laugh is broken by a fit of hiccupping sobs. “No! No, I would never, I, I …”

“Neither would I. So there's nothing to worry about, love.”

She curls up, drawing herself in, warping space around her to make herself smaller; she loses herself in your arms.

Her voice is even smaller than she is.

“It's, it's not just that …”

“Then what is it?”

“I've, uh.” You strain to hear her words, and her body shakes as she draws them out. It's slow and painful. “I always loved the time we we spent on the sigils each week.”

You nod and gently squeeze her; that's been obvious from the start, even when you didn't realize it.

“So, uh. I didn't want to cut it short, to let it go any faster, but it would have been unfair to go any slower, and that would have hurt the spell …”


She's hardly there at all now, a pebble nestled against your warm chest.

“… so I've been mixing in other spells …”

“What sort of spells?”

“… luck, and energy, and love … stuff to make you feel good, so you'll treasure those moments too …”

You blink.

“Wait, you've been drugging me?”

“… just a little. no more than the euphoria from the bodymagic, back when you started … and i just, i don't want that to be why you stay, not really …”

“Oh. Then why did you …?”

“…i don't know. i just didn't want you to leave …”

“That's … you do know that's not why I fell in love with you, right? Like. Your magic was why I met you, but … not why I wanted to stay or anything. I'd still want to be with you even without it. It's not why I love you.”

“… i know, but … i just …”

“It's okay to be afraid, love, I just really wish you'd talked it over with me instead of … well, this.”

“… i'm sorry, i really am …”

“Let's talk about it later, okay? When you're feeling better. Just, uh. No more magical drugs, okay?”

“okay. i'm sorry.”

“There, see? All good. And we can wait to do the sigil until later, or put it off if you really think the spell doesn't need it.”

You feel her tiny form nodding against you, her shivering finally fading away to an exhausted stillness. Your silly witch …

She hardly ever makes herself this small; it gives her such horrible headaches, so whatever talk you end up having about this will have to wait.

But that's okay, you suppose.

You've got time, and she matters more than the mistakes she makes.