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I'm here on bended knee (and my heart is yours to keep)

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Moonlight drenches Mondstadt in its pale silver sheen as Jean stalks empty streets toward the Temple of Dusk, its sconces afire with a dim purple glow that lures her ever closer like a moth to a flame.

Lisa, she thinks, a mantra in her mind, the ragged, hopeful thread that stitches Jean together. She’ll know what to do…

She pays no heed to the nightly noise—the pounding of her pulse smothering every sound save for the mechanical click of her heels against the cobblestones—and she feels her mood plummet with every swift step, spiralling since suppertime hours ago.

Meals with her mother are seldom uneventful, but this evening’s in particular had come with an ultimatum… a demand that had sent her heart into a tailspin as her future had shattered like glass before her eyes.

She heaves a trembling sigh into the thick velvet night, the corners of her lips pinched in a frown, and Jean marches across the threshold of the haven that houses her heart, grimly calculating the odds of escaping her fate.

Despite the late hour, the temple is bustling. Priestesses and maidens hasten across the atrium, sweeping the tiles and tidying the hall, preparing for the crowd of worshippers who will arrive at daybreak, but Jean is not here to seek the Goddess for help…

… And even if she were, Jean doubts She would deign to descend from the heavens and intervene on her behalf—her problems selfish and trivial in the grand scheme of things.

Their Lady of Tempests and Time, Thunder and Lightning, has far more vital matters to attend to.

Jean steps into the sanctuary, pallid and subdued in the guttering half-light, and she catches the attention of a passing maiden with a polite, but stiff, bow of her head.

“I must speak with the High Priestess,” she says, unnervingly tense, panic a wild thing churning in her chest like a summer storm woven by the hands of the Goddess. “Please,” she adds with an approximation of calm, as her fingers twitch idly on the hilt of her sword. “It’s urgent.”

The maiden nods and bows in reply. “Right away, Master Gunnhildr.” 

She withdraws further into the temple, lavender robe winglike spread out in her wake, and Jean waits with frayed patience for her dearest friend, whose advice she requires with mounting desperation.

She raps out a quick rhythm on the pristine marble floor that projects her racing pulse to the vaulted ceiling, and soon enough the maiden returns with a hesitant look, and gestures for Jean to follow her.

“Civilians are only rarely permitted entry to the Goddess’ Sanctum…” she says, and glances at Jean from the corner of her eye. “You must be held in high esteem by Lady Minci, indeed, if she has agreed to receive you there.”

Jean doesn’t answer, cannot find the words—does not trust that her tongue will safeguard her secrets—and they wind deeper and deeper into the labyrinthine temple until Jean isn’t sure she could find her way out.

The corridor widens to an imposing chamber, where the effigy of the Goddess towers above. Candles flicker on every surface, a haze of fragrant smoke drifting like ocean mist, and the sea of violet rose petals strewn at the statue’s feet overpowers Jean’s senses, alluring and exquisite.

The High Priestess stands solemn, arms crossed beneath her breasts, two fingers pensively tapping her chin, and Jean feels her heart lurch with the usual adoration, reserved exclusively for Lisa and no one else.

She turns when the maiden leads Jean into the Sanctum, gazes upon her with those bright emerald eyes, but her face remains stoic until the maiden departs, leaving them alone in the cavernous room.

The poplar doors shut with the boom of rolling thunder, the seconds stretching thin as they stare at one another, before Lisa forsakes her inscrutable façade and strides to Jean’s side fast as lightning.

Jean falls into her embrace, pressing kisses to her neck, seeks salvation in the arms of her clandestine, midnight lover, and she buries her head in the crook of Lisa’s shoulder, bewitched by magic and moonbeams and the rich scent of roses.

“What’s happened, Jean?” she asks, breath tickling her ear, and Jean’s whole body shivers at the intensity of her tone, fiercely protective and earnestly kind, with an ardour that freezes the relentless sands of time. “What’s wrong?”

Jean suspects Lisa already knows—her intuition more piercing than the fabled Oracles of old—compassion and concern blazing in the depths of her eyes when Jean pulls back slowly to meet them.

She inhales a quaking breath. Exhales just as feebly. Twines her fingers in Lisa’s hair flowing loosely down her back. 

“My betrothal to the Heir of the Ragnvindr Clan has been arranged,” she whispers, resting her forehead against Lisa’s, absorbing solace and security from the floral perfume on her skin. “And while I understand well that merging our families would strengthen Mondstadt and its interests abroad, the very thought of sharing a life with him fills me with dread.”

