"You still came?"

The firelight cast strange shadows along the gold brocade of the room, and kept Virixia in the dark. Taric showed the appropriate amount of shock, and raised one golden eyebrow.

"Of course I came. Why not?" His voice was perfectly questioning, and not a flicker or fidget gave away his lie. Virixia rose, walking slowly toward him, keeping only faint amusement on her countenance.

"I know." She dropped her silky robe. Now donned only in her ebony hair, which fell dark as coal, straight as pins, to mid-thigh, she continued. "I know about Miesa."

She didn't allow the pain ripping her heart apart to pass the icy grief in her chest-- she curved her carefully stained lips in a half smile. She reached out and entangled her fingers in his golden halo of hair, and brought his face down to hers. She did not kiss him yet, but whispered into his ear, "Miesa deserves someone like you. You'll be beautiful together."

Taric tried to pull away, to speak, to tell her why she was wrong, or imagining things; Virixia covered his lips with her hand. She shook her head. Her hair swayed like a cloak of the richest midnight, and gleamed in the flickering of the flames giving the room its only light. She pulled one of his hands into hers; it was large, but smooth and warm, the only calluses had faded away long ago.

Taric looked into her eyes, oh—his were so unearthly blue and innocent—and Virixia almost cried out with physical pain. How could an angel have been unfaithful? She'd have done anything to please him, anything to have him, to keep him. No one else could have him but her.

She looked into the mirror on the far wall, but even without it, knew what Taric saw when he looked upon her. Fair, flawless skin, thick and lustrous hair, wide, seductive dark eyes with long kohl-smudged lashes. And she loved him.

But obviously, for Taric, that was not enough. It was not enough.

"Taric?" Her voice didn't shake; she was proud of it. She was proud of the way her body didn't quiver, and that hot tears did not spill from her eyes. She would not give him away.

"What, darling?" And that was it. Virixia looked into his eyes again, and held onto both of his hands. She moved him toward the bed. It was not an unfamiliar action, but she knew this would never again occur.

"Just don't talk. Don't. After this, I'll leave you free." Taric's eyes widened at her statement; he said nothing in response. His hair shone against the deep sepia of her bedspread; his eyes glowed bluer, and he looked more beautiful than she'd ever thought him before. His appearance, just as his words had, cut her like a knife. She wondered distantly why there was no blood running from her heart, her heart sliced open and bleeding; she knelt over him, and kissed him.

It was too good; Virixia looked at him once more—his charming smile, the piece of hair that fell over his eyes, the light that shone from them. She thought that it had shone only for her. But she'd been wrong. Deceived. Betrayed.

She bit down, bit her lip to keep it in, and gave him a lingering, pleading look, as one drowning might stare at the distant shore; she kissed him again. Harder this time, she ran her tongue inside his lips, and heard him moan. She prayed that she wouldn't cry, but it was no use. It was done.

She felt herself growing weaker, and as Taric moved over her, hot, salty tears ran over her cheeks and neck, down onto her sheets. Taric ran his hand over her back, kissed her again, and she felt the world moving away from her. But it was not as other times. As he loved her, and the earth moved, sounds exploded in her ears. But it was not as other times.

Virixia clung to him, her body felt colder and weaker, so hot and cold; she clung to him with all the strength she had left. And she sobbed.

Suddenly, he stopped, and Virixia heard him say something from far, far away. He seemed to be weakening too, finally.

"Virixia." She heard her own name. "Virixia, what did you do?" But it was too late, for even as he tried to get up, he could not. She saw him; he was hers forever. If he was someone else's in life, he was hers in death. She would not give him up.

"Taric," she whispered, but the world began to go dark, and endless. Dark stretched forever.

Around her, she felt Taric's arms grow still and remain warm against her sides.

She knew nothing more.