Seth & Acantha

Chapter One

When Seth came to this world over thrity years ago he had let go of everything he thought about everybody since few people were the same here as they were where he came from. However, there was one person that was not getting the benefit of the doubt when Seth saw him at the pub he frequented. Seth waited for the bar tender to take his break then followed him into the alley behind the bar. The bartender hadn’t done anything wrong, in fact he and Seth had a pretty good relationship but Seth was too enraged seeing Thelonous again to be thinking about anything but protecting his mom. He shoved the bartender into the wall, holding tight to him. Panic instantly filled his eyes “Seth what’s wrong?” Seth looked furious and Adam couldn’t think of what he had done. “I’m not taking the time to explain it. I’m geting that fuck away from here. That man in the red and black clothes at the bar. You are going to ruffie his drink”

“Bu but Seth”

“No buts, You are going to do it. I’m going to protect her this time and you are going to help me. All you have to do is slip this in his drink and I’ll be taking him out of town to have a talk with him” Seth showed him the little baggie that Adam would need. “He was responsible for my mothers death Adam. I wont chance it.”

“Okay, okay, just let me go please. I’ll do it” Adam was smart enough to do what a Koopmann said when one of them was this angry. The only one he would still refuse this angry was Ambrose. Adam took the bag and did as Seth had asked of him. When the man passed out Seth picked him up, nobody saying a word. Seth ran out of town, far out of town. He needed this man and his monster as far away as possible. Seth had been training hard with Zane Sr so could run for hours, even carrying someone. When he could run no longer he threw the man on the ground and sat for a moment. He needed to gather his energy for what was about to happen. If this man was still that monsters slave he’d have to face it himself and if he was going to have any hope of living he couldn’t start out exhausted.

When the man finally woke Seth punched him in the face “God, please, let me go” Seth grabbed his shirt, pulling the man up and making him stand. “Why were you in that town?”

“What?”

“Why were you there!”

“I I”

“Dont make up some bullshit. You are a Shafneps pet aren’t you”

“How did you know?”

“Because in another worldline you came for my mother, Belle Martin, known as Belle Koopmann here.”

“She ended up being my Target? She has that special aspect to her blood my master needs?”

“Yes and it stands to reason I would too as her son”

“But mine likes female blood sir, please, I don’t serve him because I want to…I’ll go to another town…he’s not impatient with me yet”

“You aren’t fucking hurting anybody but me. I have her blood, test me”

“You…you know what it will do to you…you know the agony you’ll be in?”

“I do and it’s not going to hurt my mother again. Test me then mark me for him to come”

“But sir, he will come for you but when he realizes I marked a male for him he’ll…he’ll punish me after he’s done with you…bad…..please” The man started tearing up and Seth said “My father is Zane Koopmann, the famous assassin. Isn’t punishment worth the chance of me killing it? I’ve read up on this creature and what you go through. You’re tortured anyway, kept from your family. For all they know you’re dead. Do you know how much it tortures loved ones to not know whats happened to sombody they love?” The man started bawling. He was manly, built, though scar covered from head to toe. marred badly but not have as marred as Seth knew he’d be after this. Seth spoke again “Have a heart for somebody else. My mom wont be able to fight back. I will, mark someone who actually has a fucking chance”

The man thought for a bit, looking fearfully at Seth. He decided Seth was right. His predicament would be worse if he made his beast angry but Seth had a chance of killing it. He then also thought Zane Koopmann had a better chance so he tried. “Zane loves Belle, why don’t we try him?”

“Because my mom can’t lose him, she can’t lose anybody but me. Don’t get me wrong. These years have been so happy..they’ve given me so much love. I know they all love me but when it comes down to it she can’t love me as much as she loves my siblings and dad…I am her son but I didn’t come from this Belles womb…” Seth swallowed, seeming to hold back tears “I’m going to protect her this time. I’m going to pay them back for giving me such a good family with as little pain as possible. Belle will mourn me, I know, but at least it’ll hurt her to lose me less than it would anybody else. Doing this either way I win. I’ve learned it doesn’t stay in one world. It feeds on the one it’s pet has marked then it leaves and almost never revisits the same world. Either I kill it and it’s gone and you’re free too or it kills me and it leaves this place and my family is never in its path again. I can’t lose……test me, mark me now damn it!”

