Armitage Hux yawns and stretches out in his small bed, waking to the same thing as every other morning; the rising sun shining through his curtains and the heavy silence of his own loneliness.
Turning onto his back, Hux reaches for the little piece of rope beside his bed and gives it a tug, opening the curtains of the window that sits above him in the roof of his cylindrical tower, already seeing that the grey clouds of the early morn have begun to move away, giving him a pleasant view of the blue sky and birds flying by.
Oh, he thinks, kicking off his bedsheets and rubbing his eyes, what it would mean to him to be free.
This tower has been Hux’s home for the last few years, each day no different than the last, the next no more exciting than the previous. Repetitiveness, a drill every morning to get his mundane duties done before he allows himself to relax. Hux does, however, like sticking to his routine; it gives his day and evening structure, reminding him of a simpler time at the cadet’s barracks. At least, too, the routine gives him something to think about, other than his father’s blazing disappointment in him.
Hux is an omega living in a kingdom of alphas and betas. Presenting at 17 years old, and expecting his knot to pop but rather finding that he didn’t have one, Hux had believed that he may have been treated like royalty, being so rare, but instead, he’s locked away like a beast. Or rather, like the jewel to go around a beast’s neck. He’s a prize, awaiting the day that his father will come to him with the news of his betrothal, news that Brendol has finally found a rich alpha to take his omega son off his hands for good.
Hux sighs as he rises from his bed and goes into the little bathroom, washing his face in the basin before looking at his reflection in the dully-shining piece of hanging metal on the wall that acts as a mirror. With his father visiting today, Hux knows his appearance has to be as smart as if he were back in the kingdom’s young soldier regiment; his red hair cut short, his face clean-shaven and his chambers tidy and presentable.
After dressing in a pair of dark brown trousers and a soft, long-sleeved white shirt, Hux takes care down the winding, rickety staircase down from the antechamber of his bedroom and into the open, main—and only other—room of his tower. With his bare feet padding softly against the wooden floor, he walks to the small kitchen area and begins preparing his own breakfast, chopping what little fruit and bread he had left, silently being thankful that Brendol will be bringing supplies to him today. He’d politely asked for some pastries upon his father’s next visit, to which he’d received a huff in reply, but Hux smiles and still holds out a little hope that he’ll be treated to some sweet treats for his lack of attempts to escape within the past month.
There’s a small table with one stool in the main chamber of Hux’s tower where he sits and eats, looking out through the large windows that lead out onto his balcony as he finishes the last piece of fruit in his meal, wiping the juice from his lips with his napkin, taking a final sip of his favourite berry-flavoured tea before he begins cleaning. Sweeping, dusting, organising; it’s all for Brendol’s visit, supposedly, but Hux admits to himself that the tidiness of his tower is the only thing that he has control over, and he likes it.
But even as he sweeps, Hux finds his mind wandering, eyes looking to the book-covered walls that surround him. Shelf upon shelf stacks up as tall as the ceiling, holding the dozens of books that Hux has indulged in to pass the time, some even having to be piled either side of his balcony doors because of lack of space—though, he reminds himself to move them to his bedroom before Brendol appears. All shelves are alphabetised for ease of use, and Hux slowly walks around the edge of the room, looking up and down his collection, wondering which one he should start today. Books give him the illusion of freedom, he finds; immersing himself in the written word and accompanying artwork is the only sort escape Hux gets, but he tells his father that it’s for academic purposes, the only way of making sure that Brendol brings him more books to add to his collection.
Though, it’s been a while since Brendol has gifted his son a new book, so as Hux browses, he knows that he’s them all before, but he picks one about the history of sorcery, for some reason, admiring its black, matt cover and the silver lettering on the spine. It’s been a while since he’s indulged in some reading about magic users and their powers so Hux nods to himself, pleased with his choice, before grabbing his worn and shabby dark red cloak and descending the spiralled steps from his rooms at the top of his tower and down to the grassy plain below.
Just as he’d expected, the morning chill has disappeared from the air and the sun sits high in the cloudless sky, shining down on the small clearing where Hux’s tower sits in the unfindable centre of the maze that the kingdom calls the enchanted forest. Tall trees with thick, dark trunks cover the perimeter of the round clearing whilst a narrow tributary of the kingdom’s river forks around the tower, giving Hux at least a form of a water supply. He gives his little vegetable patch a look over too, checking the progress of his potatoes and carrots, giving his cherry tomatoes a little squeeze before watering them a little. The grass is soft and warm beneath Hux’s bare feet, and he chooses a spot in the shade of his tower’s shadow to lay his cloak down and settle himself on it before opening his book.
And despite being out in the open air, Hux has never felt more suffocated.
