The morning of the first day is unremarkable but for the fact that Alina awakens with a slight flush.
Her skin feels just a bit too warm as her eyes flutter open. At first, she chalks it up to the weather, but when she climbs out of bed and pads over to the window, she sees that the sky is grey and overcast not bright and sunny like she has anticipated.
Choosing instead to ignore the feeling, she walks over to the wardrobe to begin getting dressed for the day. An assortment of blue keftas hang neatly in order, but her eyes immediately find the black kefta that hangs conspicuously at the end of the railing. She has yet to be brave enough to wear the gift from General Kirigan – Aleksander she reminds herself with a smile.
She reaches out to brush her fingers over the fine fabric. Somehow it is even softer than her already luxurious blue keftas. She stops herself from pulling it out of the closet. As much as she wishes to wear it today, she knows that she would not rob herself of the look on Aleksander’s face when she wears it for the first time.
Not for the first time, she curses the fact that he is away at the front. He has only been in her life a few short months, but already there is a part of her that aches at his absence. However, she definitely isn’t brave enough to examine those feelings.
Besides, he is clearly an alpha. Anybody with eyes can see that, with or without the ability to detect pheromones.
And she is just Alina. Plain, definitely-a-beta, Alina. And an alpha as strong as him would never settle for a beta.
She sighs. Dwelling on such thoughts will only lead her into despair, so she instead busies herself with getting dressed.
As she pulls on one of her blue keftas, something at the bottom of the wardrobe catches her eye.
It’s a cushion – several actually. Originally they had been piled on top of the bed, and she recalls throwing them in here after her first night in the Vezda suite, not used to having more than a hard bedroll and a single worn-out pillow beneath her head.
She can’t say why, but she suddenly feels the need to pile them back on the bed. So that’s exactly what she does. Taking each pillow individually, she carefully arranges them on the bed, until the bed looks similar to how it had that first night.
She feels a strange curl of satisfaction in her gut as she stares at her bed. A feeling she does not get time to consider further, as at that moment the door bursts open and in strides Genya with all the confidence that only an alpha can possess.
“Good morning, sunshine!” says Genya with a smile.
Alina frowns as the sudden feeling of unease that washes over her. Something in the back of her mind rears its head, snarling that Genya smells wrong, that she’s not allowed here.
“Alina? Is everything alright?”
Alina blinks away that strange feeling and fixes her face into a smile.
“Of course,” she says. “Everything’s fine.”
Genya doesn’t look entirely convinced, but she also doesn’t press further. Instead, she merely holds the door open for Alina, and the two head off for the day.
The next morning Alina wakes again in a hot flush. The feeling is stronger than the previous day but is not so overwhelming that she can’t ignore the sensation with a little effort.
She has no idea what could be causing the warmth that she feels under her skin, but she’s been told repeatedly that Grisha don’t get sick, so it must be nothing. And the last thing she wants to give Zoya and the others another reason to look at her as less than Grisha. Alina is finally starting to feel like she’s finally found somewhere where she belongs, and she is terrified that at any moment someone is going to come along and rip it all away from her.
After getting dressed, she surveys her room. There’s a sofa near the door which has two cushions sat upon it. She takes both of those and arranges them with the rest of the pillows on her bed. She also finds a cushion on the armchair which sits in the corner of the bathing chamber. That too ends up in the now large pile on her bed.
Something within her calms marginally at the sight of the pile. Getting there, she thinks. She doesn’t know where this sudden fascination with pillows has come from, but she rationalises that it must be a sign that her body is trying to compensate for so many years sleeping on the hard floor.
She glances at the Fabricator made clock on her vanity and sees that it is almost time for breakfast. Remembering the strange emotion that overcame her yesterday when Genya barged in, she figures that she can avoid a repeat of that incident by meeting Genya out in the hallway.
Alina shuts the door to her suite behind her and begins to wander down the corridor. She has barely made it more than a few paces when Genya quite literally barges into her.
Genya grabs her arms to try and steady them both, and Alina suddenly has to struggle to bite back the snarl that Genya is not allowed to touch.
“Good morning, Genya.” Alina tries to sound cheery, but her voice comes out somewhat strained, as Genya is still touching her.
