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Xenoglossy

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◗ Foreword ◖

Xenoglossy — also known as xenolalia; "putative paranormal phenomenon in which a person is able to speak or write a language he or she could not have acquired by natural means."

We speak to each other in many strange ways.

Thus is the language of dreams—cryptic, hieroglyphic—echoes and ripples of wishes, made and unmade.
Whispers of Warriors, of Light and of Darkness, of friends and of villains, of things that are, or never will be.

After Shadowbringers, I wanted a way to write about some WoL/relationships that matter to me.
I thought this would be a good method, and hopefully enjoyable to others.

Some will be more "serious" pairings; might stop at the Seven Deadly Sins! We'll see.

Thank you, as always, for reading.


 ☙ Table of Contents  


 

  1. Foreword & Table of Contents
  2. "Antediluvian Hourglass" — Emet-Selch
    Deadly Sin = Sloth.  Spiritual connection, implied physical sex.  Mildly mature.
    His ancient pulse thrums with everlasting darkness, unbreaking, never changing.
    Will you ever remember? Will you ever shed this pale likeness of truth? 
  3. "My Wishes" — Thancred
    Deadly Sin = Envy.  Mildly mature, mostly fluff, slight angst.
    He told you to forget, and yet it’s he that reminisces.
  4. "Gemini" — Zenos
    Deadly Sin = Gluttony.  Warning for gore and [sexually] violent thoughts, more metaphorical/implied than explicit.
    Even the bloodiest beasts seek their equal—
    The one sole consort that would make them submit.
  5. "Immemorial" — Crystal Exarch/G'raha Tia
    Deadly Sin = Greed.  Borders on tooth-rotting fluff.  Slight angst.
    For the future, ever occurring, he would boldly make that sacrifice.
    He would give all he had to give.
    All but you.
  6. "Hellbent" — Estinien
    Deadly Sin = Wrath.  Mildly mature, heavily implied rough sex.
    His body burns with the smell of you—your skin, your sweat.
    He licks his lips and realizes he yearns to taste you. Fury.

 


◖ ✦ ◗


 

 

Chapter Text


Pluto Hades Pluto


 

Incomplete.

In the thousands of lifetimes he’s lived since Amaurot, he finds every touch, every gesture, fatally lacking.

Why, then, when you touch him, does he begin to feel something else?

He sighs, unsettled and disappointed—with you or with himself, either way, it doesn’t matter.  “Stop,” he demands, grabbing your fumbling hands to pry them from his hips.  This will be just as empty as anything.  He is sure of it. 

Why, with you, would things ever change? 

“You will regret this, hero,” he mutters.

He knows how lost you are—so broken by the light trapped inside you.  To you, he is the villain.  Why you beckoned him at all is perplexing.  You lean back against the pillows of your Crystarium bed and breathe, your face hard as you survey him.  “I can feel my life waning,” you mutter, something hollow in your eyes.  You are cracking, crumbling

Was this not what he wanted? 

Why, then, does he almost ache at your pain?

“Before I—am gone,” you continue, your voice catching on the words, “I wanted to feel someone again; to touch someone strong enough to hold me without breaking.”

If he had a truly corporeal heart, he thought it might wring itself.  “And this is why you beseeched me?”

You nod slowly.

He cannot look away from your eyes.  Why?  What is it about your hollowness that tugs at him, that yanks at the construct of his navel, that sinks to the pit of his soul?

Oh.

The ghost of a grin lifts his lips.

It reminds him of himself.

His sigh is a flourished exhalation, and he curls to bend over you.  “I am neither man nor mortal,” he says gently.  With one hand, he pulls off a white leather glove.  His pale fingers flex and stretch, delicate, well-formed—a perfect piece of art.  He uses his palm to touch your face, and notes that your skin feels too warm. 

Poor, pitiful shard. 

He smooths his thumb against your cheek.  “This body toes the line of incorporeal,” he confesses.  “To allow me to touch you would be as only an echo—a reflection.” 

“It doesn’t matter,” you whisper, leaning into his palm.  “It can only be you.”

As he looks at you, he can feel his eyes burning, a surge in his aether.  It takes him off-guard.  “How can you implore this of me, your enemy?”

The abyss in your eyes is magnetic.  “Because I trust you not to be broken.”

Ah. 

How ironic, he thinks, as something splits open inside him.

He realizes he wants this, beyond all logic, at the same time you move, desperate to kiss him.

Your lips taste like the aether of stars and sunbeams and his darkness sizzles against it, tendrils of his essence threading through you—pressing at your soul, misting through the cracks.  The taste at his tongue turns to levin and he gasps, because something inside you grips him.