He glances up from his book when the trees rustle yet he sees nothing, only the invisible circle around his glade that keeps him here, that traps him here. It’s an enchantment of some sort, a line of unseen fire around him that burns him if he attempts to escape, a truth he’s learned twice, and the rash-like burns on his skin had been difficult to hide, covering his legs and arms as he’d tried to step past the trees but finding himself unable to go any further because of the searing pain on his skin.
Hux itches his arm as he recalls his failed escape attempts, still staring at the trees in front of him, imagining the life he could have had.
A trap to keep the omega in, a repellent to keep alphas away. And as long as Hux remains here upon his father’s forceful decree, he’s nothing more than an omega waiting to be mated.
The wind blows, and Hux lifts his chin and closes his eyes, feeling its coolness on his skin and it waft his hair out of its place. There’s a warmth on his cheeks that appears almost suddenly as the leaves rustle with the wind. Could it be his heat? No. Impossible. Hux has only ever had one previous heat; when he first presented as an omega in his late teens and his father locked him in their basement, ashamed that his son, with so much potential to be great, was trembling with the need to be mated.
And after that, Brendol had acquired a potion from a sorcerer—likely the same on that’d crafted the fiery barrier—that prevents Hux from falling into heat until the day that his alpha suitor comes for him, a day that Hux hopes never comes.
The sky darkens. Hux shakes his head and pushes out any thoughts that aren’t about his book, feeling his chest beginning to tighten as he’s angered by the fate that has been decided for him but he delves back into the pages of his tome, taking in each word about the workings of a world he’s only ever experienced though the seal that keeps him here.
Magic, sorcery, enchantments. Hux turns his nose up. An evil world, surely. No good can come from magic users and their desire to meddle with the lives of normal folk. Hux drags his fingers across the parchment paper, looking at the pictures drawn of ancient amulets and spell circles. If this nonsense didn’t exist, then he wouldn’t be trapped here by the invisible line of fire, created by a dark sorcerer.
Then again, Hux thinks, looking at the sky, a literal cage with metal bars and a lock may have been the alternative. And as clouds begin to push their way into the sky and the wind picks up, Hux closes his book and pulls his cloak around himself, knowing that the afternoon is dying, and Brendol is coming.
He quickly goes back up to his tower to put his book away neatly before hanging his cloak up and setting some water to boil to make sure his father has tea waiting for him when he arrives. It should, Hux hopes, help settle Brendol’s seemingly permanent bad mood. The long walk through the enchanted forest would put anyone’s frustrations up but with ex-military man and stern alpha Brendol Hux whose frustrations are always running on the edge of explosion, the forest walk means he’s already on the verge of an angry outburst by the time he reaches his son’s tower.
Today, Hux finds, is no different.
“Armitage,” Brendol greets coldly, removing his grey, hooded cloak and tossing it in Hux’s direction to hang, setting a large basket down beside the cream sofa.
“Father,” Hux replies. He wants to roll his eyes at his father’s use of his first, hated name but instead, gives him a forced smile and begins preparing Brendol’s tea.
The silence between them would be unnerving and awkward to an outsider but Hux is unaffected by it; too many times has be tried to fill it with conversation that’s been shot down by a calloused stare or venomous words. So, now, Hux prefers the silence.
“If these rooms were your barracks, I’d be inclined to say you’ve done well at keeping them clean,” Brendol says, taking the cup of tea from Hux without thanks. “But they’re not.”
Hux ignores him, having learnt a long time ago not to rise to Brendol’s taunts. He perches on a nearby stool, sipping at his own tea, eyes drifting towards the basket that his father has brought, wondering what food is inside.
“Aren’t you going to ask about my progress in finding you a mate?” Brendol says.
Hux glances up from the basket to Brendol, wanting to ask about the food he’s brought rather than know anything about his search for an alpha.
“Of course,” Hux lies, adding a confident nod too. “I was just about to offer my interest.”
“I was almost successful,” Brendol announces. “The royal guards were recently graced with a new arrival. A captain, an alpha, an exceptionally strong woman that would’ve been perfect to take you. Alas, her attentions were taken by a soft, little beta and my search is fruitless yet again.”
Hux can’t help but breathe a heavy sigh of relief. Imagining himself on the arm of an alpha captain makes him shiver. He wants to remain unmated, and certainly not become mated to an individual of position in the kingdom’s army, a position he could’ve likely achieved if he weren’t an omega.
“That is…unfortunate,” Hux says, feigning disappointment.
“It is,” Brendol mutters. “But it further proves my logic of keeping you here, Armitage. Even that alpha succumbed to her needs and mated with that beta before I could offer her a chance to mate with you. A victim of her own nature. It shows how some alphas can be weak like omegas when it comes to their biology.”
