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A Brief Touch of Skin

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“You are really leaving, then,” Thorin said, and where once Bilbo would not have heard anything but anger and dismissal in his voice, he was keenly aware now of the undertone of hurt. “Were you not even going to say goodbye to me?”

Bilbo slowly turned to face him, heart pounding. He hadn’t heard the door to the little room in Erebor he’d been given open. “If I don’t go now I won’t make it over the Misty Mountains before it starts to snow. And I would have come to say goodbye, once I’d finished packing.”

He was sure Thorin was probably glowering at him, but he wasn’t quite brave enough to meet his gaze to check. He didn’t know if he wanted to see what was in Thorin’s eyes as he looked at him these days. All the apologies in the world couldn’t replace the memory of the hatred that Thorin directed at him once he had found out about the Arkenstone. None of the good intentions that he had taken the stone with could erase the guilt he felt for stealing from Thorin in the first place.

And neither of those things would hurt as much as they did if Bilbo didn’t love Thorin as much as he did. He’d even thought that Thorin might have loved him back, once.

“I thought I’d made it clear that you could stay in Erebor as long as you wished,” Thorin said, in that same horrible, flat, pained voice.

Oh, how this hurt. “I know,” Bilbo replied. “But I think it is time for me to go.”

“Please,” Thorin said, and Bilbo did look at him. Thorin’s eyes were serious and earnest and how Bilbo wanted to stay.

“I don’t think I could stay in Erebor, Thorin,” Bilbo whispered, his throat aching with supressed emotion. “It’s too big for me. I’m just a hobbit. We’re made for comfort, not for…”

“You could be comfortable here,” Thorin said quickly, taking a step forward. Bilbo skittered back in alarm and Thorin froze as stock-still as if Bilbo has struck him.

“It’s me you can’t be comfortable with,” Thorin realised bitterly, though Bilbo knew that the bitterness was directed at himself.

“I’m sorry,” Bilbo replied, tears starting to spill over, and Thorin shook his head.

“You have nothing to be sorry for,” Thorin said woodenly. “I only wish…”

“Me too,” Bilbo murmured.

Thorin took a slow, careful, unthreatening step towards him, and Bilbo forced himself not to retreat. Thorin kissed both of his tear-stained cheeks, then his mouth, once, gently, and Bilbo fell into him with a helpless little moan.

He’d missed this as much as he’d feared it.

Thorin lifted him up and took him towards Bilbo’s bed, slowly, giving him time to object. Bilbo didn’t. He kissed him back fervently and he knew each kiss was a goodbye.

They slowly stripped off each other’s clothes, hands caressing and lingering, memorising, and when they joined together Bilbo was not the only one with tears in his eyes.

Later, once the afterglow faded away, and Thorin was asleep with his face buried in Bilbo’s hair and his arm across his chest, as firm as an iron bar, Bilbo’s heart was still pounding but for an entirely different reason. Where once he had felt secure with Thorin’s arm around him, now that the passion had faded his fears had re-emerged and he wanted nothing more than to flee.

He carefully wriggled his way out of Thorin’s grip and dressed as silently as only a hobbit could. He slipped on his ring, just to be safe, and grabbed his bags.

He wanted to give Thorin a final kiss goodbye, but he didn’t dare risk waking him up. As much as walking away from Thorin was killing him inside, he knew it would hurt just as much to stay.

Some things just couldn't be mended.

So with one last long look, he took his first, lonely step back towards the Shire.

Chapter Text

Gwyn entered the cabin that they were sharing on the way back to the mainland from the Isle of Eamonn only to find Dawn asleep on her bunk.

Gwyn stared at her for a moment, before moving quietly as she could towards her own bunk.

It was quite remarkable, really. They wouldn’t have even known about the emergence of the Niskaru Lord without her. Gwyn herself might still have been a suspect if she hadn’t had gone so far out of her way to prove that she was innocent. And she had even seemed interested in Gwyn, and her parents, like she really cared, like she really wanted to know…

Gwyn shook her head, dismissing the thought. From what she had observed, Dawn was friendly to everyone. It meant nothing aside from comradely affection from one shield-sister to another.

Gwyn hadn’t realised that while she was lost in thought, removing her gauntlets and greaves, that she had awoken and was watching her with those big, solemn eyes.

“Everything alright, Gwyn?” Dawn asked, voice husky with sleep in a way that was just unfair.

“Fine,” Gwyn replied, “aside from the Niskaru Lord poised to destroy all of Amalur.”

Dawn pushed herself upright and came to join Gwyn in the centre of the cabin, taking Gwyn’s hand and squeezing it reassuringly. “We’ll be fine, I promise. Try not to worry.”