In an instant, immemorial, he is torn across the horizon.  He is made of nothing and everything.  The world ruptures and narrows, becoming a line of darkness and light, and he crosses through it.  He is dragged somewhere finite and limitless, the pinching midpoint of an hourglass. 

Hades, something whispers.

Every gasp of him stutters. 

He dissolves and spreads and weeps, the whole of him crying, where are you?

Something brilliant reaches to him from the dark.  I am with you.

Aether like starlight, like heaven, breathes through him, and he topples back into Solus.  He jerks away at the feeling of flesh; sucks in a breath as though suffocated, drowning.  He opens his eyes to find you watching.  You are frightened.  The Architect’s title escapes your lips.  “Emet-Selch?”

Nothing makes sense.  He wonders how he looks—how Solus looks—how much wild’s in the pale of his eyes.  Were you with him?  Did you feel it?  Do you know?  He rips off his second glove and grips your face with both hands, capturing your mouth with his lips, his teeth, his soul hot and aching.  He is burning.  Bleeding

Come back to me.

There is no spread of the horizon, only the fever of your body against him.  Tears are creeping from his eyes and he lets them, leaves the inevitable question.  His robes and furs are thrown on the floor as he wonders, as he closes every splinter of distance between you—who are you?

He is less skin, more spirit.  He wonders if you feel that, too, or if your mortal coil leaves you burdened and bound to your flesh.  You move together and he reaches out again with the wisps of his essence, his real self; the smothering veil of his unbroken soul.  He pushes through the cracks of your aether and you gasp.

The precipice returns.  He is on the edge of nothing, ad infinitum.

Stop chasing, the voice tells him—the voice he craves to hear again, above all else.

Every scrap of him sobs.  Never.  It is the meaning of his existence, the final law.  I will find you again.

All he can feel is a miasma of sadness—scattered fragments of emotions glittering around him.  Despair, hope, love.  A warm phantom is against him, an echo of the press of your body.  Let us go, it begs him.  Let time continue as it will.  The brush of something like a hand at a face.  Change is the nature of being.

Everything he is revolts at the thought—at the truth of it, at the knowledge you are right.

He plunges back into Solus again, back to this shallow, mortal embrace.

Your face is damp with tears.  His or yours, he cannot be certain.  Something electric tracks down his spine as his third eye touches your forehead.  “Hero,” he breathes. 

Will you ever remember?

Your eyes close tight.  Your words are desperate as a prayer, a plea to the depths of his hell.  “Save me,” you beg him.  He is a body against you, and aether within.  The lips of a man who should be long dead trace a path across your skin. 

Save me, you whisper, when both of you need to be saved.

 


Hades


 

Chapter Text


Tattoo of Knowing


 

Bad.  Not good.

Definitely not good.

He never meant for this to happen—not with you.  Not that anything is wrong with you at all.  In fact, everything about you is fantastic.  Perhaps too fantastic.  Altogether too much temptation for one Thancred Waters to resist.

Maybe that was the reason he crushed himself against you in the storeroom, the wall of the Waking Sands at your back.  Maybe that explained the fire curling down every kink of his spine, pooling low inside him, turning into undeniable proof of exactly how godsdamned fantastic you are.

“Wait,” he grunts, jerking away before you can notice.  He sways to brace himself against the wall.  Beneath the fringe of his short-cropped, silvery hair, his soft brown eyes are wide, his cheeks very ruddy. 

You sway too, chasing the loss of contact.  Your lips are still warm from the skin they just pressed—the place on his neck, beside one mark of Knowing.  Your head spins from the gentle, recent weight of him, from the subtle rush of his scent.  Too breathless to speak, you stare solidly into his eyes and grip his waist, hoping he can see the question in your face. 

Why?

He clears his throat.  “I told you before,” he mutters, looking very much like he does not wish to repeat it.  He sinks back against you in spite of himself.  “It would compromise our rapport—as Scions.”  The gaze he levels is hot and intent, ready to negate him.  His lips curl in a grimace.  “Our professional relationship,” he continues gruffly, perhaps to convince himself.  “Which, might I add, we cannot afford to compromise.”

Since arriving in Thanalan, there is nothing you love more than listening to him rattle, waiting for the deft jabs and twists of his wit.  Your palms grip him tighter and you pull yourself close to lean on him again, smoothing your lips across one Sharlayan tattoo.  He shivers and you suddenly find your voice.  “If you mean to convince me to stop,” you begin, your arms hooked around his back, “You should say it.”

