It was almost too easy to love her, with her soft golden hair, gentle eyes, and a loving smile. Asseylum's dainty laughter, light but cheerful like tiny bells, was the singular joy in his life. It terrified him sometimes, how far he would go just for a word of praise or a slight upturn of her lips to grace his way.
They were young, but even then, Slaine knew that he would never love anyone else the way he loves her, that he will never again give so much of himself to anyone as he gave to her.
2. Cruhteo (sans beating)
Golden hair, just like Asseylum, he sometimes wondered if it was as soft. The count's stern eyes looked down upon his small frame with utmost disdain, Slaine has never felt so small. His heartbeat gained a habit of fluctuating wildly between a slow, wary pace, and flitting uncontrollably like a caged finch in Cruhteo's presence. The older man was not cruel, but neither was he kind. Cold and efficient, he spared Slaine few words whenever they met over Asseylum's dining table, but a doting uncle he was, and only towards his precious niece did he ever show an affectionate smile.
Desire came unexpectedly, creeping in so slowly that Slaine did not realize until it had progressed far too deep. Since when had he started following the man with his eyes, tracing the elegant outlines of his silhouette, carrying himself with such grace and air that Slaine forever wished to imitate. Since when had his pure admiration become dampened by lust.
Unwelcomed fantasies of pawing at strong, broad shoulders as they hunched over his folded body started flashing before his eyes at the most inopportune times. How he unwittingly yearned for those large, rough hands to roam over his bare skin, how he wished for those aquamarine eyes, darkened with pleasure to gaze lovingly over his arching body and right into his soul. More than once did his prepubescent body jolt awake at night, feverishly hot and drenched in sweat, phantom touches still lingering on his flushed skin, mind confused at this strange ache pulsing through his being.
Slaine did not know what this feeling was called, surely it wasn't love, for love was like his feelings for Asseylum, wanting to protect and happy to sacrifice. But with this man he wanted to be selfish, to service for his own sake and to receive equivalent in return, he had become hopelessly intoxicated.
A third guardian, a second father. Saazbaum was an affectionate man, much kinder than Cruhteo had ever been. Firm, but understanding, he stood and pushed at the boundaries of Slaine's closed off heart. His wife, Madame Orlaine, unable to have a child of her own, welcomed him warmly under her wing.
Unfamiliar with such open affection, Slaine shied and steeled himself away from them, remaining bashful and humble despite their repeated invitations to be at ease. He doesn't know how to properly express the extent of his gratitude for their kindness, no matter what he said or did, it would never be enough.
But when he lifts his hesitant gaze to met with theirs, gentle, with soft smile creases crinkling at the edges, We understand, it seemed to say. Just for that instant, Slaine allowed himself to be spoiled, to drink in their assurance and bathe in their love, feeling more safe and content than he had ever been his entire life.
.... Was it? No... It couldn't be.... But it feels like....
Slaine turned to his taller companion, unable to stop a hint of suspicion from leaking into his tone,
"Mister Harklight? Is something wrong?"
The heated gaze Slaine felt prodding insistently at the back of his neck all this time cooled and steeled immediately upon meeting his turquoise eyes. Harklight did well to not appear outwardly startled, but Slaine was familiar with all the motions and knew exactly where to look to confirm his suspicions,
"No, not at all," the man replied smoothly without missing a beat. Slaine was almost jealous of how quickly he could recover.
It's the first time he felt it directed towards himself, but he'd recognize the look of yearning adoration anywhere (after all, he had spent most of his life channeling it himself). Slaine sighed inwardly, this development was beyond his expectations.
Honestly he felt flattered to be on the receiving end of affections from someone as kind and capable as Harklight, but it was unsettling to be loved and not loving for once. How should he proceed in this situation? He really did not know.
It'll be best to ignore it, wait and see if he makes a move, Slaine decided, a placid smile curving his lips. He turned on his heels with a soft mutter of 'Is that so' and continued on his way, deliberately accenting the movement of his hips. That gaze was on him again, unabashedly lower this time, and Slaine felt a shiver of excitement running up his spine.
He had decided to wait, but that didn't mean he couldn't speed things up a little.
Lemrina, he noticed, was the person he most closely related with out of everyone he had ever come across. At first, she seemed almost his complete opposite; cynical and snarky, but that was just a harsh exterior shelling a cowering, lonely child inside. The closer he got, and the more he knew, the more apparent it became that perhaps she was his kindred spirit, soulmate almost, a fellow sufferer of the same predicaments that had plagued him all his life.
He wanted happiness for her, the desire stemming deeper and closer to his heart than even that which he wished for Asseylum. Lemrina thought they could find it in each other, quench the yearning for home and love which had long since alluded them both. Slaine wanted to respond in kind, he too wanted her to be the one, but he understood that they couldn't provide that for each other. Like two puzzles missing the same piece, because they were too similar, they could never complete one another.
Slaine was never one to pull away, but he did. And for the first time he understood that scars too were inflicted on those who leave, and not just those left behind.
+ One time he didn't
Just another person in the crowd, but somehow those vermillion eyes seemed so dearly nostalgic. They locked gaze with eachother, rusty red clashing with sharp teal, and felt the ever moving background fade to an indistinguishable blur.
There was something, this was different, I must speak out-
Slaine opened his mouth, but the foreign sound was stuck in his throat. He was about to call a name, forgotten syllables almost forming at the tip of his tongue. It was a strange sensation, to have your body remember something so strongly but to have no recollection of it whatsoever in your memories. Slaine was certain that this was the first time he had laid eyes on the other, but at the same time, the man felt distinctly familiar.
A slight tug on his sleeve broke his reverie, Slaine turned to find Asseylum's gentle green orbs regarding him with concern,
"Slaine? Are you alright? You look so startled..."
Slaine shirked back in guilt from the worry marring her expression, and collected himself enough to plaster on a reassuring smile,
"No it's nothing, I'm sorry for stopping so suddenly! Let's get going."
Asseylum wasn't convinced, but she didn't pry either, for that, Slaine was thankful. He turned back to look once before falling into step with her, the man was no longer there.