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Guiding Star

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Guiding Star

CHAPTER XXIV: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars


Damian sighed heavily as he listened to the ringing on the other side of the phone line.


“Desmond Residence,” a butler answered the phone.


“Damian Desmond. May I… talk to my brother or mother?”


“…Of course, sir. One moment, please.”


There was a beep and after a long pause, the phone was picked up again.


“Damian, αγαπούλα μου! Where are you?! What were you thinking, leaving without telling anyone?! Thank heavens, Jeremiah gave us a phone call to warn that he had dropped you at Miss Forger’s residence...!”


“I’m sorry, μαμά,” he answered with a wince, “I didn’t think you’d notice my disappearance before I’d have the possibility of giving you a call.”


She cursed in Greek, which surprised him enough his eyebrows went high.


“What are you saying, not noticing your disappearance… Of course, I noticed, and so did your brother when Diana told him what happened. It was very sweet of you to try to help your brother and Diana… although I’m not sure Demetrius is very happy that you proposed to her instead of leaving him to do it himself.”


“Oh, well, at least… uh, what was her answer in the end? Is she… going to marry him?” he asked in a hushed voice, very aware of Anya standing nearby and pretending to not eavesdrop.


“They’ve talked it through, but he hasn’t told me what was her answer… I believe they might wait.”


She sighed heavily over the phone.


“Your brother should have asked her, before ever telling us he wanted to marry her.”


“You knew they weren’t engaged?!”


“I knew they were not engaged yet. But I had thought he’d explain the full story to you.”


“He obviously didn’t…” Damian grumbled, rolling his eyes, “And then, he scolds me for missing a few steps by courting Anya when he hasn’t even bothered talking about wanting to marry Diana with her!”


“Damian… it’s not the same. Diana and Demetrius both have marriage on their minds. It’s not the case for Anya and you, you are too young to be in a serious relationship, things could go wrong far too quickly with your inexperience and eagerness…”


What makes you think I don’t have marriage on my mind, yet? Damian thought to himself grumpily.


He turned around when he heard Anya almost fall over, quickly catching a vase before it’d shatter on the ground.


Loud laughter resonated from the card game the ‘adults’ were playing in the living-room. Rosie has been in bed for over an hour, and Francesca had left with a sleeping Amelia a few minutes ago when her taxi had arrived, but Frankie had decided to stay a little longer, quite tipsy – although not as much as Yor and Yuri who could hold a drink about as well as a cat could resist catnip.


“What’s this sound? Laughter? I thought you were at Miss Forger’s residence,” his mother intervened worriedly.


“I am. It’s her… um, uncles… they’re a little loud.”


“Oh, what charming sounding people,” she answered, immediately delighted that her son was bonding with Anya’s family, “May I talk to Mr Forger, sweetpie?”


Damian immediately panicked, sending a quick and wary look at Anya. She tilted her head, silently asking him what was going on.


“W-wh-what do you want to talk to Mr Forger for?” he stammered, flushing.


“He let you join a family event, with no invitation, or expectation of your coming. The least I can do is thank him for letting you stay for dinner. Besides, it’s getting really late. I’ll call Jeremiah to come pick you up and–”


“N-no, I told him to join his family, I’ll uh… I’ll go to an hotel. There’s one just around the corner.”


“Darling, if you had told us you wanted to see Anya, I could have given you the key to my apartment–”


“I know, I know, I was a fool. I’ll handle it, mo… mother. Don’t worry. I’ll be back tomorrow.”


“…Let me speak with Mr Forger.”


He opened his mouth to deny but Loid just happened to pass by, carrying empty dishes. Anya grabbed them and nodded towards Damian. The doctor understood at once what was going on and he held out his hand for the phone. Feeling trapped, Damian sighed, handing the phone to him.


“Oh, Mrs Desmond, what a pleasure. It’s a shame we couldn’t make an acquaintance face-to-face.”


Damian hung on every word, even as Loid tried to turn away, but the young man was too close to not hear the very awkward conversation – or at least, for him because Loid smiled, as charmingly as if he were facing his mother.


“He has been a charming addition to our evening, don’t worry about it.”


Something was said by his mother, a very long series of sentences that made Damian even more nervous.


“Of course, it’s not a problem at all.”


What wasn’t a problem?! He wondered, just as Anya came back from the kitchen, glancing between Damian and her father.


“It would be my delight, madam!”


There was a little laugh. Damian grimaced.