He groans and shoves his hands against the wall even harder.  “We should stop,” he grumbles, leaning his forehead to yours all the same.  “Before we do anything regrettable.”  His breath is a whisper on your skin.  “The longer we linger like this, the more I doubt I will be able.”

You tilt your chin to brush your mouths together, wanting one more taste.  He makes a sound low in his throat.  His hips pin you to the wall and his plush lips part to kiss you very deeply.  You know he is a man of myriad talents—but this kiss is completely unfair.  Astonishing, perplexing.  Seductive

It’s over as soon as it starts.  “No,” he says firmly, forcing himself away.    

You almost pout.  How many times has he tempted you, toyed with you?  And now you know it wasn’t in jest—beyond a shadow, you share at least one intention. 

But no is no, and so you back down.

His hazel eyes fill with something equal parts duty and lament.  “Promise to forget this,” he demands, stepping back, the heat of his stare again a contradiction.  He almost trips over his words.  “This moment—this lapse in judgment—never happened.”

You inhale sharply, doubtful. 

But he is your friend, and you respect him.  “Whatever you wish.”

 


Seventh Dawn


  

When he sees you talking to others, he feels almost jealous.

It always make him laugh.  Nothing happened, he reminds himself. 

Remember?

He told you to forget, and yet it’s he that reminisces.

Minfilia is the sole one immune to disapproval—she alone can smile all she wants at your splendor. 

But, much later, he writhes at the way Ser Aymeric does the same.  Estinien nearly died and still Thancred envies the adventures he spent with you.  May all the Twelve damn him, even Alphinaud makes him indignant.  The fact that Alphinaud, his friend, essentially his godsdamned nephew, had the pleasure of so much of your time—time stolen from him by Lahabrea, by the Lifestream, by the Exarch—makes him bristle when the twin begins to speak of it.

Even now, the light of Il Mheg glittering all around him, the lot of you finally reunited, Thancred starts to frown when Alphinaud opens his mouth.  “Upon my word,” the more loquacious Leveilleur begins, eyes wide, surveying Urianger’s dwelling.  “This architecture almost puts me in mind of Ishgard.”

Oh, gods

Anything but Ishgard

“Excuse me,” Thancred grunts, making his escape.  Minfilia’s incarnation is digging through books in the study and you and Augurelt are too busy entertaining, so blissfully happy to be back to chatting together. 

Not that he can blame you.  You, he cannot fault. 

Standing outside among the unending flowers, he squints at horizons swathed in rainbows, and chuckles. 

No.  It is not you who is responsible for the ache in his heart.

Well.  The shell of solid aether that aches where his heart should be—

“Thancred?”

Your voice stuns him.  He blinks and twists to find you, your footsteps scattering golden whorls of pollen, small petals.  He stands a bit straighter, a bit stiffer, and forces the trace of a grin to his lips.

You haven’t been alone with him since—since when, he can’t remember.  Time, for him, has ceased to exist.  The stretch between you lessens, the smell of flora all around, and though he knows his aethereal fingers could touch you, he keeps them clenched at his sides.  “My friend,” he says mildly.  “How long has it been?”

Since Eorzea?  Since before?  Since the kiss that crushed you both at the Sands?

He isn’t sure what he asks.

Neither are you.

“Too long,” you say, something distant in your eyes.  He can see the tense of your brow, the involuntary way you wet your lips. 

For a handful of heartbeats, real or unreal, you stare at each other in silence.

“It is good to have you with us,” Thancred says, desperate for sound.  “Here beside us again.”

“Yes,” you agree.  The space between you has certainly thinned.  Still, you take a breath against something difficult.  “But you seem—far away.”

Thancred Waters is never at a loss for something clever. 

Until now.

The weight of your words sinks into him and he falters.  He looks away, the ghostly grin dispelled from his lips.  You realize you can’t remember the last time he smiled.  Not really.  Not the true one, the roguish one—the one that makes you want to laugh and scowl and kiss him all at once.

Thancred isn’t himself.  He hasn’t been.  Not for a very long time.

He watches you thinking, and shudders.  “All will be well,” he says, doubtful.  His smile’s weak shadow tries to return.

“For the First?” you challenge.  “Or for you?”

He falters again.  The echo of his own voice rings raw inside him.

What of my wishes?

He thinks of all he has lost, and deep down, where some fragment of her yet remains, Minfilia answers.

For those we can yet save.

He looks out at the impossibly splendid horizon and takes a leaden breath.  “For all of us, I imagine,” and he dares, for an instant, one more wish.  Even if he hardly believes it—for you, he plucks some bluster.  “The First.  The Source.  The future.”  He tries to grin.  “It will be our greatest triumph.”

