****Thank you Manreet (manreet_gill) for the beautiful banner. I ❤ you so much girl 🙂
***Since you people are too beautiful for words, here is my Index
**A note before we begin:
Hello! To all who know me and to those who do not, I am Avi! I was dreamyshadows on IF (when I was most active), and I still write a whole lot on Arnav and Khushi (but now am norolim and continue mostly on blogs).
However, this is my first OS in a very long time (see: three years), and I am a bit rusty. This is one of the first attempts of my reentry into the world of One Shots — I will be back again! For now, I hope you enjoy reading this just as much as I enjoyed writing it.
And lastly (but most importantly!), I would like to thank Jigs-ji (Chokri_ASR) for being a wonderful beta and giving me great grammatical advice. I ❤ you very much!
Love born from hate was a highly potent poison — it had the power to dismantle even the most grandiose of illusions.
Arnav had chanced upon this philosophy only after he had met Khushi. The epiphany had struck him with such a powerful surge that it had resulted in many a sleepless nights. This was a rabbit hole, and the deeper he dug in, the tougher it was to get out. Arnav had repeated these notions in the past; he had often found himself gazing longingly at his wife’s picture — just as he was doing at the present moment.
He blamed his madness on the poison. It had traversed inch by inch through his veins, had carved her name into his very heart, and had made her so indispensable to his existence.
Khushi, Khushi, Khushi.
From the soft chime of her payals to the tinkle of her churiyas, she was an undeniable presence in his life.
Arnav traced her ever present smile with his eyes, fingers grasping onto the frame too tightly. It was only a little while before the glass shattered into a million pieces; his intensity wherever she was concerned had always been too raw. People who’d inserted themselves between him and Khushi had been decimated to dust– what was a sheet of glass?
But before he could reason with himself and release the pressure on the picture, his very muse walked into the room.
Her entrance affected him in the same way as it had on the day she’d stumbled into his arms. The same spiking of his heart, the same slowing down of everything around him, and the same undeniable understanding of an upcoming avalanche of change.
Khushi’s accidental entry had become the most purposeful event of his life — of their lives. She had single-handedly reversed his entire world with those soft hands and that even softer heart.
“You’ll break it if you hold it that hard.”
Arnav’s eyes followed his heartbeat; he relied on it heavily — too heavily — where she was concerned. The now stuttering rhythm indicated exactly where she stood; a tested and tried method of location that never failed.
It was, as his wife fondly called it, the Khushi compass. She had been humorous in her implication, but he had realized the truth behind the words almost immediately.
It was she who kept him rooted and grounded — not gravity. When he moved, she did as well; anytime she changed her posture, he shifted so as to mimic the change. To all around them, the movements were a proclamation of their enamored dynamic.
It was no secret that Mr. and Mrs. Raizada were well versed mirrors who chose only to reflect each other.
“I’ll just have to get another one. I can never have too many of these anyway.”
At his nonchalant statement, Khushi looked over to the adjacent wall studded with photographs. And after mock deliberation, she nodded somberly. “I can see that, bilkul bhi koi pictures nahi hai!”
While she chortled at her own joke, Arnav stalked slowly towards her, strong footfall the only marker of his advance. Times had changed, and so had Khushi. Rather than retreat fully, she only teetered. She was now caught between the instinct to step back and the need to prove herself fearless. It was yet another dance they constantly found themselves practicing — a habit spanning all three years of marriage.
Even love could not break the set foundation of such staunch individuals, it had found. No, slight modifications to existing schemas would have to do. Not being offended into anger was the change Arnav sought, and not extending the situation by bothering him was the alteration Khushi had chosen to concede.
Stepping in front of her, Arnav’s fingers automatically found the stray hair that had escaped her hairdo and tucked it behind her ear. But his heart still longed to touch her even after the required action had been completed — such was the constant conundrum in his life.
Every emotion Khushi sparked in him was just as intense as it had been upon their first meeting. The desires had not lessened, but had only jumped to unforeseen heights. Now, simply touching her was never enough; the original hunger of the body had transformed into a hunger of the soul.
So he touched her extensively, and Khushi returned the favor.