“Have a good evening, Dafni.”


DAFNI?! Damian thought, narrowing his eyes at Mr Forger who dared calling his mother by her first name before even a proper acquaintance.


Loid then turned towards Damian who jumped back on the phone:


“What did you tell him?”


“Oh, nothing important, sweetie. It’s very late and I’m not as young as I once was, I’m getting tired… I’ll leave you now. Be careful on the way home.”


“Yes, yes, mother…”


“Good night, see you tomorrow. And be careful!”


“Yes, yes!”


There was the final beep that indicated the end of a conversation. Damian stared suspiciously at the phone.


“…Why do I feel like I’ve been tricked into something?” he mumbled.


“It can’t be that bad if it was a trick from your mother,” Anya answered with a chuckle, “Come on, we’re about to start a boardgame!”


Damian had been confused by the profusion of playing that had been involved in the family evening. But he had carefully hidden it, as to not offend any of the Forgers or their guests. He had done enough clumsy steps in one evening to haunt him for the rest of his life. He was far too used to a life of a luxury. Even knowing that Anya had been a commoner, he hadn’t expected their lifestyles to be so… drastically different.


Despite it all, wine and exhaustion had soothed his nerves. He had even dropped his tie and jacket during dinner. He was still the best dressed person in the entire apartment, but no one except himself seemed to care.


Anya dragged him back at the table, which had been cleaned of all food, but not the alcohol, and replaced by a boardgame that was being setup by a very tipsy Frankie. Damian much preferred chess but even he knew Monopoly and how to play it. He used to do it a few summers ago, with his brother and Marius when he had been visiting. Marius had obviously won every single time.


“Do you know the rules of Monopoly, Damian?” Loid asked as he sat down.


Before Damian could answer, Frankie laughed:


“Don’t be ridiculous, Loid! All he knows is how to ride horses and do fencing and chess stuff! He’ll be completely lost! It’ll be my turn to win!!”


Anya glanced, amused, at Damian, who didn’t deny it.


“I must admit I am not as familiar with Monopoly as chess,” he answered, which wasn’t entirely a lie.


“EHEHEH! Okay, Fancy Boy, here’s the rule in the family! Whoever wins Monopoly gets to go home with… mm…”


“A bowwle of wine!” Yor exclaimed passionately.


“Nah, nah, that’s too little! Let’s say a very big cheque in their name, okay? Written by the person who has lost the most in the game!”


“That’s not a family rule,” Yuri corrected, frowning, “The only rule is that we SHOW NO MERCY!”


Damian stared at the two uncles, raising an eyebrow. He couldn’t help it, when he saw a challenge, he craved solving it. And brilliantly. Smirking, he leaned against one forearm, holding out his hand to Frankie who suddenly looked a bit intimidated by the youngling in half a sharp suit smiling more deviously than Loid ever had.


“Bet accepted. Were I to lose… which I’m afraid might happen, I’ll write a cheque with the number of your choosing, to whoever wins.”


“R-really?” Frankie hesitated.


“Family rule, right? Were I to win… I’ll ask for a favour the loser will owe me. After all, I would feel guilty to expect money from any of you, when you are already so generous with me.”


His arrogant tone fired up Frankie and Yuri, while Yor laughed. Loid sighed, calmly distributing the ‘money’ among the players. Anya watched all of it unfold with a very amused expression on her face.


“Good luck, I always win,” Loid intervened as they got ready to play.


“Oh?” Damian replied.


Electricity sparked between them, making Anya a little more unsure about the outcome of this evening. Although, it’d be very nice to see her father losing for once.


“Beginners’ first, you little runt,” Yuri hissed, passing the dice to Damian.


“What an honour,” he replied, looking down at the dice.


He clenched his fist around them and, cockily if he said so himself, he leaned towards Anya, holding out his fist for her:


“I might need a lucky kiss, my lady,” he started.


“You certainly will need luck against all the protective men of my family,” she replied with a smile.


She kissed his knuckles as he chuckled.


“HEY! That’s cheating!!” Frankie exclaimed.


“How is that cheating? She just kissed his fist for good luck,” Loid answered, rolling his eyes.


Damian threw the dice and received four and four.


Frankie and Yuri immediately went silent to see him do a Double on a first try. Anya started laughing. Damian advanced his piece, as she gave him the dice again:


“You get to do it again! When you do a Double!”


“Ah, lucky me,” Damian said innocently.