There is a confused – almost horrified – expression on Genya’s face. Her nostrils flare slightly as she stares at Alina. She finally releases Alina’s arm and the tension in Alina’s body dissipates with the lack of contact.
“Alina, are you sure everything’s alright?” asks Genya, her voice slightly high-pitched with concern.
“Yes, of course,” Alina replies, resolutely ignoring the creeping warmth that is still simmering just beneath her skin.
“It’s only that you’re looking a bit red,” says Genya.
“It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it,” says Alina. “Come on, let’s go get breakfast. I’m starving!”
Breakfast passes almost without incident.
Alina takes a seat opposite from Marie and Nadia. The two girls are betas just like Alina – unthreatening supplies the voice in the back of her mind. They are content to chatter away while Alina devours her breakfast.
She wasn’t kidding when she said that she was hungry. Her appetite has increased dramatically since she started using her powers regularly, but she finds that she eats a lot even by her new standards.
Oddly enough, this morning she has a particular craving for sweet things. She grabs several pieces of fruit from the bowl sitting in the middle of the table before she also spies a plate of pastries sitting innocuously to one side. She can’t help but take more than her fair share of those – it’s not her fault they look so delicious.
Genya sits next to Alina and shoots her concerned glances whenever she thinks Alina is not looking. She also glares at several people who try and come and join her, Marie and Nadia at their table. Each time someone gets a glare from Genya, they scuttle away startled.
Near the end of breakfast, Genya stands and walks quickly over to Ivan who has just finished his own meal. Alina watches surreptitiously as Genya grabs Ivan’s arm and leans forward to whisper something in his ear.
Ivan’s brow furrows even more than usual at Genya’s words before he glances towards Alina, a furious expression on his face.
Even more intrigued, Alina strains her ears to try and make out what the two of them are saying. The words are muffled but she manages to catch some of the conversation.
“You’re sure?” says Ivan.
“No, I’m not sure,” says Genya harshly. “But the signs are there. And do you really want to deal with the fallout if I’m right and he’s not here.”
Ivan looks unimpressed at Genya’s words. He grumbles something about unnecessary distractions and telegram, before striding out of the dining room.
Genya slides back into the seat next to Alina, a somewhat forced smile on her face.
“What lessons do you have today?” asks Genya.
“It’s my rest day from combat training today. I have Summoning theory this morning and Grisha history in the afternoon.”
“Good. That’s… good,” says Genya. “Would you mind if I came with you to your lessons today?”
“Sure,” says Alina. “But don’t you have other responsibilities you’re meant to be doing.”
“Nothing important.” The smile on Genya’s face grows even tighter. “Besides, it’ll be nice to spend some time together.”
On the third morning, Alina is forced to consider the fact that something may in fact be wrong with her.
She wakes up drenched in sweat. Her nightclothes are almost entirely soaked through.
With great difficulty she extracts herself from the mountain of pillows that she has accumulated and walks shakily to the bathing chamber. She strips out of her clothing which feel oddly suffocating despite the fact that they are made of only a light cotton and begins to wash herself with a damp cloth.
After many minutes of scrubbing, she is finally clean, although she does not feel any more refreshed.
She truly must be a terrible Grisha to be getting so sick despite the use of her powers. It is easy to imagine the whispers that will follow her around the Little Palace once word gets out that she has succumbed to illness. Weak, useless, unwelcome, they’ll say, and she has to close her eyes against the feeling of despair that wells within her. She can’t let anyone know that she’s feeling unwell.
Desperately, she casts her eyes around the bedroom to try and find something, anything, that might make her feel better. At first she finds nothing, that is until her eyes land upon the wardrobe.
With a desperation that she cannot explain she runs over to it and wrenches the door open. Immediately, she finds what she was looking for.
The black kefta.
She quickly pulls it from the wardrobe, wasting no time before she buries her face in the soft fabric. Clutching it so hard that she worries that she might tear it, she rubs her cheek along the fine velvet. Searching for something that she cannot name.
She is just beginning to worry that she will not find it, when suddenly. There it is. A scent, so faint that it is almost undetectable. Musk, sandalwood, and ink. The scent soothes her, the stifling heat on her skin cooling as she inhales deeply.
She stays that way for several minutes, breathing in and out, as her body begins to come back under control. Eventually, she feels almost normal, her body no longer burning from the inside out.
