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Halcyon & Fane 2

Chapter One

“Hey Fane, did you hear me.”

Fane looked up from the file he had been so engrossed in and Halcyon smiled. “Sorry.” He felt embarrassed that he had been ignoring him. “What did you say?” He held up and pretty cream colored envelope. It had already been opened and Fane took it, pulling out the card inside. He read it then looked back up at Halcyon. “It’s a wedding invitation.” read more

Nelly & Peadair

Nelly woke , lifting her head up off the window she had been resting against. She was still on the this train with a terrible feeling in her stomach that nobody but her seemed to get. The first day she had woken confused but one of her fellow passengers explained they were all going home. The explanation had settled her at the time. It wasn’t until this morning, four days later that it hit her “going home from where?” She decided to ask “Where have we been?” another question hit her and she asked it right away “and where is home?” The question seemed to perplex the man she asked. read more

Aurelia & Rees 2

He couldn’t believe it, she was really pregnant “and you think it’s been two months?”

“Yeah and…I’ve been suspicious for about a month now so I’ve had a lot of time to think. I really want to seek out my parents. I’ve wanted so badly to introduce them to you, Pretoria and Brynmor anyway and now that they’ll have, well, sort of their first grandchild it’s time. I know you’re scared for me to leave but you three will be right with me Rees” She had returned to him almost three years ago and as frightening as it truly was she was right so he fought down his protective instincts and agreed they should journey to find her parents. “How will we find them though” she walked over to a nearby drawer and pulled out a necklace. read more

Paimon & Pellegrino

Chapter One

“Paimon, come on we should have left already.” Pellegrino said as he walked into the room Paimon was using at the castle. “What’s taking…” he froze, his heart jumping in his chest when he saw Paimon standing there naked, drying his hair. Paimon’s eyes collided with his and he swallowed. “I…sorry, I should have knocked, I…” He turned around to leave and Paimon was suddenly standing there, closing the door, the towel wrapped around his waist.

“Well hello to you too Pellegrino.” Paimon’s eyes twinkled with his trademark amusement. “Can I help you?”

“Uh, our trip…I just came to get you.” He hadn’t expected him to be completely naked. He often walked into Paimon’s house without knocking.

“Oh that’s right.” He chuckled. “I’m afraid I slept in. If you’ll just give me a moment to get dressed.”

“Of course, sorry.”

Paimon chuckled again, not seeming bothered in the slightest that Pellegrino had seen him naked. Paimon was confident in his body and if anybody was going to see him naked he wanted it to be the prince. Paimon dressed slowly, a wide smile on his face as he enjoyed teasing the very nervous Pellegrino. Once dressed he hugged Pellegrino from behind and whispered in his ear “I’m ready now” chuckling again at how he reacted. Paimon let his body go but took the prince’s hand and tugged him out. Pellegrino was once again left not knowing what to do. Paimon was a lot to be around but he enjoyed every second of it.

Paimon took a detour to the kitchen where he grabbed a bag he had packed the night before with snacks for the road. He wasn’t particularly worried about supplies, confident in his ability to easily provide for them. “ How long are we going to be gone?” Pellegrino asked.

“A few days. Why, are you scared to be alone with me? Afraid I might bite?” He chuckled at the prince’s stuttering heart. He truly did love teasing him, especially since he was so innocent.

“No, never.”

“Don’t worry, I promise to make every moment incredibly enjoyable my sweet prince.”

Paimon kept possession of prince Pellegrino’s hand even as they left the castle, wanting him to stay close. He knew the prince liked it anyway. He was often tempted to tell the prince that the feeling was mutual but Paimon enjoyed this phase far too much. They had forever so what did it matter how long they were here. Eventually the prince would admit their feelings and they’d still have eternity together. Right now, things were adorable but a part of him did hope maybe this trip would be what got Pellegrino to admit he wanted to be in a relationship with him.

“What are we going to be doing exactly?” Pellegrino asked.

“It’s a surprise my prince, or perhaps you’d like me to spoil it for you?”

“No, well maybe a hint?”

“Hmmm.” Paimon tapped his chin. “It’s fun and interesting and you get me all to yourself.” He teased and Pellegrino’s cheeks flushed. “It’ll just be you and me.”

“Oh, I see.”

“There’s going to be hot springs.”

“Really?”

“Mmhmm and you’ll love it there, I promise.”

“I’m surprised you’re not dragging me off to mess with someone.” Pellegrino said with a nervous chuckle.

“I’m not all tricks, my prince, sometimes I like to unwind and be “normal” for awhile.”

“so did anything keep you up last night?”

“Not really, It was just one of those nights I fell asleep particularly hard” Pellegrino didn’t say anything back so Paimon asked “what have you done this morning?”

“talked to some friends who stopped me on the way to your home”

“Oh, which friends?”

“Míos, Enfulid and Enfulid’s most recent fling.”

“He never does stay with anyone more than a few months. Were they just saying goodbye?”

“Mostly, Mios also decided to bring up again why we don’t just teleport where we are going.”

“Part of the fun is traveling there”

“That’s what I told him. He said if he had that ability its all he would do”

“That’s what you think but its not as fun when you’ve been able to do it all your life”

“Says the guy who likes to sneak up on people, me included, and scare them.”

“I prefer the term surprise and don’t pretend you don’t enjoy it.”

“I admit life would be boring without you.”

“True, I’m pretty amazing.”

“You are, I mean it.” He felt embarrassed so he cleared his throat and focused on the road ahead. Even so, he could see Paimon smiling out of the corner of his eye. It wasn’t fair how beautiful he was, how easily he wrapped people around his little finger. He had been captivated from the moment they had met.

Paimon couldn’t get over how sweet Pellegrino was and how adorable he was in his obliviousness. He was so innocent in comparison to himself, he wondered how he would react to being seduced. “Oh, would you mind if we took a little detour? It’s a shortcut, but I think you’ll like it.”

“Okay, whatever you want.”

“Keep saying that and I might just collect.” He winked and then chuckled when he heard Pellegrino’s heart quicken.

They were soon turning where the detour began, walking silently side by side due to the fact Paimon was now hooked into the idea of suddenly seducing him at some point during this journey. He just had to plan how and when. He didn’t mind this phase but the urge to actually mate with him grew stronger and stronger every time they hung out. If he kept just teasing Pellegrino and waiting for him to confess he didn’t know how much longer he was going to have to wait for sex, possibly years and that tipped the scales a little into how much fun it would be to seduce such a sweet, innocent man.

Pellegrino noticed small changes starting to occur as they walked. The grass was growing more vibrant but the trees, once green and full bodied were starting to look more like they belonged to fall weather. He began looking more intently at everything which Paimon noticed “Of course, he’s thinking of nature and I’m thinking about making love to him” he thought to himself.

“What happened here?” He pointed. “There’s snow back there.”

“My theory is a magic user may have been practicing changing the weather and it got out of hand. I call it the Forest of Seasons.”

“It’s magnificent.”

“You’re better.” He gently bumped into him.

“You’re teasing.”

“Am I? I think I’m being incredibly honest. If I had to choose between you and this place, I’d definitely choose you. You’re far to entertaining and pure to pass up.” He teased.

“I’m not pure.”

“Oh? Do tell sweet prince.”

“I…well…” he rubbed the back of his neck, “okay, so maybe I am more pure than I thought.”

Paimon chuckled. “That’s okay, it’s actually quite adorable.” He grinned. “Besides, I have enough experience for both of us.”

“Paimon, come on.” He looked away. “So, tell me more about this place? Are there any animals or anything?”

He really wanted to talk about anything other than Paimons previous exploits with lovers. He knew he meant that in other ways too but it still made him uncomfortable. Paimon easily transitioned over to a new topic, always feeling it was a subject that did nothing but make his mate uncomfortable. He had hoped at first it might interest him but it never so much as slightly peaked his interest though he couldn’t blame him. He knew from experience with others who had slept around just because someone had sex a lot didn’t mean they were good at it. When you get people in bed they don’t get a preview of how good you are so your skill in bed has nothing to do with how many you’ve been with.

He wasn’t sure how that idea even got started. Sometimes having a multitude of partners actually meant you were pretty bad at it, as in, beings weren’t coming back for more after they had you once so you had to bed someone new. “there’s actually an amazing variety of animals this way. Since there are so many seasons a lot can live in different areas of this place”

“Thanks for bringing me this way” Paimon smiled, charming as always “things like this is precisely why I enjoy walking with you instead of teleporting”

“can we stay for the night when we’re about halfway through? I don’t want to rush through here”

“That’s fine with me, just gives us more time together”

Pellegrino wanted to explore the different parts of the forest and Paimon happily followed, even pelting him with a snowball at one point. When Pellegrino went to retaliate, he was suddenly behind him and smashing another over his head. “That’s so unfair.” Pellegrino said with a laugh.

“The look on your face is always priceless though, I can’t help it.” He helped dust Pellegrino off. “Come on, we’ll stay in Spring.”

“Alright.”

He took Pellegrino’s hand again and pulled him through the woods, moving out of the snow to a more warm and vibrant area. He marveled at how brightly colored the plants were and also at the heat radiating from the area. It was like both Spring and Summer had taken up residence here and it was amazing. “This is perfect.”

“There’s no need for a fire when it’s like this.” He dropped his pack in the grass and stretched. “So, what do you think so far? Good trip? Bad?”

“It’s perfect.” Pellegrino sat down and leaned back against a tree. “So, have you come here often?”

“Of course, I love it here, why?”

“No reason.”

Paimon could see the question in his eyes. He was wondering if he had brought anyone else here. “You know, I used to travel alone, mostly following Jarius and making him angry. I spent time with others of course, but I never brought them to my favorite places.” He went and sat down in front of Pellegrino, taking his hand. “You’re the only one.”

He could see how much that meant to Pellegrino, the look he had on his face was so adorable he kissed his forehead. “You hungry?” he asked before Pellegrino could say anything. “It probably would be good to hunt before we’re too hungry” he semi stuttered and Paimon chuckled, come, lets hunt together. Paimon knew the area so Pellegrino followed his lead. They didn’t end up too far before nabbing and quickly killing an animal. They prepared it together, it producing so much they could eat off it for days if they kept it stored properly but Paimon had magic for that.

“Let me cook it, I found this particularly good way to use this meat”

“alright” Pellegrino watched Paimon, always eager to learn.

“How did you get it to taste so good?” Pelligrino asked when they were finally eating. “I watched you and I don’t remember you putting much on there.”

Paimon shrugged. “It’s a secret.”

“Come on, I want to be able to make it too.”

Paimon shook his head. “You’ll just have to visit me as often as possible to eat it. It’s a good excuse to have you over.”

“Alright, fine, I guess I can deal with it.”

“How else am I to entice you over?”

“By asking?”

“But food is an added bonus.”

Pellegrino chuckled. “I’ll give you that.”

They continued to make small talk as they ate, Paimon teasing Pellegrino at every opportunity and Pellegrino unable to hide his embarrassment or the fact he actually enjoyed it. He could see why so many found him charming and even loved him. He couldn’t help but feel a slight stab of jealousy and he hated it. Paimon paid more attention to him than anyone else and he knew he should be happy about it. “You’re making a face my sweet Pellegrino.” Paimon jerked him out of his thoughts. “Want to talk about it?”

“No, I’m fine, thank you for bringing me here and for dinner.”

“Well be prepared to be spoiled the whole time. I have a lot planned for when we get there.”

 

Final Chapter

Pellegrino smiled, snapping out of it. The past didn’t matter, just them, right now mattered. It felt good to know that he was the only one Paimon had brought here. Paimon got Pellegrino blushing again when they laid down for the night. Instead of just laying across from him Paimon pulled Pellegrino into his arms and almost instantly fell asleep, not giving Pellegrino much of a chance to say anything. Pellegrino swallowed down how nervous this made him and allowed himself to slowly drift to sleep. In the morning Paimon had such a smug smile on his face that had Pellegrinos heart racing. “good morning”

“good morning” Pellegrino quickly sat up and Paimon chuckled, happily starting to get breakfast going. Pellegrino still didn’t know what to say about Paimon holding him last night so ended up not mentioning it. He liked it and still couldn’t tell Paimon how he felt so he decided nothing was best unless he was ready to tell him he wanted to be with him.

“Do you think we’ll get to where we’re going today?” Pellegrino asked once they were on their way again.

“Tonight, that’s why I went this way. It takes us up and over instead of around.” He took Pellegrino’s hand. “Luckily, because of all this magic, it stays fairly warm on the way up. Are you excited?”

“Very.” And nervous, he thought. Paimon had such a way of throwing him for a loop. He was so forward and absolutely shameless.

Paimon could hear how hard his heart was beating and pulled him a little closer. He took them up at a leisurely pace, not wanting to rush his time with Pellegrino. A warm breeze blew through the forest, kicking up flurries of snow. When they crested the hill, Paimon pointed. “We’re going way over there where that clearing is.” He explained. “See the sun hitting the water?”

“This is amazing.”

“You need to travel more, my prince. I may just have to take you on a new adventure every couple of weeks.”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“No, but I want to.”

“alright then, that sounds fun”

“as long as I’m with you I’m doing something I want to do” Paimon always teased but not this way. Was he trying to kill him? His heart going like this couldn’t be healthy. Paimon kept on the entire way, building up to what he was planning to do as soon as they reached their destination. It was amusing in itself that Pellegrino still wasn’t getting it. He was far too innocent and sweet. When they arrived that evening Paimon didn’t even give him time to finish talking about how much he liked this place too. Paimon pulled the prince into a hungry kiss. He couldn’t take it slow, he wanted this too bad and the shock value would be too amusing. Besides, he knew for a fact Pellegrino did want him.

Pellegrino was so shocked he couldn’t even kiss back at first but shyly, he did eventually start to. Paimon started feeling him, desiring all of him more than ever but Pellegrino pushed his hands away. Paimon groaned, pulling away completely “Too much then?”

“ye…yeah”

“I love you and I want you. I’ve been teasing you long enough”

“So all this time you’ve actually been flirting with me…”

“You mean more to me than anybody ever has”

“and this isn’t a joke? You’re serious”

“wasn’t that kiss serious?”

“It’s just, I’m not exactly, you know and you do enjoy messing with me so…”

“Do you trust me?”

“Of course.”

“Then trust that I’m being serious.” He pressed a light kiss to his lips. “I want you and only you, no one else, and I have for awhile.” He grinned as he leaned in, his lips close to Pellegrino’s ear. “Don’t you want me too, my prince.”

Pellegrino swallowed, his heart hammering in his chest, the tickle of Paimon’s breath sending desire dancing through him. “I do, it’s just…I may disappoint.”

Paimon pulled back, the look on his face surprisingly serious. “Let me tell you something, Pellegrino. The amount of people I have been with doesn’t matter, there is no comparison to be made between you and them. I love you and anything I do with you will be more enjoyable because I love you. There is nothing you could do to disappoint me. I am yours to do with what you wish, nothing will change that.” He smiled warmly. “You’re my first love, Pellegrino, my only love.”

“I am?”

“Yes and it’s something I never thought I would have or even want.”

Pellegrino didn’t know if it was foolishness, hopefulness or the way Paimon was looking at him but he believed him. He kissed Paimon, not half as sure of himself as Paimon. Soon he wasn’t thinking at all, just one with the moment they were sharing. “I love you too” Pellegrino said softly when their lips parted again. Paimon grinned “well lets stop this before I have you right now. You’re probably tired”

“tired? Right now?” The look Pellegrino gave him as he said those words made Paimon chuckle “so I can have you then?”

“yeah”

“don’t be so nervous, I mean it. I love you and that alone will make it amazing. People from my past should never bother you because they never meant a thing to me. You have chemistry in bed or you don’t and most the time how you feel about eachother determines that. Its like how mortals will sometimes act like sex in their marriage was suddenly terrible. Their sex life wasn’t different, how they felt was. Mates enjoy sex far more than people who whore themselves because we love eachother.” Paimons lust was getting harder to control but he didn’t want Pellegrino to be so nervous.

“I just don’t know what to do.”

Paimon smiled as he pressed another seductive kiss to Pellegrino’s lips, eliciting a little moan that sent a thrill of excitement through him. “Let me show you my love.” He kissed his chin, nibbled his way down to his neck where he gave him a gentle bite.

“Paimon.” He sounded breathless, needy, and maybe even a little scared, but he wasn’t pulling away.

He pushed at his shirt, lifting it up and off, allowed his hands to slide over his torso. “Can I have you, Pellegrino?”

“Yes.”

Paimon found his lips again as he pulled him down to the soft grass. They pulled at each other’s clothes, both if them letting out a sigh of pleasure at being skin to skin. He coaxed Pellegrino into touching him, enjoying the shy way he explored him. He rolled Pellegrino beneath him, his lips moving down the center of his body, his teeth biting down to mark him.

Each time Paimon bit down on Pellegrinos flesh to mark him Pellegrino moaned. When Paimon reached just above his length he began to lick up Pellegrinos body, stopping at his neck to gently nibble and suck. Pellegrino began touching Paimon again, feeling him, causing goosebumps to show up all over Paimons skin. This truly was better than any encounter he had ever had before. He hadn’t known if all that talk from Jarius was true but right now, he knew it definitely was. Sex was a million times better with someone you loved.

Paimon moaned loudly when Pellegrino nibbled at his ear then licked just behind it, something nobody had actually done to him before so he hadn’t known how sensitive he was to something like that. Pellegrinos heart flipped in his chest that he could cause such a reaction from him. It gave him a little more confidence already since he could sense how much Paimon was enjoying this in general.

Paimon hadn’t planned this but was always preparred, producing some lube so he wouldn’t hurt Pellegrino during their first time. Before he used it he checked again, his words husky with desire “are you ready for me to be inside you? I…don’t know how slow you need me to be…if I have to stop now it’s alright but I will need to go masturbate if I do have to stop”

“You can”

Paimon kissed him as he loosened him, excited by Pellegrino’s heavy breathing. He rubbed some lube on himself and slowly began to push into him. Pellegrino clung to him, his moan somewhere between a yell and a whimper. He could see he was slightly overwhelmed and paused, giving him a moment to breathe. “You okay?” It was a struggle to stay still, to not completely bury himself, but he managed, not wanting to hurt or scare him. Pellegrino nodded and he continued, letting out a relieved moan once he was all the way in.

“Paimon.” He gasped for breath, clinging tightly to him.

“It’s okay, relax, breathe.” He braced himself on his elbows, withdrawing and sinking back into him, his hips taking on a gentle, rocking rhythm. Pellegrino’s back arched and Paimon thrust into him a little harder, pushing him over the edge. He picked up the pace, unable to hold back any longer. A loud moan was wrenched from his throat as he flowed into him and he pressed his forehead into Pellegrino’s, the only sounds their labored breathes and thundering hearts.

Pellegrino’s eyes were damp with tears and Paimon pressed loving kisses to his lips, his fingers running through his hair and brushing back pieces that clung to his sweat damp skin. “Are you okay?” He asked.

“Yeah…just…wow.”

Paimon smiled. “Good then?” Pellegrino nodded and Paimon rubbed their noses together. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Pellegrino would have never believed when he was invited on this trip they’d end up like this. Kissing, exchanging I love yous and cuddling. Paimon barely seemed like the kind of man to be so sweet but Pellegrino couldn’t be happier. They were actually together now and if their first time together was any indication they were going to have amazing sexual chemistry. They made a long trip of things but nobody had worried when they came back. Everyone knew how capable they both were and were instantly elated for them anyway when they told everyone they were together.

~ The End

Violet & Dian

Chapter One

The gangly, curly haired youth bursting through Violet’s door nearly made her drop her book. She glared at the boy, telling him with her eyes that it was more than a bit rude to walk into a house uninvited and to do it in a way that nearly knocked pictures off the wall was even more reprehensible. The look took him by such surprise that he seemed to forget what he had been going to say and stood there frozen for a moment opening and closing his mouth like a fish on the bank of a pond.

Violet marked her place, closed her book, then took a deep breath to calm herself. “Can I help you?” She asked and he seemed to snap out of his sudden daze.

“Uh, ma’am…yes ma’am, sorry.” He collected his thoughts, wheels turning as he put words together to form a full sentence. “A dragon ma’am, there is a dragon and the mayor asked me to get you.”

She sighed, putting her book irritably down on the coffee table. “Of course he did.”

“Sorry Miss Violet, so sorry.” He bowed and then bowed again.

“Oh stop, how annoying, do I look like a princess to you?” She stood, straightening her dress. No, she thought as she moved around the coffee table to the coat closet, rather I look like someone took a witch and a librarian and mashed them together.

“No ma’am, sorry ma’am.”

She rolled her eyes. It was hopeless after all. She yanked open the door and pulled out her cloak and boots, shaking them both out before putting them on. “Come on then.” She walked past the young man and he quickly followed, head down. “Oh stop moping, I shouldn’t have snapped at the messenger.”

“Yes Miss Violet.”

“Where is this dragon then?”

“Outside of town ma’am, in that old cave ma’am.”

“How cliche.”

She walked on, ignoring the turning heads and whispered words of “Do you think the witch is gonna…” and made her way out of town and over rolling hills to the now occupied cave. She knew it was occupied because she could hear the breathing of the beast and noticed faint smears of blood here and there.

“What are you going to do ma’am? Turn him into a toad? Kill him?”

“How absolutely barbarous.” She said and picked up a large rock. When would they learn that she had as much magic as a thimble, unless the thimble had been enchanted, then that was a whole other story. She pulled back and threw the stone as hard as she could into the cave, hearing it make contact with something and then the breathing stopped. The boy cowered behind her as a roar echoed out from the cave, the ground shook dramatically and a red wedge shaped head detached itself from the darkness soon followed by a large scaled body.

“Oh shut up you annoying thing.” She snapped and the creature shut its mouth, seeming shocked. “Now go on and get.” It lowered its head and started to open its mouth when she slapped the tip of its nose. It drew back, shaking its head. “I don’t think so you very bad dragon. Go! Now! Find another place of residence and stop scaring the villagers. They come to me when things like you turn up and it can be quite nerve racking so go on, find sheep or cows elsewhere.” It opened its mouth again as if to protest and she planted her hands on her hips, glaring at it with death in her eyes. Its jaws shut and it launched itself into the sky, kicking up dust and knocking the young messenger boy over with the force of its wind. “There, now someone else can deal with him.”