He thought Seth was crazy but he might be free so he tested Seth and the mark covered his body “you….your blood”

“Is a fucking match” Seth finished, void of emotion. He heard the monsters horrible screech in the distance, felt the quake of him coming and Thelonous vanished, probably back in his cage now. Seth turned into a dragon and flew. There was no escaping but there was getting even further from his family. It only needed one but if any of his other family was compatible it would kill them all if they were near and make what he was doing pointless. He refused to have any of them go down with him. Its largest recorded kill was twenty eight people because their family had tried to protect the one it was after.

Suddenly a large tentacle wrapped around Seth, pulling the dragon out of the sky and slamming him into the ground. Just the hold had been painful. It’s impossibly large tentacles were covered in large needle like things that left marks that would scar no matter what you were. The pain was unbearable as they dug deep into his body and he let out a loud cry, breathing his fire into the beast. He knew it was resistant to fire but it was just how his dragon form reacted to the excruciating pain. Acantha heard the dragons cry and came running, she smelled the Shafnep, had seen the mangled, scarred bodies they leave behind and ran to protect it’s target. She was a powerful demon and had taken one out before in the last world she lived in. She just hoped she could pull it off again.

Seth struggled to get loose, managing to free one arm pry the tentacle loose enough to slip away from. He shifted to his human form, rolling away from a second tentacle that slapped at him. Pain brought him down on one knee as he pulled his dagger free. “Come and get me you son of a bitch.” He challenged and pushed off the ground, sprinting at the large beast. He jumped onto the first tentacle and stabbed down, his dagger barely breaking the skin. The second tentacle slapped him away, sending him rolling across the ground. He was back on his feet, blood slipping down the side of his face. He took great punishment from the beast, his body in so much pain, adrenaline alone keeping him up. The tentacle once again wrapped around him and he screamed as it tightened its hold to the point he was sure a couple of his ribs broke. His heart twisted in pain at never seeing his family again, but he knew this was for the best.

Acantha broke through the forest, sprinting at the Shafnep that held tightly to its prey. She launched herself into the air, coming down on top of it as she reached into the pouch at her waist, grabbing a handful of the powder she had made to fight these things. It mimicked the scent of its prey. She threw it onto the Shafnep and jumped out of the way as it swatted at her. It went into a frenzy and began attacking itself, thinking it was the blood it so craved. It dropped the man in its grasp, the large needles on its tentacles piercing its flesh. She ran to the man, hooking her arms under his and dragging him quickly away. He was limp, unconscious and covered in blood. She checked his pulse, a small amount of relief flowing through her when she found it. The Shafnep screeched and she knew she had to completely destroy it before it recovered. It had opened up holes in itself and she called on her magic as she rushed it once more.

Zane came back from hanging out with Zane Jr and Ryan to find Belle sitting down, looking worried and sad. “what’s wrong?” He asked, going towards her. “Seth still isn’t home. I know he’s a grown man but he’s been acting funny and last night I wanted him to go on a walk with me and he said he had to go to the bar..he’s never chosen going somewhere else when I wanted him and now he’s not home today” He sighed and lifted her out of the chair and into a hug “when we see Seth again I’ll have a talk with him okay?”

“I just want to be sure he’s okay Zane. This just isn’t like him. Something has been bothering him the past few days”

“I saw it too. I was just giving him some time to talk to us about whatever it was. As you said he’s a grown man”

Acantha rushed the badly wounded man to her home then took off for her brothers. He lived close but she knew a lot of damage had been done to his organs and it was best to have him moving as little as possible before her brother took care of him. Her brother could teleport anywhere he had been before anyway so as soon as she got there he would be able to get to the wounded dragon in her room. “I need you at my house now!” she said as she burst through his door. He saw the blood covering his sister and asked no questions before picking up his daughter, grabbing his sister and teleporting them.

They appeared in her living room and she pulled him into her bedroom. He had quickly put his daughter down on teh couch before entering with her and he was glad he did. She didn’t need to see what laid on his sisters bed. He didn’t have to ask a thing, he recognized wounds like that and began his work. He rambled off things he needed and Acantha ran off. She brought back what was needed and went to talk to her niece. “Hey sweetie, I’m sorry to take your dad away”

“are you hurt?”

“No, this is someone elses blood”

“Is he going to be okay?” she could tell the scent was male. “Yeah, your dad will make sure of that. I’m going to go get clean but do you need anything first?”

