She accepted her fate, her punishment for a crime that she did not realize that she had committed.
He stepped closer, utter loathing in his eyes. In her benign face he saw his greatest enemy, his father's enemy, his grandfather's. For centuries the war had continued, and for centuries her people and his had repaid every new death with brutal revenge. His every muscle was tensed, a small arsenal gleaming at his sides.
Still she did not leave. It was within his right to slay her-it was within hers to flee. It had been an accident, and she knew it-even if he didn't believe her. Only compassion had compelled her to drag him from the swollen river. Only mercy had bidden her to save his life.
Only her sympathy had denied him an honorable death.
He grabbed her shoulders-roughly, cruelly, a familiar feeling between the two who had exchanged so many blows in the past.
He had believed once that the worst she could do was to kill him. He never imagined that she would stoop so low-that her actions would leave him abandoned by his clan, hated by his family, disowned from every comfort and hope that he had ever known.
She had always considered herself the superior opponent-her people always were, unless outnumbered. And so her shame deepened, though taken with dignity, to stand quiet and unresisting while her punishment was dealt by the victim of her misguided kindness.
He kissed her-a rough, bruising kiss, cruel and searing to her very bones. He kneaded the skin around her neck as though he intended to break it-Neither doubted that intention. One hand fastened in her hair, less a token of affection or lust, more a guarantee that she could not turn away, not refuse her penalty.
As hard as it was, she didn't try.
He kissed her again, again, each falling on her like a blow, each drawn out until her lungs burned and she tried to suck in breath from his unforgiving mouth.
She could have struck him-clawed his face until he bled and his eyes lost their sight, fled from him forever. She didn't. And while he still hated every fiber of her being with every fiber of his own, she couldn't quite hate him back.
She felt no love...only that same pity that had saved and condemned him, so long ago.
His kisses struck her throat, leaving merciless bruises that darkened her tender skin, and she flinched, steadying her voice, forbidding herself to cry out.
"I'm sorry," she said, her voice as rigid as her spine. "For what happened to you."
For a moments the attack stopped, and she could feel his furious glare on her face like a hot brand.
"You've said that before," he growled. "Nothing's changed."
Mephistopholes was his name-her joke, long ago: the man had fallen from his own people's grace, lost his name along with every other possession and link to his old family. Instead he had taken to pursuing her, in revenge for his own lost life. In return, she gave him a new name: Mephistopholes, the devil himself.
"I know," she said quietly, feeling her every breath go raw, grated by the growing bruises. He fingered he collar, a mockery of a caress. Beneath her shirt lay her heart, defended only by bone (easily broken, easily evaded). So easy to cut it from her breast with a single swipe of his knife-or more, if he wished to extend his vengeance.
She had 'saved' him from the river's wrath; named him; refused, time after time, to kill the man who sought death.
He could kill her now; defile her first, if he wished. Remind her of the pain that he had endured for all the long years before she stopped fleeing from before him.
He wasn't kissing her anymore, only touching her clothes-the only, feeble armor between him and her absolute destruction. His cold, ruthless eyes swept over her. She was marked with steadily darkening bruises, a deep, shameful red stained her cheeks, and she was shaking just slightly. Her eyes were closed-not squeezed shut, but calmly closed-in a final, grim gesture. Not of surrender, not of defiance. Will, perhaps, or acceptance. Resignation to her fate?
He couldn't tell.
Shaking his head, he released her collar and turned away, slowly, slowly leaving her behind, ending his torture as deliberately as it had begun.
He didn't turn when he heard her hit the floor. He didn't even pause. Her heavy, ragged breathing was enough evidence that she was still alive, collapsed from shock or horror or relief...he couldn't be sure. He would never be sure.
Because Mephistopholes never saw her again.
AN: This is the next to final part of a much longer story, none of which I intend to fully write out. I'll probably post an explanation later, if necessary.
I do want to know whether this qualifies for a rape warning [R], since they didn't have sex, persay...though he was violent enough.