Hux can’t hold his tongue, “You tar everyone with the same brush, Father. She could have been in love with that beta—”
“Love!” Brendol erupts into hearty laughter. “You sound like a naïve pup, Armitage. Love does not exist in our world. You mate for prosperity, to provide heirs to your bloodline. To think of it in any other way is folly.”
Hux takes a long sip of his tea, wishing he had some form of alcohol in it to numb his senses and increase his tolerance for Brendol’s ideals but, dear, it remains merely tea.
Their conversation for the afternoon remains focussed on Hux’s lack of suitor and how Brendol’s impatience grows at that very fact. Hux merely sits and listens, knowing that fighting back or defending himself, or his biology, is a waste of time. He nods along with Brendol’s words, not even having the will to daydream about his future, knowing that he can never meet anyone or fall in love, so what’s the point in even dreaming?
The evening draws to a slow close, the light fading away until Hux has to excuse himself for a moment to begin lighting candles around his rooms in the hopes that it’ll make Brendol realise how much he’s overstayed his welcome.
“I’ll take my leave, Armitage,” Brendol finally says as Hux clears their cups from the small table. “Here. Supplies. You need to ration yourself more, boy. I can’t keep bringing you items when it’s merely your greed that’s getting the better of you.”
Hux swallows hard, resisting the urge to lift his shirt and show his father his flat stomach and partially-protruding ribs, and then poke Brendol in his fat stomach or his fleshy jowls. If anyone in the entire kingdom was to be named the most gluttonous, Brendol Hux would annihilate the rest of the competition.
Hux takes the basket from his father with a half-sincere thanks, wanting to remove its cloth to see what he’s been brought, but he puts off the action until he’s alone.
“Have a safe trip, Father,” Hux says, silently wishing the opposite.
“I shall return in one week like always, Armitage, hopefully with news of someone who will take you off my hands.”
“Oh, we can only hope,” Hux replies.
If Brendol catches his sarcasm, the alpha does not comment.
Hux fetches Brendol’s cloak for him, supposing that it’s the next best thing to actually pushing him out of the door. The clothing is soft in Hux’s fingers, new and expensive, and it only makes Hux despise his father more.
The two utter no more words to each other as Brendol descends the staircase and Hux stays at his balcony, watching his despicable father walk away from him, wishing that the enchantment would malfunction just for a moment and scold the old alpha to death. But he steps over the invisible line without incident; the only alpha allowed in or out of Hux’s prison.
Hux stays on the balcony for a while after his father has gone, looking out to see the radiant orange sky and the sun setting over the tall trees of the enchanted forest, and imagines a world where no alphas, no omegas, no one and nothing to determine your fate for you.
When his stomach begins to rumble with hunger, Hux sighs and goes back inside, remember the food basket that his father brought to him. He picks it up and sets it on the table, pulling off the cloth with eager fingers, rooting inside of it to find the usual fruits, vegetables breads and cheeses, but Hux huffs and puts the cloth back over it.
Hux wakes the next morning with the lingering aggravation of his father’s visiting on his mind though everything else remains the same. He chooses not to linger too long in bed this morning, feeling eager to make his breakfast with the fresh produce in the basket, knowing that as the days go on, things will become less tasty and less edible.
Still in just his brown sleep-pants and no shirt, Hux makes his way around his rooms, opening curtains and neatening things up that he may have missed last night whilst in his foul mood.
But as he opens the curtains to reveal the large windows that lead out onto his balcony, Hux freezes on the spot. Something is wrong. Something is there.
There are flowers, real and vibrant red roses, sat on the stone of his balcony, tied together in a perfect bunch with a piece of red string. Hux is utterly baffled.
He peers over the side, looking down into his little meadow carefully, just in case they’re a distraction in an attempt to either capture him or kill him—likely the former, he decides—but he sees nothing. The grass remains undisturbed, the little river is still flowing and there’s still the familiar and strange pull of the invisible circle around his tower that forbids him from leaving.
Just for peace of mind, Hux also looks up, afraid an assassin may be on his roof but, again, he sees nothing.
With hesitation, Hux kneels down, ignoring the slight chill of the early morning wind on his bare torso, and brushes his fingers against the red petals. It’s been years since he’s seen roses, since he’s seen something with some vibrant and new colour that he can’t help but smile when he picks them up. Even the red string is soft as he touches it, pulling it between his fingers, remembering it as the same string that he used to tie the spines of his over-read books back together.
He’s careful with his flowers, cutting them down to fit perfectly inside an old pot that he finds in the back of one of the little cupboards in his kitchen, setting them upon his table, a perfect centrepiece that he knows will make him smile every time he looks at them.
And only when he’s sat down at the table, staring at the flowers, does Hux’s mind really begin to tick.
Who put the roses there?