The messenger looked in awe of her and she sighed. No matter how often they saw her handle things without any magic at all they still thought her a mystical being. If the others were braver they could handle these situations too. Violet walked away, happy she was successful again and not that dragons snack. Violet hoped that maybe she could finally finish this book when she arrived home. Maybe this town and the magical creatures around it could afford her the hours needed because she was incredibly into this book. Once inside her shoes were off again and she lifted her book before settling back into her chair. She was instantly taken right back in, not coming back to reality at all until she closed it.

Upon looking up she noticed it was night and smiled thinking this was the perfect time to get a walk in. The sky would be gorgeous and the villagers would all be resting. Gleefully she set her book back down and slipped back into her cloak and boots before going off into the cool night air.

It was always so peaceful at night, as if the countryside itself decided to relax. She breathed in deeply and let her breath out in a sigh. Even with all the trouble, she still loved it here. The road branched and she turned off onto the left path just as someone came tumbling out of the woods and into her. “Sorry.” He said, grabbing her to steady her. “Are you alright?”

It took her a moment to regain her equilibrium, but when she did, she looked up at him. He was tall, really tall and his eyes were a shocking shade of blue. “Uh…yeah…uh…”

His head suddenly jerked up and he looked at the woods then back down at her, his eyes searching hers for a moment. He then lifted her hand and smiled at her. “Hold onto this for me.” He let her go and took off running.

“Wait, who are you?”

“Dian,” he called back, “be sure to tell them where I went.”

“What?” She was confused and it took her a moment to realize she was holding something. She opened her palm, studying the silver medallion that rested there. It had beautiful, intricate designs carved into it inlaid with blue and gold. She had never seen anything like it before. The sound of snapping twigs pulled her back to reality and she turned to face the woods, her hand sliding into the pocket of her cloak as three more men came stumbling out of the woods.

Violet wondered what problem she had gotten herself involved in now but she wasn’t worried, even as she realized how tall these men also were. She faced down dragons, trolls and many more much more formidable creatures than simple men. “Has anybody else run by?” a man with red hair and incredibly intense green eyes asked. She didn’t skip a beat answering “No, I have been out here awhile clearing my head and haven’t seen a soul until you three.” Violet didn’t know who the unsavory party was yet but going by gut feeling she trusted the man who had given her medallion.

The man looked at her a short while, long enough for her to take in more of his face. He had light scars but they weren’t unattractive. In fact they probably served to get more women in his bed “You wouldn’t lie to me would you?”

“Why would I? I don’t know you so I’m certain I don’t know who else you’re looking for. I’d like to be left alone”

“we don’t have time to waste, if the broad says she ain’t seen him she ain’t seen him” the man to his left said. The word ain’t almost physically hurt to hear but while she wasn’t scared of them she still didn’t want to piss them off by correcting anyone. The men left her and she was glad to see they didn’t go the same way Dian had. Medallion in pocket she resumed her walk, knowing if she went home now she’d only pace anyway.

She turned back around when she reached the end of her walk, her eyes and ears open, listening for anyone approaching. When her home came into view, she was surprised to find that there was a soft orange light coming from inside. From the way it danced, she was sure it was from the fireplace. Someone was in her home. She approached as quietly as she could, moving around the back of the house and grabbing the wood ax propped against the wall there. She knew it wasn’t one of the villagers, they would have just left. She moved over to the back door, being careful not to stomp on the back porch. She gripped the door handle and pushed it slowly, glad when it didn’t squeak. She listened, not hearing anything but the crackling of the fire. She gripped the ax as she stepped in and gently closed the door.

She readied herself as she came closer to the living room, the ax pulled back, ready to strike if someone attacked her. She froze when she saw him, Dian, sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace. He gave her an exhausted smile. “You’re safe, that’s good.” He said.

She lowered the ax. “You…how did you find my house?”

“It’s a gift.” He pushed himself to his feet. “I hope you don’t mind me resting here.” He crossed over to her. “May I have it back please?”

She moved the ax to her other hand then reached into her pocket and pulled it out. “Tell me why those men were after you.”

“I stole this.”

“Why?”

His amused smile at her questions lit up his eyes. “Because I’m looking for the rightful heir to the throne.”

“If it’s so important why did you hand it off to me? They could have taken it” His smile lifted a little again “I knew you were too intelligent and brave for them to figure out you had it. I was worried they would catch up so handing it to you was the safest thing to do”

“But you don’t know me”

“If you sit with me by your fire I will explain everything and answer any follow up questions” His stomach growled and she said “Maybe I should feed you first. I have some leftovers that will be quick to heat up”

“Thank you” He began explaining as she heated up food. He was exhausted, would have been able to fall asleep that second if he laid down but he wanted to explain everything to her. Even if he didn’t want to explain she had given him a place to rest and helped him by hiding the amulet, he owed her an explanation. “so you’re descended from a powerful witch and you read my mind earlier which is how you knew you could trust me”

“Yes but don’t worry, I have to be touching you to do it” she shrugged “Not worried, I don’t have much to hide and nothing really embarrasses me” He looked so amused again “How are you so cheerful when you’re being chased and have such a big job to do”

“I enjoy every moment of life, always have and I’m enjoying your company. You’re a beautiful and interesting person” She seemed more surprised by his comment than anything as she asked “so, what gave you this job?”

“I worked for the previous king and queen before their deaths and doing this for them is only right. Their son deserves to rule”

“And where is he?”

“North. His parents thought if he’s in the snowy, icy reaches then it would give people less of a reason to go after him. He was put on a ship and put under the care of a merchant and his family.”

“I can’t imagine going from a prince to a merchant. It must have been hard.”

“He was always a good boy and, much like his father, a hard worker. It may have been an adjustment, but he wouldn’t have shied away from it.” He sighed. “I thought I had thrown them off my trail, by pretending to board a ship, but I guess they caught on.”

“What are you going to do now?”

“Resupply and continue my journey. I have to fulfill my duty and bring him home. If I don’t things could take a turn for the worst and no one wants that.” He sat his fork down and leaned back, truly exhausted. “Thank you, Violet, truly, thank you. I promise to repay your kindness.”

The words came tumbling out of her without a single thought “why don’t you repay me by allowing me to come with you” Despite the fact those words came unbidden she meant them. She had been tired of being here and maybe if she left the people would learn to take care of themselves. Dian sat upright, amusement playing over his exhausted face “That works for me.”

“wow, that easily?”

“You’d be helpful, I can tell. Even if I didn’t owe you I’d welcome you along”

“Then lets both get some rest” While Dian finished eating Violet brought a pillow and blanket into the living room, laying them both on the couch for him “goodnight Dian, you’re welcome to any food or water you need in the night. I’ll make us coffee and a descent breakfast in the morning”

“Goodnight Violet”

That night Violet slept with her ax near her bed, just in case the men who had been chasing him managed to find her home. She woke the next morning to the sound of footsteps and someone talking. It took a moment to realize it was Dian, already awake, and she wondered who he was talking to. She yawned as she got up and made her way into the living room, seeing him pacing back and forth and reading out loud from one of her books. He smiled as he turned, closing the book. “Sorry, did I wake you?”

“It’s alright, you should have woke me as soon as you got up.”

“I didn’t mind waiting.” He let his eyes move over her. She looked quite cute disheveled as she was.

“I look rough don’t I?” She asked and his eyes jumped to her face.

“Not at all, quite the opposite. I apologize for staring.” He cleared his throat. “Would you like me to help you with breakfast?”

She shook her head. “I can manage.”

“I’d feel bad if I made you do everything.”

She couldn’t help but smile at him. He was far too kind and generous. “Then how about you read to me, you have a really nice voice.”

He chuckled. “Do I?”

She felt her cheeks heat. “Well, yeah, it’s enjoyable enough.”

 

Chapter Two

He grinned again ‘well I was enjoying this book anyway, we will have to bring it on the journey so I can read aloud for you in the evenings. I always read out loud. It’s one of the odd things about me” She had been too sleepy to register what he had been reading so she asked “which book is it?” he lifted it so she could see the cover “Oh, thats actually a series. One of the villagers here writes it.”

“could we bring them all?”

“Yeah, if any get ruined I can always get another. She won’t even allow me to give her payment”

“why?”

“Because I take care of this village. If anything bothers them they come running. Just the other day I had to chase off a dragon”

“How do you think they’ll do without you?”

“Fine I’m sure, they just need to realize they don’t need me”

“You aren’t worried about them discovering that?”

“No, I’ll get more time on my own and I have enough skills I don’t need anything to be given to me…anyway, I’ll get the coffee started. That way it’ll be ready when I am” Violet started the coffee then went back into her room to get dressed in something comfortable for the road.

“You look good in that.” Dian said when she came back and she couldn’t help but blush.

“They’re just some old clothes.”

“They suit you.”

“Thank you.” He smiled and her heart jumped, causing her to look away in embarrassment and head into the kitchen to make breakfast.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”

Violet shook her head. “You didn’t, I promise, just not used to someone saying something like that to me.”

“Well if they haven’t, they are obviously blind.” He sat down at the table, flipping the book open. “May I still read?”

“Of course.” She had to admit to herself once again that she really enjoyed his voice. It was surprisingly smooth and had an unexpected deep timbre to it. She could honestly listen to it all day.

The smooth way he read along with how skilled this author was at showing the reader a scene had her mind clearly seeing what was happening in the story within her mind as she prepared breakfast and enjoyed her black coffee. Violet was almost disappointed as she sat down with their plates and he stopped but her mind quickly reminded her that he planned on reading throughout their trip. They ate silently but when Dian was finished he said “that was incredible. I’ll be glad to read to you while you cook on the trip” she smiled “that’ll work amazing for both of us” She got up almost too quickly, not used to interactions like this at all.

Dian didn’t say anything, her nerves only gave him hope. People who didn’t react to your flirting weren’t interested and he was incredibly interested in Violet. She was beautiful, an a amazing cook, had a mind of her own and was brave. He could only imagine what else he might find to like about her during their journey to collect the prince. When she gathered the series together Dian insisted he carried it since he was the one who had wanted it. She didn’t put up too much of a fight having realized how heavy they would probably be after awhile.

“So, what’s your plan?” She asked as she shouldered the small pack she had made up with food and water in it.

“Make it to a bigger city and rent a horse and also buy warmer clothes. I wouldn’t want you to freeze to death.”

“Well I have you to make sure I stay warm, so I’m sure I won’t.” He grinned and she blushed. “I mean, with your magic. You can make fire right?”

“Of course.”

She swallowed and he chuckled. “So, what if he isn’t there?”

“Then we’ll wait.”

“It must have been awful for him, being forced to stay in hiding even after his parents died. I don’t know if I could have stayed, I think I would have raced home, he’s definitely stronger than me.”

“Now that’s not true, I’ve seen it in your head. That dragon didn’t know who he was dealing with.”

“You…how much did you see?”

“I didn’t have time for much, I just saw the past few days. I wont look at anymore unless you say it’s okay though. I just had to know if I could trust you and if you were up to facing those men should they come” She could understand that. He did have a huge responsibility on his shoulders. “I’ve found with most creatures all it takes is being brave. In our world you can’t judge a book by its cover so they probably think I’m more than just human”

“Probably, non magical beings do tend to just run or cower, especially in the presence of dragons”

“Have you seen many dragons?”

“I met a shifter once. He was a cool guy and as a dragon, well, he probably could have swallowed that dragon you met whole”

“wow”

“Yeah, maybe I can introduce you two one day”

“I would like that, maybe once we’ve brought the prince home.”

He nodded and they continued down the road, Violet looking back at her home as they got further and further away. She wondered how everyone would react once they realized she had left. She could only imagine. It was better not to tell them she was leaving, they would just try to make up excuses for why she couldn’t. “If you wish to turn back, now is the time.” Dian said and she turned to him, smiling.

“No going back until we’ve finished this. Besides, it’ll give them time to find their own courage and strength. They’ll have to rely on each other if another dragon shows up.”

“I’m sure they will.”

“And I get to go somewhere new thanks to you, even if it is dangerous and cold.”

“Speaking of dangerous,” He reached over, taking her hand, “allow me to give you a little protection.” He said a few words in a language she didn’t know and she felt warmth move from his hand to hers, up her arm, and into her chest. He smiled and let her go. “There, a ward of protection, just in case.”

“Thank you” Violet was surprised when he didn’t let go but she didn’t complain. She hadn’t held hands with someone since she was a little girl and the fact he was so handsome along with nice definitely contributed to the fact she didn’t mind. “Are you truly staying out of my head?” She had to ask. He smiled again “Yes”

“alright, I trust you”

“what would we have to talk about anyway if I went and looked at everything?”

“True, I mean, the books are only going to last us so long”

“I was trying not to think about them. I want to know what happens next” Violet smiled, filling with amusement of her own. “who is your favorite character so far?” He had to think “Cedric, I’m going to have to go with Cedric”

“Why?”

“Because he’s so relatable. He’s trying his best to do the right thing without hurting anyone, but he’s realizing things aren’t that simple.”

“Like you?”

Dian gave a little laugh. “Yeah, I don’t want to hurt anyone, I really don’t, but I know I’ll have to and I’ve made peace with that fact. These powers were passed down to me to defend myself and others and that’s how I’ll use them.”

“You’re a good man, Dian, you really are.”

“I owe the king and queen, they were good people and my friends. I couldn’t save them, even with all my power, so now I’ll bring their son home and help him take back the throne.”

“And I’ll help you.”

“Are you sure, you know there are bound to be swords and ill tempered mercenaries.”

She smiled, making his heart dance. “I’m sure, besides, you have my back.”

They chatted happily about their lives, Dian telling her stories of what it was like serving the previous king and queen, of how his magic worked. She felt her face heat as she asked if he had a wife or kids and her heart fluttered when he smiled in amusement and told her no.

Despite how embarrassing it was to ask him, Violet had to know. It came as a relief to know that her attraction to him could be felt without guilt. She wasn’t ready to confess to anything yet, it was much too soon and they had too far of a journey ahead of them but it was incredibly nice to know that if she fell completely in love it would be okay. The terrain they were currently in was perfect for getting to know one another. The path was smooth and there didn’t seem to be a wild animal with the mildest interest in them. They were able just to talk until lunch when Dian kept to his word and read to Violet while she heated up their food.

They were back on the road as soon as they finished eating and cleaning up and Dian decided to continue reading as they walked, even acting out some of the scenes much to Violet’s amusement. He grinned every time he got her to laugh and teased her when she blushed. Their first day passed without trouble and Dian started another fire when night fell so Violet could warm their food and to keep them warm. They settled in for the night after he finished reading and he was relieved she could so easily sleep outside. It was some time after midnight when they were woke by the sound of footsteps and whispered voices. Their eyes met past the fire and they both lay there as still as possible.

“Violet,” he said softly, “cover your ears, close your eyes and scoot back away from the fire.”

She nodded and squeezed her eyes shut, pretending to roll in her sleep, bringing her hands up to her ears as she did so. Dian could hear the men in the woods. They thought they were being stealthy, that he and Violet had not heard them, but they had been wrong. He heard them step out of the treeline and readied himself. One approached him from behind and he could see in the firelight another heading straight for Violet. He heard the whispered command of their leader and just as the one near Violet reached for her, he closed his eyes, covered his ears, and caused the fire to explode up into a bright pillar of blinding light.

 

Final Chapter

They groaned loudly and Dian quickly rose, punching the man who had been previously in position to grab Violet. They both heard bone crunch and knew the mans nose was going to be gushing blood. “fuck” Violet got up too, ready to fight alongside Dian but instead he grabbed her wrist along with the bag of books and began running, pulling her away. Dian knew this journey would require violence but he wanted to use as little of it as possible. The only reason he punched the man so near Violet was to make sure he couldn’t find his senses and grab her when she stood and if he was being truly honest with himself, he also did it because she was coming to mean a lot to him.

Violet couldn’t quite keep pace with Dian but she did her best. The two kept at it until they were both panting and sure those men were far behind them. “Oh crap our stuff” Violet realized they had the bag of books but not their items. He sighed “we have what’s important, our lives and the medallion. We can make due along the way”

“It’s good you keep it on you constantly”

“You didn’t get scorched or anything did you?”

“No, still have my eyebrows.”

He chuckled as he stopped and took her face in his hands. “Yeah, they look even to me.”

She blushed. “Um, your’s do too. You were closer than me so, that’s surprising.”

“Trust me, I’ve burned mine off a few times, back when I was first learning. There was a time I had to keep my hair extremely short because I kept burning it.” She laughed and he smiled back. “I’m glad you got to keep yours though, it’s too beautiful to burn.” He let her face go and took her hand instead. “Come on, let’s keep moving.”

Violet wasn’t sure how long they kept walking, only that the sun was suddenly starting to rise and she was getting tired. She was about to ask for a breather when Dian scooped her up into his arms. “What are you doing?”

“You’re tired right?”

“Well yeah, but you’re already carrying the books.”

“I’ll be fine, I promise.”

“If I’m not walking I could read to you so you can learn what happens next” He smiled again, it lighting up his face “thats a perfect idea” he set her down long enough to grab the book they were on and give it to her. “Are you sure this is enough sun for your eyes not to hurt?”

“Oh yeah, this is fine” Violet relaxed in his arms and began quietly reading, semi worried there might be others near who could be drawn by her voice. They had been lucky to get away from their last situation so easily. She didn’t want to roll their odds again anytime soon. Things were quite, almost concerningly so for Dian but he wouldn’t worry about it. He was finding he liked her reading voice too. Dian suddenly stopped a few chapters later, causing Violet to look up at him “whats wrong” he set her down so he could touch the ground. Violet stood there silently, gripping her book. He took her hand, still not offering any sort of explanation. She supposed they either needed to be quite or this was just a result of traveling by himself up until now. He might just not be used to explaining anything to someone else.

Either way she began looking around, only seeing different kinds of bugs exploring this place they called home. He was crouching again, feeling the ground. He looked up at her “you know I almost fell for it listening to you read. It might be dangerous for you to read while I hold you. I might not pay close enough attention”

“what’s wrong?” she finally pressed, eager to know what she should be worried about. “I can’t imagine anybody knew I’d be coming this way so this must be an old trap someone set for whatever reason and then forgot to get rid of it”

“that or were killed”

“yeah, I suppose they’d need some kind of reason to do this but come down here, feel” She crouched down beside him and felt in front of them. Her face scrunched up”what?”

“theres nothing there”

“but” she felt again “dear god maybe whoever set it forgot and walked right off”

“that kind of karma would suck. Since we ran in the dark we must have gone the wrong way somehow. I’m normally better than that. I’m sorry”

“You don’t have to be sorry.”

“I should be more aware.”

“Dian, you haven’t had to worry about someone else traveling with you, so don’t beat yourself up. You’re just trying to be a good protector and companion.”

He sighed then gave her a smile. “You’re an amazing woman, Violet.” They both stood. “I’m going to disarm it just in case someone else comes around then we can get back on track.” He had her step back and he held his hands out, closing his eyes, and whispering a spell.

Violet was amazed when his palms began glowing with pale light. Her heart danced in her chest as his voice became a little louder and more impassioned. She could feel his magic as it spread out around them and tingled over her skin. The light faded and he let out a soft sigh and opened his eyes. “Is it safe now?”

“Yes, everything should be fine and no one should get hurt.”

“That’s good.”

He nodded and reached over, taking her hand. His palm felt warm against hers. “Are you ready?”

She didn’t realize she was just staring at him until he cocked his head to the side and gave her questioning look. Her face flushed in embarrassment. “Oh, yes, sorry, let’s go.”

“He chuckled. “How cute you are my little warrior.”

“Oh hush, come one.” She started to walk off and he gently pulled her back.

“It’s this way.”

She nervously chuckled, wishing her face wasn’t so warm. People around her had always looked up to her back home but Dian was the first man to make her feel seen as a woman. He was so flirtatious and sweet. Her thoughts soon turned more serious as they walked back the way they came. She knew the two of them had gone far and wasted hours of time in a situation where every bit of time was precious. When he began guiding them to the left she grew concerned they were going the wrong way again “but we didn’t turn before? Shouldn’t we still go straight?”

“No, it’ll be quicker to get back on course this way. I know this area pretty well which makes it all the more ridiculous I did that and I see that face, it’s not your fault. You’re distracting but that doesn’t make us getting side tracked your fault”

“well”

“I wont hear of it. I’m a man with a job, distracting female companion or not I should be aware of where we are going” She gave him a small smile “so, can we talk?”

“Yeah, what would you like to talk about?”

“Well, what do you plan to do, after everything? I mean are you going back home or something else?”

He smiled. “Define something else.”

“Well, maybe settle down or something?”

He shrugged. “Maybe, I haven’t given it too much thought really.” He chuckled. “Okay, that’s not entirely true, I’ve been thinking about it more recently. I mean, what if I died never falling in love? What if I never had the chance to have kids and raise them around the castle and show them magic?”

“You would want to live there?”

“Well, I feel an obligation to continue my job, not just for the prince, but for his parents, my friends. However, if she wished to stay where she was then I would have no choice but to travel back and forth.”

“I think I would move if it were me, I mean it would be something new, an adventure.”

Violet was startled when he said “well good because you are the cause of my thinking of that recently…I know we just met Violet but I’d be a liar and an idiot to pretend you didn’t have a pull on my heart. You’re not only beautiful but you’re incredibly brave. That brief glimpse I saw into your history made me want to know so much more about you. You also have impeccable tastes in books apparently.” She almost stuttered but managed to speak normally “You can’t really think I’m pretty. I’ve never felt pretty” He took her hand, causing Violet to stop so he could look into her eyes “You’re gorgeous Violet. I mean that. How do you feel about me?”

“I like you a lot too”

“good, I really do hope by the end of this adventure you’ll truly want to live in the castle with me. We don’t have to rush into marriage or kids or anything. I was just being honest about the kind of thoughts you draw out of me Violet”

“I know, I’m happy, really. Are you sure you’re ready to live with me? I mean, I’m a bit hot headed sometimes.”

“No you’re not, you just get exasperated, I saw it.” He tipped her head back and bent down, his lips stopping a breath from hers. “You are so noble and beautiful, a true warrior and I love you for it, Violet.”

