Lenai sat on the edge of the pond, her pant legs rolled up, boots in the grass next to her, her feet dangling in the cool water. The Spring air smelled of flowers and beautiful blue butterflies flitted lazily around her while bees buzzed. “Lenai, what are you doing?” That voice, the familiar seriousness always made her heart dance. She looked over her shoulder, smiling.
“Oh you found me.” She said cheerfully as she got to her feet.
“You ran off again.”
“This whole thing is so boring, Komos and stupid.”
“It’s your duty.”
She rolled her eyes as she tugged her pant legs down and her boots on. “Just because I was born with this stupid power, it’s not fair. Don’t you ever want to have fun?”
“It’s my job to watch over you and ensure you complete this task every year, nothing more and nothing less.” He held out his hand. “Come now, Lenai, the other priestesses were worried when you vanished.”
“You’d think they’d be used to it.” She thought she saw a small smile pull at his lips.
“It seems I am the only one who isn’t surprised by you. You should apologize to them.”
She sighed. “I will.” She adored Komos, her bodyguard since she could remember. He was kind and gentle and had taught her to defend herself. He was also incredibly serious when it came to his duties and hers, the only thing she found irritating about him. She couldn’t quite pinpoint his age and even when she had asked, he had only said he was older than her. He was the only one she could really talk to. She hated these rituals.
“You are almost done you know, two more then you’re done until next year Lenai”
“It’s why you chose now to run off again” She lightly laughed “You know me too well Komos”
“You know we probably could have made it to the next one by now” She shrugged and he shook his head, walking silently on with her. Some scalded her while other priestess held their tounge when she returned. Most didn’t like how it seemed to agitate Komos when they would get upset with her. He understood she was wasteing the other womens time but it still bothered him. She gave them a long apology. While she didn’t mean it she knew they deserved a sorry from her.
It was way past noon when they finally made it to the Village of the Sea. A coastal breeze brought the smell of saltwater and fish and it was much cooler here next to the ocean. If there was one thing she loved about all of this, it was getting to see the different villages each year. “We should head to the Elder’s home first and let her know we’re here.” One of the priestesses said and she sighed. She just wanted to enjoy this place for a bit.
“Yes, of course.” She said instead of what she was really thinking.
Komos shot her a glance, disliking the frown that pulled at her lips. He reached out, patting her head. “Afterwards let’s go and walk around the fish market.”
Lenai blushed. “I thought I was supposed to do my job.”
“You can’t do it when you’re so gloomy, it might effect the stones.”
“But, sir, we should do it quickly, a storm seems to already be brewing on the sea and…” He looked at the priestess who had spoken and she shut her mouth. “I mean, it’s just we can’t go out in a storm.”
“Storms are beautiful though.” Lenai said, her cheeks still red from Komos’s affectionate display. “I could still do the ritual in the rain, everyone would think wow she really is something, a real elemental goddess.” She joked.
“Lady Lenai, a lady doesn’t tend to do such things.” Another priestess said.
“I’m not a lady though.” She shot back and Komos had to fight not to smile. She truly wasn’t like the women who followed her. They were more caretakers, Lenai was a true warrior.
Komos stole what glances he could at her without her noticing as they approached the elders house. He knew this would take a long time, there was a lot of ceremony involved in her visiting an elder out of respect and he hated knowing how much she wanted to just enjoy this place. Mature enough to know when it was time to do what she was born to do she followed every ritual to the t and showed the elder all the respect they deserved as the elder did her. She got out as quickly as possible without being offensive. “The fish market now?”
He smiled warmly at her, his eyes meeting hers. “Yes”
“well you know where to meet us Lenai” One of the other women said barely containing her annoyance.
She nodded and then waited until they were all gone before rolling her eyes and giving an exasperated sigh. “Some of them are my age, but they still manage to act like crazy old bats.”
“Lenai, that’s not very nice.” Komos chastised and she actually winced.
“Sorry, I know I do this every year and I’ll be doing it every year after this until I die, but it’s just so stupid. I was born into this and was given this job without even being asked. From the time I can remember, I was doing these rituals, being drilled on them again and again until they were second nature.”
“It wasn’t all bad, was it?”
“No, I got to meet you and learn how to use a sword. You’re my best friend and…” She sighed. “Just don’t go leaving me or anything, it would be really boring without you.”