“I have to potty”

“Okay” Acantha walked to the bathroom with her niece, helped her then set her up with some toys to play with while she showered and her dad helped that poor man. Acantha felt bad for him, for the scars he would forever bare. She hated those horrible creatures and wished there was a way to eradicate them but unless they were hunting they were near impossible to find. She hoped he would appreciate surviving and not go into a depression over his marred body. He was attacked by one and survived. It was more than most could say.

Chapter Two

Pain sliced through him like so many sharp knives, piercing all the way down to the bone it seemed. Seth could hear his heart beating. It was so loud, like someone was banging a drum close to his ears. He couldn’t be alive, if he was alive that means he had failed. He tried moving, but his body refused to respond. He knew he was in bad shape. He groaned, his lung instantly hurting. “Don’t move,” the voice sounded muffled as if from a distance, “you were attacked. You’re badly injured.” He wanted to say he knew, but he couldn’t speak, he was too weak and he slowly faded back into unconsciousness.

“How is he?” Acantha asked when she finally returned to her brother and the wounded man.

“He woke up briefly. I managed to get the internal bleeding under control and now I’m realigning his bones. His body seems to be helping.”

“It’s the dragon blood.”

Ingrum nodded. “He’s lucky, I wonder what he was thinking engaging a Shafnep, smart people run.”

“He probably thought he had no choice.”

“Let me clean him up while you continue healing him.” She checked on Farrah as she passed through the living room to the kitchen where she filled a bowl with warm water. She grabbed a couple of rags and a towel out of the bathroom then went back to wash away as much blood as she could. It was as she was cleaning his face she felt a strange familiarity with him and she gently nudged her brother. “Doesn’t he look familiar?”

Ingrum cocked his head to the side. “He looks kind of like…no, but he only has four sons right?”

“Who?”

“The assassin, but this one looks a lot like him.” He brushed that aside for now. “We heal him first then we ask once he wakes. It could just be a coincidence.”

The next day when Seth still wasn’t back Zane went to the bar he knew his son liked to see where he had gone from there. Belle was right, this wasn’t like him at all and it was too drastic of a change at once to be normal. He went straight to the bar tender and asked “Did my son come here the night before last?”

“seth right?” He was just clarifying since Zane had multiple sons. “Yeah, I haven’t seen him since he left with that man he had me Rufie” Zane gave him a confused look “wait, back up, what?”

“I don’t know sir, he was really angry. He said the man he wanted me to Rufie was responsible for his mother dyeing. I guess back in his timeline.” he could see in Zane’s face he had known nothing about it. Shock turned into a flurry of concern and anger. Why hadn’t he talked to them for starters and what if the man wasn’t intending his mother harm in this line. He could have done something stupid to an innocent man. He should have come to him and if Seth had hurt an innocent man he would be sure to put his son in line for it. “thank you” Zane said then left.

When Seth woke again his had was much more clear than before. He could hear normally but he was still in horrible pain. Seth groaned and felt a cold rag dabbing his head. He opened his eyes to see a beautiful woman with cat ears and yellow eyes. Her smile was warm, her voice gentle as she began to speak “You’re going to hurt for awhile. I got there as quick as I could” She didn’t think she should spring what he looked like on him until the pain went down more. “Is it dead?”

“Yes, I took care of it then brought you here to mend you. Did you try to run? You’re a dragon, it’s pet didn;t give you any insight into what was going to happen? Most feel so guilty for what they are forced to do they give warning”

“I knew and I didn’t fly high and away because i wanted it to attack me. Being a demon you should be able to wrap your mind around my story so I’ll tell you the truth of it.” Seth explained he was from a different timeline, he explained his life there, his bond with his mother and how she died by one of those. “It’s pet marked her when she let him in out of the rain. He tested her and the mark appeared over her body. The next day I found my mother mangled and dead. I found out what had killed her, studied it. When I saw that same man in this timeline I knew what he was here for. He was looking for food for it’s monster. I figured being her son I’d have the blood it needed and thankfully I did.”