“Dian.” Her voice came out in a whisper and he smiled as he pressed his lips to hers.

He pulled back with a sigh. “We should go my love. Are you ready?”

“Yeah.”

Dian decided to take as many shortcuts as he could as they headed further North, wanting to stay as far ahead of the men chasing him as he could. He knew the journey back might be harder than the journey there while they were being followed. He could feel that it was starting to become colder the further they went and was relieved when the city came into view. Violet was shivering and he picked her up, hoping his own warmth would keep the cold at bay.

She snuggled into him “thank you” her voice was a whisper which concerned him even more. Dian picked up his pace, wanting to get her inside somewhere before she became sick. Dian walked into the first in, only setting her down to pay for a room. It didn’t take long, soon they were inside and he suggested “why don’t you run yourself a bath while I go out again and see if anybody around here sells clothing. Now that we’ve hit a city we really need a change of clothes, something warmer since most of whats left of our journey will be cold”

“You’re cold too though. You don’t need to get us warmer clothes right now.”

“I really want to, I can probably just ask the man at the front desk so I wont be outside long. Just relax here, warm up and I’ll be back before you know it” She could see the resolve in his eyes to go so she didn’t argue it any further. Besides, her body longed to be in a warm bath. Dian left as Violet entered the bathroom, making sure to lock the door so she wouldn’t get any surprise visitors. Just as he thought the man at the front desk knew a good place to go clothes shopping for them both so he didn’t have to wander to locate one.

Violet let out a sigh of relief once she was sitting in the tub and she was grateful that it was so big so the water rose up to her chin and covered everything. She rested her neck against the edge, just soaking up the soothing warmth. She hummed softly to herself, thinking of Dian and how much had happened in just the short time they had known each other. After everything she had had to face and scare away, falling in love with someone like Dian had been the most unexpected. She couldn’t get over how perfect and honorable he was and she hoped she wouldn’t suddenly wake up asleep on one of her books.

Dian bought clothes as quickly as possible, thanking the woman running the store for helping him find something suitable for Violet. He spent extra on a coat and boots for her, wanting her to be as warm as possible while they traveled North. He made a stop at another store to buy dry kindling, a small ax, and ask where the best firewood could be found in the direction they were going. He wasn’t going to make Violet travel through the night in the snow. He thanked the man there and hurried back to the inn.

The bathroom door was still closed when he entered the room so he knocked on the door, both to make sure she was really still in there and to let her know he was back “yeah? Dian?” her voice sounded from the other side of the door, obviously still safely in the bath “do you want me to set your new clothes in front of the door or to set them in there…I wont go all the way in”

“You can set them in here, thank you” Dian opened the door just enough to set the clothes on the counter. Violet pulled on the stopped so the tub would drain. There wasn’t a lot of heat left in it anyway and she was sure Dian needed a turn to warm his body. Violet was a little nervous about the clothes fitting since he didn’t know her measurements but to her glee they fit perfectly and were incredibly comfortable. As she looked in the mirror she decided they were even cute, he had good tastes, another thing to love about him.

The first thing Violet did upon leaving the bathroom was hug him. He just smiled, holding her tight “thank you”

“I was worried about you”

“Just not used to it being so cold. I mean it snows back home, but it’s much colder up here.”

He pulled back to look at her. “How are you feeling? Warm enough?”

“Yeah and I love the clothes.”

“They look good on you, but I have something even better.” He moved away from her and lifted the coat. “To keep you extra warm.”

Violet took it gently, amazed by how soft it was. “Wow.”

“It’s made from a bear hide. The interior is sealskin, same with the boots to keep you dry.”

“You’re so sweet, Dian.”

“I can’t have my beautiful love freeze to death.” He took the coat and held it open. “Let’s go out and get something to eat, we can talk about what we’re going to do while we do.”

“Okay.” She slipped the coat on and quickly buttoned it. “What do you think?”

“You look like you belong here, very cute.”

“are you sure you’re up to going out? You haven’t had a chance to warm up”

“I’ll be fine, just cuddle with me later” Dian said, bringing her hand to his lips to kiss it. The difference in their temperatures was clearly evident but he insisted he was fine so they left together. “this one place smelled amazing when I passed it” Dian said as he scooped her up outside. “I can’t wait” Violet was worried about Dian not being able to truly get warm yet so she was glad they didn’t have to go far to reach the place he was talking about.

Violet agreed, the smells coming from this place were amazing. They talked about the restaurant until their food actually came “so do you need us to take a break here for more than just tonight? We can stay a day or two. You’re not used to this and I don’t want to push you too hard” Dian said after his first bite. Violet finished chewing and swallowed “I definitively want to leave in the morning. I don’t think we should take a long stop unless one of us gets sick. You’re right, I’m not used to this but I’m really fine. Besides, you keep picking me up so how can it be all that hard”

Dian smiled “I like being close to you” Violet blushed and he was just happy she was warm enough to. She found herself thinking about how sweet and caring he was again. Traveling together was one of those things that could make or break relationships so she felt it showed how much promise this thing between them had that she felt this happy. They talked about where they needed to go and the best ways to get there until their food was gone. After Dian paid he took Violets hand and said “lets just enjoy eachother for the rest of the night okay? If we talk I just want it to be about normal life things, I want to get to know you more” Violet smiled “I’d like that too”

~The End

Ambrose & Demeter 2

Chapter One

Ambrose sat there drinking some water, sweat running down his face as he took a break and watched Demeter practicing. There was something wrong, he could tell, and there had been for a few days. She slashed and blocked, spun and ducked, but she seemed exhausted, her form off and it worried him. He could even hear that her breathing was off, like she was struggling. It was when the other soldier knocked her sword out of her hand, shocking the both of them, that he stood and went over to her. Demeter was gripping her wrist and the young man was apologizing.

“Are you alright?” Ambrose asked as he took her hand.

“I’m fine,” she turned to the soldier, “it’s fine, really, I was careless. Why don’t you go and practice with one of the others for a bit.”

“Yes ma’am.” He hurried off and Demeter retrieved her sword, slipping it into its sheath.

“Demeter, love, what’s wrong? You haven’t been acting like yourself lately.”

“I don’t know, I’ve just been so tired and…and I can’t focus.”

“Maybe you’ve been overworking yourself?”

“I’ve worked a lot harder than this.”

He smiled, pressing their foreheads together. “Just because you’re a mighty warrior woman, doesn’t mean you can’t push yourself too hard.”

“I’m alright.”

“How about we ask for some time off, I’m sure my cousin would let us.”

She sighed, “It does seem like I need it.”

“Then let’s see if she has time to talk to us.” As always Cantaly was more than happy to talk to them and didn’t mind them leaving for a bit in the slightest.

“Thankfully I don’t think anything or anybody is foolish enough to mess with our kingdom at this point so always feel free to take breaks. I never want you pushing yourself too hard Demeter.”

“I really enjoy what I do.”

“I know, but taking care of yourself is important. Besides, who else could put up with my cousin Ambrose if you pushed yourself too far?” She said with a grin.

“Hey.” Ambrose said with mock annoyance.

Cantaly laughed, causing her husband whom was standing beside her to smile. “Go on you two, take as long of a vacation as you need. We can handle things around here.” With her blessing they left hand in hand.

“First off let’s just finish our day at home. I could cook for you and maybe give you a massage.”

Demeter kissed his cheek. “Thank you.”

Demeter was relieved to get home and remove what armor she was wearing. She dropped down on the couch and Ambrose sat down next to her, lifting her feet into his lap and removing her boots. “You don’t have to do that.”

“Sure I do.” He rubbed her feet and she let out a little sigh as she moved to lay back on the arm of the couch. “You okay?”

“Yeah, just exhausted.”

“Want me to get my uncle to come check you? You know he will if I ask.”

“No, Irim’s probably busy or spending time with his family.”

“As long as you’re sure.”

“I am, thank you.”

He leaned over her, giving her a kiss then got up to make her something to eat. He was worried about her, but didn’t want to be too pushy and upset her. He hoped it was just fatigue from overworking and that once she had time to recharge, she would be back to herself. He peeked in at her, seeing she had fallen asleep. He decided to just let her nap until he finished cooking.

Ambrose kept telling himself that Demeter was okay and would be just fine. He had to think positively or he knew he’d ruin their time together. He was going to make her an incredible meal then rub out her tense muscles more. Those things combined with rest had to get her feeling better again. He tried to focus on other meals he could make for her during her time off so he wouldn’t get any more anxious than he already was. He wanted them to taste amazing but also be good for her.

When he was finally finished cooking he made them each a plate and set the table before going to gently wake Demeter. She woke easily, rubbing her eyes. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, the point is for you to relax.”

The smell of dinner hit her nose. “Let’s eat what you made before it gets cold…thank you for making it by yourself.”

He kissed her head as he took Demeter in his arms to carry her to the table. “You deserve a little spoiling Demeter.”

Ambrose’s cooking was delicious as always and when they were finished eating, he refused to let her help him clean up, carrying her to their bedroom instead and asking her to wait. He quickly cleaned up then came back to her, crawling over her and pressing a kiss to her lips, his hands pushing at her clothes. “Ambrose.”

“It’ll be easier to rub you my love.”

“Oh sure.”

“I mean it, I promise to be good, you need to rest, husband’s orders.” He added with a smile.

“Yes boss.”

He chuckled. “Be careful, I might start liking the sound of that.” His heart fluttered when she laughed and he continued pulling her clothes off. He moved her onto her stomach and let his hands run over her, savoring the softness of her skin. She let out a little moan as her muscles loosened and he felt the stirring of desire. “You make it hard to be good.”

“I can’t help it.” She let out a contented sigh and he pressed a kiss to her shoulder then moved next to her, pulling her close. “What should we do with our time off?”

“Stay home and have lots of sex?”

“Ambrose.” Her skin warmed.

“Alright, go out and have…” she put her hand over his mouth and he laughed. He pulled her hand down to press it against his chest. “I’ll talk to my dad, he knows about a lot of fun places. You just have to promise me if you start to feel too sick, you’ll tell me.”

“I promise.”

“Alright, we can go over to their home in the morning after breakfast. We haven’t spent any real time with my parents in a long time so I guess we can hangout there until we have lunch with them.”

“I’m excited, your mom is so sweet. She also always seems to have cures for everything so maybe she can send us with something that will help me feel better.”

“She’s certainly raised enough children to know remedies to everything.”

Demeter laughed at his words. “Your dad certainly can’t keep his hands off of her…they really are so sweet. I hope we’re together as long as they’ve been together.”

She blushed as she said those words and Ambrose smiled, moving to kiss her again. “You’re not getting rid of me, no matter what. I love you every bit as much as my dad loves my mom.”

“I love you too.”

Demeter fell asleep snuggled against him and he just laid there brushing his fingers through her hair. He was truly lucky to have her and still didn’t know how he had got so lucky. He didn’t deserve her at all. He turned a little, pressing his forehead against hers and closing his eyes, letting himself drift off. Demeter woke a couple of hours later, her movement stirring him and he smiled lovingly at her. “Good nap?”

“Yeah, sorry.”

“It’s okay. Still feel like crap?”

“Fatigued, a little sick to my stomach, but other than that I’m alright.”

“Tell me if it gets worse.”

“I will.” They spent the rest of the day relaxing together, Ambrose fussing over her, making sure she didn’t do to much. She couldn’t help but smile at how adamant he was about her just relaxing.

The next day they were both up early, so much so Zane and Belle hadn’t even finished breakfast when they arrived but Belle was over joyed to see them when Zane brought the couple to the table. She quickly got up, hugging each one of them “How are you two?”

“We’re okay, myself more so than Demeter. She’s been incredibly fatigued lately. She’s taking some time off work so we wanted to spend the day with you guys and I wanted to talk to dad about possible places to take Demeter.”

“Oh no.” Belle said and Zane put a hand on her shoulder. “Demeter just works hard is all. She’ll be fine with rest. Come sit with us, are you two hungry?” He asked and Demeter answered, “We already ate. I feel bad about interrupting your own breakfast though.”

“It’s no trouble, just sit with us and we will all talk.”

“How long have you been feeling off?” Belle asked.

“About a week, just tired, felt a little sick to my stomach yesterday, but nothing really serious. It’s been making training the recruits hard.”

“Why don’t I make you something to help settle your stomach.”

“Thank you.”

“It’s no problem, you know that.”

“Do you know any good places we can relax?” Ambrose asked his father. “Hopefully somewhere we won’t be bothered.” He took Demeter’s hand. “I really want her to rest.”

“You could spend time in the Shadow Wood. There’s a cave there Irim helped me fix up. It’s protected by magic. There’s also the place I sent your brother and Tawny.” He named off a few more and Belle soon returned with a cup of ginger tea, handing it to Demeter.

“That should help.” She said with a warm smile.

“Thank you so much.” Demeter said then took a small sip. It was hot, but she was ready for any kind of relief.

“Why don’t we let them plan. I have a few things I want to show you around here. Zane and I have been busy again redoing a few things.”

“Sure.”

Belle looked at her son and said, “You know if she gets too tired I’ll bring her back here.” Demeter smiled as her husband blushed. Taking her drink she followed Belle out of the kitchen. They were in a newly renovated guest room when Belle spoke again, “So there really are things to show you, but are you sure you’re not pregnant?” Belle looked so eager. Even all these children and grandchildren later she was still all about babies.

Demeter almost laughed. “I didn’t even think about that.”

“You’re an incredibly fit woman and obviously not actually sick so that’s the only explanation to me.”

“I mean, if you’d like me to take a pregnancy test I will.”

“I’d love that.”

“That’s the first thing that came to your mind isn’t it?”

“Yeah, but what’s the point in working up Ambrose if you’re not. If you’re not though you should really let someone look at you because I can’t imagine why else you’d be getting exhausted when you’re used to a lot of physical activity.”

 

Chapter Two

Demeter didn’t know why she was suddenly so nervous now that she was about to take a pregnancy test, but she let Belle stay with her as she did, her mind racing as she sat the stick on the counter and waited. “It’s going to be okay.” Belle said.

“I know, it’s just do you think Ambrose will want kids?”

“He’s grown a lot since he was a kid, I think he’ll be worried, but happy.”

“Worried because of what happened between you two?”

“Yeah, I think he’ll be scared of a child winding up like how he was.”

“I don’t think that would happen, he’s been so sweet.”

“I know and you have no idea how happy Zane and I are.”

They continued to chat until Demeter had to check the test and her heart jumped when she saw it was positive. Belle had to cover her mouth to keep from screaming with happiness. She wanted Demeter to tell Ambrose in her own time. “I…I’m pregnant.” She rested her other hand on her abdomen. “Do you think that baby’s okay, I mean with all the physical activity?”

“Of course, it takes more than wrestling and sword fighting to hurt a fetus and you probably haven’t been pregnant that long.” Belle whispered. “I’m so excited, another grandbaby.”

“I think I should wait until we’re gone to tell Ambrose, he’ll start to fuss about us traveling is I don’t. Could you wait to tell everyone until we get back, except for Zane I mean?”

“Of course sweetie.” She hugged Demeter. “Are you happy?”

“Yeah, just surprised.”

“It’s amazing being a mother, it really is” Demeter smiled with both amusement and warmth. “I’m so glad just to know whats going on with me.”

“Yeah, it can be scary the first time but you can talk to me anytime about it and I can teach you how to make drinks and things like that to keep yourself feeling good.”

“Thank you so much.”

Belle hugged her. “Thank you for marrying my son and for now giving me another grandchild.” Belle let go then continued, “We should finish up this tour and get back before we seem suspicious.”

“Good thinking.” Belle showed Demeter a few more things around the house then they rejoined Zane and Ambrose

“He’s decided on a place.” Zane announced when they came in and Demeter said, “Let me guess, it’s a surprise?”

Ambrose smiled. “Well you know if you hadn’t run off with my mom it wouldn’t be a surprise. So you’ll have to deal.” Demeter smiled then kissed his cheek.

They spent most of the day with Belle and Zane and when they finally left, Zane pulled Belle into him, smiling at her excited face. “She’s pregnant isn’t she?”

“How did you know?”

“Because you always make that face when you find out about another baby.”

Ambrose insisted on carrying Demeter home even though she said she felt better. She relented and rested her head on his shoulder and he pressed a kiss to her forehead which made her heart flutter. “I love you Demeter.”

“I love you too.” And she couldn’t wait to tell him the news. “When are we leaving?”

“As soon as we’re packed, my dad said the place I picked is the prettiest at night and if I fly fast, I’ll get us there in no time.”

“I take it you plan on carrying me there?” She said in an amused tone.

“I can tell you’re still tired, just let me fuss, it’ll make me worry less.”

Her heart warmed as she looked up at her mate. “Alright, I’m so happy we’re getting away together.”

“Me too, we should make time for trips more like my parents do.”

“We really should, at least once a year.”

“We’ll do it, I promise. I won’t have you getting this tired again.” Her grin widened as she thought this may just happen a few more times. She hadn’t spent a great deal of time thinking about kids but the few times she had she felt four would be a good number for her. She even hoped that she would be lucky enough to enjoy two girls and two boys, in any order. She’d love whatever the universe granted her though even if she had all of one gender. They were soon home and packed with a few changes of clothes along with essentials before locking up and heading outside so Ambrose could shift.

Ambrose held Demeter protectively in his claws as he soared through the air, keeping the wind off of her. When he glanced down at her, she was laid back with her head resting on their pack, her eyes closed and even over the wind he could hear her humming. He dipped his head down, gently nuzzling her and her laugh made his heart flutter. He hoped she was feeling better, that his mother’s tea had helped her stomach. She fell asleep halfway through their journey and he only pushed himself to go faster, wanting to get her somewhere comfortable. When his destination came into view, the top of the mountain trail breaking through the woods, he slowed and started circling. His father had told him it was easier to come down the trail than it was to try landing in the thick wood.

Demeter woke when he landed and he shifted back, taking the pack and lifting her into his arms. “You don’t have to carry me silly.” She said with a yawn.

“You know I don’t mind, I love having you close, so let me.”

She nodded and looked around. “Wow, it’s so pretty here. Where are we?”

“Silverwood, but it’s not our true destination.” He started down the trail and Demeter marveled at how truly beautiful their surroundings were.

They weren’t much further when she said “I really love this place. Can we explore a little instead of going straight through? I mean…we aren’t in a hurry right?”

“Not exactly right here because of some creatures here, but if we go a little further we can stick around here awhile.”

She kissed his cheek. “You’re the best Ambrose. What sort of creatures live here?” She asked out of both curiosity and just wanting to talk to him.

“They are a lot like bears, but curved blades come out of their bodies.”

“Really?” She asked in almost a gasp. They sounded so interesting.

“Yeah, their bodies just make them and they can send them flying at you. They are razor sharp too.”

“They don’t cut up the bears coming out?”

“Nope and few blades can harm them.”

“That’s crazy.”

“Please don’t tell me you want to see one.”

If she wasn’t pregnant she would have, but she couldn’t take that risk with a little one in her stomach. “Maybe not right now because I know I need to relax.”

He kissed her head. “I was so worried you’d ask to see them now.”

“I know how worried you are. I don’t want to make you ill now with stress.”

He gave a sigh of relief. “Sorry, I don’t mean to act this way, but…”

“It’s okay, it doesn’t bother me. It’s actually cute seeing you all worried.”

Ambrose felt his face heat and he let out a huff. “I’m not cute.”

“Just like your dad when he’s around your mom.” She rubbed her nose against his cheek and he turned his head, pressing his lips briefly against hers, causing her to flush.

“I’ll show you cute once we’re in a safe place.”

She smiled, snuggling into him. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Ambrose kept himself alert as he walked, hoping any predators could sense he was a dragon and that if they attacked them he might make an exception and eat one of them. Once they finally made it through the dangerous part of the forest, he lowered her feet to the ground and laced his fingers through hers. “Stay close please.”

She laughed. “I will, I promise.”

Ambrose was glad this trip was already getting her to relax. She seemed so happy as she walked around and took everything in. Demeter had this amazing way of appreciating everything. She wasn’t rushing through to get to their destination, she saw something beautiful and wanted to take a break and experience it as well. Ambrose knew after all the years his parents had been together they must of stopped in here a time or two but he still hoped he might find something to tell his father about in return for his father telling him about this. He had such amazing parents, willing to help whenever he asked. They were genuinely good people and sometimes the embarrassment of who he used to be was unbearable.

Thankfully nobody ever brought it up, his family wasn’t the type to hold things in the past over your head forever. The fact everybody basically acted like his youth didn’t happen was the only way he could live with himself. They ended up spending the rest of the day there. Demeter suggested sleeping where they were but he was too worried about those bears coming over here. They generally didn’t but that didn’t mean they were safe.

“I’m fine just to carry you the rest of the way.”

“I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

“Sweetheart I wont be able to sleep here and I promise I’m fine. I know I can finish the trip or at least get to a spot I could sleep in.” She took his hand

“I’m not all that tired yet so lets walk together. The sky is so beautiful here. I want to enjoy it and yes if I get too tired you can carry me.” She kissed his cheek then tugged him along.

Demeter yawned as they walked through the twilight and Ambrose pulled her closer, his arm slipping around her waist. She knew it was just the baby exhausting her and she couldn’t wait to tell Ambrose so he wouldn’t have to worry so much. She let him pick her up once the sun had completely fallen and snuggled into him, letting her eyes drift closed and her hand rested on her abdomen. Ambrose picked up the pace, wanting to get her to their destination so she could rest comfortably.

He was glad she was asleep when they arrived, thinking it would be more of a surprise this way, and gently woke her. She blinked her eyes, smiling up at him. “We’re here.” He said softly and she turned, her eyes widening and a little gasp escaping her lips when she saw the tree house. “What do you think?”

“It’s beautiful.” She gently pushed until he lowered her feet to the ground. “Did your father build it?”

“He said he repaired it. Apparently fairies and elves build them sometimes and when they move on, they leave them.”

“Can we go up?”

He chuckled. “Of course.” He laced his fingers through hers and took her up the spiral staircase to the top.

