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where the fair folk dance in the waning light

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“The Faerie Court,” Tōka repeats, disbelieving. “You brought me to a Faerie Court wedding. Do you even know how much plate armor I'm wearing right now?”

On her arm, perfectly draped in gossamer silks that cover every inch of skin that might touch Tōka’s armor, Mito smiles. No, that’s actually a smirk. A terrifying smirk, and Tōka looks at her sideways as she snaps her fan open with a languid, elegant motion.

“Enough to potentially make Madara's head explode,” Mito says sweetly. “Really, your request for a deal came at the perfect time.”

It came at the perfect time for Tōka, too, seeing as she was about to get eaten by a dire wolf. Grimacing, she tucks her helmet under her arm and tries to ignore the stares they're already drawing.

“Maybe I should have taken my chances with the dire wolf,” she mutters.

Mito laughs quietly, steering Tōka around a huddle of dark-haired fey who glare like Tōka is waving her naginata in their faces. It makes her itch to do just that, but she strangles the urge and gives them her best political smile, the one she uses after Tobirama’s said something tragically blunt and offended everyone in hearing range. It says you’ll move along and forget about this if you know what’s good for you, and the fey blanche slightly and do just that.

“See?” Mito says, and her fingertips find the gap between sleeve and glove that’s about the only skin Tōka is showing. “And besides, it’s much better you're here than back in the forest. Where there's one dire wolf, there's always a pack.”

“I think you're overestimating the charms of your fellow fey,” Tōka retorts. “And underestimating the charms of the dire wolves, particularly in comparison.”

“And you haven’t even met the king yet,” Mito agrees, ghoulishly amused. No pixie wings for her, even though she’s a faerie—that smile shows sharp teeth, and there’s something ancient and deadly in her eyes. Tōka’s seen tigers with eyes like that; no fear, and no possibility of it, because she’s the biggest predator in this forest.

Tōka strangles a sigh, and—this is a terrible situation, but she gave her word, and it’s hardly the first time she’s played escort at a ball. “That would be Madara?” she asks dryly. “If you brought me to chop off his head, I'm going to need at least three more favors before that happens. At least one of them sexual.”

With a chuckle, Mito leads her through a verdant gate covered in roses, arm deliberately slipped though Tōka’s own. “Well, of course,” she says blithely, and when Tōka raises a brow at her, she smirks back. “I'm joking. I just want you to stand there and look intimidating when Madara tries to argue with me about trade routes. Though…” She slants a look sideways at Tōka, and smiles prettily. “I'm willing to work out a carnal favor or two if you punch him in the face the next time he calls me a hag.”

Tōka doesn’t even spare a glance for her armored gauntlets. “All right,” she says, and grins wolfishly. “I think I can manage that. Anything to defend a lady’s honor.”

Mito laughs, but she doesn’t pull away. Leans in to kiss Tōka’s cheek, and murmurs, “And then despoil it afterwards?”

“Only if you’re offering,” Tōka says, and Mito's fingertip presses over the pulse of her wrist, gentle pressure and startling heat.

“I think we can work out another deal,” she says slyly, and draws Tōka into the crowd.