“So you are Zane’s son, Belles your mom. I find it hard to believe Belle of all people would allow you to sacrifice herself. They are a tight group. I would expect they would have all fought with you to protect her”

“I didn’t tell them that day I spotted him in town…I wanted to take care of this with as little pain to her as possible. She couldn’t lose any of them. She loves me and I know she never wants to lose me but I’m not as much of her kid as her others ones…I didn’t come from this Belles womb and Zane, he is her soulmate. I figured loseing me would hurt the least and I would win no matter what happened. Once they feed the move to another world. Either I killed it and kept her safe or I died and kept her safe…Who knew there was a third option. Thank you….I’m grateful” another surge of pain so powerful went through him he had to pause speaking. When he could talk again he said “Le…let me do somthing for you when I’m better.”

“You should be resting, not worrying about paying me back.”

He grabbed her wrist and her heart jumped. “Please?”

She smiled. “Rest for me, that would make me happy. I’ll get your parents okay?” He brushed her fingers through his hair, being as gentle as possible.

“I…I must look bad.”

“You’ll have scars on your body and a couple of smaller ones on your face.”

“It’s alright.” He sounded near sleep and she stroked his hair until he closed his eyes. She sighed, relieved he was alive, but truly upset he had said such things about his parents. She had seen them around with their children, had heard of Zane killing for them, and of how warmly Belle accepted all of them and raised them with such love. How could she not love Seth in the same way.

“How is he?” Her brother asked as he looked up from his book. He had stayed over just in case.

“Alright, still in pain. I’m going to talk to his family, will you watch him for me?”

“Of course.”

Acantha hugged her niece “Continue being good for your dad and let the nice man rest okay?”

“Okay” She looked at her brother “I love you” They always said I love you before they parted incase anything happened. It stemmed from loseing their parents. They would give anything to have told them they loved them the last time they saw them alive. Acantha took off to the castle. They lived pretty far out but she was fast, even for a demon. When she got to town she inquired about Zane and Belle’s address and eventually found their home. Belle answered and Acantha spoke first “I’m sorry to bother you Mrs Koopmann but my brother is tending to your wounded son. I’d like to take you and” Zane appeared behind her and caused Acantha to lose her train of thought a moment. She soon continued “and Zane to him”

“what happened?” She repeated the story Seth gave her and she teared up. “He feels like he’s not as special to me as my other children” her lip quivered “that idiot”

“Oh he’s going to know what an idiot he is when I’m done talking to that boy”

“Hes already hurt Zane. Dont you dare be mean to him”

“Hes not going to do shit like this ever again Belle.” He looked at Acantha “what is your name miss?”

“Acantha”

“Thank you for getting us Acantha and for however you helped him.” She gave a small bow and Zane said “none of that. I’ll shift, you two will ride me and give me directions” They went to the nearby clearing and Zane shifted then allowed his wife and Acantha on his back.

The journey there was quick and when Zane landed, Ingrum stepped outside to see what was going on. He was relieved to see his sister hop down from the back of the dragon along with Belle. Zane shifted back and Acantha guided them inside and to her bedroom where Seth was still asleep. “My god, my baby.” Belle said as she rushed to his side and dropped down on the bed, her finger gently brushing his hair aside.

“How could he do something so stupid?” Zane said as he sat next to his wife, his face dropping into his hands. “I taught him better than to act recklessly. He should have said something to me.”

“Is he going to be alright?” Belle asked, tears dripping off her chin.

“Yes, he’s strong so I believe he’ll make it. He’ll have scars, but other than that he’ll be fine.” Acantha reassured.

“How could he even begin to think we would love him any less? He’s our son no matter what world or timeline.” Zane hugged her and she turned into him, her body shaking with each sob.

Acantha decided to give them some time alone with their son and she felt like she was going to cry with them. Seth seemed like such a good person and he had no idea how lucky he was to have his parents. She went into the kitchen, getting a glass of water to help calm her. She hoped he would see now just how loved he truly was how much they would miss him if he had died.

Her brother came up to her and gave Acantha a hug “Are you okay sister?”