Demeter even admired the staircase as they went up. Someone or a family obviously took great time and care to build this. It was beautiful and covered in designs. It made her all the more excited to look inside. If they took this much care with just the stairs she could only imagine the care they took in there. Demeter didn’t let her eagerness make her rush. The last thing she needed was to take a tumble down the steps with a baby in her stomach. She had fast reflex’s and Ambrose was right there but she couldn’t risk it. She already loved this baby too much.

 

Final Chapter

“My dad told me there’s a special word for lighting the interior.” Ambrose said as they stepped inside.

“How did he figure that out?”

“Irim, there’s nothing he doesn’t know.”

Demeter heard him say a short phrase in a language she didn’t understand and she let out a little gasp at the little dots of light that came to life, looking almost like shimmering stars as they hovered near the ceiling. “Oh wow.” She said softly then her eyes swept down and around the room. Everything had been carefully crafted from the forest surrounding the area and she stared in awe as she turned, trying to take everything in. “Oh Ambrose, it’s so beautiful.”

He pulled her into his arms and brushed a kiss to her forehead. “I’m glad you like it.” She teared up and he leaned back to look at her. “Are you alright, my love?”

“Yeah, sorry, I love it, I promise.” She wondered if it was the baby making her emotional.

“Maybe you just need to rest.”

“I’m fine, really, let’s look around first then we can eat.”

“Alright, but you have to promise to relax while I cook for you.”

“I promise.”

He couldn’t resist kissing her again before they both started looking around this amazing tree house. Demeter was surprised it was left vacant for people to visit. Surely someone would want to claim this for their own. Then again, there were risks involved with claiming a vacant home another creature built. They could come back eventually and they may or may not be sane. One morning you could wake up with some lunatic standing over you, angry and wanting answers about why you took up residence.

As promised, when they were done Demeter relaxed in an armchair while Ambrose prepared something for them to eat. She didn’t even realize she had fallen asleep until he was waking her to eat. She wondered if it was normal to be this tired right off the bat. She’d have to ask Belle when they returned home. “Sorry.”

“I was happy to find you getting more rest my love.”

He took her hand and pulled her gently to her feet and to the kitchen table. “How are you feeling?” He asked as they ate.

“Just a little tired, but other than that I’m fine.” She wondered when would be a good time to tell him. She hated that he looked so worried. “It’s okay, I promise, I’m alright.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too, Ambrose. You really are the sweetest, most adorable man I’ve ever seen.” She had to tease him a little, wanting to get his mind off his concern over her sudden exhaustion.

“Be good, you know I’ll pay you back.” He replied with a grin.

“My big, sweet, strong, cute husband wouldn’t.”

“I would.”

She let out a little laugh. “Then I guess I’ll have to eat slow.”

Demeter did eat slow, smiling here and there. Ambrose finally seemed amused rather than worried which was perfect. Demeter decided she would tell him tomorrow. He was fussing over her anyway so he may as well know the real reason she was tired. As Demeter ate she thought about different ways to tell him, settling on right when he woke up. She imagined he’d wake hilariously fast but most of all she hoped he’d be just as happy and excited as she was.

After dinner Ambrose carried Demeter to the bedroom and began kissing her as he laid her down. It was slow and passionate, the entire evening was and she woke eager for him to get up as well. He slept hard, she guessed it was because of the travel here and all the worrying but Demeter enjoyed admiring him as he slept. She gently ran a hand through his hair, sometimes trailing his skin. When he woke she smiled, almost deciding not to tease him by telling Ambrose first thing in the morning.

Ambrose turned into her, his arms wrapping around her as he snuggled close. He pressed his forehead against her chest and let out a contented sigh. “What are you doing awake my love, it’s far too early?” He asked drowsily.

“It’s actually late for us.”

“How are you feeling then?”

“Happy, a little tired, pregnant.”

“Mmm, that’s good.” She waited a moment and nearly laughed when he pulled back to look at her slightly confused. “Wait, say that again.”

“I’m happy and tired.”

“Demeter.”

“Pregnant, I’m pregnant.” She said with a laugh.

He took her face in his hands. “You’re sure, really sure? I’m not just dreaming?”

“I took a test at your parents.”

He smiled then and crushed her to him, his lips excitedly meeting hers. She started laughing and he pulled back to look at her. “I can’t believe it.” His eyes suddenly flashed with concern. “You’ve been practicing with swords with a baby and then you let me fly you all the way here. Are you okay? Is the baby okay? Maybe we should…”

She kissed him, cutting him off before he got himself too worked up. “Ambrose I’m fine, we’re both fine. I’m not even that far along.”

“Still, if I had known I wouldn’t have flown so fast.” He brushed his nose against hers. “I can’t believe I’m going to be a father.”

“I take it you’re happy?”

“And nervous and terrified, but yes, incredibly happy.

“This is going to be an amazing thing in our lives, I know it. You’re going to be such a good dad and your family is amazing. Your mom is so happy.” Demeter giggled at the memory.

“I bet, I’m surprised she could keep from telling me. I know she told dad the second we left.”

“Yeah, probably, but she promised not to tell anybody else. She wanted to let me be the first to let you know.”

“I promise to be a good dad.”

“You’re a good man, I know you’ll be. Just behave if it’s a girl. I don’t put it past you to strangle some young man.”

“Now that I can’t make promises on.” They both laughed and kissed again, completely wrapped in bliss about their situation.

Just as Demeter knew he would, Ambrose fussed over her even more, often talking to the baby and making sure she was getting enough to eat. He stayed close as they explored the forest and made sure she didn’t push herself to hard. “We’re going to have to ask my mom and aunts how to get your energy back up.” Ambrose said as he carried her back after a hike through the woods. “I don’t like you being so tired all the time, it’s concerning.”

“I’m sure it just depends on the baby.”

“Sorry if I’m being ridiculous.”

“You’re not.” She pressed a kiss to his cheek.

“And what about work, would you take time off? I know you love what you do, you’re amazing at it, but I don’t want either of you getting hurt while you’re pregnant. I know you like being active, but…”

She pressed a finger against his lips. “I will.”

“Thank you. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“I just know stress can cause all kinds of problem in pregnancy. I want you both to come out of this healthy.”

“You’re so sweet.” Their vacation was a peaceful one, filled with nothing but talk of the baby, wonder and laughter. They made sure they left the tree house clean, possibly cleaner than before they arrived. When they arrived home Zane and Belle arranged for a big family get together so they could easily share the news and Demeter would have a house full of experienced women to ask questions so she’d feel confident over the course of her pregnancy. Right away everyone started making their guesses about the gender of their first child. It was fun to think about not only that but what kind of personality their little one would have.

They walked home together that night, Ambrose seeming more at ease after having talked to everyone, having received a list from Irim of foods he had made for Ariel to help keep her healthy, and had been told if there were any complications to come to them right away. They didn’t want them going through anything like what Gabriel and Tawny had gone through. “So, boy or a girl?” Demeter asked and Ambrose pulled her closer.

“Healthy and ready to use a sword.” He answered, making her laugh. “I’ll have my dad teach them how to be terrifying.”

“Ambrose, be good.”

“I am, I’m going to create little warriors. They’ll be beautiful and strong like you and have my charm.” She laughed again and he picked her up and pressed a kiss to her lips. “I love you Demeter.”

“I love you too, you silly man.”

He pressed his forehead against hers. “Thank you for everything, for being my mate and for giving me the gift of a child.”

“Ambrose.” Her voice was soft and she felt herself tear up.

“I can’t wait to meet our little one.” He carried her the rest of the way home and they fell asleep that night wrapped in each others arms, both of them looking forward to this new stage of their lives.

THE END

Tir & Lao 2

Chapter One

Lao sat on the edge of Tir’s bed, admiring the young prince as he slept. He let his fingers drift over his cheek, pushing his hair back and he leaned down to kiss him. Tir started to push him away in his half asleep state, but Lao laced their fingers together and pinned his hands next to his head. He felt Tir’s skin warm and he pulled back with a grin. “Good morning my prince.”

“Lao, what are you doing?”

“Waking you, I thought I was allowed.” He rubbed their noses together, getting a blush of embarrassment from Tir. “We’re supposed to be heading out.”

“That’s right.” Tir tried setting up, but Lao kept him in place. “Come on, you promised you would take me with you and you already let me sleep in.”

“I was honestly hoping you would forget all this assassin’s school nonsense. I am only going as a favor to my mentor.” He let his lips brush Tir’s, a barely there touch that had the younger man shivering. “I don’t like the idea of having you around all of those assassins.”

“But you’ll protect me, won’t you?”

“Of course, no one there could touch you.”

“Then let’s go.”

“I should have left while you slept, but I hate the idea of being dishonest with you.” He gave Tir another kiss then let him go. “Alright, get ready then.”

Tir found himself admiring Lao as he got out of bed. He looked so elegant and put together. His shirt hung open to his waist where it was held closed by a red sash. Lao cleared his throat and Tir blushed as he hurried to get his clothes and bathe.

Lao grinned, who didn’t love the adorable look on their significant others face when they became embarrassed? He hoped this trip went well. He’d have to kill someone in front of Tir because they dared to hurt him. He wasn’t sure why they would, but assassins work could attract some very unsound minds and sometimes it was figured out too late. Lao decided he would just concentrate on the positive so he wouldn’t ruin this trip for Tir. Since Tir was determined to go he wouldn’t have to go without him, which had been something he hadn’t been looking forward to in the slightest. He also would get to introduce his mentor to the love of his life and he enjoyed showing him off.

Tir sat with his father and Lao through breakfast, listening to his father reminding him to stick with Lao and only eat and drink what Lao had tested out first. Tir was sure none of the other assassin’s would dare cross Lao, but he understood his father’s worries. He hugged him when it was time to go and he and Lao headed out to the carriage waiting for them. “How long are we going to be there?” Tir asked as their driver let them in.

“A week, my mentor was quite insistent I give him at least that long. The old man is quite pushy.” He sat close to Tir, his arm draped over his lover’s shoulders.

“Old man? That’s a little surprising.”

Lao chuckled. “You’re thinking elderly aren’t you?” He let his nose brush over Tir’s cheek, causing goosebumps to rise on his skin.

“Well, yeah.”

“My mentor is not human. He’s been a part of the school for a long time and is one of the best.” He pressed a kiss to Tir’s temple. “I want you to stay near while I teach, don’t take anything that anyone tries to give you save for myself and my mentor, he can be trusted.”

“Okay.” Tir enjoyed the affection as his mind played through what he imagined the school and Lao’s mentor would be like. Lao’s constant touch and his imagination might have lulled him to sleep, but the occasional bump from the road kept him wide awake. It was sweet how Lao never seemed to tire of touching him. He had learned not to tease Lao about it because it only made him tease right back by getting more sexual with it. “Would you like me to tell you more about the school my love? I can tell your mind is busy.”

“Yeah.”

“Well you have to give me a kiss first.” Tir wasn’t surprised to hear that and moved happily to kiss him. Lao made the kiss long, but they had a long ride so Tir wasn’t in any rush. Who would be when they were lucky enough to have an amazingly skilled, incredibly attractive and sweet assassin in love with them who also happened to be an incredible kisser.

Lao grinned at Tir’s red face and heavy breathing when he pulled back. “Why must you be so tempting my love? If we were home…”

“Lao, stop, what if the driver hears?”

“Pretty sure I could keep you quiet, I have my ways you know.”

“Lao you…you’re supposed to be talking about assassins.”

Lao chuckled. “Alright, if you insist, but once we’re alone, you won’t be safe.” He gave him another kiss before starting. He started with the school’s history before moving onto describing the building itself. It had been built circular to accommodate the obstacle course in the middle where an assassin’s strength and agility could be honed and tested. It had a sheer cliff behind it and on the other sides a forest. Mentors encouraged their students to practice sneaking through the school itself and even trying to assassinate their teachers.

“Did you try killing your mentor?” Tir asked.

“Of course, I failed, but I tried many times.”

“That’s crazy.”

“Not for us, it helps us realize what we need to work on.”

“I don’t think I could ever do something like that. Killing the person who trained you. Are you going to let those students attack you?”

“Of course, you’ll get to see me show off for you.”

Tir was a little worried, but he didn’t voice it. Lao’s entire life was risk so he felt it would be silly to ask him not to. Lao could see the anxiety in Tir so he took his hand, knowing if he kissed him again he might lose all self control. “With you to impress and protect none of them will touch me Tir.” They continued talking the entire ride there. There was so much history when it came to the school and teachers, not to mention all his own memories. Lao could probably fill days with conversation about his time there. Before they got out Lao had to warn his love again, “Please, be careful. I don’t want you afraid but I want you mindful. This school is good at weeding out the lunatics but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for one to slip through and do something stupid.”

“I understand.”

Lao smiled. “So obedient, it’s a bit surprising.”

Tir blushed. “I just don’t want to have to take care of you because you went and got hurt on my account.”

“I think you just like me bossing you around.”

Tir crossed his arms and Lao pressed a kiss to his cheek, causing his skin to heat further. “I’ll get our things.”

Lao chuckled as Tir started pulling their bags out and reached around him to take one grinning at the heat coming off of Tir’s body. “Come on, wouldn’t want to keep my mentor waiting.”

“Yes…of course.”

Tir fought down his blush and took a couple of deep, calming breaths to get his heart under control. Nervousness replaced his embarrassment when they made their way from the front gate and past the arena. There were a few young men and women on the obstacle course and some of them had stopped to watch the two of them pass. Lao didn’t seem to notice them or maybe he was ignoring them so Tir tried his best to do the same. “Don’t worry, they’re only curious.” He gestured around. “Pretty impressive right?”

“Yeah, more than I could have imagined. So this is where all of those amazing skills were honed huh?”

Lao nodded. “There are many different kinds of classes here, ones on poisoning and stealth, ones on combat and seduction and even on the best materials for ease of movement.”

“Seduction?”

“Every assassin learns everything, but some are better at certain skills. Seduction is for those who aren’t as good at hand to hand or knife play. The ones who prefer that method often pair it with poisons.”

“And what about you?”

Lao chuckled. “You should know by now, that I am good at everything.” He winked and Tir felt his face heat again.

Lao could be intense, but it was an amazing part about being with him. Tir knew how loved he was, he could see Lao’s devotion all the time. Soon they were standing before Lao’s mentor who instantly seemed to be looking Tir over, Lao stepped a little in front of Tir, protective as always, even with his mentor. “You brought him here, he must be special. I can’t help but examine him.” Nenyo’s eyes were now on Lao. “Thank you for finally coming. Is he what’s kept you too busy for your mentor’s request? I thought you’d be eager to come back. You always were a show off.”

“Before him I would have been in a hurry, but a prince surrounded by assassins, it wasn’t something I was comfortable with.”

“If anybody can keep him safe it’s you, but I understand, come.”

The interior of the school was beautifully crafted, every pillar and mural, every statue was gorgeous. Lao gestured to the walls. “Notice anything strange?”

Tir looked around. “Not really.”

“The walls have hand and footholds built in.”

“Why?”

“Because, young prince, this is a school for assassins.” Nenyo answered. “They are always welcome to try their hands at sneaking up on and killing one of us.” He suddenly stopped and looked up at the large chandelier. “Nice try, come down young lady before I knock you down.”

Tir was surprised when someone dropped from the ceiling and rolled, coming up on their feet in front of Nenyo. The woman pulled her hood back, frowning. “Sir.” She said.

“You are still too heavy footed. I could see the chandelier shaking.”

“Yes sir, I’ll practice harder.”

“See you do.”

Lao just smiled. “Still a hard ass I see.”

“Would you like to try your hand?”

“Of course, after we’re settled in and you have introduced me to the students. I am sure fighting you would be a good way to show them what real assassins look like.”

“That eager to be beaten in front of your lover?”

“Just that eager to be admired by him.”

Nenyo grinned approvingly at his once student. He was looking forward to Lao being back around and seeing how much better he was than when he left here. Being that these were students he didn’t often get a real challenge and Lao had brought just that into the school. Tir just kept admiring everything, looking at the walls, furniture, decorations and floors for anything else out of the normal. There were some places that even looked like they might be small doors, just big enough for a fit person to get through. It made Tir slightly more nervous, but he was still more interested in all this than afraid to be here.

Nenyo lead them up to the top floor where he pulled a key out of his pocket and unlocked a door. “I thought you might want your own room away from the dorms.” He pushed the door open and gestured inside.

“No secret passageways I hope.” Lao said with a chuckle.

“I didn’t think you’d appreciate it. Perhaps if you were alone. I am sure you can handle one of the students coming through the window?”

“Of course, it won’t be a problem.”

“Thank you.” Tir said with a smile.

“I hope it’s comfortable enough for you, prince.”

“I’ll be fine, I know I live in a castle, but I’m not picky and as long as I have Lao with me, anything’s fine.”

Nenyo chuckled. “I have to say, Lao, you’ve chosen well.”

“Despite his shyness, Tir is quite strong.”

“Get settled in then and meet me in the arena. I’ll gather the new students.”

 

Chapter Two

Lao gave a small nod then Nenyo left them, allowing the two to set their stuff down and have a few moments. “What do you think so far?” Lao asked and was happy to hear his love say, “It’s amazing, I’m happy you didn’t leave me.”

“If you haven’t changed your mind by the time we leave then we’ll come back more. Maybe I can come back every now and then as a visiting teacher. I know being one permanently is out of the question since you don’t have any siblings to rule after your parents.”

“Yeah, but you’re fine with that right? I’m not holding you back from anything?”

Lao grinned, moving closer. “The only thing you keep me from is making love to you as much as I want. I’m an incredibly happy and lucky man Tir, don’t ever think otherwise.”

Tir wound up having to push Lao back with one hand when he started trying to push his shirt off. He didn’t want to be rude to Nenyo and wound up using the other hand to push the bedroom door open, stumbling out and only not falling because of Lao’s quick reflexes. He found himself pulled into Lao’s arms, blushing when Lao started laughing. “That eager to get away from me huh?”

“No…not at all, I just want to see you show off is all.”

Lao gently tipped his head back, grinning at him. “Oh? Then I’ll have to make sure to put on a good show.”

“Just don’t get too hurt.”

“I have you to tend to my wounds my love, so I’m not worried.” He rubbed their noses together. “Come, let’s go down before he comes back up.”

He took Tir’s hand and they walked back down to the arena. Lao smiled when he saw Nenyo and his students, the young men and women so eager to learn seemed excited at the prospect of getting to witness their mentor fight. All of their eyes were suddenly drawn to Tir and Lao, studying both of them, perhaps even looking for weaknesses. “Took you long enough.” Nenyo said.

“Can you blame me, I mean look at him. Such an attractive distraction.” Lao shot back with a teasing smile.

“Lao, come on.” Tir said embarrassed. “Where do you want me?”

“Karthan.” Nenyo said and a young woman stepped up to stand next to him.

“Sir.”

“You are to sit with the prince and ensure his safety and comfort. He is off limits to all here. If anyone tries to lay a hand on him, you have permission to defend him.”

“Yes sir.”

Karthan’s smile was friendly. “Come along prince Tir.” She guided him to a good place to watch and soon all the others took seats, purposefully giving Tir and Karthan a lot of room to try to keep from getting into any trouble. “You’re in for a good show. We’ve been eager for this.” Karthan whispered. Tir was interested himself, interested and hopeful Lao didn’t get hurt trying to show off.

“Karthan is my best student currently so I don’t want to hear anything about being distracted with worry over Tir when I beat you.” Nenyo said confidently.

Lao lightly chuckled. “Stop stalling, are you ready?”

“Always.”

It startled Tir when Nenyo moved. He was so fast, almost too fast, and he was amazed that Lao managed to block the blades in Nenyo’s hands. Lao grinned as he shoved his mentor back and struck out at him with lightening fast slashes. He looked around at the students, at their captivated gazes and then back at Lao, his heart thumping in his chest as he watched his lover’s dance like movements. “A dance of death.” Karthan said softly. “I have never see something this amazing. You are truly lucky prince, to have Lao by your side.”

“I know.” He had never seen Lao move like this since there was never anyone who dared come after either of them. He knew Lao was fast and silent like a cat, that he had been an incredibly talented assassin, but truly seeing it for the first time, was astounding. He jumped up when the tip of Nenyo’s blade nicked Lao’s cheek and had to stop himself from moving forward. He couldn’t be a distraction right now.

Everyone gasped when they both lost a blade and Lao was suddenly on his back on the ground. Nenyo’s blade pressed against his throat and the tip of Lao’s was at Nenyo’s solar plexus. Everyone was frozen as they waited to see what would happen next when Lao chuckled and Nenyo grinned, standing up and offering Lao a hand up. “Amazing as always, you actually had me.” Nenyo said.

“And you me, but…” he wiped at the blood on his cheek, “poison? Really?”

“My blades stay coated.”

“Were you testing my immunity?”

“Of course.”

“It still burns.”

“Well I’m glad you’re staying sharp in all ways. It’s nice to see students leave here and become something to be proud of.” The students all began running down in excitement, all except Karthan who took her task seriously.

“Are you ready to go down there and talk to them?” She asked Tir who answered, “Yeah, lets go.”

They walked down and Lao broke away from them to kiss Tir before he whispered in his ear, “Maybe when we are in our room next time you won’t resist me after seeing this.” Lao moved back and winked, causing Tir to blush. It really was sexy how amazing he had been out there, but it filled him with immense embarrassment that Lao knew it all too well.

“When shall my first class start?” Lao suddenly asked Nenyo who said, “You’ve had a long journey, the students got their demonstration. That will be enough for the day. Just enjoy your prince and the school until tomorrow.”

“I’ll meet you all out here straight after breakfast.” They seemed to light up and before Tir knew it Lao had lifted him off his feet. As they walked away they could hear Nenyo talking to the students about what they had just witnessed. He was walking them through every single move, every single choice that was made and could have been made instead. He seemed to be a good teacher.

“Shouldn’t we explore a little?” Tir asked and Lao let out a chuckle.

“Trying to avoid me?”

“No, it’s just um…well it’s not every day a prince just walks in here, so…I do want you, but I also want to see everything.”

Lao grinned as he pressed a kiss to Tir’s cheek then whispered in his ear, “Why don’t we have both?”

Tir swallowed. “What do you mean?”

“I have a secret place here.”

“That’s almost hard to believe.”