Lisa’s arms tighten around Jean’s waist, the pressure of her fingertips possessive along her spine, and Jean wishes, more than anything, to remain here in this moment—enveloped in the refuge of their revitalizing love.

“It is selfish of me,” Jean continues, muffled by her guilt, “because Mondstadt must always take first priority, but I don’t want to marry him, Lisa. I don’t—”

Lisa interrupts her with a breathtaking kiss, and Jean stifles a sob against Lisa’s perfect lips.

“Refuse the betrothal,” she says, thick as honey, equally as sweet and twice as tempting, but Jean can hear the power resounding in her voice like an oncoming squall announcing its approach. “The reins of your life are in your hands—nobody has control except you.”

Jean huffs a laugh into the silence, humourless and defeated.

“My mother intends to publicly announce the engagement in a few days’ time,” Jean murmurs, feather-light against Lisa’s lips, and leans closer again for the briefest of kisses before pulling back to brush her thumbs across her cheeks. “You know that such a refusal would be social and political suicide, and everything I’ve done—everything I had hoped to do—it would all be for naught in light of the scandal it would cause.”

She swallows the lump lodged hard in her throat. Drowns herself longingly in a spellbinding sea of green.

“My only other option is to flee, and I cannot abandon Mondstadt. Abandon you.” Her hands drop to her sides, balled into fists, and she sets her shoulders in a determined, steely line. “I will not.”

Lisa’s gaze seems to delve straight to her heart—to bypass her body and peer into her soul—and she removes gentle hands from the curve of Jean’s waist in favour of lacing their fingers together.

The sensation grounds her, soothes her despair, and love courses hot through her veins like wildfire.

“There is one other option you could pursue…” Lisa says, tracing thoughtful circles over Jean’s palms. “You could join the Temple. Become my Favonius liaison. And by pledging your life in service to the Goddess, you would free yourself from marriage—”

“—Because temple acolytes may not take a spouse…” Jean finishes her sentence, brows rising high, blue eyes wide as understanding strikes.

Lisa’s smile is beautiful, tender and serene, and she brings Jean’s hands up to her lips, laying an ardent kiss to the shining scars on her skin. “Exactly.”

Jean says nothing for a long, heavy moment, weighing and measuring and considering this plan: 

Her mother would certainly know what she’d done, and it would strain their relationship perhaps beyond repair, but they are strained enough already, practically strangers to each other, with one toe firmly past the point of no return.

It would not take much to push her fully beyond that line, and Jean is not sure it would be too much of a loss.

What she stands to gain is much greater, besides: autonomy and the ability to do right by Mondstadt… and the chance to stay wrapped in the warmth of Lisa’s arms, loving her in secret and never letting her go.

And yet… Jean’s family has always been faithful to Barbatos, exalting Dawn over Dusk between Mondstadt’s two Gods, and she wonders, too, if a lifetime of prayer would suit the diligence of her nature; thinks of her father and her sister at the Cathedral on the hill, lending aid to the community, but otherwise cloistered, tethered to its walls till the end of their days.

Jean prefers a more direct strategy—responding immediately when troubles arise—and as the Sword and Shield of Mondstadt she is committed to its defense, dragged endlessly by duty in every direction and bloodstained by battle against the hordes of the Abyss…

Perhaps too stained and harried to properly attend to their Goddess, by whose grace is their Nation kept safe from calamity.

She sighs once more, regretful and uncertain, releasing Lisa’s hands as she turns away from her.

“I do not know if I am pure enough, Lisa. Worthy enough,” Jean murmurs, glancing upward at the statue’s elegant features, captured in stone for all eternity. “I am a knight, not a priestess, and the Goddess deserves far better than me… someone who can devote their whole self to Her, who has the time to allocate solely to Her worship and has not been tarnished by violence and war.”

Silence falls heavy, oppressively so—the stillness of the Sanctum settling physically on her shoulders—and when Lisa’s presence beside her flares vibrant with energy, Jean worries she may have made a grievous mistake.

But when she turns again to meet Lisa’s gaze, Jean fails to contain the gasp that is wrested from her throat—fails completely to curb the stupor that paralyzes her mind and sends her heart reeling in the space between her lungs:

“What I deserve,” Lisa says, soft and sincere, a storm incarnate compressed in human shape, “is for me to decide, don’t you agree?” 