“It’s just seeing his parents”

“well he’ll know plainly now just how much he means to them”

“Yeah”

“I still miss our parents too Acantha” he whispered and they soon felt the arms of Farrah “No sad” They broke the hug and Ingrum lifted his daughter “No sad baby” When Seth woke again he heard his mother crying and slowly opened his eyes, crying himself at the sound. His mother was alive, he had protected her this time. “Mom” he said in a whisper. She pushed out of Zanes arms to hug her son “Seth, don’t you do that again” she started crying as hard as she had originally and he held her back, crying with her at the joy she was alive and safe. “don’t cry mom”

“Acantha told us what you said to her. You mean every bit as much to me as my other children. You are ours no matter where you came from”

“I just…I was only trying to keep you safe” Belle held his cheek and caressed it with her thumb but Zane wasn’t going to have any of her going easy on him about this and stood beside the bed “You don’t ever do somthing like this again. You know how badly you worried your mother and I? You could have died and broken Belles heart. That was stupid. I taught you better. We’re a team, a family damn it! I’m so angry at you right now Seth. We would have protected you”

“I didn’t want anybody else hurt..I’m sorry dad”

“families stick together Seth. Next time anything remotely similiar comes up you are to tell me. Don’t just handle it on your own. We can’t lose you, Belle can’t. She would have mourned for you for eternity”

Seth cried harder and his father finally hugged both of them. “S…sorry.” He had been so stupid to believe they wouldn’t miss him as much. He hated himself for hurting them, especially his mother. He had fought so hard to get to her only to foolishly try and sacrifice himself. His need to protect her at only caused her pain.

When Acantha went back to check on them, Seth was out after crying himself into exhaustion. “Would you like something to eat or drink?” She asked and Belle wiped her face then got to her feet and hugged Acantha.

“Thank you so much.”

“My brother healed him.”

“You both saved his life, we could never properly repay you, but if there is anything we can do, please ask.” Zane said.

“I’m just happy he has you and that he’s alive.”

“When will he be able to fully move?” Zane asked.

“It depends, he fought hard and took a lot of damage.”

“Would it be alright if he stayed with you until he’s strong enough? With us being able to fly, it wouldn’t take long to travel back and forth.”

“Zane, should we leave him?” Belle was worried about their son to the point she was near tears again.

“He needs clothes love and you can make him his favorite cookies. We also need to tell his brothers and sisters. I promise to bring you back in the morning.”

“He’d be safe here, I know how to fight.” Acantha reassured. She was afraid that moving him might hurt him, but she understood Belle’s hesitation. This was her baby. “I promise I won’t let any harm come to him. I swear on my life.”

“Okay, we’ll be back then” Belle wanted to hug her son again but didn’t wan to accidentally hurt him so she left with her husband. Acantha went into his room and gently stroked his sleeping head. Before she went to bed for the night she whispered “You seem like a really great guy Seth. You probably have a ton of people overflowing with love for you. Try never to be so reckless again, you’d hurt more people deeper than you probably realize if you died” She caught herself leaning down to kiss his forehead and stopped herself with a blush, quickly leaving his room.

She was glad her brother and niece had already laid down for the night. She would have been embarrassed if he would have asked why she left the room so quickly. She calmed herself and slipped under her covers for the night. She had no idea why she had done that but she was glad she caught herself. He was depending on her and her brother for care, she shouldn’t be kissing him.

Seth trying to get up the next morning woke her and she had to wrestle herself free from her blankets and run just to get to him. He looked so determined and she gently pushed against his chest to get him to lay back down. “I don’t want to be in bed.” He said and she smiled warmly.

“You’re as weak as a kitten, it didn’t even take me much pressure to get you to lay back down.”

He blushed. “I hate feeling so helpless.”

“Just give me a moment.”

Seth relaxed back into the mattress when she left and was happy when she returned with more pillows and helped him sit up. “Thank you.”

“How are you feeling today?”

“Better thanks to you and your brother.” He looked down at his hands, feeling upset again. “I really hurt my parents.”

“What you did was stupid.”

He sighed. “I know, it’s just finding her before, holding what was left of her, it ate at me. I hate myself for thinking they could never love me as much as my siblings.”

Acantha took his hand. “You came from her no matter where you’re from. I would give anything to see my parents one more time, you’re very lucky.”

He smiled. “I know, I don’t think I can ever make it up to them.”

“Sure you can, get better and stop thinking you have to do everything on your own.” She patted his hand. “I’m going to get you something to eat.”