“I told you this place is very old and I’m sure the original architects still have many things hidden away. I just found one of them. The only one who could possibly know is Nenyo, he’s even older than the school. So, want to see?”

“Yeah.”

Lao grinned, they’d both be getting what they want. Tir could experience more of the school and he would still get to make love to Tir. It was actually an added bonus to make love to him in his old secret place. He had never brought anybody there for sex before and there was nobody he’d rather pop that places cherry with. Lao continued walking, it almost seemed like they were going to leave campus when suddenly Lao pushed into a wall that had seemed solid, but it seemed they were now inside it, walking down a flight of stairs, “Woah.”

“My thoughts precisely when I ended up finding this place.”

“How did you find it?”

“It’s a bit embarrassing.”

“What happened?”

Lao let out an exaggerated sigh as if the memory was truly that bad. “I may have happened to lean against it playing a bit of cat and mouse with another student and I may have fallen through and part way down the stairs before I could stop myself.” Tir grinned then covered his mouth as he started laughing. “See? This is why I said it was embarrassing.”

Tir took a deep breath, but couldn’t keep the smile off his face or the amusement out of his eyes. “Were you hurt?”

“Just my pride, but at least there was no one around to see how ungraceful I was.”

“I bet the look on your face was, dare I say, adorable?”

“I’m sure I could make you take that back.”

Tir’s heart felt like it was about to jump out of his chest, his skin flushing, and his mind whirling with what Lao might do to pay him back. “I’ll be good.” He knew Lao would never hurt him, but he blurted it out anyway, receiving a grin from the ex assassin.

Lao chuckled. “Too late now my sweet prince.” He let out another little laugh. “I never thought my little escape artist would be so nervous.”

They made it to a a surprisingly nice room beyond the fact it was dusty from lack of use. “It looks as if truly nobody else has found this.” Lao said as he set Tir down.

“It looks so nice.”

“I found it this way for the most part. I only brought different bedding in. I imagine an original person that used this school used this as a room and I didn’t want to be sleeping in someone else’s sheets. I might change it out again if we come here a lot.” Lao kissed Tir’s shoulder as he slid his hands up Tir’s torso. Tir blushed, this time just enjoying his lovers touch instead of trying to get away. There had been many reasons up until now to push him away, but now they could just enjoy each other.

Lao continued to slowly press feather light kisses until he had kissed across his right shoulder, all the while caressing him. Sometimes touching him could be addicting, especially after having to try so many times to get his prince to stay still long enough to let them have a moment like this. Lao licked up Tir’s neck before gently biting it. Tir moaned, his heart racing with anticipation. He could tell Lao was going to tease him more than normal and he supposed that was his punishment for laughing at him.

Lao’s hand moved to Tir’s face only to move him so they could kiss. Their tongues were soon moving against each others as Lao began to play with and rub Tir’s nipples. Lao grinned when he felt Tir harden against him. “I love you.” Lao whispered. Tir whispered it back before finally beginning to touch Lao as well. Lao began to feel his own length start to grow hard so he stripped Tir. Tir did the same so soon they were both naked, kissing and touching one another.

Lao began backing Tir up and suddenly he found himself against one of the walls, Lao licking and biting at his neck and shoulder again. “Oh god Lao.” Tir moaned, growing harder with need for release. Tir didn’t know how Lao did this for so long, especially since he was hard as well, but he almost sighed with relief when Lao began kissing down his chest then stomach, soon taking Tir in his mouth. The sucking and licking he had been experiencing before was intensified now, causing Tir to almost shake with pleasure.

Lao knew there weren’t condoms or lube in this room so he began working Tir as he sucked him, bringing the prince to the edge before stopping. Lao grabbed a piece of clothing from a nearby drawer then turned his lover so he was facing the wall and entered him. They came almost together, Lao inside Tir and Tir into the piece of clothing Lao had given him. Lao however wasn’t done with him yet and Tir didn’t suspect he’d be anytime soon.

 

Chapter Three

Lao pushed Tir far past his limit and Tir could only lay there panting and letting out little whimpering moans. He was so sensitive that he shuddered every time Lao touched him. “Lao…I…it’s too much.”

Lao leaned down, his lips pressing against Tir’s as he pushed into him a little harder, delighting in the way the prince clung to him, at the little whine that welled up in his throat. Their lips parted on a moan and Tir went limp with exhaustion, breathing heavily, his eyes damp with tears. Lao pressed kisses to his lips, smiling lovingly down at him. “Do you have any idea how much I love you?” He rubbed their noses together.

“Yeah.” He said softly. “I love you too.”

Lao nibbled at his chin, grinning when Tir let out another little whine. “I love seeing you like this, I can’t help but tease and take advantage.”

“I can’t anymore today, I’ll die.”

Lao chuckled as he moved off of him and moved Tir to lay on top of him, his head resting on his chest. He let fingers trail up and down his spine, getting a little shiver and goosebumps in response. He smiled when Tir fell asleep and let him rest for a bit. “Tir, my love?” He gently woke him a little while later and Tir let out a little groan as he opened his eyes.

“Is everything alright?” He asked sleepily.

“Of course, but we should probably get clean and find something to eat. I’m sure you’re hungry.”

Tir blushed. “It’s your fault.”

Lao tilted Tir’s head back and kissed him, grinning at how hot his skin was. “You know I can’t help myself, you’re just so hard to resist.”

Tir slowly got out of the bed then the two dressed before Lao took Tir in his arms again to carry him. Tir just relaxed into Lao’s arms, feeling both embarrassed and happy. The two returned to the room Nenyo had shown them, took a long shower then went to see what they could eat. The next morning Tir and Lao returned to the stadium for Lao’s first day of class. The students were already there, once again looking awe struck that they would soon be taught by Lao. Tir took a seat himself, but away from the students, not wanting to be in the way of anything they might do for the lesson.

Lao seemed to look them over then said, “Come here.” Tir couldn’t tell who he had said that to, but apparently to the students it was clear. A man who looked maybe a little younger than Tir stood and approached Lao. “And you.” He said to another student who got up, it was the woman who sat with him the other day. “Karthan right?”

“Yes.”

“What’s your name?” He asked the man.

“Thacese.”

“I’d like to start this class by really seeing where you all are with your skills. I’m not going to tell any of you the reasoning behind my pairings today, not yet anyway, but I’m going to have two on two matches until everyone has faced off against someone. There’s an odd number of you so whomever impresses me most will go twice.”

Tir watched as Karthan and Thacese fought, Karthan favoring the same type of blade Lao did while Thacese preferred his bare hands. Even so, he could see much of Nenyo’s style in their movements. It was the way Lao fought as well, a mix of grace and aggression. There was something else in their movements though, almost like they were playing with each other and when he looked closer he could see Thacese grinning. Lao called a stop to the fight when Karthan knocked him to his back and landed on top of him, the tip of her dagger beneath his chin. “Very good, Karthan.” Lao said and she stood, helping Thacese up.

“Thank you sir.”

“There is a problem however.”

“Sir?”

Lao grabbed her arm and held up her wrist where Thacese had scratched her. He could see her veins through her skin. “His nails are coated in poison.” She looked surprised. “You need to get the antidote, all that moving around only made it pump through your veins faster.”

“Yes sir.”

“Don’t be upset, you did incredibly well, but you must expect the unexpected from a man who uses no actual weapon. Thacese, take her to get what she needs then both of you hurry back here.”

Tir couldn’t help but smile at how amazing he was. He was so patient. He called on the next two students and Tir just admired him, unable to keep his eyes off of him. Lao’s eyes met his for just a second, a grin pulling at his lips that caused Tir to blush. “It’s quite something seeing him so captivated by another person.” Nenyo’s voice next to Tir startled him. He hadn’t even heard him.

“Uh…I…if anyone’s captivated it’s me. He’s very magnetic? Alluring?”

Nenyo chuckled. “He’s always been like that. He was a natural you know, picked up everything almost immediately.”

Tir couldn’t help but think of Lao’s fall and had to stop himself from laughing. He turned his eyes back to Lao. “He really is perfect, isn’t he?”

Nenyo chuckled. “Well thank you for coming. I can see even more now how much you mean to him so I know if you had been against it these students wouldn’t have him here. He may have learned from me, but he has picked up a few things of his own. I feel this school and it’s assassins will truly benefit from him coming to teach every now and then.”

“Well, I’d never try to tell Lao he couldn’t do something anyway.”

“I don’t think you would, but I doubt he would go do something regardless of if you actually said anything if he could tell it would upset you. He has keen senses, especially for a human. You don’t seem like the controlling type so I hope you know that is not what I meant in the slightest.” After a short pause Nenyo asked, “How is your father?”

“Well, though with how he’s always been I imagine he’s at home worried about me.”

“You’re his only child, it’s understandable. Nothing will happen to you here, not with both Lao and I watching. Besides, they idolize Lao so much I doubt they’d want to be on his bad side.”

“Are these all the students here?”

“Most.”

“Are you the only teacher?”

Nenyo shook his head. “There are others, but their classrooms are inside.”

“Lao said everyone learns how to make poisons and um…seduce people.”

Nenyo chuckled. “Are you curious about the things Lao has had to do?”

Tir blushed. “No…not really, it just explains a lot.”

“He was naturally charming when I met him, a natural at manipulation. He played the other students with ease and tried it with me, though he failed. Just to let you know, his feelings for you are genuine.”

“I know, but thank you all the same.”

They continued to watch each match, Tir noticing that both Karthan and Thacese had returned. Thacese was surprised when he was chosen to participate in the extra fight, but Lao explained it was for his trickery. Afterwards, he pointed out mistakes he had noticed or skills he thought needed improvement and things he believed certain students should focus on. They listened with rapt attention, truly absorbing everything he said.

Lao ended the day with that, wanting to give them time to absorb everything he had tried to teach them. “I’m all yours again.” Lao said with that ever charming smile.

“I’d like to grab something to eat then see more of this place if you want.” Lao kissed Tir’s forehead, causing Nenyo to chuckle and walk away. It was surprising how even here Lao acted just as he did at home, like it was just the two of them in any given room. Lao hadn’t seen his old teacher in years yet his focus seemed to still fully be on him.

“Lets go find some food then.” He turned to the assassins, “Same time tomorrow.” They nodded and Lao left with Tir, taking his hand as soon as they were out of the arena. “You liked watching me again?”

“Yeah.”

“What was my old mentor saying to you?”

“He thanked me for you being here and we talked a little about how natural this all came to you.”

“Hmm, only good things I hope.”

“He said you were quite charming.”

“Am I?”

“You know you are.” He blushed. “Especially with me.”

Lao grinned. “You like how charming I am, admit it.” He brought Tir’s fingers to his lips, kissing and then nipping at them.

“M…maybe.”

Lao grinned as he lead him through the school to the large kitchen. He was happy to see the same family still working there. The cook had been in his thirties when Lao had come to train there and was always kind to the students. His wife and children worked with him and they all smiled when they saw Lao. He hugged them then introduced Tir. “So you’re going to be a queen then?” The son said in a teasing tone.

“The most beautiful if I do say so myself.” Lao shot back.

“Make sure to buy him plenty of pretty dresses, prince.”

Tir chuckled at the banter. “You know, Lao would definitely look good in anything, even dresses.” They almost forgot they were hungry as they continued talking.

It was the cook who said, “Well you obviously came here to eat. I have the perfect recipe. I discovered it after you left and my first thought once I tasted it was how much you’d love it Lao. I can even bring it to your room so you don’t have to sit with everyone else going in and out of the dining room.”

“I’m actually enjoying getting to know everyone around here so we can sit out there.” Tir said and Lao nodded. “That’s fine with me too.”

“Alright.” The chef and his family began working and Lao guided Tir to where they could sit together. There was only one other student there reading but it wasn’t a meal time so they hadn’t expected it to be full of people.

Lao couldn’t help but flirt with and tease Tir as they ate, grinning at how red he was by the time they took their dishes back into the kitchen and left. “Enjoying yourself?” Lao asked as he laced his fingers through Tir’s.

“Of course, this place is amazing and I’m here with you, anywhere with you is perfect.”

Lao smiled as he pressed a kiss to Tir’s temple. “I’m glad, thank you for insisting I bring you. My time here would have been so boring and lonely without you.”

“You’re exaggerating.”

“I’m not, I need you with me always. Since you became mine, I can’t fall asleep without you, I feel restless.”

Tir’s heart did a little flutter. “I…I feel the same. Having you close to me, makes me feel safe and loved.”

 

Final Chapter

“You are the safest person in the world.” Lao said then gave Tir another kiss. The days flew by as Lao continued to teach the students lesson after lesson. Tir even found himself absolutely comfortable here and enjoyed watching the students slowly improve. It would be incredibly tempting to just stay here and let Lao become a permanent teacher if he didn’t have to rule. It would be nice if they were lucky enough to be immortal like Lao’s old mentor. He could be king for awhile, maybe adopt a kid with Lao and raise them to rule one day so they could come back here but they didn’t have enough life for that. Lao even had sixteen years on him. By the time their child could rule he probably wouldn’t feel like teaching. Lao may have endless energy now, but we all got old one day. It’s the curse of being a mortal.

Tir was grateful for any life with Lao though. He just couldn’t help but be a little selfish sometimes and want entire lifetimes with him like immortal beings could have with their loved ones. They could just live any kind of life then switch one day and live an entirely different one. It was endless possibilities when you weren’t racing time and your body breaking down. His mind more so drifted to them ruling together, the kind of life they would have.

After another day of lessons and once Lao had finished talking to the students, Lao headed straight to Tir. “You seem to be in deep thought lately, my love.” He said as he took Tir’s hand and pulled him close.

Tir’s heart skipped a beat. “Have I?”

Lao nodded. “Care to share?”

“Um…well…” he sighed. “I’ve just been thinking about our time together.”

Lao cocked his head to the side. “You haven’t been feeling neglected have you?”

“No, not that, I mean our lifespan. I mean you’re already so much older than me and…and we’re both human so…”

Lao smiled and pressed a kiss to his forehead. “You had me worried for a minute, I thought maybe you had been feeling lonely or something.”

“That’s impossible, you’re always so attentive.”

“Alright,” he looked over at Nenyo who was talking to his students about their lessons, “then I’ll talk to Nenyo, I’m sure he’ll help.”

Tir felt excitement rush through him. He hadn’t even thought they could ask Nenyo. He just assumed they’d be human forever since they were born that way. Nenyo could say no, but Tir’s hope burned all the same. Lao waited for Nenyo to be done with the student before asking Nenyo if they could talk alone. “Of course, where?”

“Anywhere that’s away from the students.”

“We will go to my office then. They know better than to be in there.”

Tir and Lao followed Nenyo to his office, waiting for him to lock the door before saying, “Tir has apparently been thinking about our mortality.”

“And you want my help to not be mortal?”

“Perceptive as always.”

“Hm, what would I get in return?”

“An amazing teacher that could always come back.”

Nenyo nodded. “You really would?”

“Yes, Tir seems to enjoy himself here and if we were immortal there could possibly be a day he’s not tied down to being king.”

Nenyo chuckled. “Alright, but tell me something first, you keep pairing Karthan with Thacese, is it for the reason I think it is?”

“He’s in love with her. I wanted to see if he would hesitate during training. Sometimes we’re forced to face off against people we considered our friends, you and I know that better than any of them.”

“We do.” He nodded again. “Alright, immortality it is. Do you have a preference as to what you’d like to be?”

Lao grinned. “Hmm, perhaps a vampire, so I have an excuse to nibble on Tir all the time?”

Tir went red from head to toe and grew even more embarrassed when Lao started laughing. “You’re so mean.”

Lao hugged him tightly. “Out of love.” He pulled back to look at Tir. “What do you think?”

“What choices do I have?”

“Many.” Nenyo explained. “I’ve been around for a long time and I’ve met many beings. Dragons, demons, vampires, werewolves, you name it and I’ve either spoken to it or killed it. I can give you a list and you can research in the library if you like. Living forever is a big decision.”

“Give us a list and we will probably get back to you about it soon.” Lao said then Tir added, “Thank you.”

“We need a teacher like him at this school. I was hoping he’d ask one day. It would be irresponsible of me to simply try to talk people into it I wanted around forever. The timing is perfect since he’s found his life partner.” Nenyo pulled out a clean sheet of paper and began jotting down the names of creatures that came to mind until he couldn’t pull another name off the top of his head. “If none appeal to you there are many more.” He said as he handed the note to Lao.

“I’m sure one of these will do.”

Lao and Tir left Nenyo’s office with one last thank you then headed for the library to look into them. “So this is mainly up to you Tir.”

“You’ll have to be whatever it is too.”

“I don’t care as long as we always get to be together.”

Tir blushed and nudged him. “Stop that.”

“What?”

“You’re purposefully over sappy to make me red.”

Lao chuckled. “I mean every word I say though.”

They went through the whole list together, researching each one and Tir finally settled on the kanima. He had Lao in mind when he chose it, knowing him being a jaguar would be perfect for his skill set. Plus, a feline matched him perfectly. “Are you sure?” Lao asked.

“Yeah, I think being a cat would be interesting. I could be the jaguar king.” He answered and Lao chuckled as he pressed a kiss to his lips.

“How cute. Alright, a jaguar it is then.” He rubbed their noses together. “I do have to admit, I’m glad you chose a shifter.”

“Why?”

“Oh you know.” He gave him a wink and Tir flushed.

“M…maybe something else.”

“Too late now my love, you’ve already sold me on it.” He rubbed their noses. “I love you and honestly no matter what you chose, I would still be unable to keep my hands off of you. Besides, now I’ll be even better equipped to keep you safe. More speed, more flexibility, heightened senses, I dare someone to even think of harming you.” He gave him an even bigger smile. “Or any children we may adopt.” He stood, pulling Tir with him. “Come my prince, let’s tell Nenyo.”

“You want children?”

“I want everything.”

Tir’s heart danced in his chest. This was really going to happen, they were going to live forever and have children. Nenyo smirked at their choice. “I’ll get my friend here as quickly as possible. It’s been awhile since he and I spoke but we parted on good terms. You’re not in any rush to return to your castle right prince? I’d just like to know if I need to rush him at all.”

“My father has everything, he told me to enjoy my time away and only come home when I was ready. I think he wants to pass the crown soon so wants me to get any cabin fever out.”

“Good, I’ll make sure you two know the second he is on his way here. Enjoy your final days of being humans.”

Lao lifted Tir, much to his embarrassment, thanked Nenyo and left, taking Tir up to their room. He tossed him on the bed then crawled up him and rubbed their cheeks together, then their noses, making Tir laugh. “What are you doing silly?”

“Practicing being a cat.” Tir laughed again and started to push him back, but Lao grabbed his wrists and pinned them down, grinning at him. “Everything we read said they love scenting their mates.”

“But you’re not a jaguar yet.”

“Practice makes perfect.”

Tir smiled, let out a happy little sigh and lifted his head to kiss Lao. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

The shifter came right away when Nenyo reached out. He was kind and eager to help out, even making sure to talk them about every detail so they’d be prepared for the change. Lao didn’t have a shred of nerves, he never did and it made Tir feel more confident about them going from human to jaguar. When it was all over it seemed the both took to their new form well, but Nenyo’s friend insisted they should rest their bodies anyway so they did. Lao was teaching classes again the very next day with Tir still happily watching. They would be leaving soon, they had talked about that when they went to lay down. Tir wanted to tell his father and he didn’t think this sort of thing should be shared over a letter.

On their last day, Nenyo and his class all came to see them off, the students obviously disappointed that he was leaving. “You’ll be back, right?” Nenyo asked.

Lao shrugged. “Perhaps, we’ll see.”

Nenyo chuckled. “I guess I’ll have to bother you again then until you have no choice.”

Lao held out his hand and Nenyo shook it. “Don’t worry, we’ll be back, Tir is far too interested in this place for me to stay away and I actually enjoy teaching.”

“I’ll hold you to it.”

Tir and Lao climbed into the carriage, Lao immediately wrapping him in a hug as it pulled away from the school. He pressed a kiss to his lips, causing him to blush and reveled in the fact he could heart Tir’s heart. “What do you think your father will say?”

“I think he’ll be happy because I’m happy.”

“I think so too.” He smiled as he pressed their foreheads together. “I love you, Tir, forever until the end of time.”

“Me too, forever.” They cuddled as the carriage carried them home and into a future with more possibilities than they could ever imagine.

THE END

Sylvie & Jarius 2

Chapter One

Sylvie laughed with her cousins as they continued to play their game. She was out to celebrate one of them getting married soon while Jarius was out with one of his Uncles. The old dragon had come wanting Jarius to help him with some artifacts he had found. Doing something like that was hard to do with a four year old, especially a little girl as wild as theirs so one of Sylvies brothers had offered to take care of little Xeja. Jarius had almost taken a break from working with his Uncle so Lefan wouldn’t have to watch her but at the last second changed his mind. He felt it would be better to try to finish so it wouldn’t take time from his family any more since his wife was out anyway. Lefan had watched her a few times before so they could have some time alone so they trusted him today.

Suddenly Sylvie had a bad feeling and her cousins could read it on her face “Sylvie, whats wrong?”

“I think I need to go home”

“is something wrong with Jarius?”

“No, I know it’s not that. I just, I feel like I need to check on Xeja”

“Okay, don’t ignore those mommy senses. I understand”

“I really am sorry though” her cousin waved her off “go if you feel like you need to check on her. Just find us if everything is okay” They figured it would be. It wasn’t like Sylvie spent a ton of time away from her daughter so they chalked it up to separation anxiety. Sylvie shifted, flying home as fast as she could. She burst through her door, startling Lefan who had been reading one of Jarius’s old books “woah, whats up?”

“Where is Xeja?”

“I ran her around outside, I wore her out so she’s napping”

“where?”

“em, in her room” her brother said in a confused tone then walked with Sylvie to find Xeja wasn’t in there “I swear she was just here. I’ve been checking on her every time I get to a new chapter”

“Xeja?!” Sylvie called, trying not to panic. To her horror she saw the room Jarius worked and stored things he wanted near by but Xeja couldn’t touch was opened “Lefan…”

“oh my god…I thought I locked that back I swear” Sylvie ran into the room, her brother behind her. Once inside Lefan was shocked by how far they could run in it, their home didn’t seem this big. Sylvie’s ears caught her daughter laughing and she ran to it, loseing her brother in all that was stored here. “Sylvie!” she heard her brother yell but finding Xeja was more important so she rushed on. Her daughter was messing with something on her finger “Xeja, baby” Sylvie was tearful and just as she noticed it was a ring it began to glow. She grabbed it, wanting to take it off but next thing she knew she felt twisted, sick to her stomach and then she suddenly wasn’t home anymore.