He can feel you brush up at his side, your body and aether, your solid wholeness a tangible thing.

It takes every onze of his restraint not to lean against you.

“I am here,” you say, warm and reassuring.  “I will take this to its end.  And no matter how it happens—the future will listen.”  He feels your arm snake around his back, and he struggles not to crumple.  Your grip is so real and familiar.  His aether sings.  He wonders if you can hear it.

The longer you linger like this, the more he is sure you are able.

“I am glad for that promise,” he says, and hopes he doesn’t sound breathless.  “I know you keep them well—perhaps against your wishes.”

Your arm curls tighter, your palm at his hip.  “I do my best,” you say gently.  “But I never forget.”

Something impossible swells between you and, for the third time, he falters.

He wonders what the weight of him feels like, of his soul manifest—wonders as he gives in and leans at your side, pressing an arm at your waist.  “Forgive me this lapse in judgment,” he mutters, holding you as though you are life.

Together, you search the prismatic horizon.  The light is beautiful and accursed, like the hope that shines through the cracks in your heart.

“I forgive you,” you tell him, an easy vow on your lips.  “But it is not a sin to wish.”

 


Tattoo of Knowing


 

Chapter Text


♊︎


  

You are his, no matter how you might deny it.

Why else would you hunt him?  Why else would he love to be hunted?

Zenos basks in it—preens with the assurance that you follow every trail, track his careful movements, watch him as he prowls.  Languid muscles tense and flex beneath his skin.  There is pleasure in every deliberate tread of his footsteps.

Your eyes feast upon him, and it makes him proud.

He plays every part to perfection.  Thus, he would never confess it.  But to you, only you, he would strive to exhibit—to share his wealth of imperial instincts, offer you his willing flesh, pin you with limbs so flawlessly molded to chase you

You are perfectly primeval—he, pure power unbound.  His talons flex and glisten.  He is nourished to gleaming, glutted on the gore of fresh kills, his mane a glossy golden crown.

Oh.

He wants to feel your fingers buried in his hair, twisting, twining, pulling

Zenos wants to feel—to feel your all.

He wants your claws to rake down his back and rend him open.  He wants your voice to howl his name until your throat is raw with it—until he can sup your bitter, bleeding heart from your lips.  He wants you to feed on his wounds, gorging greedy and deep.  He wants to fill you with his blood and his sweat and his every last hemorrhage of essence. 

He would give you pain and paradise; be emptied inside you while your teeth sink deep in his flesh—

But never do you yield.  No matter when he finds you—the hush of dawn, the still of night—you always dance out of reach.  You evade him, obstruct him; slam him down with maiming arts of war and magic that only prove you are designed for him.  Each time you leave him wanting impossibly more.

He wants to crush you—be crushed by you.

He wants to taste himself in the gasp of your mouth.

 

♊︎


Oh.  How right I was to spare your life.  

Hear me, hero.  Endure.  Survive.  Live

For the rush of blood, for the time between the seconds—live.  

For the sole pleasure left to me in this empty, ephemeral world—live!


 ♊︎

 

Beautiful, they call him.

Awful, dreadful beauty.  Fitting words for prince of demons.

Zenos looks out on the soldiers in the throne room and smells you.

His eyes narrow by a margin, the slope of his shoulders slouching.  “Leave,” he demands.  His voice is dull—bored—but he can feel his eyes begin to smolder.  He shifts his weight as his attendants salute, automatic as machines.  With an empty stare he watches them march to the exit, tastes their lingering fright.  Pathetic.

Naught but a swarm of caged rats, loosed and spooked into flight.

When the rabble is gone, he knows he is not yet alone.

Zenos sprawls across the arm of his stolen throne, basking in the glorious hush

Then he takes a slow and savoring breath. 

“I know you are here,” he says, his voice low and quiet.  “I know you have come.” 

He is met with nothing but silence.  He chuckles darkly.

“Oh,” he exhales.  “You have never failed to entertain me.”  His voice is a purr, filled with warm, lethal venom.  He stands slowly.  Knowingly.  His armor makes muted protests as it settles around him.  “I will sniff you out,” he promises.  “You would do better to show yourself now.”

Silence.

He grins to himself, taking unhurried steps from the dais.  “If a hunt is what you desire,” he hums, “You know I will grant it.”  He speaks to the room like it is prey—or his lover.  “Do you think I have not seen it?  The fire that burns in your eyes?”  His footfalls sink, heavy, on the floor. 

Only silence.

“You wish to end me,” he mutters.  “You meet each threat and provocation.  You rise to every contest.”  He takes a deep breath through his nose.  “You fight.  You conquer.  And now, you seek me out.”