“…Beginners’ luck…” Yuri hissed, narrowing his eyes at him.


Damian didn’t deign answering him, playing again. Anya and Yor played next, reasonably well for the first one, a bit of a disaster for the second, but Yuri was already swearing to save his beloved sister. He unfortunately got a sad ‘one’. Loid made a good enough play. Frankie, who didn’t want to risk losing against Damian so early, asked Anya to kiss his fist like she had done for Damian, but it didn’t bring him any luck.


It continued, fake money going back and forth under the screams or lamentations of Frankie and Yuri. Yor eventually fell asleep half-way through. It quickly became obvious that Loid was in the lead.


Anya glanced at Damian, knowing he was waiting before doing anything other than buy properties. At that point, Loid and Damian shared two-thirds of the properties, the rest divided with the other players. Loid had started building, earning a regular amount of rent from the others. Damian had unfortunately been unable to build anything as one of the properties he needed was owned by Frankie (one could only build once all properties of the same colour are owned by the same person). Anya had seen Damian’s plan in his mind though, which would be bold as there was no time-limit for Monopoly. The moment any of them called it off, it’d be over, and he’d lose. But he seemed to have quickly analysed that Loid was too proud to give up, and Frankie and Yuri too motivated to stop the game anytime soon.


“Not again!!” Frankie exclaimed when he landed on one of Loid’s properties, paying him rent directly.


“That’s a shame, Frankie,” Loid answered, sparkling to be winning so effortlessly.


Duh, what he deserves. As long as the little ruffian goes back home to his mommy crying in her skirts, I’ll be satisfied. He’s got a nasty look in his eyes, I don’t trust him at all, SSS instinct talking! Yuri thought, glaring yet again at Damian (the young man had already developed a form of immunity against it and simply ignored the drunk uncle).


“Uncle Yuri!” Anya exclaimed when she caught that thought.


“OI, Anya! Stop reading my–”


“YURI!!” Loid and Anya screamed in the same time.


Yuri went silent, wide eyes glancing at Damian who frowned.


“…Face. Read my face, obviously, while I silently insult you,” Yuri continued after a moment of silence.


“Oh, I had not noticed,” Damian mocked with a grim smile.


“Well, stop insulting him, silently, with your face or otherwise! Or I’ll unleash my secret weapon to win it all!” Anya exclaimed.


“What secret weapon?” Yuri asked, immediately hooked on the trap.


“AH AH! I can’t reveal it to you, or it’d ruin everything! You’d better be prepared!”


She had effectively managed to distract him from Damian. Yuri was now worrying about Anya and her ‘secret weapon’, muttering to himself in a low voice that was, quite frankly, a bit frightening. After a few more plays, while Loid was distracted receiving yet more money from Frankie, Damian leaned towards Anya.


“What will you do, if I win?”


She blushed, clearly remembering what she had done the last time he had won a game. He smirked, in promise.


“AGH! I don’t have enough rent! Can’t you, uh, give me more time?” Frankie asked Loid as he ended up with his last bill.


“No can’t do.”


“I don’t want to sell my only property…” Frankie whined.


“I’m afraid you don’t have any choice, old pal,” Yuri said, handing him the necessary amount from the bank.


Having enough for Loid’s rent, it was Damian’s turn. He got lucky, as he managed to land on the property Frankie had just sold. Which he bought.


“Traitor!! I thought we were family!!”


“There’s no family bound in Monopoly,” Damian replied calmly, “I’ll also build two buildings in every property I own.”


Loid gasped as Damian handed a huge stack of money to the Bank. He had almost nothing left, but just as Loid had realised, it only took a few plays for the stack of money on Damian’s side of the table to rise, as he owned enough properties and buildings, with enough rent, that almost everyone owed him something at every turn.


“OI… oi, oi, oi… did he do it on purpose?!” Frankie realised when he had to pay, for the third time in a row, money to Damian.


“Took you long enough to figure it out,” Yuri mumbled, arms crossed over his chest as he glared at Damian.


“How long have you been planning this coup?!” Frankie yelled, “You said you were a beginner!”


“No, no, I merely said I was more experienced in chess, not inexperienced in Monopoly,” Damian corrected proudly.


“OI! That’s not– it’s not– it’s not fair!! Loid, tell him!!”


“…He played by the rules, unfortunately.”


“The little shit!”


“I get that a lot,” Damian answered without looking up from counting his ‘money’.


