Summary: Three times it didn’t matter that he loved her, and the one time it did. Revised version of a Pinecone entry (the first line was given to be expanded into a story.) This is the ninth story in the “Art” universe.
Word Count: 630
In the end, it didn’t matter that he loved her. She went away to help the tribe, fully aware that there wouldn’t be a coming back. The lives of so many were more valuable than the happiness of one person, or even of two. Her commitment to duty, rightness, humanity was stronger than the butterflies in her stomach. No one could fault her for that. He couldn’t fault her for that, could he?
You would have done the same. The voice whispering those words in his head wasn’t as tiny and low as he would have wished it to be. It was loud and clear; and it was right: he wouldn’t put his wishes above others’ needs, either. He would have left, too.
The actual low and tiny voice in his head said that he still rather had her stay with him regardless. When the low and tiny voice was angry with him, it spat that perhaps he hadn’t been worth it—or Ruth wouldn’t have left despite everything.
In the end, it didn’t matter that he loved her. She turned her back on him, and left with her people seeking a place where they could live their believes without being harassed. Too many people depended on her leadership, and she felt responsible for allowing violence feasting on her folk.
She never even considered coming back once her people had reached their Promised Land, and he never asked her to do it. He understood why she couldn’t imagine adjusting to his kind of life—he wouldn’t be able to adjust to her kind of life, either.
The low and tiny voice laughed at him. Oh, so you do understand, it said, whom do you think you’re kidding? And that Regina would have tried to adjust, if she’d really thought he was what she wanted.
In the end, it didn’t matter that he loved her. She rode away with Cousin Will, taking the child he’d almost considered his own with her. He said he loved her, but not in the same way she loved Will, and that it was all right, that it didn’t hurt. But the rejection did hurt, and he didn’t need the tiny, low voice to tell him that he actually had loved her in more ways than he openly admitted.
When annoyed with him, the voice did not hesitate to add to his misery by pointing out that Laura apparently hadn’t thought him lovable enough to give him the family he so desperately wanted.
In the end, it didn’t matter that he tried to ignore that he loved her. She bestowed him with more love than anyone before her, intrusted herself to him in a way that left her vulnerable. She was the strongest woman he’d ever met, and yet for him she laid open her weaknesses.
He tried to discount it, brush it aside. Brush her aside. He nearly succeeded in hurting her enough to drive her away—but then she offered him her dreams, her future; and the voice in his head whispered, kiss her and never let her go again. For the first time in his life, he acknowledged the wisdom of the voice, and did as told.
In the end, all that mattered was feeling Juliet commit herself to his arms.
You have witchcraft in your lips ~ William Shakespeare, Henry V