It is at that point that she takes the black kefta and carefully tucks it into the pile on her bed. She rearranges the pile at least three times before she is happy with it. Finally satisfied only once the kefta is concealed underneath the covers.
The prowling animal in her mind is back, this time filling her with a fierce possessiveness. The kefta was a gift to her – from him. She won’t let anybody else steal it from her.
It takes great effort to wrench herself away from the sight of her bed, but she manages it. She dresses quickly, hating every layer of clothing that she dons. All of it feels stifling even though she knows that the entire ensemble was made to be practical and breathable. Then she turns and leaves the room.
Blessedly, Genya keeps a respectable amount of distance between them when she meets Alina in the corridor outside her room.
“Good morning, Alina,” says Genya brightly.
“Morning,” replies Alina, trying hard not to let it show just how off she is feeling.
“There’s been a change of plans for today,” says Genya. “Your teachers have agreed to give you a day off from lessons in recognition of all of your hard work.”
Alina nods, relieved that she will not have to stumble through a lesson with Botkin in her current state.
“Why don’t we spend the day in the library? Last week there was a delivery of Kerch romance novels. We can read them before anyone else has a chance to.”
“That sounds fun.” Alina clears her throat against the sudden dry feeling. “But shouldn’t we eat breakfast first.”
“We’ll get the food delivered to the library. A special treat,” says Genya.
Alina’s brow furrows. Grisha were never allowed to eat in the library. But she was in no mood to an argument, so she dutifully followed Genya through the corridors to the library.
On their way, she can’t help but notice how Genya glances around nervously every time they round a corner. She doesn’t know what Genya could be keeping an eye out for, and they pass no one on their short trip.
The library is strangely empty when they arrive – even the librarian is missing. Genya doesn’t comment on the lack of other readers, she merely directs Alina over to a table where a tray of food and a collection of books is already waiting.
The day passes much too slowly for Alina’s liking. The heat under her skin creeps back throughout the day, and by the afternoon she has developed a strange itch at the side of her neck. Genya glances at her sharply every time Alina reaches up to rub at it, so Alina tries her best to ignore the feeling.
By the time evening has fallen and Alina finally returns to her room, she is exhausted. She barely has the energy to strip out of her clothes and throw on a nightgown before collapsing into bed.
However, try as she might, sleep does not come.
She tosses and turns for hours. She is still too hot, but that it is not what contributes the most to her restlessness. No, she is missing something.
Cushions, she decides, more cushions.
This is a problem as there is not a single cushion or pillow left in her suite that is not currently sitting on her bed.
She casts her mind desperately to try and think of where she could find more cushions. Involuntarily, her thoughts wander to a pair of double doors inset with an eclipse.
Aleksander wouldn’t mind, would he? She knows from the few times that she’s been into his War Room that he has loads of cushions scattered about. And after all, it isn’t like he is using them at the moment. Besides, she will be sure to return them before he returns from the front.
Mind made up, she throws on a robe and some slippers. Before leaving, she has the foresight to swipe a hair pin from her vanity, and then she carefully steps out of her chambers.
Feeling as if she is some sort of spy, she creeps along the hallways until she is standing before her destination. With a skill honed from years sneaking around the orphanage, she picks the lock with the pin and then slips inside.
It is almost unnerving how swiftly her body calms once she is inside the War Room. Her body cools. Her neck stops its incessant itching. There is a deep sense of rightness to the space that she savours for several long moments. Then she sets about searching for her quarry.
There are several cushions strewn about the furniture in the War Room and she picks each one up in turn and considers them. None of them are right.
There are two further doors leading from the War Room. The room towards Aleksander’s study she considers for only a moment before ignoring and walking over to the door that leads to his bedroom.
She braces for a second before pushing open the door, aware of the fact that she has never been in this room before.
Inside, the décor is richly decorated in a mixture of black and green. If she had thought she had felt calm in the War Room, it is nothing to the feeling that washes over her as she stands in this room.
His scent is everywhere. Surrounding her. She wants to drown in it. Why has she been sleeping in her own room, when she could have been sleeping in here? She belongs here, a fact she knows to be true deep within her very soul.
That thought overwhelms her for several minutes before she is able to shake herself back to her senses, mind refocusing to the task at hand.
She looks around. In the centre of the room is a bed, piled high with pillows, exactly what she has been looking for.