In the midst of rationalization, Arnav found himself fisting his hands into her hair — the beautiful hair he’d made her swear never to cut — and tipping up her head to receive his kiss. This was mindless passion, riddled with feelings so deep it was a disgrace to try and name them. Every touch was intertwined with a hunger so paramount that it was only inflamed by her taste, and with a thirst so ardent that every moment spent in her presence only heightened his need for her.
Khushi was, simply put, everything.
In her eyes, there existed worlds unexplored. In her lips, words unspoken. Through her embrace, Arnav found himself falling into a never ending chasm of wanting, no — needing to be needed by her.
“Aaj kuchh hua hai kya?”
His wife’s words were slurred and slightly frustrated; the action of speaking somewhat coherently drawing unnecessary effort from her kiss addled mind. Even now, it was all about him. The world could have ended around them, but for Khushi, her husband was the last word. Until she knew the workings of his heart, she would not be at peace.
Resting his forehead against hers, Arnav forced his breath to return to its original pace. He smiled indulgently at her concern, and shook his head, “Kyon, I can’t kiss my wife without an apocalypse?”
Khushi pulled away from him with an indignant scoff, her distaste at his bad timing clearly etched into her frown. But would he have been her husband if he’d let her go? Doing right by his nature, Arnav hauled her right back into his embrace; the move placing one dainty ear on his chest and effectively halting her tantrum. The dhak-dhak never failed to humble her — the ceaseless reminder that this heartbeat was hers alone was the only placation she’d ever needed.
“Tum theek ho?”
Khushi smiled at the familiar phrase, a host of memories both beginning and ending with those three words cascading through her mind. It had been their own version of those other three famous words, she realized. The tipping point of their relationship so to speak. The words had signaled the awareness of something much stronger than nafrat; the awareness of another emotion that would prove to be the harbinger of a much more powerful feeling than their notorious hate.
When she stayed in her dreams too long, her husband lifted her face, worried caramel eyes staring deeply into her own. He was far too easy to ruffle, Khushi thought, and another smile lit her face as the worry transformed into irritation. Too easy.
“Khushi, it’s not funny. Stop laughing, dammit!”
Too late, for she had already dissolved into Khushi-like laughter. She clutched her stomach, the melodious sound far from having run its course. And much like previous times, Arnav found himself lost within her. It was the irony of his life. His entire life after Khushi was made entirely of metaphors — this was just another one of them.
It took five more minutes, and then Khushi managed to right herself. She knew that she was too childish sometimes, but three years of marriage had taught her that the trait needed to be preserved. Arnav was enough of an adult for twenty people — her bachpana might have given her earfuls of reprimands, but it had also brought uncountable smiles to her husband’s face; his happiness was all she needed to never lose that spirit.
Khushi breathed deeply and wandered back into his arms, lifting her face to his and dropping a kiss on his cheek. “Hogaya.” The word was whispered, an apology and an explanation all rolled into one. He heard everything behind it — and understood it as well.
Without further ado, Arnav lifted his wife into his arms and walked towards the bed.
Words weren’t the only methods of communication — his body had proved his love most eloquently in the past. Much like those other times, Khushi deserved a more tangible proof. The assured fact that there was no need for proof went unmentioned; his wife knew how much he loved discovering her body and giving her pleasure.
Arnav’s words had hurt her plenty in the past, but here, engaging in the most primitive art of expression, he had only given her immense satiation. Their joining was something he’d come to regard as an important complement to their union — without it, a significant part of what made their love seemed missing.
It was only when Khushi’s eyes flooded upon climax and her lips uttered a litany of his name that Arnav knew he’d finally found himself. Reaching every possible precipice after a cataclysmic death within her embrace, he was brought back to life by her soft touch, and the everlasting promise of her perennial presence in his life.
Hours later when Khushi held him in her arms, Arnav found himself whispering words of love to her sleeping ears. It had been three years with his beautiful wife, but even now, flamboyant proclamations remained far out of his comfort zone. Whispering to a slumbering Khushi was much easier than actively facing her reaction.
When he’d spoken his fill, he too fell into soft sleep beside her, oblivious to Khushi’s answering smile. No matter how quiet his vocalizations, they were an expression of love — and by nature of their existence and her disposition, she heard every syllable. And just like always, she kissed him over his softly rising heart, promising him everything he had just promised her, and swearing to love him unto the ending of the world.