The Rituals That Bind Lovers Together
I needed almost a week to just start with the rituals.
Everything changed stepwise, flowingly. It hardly seemed to me as if anything between me and Lennier would have changed. He still was my closest friend and we talked or sat beside each other in the embassy and rested if the short time between conferences and the screenings of his records about the attacking Centauri ships allowed it. Only that now there wasn't this subtle unease how I should behave or why he avoided me. And I sat so close beside him that our thighs touched and laid an arm around him. And Lennier did not pull away. Sometimes he even dared to snuggle up to me. It was still the same deep friendship – and also the same fear of our bond – only that I kissed him, and after a short hesitation, as if it would surprise him again every time, he would return it with passionate devotion. He learned fastly, so that very soon it wasn't the clumsy fumbling around of the first kiss, but so intense that for a moment I forgot everything around us. It felt so right. And for the rest of the day the dull hopelessness was finally washed out of his face.
Until the next morning came and he just looked at me imbued with this quiet suffering that one only perceived if one knew where to search after it. He didn't seem to believe the change between us.
Only as we sat together at the evening before his departure back to the Anla'Shok – actually I still had to work through several reports, yet in my exhaustion working further wouldn't make any sense anyway – I dared to ask. We talked about meaningless things and my exhaustion had already half vanished and suddenly it only seemed the natural course of events to ask him the question now.
,,Do you follow me into the rituals of bonding, on that they lead or souls together permanently?"
How absurdly small this was in face of his vow to never leave me even in times of war and despair. The vow he, despite finally having fled back to Minbar, had never truly broken.
Under my hand on his chest I felt his heart race.
,,Yes. Together with you I will undergo the rituals that bind lovers together.", he replied the ritualistic answer on my question and his voice sounded solemnly and very serious, as if this would be an much bigger step for him. Finally the desperation seemed to fall off of him, and he gave me an beaming smile that was definitely cute.
For the rest of the evening we sat beside each other silently, felt the warmth of the other and watched the candles. All the political problems lurked in the background and of course we were aware that they could only become even worse in near future, and that on my home planet several problems lurked that we would have to solve too, first of all to vindicate us in front of our clans. Yet at least we had resolved what had been between us. And had this little shared peace.
,,Do you accompany me this night?", I eventually asked smiling as I rose.
Even though contradictory to John he knew that I meant Vit'wa Fal, the sleep watching ritual, and not sex with this, his cheeks flushed.
,,Of course.", he stammered.
I waited for him in front of my bed room. As he approached me finally he wore a white, wide gown that played around his slender, wiry torso, his hips and his thighs. He looked so ethereal in it. I had seen this night gown countless times when we had breakfast together and underwent the morning rituals, but only now I truly saw it.
The V-neck exposed a small part of collar bone and the fabric wasn't thin enough to truly show something, but the pale white of his skin and the light blue patters still shone through oh so lightly. I was sure that Lennier would have wore something else instantly if he would become aware of this characteristic of the fabric. The cloth ended shortly under his knees. I was still used so much at human bodies that I was almost surprised to not see their woolly leg hair, only his slender calf and wiry sura. Amazing how revealing this little bit bare skin seemed to me suddenly.
His eyes flickered to me black night gown, to my naked arms, collar bone and the deep cleavage and flinched away at once.
The whole situation felt irreal, to harmonic for me to have deserved it.
He regarded the whole room intently as he followed me in my bedroom. Had he truly been here so rarely?
,,Come.", I laid down and pointed beside me. He hesitated for a moment, but rested beside me then. Only as I embraced him he dared to snuggle up to me. I did not arouse me yet, for that this kind of closeness was still to unfamiliar, yet it felt decidedly good nevertheless. Secure and peaceful, despite he knew what I had done and what I truly was. But that seemed far away in this moment.
I had laid my arms around him and stroke his back, and my legs were entagled with his, so that we laid body against body, felt our warmth through the fabric. His right arm laid under my head, the other rested over my flank.