Still silence swells to greet him, but he draws close.  He can sense it. 

“The need to subdue me consumes you,” he claims.  “You cannot deny it.”  He tilts his chin to scent you—an apex predator, stalking.  “All beasts seek their equal,” he croons.  “Give voice to your hunger.” 

His eyes are cold and hollow—pulsing with something fatal and ravenous. 

“Show me, then, Warrior, what you would have me feel.”

From the shadows, you lunge for his throat.

His growl is vicious with satisfaction.  “Yes,” he snarls, skirting your blow.

He can see the gleam of your teeth as you backtrack, as you whirl on light heels.  You leap for him again, your limbs and sinews wound tight, and oh, how he watches—how his eyes glitter with pride and delight

It might be mistaken for bloodlust.  For him with no insight for feelings, it is hard to tease apart.

There is the brutal clash of metal, the sharp keen of aether.  He can feel his soul vibrate to meet you—loud and Resonant—and a ferocious smile glints at his lips.  He hopes you admire the sight of his fangs, the way he displays them.  He aches and yearns for your mouth to curve and answer.

Outside in the sunset, Ala Mhigo is molten. 

What a stage for your primal promenade, the final steps of your courtship. 

The stone cracks beneath your feet.  He can smell your breath and your brine and your bones as you bear your all against him, and finally—finally—he throws his blade aside and grabs you.

You are crushed against a body sheathed in muscle and steel.  Fingers more like hooks of metal dig for purchase at your neck.  You hiss and spit and summon the Light to blind him, but he will not yield.  You snatch a long aurum rope of his hair to loop and wind around your forearm, and yank down with shearing force.

He groans and writhes and snaps, distracted. 

You twist to wrench yourself free, panting loudly—ignore the throb at your nape to stare at him with the shock of renewed understanding.

Oh yes, he thinks, prowling after you faster. 

Look on me for all that I am.

A creature that craves you—your equivalence.

Your eyes fill not with terror, but fresh defiance, and the fire inside him ignites even higher.  He can feel every pore in his body come alive.  His heart drums with a rush of hot blood and he weaves again in your direction, every membrane inside him alight for you.

Oh, this … This moment

The teeth you bare are shards of stardust he would swallow, and he roars to break the world.

 


♊︎


 

Chapter Text


☽ ✧ ☾


  

How many years had come, and gone?

Just how long had he waited?

In his everlasting sleep, how often did he dream, ever after, of you?

By all accounts you could have forgotten him, passage of time all the same.  For what had he been but one fool Baldesion scholar—a temporary companion ephemeral as a flower, who spent with you one fierce and fleeting season, doomed to fade?

Seasons.  Circular cycles, ceaseless, entwining.  Years repeating in tandem.  The unyielding rhythm of celestial symmetry.  His destiny was gripped at the scruff by it; the stiff and miserly palm of chronos cradling his soul.  And young fool that he was, he devoted his fate to time gladly.  The future had use of his Allagan eyes.

A fresh-faced kit lovestruck by a hero made one gallant decision, and set to ticking a complex system.  Had his choice shaped thousands of tomorrows—molded them, somehow, to providence?  Did antiquity need him because it needed him, or because he willed those events into motion? 

In another time, in another passing of the ages, did G’raha Tia choose another path?  One that kept you by his side? 

Could he have protected you then?

By kismet or coincidence or some divine calling, calamity came to pass.  He was awakened.  Thus, the proof and fulfillment of his chosen purpose cost him all he had—from the wholeness of his flesh, to the thread of his very existence.  Like the history he sought to expunge, he too would be unwritten.  For the future, ever occurring, he would boldly make that sacrifice.

He would give all he had to give.

All but you.

There are things we can ill afford to lose.

For your sake, and his sake, he clung to you.  You, he could never abandon—and could hardly forget if he tried.

He spent so many instants recollecting your face, running his memories ragged.  He would never be able to count them, to tally the times he conjured your well-loved image.  Did you think of him, too?  Did you think, perhaps, of that last glimpse shared together—the one he would cherish forever—before the doors to the Tower swung closed for the rest of your life?

You.  His inspiration immemorial.

You, who he managed to summon back to his story.

The thought of it sends a chill down his spine, and the glittering light in the Ocular shudders.  The Tower is a part of him, after all.  He wanders back to his window, the last place you passed, and reaches scintillant fingers to touch it—as though some trace of you remains.

You are gone again now, free to roam, the truth unhidden.  What adventure came next?

When, if ever, would he see you again?

 


 

He hears you speak his name in a corner of his awareness, and jerks awake.