Hux is careful with his flowers, cutting them down to fit perfectly inside an old pot that he finds in the back of one of the little cupboards in his kitchen, setting them upon his table, a perfect centrepiece that he knows will make him smile every time he looks at them.
And only when he’s sat down at the table, staring at the flowers, does Hux’s mind really begin to tick.
Who put the roses there?
Nobody can get through the circle’s enchantment besides Brendol, and Hux would go as far as saying that it’d be an impossibility for his father to sneak into Hux’s tower during the night, leave roses for him and disappear without a trace. The only things that Brendol brings him are supplies of food and a reminder of his disappointment in his omega son; he would never gift him so much as a smile, never mind fresh flowers.
Besides, roses are the flower of romance, aren’t they? Of love, beauty, desire. Hux covers his mouth to hide his smile. He, for the moment, chooses to ignore the fact that someone has breached the security of his tower whilst he was sleeping and focusses on the thought that someone has given him the flowers of love.
Hux doesn’t recall anyone ever giving him a gift, and certainly not one so meaningful.
Yet as the next few days pass, more and more gifts appear on his balcony each morning. After the roses comes a fresh loaf of bread, baked to a perfect and golden crispness that Hux can’t help but let out a quiet moan when he samples a small slice on the morning it arrives. Next comes a new set of tools for his vegetable garden, shining and sharp, all with brightly coloured green handles and red bows tied around each of them.
When Hux goes outside later that afternoon, he walks around the very edge of his little meadow, looking as best as he can through the thick trees and vines just to see if there’s anyone lurking, but he finds nothing. There’s nothing to see in the enchanted forest, just more trees and plants, so Hux turns and walks away, concluding that he doesn’t have a stalker on his hands, just an interested party.
He tends to his vegetable garden with a smile on his face, new tools working in overdrive to turn the soil over and pick some of the potatoes out, elated that someone is taking notice of him in a way that no one ever has before.
Even as Hux is going to sleep that night, he finds himself excited to see what his admirer is going to leave him tomorrow, and as soon as he wakes, he’s leaping out of his bed, leaving his sheets in disarray and rushing past his closed curtains to find his new gift on the balcony. It’s a little drawstring bag of bath salts, purple in colour, and it only takes Hux one sniff of the bag to discover that they’re lavender; the scent that relaxes him most.
But the fourth gift is what makes Hux decide that he must find out who his visitor is.
As has become his new routine, Hux is alert as soon as he wakes, desperate to see if there waits another goodie for him, and he’s pleased to see that there is. It’s a book; brown and leather-bound. Gold embellishments decorate the cover: a square around the edge and even the bottoms and sides of the pages are a beautiful golden colour. There’s no writing on the cover but as soon as Hux opens it and turns onto the first page, he knows precisely what book it is.
It’s the only thing that he begged Brendol not to take from him when he took his freedom, yet the old alpha hadn’t listened and stolen it away regardless, burnt it too, most likely. It’s the book his mother read to him when he was a boy, before she died. It’s a story about a young princeling finding friendship in a dragon when he finds himself lost in the woods one late summer’s night, and young Hux had always found it comforting that even a lone boy like the prince in the book could find a friend in the most unlikely of places; in a beast that the rest of the town saw as a monster.
And his admirer knows its importance to Hux. How?
Hugging the book to his chest, feeling warm like he’s hugging his mother, Hux decides that he isn’t going to sleep tonight. He’ll take a nap this afternoon and conduct a nightwatch. Stealth was one of the key things he was complimented for during his training—before he was taken off his father’s programme for soldiers and thrown into this prison—likely because of his lithe frame and ability to be weightless on his feet.
So that’s precisely what he does.
His evening runs as planned, having a small dinner and washing to get ready for bed, drawing his curtains and blowing out the candles, but instead of actually dressing in his sleep trousers, Hux grabs his darkest clothes and goes to walk down the stairway to the bottom of his tower but stops when he realises he should probably take a weapon with him. Only upon exploration of his two rooms does he realise that the only weapon he could possibly take with him would be his bread knife, and he wouldn’t like to seriously maim his potential admirer. Instead, after scouring his kitchen, he decides that his frying pan will have to do to defend himself should anything happen. Hux gives it a few swings in practice and smiles. It’ll have to do.
With the sun now set, Hux uses the cover of darkness to sneak down the spiral stairway and hide behind his tower, remaining as vigilant as he can, unknowing of which direction the intruder could come from, though he clutches his frying pan tightly.
If his visitor is an alpha, then their biology could mean problems for omega Hux.
Darkness covers the tower. The cold settles in quickly as the hours pass by and Hux stays quiet and hidden, though he doesn’t quite know how much time has passed. He leans against the cold brick of his tower, pulling his cape further around his shoulders to try his best to keep what little warmth he has left but the night air is unforgiving. He’s cold, tiredness is looming, and his visitor doesn’t seem to be coming. The crescent moon in the midnight sky does little to light Hux’s field of vision but his eyes have adjusted enough to the darkness for him to make out the figure that’s looming on the opposite side of his little meadow.