“I’ll always be here, Lenai, I promise.”
She smiled happily at him and his heart skipped a beat. She had grown to be so beautiful and sometimes it actually took his breath away and forced him to gather his thoughts before speaking. They walked at a leisurely pace through the fish market. It was large with cooked seafood on one side and raw on the other. Everything smelled and looked delicious and Lenai had trouble deciding what she wanted. Komos wound up picking something for her and they continued their walk down to the beach.
It was when she sighed contentedly Komos could finally enjoy himself. “That’s better” he said and she let out a small exhale of laughter “We should come here sometime when I’m not working. I love this place”
“That can be your motivation to get all this done”
“Maybe my dad can take some time and come too”
“I’m sure he’d find the time” They didn’t stay much longer before returning to the other women so she could do her work here.
The large green stone in the center of the village was looking a bit murky in spots. She had changed out of her everyday clothes and into the robe provided by the priestesses. She looked back at Komos, giving him a warm smile before turning back and placing her hand on the stone. She always got a certain feeling depending on which stone she was touching. With this one it was the impression of the ocean. She could feel the ebb and flow of the current, could sense the life swimming in it from the surface to the deepest darkest parts. It felt cool beneath her touch. She moved around the stone, never losing contact with it as she whispered.
Komos loved watching her purify the stones, the way she moved, the softness of her voice. Unlike the other bystanders, he could sense the energy rising up to meet her. He had heard of the ones who had come before her, but he knew none of them could match the energy like she could. Her fire, her stubborness, the stones recognized that wildness, that unpredictability and responded. His wolf always seemed to perk up when he watched her, telling him to go to her, to take her, she was his and he forced the hound back down, reprimanded the animal that lived in his soul. Her words became more insistent, sweat began to dot her brow and the murky spots began to seep away. The stone began to glow a soft sea green and she smiled as she dropped her hand.
“There, now you’re clean.” She said softly then she turned and bowed to the elder. “Someone has been dumping bad stuff in the ocean, that’s where the spots came from, please stop them. The water doesn’t like it.”
“Of course Lady Lenai.”
“I think I’ll spend a couple of days here before moving on if that’s alright, the pollution I removed exhausted me.”
“We’ll find the culprit right away, please stay as long as you wish.”
Komos wanted to sweep her off her feet and carry her. It was obvious to him how much her work had drained her and he was worried. He would only do it though if he really needed to. The biggest reason being she was fiercely independent and didn’t take well to being helped when she didn’t actually need it but the secondary and most important reason to him was touching her, his beautiful Lenai, made controlling his feelings for her even harder than it already was. They were almost there when he picked her up. She didn’t even protest she was so tired which made him worry more.
“Look at your face.” She said as she snuggled into him.
“What about it?” He asked.
“Like I might break or something, I’m just a little tired.”
“It’s more than a little.”
“You should know by now that pollution is always the hardest on me. Fire and air are always the easiest because fire burns it away pretty easy and wind blows it away, but earth and water are easy to taint and hard to cleanse. The stone in our village is the hardest to cleanse, that’s why I save it for last.” She gave a happy sigh. “I’m happy I have such a strong old man to carry me around when I’m exhausted.
He huffed. “That’s not going to get me to tell you my age.”
She laughed “I know, you’re as stubborn as I am and I’ve gotten the hint you really don’t want me to know. That’s fine, as long as you stay around” He took her to their room and laid her down. It had two beds so he could stay with her but she’d have her own place to sleep. He laid her down and took her shoes off before removing her weapons to put in the corner of the room. Basically the second she was under the warmth of the comforter she was sleeping. He sighed, unable to resist the urge to press a gentle kiss to her head. He went into the bathroom and took a much needed shower.
Lenai woke feeling ravenous, her stomach practically threatening to eat itself. She sat up, stretched then got up and walked over to the sleeping Komos. “Hey, Komos?” She shook him and his eyes snapped open, his hand grabbing her wrist. “Whoa.”
“Sorry, is everything alright?” He sat up.
“Yeah, just starving.”
“Let me get dressed and I’ll take you.” He got up and she blushed when she saw he was shirtless. “What do you feel like eating?”
“Everything, I’m seriously dying.”
