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Parry cursed, volubly, inventively, the words triply profane between those lips; Rusk leant forward and watched, fascinated, as he strained to summon magic from his pores, sweating it out like blood while continuing to damn Rusk at every turn. It crept along every limb, polishing his sickness away, burnishing him 'til he gleamed like metal heated too high to touch.
He always let me lay down on his back as he walked, or sink my hands into his fur. I missed this when I lost him, more than the nights he would come right into my bed, with the bare body of a man. Those were slick and tender nights, nights of human lust and comfort and skin. But when he let me up on his back and took me to his berry patches—blackberry, thimbleberry, salmonberry, huckle and elder and mora—those afternoons I still long for. To be held by a bear—this made me feel as though I might belong.