Sylvie felt like she couldn’t breath so she was gasping as she clutched her little girl to her chest. She wondered if she was just panicking so she concentrated on calming down and taking in her surroundings. It was dark and nothing was around besides trees and the stars above. She wondered if she was even in her world anymore because it certainly shouldn’t be night. Her daughter pushed away so Sylvie let her go, starting to apologize for possibly hurting her when her little girl began vomiting. It made her even more sure they had gone to a completely different world.

Sylvie pulled her daughters hair back, holding it until she finished. She then lifted her again, determined to find somewhere to now clean her up. Xeja began softly crying “You’ll feel better soon Xeja”

“where are we momma”

“I dont know” the girl started pulling at the ring but it wouldn’t budge “its stuck” she whined, no longer amused “then dont tug at it for now. I’m sure some being lives here. Maybe I can find someone who can help us get back to daddy and Uncle Lefan”

Lefan spun in circles, searched the room, looking under tables and behind shelves, but they were both gone. The sudden silence had been so shocking and now they were gone. He ran his fingers through his hair, starting to panic. What should he do? Jarius, he had to get Jarius.

“Well that looks pretty.” The voice startled Jarius and his uncle, causing the former to sigh a roll his eyes.

“Paimon, can I help you?” Jarius went back to the circlet he and his uncle were examining.

“No, not really?”

“The prince out?”

“What does that have to do with anything? Maybe I just missed your angry face.”

Jarius huffed. “Sure. Well if you’re here, might as well make yourself useful.” He pointed to some of the artifacts they had already examined. “Why don’t you take those and sort them onto the tables and shelves.”

Sylvie didn’t want to walk aimlessly so tried to put her nose to good use to search for water. She couldn’t smell any in any particular direction but she was determined to just keep walking and scenting the air until she found that or a person. She’d give anything right now to have wolf in her bloodline. Maybe they wouldn’t be able to find any either but they had a much better chance than her. “I can walk mom” her daughter said about a half hour later “are you sure?”

“yeah, I know you don’t mind but…if something tries to hurt us or if I really need it later I dont want to have already worn you out”

“do you promise to tell me if you need a break?”

“I promise” with that assurance Sylvie set her daughter down “stay near me okay. I know nothing about where we are”

“yes momma” Xeja took her mothers hand. Sylvie held on tightly, ready to protect her. Sylvie considered turning into a dragon so she could soar over these trees but that could potentially be risky and she certainly didn’t want to draw the wrong attention to her and her four year old.

Mommy are you scared?”

“A little, how about you?” Xeja nodded. “Well that’s okay, everyone gets scared.”

“Even daddy?”

“Yeah.”

“And uncle Paimon?”

Sylvie actually cracked a smile at Xeja calling Paimon her uncle. Jarius would probably have a heart attack. “I’m sure he does.” Sylvie wished she could discern where she was going. In this world of night everything looked the same, even the stars.

Lefan bursting into the room nearly made Paimon drop what he was holding and both Jarius and his uncle twisted around, ready to fight. All three of them became confused when they saw how terrified Lefan was. “Jarius…Jarius, my sister and…and Xeja…”

Jarius’s heart jumped in his chest as he crossed over to Lefan, grabbing his shoulders. “What happened?” Paimon was suddenly standing there next to him and Jarius’s uncle had crossed over, a mask of worry on his face.

“I’m sorry, it’s all my fault. Xeja got in your storage room and…and then they were gone, just gone.”

Fear gripped Jarius’s heart and he opened himself up to Sylvie. When he worked and felt there was no reason to worry he blocked the part of himself that could feel what she was feeling. She could so easily take his attention he normally couldn’t get anything done if he could feel her and now she was in danger and it took him however long it took her brother to come for help to be aware of it. There was a reason that room stayed constantly locked, many reasons to be more exact and there was no possible good explanation for his family vanishing in there. He could now feel her fear and worry so he said “come! I need him to show me about where they were when they vanished. I know everything in there. I just need a place to start”

They still hadn’t found a single thing by the time Xeja needed to rest. Sylvie decided just to stop for now “why don’t you take a little nap sweetie”

“I don’t know if I can”

“I’ll tell you a story like I do at home for bed time”

“But daddy isn’t here to sing to me after”

“I’ll just do the singing too” Xeja’s lower lip trembled “Baby” Sylvie said in concern. “I just miss dad”

“we’ll see your father again soon. I wont rest until we’re back with him and I bet you anything he’s already looking for us. I still feel him and I can tell he’s worried, he knows we are missing. He’s almost as old as time itself and his Uncle is even older. Between them and my side of the family they are going to figure out where we are” Sylvie began to rub her daughters face and stroke her hair to comfort her. “I’ll tell a really happy story okay?”

“Okay” Sylvie retold one of the happiest fairytails she knew and the poor thing was so exhausted from fear and the travel here she was out before Sylvie could even sing. Sylvie didn’t rest there long before carefully lifting her daughter and walking on. She didn’t think it was wise to rest any longer than she absolutely needed since she didn’t know at all where she was.

It was almost an hour later when she finally found a lake “thank god” she whispered before setting her daughter down and testing the water to make sure it was safe for Xeja. Now that she had found water and her daughter was resting anyway Sylvie took another chance to lay down and regather strength for anything that may occur. Jarius had been completely spoiling her over the years so she wasn’t as used to just walking constantly like this.

“Mom?” her daughters voice woke her some time later “yeah baby?”

“you found water”

“see, I’ll make sure we have everything we need until I figure out how to get home”

“can I go wash in it please?”

“run right in, give me your clothes and I’ll clean them” Xeja stripped down then ran into the water while Sylvie opened her senses up to any perverts or potential dangerous animals. Once their clothes and Xeja were clean they were off again, Sylvie now keeping her nose out for potential food. She could tell her little one was hungry but besides this lake there still didn’t seem to be anything. It seemed impossible that a place could truly just be trees.

It was just as those thoughts were passing through her head a womans voice caught her ears but it was obviously another language. Sylvie pulled her daughter behind her protectively and said “I’m sorry, I don’t understand” saying that may have been completely pointless but she felt it would be better than being silent or trying to run. They had been hoping to find someone after all. The woman tilted her head, seeming to think hard. Her voice came out unsure, like it took great effort but what came out this time was English “you…lost? You smell of…elsewhere”

Relief rushed through Sylvie for many reasons. Though it would be hard to talk she could in fact talk to this woman and the fact the woman was even trying made her feel more comfortable. A person trying to harm them likely wouldn’t care if they understood what they were saying. That may or may not be true but it was comforting logic “I’m very lost, I came to this world by mistake. I want to go home but I don’t know how” Xejas stomach loudly growled which had the little girl blushing, especially when it made the woman notice her. She motioned for them to come so Sylvie picked up her daughter and hoped she wasn’t making a huge mistake by following this woman. She might never get home if she didn’t put her trust in anyone here.

The woman lead them only a short ways off from where they had been headed before she stopped and held her hand in front of her, palm facing the ground. Sylvie held her daughter tighter again, wishing they could communicate more easily. Sylvie guessed the reason they had walked in complete silence was due to the fact english seemed to be hard for her to speak and Sylvie couldn’t even begin to try hers. She had learned so many from her husband but of course she didn’t know the one she needed now.

When they managed to get home she was going to have Jarius teach her more. A door appeared in the grass. The woman motioned for them to follow again as she opened it. Sylvie had expected to drop into a home but it was almost as if the world tilted so they could walk right in. It was honestly a little trippy and had Sylvie confused “My…home” The strange woman strained again. Sylvie wondered if the difficulty was from how different her home language had sounded. Her mouth and tongue were probably nowhere near used to the movements it took to speak to her.

Chapter Two

“Are we safe?” Sylvie asked.

“Very…sit…rest?.”

“Thank you.”

The woman nodded and gestured toward a pile of animal hides. Sylvie sat down with Xeja in her lap, finding the makeshift couch incredibly comfortable. The woman moved off and Sylvie heard things being moved around. “Hun…hungry?” The woman asked.

“Yes, thank you.” She didn’t know if it would be rude to say no and the woman had been so kind, she didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

The sound of sizzling and the smell of meat soon filled the silence and after a few minutes, the woman came back with some meat and steamed vegetables on a large plate. She sat down across from Sylvie and Xeja and put the plate between them. She gestured to it, then her mouth, then to all three of them. “Share?” Sylvie asked and the woman nodded. “Thank you so much.”

Jarius felt almost frantic, he couldn’t figure out what his daughter could have possibly gotten into. So much had been knocked over between Xeja getting in here and Sylvie running around that things were mixed up “Jarius, you need to breath” his Uncle Saeran said seriously “we’ve been in this room for hours, hours”

“yes we have but you need to keep a clear head. You need to think as your daughter does. Think of what she likes, colors, toys, everything and that will help you decide what is missing” as Saeran finished speaking Paimon interjected “It’s honestly a little surprising you still have this habit. I guess dragons hoarding is a thing that dies hard”

“it’s…it’s my fault…Jarius having all this hasn’t been a problem until I wanted a book from here…” Lefan said sadly, still spending most his time looking at the floor. Jarius sighed “Paimons a pain in my ass Lefan but what he’s getting at is right. I shouldn’t have something that could harm my family near our home, especially not while Xeja or any other children we may have are here. Sylvie is an intelligent woman who will listen when I tell her about things but a child can’t be expected to always do the same…you are not the only one responsible Lefan.”

“ever noble, I’ve never seen you so distressed. Others”

“Paimon not right now” Jarius cut off the speech before it got away from Paimon. He needed his family back and he feared every moment they spent gone was a moment he could lose them forever. Paimon also took Saerans advice and started thinking “Jarius, she’s been wearing rings a lot lately.” Paimon suddenly said and Jarius’s normally pale skin actually turned whiter. “No…” he walked over the area again, even looking inside things “you know what Xeja did don’t you Jarius? Just tell us and stop looking for whatever you’re looking for. We need to help your family”

Jarius held a hand over his mouth, looking as if he might cry then shook his head hard “they’re not there, they’re not there. I’ll find it and it’ll be something else”

“Jarius, you know, I know how much your family means to you and thats why you need to admit what you already know”

“do you remember the book I wrote about Casis”

“The cannibals…” Saeran said knowingly and Lefan’s horrified voice asked “what?” Jarius cried “they’re in a world of cannibals. Its so bad they actually hide from one another there. Their homes are all cleverly put into the ground and mountains and such. They seem normal when you meet them…she might follow one home…”

“why on earth would a portal to that be here Jarius” Saeran reprimanded “when I first met Sylvie I had gone on another trip there for the fruit. They have the most amazing fruit and I gave her some. She loved it … I wanted her to like me. I kept making trips back so I could give her some and I just never took it out of here…I forgot it was in here until Paimon mentioned rings”

“How’re we going to get there?”

“I dont know, thats the only portal I know of”

After they ate the kind stranger put a hand on her chest “Gazit” Sylvie felt that was her name so she touched her daughters head “Xeja” then touched her own chest “Sylvie”

“You stay here in my home”

“do you know how to get me back where I’m from?” Gazit shook her head and Sylvie slightly frowned “a little bit then, I really need to get home as soon as I can” After a few hours passed with little talking or indication this kind woman could be any more help Sylvie said “we should go, I need to find my way home”

“need to…stay”

“why?” The woman just stared at her and Sylvie felt shitty about it after she had been so kind but it creeped her out. She hoped maybe she just didn’t know how to explain and wasn’t trying to be creepy. “do you have maybe a friend I could meet? Maybe they can help” still nothing and it just made Sylvie want to leave worse. The next time Gazit went to the bathroom Sylvie picked up her daughter and walked back to the door or where the door should have been because it was gone. Dread filled her but she didn’t want to panic Xeja so she kept walking, acting like she was just toting her around until Gazit came back out. “its rest time” she informed them then motioned to her couch “Okay, thank you”

Sylvies heart was pounding but she worried if she yelled, asked about the door or did anything that let Gazit know she was panicking she might make the situation worse. She also still didn’t want her four year old to know there was any reason to be scared. Sylvie just settled down with her daughter and Gazit left them, closing herself in her bedroom. Sylvie had intended to stay awake and figure something out but it was almost if something was dragging her eyelids closed and her mind to rest. She fought the urge, she had to get out but next thing she knew Gazit was kneeling beside the couch, her face inches from Sylvies and it took every ounce of self control not to jump.

Once again she prayed this was a misunderstanding since it was hard to commuincate and they were from different worlds. For all she knew it was normal for their doors to vanish, maybe it wasn’t so weird to stare creepily here and maybe personal space wasn’t a thing here either. These among other things Sylvie kept telling herself for comfort as they sat at Gazit’s table. She had already made breakfast and was just putting in onto plates. “why lap?” Gazit asked since Sylvie was holding Xeja “she’s homesick for her dad. I’m trying to comfort her” It wasn’t a complete lie, Sylvie could see how sad her daughter was.

“I’ll be okay mommy, thank you” Xeja got out of her lap and sat on the chair next to her. Sylvie wanted her little girl as close as possible but at least she was still closer to her than their host. Sylvie went to tie up her hair with a band she had in her pocket when she noticed one strand was much shorter than the others suddenly. Maybe she shouldn’t have but her eyes went to Gazit, who the hell else woudl have cut off some of her hair. Gazit sipped from her cup, her eyes once again locked on Sylvie which now Sylvie could only see as predatory due to how scared she was. There was no door any longer, Gazit was insistent they stayed and she knew she wasn’t crazy, someone had cut off some of her hair last night.

Keeping her voice as calm as possible Sylvie said “Gazit, we really need to leave after this meal.” Gazit was silent and next time her mother spoke Xeja heard the fear in her voice”Please, I dont want to stay any more”

“Mommy, is everything okay?” Xeja asked. Gazit began eating again and that was all this panicked mother could take. Gazit’s focus seemed to be on her but if this woman was crazy she was capable of anything. Sylvie shifted into a dragon in the small home and it obviously scared the hell out of Gazit who was pale, trembling as she looked up at the crampt dragon that had destroyed multiple things in the dining room just by shifting. “we’re leaving if I have to eat you to do it” Sylvie threatened and suddenly, there was the door again. Xeja shifted too and they both left, flying away as fast as they could.

Chapter Three

Jarius had Paimon, Saeran, and Lefan help him collect all of his books from storage and take them over to one of the tables. Maybe, just maybe he could find something in them. “Paimon, take Lefan and gather all of the books from the library on other worlds and spells for making gateways.”

“Yes sir.” Paimon grabbed the dejected Lefan by his arm and pulled him out of the room. Jarius was surprised Paimon was being so helpful. He always seemed to revel in Jarius’s loss of control, but now he was working hard to help. He didn’t know what to make of it, but he wasn’t going to question it to much right now.

“Jarius, you must lock up that ring once you have it back.” Saeran said as he started going through books.

“I don’t even want it in the house.”

“Then I’ll take it.”

“I think that would be for the best. I’m such an idiot, an irresponsible idiot. I should know better at my age.”

“We all make mistakes, Jarius.”

“Not like this, not with Sylvie and Xeja.”

“Sylvie has a good head on her shoulders Jarius. You’ll see them again so stay calm. You picked an amazing mate and your daughter, I see so much promise in her future”

Sylvie and Xeja flew until Xejas little wings could carry her no further. Sylvie began to descend right away and was grateful that where ever they were now seemed nice. They shifted back into humans bodies and Xeja hugged her mother “Mom, what happened?”

“there was something off about her baby. I realized it the night before but I didn’t want to scare you”

“what are we going to do now?”

“I’m going to gather firewood, make you a nice fire and we’re going to relax. You should have said something sooner baby. You look so exhausted. After the fire is made I want you just to lay down”

“okay mommy” Sylvie shifted back into a dragon and pushed over a tree to make wood small enough for their fire. Once it was burning Sylvie was in her human body again and patted her lap so Xeja would lay her head down. Sylvie hoped her following words would bring her daughter any comfort “there has to be some sort of city sweetheart. Once you’re feeling rested I will find it”

“what if it’s underground, Gazit’s home was underground”

“while you sleep I’m going to be sitting here thinking about all the ways we could possibly handle this. Don’t stress okay baby, trust your mommy and close those beautiful brown eyes”

“I’m sorry” She almost couldnt bare to hear her daughter apologize. A four year old breaking a rule shouldn’t have these type of consequences. “don’t you be sorry about anything. I’m not mad” Sylvies eyes were damp but she was still trying not to cry. She knew she needed to stay strong and she didn’t want to waste her energy crying. “I promise to always be good when we get back to daddy”

“shhh sweetheart” Sylvie began lightly rubbing her daughters face and arms, grateful when she finally went to sleep so she wouldn’t fall apart.

“You said Casis correct?” Paimon asked.

“Yes, have you found something?” Jarius moved to look over Paimon’s shoulder.

“It looks like the information is old, but old is probably good.” He tapped the part of the page he had been reading. “It looks like opening it takes a few things, namely the blood of the one opening it, but it’s not impossible.”

“I wish I could just open it damn it.”

Paimon shrugged. “So we’ll each take a part of the list and gather what we need. You might have some of it around here. Just know, I’m definitely coming with you, wouldn’t want you getting eaten before you can rescue the girls.”

“Alright, we’ll split up and try to gather everything, but hurry, I need to get to them.”

As Sylvie sat there she noticed the ring again on her daughters finger. It could obviously change in size since it still didnt’ come off when Xeja shifted into a dragon. Sylvie rubbed the hand that wore it, wishing she knew how to work this ring. She was half afraid if she tried to do something with it, without knowledge of how it worked they could end up further down the rabbit hole in a whole new place. They could end up even further from home with less hope of returning to her husband. Sylvie sighed, her eyes now going to the fire as she asked nobody in particular “what do I do” Things remained peaceful until Xeja woke.

“morning baby”

“Morning”

“you ready? I can carry you if you want to wake up more before walking”

“No, I can walk momma”

“Okay sweetheart, don’t let yourself get that tired again. I still don’t know where to begin so truly, we can rest all you need” Xeja nodded and Sylvie put out the fire before taking her daughters hand and walking on in the direction she had already determined they’d try. They found some fruit along the way and it clicked with Sylvie, she remembered eating this a lot with Jarius when they first met. She wondered what besides this he got up to in a place as odd as this one.

They couldn’t have gone another full hour before Xeja gasped “baby what” she started to ask when she saw a dart in her daughters neck and heard another coming for her. Sylvie shifted after jerking it out of her daughter , hoping her scales would be too strong for the darts to get through. She heard deranged cackling “a dragon, I can deal with you” the voice was creepy and even more startling her little girl passed out.

Sylvie roared at the top of her lungs, beyond pissed at this point. The cackling started again and in her rage she started spreading fire indiscriminately. Normally she’d care about possibly hurting things that had done nothing to her but she was scared, she was exhausted, she was hungry, and she wasn’t about to let some crazy make her feel trapped again. The fire caught quickly and Sylvie took Xeja in one of her claws for safety.

Sylvie flew straight up, glad when nothing else happened. I can deal with you she scoffed as she remembered his words. He was going to be dealing with the grim reaper if he came near her child again. It didn’t hit her until she had flown a fairly good distance the being had used English easily. Maybe some people here did speak her language. Sylvie’s current plan was to fly as long as possible so that hopefully her daughter would stay out of harms way until she woke up.

Jarius felt his wifes fury and it terrified him as to what may have caused it. She was far from an angry person so he worried what might be happening to his daughter. Suddenly it was as if she slammed into an invisible wall. It disoriented her and she slightly plummeted before lifting herself back up. “what?” she was confused, why couldn’t she fly further. She was too scared to land with her daughter still recovering from whatever drugs were in the dart so she tried to fly in another direction but to her horror she hit another wall, she was being boxed in somehow.

She roared as she hovered there. “I will burn this entire world if you don’t let us go.” It was a bluff, but she didn’t want anything else to happen to Xeja. The laughter seemed to be coming from all around her and her heart danced fearfully in her chest.

“It’s only a matter of time, dragon.” The voice said. “Aren’t you tired? I wonder how long your wings will carry you.”

“How much more do we have?” Jarius asked as he looked down at the things everyone had gathered.

“Lefan is off gathering a couple of hard to get plants and your friend went off to find this amulet.” Saeran answered.

“She’s scared uncle, angry, something bad is happening and I need to get to them.”

“I know, but you must stay calm, keep a clear head.”

“If I lost them I would go mad. Even Paimon understands.”

“Talking about me behind my back?” Paimon asked as he stepped in and Jarius shot him a glare. “I got it.” He held up the amulet.

“How did you…you know what it doesn’t matter, thank you.

Sylvie’s wings began to ache, she knew they might give out and there was obviously some sort of trap waiting below. She figured it was best to rush down and try to escape than to simply let herself get exhausted and fall right into whatevers clutches. She took a deep, mind clearing breath then said calmly to her unconscious daughter “I love you so much Xeja” before flying down. She flew straight as soon as she was able and just as she went straight a large, metal contraption tried to clamp down on her foot, almost taking off one of her toes but she had managed to evade it. The wound stung and blood poured down onto the earth but she still kept forward until something wrapped around her neck, instantly tightening so that she could barely breath. She tried to roar in fury again but it was too tight, having no give whatsoever.

Chapter Four

She wrapped herself tightly around Xeja as she hit the ground, taking trees down with her massive body and kicking up dirt. Her vision swam, her body aching all over, her blood soaking into the ground. She couldn’t breathe, but she refused to shift back to her human form. She knew if she did, they would take Xeja. Her mind was a whirlwind of emotion and Jarius could feel everyone, could feel the pain reverberating through her and he growled, wanting to kill whoever had dared touch her.

“I’m back, I’m sorry, there were…complications.” Lefan said as he came running in, one hand holding a bag, the other clutching his shoulder. He was scraped and bruised pretty bad, but he had managed to get the plants they needed.