“Watch your lanbwage,” Yor mumbled from the side of the table where she was half asleep.


Loid caressed her hair tenderly.


“Like she said. You don’t want to get her angry in that state.”


Anya started laughing.


“That’s it! I’ve been humiliated long enough! I’m calling it quits!” Frankie exclaimed, standing up suddenly, “Why is the room spinning like that!”


“Don’t be sick in the living-room like last time, please,” Loid intervened as he counted his own money.


Anya watched her two favourite men as they counted.


“Twenty thousand and three hundred,” Loid announced, staring right into Damian’s eyes.


“Twenty thousand, three hundred… and fifty.”


Gritting his teeth, Loid just stared at Damian who put down the money on the table, smirking proudly.


“BWAHAHA! I take it back!! The whole game was worth it just for that look on your face!!” Frankie exclaimed, laughing in his friend’s face.


“Oh, alright, I can’t win every time!” Loid grumbled.


“Looks like you owe me a favour, pops,” Damian continued as he stood up to grab his jacket.


Something fell off from it and he bent down, just as Anya gasped, running towards the nearest window.


“It’s snowing!! Look, it’s snowing!” she exclaimed, as everyone gathered to look at the snow slowly falling.


“And it’s almost 1am, which means… it’s Christmas Day,” Loid said, putting his arms around his wife and daughter, “Merry Christmas, my darlings.”


“Merry Christmas, everyone!!” Frankie exclaimed, raising his glass to the ceiling.


Yuri, in his drunken crazed state of mind, opened the window and shouted from the bottom of his lungs:




“It’s Merry Christmas, Uncle Yuri.” Anya corrected, smirking.




Some shouts, fireworks and equally joyful and chaotic shouts resonated in the neighbourhood.


“Close the window, or you’ll catch a cold!” Yor exclaimed.


Yuri immediately obeyed as she handed him her Christmas gift.


“A GIFT! From my beloved Yor!!”


“Stop shouting, you’ll wake up the baby,” Loid continued as he distributed the gifts.


They all thanked each other, but Anya put aside her gifts to slide next to Damian who had remained standing behind, staring at whatever he had picked up from the floor after it had fallen from his jacket.


“I have a gift for you, it’s in my bedroom, I didn’t think we’d see you before after-tomorrow. Sorry it’s not under the tree! But I’m sure Santa Klaus didn’t forget you…”


“I don’t need any gift, but you,” Damian answered, cheeks a little flushed.


Her eyes sparkled. He opened his hand, showing the little branch of mistletoe his mother had given him earlier in the evening.


“You know what that means, Anya Forger?” he asked cheekily.


She slipped her fingers through his, against the little plant.


“I guess I don’t have a choice, do I, Damian Desmond?” she replied eagerly.


Smirking, he leaned towards her to kiss her.


Frankie coughed loudly. Turning their gazes towards the rest of the family staring at them, either in annoyance or smiling in a teasing manner. Damian and Anya pulled away, blushing.


“Oh, don’t stop for us!” Frankie continued, popping some chocolate in his mouth as he watched the show.


Yuri elbowed him hard enough to make him yelp in pain.


“Sorry we haven’t prepared any gift for you, Damian, you were, well, a little unexpected,” Loid said with a (slightly forced) chuckle (he had almost witnessed the boy kiss his baby girl, after all).


“Oh, please don’t worry about me, I… was incredibly rude to show up at your door without warning. I am truly grateful for… the warm welcoming you have given me… It’s… more than I would have expected from Christmas.” Damian answered honestly.


In their drunken states, Yuri, Frankie and Yor started singing loudly some Christmas song. Frankie wasn’t as far gone as the siblings, he just enjoyed irritating Loid’s ears.


“You are welcome here anytime, Damian,” Loid continued, tapping the young man’s shoulder.


“Thank you, Mr Forger. I… should probably go, it’s getting really late, and I don’t want to trouble you any longer.”


Loid blinked as Damian pulled on his jacket again.


“Go? Go where? Didn’t your mother tell you?”


“Tell me what?”


“We agreed that you’d stay the night here, with us. She wasn’t comfortable with letting you wander around at night, which I understand completely.”


Anya slid closer to Damian, smirking brightly. He flushed, swallowing hard.


“B-but, I can’t impose myself any longer…”


“Nonsense!” Anya exclaimed, wrapping her arms around his, hugging him close enough that he felt most curves of her body pressing into his side, “He can stay with me!”