The first few pillows that she picks up are clearly decorative. They’re too fine-looking to have been used for sleeping, so she discards them. She tosses aside a few more pillows before she finds the perfect one.
It is nothing special to look at, a simple black pillow, worn and obviously well-used. But when she holds it to her nose, she inhales his scent, and she knows that this is the one that she has been looking for.
Prize retrieved, she turns to leave the room, but is quickly distracted by the sight of one of Aleksander’s keftas hanging in the half open wardrobe. Without thinking she grabs it from the hanger. Then she also grabs an old black shirt that looks to be one that he sleeps in, as well as the black robe that he had been wearing when she had stumbled upon him wearing in the War Room one evening.
She casts her gaze once more around the room, savouring the opportunity to get a small peak into how Aleksander lives. Her gaze lands on a small pot, sitting innocuously on the dresser. Intrigued, she opens it up to find a selection of what looks like sweets. They are all brightly coloured and she can’t resist popping one of the candies in her mouth. It’s delicious. Fruity and sweet.
Ignoring her pang of guilt at the theft, she swipes the whole pot and adds it to her pile of acquired belongings. She considers swiping more belongings, but the bundle is getting difficult to carry so reluctantly she is forced to leave the rest of his things behind.
It is a gargantuan task to drag herself from the safety of Aleksander’s rooms, but eventually she manages it. She trots back to her rooms, practically preening in satisfaction the entire way as she sucks on the newly acquired sweets.
Once the door to her chambers is shut, she places her treasure haul at the end of her bed, before quickly stripping out of her nightgown. In its place, she slips on Aleksander’s shirt, revelling in the sensation of his scent enveloping her.
She places the pot of sweets – now less than half full – on her vanity. The stolen kefta, robe and pillow she arranges in the centre of her pile so that they surround her when she is lying down.
Then, feeling much happier than she had earlier this evening, she tucks herself into bed. This time, sleep comes easily and she drifts off with a smile on her face.
Alina’s improved mood does not last into the fourth day.
She awakens to the feeling of her entire body on fire. It’s the worst fever she has ever experienced, and her whole body shakes as she tries, and fails, to sit up.
She lies back with a huff. If the burning under her skin wasn’t bad enough, there is also a throbbing sensation between her legs. She tries to rub her thighs together to try and relieve the feeling, but the friction offers no respite. If anything, it makes it worse.
Alina turns and buries her face in the fabric of Aleksander’s kefta, but his scent is not enough to calm her. She needs him, not just his scent.
She wallows in despair for what feels like hours but could only be a few minutes before there is a knock at the door.
“Alina?” says Genya cautiously as she pushes open the door and takes a single step inside.
The creature inside Alina’s mind roars in fury.
“Get out!” she snarls. “You’re not allowed in here!”
Genya takes a step back, a startled expression on her face which she quickly schools into something approaching calm.
“Alright, alright. I’ll just stay here.” Genya gestures to the threshold which she is now stood firmly behind.
Alina relaxes slightly now that the intruder is no longer in her space.
“Alina, I need you to listen to me. You’re going into a heat. “
Alina scoffs at the ridiculous statement. Betas don’t go into heat. Genya must be losing it.
“You need to tell me if there’s an alpha who you would accept helping you through your heat. You can choose to go through it alone, but as an omega who’s presented late it is likely that your first heat will be extremely uncomfortable. It will be easier if you share it with someone.”
The words register in Alina’s brain, but it takes much longer for her to understand them. Her mind is caught on one word – Alpha.
Where is Alpha? He should be here. Why isn’t he here? Has he abandoned her? Why? Is it because she isn’t good enough, isn’t worthy of him?
“Breathe, Alina.” Genya’s voice startles her out of her growing panic. There is something in Genya’s tone that makes Alina want to obey. She takes several deep breaths, feeling her racing heart start to ease slightly as she does so. “That’s it. Good girl.”
The praise feels wrong somehow, but her body still responds to it, her heartbeat coming fully back under control.
“I need a name, Alina,” tries Genya again. “Just give me a name, and I’ll leave you alone.”
Alina knows exactly who she needs.
“Aleksander” she whispers.
“Who?” says Genya looking extremely confused, but Alina is no longer listening.