As She speaks, She changes, almost growing in stature—Her aura so dense She could force Jean to her knees—and as static leaps from Her body, vivid and violet, Her eyes glow with the brilliance of infinite stars.

“You—” Jean whispers, cutting herself off, her entire world shifting in the blink of an eye. “You’re…”

The Goddess’ smile is warm when She caresses Jean’s cheek, electricity rippling in waves across Her skin, while Jean gapes, awestruck, entranced and unafraid, words catching in her throat only to die on her tongue.

“Worship takes many forms,” She continues, Her voice smooth as silk, hushed and resonant all at once, “and you have already served me well: protecting our people from threats near and far… and giving me the gift of such cherished love as I have never experienced before.”

Her flawless, bare hand rises to mirror the other—descending from her cheeks to grasp either side of Jean’s neck—as She grazes the corner of slightly-parted lips in a kiss more intense than Jean could have ever imagined. Jean’s eyes flutter shut as she leans into Her touch, breathless and tingling and overcome with emotion, and when she next opens her eyes, the lightning recedes: Lisa merely a priestess clad in modest, dark purple.

Jean inhales sharply, can no longer stand—sinking to the floor with her head bowed in respect—but Lisa humbles herself to kneel close beside her, forefinger and thumb gently lifting her chin.

“You are my Champion, Jean,” she says, with admiration untold, and wipes tears from Jean’s face she hadn’t realized she’d shed. “And you would be most welcome here. But no matter which path you choose, my favour goes with you.” She pauses for a moment to press a kiss to Jean’s forehead, lingering until affection seeps into the matrix of her bones. “Along with my love.”

Jean clasps Lisa’s wrists, focuses her mind, breathes deep the bittersweet aroma of ozone on the air, and she locks eyes with Lisa with all the passion in her soul—

And knows there is but one way forward for her now.

“What must I do?” Jean asks, quiet and keen, heart skipping a beat at the way Lisa beams.

“You will keep your titles and position among the Order,” she replies, “and I shall personally proclaim your induction in the morning. I doubt even Frederica would defy a High Priestess—it is my duty to speak for the Goddess, after all, and everyone accepts that her word is Law.” She winks, eyes sparkling, grin sly and sublime, and the vestigial shock in Jean’s system transforms into joy at the knowledge that soon she’ll be freed from the last of her shackles, her dearest-held dreams forged into reality.

“As for your part, however…” Lisa’s voice trails away, seductive and light, sauntering toward the altar in the statue’s shadow, and as she walks, her robe shimmers and melts from her frame—dissolving like snow in the first rays of spring.

Lisa sits on the slab of violet-veined stone, offering her body as if in sacrifice to herself, and Jean does not miss the significance of the gesture—feels the magnitude of Lisa’s gravity, magnetic in her blood, when Lisa beckons her close with an outstretched hand.

“Jean Gunnhildr,” she whispers, fondness brighter than the sun. “My Dandelion Knight…”

Jean joins her on the dais, flushed to her toes, and stands, tall and eager, between the Goddess’ parted legs.

“Bind yourself to me.”

It is a command and a plea and Jean resists neither, lifting her head to meet Lisa’s eyes, and Jean’s breath hitches, shuddered and shallow, at the flames of desire she finds burning there.

She seizes Lisa’s lips in an intoxicating kiss, hands on her hips holding her steady, and she kisses her way down her neck to her chest, enfolding a nipple in her dedicated mouth. 

Lisa’s moans are like music, glorious to her ears—a symphony conducted by each flick of her tongue—and while Jean has honoured the Gods all her life, not once had she expected to feel such rapture… such absolute ecstasy scorching from within.

She lavishes Lisa’s breasts with undivided attention, Lisa’s lithe fingers tangling roughly in golden hair, urging Jean onward without need for words as they lose themselves in a dance they perfected long ago.

Jean bites sensitive skin and soothes with doting kisses, glancing up through her lashes as she descends again to her knees, and the familiar action now carries more weight as Jean reaffirms her faith and learns to worship anew.

The insides of Lisa's thighs are littered with faint, fading bruises, mementos from their rendezvous a few nights prior—when Jean had whispered mine like a brand into her skin, Lisa’s echo of yours a devout whisper on the wind—and it is this reminder of their intimate past that assures Jean their love is not blasphemy; grants her the courage to close the distance between them and take what has been offered without any semblance of shame.