“What? No, it’s out of the question,” Loid said, frowning, “He can stay in the guest bedroom–”


“Uncle Yuri will sleep in it! And we can’t let Damian, or anyone, sleep on the couch, it’d be rude!!”




“Please, please, please, please, we’ll be good!” she begged.


“It’s not–”


“We won’t wake you up, I swear!”


“Most definitely not–”


“It’s Christmas, papa! Our first Christmas together, you can’t separate us!” she exclaimed, definitely overreacting a little.


Loid opened and closed his lips.


I can’t let them sleep in the same room, it’s completely insane. I’m willing to let him stay over, but not to the price of my baby girl losing her innocence–


He noticed Anya’s threatening gaze. He understood she had caught his thoughts. And she was not happy with him trying to interfere with her relationship…


Clicking his tongue, Loid looked away. He glanced back at the two of them. Blushing, holding hands, ignorant of the world, stubborn… and with deep bags under their eyes.


Rolling his eyes, he then pinched his nose.


“…I can’t believe I’m about to agree to this…”


The two immediately started glowing.


“…I’ll bring out your old mattress, he can sleep on the floor.”


Anya opened her mouth to deny, but Damian took her hand.


“I don’t mind. It’s more than we could have hoped for.”


Perhaps she’ll let me sneak in her bed for a short time, he added to himself, flushing a little.


Anya blushed in turn, turning towards her father.


“Alright. The old mattress.”


Loid narrowed his eyes.


She accepted veeeeery quickly. That’s suspicious…


She held his gaze, trying not to let him guess what she was thinking of.


“It’s our only choice, isn’t it?”


“…It is.” Loid confirmed.


“I should start going, I don’t want to miss my little girl’s shining eyes when we’ll open the gifts tomorrow morning,” Frankie intervened.


After more ‘Merry Christmas’ and good nights, he called a taxi and left in a few minutes. Loid guided a very drunken Yuri in the guest bedroom, and Yor in their bed, before pulling out the old mattress to leave it in Anya’s bedroom. She eagerly started preparing sheets and pillows for Damian, even if she had no intention of letting him sleep a single minute in it.


“Here, you can get changed in Anya’s bathroom,” Loid said, handing the young man pyjamas trousers and a baggy shirt.


“Oh, uh, I’m fine and–”


“Damian, you can’t sleep in a Ralf Florens suit. Believe me.” Loid insisted, forcing the clothes into his arms.


“T-thank you, Mr Forger…”


“Yes, yes. You two get some sleep, and nothing else, got it? If I hear as much as whisper, I’ll come in here with guns in both hands, understood?”


“Papa!” Anya exclaimed, mortified, while Damian laughed at what he thought was an innocent dad joke (it wasn’t).


“Alright, alright… Good night, you two.”


He glanced between Damian and Anya, sighing. Then he smiled. He left, leaving the bedroom door a little ajar as he started to get ready for bed in his own bathroom.


“Go get changed first,” Anya said, indicating her small bathroom to Damian.


He was too tired to argue. He walked in, finding a clean (pink) towel she had left out for him. He was more or less the same height as Loid Forger, which made the clothes quite comfortable, far more than his Ralf Florens suit that he left, carefully folded, on the chair. He looked around, finding lots of hair and skin products, make-up, and hair stuff he wasn’t familiar with. Curious, he grabbed a small pot of what he assumed was perfume, but it made the entire pyramids of products collapse in the sink. He jumped, trying to catch it all.


Every sound was so much louder at night. The whole building must have heard him.


Grimacing, he put it all back on the shelf, more stuff stumbling around until it was back in its awkward balance.


It’s a miracle she doesn’t blind herself with all this stuff every day… he thought to himself. When we’ll live together, I’ll have to make sure we have a giant bathroom, or I’ll never survive.


He went to clean his hands and face, then he realised he had gotten himself a bunch of sparkles which origin was unknown. They must have landed on him from one of the products. The sparkles didn’t want to leave his skin.


“Great… girls’ stuff…” he mumbled, wiping his hands and face on the towel.


He slowed down his movement, cheeks heating up as he smelled the towel.


…Unfortunately, it smelled of detergent, not of Anya.


Realising she was probably waiting for the bathroom to get ready for bed, he left it, finding her already changed in her pyjamas. A new shade of red appeared on his cheeks, his heart thumping rapidly when he saw her kneeling on her bed, wearing a comfy purple night dress. It was very big, smothering all her curves into inexistence, but it made him even more curious…


He had only ever seen her in uniform, modest outfits… and now that baggy pyjama.