“What happened?” Paimon asked.

“Just…it doesn’t matter.” Paimon opened his mouth to argue and Lefan interrupted, “Pellegrino’s back, he’s probably heading this way.” Paimon’s eyes went from concerned to dancing with delight in an instant, something that he quickly shoved down.

Lefan handed Jarius the bag. “Are you sure you’re alright?” Jarius asked.

“I’m fine.”

If Sylvie wasn’t obviously getting hurt he would have insisted to check his wound but Lefan felt he was fine and they needed to hurry to Sylvie. By the time Pellegrino got there they were almost done “Just in time” Paimon said “I had to finish taking care of the thing that attacked Lefan. It was a persistent son of a bitch. I’m happy I made it” Lefan looked awkwardly at the floor, hating he could seem to do nothing recently but cause trouble. What was he going to do if his carelessness cost his sister her life? He couldn’t imagine telling their parents or their other siblings or even the rest of the family.

As Sylvie’s vision began to get hazy she told herself over and over in her mind “don’t let go” hoping sheer will would keep her claws clutching her daughter when she was no longer conscious. Xeja regained consciousness as frustrated men tried to get to her “what the fuck! The damned mother passed out!” Xeja gasped, pushing herself as far away from them as he confined space allowed. They seemed to be struggling to get her mothers claws open “mommy”

“dont whine, I cant stand whining children and I’m already frustrated kid”

Though Jarius was impatient he and his uncle made sure everything was placed perfectly and that the plants they had all collected were perfectly measured and mixed. He put the amulet around his neck and sat down in front of the circle of items. The bowl was placed in the center, the book open in front of him. “Make sure you get enough in there to soak the ground up plants.” His uncle said as he handed him the dagger.

“I know.” He sliced his palm open and held it over the bowl, his eyes moving over the spell, lips speaking the words clearly as he called the doorway that would take him to his wife and child.

Xeja screamed when they managed to get one of her mother’s claws pulled back far enough that they could reach an arm in. She pressed herself further back, but one managed to snag her clothes. She bit whoever it was and they yelled as they released her. “You little bitch!” Another arm reached in and she moved away from it, crying for her mother and father.

She closed her eyes, still pushing herself back as hard as she could when suddenly she heard her father. Xejas eyes snapped open and she cried harder at the sight of not only her dad but her Uncles and Pellegrino. She knew they were safe now so she crawled out of her mothers claws and began to try to wake her “mommy” Xeja grabbed the lasso around her mothers neck and tried to break it “mommy” she whined. Paimon suddenly appeared on top of Sylvie, pulling out some sort of dagger and easily breaking the enchanted rope. Xeja noticed they had the men that were trying to hurt her unconscious on the ground so they were all coming over to help Sylvie.

Lefan lifted Xeja into his arms “they have her okay, your mom is going to be alright”

“we need to get this bleeding stopped first” Saeran said. They did their best with her toe, they could get her proper help back at home. “she’s not awake yet” Xeja whined and Lefan held her a little tighter. They took Sylvie home, they didn’t know how much blood she had lost so far and Jarius didn’t care where they landed at home. They could buy new things, he couldn’t get another Sylvie. By the time Sylvie woke days had passed and her little girl, much to her relief was the first to greet her. She had been refusing to leave her mother so Jarius was currently gone getting them something to eat. “Oh my baby”

“we’re home mom” Sylvie noticed she was in human form again “they were able to make you shift back and they got the ring off, see” Xeja wiped tears away then showed her mom her hand “Oh that’s such wonderful news honey”

“I’m sorry mommy.”

“Oh baby, it’s okay.” She hugged her daughter. “Where’s uncle Lefan?”

“He’s upset.”

Sylvie knew her brother had to be beating himself over what had happened and was probably ashamed. She wanted to see him and tell him it was alright, that she wasn’t mad. “We should go see him, let him know we’re okay.”

“You need to stay in bed, my love.” Jarius said as he stepped into their room. “You’re too weak to go wandering around. I’ll bring him here.”

“Jarius.” She could see and feel he was exhausted and scared and once Xeja had her food, she held out her arms. He said his own plate down, forgetting his food and just gathering her into his embrace. He buried his face in her hair and his relief and fear washed over her, his tears dripping onto her shoulder.

“I love you Jarius…we both missed you” Sylvie said softly, trying to bring him comfort. It only seemed to make him struggle more to keep tears at bay. “I’ve already started clearing that room…I’m so sorry I was so…something like that should have never been in there. I am so so sorry, I feel all your misery in that world is my fault” He wanted to apologize a million times over. “I was never mad at you or my brother. Neither of you would ever lead us to harm on purpose. I hope you weren’t mean to him” Jarius shook his head “as I said, I feel it’s more my fault than anybody elses. I told him as much but he’s your brother, he loves you and little Xeja immensely. I’m glad I didn’t scold him because he’s punishing himself enough as it is”

“as it seems you are Jarius. However, I’m happy to hear you’re getting rid of the dangerous things”

“it’s irresponsible until Xeja is grown. I…I can’t even think of what I was thinking…a locked door or not she was bound to get in there unattended” He held her a little tighter then made himself let go “are you hungry? I was going to eat light anyway so take my plate if you are. I’ll grab something else while I go get your brother for you”

“are you sure” with damp eyes he nodded. Jarius handed Sylvie his food, kissed her forehead then made himself leave again. He had been dyeing to talk to and hold her while she was actually conscious but she wanted to see her brother. Now, of all times, he would not be selfish. He at least knew at this point she wasn’t angry at him and that in itself lifted the weight of worlds off his shoulders. As soon as Lefan came to the door Jarius said “she’s awake and wants to see you”

“she does?”

“she’s not mad, at me or you” Lefan gave a sad sigh “still herself I guess…shes never held a grudge…I’ll get my shoes” Lefan was ready in a few moments then the two of them headed back to the waiting Sylvie.

Sylvie smiled when Lefan came in and her brother looked about ready to cry. “Come here, silly.”

He sat down on the bed and he really did start crying when she and Xeja hugged him. “I…I’m so sorry…I should have…”

“Hush now, we’re both fine and I’m not mad.”

“I should have known better.” Jarius said. “I filled my home with dangerous things and paid for it.”

“It’s really okay uncle Lefan.” Xeja said.

Once Lefan was able to calm down, he sat and chatted with them. He was relieved she was still her old self, that what had happened hadn’t traumatized her or Xeja and if it had, they weren’t showing it. He stayed until he noticed his sister getting exhausted and promised her he would stop worrying so much. “You should get some more rest, baby, both of you.” Jarius said as he sat down on their bed and gave Sylvie a kiss.

“I’m alright.”

“You need it, I can feel it. Rest, okay? I’ll stay here with you two.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll go to my bed. I missed my bed and my stuffed animals” Now Sylvie felt a little emotional. Her mind had definitely gone to what all that may have done to her daughter but she was still her bright, beautiful little girl “you’re welcome back in here if you need it honey.” she gave Jarius a gentle nudge “go tuck her in, she missed you singing to her. I promise to lay down” Jarius had to kiss her again before he stood and lifted his daughter. Sylvie sighed, looking around her bedroom. They were home, she was really and truly home. Paimon suddenly appeared and she smiled “Paimon”

“You doing okay?”

“Yeah, just tired”

“How’s my little niece?” Sylvie weakly giggled “you know she called you her Uncle while we were there” He smiled, it seemed to bring him immense joy “good, I love that little girl and despite what you may think I do have a heart in here”

“I know you do”

“I’ll let you rest”

“thank you”

“for?”

“talking to Lefan I learned you helped” He looked like saying this made him uncomfortable “I feel like I have a family…I wasn’t about to have that family broken up” Sylvies eyes grew even heavier as she smiled again, he could see it so he vanished, especially since he felt awkward anyway. Awkward was far from a feeling he was used to but family was far from something he was used to. Sylvie laid down, falling asleep before her husband returned. Jarius was quiet when he returned to their room,still worried over her.

He continued on clearing out the room he worked in then refilling it with treasures that were safe over the next months. He could have lost his beautiful mate and his wonderful little girl and he wasn’t sure he’d ever get over the shame of being so blind and selfish, no matter how forgiving Sylvie and Xeja was. They meant to much to him to forgive himself too quickly and no amount of time would have him forget the lesson he learned.

~ The End

Zephyr & Adlai

Chapter One

“I think I might die waiting for season two Karen, I mean it. It’s funny I only gave it a try because my favorite voice actor dubbing for Akihito but it’s seriously one of the best I’ve ever seen” Her friend Karen laughed, that familiar amused look on her face when she’d talk about her favorite anime voice actor when they translated anime to english. She guessed it was because she gushed so much about his voice. “well I need to go to bed since my half brothers flight comes in so early tomorrow. Why don’t you spend the night and come with me. I mean it’s already almost midnight so I’d like you to stay anyway so I don’t have to stress about you falling asleep at the wheel but I think you’d be glad you met him as soon as he got here”

“sure, any sibling of yours must be awesome. Does he like anime too? There’s another one I want to watch with you but I’ll wait until he goes home if he’ll hate us watching stuff like that”

“Oh, he likes anime” Karen laughed again and Adlai gave her a puzzled look “Why do I feel like I’m the butt of some joke with you since you told me your brothers coming to visit? Is he like deliriously hot and you think I’ll swoon or something? Is this a set up?”

“Lets just get some rest. Just trust me, you’ll really like my brother”

“Why haven’t you told me anything about him then?”

“Just trust your bestie okay? I want him to be a surprise. Before, you know me, I am not a big sharey person of personal details in general but something you ended up telling me made me want to save everything about him for when you meet him”

“Does he know anything about me?”

“He’s on my Facebook and you tag me all the time so you’ve come up”

“what’s his name?”

“so you can stalk his feed? Nope, besides, he doesn’t have his real name on there anyway”

“why?”

“Goodnight Adlai”

“Karen, the suspense is going to kill me. I’m already dieing waiting for season two of this anime” Karen laughed again “goodnight bestie” she repeated then went to her bedroom, knowing Adlai would make herself at home in the guest room. She had spent the night many nights before.

Adlai couldn’t help but think of what might make Karen act like her brother was so mysterious? Was he a recluse or overly eccentric? Was he shy maybe? She racked her brain until she knew she needed to go to sleep then switched on the TV and put on one of her favorite shows, turning the volume down low before curling up and falling asleep. “Rise and shine Sleeping Beauty.” Karen said the next morning, rousing Adlai from her sleep.

“Morning.” Adlai replied with a yawn as she sat up and rubbed her eyes then swept her hair away from her face. She grabbed her phone and checked the time. “You weren’t kidding, it’s way too early.”

“Borrow some of my clothes and get a shower while I make us something to eat real quick.”

“Okay.” She yawned again as he headed into Karen’s room and went through her clothes.

Once she found something to wear she took a quick shower, not wanting her friends brother stuck at the airport too long. They ate together then rinsed off the dish’s before leaving them in the sink so they could hurry off. “are we making good time?”

“yeah, he’s laid back like us so even if he’s sat there a bit he wont be mad”

“oh wow, actual information about him” Karen laughed “well you’re about to meet him so I don’t have to be quite so mysterious now”

“You’re killing me”

“and it’s so much fun” Adlai may have nudged her friend if she wasn’t driving. They pulled up to the airport and found a spot to wait for him inside “will you tell me anything else?”

“Nope”

“come on”

“he’ll be here any moment” Zephyr wore a big smile as he collected his luggage to go meet his sister and Adlai. He didn’t often like attention for his work voice acting but Adlai was incredible cute and his sister didn’t let people close easily so he knew she was a good person. He was actually excited and happy for the fact he’d have a good opening with her. He hadn’t dated in forever and while he wouldnt actually admit it forming something with Adlai had certainly crossed his mind a time or two when he’d see her in pictures or when his sister would talk about her.

He just still wasn’t sure how he’d speak to her at first, what he should say but he was running out of time as he walked to where his sister said they’d be. “come on, you can think of something good” he said to himself but his own nerves from the fact he’d actually be meeting Adlai today were getting to him.

“There he is.” Karen said, causing Adlai’s heart to skip in her chest. Her friend was on her feet and waving and yelling. “Zeph.”

“Hey shorty.”

The voice hit Adlai long before the face and she froze behind her friend, mouth hanging part way open. “Shorty? Better shut up before I beat you up.”

“I’m terrified.” They both laughed and then Karen turned, her smile widening at Adlai’s expression. “Zephyr this is Adlai and Adlai this is my brother, Zephyr.”

Zephyr smiled, holding out his hand. “It’s nice to finally meet you.” He was proud of himself for at least accomplishing a greeting.

Adlai blinked, blushed and snapped her mouth shut. “Uh…” she looked at his hand, her brain finally catching up, and quickly took it. “Nice to meet you, you’re…but…” she looked at Karen. “He’s…he’s…”

Karen laughed “He’s your favorite voice actor and he’s excited to get to know you” It made Adlai blush even more that Karen had said that out loud in front of him. She looked back at Zephyr “I…I promise normally I can hold real conversations” He smiled and it was practically heart stopping “I knew she wasn’t going to tell you who I was ahead of time. I know how surprising it must be. I meet a lot of fans and you’re handling yourself well. I’ve been tackled a few times to be honest”

“Lets get him back to my place” Karen suggested and the two followed her as she began to walk, each taking a side. Adlais heart was racing, wondering if she was going to wake up to find this had all been a dream. Her best friends brother was her favorite voice actor? Did that stuff really happen?

“So, working on anything new?” Karen asked as she drove, trying to start a conversation between her friend and her brother.

“That’s a secret.” He answered with a smile.

“Come on, you won’t even tell me for Adlai?”

“That’s hardly fair.” He turned in his seat to look at Adlai. “Would you like to know?”

Adlai blushed. “Well, I mean if you want to tell me. I won’t make you, but um maybe a little?”

He chuckled. “Well, the character I’m playing is a bit of a jerk with bright red hair and a reputation for being a delinquent, but he meets his match pretty quickly. It’ll be a first for me, playing someone who’s more or less a bad boy.”

“I’m sure you’ll be able to pull it off, you’re already really good. I can’t wait to see it.”

“I can always send you a play by play or if you’re up to it, you could come and watch me work.”

“Really?

“Yeah, I’d like for you to” Zephyr saw his sister grin and tried to ignore her silent teasing “so who are you on Karens Facebook then?”

“I’ll go ahead and add you, I’m Reph Retsod. It’s a mix of my name, kind of stupid I know but I like to have one that’s not over run with fans. I appreciate them all but you know”

“I get it” He pulled out his cellphone and suddenly hers vibrated. She quickly accepted, her heart fluttering that she was actually Facebook friends with him. There was so much to be excited and nervous about that she barely knew what to do with herself as she waited for them to finally arrive back at Karens. “so if you end up staying the night again Adlai you can just sleep with me since my brother will now have the guest room”

“I’m sure you two want to catch up.” Adlai said, plus she didn’t want to look like some crazy fan girl.

“Stay, I’d feel rude otherwise.” Zephyr said, surprised at how fast the words came out. “If you want to I mean.”

“Really, you wouldn’t mind?”

“Not at all. We can all hang out, watch anime. I’m curious about which ones outside of my work are your favorites. Maybe I could find something similar to act in.”

“And you can tell him which of his performances was the worst.” Karen teased.

“He hasn’t had any bad ones though.” Adlai blushed. “I mean, at least I don’t think so.”

Chapter Two

Zephyr smiled which only made her embarrassment worse. “so what do you do besides voice acting…what do you like doing?” Adlai asked, wanting to keep the conversation rolling. Karen almost irresistibly wanted to tease, saying ” Possibly you soon” but she kept it to herself. “well, my friends and I get together to play board games from time to time”

“He writes poetry to” Karen added and Zephyr sighed “don’t say that”

“why?”

“I used to write poetry, forever ago, it’s never been good enough to share”

“I bet mom still has some”

“Karen” she pulled out her phone with a grin and he said “would you like to watch something Adlai?”

“sure” As they moved to the couch she could tell he was blushing too. It actually made her a little more comfortable that he was just as embarrassed as her.

She watched as Zephyr sat there writing in a notebook until he noticed he was being recorded and looked embarrassed. “What are you writing?” Karen’s voice came from behind the camera.

Zephyr sighed. “Nothing really.”

“Awe come on, share.”

“Do you have to record me?”

“Of course, I need blackmail.”

“Come on Karen.”

“Please?”

He ran his fingers through his hair, nodding. “Don’t blame me if it sounds terrible.”

He began to read off the poem he had been working on and Adlai smiled as Zephyr just looked more and more uncomfortable. “That sounded good” Adlai told him and he said “you don’t have to be so nice”

“No, it was, you shouldn’t have quit”

“do you favor any certain poets?”

“I really like Sara Teasdale, especially her poem I Am Not Yours. I’m not sure why, beyond that no real favorites. I just have a lot of certain poems I like. What started you writing poetry?”

“A cousin of ours needed help with one and I ended up doing a lot on my own”

“for school?”

“for a girl”

“did he end up winning her over?”

“yep”

“what girl doesn’t like poetry? Especially when a guy puts special effort into one for you” Karen interjected. They awkwardly talked for a while longer, still trying to break the ice of meeting someone new then switched on some anime. Zephyr was glad for it, he could learn more about Adlai without feeling so awkward.

“What’s your favorite genre?” He asked as they watched.

“Adventure, romance type stuff, magic’s a plus. You?”

“Fighting, you know man stuff.” He joked.

She smiled and he felt his heart skip a beat. “I can see that. You seem to have a lot of fun during action sequences. I’m sometimes surprised you don’t blow out your voice.”

“I have before. I kept having to do this one scream over and over again and afterwards my throat was so raw and my voice was so raspy that I was ordered to take a break so I wouldn’t hurt myself. I wanted to keep going, but they wouldn’t let me.”

“It’s good they stop you”

“damage that voice too much and you’ll break her heart” Karen teased. Adlai looked back at the tv, feeling a little embarrassed again. After dinner that night Zephyr went to the guest room and Adlai joined Karen in her room “so, how was today”

“you were killing me with all that teasing”

“Hey, I was teasing him too at times. I can tell he likes being around you” Karen laughed as her friend turned pink again “I wish you would have warn me who he was”

“It was so much fun surprising you though. Besides, you would have over worried and he’s not much to fuss about” Karen winked at her friend as she finished the sentence. They changed into pajamas and settled into bed. Adlai couldn’t sleep, over thinking the entire day until she finally decided that truly, this was just Karens brother and he seemed really nice. Chances were he wasn’t being as over critical of her as she was being of herself.

The next morning Adlai woke a little groggy. She was surprised she had managed to fall asleep at all. Karen wasn’t there so she got up and headed out of the room. She could hear Karen and Zephyr talking. The smell of food hit her nose and when she finally stepped out into the living room, she could see Karen sipping coffee from the kitchen table while Zephyr cooked. She stood there staring at him until Karen noticed her. “Good morning sleeping beauty.”

Zephyr half turned, smiling at her, causing a blush to tint her cheeks. “Good morning, want some breakfast or coffee?”

“Uh…oh yes.”

“Sugar and cream?”

“I’ll get it for her silly, you just focus on not burning breakfast.” Karen teased. “Come sit down Adlai, unless you want to eat from there.”

Adlai crossed over to the table and took a seat, surprised that Zephyr was still watching her. “Did you sleep well?” She asked.

“I did, you?”

“Yeah…well kind of. I must look rough.” She pushed some hair away from her face.

“Not at all.”

“Says the man who always wakes up looking like a supermodel.” Karen said as she sat a cup of coffee in front of Adlai. “Seriously brother, did you get turned into a vampire or make a deal with the Devil?”

He chuckled nervously and went back to cooking. Adlai took a small sip of her coffee and had to admit Karen was right. Zephyr looked perfect despite it being so early and already making an amazing smelling breakfast. “where did you learn to cook?” Adlai asked and he answered “I live alone so I took some classes. It’s nice not having to go out to eat as much as some of my friends. I only really order out or grab something if I’m working a lot and can’t find the time to cook” Adlai took a longer sip of her coffee, allowing the warmth and caffeine to wake her up a little more. She was grateful there had already been some waiting after her struggle to sleep.

The smell of cinnamon filled the kitchen and she didn’t realize he had been baking something as well. His timer went off and he pulled a bundt cake pan. He flipped it over onto a plate then quickly put it in the middle of the table. “Monkey bread.” He said as he went back dished food onto their plates, grabbed some silverware then moved everything to the table. “I hope you don’t have any allergies or anything.”

“Nope, none and this all looks amazing.” Adlai replied.

“Try some of the bread, it goes great with coffee.” He reached over and pulled some off and took a bite, nodding. “I call that a win, it came out perfect.”

“Wow bro, going all out.”

“I could have just stuck with regular old pancakes, but Adlai’s here and I think she deserves something for having to deal with being surprised.”

After breakfast Karen said “we should go out and really have some fun. Adlai is a pretty good bowler, used to play competitively as a child. Why don’t we all go bowling Zephyr?”

“That sounds fun”

“don’t let her hype me up too much…it was just a kids league. My mom needed some place for me after school until she got off work and one of the local bowling alleys had an after school program”

“it must have been a lot of fun”

“Yeah, I loved it” They readied themselves to go out then headed over to the bowling alley, happy to find not many other people were there. Zephyr insisted on paying for everything, surprising Adlai again. “you’ll have to let me buy lunch or something” Adlai said as she put on her bowling shoes. Karen spoke before her brother could “you and I can split the cost of getting pizza and drinks here, if we stay that long. If not we’ll figure out splitting the lunch bill elsewhere” They picked their balls and they were finally ready. Adlai went first, proving how she spent her days after school by making a strike.

They bowled a few games, laughing and cheering eachother on the entire time. When they were tired of it they played in the arcade. This particular bowling alley had a fairly big one so they didn’t realize how much time they had been there until hunger pains made them check the time. Since they were still there they decided to go with the pizza plan, the two girls splitting it since Zephyr had paid for their shoe rentals and the lane.

Adlais phone rang, playing the melody that told her it was one of the coffee shop employees so she took it “hello?” both Zephyr and Karen were worried she’d have to go in as they heard her say “Oh no it’s fine, you just take care of Emma. I’ll call Carly” she hung up “I’m so sorry Zephyr, I’m a manager at a coffee shop. Just one more second. Would you two like me to walk outside?”