“Aleksander. I want Aleksander,” she says through tears.
“Alright. I’ll find… Aleksander,” says Genya. “Just stay here, okay? It’s not safe for you to be wandering the halls in your state.”
Alina buries herself back into her nest, pulling the sheets up until they cover her entirely.
Just before the door clicks shut, she hears, “Everything’s going to be fine, Alina. I promise.”
After that, Alina entirely loses track of time. Her brain goes fuzzy as she is entirely consumed by the burning heat in her body. She tosses and turns to try and find reprieve from the ache between her legs which are now also dripping wet.
Every part of her feels swollen and heavy – her cunt, her breasts, and especially her neck. Each time she tries to touch it she hisses in pain as the sensitive flesh revolts at the sensation.
She does not know how she can possibly endure much longer in this tormented state. It feels never-ending.
She is so caught up in her discomfort that she does not hear the pounding of swiftly approaching footsteps. However, she does notice when the doors to her rooms suddenly burst open, as Aleksander barges inside with purpose.
“Aleksander,” she sobs. And, with a burst of energy that she had not realised she possessed, she throws herself from the bed and into his arms.
He does not have time to look startled before she is kissing him. She has absolutely no reservations as her lips eagerly move against his, and she almost purrs in satisfaction as he begins to kiss her back.
Alina feels like she is floating. Finally, everything is right in the world. Or at least it is until Aleksander pulls away from her.
His rejection feels like a knife through her heart, and she cries out in sorrow as his lips leave hers.
“Alina, Alinochka, look at me.” He cups her face, swiping at her tears with his thumb.
She opens her eyes to find him staring at her, already dark eyes even darker, his pupils blown wide.
“Sweetheart, I need you to tell me if this is what you want,” he says, quietly but firmly.
“Yes,” she cries. “Want you, Alpha.”
“That’s my good girl.” And oh the words sound right coming from him.
Then he kisses her, his hands travelling down her body to cup her ass, lifting her up. She responds by wrapping her legs firmly around his waist, uncaring of the fact that her slick is staining the delicate fabric of his kefta.
His lips do not leave hers as he carries her to her bed and places her among her nest. Rough hands palm at her breasts through the fabric of his shirt, pulling at her nipples which are already stiff and sensitive.
Eventually, they are forced to resurface from the kiss for air, and they pull away from each other reluctantly with a gasp.
For the first time since he had appeared, Alina surveys Aleksander’s appearance. Where he is normally immaculately put together, now he looks uncharacteristically dishevelled. Her fingers fumble at the buttons of his kefta before he helps her slide the coat from his shoulders. She grabs it from his hands and throws it behind her to join its twin in her nest.
His scent is even more overwhelming than it had been in his bedroom, but there is another smell, and she wrinkles her nose when she identifies it.
“You smell like horse.”
He throws his head back in laughter. “Well, it’s a four-day ride from the front, and I only received Ivan’s telegram two days ago.”
“You rode all that way… for me?” She is unable to keep the insecurity from her voice.
He kisses her forehead. “Of course I did, Alinochka. I couldn’t have my omega going through her first heat all alone, could I?”
His omega. Alina doesn’t think she’s ever heard a sweeter sound.
Aleksander’s lips twitch into a knowing smile as he pulls the shirt she is wearing over her head. “Have you been stealing my things, Alina?” he teases.
She whines. A pathetic sound. “You weren’t here. You left me all alone.”
His expression softens instantly as he trails kisses across her cheek.
“I’m sorry, omega. I promise I’ll never leave you alone again.”
The rest of his clothing disappears in a hurry, and then there is finally nothing between them. Alina takes a second to admire her alpha’s body, her eyes trailing over strong arms and a toned chest before they land on his cock. It’s already straining against his stomach, and she can feel her thighs getting even slicker as she stares at it.
She needs it inside her, preferably yesterday, but she’ll settle for now.
However, he stops her when she reaches out a hand to touch him.
“Not yet,” he admonishes. “Got to get you ready for me. Need it to be good for you, the first time I take your sweet cunt.”
Then he is guiding her to lay back against the pile of cushions and clothing. He settles his weight on top of her and she sighs in contentment, her mind going blissfully blank with the feeling of being owned completely.