“Disappointed I’m not laying, completely naked, waiting to be devoured by you?” she teased, smirking when she saw him blush some more.


“…I’m not…” he stammered, but he didn’t get to finish his sentence.


She stood up and slipped into the bathroom, closing it so she could finish readying herself for the night. He glanced at the bed. He glanced at the sad mattress on the floor. Sighing, he sat on it, wondering if he would catch any sleep at all, with Anya so physically close yet so far away from him.


She came back quickly, glaring at him:


“What did you do to my bathroom shelf?! It’s a mess!”


“It… fell on its own!”


“Oh, because of gravity, perhaps?” she mocked, looking for something around her bedroom.


“Well, technically speaking, yes.”


“And why are you covered in sparkles? Where did it come from?”


“I don’t know, Anya,” he answered, raising his hands to the sky.


She grabbed a hairbrush and she knelt next to him on the mattress, taking his hands in hers. She smirked to see all the little fairy dust, sparkling in the dim light.


“You are impossible, Damian Desmond…” she sighed with a silly smile on her face.


But he observed her, no longer worried about the sparkles that had decided to settle themselves permanently on his hands and, he assumed, the side of his face.


“W-what…” she stammered, embarrassed by his intense stare.


He pulled out the mistletoe branch, flushing a little.


“…I believe we got interrupted, I didn’t get my mistletoe Christmas kiss…” he said, pouting a little.


“Oh? I guess we have to remediate to that, then.”


“I request a twenty percent rate of interest,” he demanded seriously.


“Twenty percent? You’re a difficult man to deal with…” she replied, leaning forward slowly.


“I’m hard in business… but I’m open to negotiations…” he continued, leaning to meet her halfway.


They kissed softly, tenderly, both holding the little branch of mistletoe between their hands. It took a long, long time until they felt satisfied after so many days without kissing, so many days of aching for the other’s comfort. When they pulled away, Damian put it over her ear, behind her hair, making her giggle.


“A waiting present, until I bring you the one I have back at the estate.” He decided.


His gaze was attracted by the hair accessories on the top of her head, that looked like horns. He moved his hand to take them off, but Anya moved away, subtly.


“D-do you sleep with them?” he asked, genuinely curious because he had no idea how girls’ hair worked (probably something mystic that involved the moon or whatever).


“N-no but…”


Anya grabbed a strand of her hair, curling and uncurling the tip nervously. How could she explain to him that she put on her hair accessories to hide


What is it? Some sort of personal habit? She doesn’t want me to look? He wondered, curious and not daring to cross boundaries.


“…I just have… I wear them to hide…”


She closed her eyes, as if defeated.


“To hide scars… ugly scars… on the sides of my head… I-I got them as a child…”


“Oh… I have scars too, everyone has got some.” He answered, matter-of-factly.


Not like those, she thought to herself.


Unable to look at him, she reached up, slowly removing the pins that had been carefully attached to keep the horn-like accessory in place, no matter what. She felt the strands of hair falling around the bare area of her scar. She took off the other one. Then, she stood there, eyes closed, heart beating fast.




Damian leaned forward, observing the obvious marks. Large circular scars, on the sides of her head, keeping an entire strand of hair unable to grow back. The little horns hid them perfectly and he realised that the only few times he had seen her without her hair accessories, her hair had been tied back to cover it.


“How did you even manage to do that?” he asked, more bewildered than disgusted as she had feared.


“I… fell down,” she lied, “I don’t remember much… Bad head injury…”


“To leave scars like that, certainly…” he answered thoughtfully, trying to come up with a scenario that would make sense.


I can’t tell him that’s where the scientists hired by his father in a secret project dug holes in my skull to mess with my brain… she thought, looking down.


“Hey, Anya, it’s just scars, don’t look so grim,” he intervened, tilting her chin up.


But it wasn’t just scars, not for her, it had a history she wasn’t ready to tell him.


“I don’t care about it… it’s not ugly… and even if it were… I wouldn’t care either way.”


She hummed doubtfully. Sensing that she wasn’t believing him, Damian suddenly stood up, dragging her up with him. She blinked curiously when he reached for the bottom of his shirt and took it off. Anya gasped, blushing fifty shades of red, a sudden heat coiling at her insides. She didn’t have time to admire his abs and pectorals that, to her great disappointment, he was already turning around. The fool.


