Author's Note: Based on a prompt of the same name given by SamAnderson in the reviews section on FanFiction.Net.
You're nothing to me.
A sharp pain shoots through her wrists as she awakens—and then, there's nothing but the touch of his gloved hand against her cheek, pressing it softly.
She's gotten used to hearing him say it like that, as if they're old friends; she supposes, in a way, that they are, now.
(Not that she ever responds—no, there's no need, because he's always done enough talking for the both of them.)
"How are you this morning?"
She closes her eyes again as his fingers move from her cheek to trace the outline of her lips. The feeling of his hands on her used to make her shiver, but it's been months – years – and she doesn't shift an inch.
He doesn't sigh anymore at her silence, either. "Your kingdom is faring well, in spite of a rather chilly spring season," he informs her as his hand snaps back to his side. "There shouldn't be any adverse effect on the shipments from Odens coming in on time, anyway. I heard relations with Weselton might even be resumed, as well."
She can't help but glance at him at this, and though she keeps her gaze dull, he sees right through her, a soft smile playing on his lips.
"Princess Anna is always full of surprises, isn't she?" he remarks, and a flicker of something must have flashed across her eyes, because he's back at her side in an instant, his lips hovering too close to hers.
I never want to see you again.
That familiar ache returns to her hands, and soon, it's running down her wrists and forearms with blinding speed, searing her skin until she winces.
He looks down at her clenching fists sympathetically, his brows furrowed. "Oh, my Queen," he chides, taking one of her hands in his own, "how many times do I have to tell you?"
She bites her lip to keep from moaning in pain as he presses the inside of her palm. "You know they'll never heal if you insist on struggling."
A hint of a feeling pulses inside of her – hatred, perhaps – but it's gone before she can let it course through her veins, turn her stomach, curl her lips.
"You're trying to be good—I can see that," he says, loosening his grip. The pain subsides immediately. "You've been trying for a while, now."
She isn't looking at him then, but it's not because doing so would give him too much pleasure (she knows it would).
It's the enchanted chains of pure fire round her wrists that keep her staring ahead—the same ones that broke her skin, and that are breaking it still.
You belong there, in those dungeons, with him watching over you; at least he can bear to look at you.
His green eyes meet hers – the only eyes she's seen in so many years, aside from her own – and as they force her to see him, she holds back a sigh.
Because Anna was right.