Alert suddenly, Hux’s stomach twists. Someone is here.
He stands up when he hears the faint sound of a horse whinny and a subsequent hushing, and he peers out from around his tower to see a hooded figure stepping up to the barrier of trees and without hesitation, he walks in, unscathed.
Hux’s jaw drops. This is no man, surely. No alpha, beta or omega can step through the invisible enchantment, and no mortal is exempt from the biological rules of humankind. Yet, he watches as the figure takes quiet yet long strides across the meadow, cape billowing around him in the cold, night wind. Hux catches a quick look of pale skin underneath the hood before he retreats and hides, covering his mouth with his palm in an attempt to quieten his panicked breaths. The sound of the intruder’s footsteps get closer and closer, and Hux finds himself holding his breath, forgetting all about how this is potentially the being who’s been leaving him gifts and focuses more on the fact that the safety of his tower has been compromised—by a beast no less, not even a man.
The figure halts at the foot of Hux’s tower, just underneath the balcony, shadowed in its overhang, but close enough for Hux to get a small glimpse of its face as he leans very gently out from his hiding spot. The hood sits low on their brow but Hux can see their plump lips and their nose, freckles and moles dotted about on their pale cheeks, and Hux cocks his head, enchanted by what little of their face he can see. There’s a satchel sitting on their shoulder that they reach into after looking around and, obviously content that there’s no one to see them, they pull out a little bag filled with a dark, crumbled bits that look like tea leaves to Hux’s quick glance but the bag is tied with the same red string as the roses were.
Coincidences such as this do not exist, Hux thinks.
He keeps on watching as best as he can without revealing himself, staring at the figure’s every movement. They pull one of their black gloves off carefully, revealing a pale hand, but Hux can’t help but take a shocked intake of air when he sees a strange, red aura around their fingers.
It’s a faint glow, red like blood, which moves like a thick fog around the figure’s hand, encompassing it. The wind that, only seconds ago, was chilling Hux’s skin through his clothing is silenced, and the entire forest seems to follow suit, and then, before Hux’s very eyes, the bag in the figure’s hand levitates. It’s encircled by the same red glow of their hand and begins to move upwards as though being pulled up by an invisible string but it’s the figure’s power.
Magic, Hux realises, heart thrumming wildly. This is the type of magic that he’s only read about in his books, the type that he’s been taught to be wary of and to be afraid of. This intruder is a sorcerer, or sorceress; using their prowess to bestow gifts upon the lonely omega in the woods. Hux can barely believe what he’s seeing. The little bag levitates with such elegance that Hux feels almost hypnotised watching it, looking from the enchanted item and back to the hooded figure, wishing to see the face underneath the hood.
The bag settles down gentle on the balcony’s edge, just where all the other gifts have been placed, and it’s enough evidence for Hux to be certain that this being is the one who’s been courting him from afar.
Hux can’t wait a moment longer to finally rid himself of his loneliness.
“Careful, stranger,” Hux says, stepping out from his hiding place behind the tower.
The figure is visibly startled by Hux’s voice, taking staggered steps backwards, and Hux even stretches his hand out as though to help catch them if they fall, though he very much doubts that he’d be able to support their weight. The intruder turns on their heels, suddenly, and makes a dash for the trees, cape swishing out behind them, and Hux panics.
“Wait!” Hux calls out, following blindly. “Don’t leave! You’re the first being I’ve met for years! Just stay a while. Please.”
The wind picks up again when the intruder stops, their heavy boots having made indents in the grass that Hux finds himself stepping in to get closer, still reaching out. Even without the gifts, Hux would leap at the chance to have some sort of companion, someone to share his limited unmated time with before his father sells him off. But with the wind now blowing in Hux’s direction, he blinks, picking up the intruder’s scent for the first time.
They’re an alpha. Strong, feared, yet Hux doesn’t feel afraid. The intruder smells like ash, like the remnants of a blazing fire, accompanied with an earthy scent that feels familiar to Hux, having spent a long time in these forests. Do they intent to mate with Hux? Did they smell him in the midst of the trees and overcome the enchanted circle because of their desire to breed? Hux isn’t sure, but what he is sure of, is that he must find out who this person is before they disappear.
The figure turns slowly, their fingers flexing nervously into fists. Hux can’t stop staring at their lips, the only part of skin that he can see, but he’s got a better view of his clothing now. Dressed head-to-toe in black, the intruder almost blends in with the surrounding darkness.
