Once, she had thought that she might be able to love him. He was a good man. So kind. So gentle. So very, very in love with her. Once, she thought that she might be able to love him. Once, she thought that his kindness and his goodness and most of all, his love for were enough. That she could love him for those things. That all of the things that he wasn't didn't matter.
And there were times when she had thought that she might really love him. When he would smile at her, she would feel warm for hour afterwards. But then, there were always the nights.... It always came down to the nights.
They would be curled together, in his bed or hers, skin sticky with sweat that would dry and cool in the air. Limbs and sheets tangled together in a single, messy sprawl, flesh and cloth indistinguishable in the dim light. And he would be curled against her, body pressed as close to hers as he could manage, arms around her waist, head resting on her shoulder. And lying there, surrounded by warmth and love, she would lie awake and feel... lonely.
Sleepless night after sleepless night, spent staring at the ceiling, and wondering what part of her was so intrinsically wrong, so broken, that she could feel lonely when she was surrounded by such care, such love.
Then there came the day when she knew she could never love him.
She had thought, for a time, that she could leave him. That her leaving would be a kindness to both of them. It would free her to find some she could love. Free him to find someone who could love him. She had thought, for a time, that she could leave him and find someone- somewhere, that she could love. That her leaving would not break him.
She had contemplated leaving time and again. Had almost been ready to pack her bags and
just... leave. Been ready to tell him that she could not love him.
And then.... she knew that she could not leave. Not because she loved him. Because she never could. Because he loved her. He loved her, and she could not hurt him.
So she stays. And she does not love him, and he loves her. But now that she knows she can not love him, and that she must stay, she can sleep in curled against him, knowing that his love for her will need to be enough.