She gasped again, not for the same reason.


“Who did this to you?” She exclaimed, brushing her fingers against two vertical scars in his back, to the level of his shoulder blades.


“Only my own stupid younger self,” he answered with an embarrassed smile, glancing at her from over his shoulder.


She frowned, silently requiring an explanation. She was almost vibrating in anger, ready to punch whoever had hurt him in the past.


“For some reason, I loved the myth of Daedalus and his son, Icarus, as a child. And there is this giant pine tree in the Desmond Park that I used to climb… One day, I decided to make myself wings, like Daedalus had done for himself and his son. I thought that if I tried hard enough, I could fly.”


Anya’s lips tugged into a smile, incapable of resisting when she saw flashes of his memory.


“I read up some engineering books about flying and planes for days, made my wings, got to the pine tree, climbed it… and I was convinced that I had mastered man-flying at the mere age of four years old.”


“Oh no…” she said, but she was grinning just from the way he was smiling about it.


“I fell down, really badly,” he laughed, “The branches broke so harshly that they still haven’t grown back, and we can see the trajectory I followed in my fall. I would have landed, harshly on the grass, but my improvised wings had held on. I fell on my back and the metal parts dug deeply… I learned two things that day. There was a good reason such a myth existed… and gravity is a thing.”


“Oh no, Damian…” she repeated, covering her face from second-hand embarrassment, “It’s kind of adorable, though…”


“I got so scared, I never climbed that tree ever again. But you know what my mother told me? Even if I couldn’t fly, it still looked like I had had wings, for a short time.”


He pointed at his back and Anya realised that indeed, it looked like the scars she’d imagine a fallen angel to carry on their backs. Or, in this precise situation, a fallen, human griffin.


Her fingertips touched the scarred skin. He startled, then relaxed when she placed her hands over his shoulder blades.


“You could have gotten really, really hurt…” she whispered.


Her warm breath against his back made him shiver. She sensed his reaction, and his blushing cheeks even without looking at him. She couldn’t help her hands from moving, over his back, his shoulders, gently massaging the tense muscles. She hadn’t expected to be able to feel them ripple under her fingertips, and yet, she could feel every move, every intake of breath, every tremble.


She leaned forward, pressing her lips between his shoulder blades. He jumped, turning his head around.


A-Anya– if your father catches us, I am dead–”


“He’s already asleep, don’t worry,” she answered.


He paused, opening and closing his lips, looking at her in disbelief.


“Oh, screw this,” he murmured, turning around.


She barely had time to brace herself before he kissed her, pushing her against the desk behind her. One hand went against her back, drawing her against his bare chest, the other grabbed her hip. She arched against him, gasping into his mouth to feel so much of his muscular chest. Her hands held onto his shoulders, then went against the back of his neck, into his hair, pulling him closer, closer, and closer.


She opened her lips and he eagerly dived into paradise, longingly, passionately, exploring her mouth, tongues dancing and tasting days’ worth of longing.


“I missed you,” he breathed, in between two kisses.


She answered by capturing his lips again. His two hands rested on her hips, greedily grabbing the fabric, almost pulling it off her body. Her hips grinded against his.


He pushed her away from him. So suddenly that it took her a moment to register what had just happened.


He turned away from her, passing a hand against his swollen lips, then into his hair, grasping it.


“I-I’m sorry,” she stammered, blushing and embarrassed to have acted so brazen.


“N-no, it’s me, I just… I’m not sure I can control myself when…”


Heavens, she’s as good as naked under that stupid baggy thing… the clothes I’m wearing do nothing to conceal anything I might feel… I can’t let her rile me up, or her parents will definitely wake up and I’ll die… Pops is the kindest man I’ve ever met but there’s something murderous in his eyes when he threatens me…


“No, I’m… you’ve been… emotional and so have I and…”


Silence fell between them. Anya straightened up, trying to conceal what kissing him half naked had done to her. He only had to lift the bottom of her night clothe to find that out. That would unleash the beast he is trying so hard to control.


“Should we… go to sleep…?” she asked hesitantly.


He turned back towards her, nodding.


Anya’s gaze got lost as she visibly checked him out. From shoulders, to his abs, navel and the way his hips drew a V shape that drew her attention no matter what.




She shook her head, forcing her gaze to go back to his face.


“Yes?” she squeaked.