“You have a frying pan,” they say. Their voice is deep, almost gruff, and it sends a ripple of excitement across Hux’s skin. Male, most likely.
“Hmm? Oh. Uh, yes. Just in case my intruder tried to attack me.” Hux holds up his supposed weapon, turning the pan around in his palm before tossing it aside. “You’re the one who’s been leaving the gifts for me.”
The figure nods. Their hood doesn’t slip, much to Hux’s dislike.
“Thank you, I suppose,” Hux says. “You’re the first being to ever give me something that’s made me happy. Doesn’t that, on its own, mean that you can’t just run away from me?”
Hux flicks his eyes up, “Can I at least know your name? Can you at least take off your hood so I may see the face of my generous patron?”
Hux imagines deep eyes staring at him as the intruder obviously contemplates Hux’s questions. With one hand gloved and the other one bare, they raise their hands and lift the hood up and away from their face, stepping closer to Hux at the same time, out of the shadows of the trees and into the moonlight.
Yes, a male. A male alpha.
Full, dark hair—softly waved as though it’s been wet and dried naturally in the forest air—falls around his pale face and frames it almost elegantly. The freckles and moles that Hux could previously see around his nose dot up to his forehead too, reminding Hux of the constellations that he’s stared at every night before sleep. But it’s his eyes that Hux can’t stop himself from looking at. They seem to be sparkling, though Hux can’t decide whether they’re amber or brown, but regardless of colour, they’re the most beautiful eyes that Hux has ever seen.
“I’m…Kylo,” he says, out of the shadows and into the moonlight. “Ren.”
“Armitage Hux,” Hux holds his hand out. “But heavens, call me ‘Hux’. My first name repulses me.”
Kylo smiles at that, taking hold of Hux’s hand in a surprisingly soft grip to shake, the only greeting that, besides saluting, that Hux thought to do.
“Hux,” Kylo says, as though testing the feel of his name on his tongue. Hux likes how it sounds.
“Kylo Ren,” Hux repeats. Their handshake ends and their hands part, though Hux still feels his palm tingling. “So. Sorcerer or deity?”
“Apprentice to a sorcerer,” Kylo says, smiling. “I’ll surpass my tutor one day, I’m sure of it.”
“And you’re an alpha.”
“Yes. And you’re an omega.”
It’s certainly not the first time that an alpha has identified his biology by his scent but it’s definitely the first time that he hasn’t been unnerved by it. Hux shivers, refusing to think of the way his fellow alpha soldiers had looked at him when he’s gone into his very first heat in their barracks.
“I am, which is why I’m trapped in here. But what I want to know is how you found me and how you managed to pass through the enchantment around my tower without being burned by its magic?”
Kylo frowns, and cocks his head.
If Hux weren’t so excited at having a handsome admirer, his jaw would have hit the ground. He remembers the feeling of the rash burning his skin like real fire when he’d been desperate enough to attempt an escape from his tower, and Brendol has assured him that the sorcerer who created it ensured that the only being exempt to the spell would be Brendol himself.
Yet, Kylo stands tall and unscathed in front of him.
“I do believe that it’s tea that you’ve left on my balcony this evening,” Hux says, turning to look up to where he can see the faint silhouette of a little bag on the edge of his balcony. “It’s getting frightfully chilly out here too. Would you care to come inside and have some tea?”
“I…” Kylo turns, looking back through the thick trees for a second before turning back to Hux. “I’d love to.”
As soon as the pair reach the top of the tower, Hux sets about lighting candles across his main chamber, the candelabras on the walls giving them the most light but he dots a small few here and there for extra light. He sets about preparing the tea whilst Kylo has a slow wander around the room, looking at everything, taking in the copious amount of books that sit on the dozens of shelves.
Hux looks up from the boiling pan of water to where Kylo stands with his back to him across the room, brushing his fingers against the spines of the books. With his cape now gone and hung on Hux’s coat stand, Hux can see the true size of Kylo’s body. His shoulders are wide, as are his hips, but he doesn’t move in the way Hux would have thought a hulking alpha would. Kylo shoulders almost hunch in as he walks as though trying to shrink in on himself, oddly.
“You like books,” Kylo says, and his voice pulls Hux from his thoughts about the alpha’s body.
“I do. It’s the only way to pass the time, really. Though, I’m sure you know more about me than I think. You gave me a book, after all.”
Kylo hums in agreement but says nothing else, turning to sit down on Hux’s couch when he brings the tea over, thanking him when he takes it. Hux hesitates when he goes to sit down, choosing to perch on the nearby stool rather than sit beside Kylo, fearing that even an accidental touch from this breath-taking alpha would be enough to override his potion and send him into heat.
“You said something about an enchantment around your tower,” Kylo says. “But I’ve never felt anything from the day I first found you.”