He had the briefest smile before getting up to pull his clothes back on. The two walked back into town and bought something to eat. She scarfed it down in her extreme hunger, knowing she didn’t have to care about being a lady in front of Komos. He had after all known her since she was a child. There wasn’t much left to see her do. When she was near done he asked “I know you don’t intend to sleep any more so would you like to enjoy the beach again?”
“Once again, you know me too well. Yeah, I love that beach” He escorted her once again when she was done eating and they were soon in front of that beautiful, vast blue ocean. She took a deep inhale then exhale “how can anybody mistreat something so astounding Komos?”
“People who think they won’t be caught always do stupid things. If any harm were to come to you because of a stone being tainted, I would kill someone.”
Lenai felt her cheeks redden. “You don’t have to go that far for me.”
“I made a promise to protect you and I plan on keeping it. No matter how childish you act or how many times I have to chase you, I’ll always keep you safe and if someone hurts you they better be prepared to die.”
She laughed, but inside her heart was racing. “I guess I should tell the boys back home they’re not allowed to wrestle with me anymore. I’d hate to get any bruises.”
“You know what I mean.” Though it did make him feel jealous when he saw her rolling around with them. She always won thanks to him, but he had had to keep the wolf contained more than once.
“I do and thank you, it makes me happy knowing you’d do anything for me. I feel the same you know, if anyone ever hurt you, I’d beat them to a pulp.”
He smiled at her then looked away, forcing himself not to stare at the goddess beside him. As they spent what remained of that day at the beach he began to realize that soon he’d have to confront these feelings he had for her. He’d have to be honest with her father and what would prove more difficult he’d have to be honest with Lenai. If she didn’t love him too she might not want him around any longer. Another protector might take his place and he wouldn’t be with her all the time like this. He didn’t know when it was going to happen but he couldn’t go on not expressing his feelings forever, they were just growing too strong within him.
“I don’t want to leave tomorrow.” Lenai said as she crawled under the covers. “It’s been so wonderful taking a break.”
“We don’t have that much longer and then we can go home.” Komos replied as he tugged his shirt and boots off.
She sighed. “At least next is fire. It’s my favorite of them all.”
Komos smiled as he got in bed. “It suits you.”
Lenai turned on her side so she was facing him. “Why?”
“It matches your spirit, unpredictably dancing around, burning passion, bright and beautiful, your warmth drawing people in. I don’t know if you know this, but the stones vibrate with happiness when you touch them. They love your touch, the way your fingers brush their surface.” She blushed and he heard her heart rate spike. He turned over, his back to her and reprimanded himself for not being able to control his mouth. “Sorry, good night, Lenai.”
“Sweet dreams.” She turned over, her face bright red and heart threatening to explode. The way he spoke, it was so sweet, almost like he admired her. She hated he had seen the need to apologize. Hearing him talk like that had made her happy.
In the morning when he wanted to go get them breakfast Lenai stopped him “Komos, there wasn’t any need to apologize last night. I liked the way you spoke to me. The way you were talking..it sounded like you admired me. For someone like you, to admire me, it’s a good feeling. I mean when you’re five hundred years old you’ve met a lot of people. It’s probably hard to impress an old man like you” She had to lighten up this moment with a joke in the end. It was the only way to keep herself calm and not get overly embarrassed.
“Five hundred?” He replied with an arched eyebrow.
“So, younger then?”
He huffed. “Nice try.” He sighed as he placed a hand on her shoulder. “I do admire you, what you do is important, you’re like a bright shining star and I’m just following along basking in your light. Seeing you grow up has been a privilege.” He patted her head. “And stop trying to guess my age, you’ll never find out.”
“Worried I’ll find out you’re really some inexperienced twenty year old that’s good at bluffing?”
He huffed again and playfully pulled her ponytail. “I am far from twenty and even further from inexperience in all aspects.”
She blushed and he chuckled as he opened the door and stepped out, her behind them. The priestesses greeted them as they stepped out and greeted them with her best smile. She was still embarrassed at his words, but did her best to hide it. At least she had managed to smooth things over, at least she hoped so. She was much more composed after breakfast and they told the village elder bye before leaving for the Village of Fire.
They didn’t talk much between there and the Village of Fire but that wasn’t completely uncommon. Lenai stayed on task, not playing any games as she often would with Komos which was uncommon. Maybe he needed to tell her how he felt sooner than he thought. Things were going to be different regardless because he obviously couldn’t control himself any longer. He gave himself until she was finished with this years work. On their way home, that’s when he’d tell her. If he was a lucky man things would go well, if not it wasn’t like he could force himself to hide how he felt any longer anyway.