When his parents came back with clothes and a few of his favorite foods his mother hugged him again “I love you so much mom. I’m sorry I let my fear of loseing you again make me stupid…I really thought I was protecting you in the best way possible”

“as long as you promise you’ll never do something like that again it’s okay Seth. I know you did it out of love. You were willing to give up your life for me. I’m so lucky to have such loving children.” This time Zane hugged him too “I know I was hard on you but I needed you to understand what I was saying. You really would have wounded your mothers heart forever if you died. She treasures all of you so much. Your mother may not collect things like most dragons do but thats because she gives life to her treasures” Seth smiled “I love you too dad”

He looked at his mother glancing over his torso and could see pain in her eyes “It’s okay mom. I don’t mind.”

“good, you’re still very handsome Seth”

“the spitting image of your dad and the women are always trying to get his attention from Belle” Ingrum suddenly said. He had come in to check Seths wounds and tend to him. Zane shook his head and Belle smiled “I made plenty so you and your sister could have some too. I’ll keep bringing food until he’s better. Is there anything you like?”

“Oh don’t worry about me. My daughter loves brownies though”

“Your daughter?’ They hadn’t seen her. “she’s in the living room. She’s only four and I didn’t think Seth here would like her in his room”

“she’s fine” Seth said and Ingrum answered “when I’ve tended to you I’ll bring her in for you to meet. “is your mate here too?” Belle asked, assuming she just hadn’t seen her either. “No, her mother left the night she was born. I’ve been raising her on my own and it’s made me the happiest I’ve ever been” He smiled at them and Belle felt embarrassed she had asked something like that. Ingrum picked up on it “that was a reasonable question. In the demon world it’s pretty rare for a father to actual raise a child without the mother. Especially a daughter, I understand.”

Chapter Three

Seth winced as Ingrum examined his wounds and asked him questions about how he was feeling. He felt bruised all over and it was hard getting his body to respond to his demands. Ingrum explained it was normal and that he would be able to move better once he was more healed. The only permanent damage would be the scars. “I think I might have trouble eating.” He said in embarrassment.

“I’ll help you.” Acantha volunteered.

“You don’t have too.”

“It’s fine, I want to so just let me.”

“My sister is stubborn so I would just relent.” Ingrum said before sticking his head out the door and calling for his daughter. Acantha went and spooned some of the soup Belle had brought into a bowl and followed her niece into the bedroom.

“Hi.” Farrah said as she grabbed her father’s hand and let him lead her closer. “Hurt?” She pointed at his scars.

“Just a little.” Seth said with a warm smile.

“She’s so cute.” Belle said as she dropped down to the little girl’s level. “What’s your name sweetie?”

Farrah looked up at her dad and he nodded. “Farrah.”

“That’s a really pretty name.”

Farrah blushed and Ingrum patted her head. “She’s really the sweetest little girl.”

“I bet.”

Seth felt a little embarrassed being babied in front of everyone, but he ate anyway, feeling absolutely ravenous as his body healed. He enjoyed everyone’s company and talked between bites. Farrah was curious about them being dragons and Zane offered to show her if it was okay with Ingrum and even take her up as long as her father was with her.

Daddy! Daddy please!” she asked her father excitedly and he smiled down at her then looked at Zane “she’d obviously love to. Thank you” Ingrum went out with Zane and his daughter. Belle walked over and kissed Seths cheek “I’ll leave you two alone for a few moments” She wasn’t quite sure what it was but something told her feelings were stirring between her son and Acantha and she would be the last to make it harder for her kids to land a mate. Acantha finished feeding him then set the bowl down on his night stand “thirsty?”

“I hate to be a pain in the ass but yeah, weird since I just ate soup”

“towards the end of the healing process you’ll feel like you’ve just went a week without water. It’s why I asked, your dragon blood is impressive but I know it comes from Irim so thats to be expected.”

“I think Irim actually inspires more fear than my dad”

“I dont think I’d make either mad” she said with laughter in her tone. He sucked air through his teeth and the smile faded “I wish we could heal you faster. My brother and I are doing all we can do.”

“My mom is alive and unmkarked by that beast. It’s worth every second of this pain. She’s really the best, you have no idea”

“I’ve heard nothing but good things but you should quit talking. You’ll hurt less” He really wanted to be held and the second huge wave of pain made him lose the pride that kept him from asking “please lay with me Acantha” he forced out and she instantly obeyed, slipping into bed. She tried to lay herself strategically but she knew she had to still be hurting him.

“Is this okay?”

“Yeah, thank you so much.”

“Where does it hurt most?”