“How did you find me?” Hux asks. “The spell is meant to deter anyone away from this location.”
Kylo stifles a laugh, showing his teeth. A crooked smile that makes Hux’s stomach twist.
“And yet I was drawn to you.”
Hux looks down, blushing. He’s partially annoyed by his own actions; he’s been repulsed by alphas since he first presented, disgusted by his father’s quest to find him a mate. But there’s something so different about Kylo that makes Hux want him to stay, something that makes Hux want to find out everything about him.
“I train in the forests,” Kylo continues, looking down into his tea. “My Master gives me tasks to complete and it often requires me to isolate myself and concentrate. The supposedly forbidden enchanted forest seemed like the perfect place to work alone. To practise spells. ”
“Hexes, witchery.” Kylo opens his free palm and the same red glow that hypnotised Hux before is there again, pooling in his hand and floating around his fingers like a real entity. “Magic isn’t the same for each user. They feel it differently. Some of us with rawer power need extra training to control it, otherwise we risk destroying ourselves.”
“Intriguing,” Hux says, fascinated by Kylo’s words. “I’ve only read about such things in my books and believed it to be unnecessary and nonsense, really—”
One of the roses from the vase on his table suddenly levitates past him, engulfed in the same glow that blooms in Kylo’s palm, gliding slowly towards the sorcerer’s hand.
“It’s not nonsense,” Kylo says, looking at the rose’s petals before floating it back in Hux’s direction. “And magic-users have shaped many of the outcomes of this world for centuries. My grandfather was one of those sorcerers.”
“Do tell, Ren,” Hux smiles, taking the rose back.
Hux chokes on his mouthful of tea, “The Vader? Emperor Palpatine’s accomplice? His attack dog? Assassin?”
“Indeed,” Kylo looks proud at Hux’s list. “His blood is in my veins. His power is now my power. And it’s why I’m going to surpass my Master. I’m destined for more than this, I can feel it. I’m trapped.”
Hux has never felt a connection with someone like this before. It’s like Kylo is cut from the same stars as he is, the same grand destiny to be something but having to conform and feeling trapped with no escape.
“Believe me,” Hux says, leaning forward slightly. “I know what that feels like.”
Kylo glances up and blinks though his long eyelashes, his eyes looking a little red-rimmed, though Hux can somehow tell that it’s anger and not sadness that’s welling in Kylo’s chest.
“Tell me more about this enchantment,” Kylo says, composing himself. “The thing that is keeping you here.”
“My father believed that I was going to be an alpha like him,” Hux begins, sitting back again. “You can imagine his surprise and utter disgust when I presented as an omega. He tells me that it’s my duty to be wed to a wealthy alpha to bring honour back to his name, since I have tainted it with my weakness. I was locked in the cold cellar of our home for months whilst he made preparations for me. I was in heat for the first week, alone, before he escorted me to this tower in the dead of night one evening. He told me that he’d visited a sorcerer and paid them to cast a spell around this tower. Keep the shameful omega in, keep everyone else out.”
The red glow in Kylo’s palm seems to be moving quicker, looking a little thicker than it did just a moment ago. Hux looks at Kylo’s hand, then up to his face, seeing his lips twisting into a scowl.
“Your father is vermin,” Kylo spits.
“It’s nothing that I don’t already know. He was vermin before I presented as an omega, he just felt justified in his treatment of me once my biology became known. This tower has been my home since.”
“I didn’t know you were an omega until I met you tonight,” Kylo says, which only reassures Hux that this alpha isn’t just here to breed him and leave. “I came looking for somewhere quiet to train after I was cast out from my Master’s residence for the day after one of my practices failed. I found this forest but I couldn’t begin my training. My magic was pulling me somewhere, to this clearing. And that’s when I saw you for the first time.”
Kylo moves slowly, leaving his place on the couch to stand up, waving his hand until the scene around them changes from the walls of Hux’s tower to as though they’re standing in the dark forest, looking out of the line of trees and into the clearing of Hux’s home. Hux gasps and reflexively spreads his arms out, afraid of what he doesn’t understand—a side thought comes to him; that he’s more akin to this father than he realises.
“Ren? How in the seven hells are you doing this?”
“You’re seeing what I saw on that day, five days ago,” Kylo circles around Hux, coming to stand beside him, both looking at the past Hux, sitting on the grass and reading his book before Brendol’s visit. “Your hair looked like a fiery crown atop your head. Your beauty, your strength, I knew something was different. Regardless of your biology, I knew I had to begin courting you.”
“Courting…? Those gifts—” Hux struggles to take it all in. Going from being completely lonely to having a secret admirer to having an alpha-sorcerer-Vader’s grandson courting him is a rollercoaster of a few days. “Why didn’t you just come to me? ”
“I didn’t know why you were there. I didn’t know who you were. You could have been mated,” Kylo says, and Hux glances over to him to see him staring intensely at the other Hux, his eyes soft and longing. “Or rabid.”