Lenai’s joy increased as the village came into view. This was the one village where she always wanted to go straight to the stone. Even from where they were in the waning light, she could see the stone glimmering. “We’ll see the elder tonight and then you can purify the stone tomorrow.” Komos said.
She sighed. “Yeah, I guess it’ll be prettier in the day time.” She stretched her arms above her head. “We should go to the hot springs then.”
“If that’s what you want.”
She elbowed him in the ribs. “Not just for me, you should relax too. You never know if you’ll have to carry me again.”
“You know I don’t mind.”
“I do, I can’t be light, wouldn’t want you breaking your back.”
“Was that another old man joke?”
She shrugged. “Could have been.”
He chuckled “you need to stop that Lenai. You could find yourself in trouble?”
“Trouble how?” He gave her this look that made her heart start thundering again. She looked away and he reached out to stroke her cheek “I’m sorry” Touching her might not be the best way to calm her after embarrassing her but he couldn’t help it. Lenai was so beautiful and both he and his wolf needed her. The two went to see teh elder to get it out of the way then journeyed on to the hot springs After all the traveling this job demanded of her she needed it.
Lenai took off when they were close and he called out to her. “Don’t run or you might slip and fall.” Her laugh made his heart dance and she jumped into one of the hot springs, sending water splashing over him. When she came up she was still laughing and swatted some more water at him.
“What an old man thing to say. That’s something my dad would say. Did you forget I’m nearly twenty?”
He growled and jumped in after her, making her squeal when he reached for her. He grabbed her ankle and dragged her back, making her laugh harder. “What did I say?” He pulled her back against him, pinning her arms in front of her.
“I was joking, I give.” She looked up at him, smiling happily. “I had to pay you back for earlier, threatening me like that.”
He swallowed, feeling himself shaking. Here she was, completely unaware that his wolf saw her as some sort of prey, that he himself was struggling not to take her, yet she smiled. “Lenai, I…” He was so close to kissing her. Her smile fading and her heartbeat suddenly changing pace brought him back and he let her go. He cleared his throat and stepped away, leaning against the edge of the hot spring. “I’m not old.”
“Relax today, you have to purify that stone tomorrow.”
“Komos, are you okay? I’m only teasing, besides, if you care so much how I perceive your age why do you keep it from me? You could easily tell me. You’re the only person I’ve ever met that guards their age like you do. It’s fine, it really is but if you need me to stop teasing you I can. I guess you being so secretive about it should have clued me into something. All I know is you’re being weird.” He sighed “I’m fine, this talk is the opposite of relaxing” Lenai decided to drop it and tried to push it from her mind as she enjoyed the water. Regardless she decided to just leave his age alone. She had known him as long as she could remember and he would never tell her. Twenty years later her asking and teasing about it was obviously getting old. It was just something everybody but her was allowed to know. She knew her dad at least knew his age but they were friends and she was just somebody he guarded.
When it was time for them to leave, she couldn’t bring herself to look at him or even really say anything. If there was something he had an abundance of, it was patience and he had lost his. Komos noticed and hated himself for hurting her. he grabbed her hand and pulled her into a hug. “I’m sorry, Lenai.”
“Why? I’m the annoying one.”
“That’s not true, I actually find it quite amusing when you poke fun at my age and I’m only keeping it a secret to pick on you.” He pulled back and frowned when he saw tears in her eyes. “Please don’t cry, I’ve already broken my promise.”
“What are you talking about?” She asked as she wiped at her face.
“To never let anyone hurt you. I broke it. I shouldn’t have acted that way, forgive me.”
“But why are you acting so strange then? Did I do something else? I’ll stop whatever it is.”
He stroked her cheek. “It’s not you, I promise. It’s just me being an old fool.”
“Then tell me.”
He sighed. “Tomorrow, after the purification.”
She accepted waiting until tomorrow and went to where they were staying with him. Lenai went straight to bed, still feeling weird around him and hoping tomorrow them talking would fix everything. After the purification they went back to their room. Komos actually felt nervous which was new to him but it was hard not to be when he had hurt her last night and picked up on today that things weren’t the same between them. He was already screwing everything up and he hadn’t even told her he loved her yet. “Komos, come on” He hadn’t realized he had just been standing there and the agitation in her voice stung “sorry”
“about what? Just tell me, are you leaving?”
