Noah slipped into Rose’s room, locking the door behind him. She was tucked beneath the covers, sleeping, like she’d been when he left that afternoon. Titus had said she would sleep until morning. Noah’s eyes lingered on her neck where the flesh had smoothed itself over.

There were bobby pins still in Rose’s hair, where Titus’ servant had missed. Noah took them out and laid them on the nightstand. Her shoes were already set neatly by the door. No matter how drunk or tired she was when she collapsed into bed, Rose had never woken up with her shoes on, or with hair clips digging painfully into her scalp. The covers were always drawn up to her shoulders, though she sometimes kicked them off in the night.

The room was dark save for the green glow of the alarm clock. Noah cast a glance around the room and then leaned over Rose’s bed, put a hand by her waist. All at once he was a snake, coiled on the sheets. He slithered up the length of Rose’s body, and felt her breathing beneath him, felt her warmth seep through the blanket, through his scales. He sighed (as much as a snake could sigh) and wrapped himself around Rose’s slender neck, his head on her shoulder, his tail draped across her breast. This was his place, where he could feel her warm along his body and her pulse beat reassuring against him.

Rose rolled over in her sleep. A hand sneaked out from beneath the covers and came to rest on Noah’s head, her fingers stroking softly across the ridge between his eyes. The furrow in her brow was finally gone, and a smile twitched at her lips. Noah slid across the covers and all at once he was a man again, standing at her bedside. Rose frowned a little and Noah took her hand in his own. Her palm was warm against his. He brought his lips to her fingers, curled against the back of his hand.

“The most precious thing in your life,” a voice whispered from inside Noah’s head.

He tightened his grip.

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