Your hand is gentle at his shoulder, warm at the topmost slope of his back.  “G’raha,” you are saying.  “Let’s get you to sleep.”

He blinks bleary eyes down at the tome that served as his unwitting pillow.  An embarrassing dampness spreads across one page and he cringes.  He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and hopes you aren’t disgusted—hopes the text is undamaged.  “Forgive me,” he mutters.  His voice is hoarse with slumber.  “I was in the middle of reading.”

You only laugh.  Your palm is a solid pressure between his shoulder blades.  “I’ve been lured to dreamland by my share of books,” you reassure him.  “But I much prefer a mattress.”  You take a step back to let him stand up, and the press of your hand goes with you. 

Oh, how he covets your attention. 

What he would give for you to touch him so much more.

He checks the drooled-upon page before rising, makes sure the script’s still intact.  It is.  He leaves it open to dry.  “What time is it?” he asks, squinting at the night beyond the window.  Stars glitter in a vast and cloudless sky.  Tired as he is, his tail flicks at the urge to go outside.

“Past your bedtime,” you tease him.  His laugh is an easy reflex. 

He wonders if his eyes still look weary enough to refute him, if they twinkle as he looks at you; if you think his odd irises very strange or very fine.  He reaches for your hand.  “I want to look at the heavens,” he declares.  “Come with me.”

Your grip is firm and accepting, but you laugh at the invitation.  “That isn’t sleeping, G’raha.”

He treasures the feel of your strong fingers as he leads you both across the threshold.  “There will be time to sleep after.”

You are staying near the outskirts of Revenant’s Toll.  The air outside is unusually balmy, laced with a cool and thrilling breeze.  He smells the lake and the Fogfens and a whiff of smoke from the distant castrum.  But above all else, it is you he breathes in—you he is greedy to witness.

The moon is new tonight, concealed behind her midnight veil.  He blinks up at the limitless ocean of stars and holds your palm tight.  “Beautiful.”

You hum agreement.  “I love to gaze at them,” you confess, and he turns to find your chin tilted full back, eyes wide, basking in the night’s embrace.  “When I look at the stars and the planets,” you murmur, searching them, “It makes me feel small and alive.”

His heart stutters.  “Small and alive?”

G’raha feels that way standing beside you—eclipsed by your magnificence.

You take a deep breath.  The eyes you use to pierce the dazzling dust of the cosmos shine just as bright.  “So small,” you say again, your voice frail, but full.  “I am nothing but a flicker in time, a grain of sand so tiny.  And yet—”

You smile. 

It’s private.  It makes him feel like he shouldn’t be watching.  Blood rushes to his cheeks as you turn to face him, to gift him that clandestine grin.  His pulse stammers and catches.  “Here I am regardless,” you tell him.  “Fiercely living.”

His fingers grip yours like a vise.  He feels the vaguest prickling of tears; a flame at the back of his mind; a crush of wayward wanting.  He could pull you flush against him—could kiss your mouth and your eyes, extol the stare that spears him like an arrow, that pricks to the quick of his marrow, that transfixes the crux of his heart.

He too is wild and alive.  He wants to be trapped by your gravity, blinded by every iota of your brilliance.

As he looks at you, refracting a million multifaceted feelings, all he can do is smile.

 


 

It is the subtle creak of floorboards that wakes him, and he gasps and jerks upright.  His hand reacts to pluck the bow leaned by the headboard, but you make a hushing sound with your lips.  “It’s me,” you assure him.  “I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to startle you.”

His sinews begin to untense.  In the dimness and blur of his vision, you appear haloed by starlight.  You are dressed only in nightclothes, your face drawn and tired.  He tilts his bow back at the bedside and rubs his eyes.  “Is aught amiss?”

The mattress sinks as you sit on the edge of it.  “No,” you admit.  “I—was having trouble sleeping.”

This is not an unusual problem—for you or him besides.  Heavy and half-conscious, he tugs his tail out of the way and makes room in the bed for you to join him.  You slip slowly beneath the blankets.  Your feet are very cold, and he flinches where they touch him.  “Your toes are like ice,” he hisses.

You huff a soft laugh and nestle the comforter up to your chin.  “Sorry.”

G’raha covets the feel of you beside him.

The bed warms up quickly with the heat of two bodies.  He is fading back into a dream when you speak again.  “Can I ask you a question?”

His ears perk and he wakes another margin, leaning his head on the pillow to face you.  “Always.”

You are studying the ceiling, cocooned to the lips in bedsheets.  You shiver.  Your voice is muted by fabric.  “What do you suppose will happen after this?”

He shifts his weight to turn on one side, to prop himself up on one shoulder.  “What do you mean?”