“As flattered as I am that you obviously like what you are seeing, it is the middle of winter, and I’m starting to feel the cold…” he said, a prideful smirk lighting up his face.


She rolled her eyes, grabbing the shirt he had left at her feet and throwing it at him. He caught it effortlessly, putting it back on despite her pout. A pout he wanted to kiss away, but she was right. They had been emotional, they were tired, and they needed sleep before doing something particularly stupid.


“Get in bed, so we can finally catch some sleep,” she muttered, obviously grumpy that she didn’t get to see any more of him.


He smirked, puffing out his chest just a tiny bit. Then her words hit him.


“Wait, what? In bed? Your bed? Together?” he stammered.


She was already settling on it, pulling the covers up to invite him.


“Unless you’d prefer that,” she said, pointing at the mattress on the floor.


A night on a cold mattress on the floor? Or a night spent with Anya?


He might have been dreaming, but he wasn’t stupid. He’d choose the dream a thousand times over.


A little shyly, he approached her. He lied down, she pulled the covers over the two of them. She turned off the light, and the night began.


Anya stared up at the ceiling, heart beating hard against her chest. Damian was just as still, hands carefully gathered over his tummy.


Long, long minutes went by when they remained completely unmoving.


Fuck, there’s no way I’ll be able to sleep with her next to me like that, he thought, even though sleep pulled at his eyes.


Anya glanced at him, swallowing hard when she perceived his thoughts.


She had spent lots of sleepovers at Becky’s or other friends’, but… they always had big houses with several rooms. She had never slept with anyone else. She had never heard someone’s thoughts, so loudly, in the quiet night.


Especially not when the thoughts were about her. About her body. About what had just occurred. What could have occurred. What could still occur.


They were nervous. So nervous. It almost energised the air around them, keeping them awake despite the absolute exhaustion they felt, especially Damian who hasn’t had a proper night’s sleep for several nights in a row… But he couldn’t bring himself to fall asleep when he was so tense, next to Anya.


“Damian,” she whispered in the night.


He startled next to her, but he wasn’t that surprised to hear her still awake.




She turned on her side, propping her head on her hand, her elbow resting next to him. Despite the darkness, she could still trace the shape of his face and see his eyes gleam.


“…You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to but… did you fight with your brother?”


It took him a long moment to answer, his memories fumbled enough that she remained confused about what had really happened.


“No. Yes…? Maybe? I don’t know… but… we communicated… even with a lot of shouting… which is… progress, I guess.”


“Are you okay? Besides… the obvious…”


“I wasn’t expecting to be told that my father was a war criminal and a monster but… I think… in the end… I’m glad… to know the truth… That my brother trusted me enough with the truth. I owe it to him to be honest in return, even if it means screaming our heads off at each other.”


She observed him, her heart quietly reaching for his. Aching to tell him everything, no matter the consequences.


“Damian… I need to tell you something…”


He looked at her, a glimmer of what she assumed was curiosity in his eyes, with a bit of worry.


“I-I haven’t been entirely honest with you… there’s… there are things I need to tell you… I… I just don’t know how…”


Her voice broke. Damian suddenly sat up, reaching for her face, half-blindly. He cupped her cheek.


“Hey, it’s okay… don’t feel forced to say anything now… I think we’ve had enough emotions for a whole year, at least…”


She chuckled, fighting the tears. He must have sensed her emotions, because he pressed his forehead against hers.


“Whenever you’re ready to share this burden with me… I’ll be here for you… I promised I’d share my burdens with you, right? And I’ll take some of yours, I’ll do the same for you, αγάπη μου…”


“W-what does this mean?” she asked, blinking in confusion.


She heard the words in his mind before he whispered them against her lips.


My love.


“My love… Cheesy, I know–” he answered, laughing in embarrassment.


She leaned over, kissing him tenderly.


The kiss pushed him down against the pillows. He brushed his thumb against her cheek. She took his other hand, entwining their fingers together.


Sighing for breath, to let out some of the overwhelmingly beautiful emotions that had replaced the darkness and the sadness, Anya leaned against his body. He wrapped his arms around her, holding her tight and close to him.


“I can hear your heartbeat,” she murmured, in awe, pressing her ear against his torso.


He smiled, in the darkness, eyes closing slowly.


“And I can feel yours against my side…”


It beat steadily, like a lullaby. Curled into one another, fitting perfectly like two pieces of a puzzle, like two stars of a constellation that had found one another, they slipped into a peaceful and restful sleep with ease.