It was a meaningless promise but somehow Gwyn believed it. She smiled helplessly back at her. “I wish I had your confidence.”

Dawn smiled a little ruefully, but didn’t reply, and Gwyn was suddenly extremely aware of the fact that they were still holding hands. Dawn obviously realised at the same moment, and her smile grew a little shy, but she didn’t let go. “Gwyn…” she murmured, but Gwyn was already lifting her free hand and tangling it into her long hair, dipping her head down and finally, finally kissing her, feeling the warm metal of Dawn's lip-ring dig into her own lip.

She kissed Gwyn back eagerly, desperately, as if she had been waiting for it, wanting it, just as much for just as long.

The boat shifted suddenly and they ended up, more by accident than design, back on her bunk. Gwyn caught herself on one hand the best she could as she was still wearing most of her armour.

Dawn's mage robes were no obstacle though, and Gwyn pushed aside most of the cloth, gently squeezing her breasts and thumbing her nipples, before slipping one hand further down, her fingers twisting, stroking, until she came apart with a shout, her hands scraping against Gwyn’s armour.

Dawn smiled again once she had caught her breath, brighter and true than before. “That hardly seemed fair,” she commented, flicking Gwyn’s armour to demonstrate before she slid her hands down Gwyn’s spine only to feel metal instead of skin.

“Well,” Gwyn pointed out, feeling lighter than she had done for a long time. “There are a few hours to go until we dock at Rathir.”

They would have to separate when they arrived, Gwyn knew, would both have to leave to perform dangerous tasks. There was a risk that they would never see each other again, no matter how much faith Gwyn had in her. But for now, they had this moment, a time to make memories to sustain them through the darkness.

Perhaps Dawn could tell some of that from Gwyn’s expression, or perhaps she simply felt the same way. She pulled Gwyn back into a kiss, before starting to unbuckle her armour. “In that case, let me help you out of this.”

Chapter Text

For all her interest in materia, Yuffie still gasped in surprise the first time Vincent trailed an ice materia over her skin, clearly not anticipating the sensation.

His expression didn’t change, but Yuffie still scowled at him. “You think you’re so clever, Vince.”

He gently rolled it over her nipple in reply, before quickly chasing away the chill with his mouth, making her cry out and clutch at his hair.

He kept stroking the little orb down her skin, briefly dipping it into her navel and making her squirm before gently pressing it against her clit. Yuffie’s whole body trembled and she cried out his name, but instead of warming her with his mouth as he had the last time, he lightly pressed a thunder materia against her instead.

Yuffie really did scream that time. When she finished shuddering, Yuffie opened her bleary eyes and grinned at him. “Just you wait, Vince. I have a whole chest of materia for us to play with.”

Chapter Text

Royce shuddered when Hadrian’s rough fingers gently traced down the edge of his ear, sending sparks down his spine. His ears might not be pointed but he seemed to have inherited the sensitivity common to elven kind.

“Stop that,” he scowled, and even in the darkness he could see Hadrian’s grin, though he did draw his fingers away.

“Is something wrong?” Hadrian asked innocently as Royce jerked his head away.

“Just how long have you known about me, anyway?” Royce asked, still feeling a little wrong-footed that too-honest-for-his-own-good Hadrian had known his secret and had never once let on.

“I’ve suspected for a while,” Hadrian replied. “I just assumed that you didn’t want to talk about it.”

Royce didn’t reply, and Hadrian added quietly, “Did you think that it would matter to me that you are part elf?”

“No,” Royce replied, meaning it, and pushed Hadrian back down onto his bedroll, more gently than usual as Hadrian’s ribs were still tender.

In the darkness, Royce could see Hadrian’s smile. His hand came up and cupped the back of Royce’s neck. Normally, Royce would react with violence to anyone touching his neck, but he just relaxed into the touch, letting Hadrian guide him upwards to his mouth for a teasing, biting kiss.

In the darkness, alone in the forest, they could not risk fully undressing. Hadrian’s swords were still within reach, and his dagger was still in its sheath, but Royce’s fingers were nimble against the laces and buckles of their clothes, undoing them just enough.

Royce started slowly rocking and grinding against Hadrian, but he just huffed, both exasperated and amused and urged him to go faster, harder-

Royce came with a silent gasp when Hadrian’s teeth just barely grazed the top of his ear, and Hadrian followed him over not long afterwards as Royce’s fingers reflexively tightened against his hips.

Afterwards they lay together in comfortable silence. They were Riyria, partners, the two of them against everything else. They didn’t need any other words