Seth huffed out a laugh then winced in pain. “Everywhere, but don’t worry about it, this is helping.”

“As long as you’re sure.”

He nodded and rested his head on top of hers. She was so warm and he wanted very much to hold her, but it hurt to use his arms. He let out a contented sigh, able to mostly ignore the pain with her so close. He inhaled her scent, wanting to always be able to find her. “You smell sweet.” He said softly and she blushed, her heart flipping.

“It might be my shampoo.”

“It’s nice.”

“Thank you.”

“Sorry if that’s weird, I don’t really know what to talk about.”

“Say whatever you want, I just want you to heal.”

“how long have you lived here?”

“Um..” she had to think, she hadn’t really been keeping track “probably around two hundred years…I’m kind of an old lady compared to you I’d imagine” Seth would have laughed if it didn’t hurt so bad “You are far too beautiful to be an old lady. Between a demon and dragon what are years anyway” she blushed “true” What was he talking about? Was he expressing interest in her. She hoped he’d keep talking and clarify more. Her hope didn’t come true, at least for now. He fell back asleep. It was for the best though, rest is what he needed most.

She wasn’t sure how long she should stay with him, how long was appropriate so she waited. The bedroom door pushed slowly open a few minutes later and she blushed when she saw Belle stick her head in. “Sorry, I didn’t realize he was sleeping.” She whispered as she stepped inside and gently closed the door. She dropped down on her knees next to the bed and gave Acantha a warm smile. “How is he?”

“Still in pain. He asked me to lay with him.”

“Don’t look so embarrassed, it’s okay. I was just coming to tell him that Zane and I are going to head back. Would you tell him we love him when he wakes and that’s we’ll be back to check on him?”

“Of course.”

“Thank you sweetie and don’t be afraid to come by if something comes up or if you and your brother just need a break.”

“Thank you.” Belle stood then brushed a kiss onto her son’s forehead before leaving them alone again and Acantha thought her heart might explode from embarrassment.

When Zane and Belle got home she excitedly told her husband “She was laying in bed with him Zane” He chuckled as he opened the door and they stepped inside “Now I just need to worry about Ambrose…I wish the women here understood him better..I know he can be a jerk but he has a good heart” Zane rested a hand on her head “There will come a whirlwind of a woman one day. Don’t you worry. The problem is it takes a lot to deal with him so not just any woman fits the bill” Acantha still hadn’t moved when her brother came in to check on Seth again. “Great” she thought “now he’s going to see. I should have gotten up” He smiled “sister” She started to push out of his arms and he woke.

She had feared that would happen which was why she hadn’t moved. “don’t go…”

“My brother wants to tend to you again. I’ll lay with you more after if you want.” She walked out to eat, drink and use the bathrom. “You like my sister?” Ingrum asked as he began his work. “She’s brave and kind and…well”

“Beautiful?”

“yeah”

“I don’t mind, don’t worry. She hasn’t had a mate since even years before my daughter was born. It’s about time she had someone again”

“How?” Seth asked and Ingrum laughed “she doesnt date lugheads. She has to see a good heart. That can be hard to find”

“I think I’d chase her to the ends of the earth just for one date.”

Ingrum chuckled. “As long as you’re good to her, I give you my blessing.”

Acantha was blushing as she stood outside the bedroom door, her hand on the doorknob. She wondered if she had heard correctly. She was standing there for so long that her brother pulling the door open from the other side surprised. “Um, so, is everything okay?” She asked, trying to hide her embarrassment.

“Much better actually. Are you okay sister?”

“Shut up and just go do dad stuff.”

He grinned. “And you get back to tending your dragon.” He moved past her and she resisted the urge to smack him in the back of the head. She crossed over to Seth who was smiling happily up at her.

“How are you feeling?”

“Better, I do have one request though.”

“Anything if it helps.”

“I need to use the bathroom and I’d like to bathe if that’s okay.”

“Do you think you can get up?”

“With your help, I’m sure I could manage, though it might take us an hour to get there.”