“Rabid?” Hux laughs, giving Kylo a pretend punch in the arm, sending Kylo into a chuckle too and the scene around them dissipates like a fog, sending them back into the main living chamber of Hux’s tower.
They stand staring at each other for a few silent seconds, gazes locked, before Hux remembers.
“But the more pressing matter, Ren, is why you were able to get past the enchantment without being burned.”
“Burned?” Kylo sounds shocked.
“Yes. I’ve attempted to break through twice and broken out in a rash that feels like fire on my skin. No amount of bathing in my river eased the pain.”
Hux presents his left arm to Kylo, pointing to where a few scars remain from his stern scratching. Kylo’s fingertips glide along Hux’s arm, and Hux finds himself wanting to suppress a moan at the contact. It’s electric, it’s soft, it’s fucking everything he’s been hating since he was imprisoned here. He hates alphas, he hates magic-users, yet he wants to wrap his arms around Kylo and beg him to stay with him until time ends. Or at least until the enchanted circle dies.
“My magic,” Kylo says suddenly, eyes wide and nodding. “Maybe my powers are stronger than the spell. I can pass through. I’m immune.”
It’s the most logical thing Hux can think too—whether anything can be logical when a sorcerer is involved is another matter, he thinks. There must be a way for him to break through, there must be. Kylo has proved that it can be done. Hux’s idle hope remains strong.
“I don’t know why I was the one who found you, Hux,” Kylo says. He runs his fingers down Hux’s arm to his hand, turning it over to trace over the lines in his palm. “But I can feel something awakening.”
“So can I, Ren,” Hux agrees. “And I’m not afraid.”
The night passes by quickly and without burden, and both stay awake until the dawn. They talk, they laugh and they share what’s left of the homemade bread that Kylo brought Hux a few days ago, spreading it with some of the jam that Hux has spare. Kylo talks little about his family, Hux talks all about his mother. Dreams, fears, jokes and their own lives; the pair cover all grounds until the morning sun greets them warmly, and Hux yawns.
“I should go. My Master will question me if I don’t return by mid-morning,” Kylo fails to hide the disappointment in his voice, and Hux fails to hide it from his expression.
“Of course, yes,” Hux replies, fetching Kylo’s cape for him, resisting the urge to inhale the alpha’s lingering scent on it. “Will I…I mean, will I see you again?”
Kylo throws his cape around his shoulders and fastens it, and with it on, Hux can’t help but mentally compare his image to Vader. A tall and strong figure, a billowing cape to add to his threatening aura and a dark power that transcends the world that Hux has known.
He wonders if Kylo’s past is just as tragic as Vader’s.
“If that is what you wish,” Kylo smiles. “Yes. I’ll return to you. Does that mean that you accept my…my courting?”
“Yes. Yes, I do.”
Kylo’s blush is beautiful, resting high on his pale cheeks as he takes Hux’s hand and gives his knuckles a farewell kiss, but it isn’t enough for Hux. Once the alpha rises from his bow, Hux gives him a soft kiss on the cheek, lingering for no more than a second or two, but enough to make him feel like he’s atop the world and ready to conquer.
“Until tomorrow evening, Hux,” Kylo says.
“I look forward to it, Ren,” Hux replies, beaming.
Whilst Kylo descends the steps of the tower, Hux stays on his balcony, watching his newfound companion walk across the short distance to the dense forest, but not before looking back and raising his hand in a wave. Gazing back, Hux copies, leaving his hand up for a moment after Kylo has disappeared into the trees, and he’s alone again. Yet, this time, Hux finds that his loneliness doesn’t feel cold. He practically skips back into his home, tidying his and Kylo’s cups away and straightening the cushions on the couch, not giving a thought to anything but how happy he feels because of Kylo. He doesn’t worry about his lack of sleep, he doesn’t worry about his father—
Fuck. Brendol, and his search to find his son an alpha mate.
Hux lowers himself down onto the couch, thinking and trying not to panic. Brendol’s visiting schedule is the same each week; predicting when he’s going to visit and informing Kylo to stay away won’t be difficult. But Kylo’s scent is already on the couch, lingering on its fabric, and the gifts may be difficult to explain if they were to be found by Brendol.
No, Hux thinks. He won’t allow his father to ruin the best thing he’s ever had, the thing he may have only had for the better part of five days but, regardless; Hux didn’t think it were possible to feel so happy.
Lulled into a calm state by Kylo’s settled scent, Hux lies down on the sofa, pulling the spare blanket over himself and drifts off into a peaceful sleep, dreaming of amber eyes, a warm voice and a future away from this prison.