His fingers find their way to her cunt, and she jolts as they brush briefly against her clit. Whines as he gathers the slick from between her legs which are quickly shushed by kisses as he eases the first finger inside.
His thumb rubs in small circles against her clit as he adds a second finger, pumping them slowly but deliberately inside of her. She sobs and buries her face in his neck. “Please,” she begs. “Alpha, please.”
“Shh malyshka,” he says, adding a third finger and continuing to stroke her clit. Each circle causing her to jolt underneath him as pleasure sparks within her body like electricity. “Almost there. Don’t want to hurt you.”
“Sasha,” she whines, grinding desperately against his fingers. “Please fuck me, Sasha. I need your cock inside me.”
At last, he relents. “As you wish.”
He drags his cock once through her folds, coating it in her slick, and then he finally slides inside her.
She gasps at the intrusion, her breath stolen by the feel of him pushing into her inch by glorious inch. He takes his time with her despite her desperation, kissing the moans right out of her mouth until at last he is fully inside her.
“Pretty thing. So good for me, taking my cock so well. I’m going to fuck you now. Is that alright?”
Her brain is completely incapable of forming words by this point so instead she merely nods, staring up at him with wide eyes as he stares back.
He smiles as he draws out and she only has a second to miss the feeling of his cock insider her before he snaps his hips forward and begins to fuck her relentlessly.
Her first orgasm crashes over her like a tidal wave, her cunt clenching around him as she feels the drag of him in-and-out, in-and-out. She wraps her arms around his back as he fucks her through the aftershocks, nails digging into his skin hard enough to leave marks, but he doesn’t stop. Doesn’t even slow down.
There is the sound of high-pitched gasps. A chorus of “oh-fuck-please-alpha-more”. And it takes her entirely too long to work out that the noises are coming from her. She should feel ashamed at the inhuman sounds that she is making – the Alina of only a few days ago would have been mortified – but something in her has snapped. Her very being broken apart only to be pieced back together by Aleksander.
“Good girl – fuck – my perfect girl. Such a good omega for me.” His face comes back into focus as the blinding pleasure of her orgasm fades. He is smiling down at her, a hint of desperation in his expression. “You’re mine, aren’t you? Please say you’re mine.”
Of course, she belongs to him. How silly of him to even think otherwise. “Yes, yours. I’m yours, Alpha,” she says, her hands reaching up to tangle in his hair, pulling him closer to the swollen gland on her neck.
He needs no further encouragement. Instantly, he surges forward, his lips finding her gland. He laves at the spot like a man trapped in a desert, the rough rasp of his tongue filling her mind just as her scent fills the air, mixing with his scent.
She sobs at the attention, overwhelmed with pleasure. He’s still fucking her, his movements growing more and more erratic as she feels him grow close to his own orgasm.
Just when she thinks she can’t take any more – everything too hot, too fast, too much – she feels the scrape of teeth against her neck and her entire mind goes blank as another orgasm explodes within her.
Her vision goes white as Aleksander spills inside her, her body convulsing around him as his knot swells within her. It should feel too big, should feel suffocating, but it doesn’t. Her body stretches to fit him, just as a piece of him slots into place in her mind.
Mate, she thinks, my mate.
She’s never felt happier.
He fucks her gently through her second orgasm, his pace slowing as the two of them come down from their shared high. Her breathing still comes in short pants and whines as he peppers her face with kisses. And she is distantly aware of the sounds he is making “good omega - so good for me -love you so much - I’ll take such good care of you.” She can hear the smile in his voice as he whispers to her.
Once her convulsions cease, she reaches up to stroke his face. Her mind has cleared slightly from the haze that had consumed her, but she knows the reprieve is only temporary. However, she finds that the thought only fills her with excitement. She would be content to spend every moment like this, as long as she is safe in Aleksander’s arms.
“Sasha,” she says, voice breathless.
“Alya,” he replies, staring back at her with a look of wonderment in his beautiful dark eyes.
She smiles, before whispering conspiratorially, “I think there’s a possibility that I may not be a beta after all.”
He laughs as he leans down to kiss her again. “I think you may be right,” he whispers back.
“But it’ll all be alright,” she says. “Do you know why?”
“Because I have you to take care of me.” She kisses him once on each cheek.
“Always, milaya.” He pulls her tight against his chest, her face buried in the crook of his neck. “Always.”