She loops strong arms around Lisa’s legs, sucks another bruise at the apex of her thighs, and Jean revels in the bliss of Lisa’s grip in her hair, tightening like a vise at the first touch of her tongue.

“Jean…” she says, pitched almost to a whine, and the time for teasing comes abruptly to an end.

She delays no further, sets a brisk, relentless pace, tongue circling the bundle of nerves at Lisa’s core, and Lisa’s thighs stiffen around Jean’s head, her universe narrowing to nothing but Lisa.

Lisa grinds against her face and Jean can hardly breathe, but she continues undeterred till Lisa’s whimpers reach her ears—the telltale sign that she is close to release, a sound Jean has memorized and seared into her heart.

Jean retreats, then, to Lisa’s dismay—groaning as Jean drops kisses to rosy, heated skin—and when Jean bites at her nipples, she presses two fingers inside her, thumb taking the place of her tireless tongue.

Jean locks eyes with Lisa and she increases her tempo, observes as her pupils dilate to resemble an eclipse: darkness surrounded by a glowing green corona, gleaming with elation and timeless love.

Jean kisses the spot directly over her heart.

Speaks against her breast as she drives her ever higher.

“Here do I swear fealty to you, and only you.”

Lisa’s inner muscles clamp around her fingers, gasps flying to the rafters of her own Blessed Sanctum.

“Here do I swear to protect Mondstadt in your name.”

Her eyes glow brighter, violet rippling over her body, and the hairs at the nape of Jean’s neck stand on end.

“Here do I offer my sword in your service,” she whispers, “until you choose to release me, or death takes me.”

Lisa cries out aloud, throws her head back, and Jean feels her power building beneath her skin, static in the air like stormclouds fit to burst…

“I love you,” Jean says, and Lisa bucks against her hand. “I am yours, Lisa. For as long as you’ll have me.”

She strokes with her thumb, curls her fingers just so, and watches a Goddess unravel at the seams.

Lisa’s moans fill the air when she comes hard on Jean’s fingers, illuminating the chamber as lightning erupts from her body, a nova among the heavens that floods radiance into the void and purls gently over Jean in an electric embrace.

She cannot look away, utterly captivated, as Lisa falls from the firmament with deep, heaving breaths, and once she has calmed, Jean smoothly removes her fingers to take them in her mouth, savouring the sweetness of this nectar of the Gods.

Jean is electrified further when Lisa returns her gaze, ravenous and reverent in equal measure, and she sits up fully as she tugs Jean against her, hands rising to her cheeks to draw her in for a kiss.

“I accept your vows,” Lisa says, a whisper between kisses, and now that her truth has been revealed, the veil irrevocably lifted from Jean’s senses, she can hear in her voice the song of Celestia: melodies of the cosmos through all the ages of the world. “And now you are mine.”

The words send a thrill from top to toe, thrumming in her heart as they always do, and Jean leans in for another fleeting kiss, inhaling the heady fragrance of roses and storms.

One kiss becomes two, becomes three, four, five—their momentum surging with the swiftness of the wind—and Jean gasps at the pleasure that borders slightly on pain when Lisa drags sparking fingertips along her sides. Even through fabric, the touch is divine, and anticipation bubbles beneath Jean’s skin; an ache blooming between her thighs for Lisa’s hands, lips, tongue, desperate for relief that only Lisa can provide.

Lisa stares at her with hungry green eyes, cradling Jean’s waist as she guides her toward the altar. 

Lies her back on cold marble, vanishes her armour and clothes. Kisses a line across Jean’s flushing chest.

“I have walked this earth for thousands of years,” she says, unbearably tender against her skin, “and I have had many partners in that time. But you… you were a revelation, Jean, and no one is more precious to me than you.”

Jean looses a noise hoarse with her need, palming her own breasts as Lisa sinks to her knees, and Jean yields to the vastness of Lisa’s power—magic coiling in her body like a hurricane.

“Let me show you how it feels to be loved by a God,” Lisa says, murmured low before parting Jean’s folds with her tongue, and that brief contact alone sends her soaring among the clouds, propelling her to heights hitherto unknown. “Let me show you…”

She arches off the altar, a moan on her lips, one hand in Lisa’s hair an anchor to the present, and as Jean surrenders herself to lightning and love—

The storm swirls in her soul, imperishable.