“It’s normal to feel weak, take your time.” Acantha threw clothes that his parents had brought over her shoulder then helped Seth up. “ah” he groaned and scruntched his eyes “I feel like I’m burning alive now”

“By tomorrow you should be able to stand without that feeling. Not only were those spikes taking blood some of its own is in you. You’d hurt a lot less if it weren’t for that” He tried not to be a wimp as she took him to the bathroom. She blushed when they got there, she realized she would have to help him with his pants. “Um…you need help with your pants right?” she asked and he said “If it will be too much to ask no”

“It’s not” she said then helped him lside them and his underwear down. She looked away quickly but was a deep crimson at the brief sight of his manhood. Her heart was pounding so hard even a human would have been able to tell. She helped him onto the toilet then began running the bath, glad she had something to do with herself. “I’m sorry my muscles just feel useless”

“They have a bunch of holes in them Seth, they are healing but even for a dragon it’s normal for you to struggle to do basic things” When the water was ready she helped him to the tub and said “I’m worried you might kind of slide in and drown yourself. Can..Can I stay?”

“If you’d like” she had already seen all of him, what did it matter now?

“I think I might just stay here forever.” Seth said with a small laugh.

“The water will get cold.”

“Well good thing I have you to keep it warm then.”

“Oh so I’m supposed to just sit in here the whole time you’re healing?”

“Well of course, I’d drown right?”

“You’re lucky you’re in so much pain.”

He just smiled and winked at her. “You’re lucky I can’t use my arms or I’d pull you in here. Threatening to hurt a sick and injured man, you monster.”

She brushed some hair away from his face. “I’m really glad you made it Seth, having to tell your parents you died would have been hard. I also wouldn’t get to talk to you like this.”

“Me too, I’m lucky to have met you.”

‘Um…I wasn’t trying to ease drop but…I heard what you said to my brother..”

“about wanting to be with you?”

“Yeah”

“do you want me?” He seemed so hopeful. She smiled “very much, I think you’d make a good mate.”

“Now I’m going to be even more impatient to get better.” She smiled “Just behave, don’t try to do more than you’re able”

“Only if you promise to lay with me at night”

“It hurts you”

“It’s worth it” he said softly, admiration in his eyes. She blushed “stop looking at me like that” she said to the floor and he laughed, “I can’t help how I look at you Acantha”

“do..do you need help washing?”

“yeah” She helped him and spent the next days tending to him until he was finally back to full health. Her brother examined him proudly “I guess it’s because he’s a dragon but his scars don’t look nearly as bad as that last persons”

“No, not atall” Acantha agreed. “well, I’ll leave you two love birds alone then. Acantha, you know where I am if you need me again. ” she hugged her brother tightly “thank you for coming” she hugged her niece “I love you so much sweetie, so so much”

“Love you too Auntie” Acantha was feeling a little shy now that she was alone with Seth. He smiled humorously at her “I just want to cuddle if that’s fine with you” She was glad he wasn’t asking to have sex with her. She didn’t know if she was ready yet, it had been so long.

Seth dropped down on the couch and pulled her onto his lap, his arms locking around her and his lips pressing a gentle kiss to her neck. Goosebumps covered her skin and he grinned when she blushed. “You’re so cute Acantha.” He reached up and stroked her cheek. “Like a sweet, little kitten.”

His teasing made her heart flutter and she covered her face and tried to get her uncontrollable blushing under control. “Stop, it’s not fair.”

He gently pried her hands away from her face and smiled sweetly at her. “May I have a kiss?”

“Yeah.”

“You don’t want one?”

“I do, it’s just, I’m nervous. It’s been a long time.” She looked at her hands.

“Hey,” he gently lifted her chin, “I just want a kiss, everything else is up to you.”

He pulled her slowly in, wishing she wouldn’t pull away but ready to let her. He could have sworn his heart stopped a moment when their lips met. Such a strong feeling rushed through him he couldn’t think. All there was was her lips against his. Acantha felt at ease at the very instant their lips touched. Her nerves seemed to be gone and she was glad for it. With the absence of a mate had been absence of sex and she couldn’t lie to herself and say she hadn’t missed that. She was the one to make the kiss more passionate and Seth happily went along. He didn’t want her going any further than she wanted so every increase in passion she initiated.

Soon they were tugging eachothers clothes off, Seth onl stopping her when she went for his underwear “you sure baby?”

“I am, this just feels so perfect..” He smiled. She could see the lust and happiness in his eyes and she knew her own were mirrors of it. She removed his underwear and they made love multiple times that evening. When they were done they just held eachother, feeling more at peace and happy than ever before.

~ The End

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