,,This is beautiful.", even in the darkness I saw him smiling.
,,Yes, it is."
It took long until he was asleep. We only laid there and he huddled against me. As I carefully stood up I feared to wake him.
He looked so peaceful. All the pain I had beheld in his face far to often, and the hard, withdrawn manner as Anla'Shok were disappeared. He smiled oh so lightly.
I noticed that this wasn't the first, but in truth already the third time I watched him in sleep. I had done it as he rested still wounded after the bombing attack, and later then as he had sacrificed himself for the whole crew of the ship and I believed that I would have to die already at the next day. Hadn't he not watched three times, far more than three times, over my sleeping self and had seen my true face?
The most time he only looked peaceful, yet some when late at night he rolled from one side to another and curled up to a small ball, and the pain was to see even on his sleeping face. Only as I stroke over his shoulder calmingly he relaxed again.
Despite this was already the third night, I still wasn't completely sure if his sleeping face just looked exactly like his awake one, as if he would mask nothing, or contradictory seemed deep from hidden truths. Or maybe both was true, because truths could exist beside each other after all.
As he awoke for a moment his eyes flinched trough the room hopeless and searching.
,,Hsch. I am still here.", I was so tired that I had only noticed that he had awoken after the rustling of the blanket. But now I sat down beside him and stroke over his forehead.
,,However I have a meeting with G'Kar now, and in face of what is looming right now he surly would react decidedly unpleasant if I would stay with you instead."
Lenniers smile got something mischievous: ,,I am sure you manage to deal with him. At least if you lend an Denn'Bok from one of the Anla'Shok."
,,Oh, I do not doubt that.", I meant smiling, ,,However I would have to handle his dozen devotees then."
,,G'Kar would be most gratefull of all people if you drive them away."
I laughed, but in my laughing fit a few unpleasant thoughts crept into my consciousness the conversation about G'Kars devotees had brought me about. Right after the morning rituals I would have to inquire after the situation on Minbar and in the population I had left out of my sight in face of the Centauri-catastrophe.
For a while we continued to simply lie there, in a bubble of shared peace.
,,I love you.", Lennier said tenderly. I breathed in deeply, and knew that I had to reply something. Warmth and fear at the same time floated through me. Yet only at the thought of replying ,,I love you too" something inside me cramped and panic raced through my heart. It seemed far to easy for all this thrilled, in parts out rightly menacing things I felt. It did not feel as if it could be true, and at the same time it did. And that scared me. To say this was so final. So I said nothing but only smiled and caressed his chin.
Astonishing how many of the rituals, that should connect and finally join us, we had undergone unknowingly. We had breakfasted together. Told us from our past, our favorite books, our believes. Prayed together, so often already. I even remembered that we had given each other the traditional cleansing. He to me as after the transformation I was still to weak to do it myself, and I to him as he left sickbay with an severe concussion and his back full of stitched up threads and bandages.
Even despite the political crisis we underwent the rituals surprisingly fast.
What I felt for him was not the superficial, everything covering passion. It was deeper and almost subtle. I would have paraphrased it with deep friendship without any doubts wouldn't have the physical component come to it.
My perception of him too changed in small steps. First I perceived what a cute smile he actually had. And then how slender and gracil but still strong his hands were. Somewhen my perception shifted so that I didn't saw his face as strangely stuck between rounded of and sharp, but instead his rounded of cheek bones, his narrow chin seemed just right. More and more often he didn't seemed to short and sleight, but wonderfully petite.
When we saw us again in his training breaks I suddenly discovered details at him as if I wouldn't knew him since five years already. These large eyes that in certain light seemed as if they would be light brown despite in truth they were blue. What a gorgeous pattern the blue speckles on his crown created. His bone crest was more sharply cut than back then as Lennier arrived by me, but still softly swept and rounded.
How could I have seen him all those years every day and still didn't perceive how beautiful he truly was?