“No, why would you ask me that?”
“I don’t know, you’re killing me. Just tell me whatever it is” Komos knelt in front of where she had sat down on the bed and took her hands in his “I love you, I’d never leave your side Lenai. I didn’t mean to be an ass last night and I hated today. I llove you and I have for awhile. I can’t contain it any longer. You’re the woman I was meant to be with, my mate. The fear of telling you and you not wanting to be with me just made me a little on edge. My wolf and I need you Lenai you telling me you don’t feel the same would destroy me”
She looked near tears again as she pulled him into a hug “way to scare me this trip you jerk. You should have told me sooner. I love you too you annoying old man” He nestled his face into her neck and took in her scent which made Lenai blush. After a few moments of them just holding eachother he surprised her by licking up her neck, his wolf needing her and him still barely in control after having to control himself daily so many years. Goosebumps covered her and she felt him smile against her neck. He did it again and she gave a small moan.
He started slowly, still giving her time to stop him before he gave in to his animalistic lust completely. Once he was sure she was going to let him finally have her he was all over Lenai, biting, scenting, touching, squeezing. He was nearly overwhelmed with how intensely good this all felt. To see everything he had fantasized about doing to and with her was even better than he had pictured in his head. Orgasms ripped through Lenai, each moan only making him hungry for more. That sound, that sweet sound, he didn’t care if it was greedy he needed to keep causing it.
When he could stop himself they moved over to his bed and he pulled her close, holding her tightly. He felt such a desperate need for her and he had to keep her as close as possible. His Lenai was finally truly his. That night she slept like a rock but he couldn’t rest. He just admired her, the gorgeous woman in his arms. He couldn’t believe she had accepted him. He rubbed her back as she rested. Both to comfort her and to enjoy the feel of her skin. He only let her go when morning came so he could get them breakfast.
He woke Lenai with a kiss and she smiled at him, her eyes filling with a happiness it felt amazing to cause in her. They ate together and she asked “your mate huh?”
“You know what I mean by that beautiful. You’re my everything, the woman that was meant for me, the woman I would be heartbroken if I didn’t get to spend eternity with. I love you so much Lenai. I really do”
“You’re still a jerk, a sweet, old, jerk of a mate and I love you very much.”
“That’s a weird compliment.”
She leaned in, kissing him, making his heart and the wolf dance. He let out a little huff and sat their food aside so he could hold her. Her laugh parted their lips and he kissed down her neck as he pushed her down. “Easy, we have to leave today.” She giggled when he nibbled at her collar bone. “Komos, you can have me all you want once we’re home.”
He whined and she covered her mouth to keep from laughing any harder. She had never heard him make such a sound. “Sorry.” He finally said. “It’s just getting to have you now, it’s a little overwhelming. I just want to keep you to myself for awhile, away from others, from all those men.”
“Awe, you sound jealous.”
“Incredibly so, even before yesterday.” He pulled her up, giving her another brief kiss. “Your father is going to want to kill me.”
“I doubt it, I mean he trusts you the most and you’re the only one who can keep up with me.”
‘I still hope that no matter how he feels your feelings stay them same” Lenai gently caressed his face “You know my feelings won’t change but you have nothing to fear. My father trusts you with my life, theres no way he’d disapprove” The two gathered what little belongings they took on this journey, checked out and headed home. While Konis was concerned how his friend would feel he didn’t have half the nerves he had had when telling Lenai he loved her. Lenai wasn’t wasteing any time when they got home. Right after she was done hugging her father she said “dad, Komos needs to talk to you” Komos sighed, wishing she would have given him just a little more time. “Yes Komos?”
He decided just straight, simple truth without too much explanation was the best way to go. “I love your daughter and I’ve asked her to be my mate. She apparently loves me too and I’m hoping this doesn’t hurt our friendship in any way” Lenai’s father chuckled “are you kidding? You’re perfect for my daughter. Hearing this does nothing but make me happy.” Komos smiled and took Lenai back in his arms, needing to hold her again. They went to where Lenais mother was and told her the great news and they shared a celebratory dinner together. Komos didn’t know where their life was going to go from here but he did know he was the happiest man in the universe right now.
~ The End