“After the Tower,” you explain.  Your eyes tilt to look at him first, followed by the weight of your head.  You sink into the pillow and stare at him, tugging down the bedsheets to unmuffle your mouth.  “Will you—stay?”

Involuntary, his tail flicks with enough force to make a thump.  Your eyes widen at the sound and he coughs.  “Sorry,” he says quickly.  “Sometimes—” He clears his throat.  “If the emotion is strong enough, my spine gains a mind of its own.”

That makes you laugh, a bit too loudly.  Your eyes fairly sparkle.  “So you want to,” you declare.

His heart is pounding, also too loudly.  “Stay?”

You nod.  “You could join me for adventures,” you are saying, and his blood is a rush in his ears.  “I could use someone good with tomes and arrows.”

His mind, his soul, is soaring.  He imagines a thousand things at once and tries to steady himself.  “I would love to be part of your story,” he whispers.

Something cold jams into his leg.  Your toes.  He sucks a breath through his teeth as you scold him, “You were already part of it.”  You free him from the torture of your icy extremities.  “But if you stay, we could share more.”

There is nothing in life that could ever be greater. 

He lets his thoughts roam away again and grins his own private grin.  “We could travel the lands,” he proposes.  “Cross the seas.”  He fixes you with eyes that must be gleaming.  “Take to the skies upon the eternal wind.”  His heart feels very full.  “We could uncover so much history together,” he murmurs, his blood a heady purr in his chest.  His tail flicks again.  “Oh, how happy that would make me.”

Beneath the covers, he feels your hand reach to find his.  “Stay, then,” you beseech him.  “Let’s face the future together.”

 


 

The memories drag at his heart before fading, and he sighs.

He listens to the sound of his own voice echo through the chamber.  “I miss you already, my friend.” 

You, he never wanted to part from—you who stirred him, in the end, to do it nonetheless.  Even now, he can feel the pull of you, your gravity, through the fabric of all that exists.  It was you who compelled him to the future—and indeed, you faced it together.

Be it by fate, serendipity, or coincidence …

A sibylline smile tickles his lips. 

His sandals whisper against the floor as he turns on his heel—as he moves for the Ocular doors.  Perhaps you were never meant to—

“G’raha?”

The voice comes from behind him, from the past and the future. 

He is frozen.  His blood is a dizzying surge in his spine, in half of his body, numbing him, making him shiver.

If there is one thing he knows about time, about seasons, about circular cycles ceaselessly twining—

About history

It loves to repeat itself.

 


☽ ✧ ☾


 

Chapter Text


☾❅☽


 

He wants you.

It makes him furious.

With the briefest look, the barest gesture, you make him feel things he never thought possible—or real.  When had he ever sought the contact of another?  When had he ever craved it?  Since the start of it, this journey together, he hates how much he doubts and bends and bows to you. 

Willingly. 

Most of all, he hates how he finds himself watching you—in awe of you—how the ice that struts his brittle heart crackles when you turn to meet his stare.

He tries to refute it. 

He spars with you over and over—grates your limbs and bodies together in combat, the aether of the Eye brought to bear against your blessings.  The exertion is cleansing but never enough.  He nurses his wounds in solitary silence, desperate for relief. 

He throws himself into jogs through the Mists, breathless and panting; scales malms of rough terrain around Moghome.  He strips off and cleans every ilm of his armor; hunts for sorry beasts to slay for supper.  But when he returns, there you are to skin and cook them—there, in the end, he always finds himself back by your godsdamned side.

He hates how much he craves to be with you.

Your nearness.

He is an unsociable creature, untamed, unused to human warmth.  Touch is a language he understands—fighting, grappling, maiming—but strange is the way he wants you to touch him.  If your hands grasped for his neck, would he not pry them off?  Would he not bristle at your embrace, bridle at the brush of your lips by his mouth?

His body burns with the smell of you—your skin, your sweat. 

He licks his lips and realizes he yearns to taste you. 

Fury.

He scrubs himself red in streams of weeping snowmelt but nothing, nothing quenches the hell in his blood. 

It gets worse with time, not better.  Worse as you conquer your trials, worse even through the cyclone of the Aery.  Worse as you face Nidhogg together—as you guard him from the wyrm’s accursed flames with the shield of your body.  Worse as he sees now, beyond a doubt, that you would lay your life aside—

That you would die—

For him.

 


 

The black wyrm’s wretched blood taints his armor and he works to wipe it clean, struggles to bid himself, for now, just to rest.

