But would I call it romantic? Yes, but to the extent that a painting of a rose is romantic. Because honestly? I don't think that what these two feel for each other is either romantic or sexual. Ulquiorra is indeed interested in Orihime, having piqued his curiosity on the heart, and Orihime does care about him. But I fail to see how she could be sexually attracted to him, or anyone else for that matter, when she's so fixated on Ichigo. If anything, what transpired within those three pages, and those of UlquiHime interaction from chapters past, was her exhibiting slight traces of Stockholm syndrome, as well as feeling genuine concern and sorrow over the death of someone that, despite being a villain and her kidnapper, made a huge positive impact on her character.
So what is it that draws Orihime to Ulquiorra? The only thing that comes to mind is Sora. Yes, I am aware that Ulquiorra and Sora being the same person is stupid and impossible (unless Kubo-san thought of a way around that), but that's not what I mean. What I'm trying to say is that the thought just popped in there as I was trying to wrap my brain around Orihime possibly being in love with Ulquiorra. I concluded that there was just no way, as I felt that it would be OOC for her, considering her bordering-on-the-obsessive crush on Ichigo. But that didn't change the fact that she is indeed drawn to him, and I couldn't help thinking what exactly it was that was drawing her to him. And that was when I thought about Sora.
Forgive me if this has been brought up many times before, as I can honestly say that I am unaware of this, but I really think that one of the reasons why Orihime is drawn to and cares about Ulquiorra is because he reminds her of Sora (I mean, they kind of look alike, don't they?), and maybe this will be revealed in due time.
Now that I look at those last three pages of Chapter 353, I am seriously reminded of Orihime's farewell to Sora in Chapter 6. Compare the two pages, 17, Chapter 6 with 21, Chapter 353. Do you not see the similarities here? Orihime, saying her last words, as well as reaching out, to someone who is fading away. She didn't reach out her hand to Sora, but in her weakened state, she was reaching out to him in the best way that she could, with a tearful smile and words that she had wished she had told him long ago. If that doesn't convince you, then look at her face in the panels where she says "goodbye" and "I'm not scared." And then the panels that follow this: Sora's and Ulquiorra's reactions, both depicted in close ups to their faces. Much emphasis is placed on what their eyes are saying. And then the panels after that, where emphasis is placed on the mouth. Sora smiles, Ulquiorra doesn't, naturally, but I'm sure that if he could smile, then he sure as hell would have done it.
Honestly, if there isn't a connection between Ulquiorra and Sora, then I am dying to know what it truly is that draws these two, Orihime and Ulquiorra, together.