“You’re fine Adlai” Karen insisted. Adlai called Carly, relieved she picked up “can you cover Marni’s shift today? Even if you can just work until four I would greatly appreciate it. I need someone to cover her or Cory will be working by himself and he’s still too new for that” Adlai looked relieved as she said “just go in as soon as you can, her shift already started” there was a small pause before Adlai said “her full shift would have been until nine. You are such a blessing, thank you” Adlai had deeply not wanted to go into work.

“did we dodge a bullet?” Karen asked and Adlai said “yeah, thankfully she’ll even cover Marnis full shift”

“her kid has been sick a lot lately”

“Yeah but the flu has been going around hard so I don’t think she’s making it up to get out of work. I’ve never had problems with her until this flu season”

Do you like working there?” Zephyr asked.

“Yeah, it’s pretty nice.”

“Well if that ever changes, I could always use a new PA.”

Karen laughed. “Geez Zeph.”

“I said if, I’m not asking her to just uproot her life and move. Just if she ever wants or needs a change.”

“I’ll keep it in mind.” Adlai replied with a blush.

“And even if you don’t, I’ll still fly you out to watch me work.” He stood. “Alright, let’s see if I can redeem myself. I don’t think I’ve ever lost so hard in my life.”

Adlai couldn’t help but smile. “I could always go easy on you.”

“You better not.” He said with a chuckle.

They played a few more rounds then returned to Karens to binge on more anime. The next morning when Adlai did have to work Zephyr felt a sad tug at his heart when she left and soon felt his sisters hand slam into the back of his head once she had driven off “I’m still here you beaten little puppy”

“what…you were trying to set us up anyway right?”

“Yeah, I’m glad you two are actually hitting it off. She’s my best friend though, if things get serious don’t make me strangle you. Can’t believe you’re already trying to drag her to where you live. I’ll miss her you know”

“you could always move too”

“true, could I mooch off you awhile if I did?”

“Of course…I’d owe you anyway for setting me up with he”

“thats right, now start paying me back by making that amazing hot chocolate” Zephyr chuckled and walked over to the kitchen, hoping time would move quickly so he could hangout with Adlai again.After her shift Adlai called Karen ‘hey, you coming back?” Karen asked and Adlai said “I’m going to go home for a shower, some clothes and more make up. Should I eat dinner or can I eat with you guys?” suddenly Zephyr called out “I’ll cook, just come over after” she blushed, surprised he had such amazing hearing. “Okay, I’ll see you two in maybe an hour. I’ll text you when I’m on the way over”

Adlai went straight home, taking a long shower then changing into something she felt particularly pretty in. Next she packed a bag then ran around, tidying up a little bit incase they all ended up over here for some reason.Last she double checked to make sure all her make up supplies were in her purse then texted Karen to let her know it wouldn’t be long before she was back at her place. “she’s on her way” Karen said as an answer to the hopeful look her brother wore. He got up to begin his work preparing dinner for the three of them, they had decided on something spicy.

Adlai was nervous as she headed back to Karen’s. She couldn’t help but wonder if she had dressed up too much. When she got there, she took a deep breath before exiting her car and heading up to the front door. Since she didn’t have to knock, she just walked right in and could smell something delicious. “There she is.” Karen said with a big smile. “Well look at you.”

“What?”

“Got a hot date?” Karen teased and Adlai blushed.

“No, just felt like looking nice.”

“Well come on then, let’s show you off.”

“Karen.”

“Come on silly.” She took her arm and pulled her toward the kitchen.

Zephyr was floored when he turned to greet Adlai. It was of course Karen again who began teasing “Pick your jaw up off the floor. You two should just kiss already”

“Karen” Adlai exclaimed, holding her face. Karen just laughed, thoroughly enjoying watching all this unfold. “we…we’ve just met Karen” Zephyr practically stuttered. “what are we having for dinner?” Adlai said, looking at the floor due to embarrassment “a recipe I made up myself, I hope you like spicy”

“yeah…I do” Karen decided to lay off a little, just enjoying the evening with her best friend and brother. They grew closer in the passing days, to the point Zephyr dreaded having to go back home soon since he didn’t know if Adlai would go with him or how often he could come here to see her if she didn’t come. Since time was growing near he nervously asked her again “so…do you think you’d like to come be my PA? You’ve thought about it a little right?”

“well…I talked to the owner of the coffee shop yesterday actually”

“Oh?”

“Yeah…I recommended Carly for my position since I do want to go and he wish’s me all the best and shes getting a much deserved promotion…” He smiled and it touched her how relieved he looked but what meant more was that he hugged her tightly. She hugged back, just enjoying being so close until he pulled back nervously “is hugging you okay?”

“Ye yeah”

“you sure”

“we’re good friends now aren’t we?” he smiled again “yeah” He couldn’t believe it, she was actually coming home with him and were one step closer in the way he wanted things to go. He wanted everything with her but at the same time Adlai was a woman worth waiting for and winning over. He wanted to be with her forever and that meant even as friends. Karen was over the moon and started getting her own life in order to move with them “can’t believe I’m going to have roomates again” Karen said happily and Zephyr just thought again that he couldn’t believe things were going so right in his life.

~ The End

Mered & Ella

Chapter One

Ella punched her assailant in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him and feeling accomplished. He had went limp for just a moment and in that moment she felt she had just won but she soon felt razor sharp pain as he slashed at her, suddenly forming claws. Her scream was cut off as Mered startled her, pouncing on the man. He had been out with her brother, Nigel and Cadoc but she supposed now he was back. She could feel the anger coming off of him in waves and a new scream came from her lungs when the man she had been fighting cut his head clean off with his claws “Mered!” Tears streamed down her face even when she saw his body still moving. He simply picked up his head and it went right back on his body, his skin connecting with eachother again like it was a completely natural thing to happen.

He had told her he was impossible to kill but she had never seen anything like that before. The reality of her mate being basically indestructible was sinking in watching him fight this thing. Mered brought the man near death, wishing he could snuff out his miserable life but Ella was right there and he had promised both her and his daughter he’d never take a life again unless he had to. Angrily he spat his words at the man “I wish I could kill you, I want to so badly for hurting her but she wouldn’t want me to. If you so much as look at her again though you will be dead before you even realize what happened. Go! Get the hell away from her before I can’t keep myself from killing you”

The man limped and stumbled away fearfully as Mered walked over to Ella and lifted her up. She could see the worry in his face as he carried her back to their house and inside. Mered cleaned her wounds, waiting to ask her what happened until after he had bandaged her up. “You know how young male demons are. He saw me and wanted sex or a fight. I wanted neither but again, you know how young male demons are”

“This is why I shouldn’t leave you alone”

“I would have been okay”

“Your wounds say otherwise”

“says the man that got his head cut off”

“Almost anything can happen to me and I’d be okay. My body just puts itself back together unless you do it a certain way. I hope me loseing my head didn’t scare you”

“It did but you telling me and me seeing it are two different things. I mean wow, your head really did just go right back on”

“I’m sorry you had to see it. I hoped you’d never have to see anything close to that.”

She had a sudden thought and giggled a little. He gave her a questioning look and she said, “Losing your head.”

He huffed. “You mean like my temper.”

“Yeah, sorry, I think I needed the humor.”

He pressed his forehead against hers. “I’m just glad you’re safe. He didn’t do anything else before I got there did he?”

“No, I promise.”

“Thank goodness.” He was also relieved he really hadn’t had to shed blood in front of her. There would have been no way for him to hold back if he had raped or attempted to rape her. “Now I’m going to have to lock you up to keep you safe.”

“You better not.” She said with a laugh. She then reached up and ran her fingers along his throat. “I’m so relieved you didn’t die.”

He kissed her then cradled Ella in his arms to take her to their couch. It had terrified him to stumble upon her fighting something and he wanted her close. He knew all mates worried about each other but more terror than most gripped him when it came to Ella due to how he used to be. Anything could just come and try to kill her simply because it was fun. “How I wish you were basically impossible to kill like me”

“I am, just in a different way. My parents are amazing and taught me everything they know”

“Still, I’m keeping you close for awhile”

“You’re so sweet Mered” He ran his fingers through her hair “I’m so lucky…you’re irreplaceable Ella” He spoke softly, making sure she heard how deeply he meant them. “did you have fun at least”

“always Cadoc gave me a little too much information about him and my daughter but it was still fun” Ella giggled “He makes her so happy”

“Just like you make me Ella” He held her tightly against him, still trying to relax and stop worrying about her safety.

“How about I make us some tea and cookies.” Ella wanted him to relax, especially since she was okay.

“I can do it.”

She laughed, smiling lovingly at him. “Mered, I’m alright baby.”

“At least let me stay with you.” He brushed his nose over her cheek then pressed a kiss to her neck.

“Alright.”

He reluctantly let her go and followed her into the kitchen, letting her grab everything she needed and get the water boiling, then wrapping his arms around her from behind as she made the cookie dough. She hummed softly, the sound helping to relax him. She couldn’t help but smile at how protective he was, reminding her of a guard dog. Whether he believed it or not, he could be quite adorable.

She wanted to keep the conversation going as she got everything ready so Mered’s mind wouldn’t dwell “so besides Cadoc talking too much, what did you talk about with my brother and Nigel”

“Vina is repainting their home and your brother mentioned us all going to Porthcawl but I definitely don’t want to do that now” she giggled “Mered, I seriously would have been fine and if we go you’ll be glued to my side, I have no fear of that”

“mm, well it wouldn’t be just yet anyway so lets not discuss it for now. My heart stopped when I saw that man trying to hurt you…I just think of the things I’m capable of and so many scenarios went through my head even in the few seconds it took me to close the distance between us. I was such a horrible man and I pay the price now with worry”

“I understand Mered, we’ll relax for the rest of the day and talk about it tomorrow”

Mered managed to relax a little more once they were cuddled up on the couch enjoying the tea she had made. The smell of cookies started to fill the house and he had to resist the urge to follow her into the kitchen when she went to pull the first batch out. He knew he had to be smothering her and he would hate for her to get upset over it. He could still hear her and stayed alert until she came back with a plate of cookies. “Calm down, baby, eat some cookies. Your heart’s beating so fast.” Her gentle, loving tone made his heart stutter.

“Sorry, thank you for putting up with me.”

“There is no, putting up with, it makes me happy you love me so much. My brother would do the same thing you know, he’d follow me everywhere until he was absolutely sure I was safe, so don’t feel bad.”

“I feel like a child. I keep thinking karma is going to come back and tear me to pieces.”

“I have a feeling you’d bite back.”

He huffed out a laugh and pulled her into him, kissing her. “You really know how to make everything better. Thank you, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

The next morning as they sat down for breakfast she brought up her brothers suggestion “you know, I would love to go with him to Porthcawl. He’ll be there and you’ll be there so nothing can possibly happen to me, you know that”

“I suppose it would be a fruitless effort to try and keep you inside” she smiled and he leaned over to kiss her. As he sat back straight she said “I’ll call him after breakfast and see who all is going and when”

“what is it with you and Atticus with your need to travel all the time”

“We grew up going places a lot, fighting evils and what not with our parents or just traveling to travel and we always came home just fine. Maybe Gregory will come, you’ve never seen him fight but he is amazing and his wife is a fairy”

“Gregory is the vampire isn’t he?”

“Yeah.”

“What a dangerous match.”

“Not for them, he’s never had an issue with taking her blood.”

“I see. I look forward to meeting them then.”

She took his hand, smiling. “Everything’s going to be fine, you’ll see. We’re going to have fun.”

“I know and I’ll try to lay off the worrying if I can.” They finished eating, Mered going through every scenario he could think of that could possibly put Ella in danger. He knew he was being ridiculous, but he wanted an out just in case.

Before he knew it the day was upon him, he was walking to Porthcawl with Ella, Atticus, Tamlin, Gregory and their youngest child, a teenager whom he had learned went by the name Taarmun. He felt a little more comfortable meeting them all in person. Time and time again it was confirmed in him his mate came form a fierce family. He felt he could count on them in any sort of fight, especially if she inspired even half the love in them that she inspired within him. “so is it true? You really have to be killed a certain way to die?” Taarmun asked and Ella answered “I actually just saw his head get completely cut off and it just went back on like it was a perfectly normal thing to do”

“Thats pretty cool, how did you learn you had that ability?”

“Its one thats run in my family quite some time”

“That’s lucky.”

“It’s more irritating than anything, especially if I have to search for a limb.”

Taarum started laughing, the sound contagiously moving through all of them, it taking longer for Mered to realize the humor in it. “Does that happen often?” Taarum managed to ask.

“A few times, but I managed.”

“I can just imagine the face you were making.” Ella said, her laughter starting once again. “I bet you were mumbling and cursing.”

“I think the most frustrating time was when an arm flew into a swamp, I seriously considered just leaving it it took so long to find my arm”

“well hopefully you wont lost anything this trip…even though I know you’ll be okay it still hurts to see you like that”

“Normally I wouldn’t let that happen, its rare when something can get the better of me. I was just so blinded by rage to see that thing hurting you” She grabbed onto his arm affectionately, giving him a loving smile that tugged at his heart. He was never going to let anything happen to her, he absolutely couldn’t lose Ella. Questions continued to flow back and forth, everyone seeming to be getting along well but Ella had expected as much. Mered truly wasn’t as bad as he felt he was and her family knew how happy she was with him.

Chapter Two

Taarum asked more question as they walked, his curiosity getting the best of him. Ella enjoyed their back and forth while she visited with her brothers. Mered split his focus between Taarum and Ella, answering questions as he let her scent curl around him and relax him. “So are you two planning on having any kids?” Atticus asked and Mered heard her heart skip a beat.

“We haven’t really discussed it. That eager to be an uncle again?”

“Of course. I need more nieces and nephews to spoil.”

Ella laughed. “Awe, how cute.”

“Children are a wonderful thing.” Gregory added. “Watching them grow into amazing adults is so rewarding.”

“I agree.” Mered said. “Raising Tahairah was something else.”

Now her mind was consumed with children, she hadn’t realized she wanted any until her brother brought it up. Her life stayed so busy, especially with all their friends and the daughter Mered already had it simply hadn’t crossed her mind but now, she really wanted that but she was a little embarrassed to actually say as much. At least for now, she’d wait until they were alone to see if Mered would want to have children with her. She loved having four siblings so she wanted to have at least three children. She felt she was getting a bit ahead of herself since they hadn’t had a real discussion yet so she decided to bring up another topic.

It was their second night out when clicks and sucking noises startled Ella out of her sleep. She sat up, her eyes locking with a volucrix. They were disgusting creatures, with large, flat heads that resembled cockroach’s with spikes covering it. Their body’s were thin, sickly thin and their arms were more like scythes. Its long, spiked tail drug behind it and thats when she noticed it was a group. “Mer” she had started to say her mates name but almost in that very second they all lay dead, Mered covered in blood.

Ella stared up at him, shocked for a moment. For just a moment she could see that darkness slipping through and then it was gone as he crouched down to check on her, his eyes instantly warming. “Are you alright, my love?” His voice woke the others and they were all surprised by the carnage.

“I’m fine, just surprised.”

“I’m sorry.” He looked her over, making sure she didn’t have any wounds.

“We’re sorry sister.” Gregory said. “We should have been more alert.”

“It’s alright, Mered killed them before I even had time to scream.”

“Thank goodness.” Atticus said as he examined the ripped apart creatures.

“Why don’t you go get cleaned up, Mered, we’ll get rid of these.” Gregory said.

“I’ll go with him.” Ella said.

“I won’t be long baby, you can stay.” Mered worried what she must be thinking, that she would start to have doubts about him if he kept showing that side of himself.

“I want to.”

He didn’t want to argue with her about it so he let her come with him, a little surprised when she took his hand “Ella I’m covered in those creatures” he said gently “I don’t care, I can clean my hand just as easily as we’ll clean you up” They walked back to a river they had seen, careful to stay alert for any more of those creatures. Mered felt relief he wasn’t forced to be the monster he hated being around her. Ella began to help Mered clean off as she said “you’ve had your work cut out for you lately. I’m sorry”

“sorry? It’s hardly your fault”

“well, I wanted to come and you wanted to stay home” He stroked the side of her face, holding her cheek a moment before realizing he was getting her messy again. He rinsed off his hand then wiped off her face which made Ella smile “I love you Mered, you’re so sweet”

“you can say that after what I just did”

“you protected me, my siblings, Tamlin and my nephew. It’s astounding and shocking at times how fast you can be and how easily you seem to kill things but you only ever hurt anything any more to protect me”

“You will always be safe with me Ella, always”

“There’s nothing I’m more sure of” she kissed him and his heart trembled. As soon as he was clean he hugged her, kissing her head before they began to go back to her family and their friend Tamlin. Things seemed to be cleaned up so they all settled down for the remainder of their night, Mered holding Ella close to him.

After they had eaten breakfast the next morning, Mered insisted on carrying her. He was going to keep her as close as possible until they made it to Porthcawl. He was happy when she let him, knowing he was probably being ridiculous, but for now he needed to make sure he could get her to safety immediately. They took a break for lunch and he sat with her in his lap as everyone talked about the trip so far. Other than the near attack, everything was going smoothly and the day was bright and beautiful.

“You doing alright?” Ella asked once they were off again.

“Yeah, sorry if you’re tired of being carried.”

She laughed, the sound causing his heart to skip a beat. “Oh yes, it’s so terrible being loved and protected. I’ll be sure to file a complaint.”

He grinned before placing a loving kiss on her forehead. She relaxed a little more in his arms, enjoying the comfort it brought her. Once again her mind drifted to children and her smile grew a bit bigger at the thought. She could imagine him carrying them around instead of her on trips and how much fun they could all have together. The question was getting hard to keep back so she decided she was going to try and find a time sooner rather than later to talk to him. All she needed was time alone since she didn’t want to spring a question like that on him in front of people.

Mered was relieved when they finally arrived in Porthcawl and were no longer on the open road. He knew cities and villages could be attacked, he had been the cause of a few, but he had to admit that it was harder to sack a city than it did to surprise someone in the middle of nowhere. “Better?” Ella asked in a teasing tone.

“Perhaps. There are a lot of people around here though.”

She laughed and he smiled. “I could scare them all away for you.”

“I’d appreciate it.”

“You two are absolutely adorable together.” Tamlin said with a chuckle.

Mered gave his friend a look that was instantly softened by Ellas kiss. He didn’t like adjectives like adorable when it came to himself but he could take it when it came to Ella. With most recent events he supposed he should take any softening of his image he could get before this beautiful, amazing woman realized he didn’t deserve her. His past had been unforgiveable, despite the fact he now had friends and a mate that seemed to think the world of him. He knew better than to ever take this all for granted, that at any point he could lose these people and he’d deserve it.

He didn’t let those thoughts darken his mood though, especially not today. Ella had been through two close encounters and he wanted to have as much fun with her as possible before that stunning smile quit shining on her face. Atticus started leading them around,having a perfect memory of this place and everything there was to do there.

They joined a few games then found a nice resturaunt to eat at before calling it a night in their own rooms. “see, we’re all alive” Ella said with a teasing look. “Hm, I suppose we are”

“I’m so happy we came”

“Me too, but I’m happy anywhere as long as you’re there.” He sighed, feeling a little exhausted.

“Thank you for coming, I know you prefer being home.”

“I would walk through hell for you.”

She smiled as she pressed a kiss to his lips. “I love you.”

“Gods know why.”

“Mered, I know what you’re thinking and it’s not true. Your past isn’t going to change the way I feel about you. You’ve done so much to redeem yourself and you’ve been so sweet and gentle with me.” She let her fingers rub gently over the back of his neck. “I love you because whether you believe it or not, the man you are now has a big heart, is kind and generous and protective.”

“You see much more than I do love.”

“And I’ll keep telling you how wonderful you are until you start believing it. Which brings me to something I wanted to talk to you about. I don’t want you to be afraid to say no or think I’ll be angry, but I was thinking about maybe you and I having a baby.”

His heart thumped a little harder, it both touched and surprised him “you’d like to have a baby with me?” She had clearly just said that but he had to be sure that’s truly what Ella had suggested. “Yeah, I really think you’d be an amazing father and I want my own little family. My parents love being parents so much they occasionally just have to do it again” she said with a breath of laughter. He lifted his hand, resting it on the side of Ellas cheek, stroking it with his thumb “Ella, if you truly want children I’d love to have children with you. We can start trying whenever you want”

“I mean…we’re alone now” she was blushing and he smiled, moving to nibble at her ear. The soft moan it inspired already sending tingles of pleasure through him. Her clothes were on the floor moments later, his soon following. All exhaustion had left his body the second she had brought up children. It meant so much to Mered that she had that much faith in him and he wasn’t sure there was a point of exhaustion he could get to where he wouldn’t want to make love to her.

She wrapped herself around him and he held her close as he pressed hungry kisses to her lips, his hands drifting over her, savoring how soft and warm she was. Their lips parted on a moan when he pushed into her, her fingers gripping his back as he withdrew and rocked back into her waiting heat. He watched the pleasure play over her face, was humbled by the love and adoration he saw in her beautiful eyes. He held her tightly to him, moving in her a little harder as she quivered around him. “Ella, I love you.”

“I love you too, so much.”

He felt himself choke up and swallowed down that sudden lump in his throat. How did she do that to him, break down his walls until every emotion he kept hidden overwhelmed him. He pressed his lips into hers, his fingers tangling in her soft hair as he picked up the pace, her little whimpers of pleasure and the feel of her dancing around him, sending him over the edge so he flowed into her. He ran his fingers through her hair, let his lips play lovingly over her face in light kisses until she captured his face in her hands and rubbed her nose against his, a bright, adoring smile pulling at her lips.

He laid down next to Ella, pulling her close. They both fell asleep deeply hoping she would become pregnant soon. Mered was a little nervous about raising a child again but he was still excited for it. Tahairah had turned into an amazing woman and he had managed that on his own. Now he’d have Ella and he was sure his daughter would want to help with her new sibling any time she could. Life was about to change but as long as Ella stayed with him he knew nothing but happiness was in his future.

~ The End