You burst into his tent and he feels his back stiffen; feels the nerves in his body come alight.  He wets his lips to speak—to send you off, to admonish you.  But then your palms are on his jaw.  Your eyes search his face.  Your warmth thaws his lips and your mouths are lashed full together.

You steal the air from his throat.  He tastes your tongue and every pulse of his blood is on fire, hot and ashen.  He feels his skin sear to burning as he grips you.  His hands clutch to hold with bruising force.  His teeth drag to catch at your bottom lip, and he jerks away, painful.  A harsh sound rolls in his chest.  “What are you doing?”  His voice is low, gruff; but a blaze smolders in his eyes.

Your fingers tense and run up the back of his neck, twining in long silver hair.  It is soft, tangled.  “Just kiss me,” you demand.

He falters for only a moment. 

You see his eyes flash as something primal takes control.

He grabs your face in both scarred hands.  The flats of his thumbs are rough where they press your skin—he yanks you close and devours your mouth.  His teeth scrape your lips, your chin, your throat; his breath is aflame where he tastes you.  Your hands scramble for his shoulders, for the ridge of his backbone.  He unfastens the clasps at your chest and your heavy cloak falls from your shoulders, crushed beneath you as he shoves you down.

Half of your clothing is stripped before you look up at him, breathless.

His mouth is back on your neck and you huff as he bites you.  You screw your eyes shut; stifle the cry that almost splits from your lips.  Blunt teeth pull at your earlobe.  Your fingertips scrape down his spine and he gasps to resurface.  His whole body shudders. 

“We must stop,” he says, panting.  The words come fast, ragged in his throat.

Where your bodies press together, you can begin to feel just how much he doesn’t want to.

“Don’t,” you beg.  You arch up against him; rake hands up his shoulders to grip the nape of his neck.

You see him heave a breath.  His heart is racing as he stares at you, from where he kneels above.  Everything in his body howls at him to listen, to do as you say, and his threadbare tatters of self-control start shearing apart.

“I want to continue,” he says, gruff and husky with the proof of it.  He leans down to press your foreheads together and takes a coarse breath.  “But I doubt we think clearly.”

The balm of your exhalation soothes his lips as you consider it—then the brush of your mouth scorches his cheek.  “I don’t want to think clearly,” you whisper, hot on the long shell of his ear.  “Not tonight.”

His eyes close tight.  The heat and tension ebb, only to surge up even higher.  He leans back to pin you with his hips—with a very strained expression.  When he speaks, his voice is rougher than before.  “Is that wise?”

“No,” you concede.  But you bend yourself up to kiss him again.

There it is again—another crack in the surface.  Another torrent of longing consumes him, so sharp he feels it curl in his marrow.  His lips are fierce enough to drown you, his grip too strong, his teeth coaxing bruises to your skin. 

You are opening these gates and you have a right to know the truth.

“I fear I will hurt you,” he grunts, knowing he already has—a confession of his last reservation.  He clears his throat and lowers his head; presses his mouth to your neck.  “I fear I am a beast, only barely contained.”

Your hands flex and slide slowly down his back.  You rest your lips beside his temple and murmur, “I am not afraid.”  And then, in a dark and daring voice, “I have seen my share of beasts, Estinien.  Surely I can handle just one more.”

He pulls back to find you flushed, your lips dusky and swollen from his attentions.  And your eyes—hooded and hollow—the look in your eyes is enough to drive him mad.  His final thread of restraint pulls taut, white hot.

He takes a thin breath; drags open lips against your mouth.  “I gave you my warning,” he says, sinews tensed.

You kiss him tenderly, taking his face in both hands.  “Then there is nothing more left to be said.”

His brow knits.  His teeth show in a grimace.  He staggers forward on his thighs and you feel every ilm of his body against you, shaking and jagged.  The groan that passes his lips is half-swallowed.  He claws at the seams of your clothing until you are naked beneath him, and then he bends to feast on your flesh.

He muffles the sounds in his throat.

You wonder, if you were truly alone—would he thunder?

He strips himself bare to press skin on skin—to tangle your limbs—to mold your bodies together.  You feel his lungs collapse with the breath he exhales.  “Oh.”  You taste succor in his mouth; consummation on his tongue.  A growl of long-suffering satisfaction escapes him as he joins the two of you together.

It is rapture.  It is sorrow.  His body moves deep and hard and rough and you answer, making him rumble.

You ache and you burn.  It is the sweetest of hells, this thing you now share.

And when the blinding light of pleasure flares to melt you both, he hates that he thirsts yet for more.

Spent against you, he crushes helpless lips to your neck.

The soul yearns for honor, and the flesh, the hereafter.

And after, and after, and after.

 


 ☾❅☽