The sun shines bright this morning and the air is fresh; they can hear seagulls from the nearby docks. The quiet is quickly disrupted though, as Beca and Aubrey leave the timberline and walk through the gates of the small town. Although they are familiar with the hustle and bustle, the small taverns they sometimes play in are much preferred over the large crowd of the market they now immerge in.
When someone bumps into Beca, an angry bleating sound leaves their mouth and they get poked by Aubrey.
“He ran into me! And smelled a lot like harpy.” Beca keeps snarling quietly until the person is out of reach.
“Baby, even if he were a harpy, we’re not her to start a brawl.”
“I’d be more than ready.” They paw the ground with their sandals.
Aubrey sighs and drags Beca along at their clothes. Both wear a short toga with light sandals and their long hair flows down in curves today. Aubrey gives a signal to stop and Beca peeps through a few branches of a still small olive tree, planted in a bucket.
„… and you’re sure?“ Their gaze follows a red-haired woman who is apparently browsing at a fruit and vegetable booth.
“Sure I’m sure. Don’t you know about that passage?” Aubrey whispers back and follows Beca’s example.
“What do I know, I never read it.”
“What? How is that possible? It’s the standard work about our kind.” Aubrey looks incredulously at the human form next to her.
Beca holds their view on the woman but eventually turns to Aubrey when they notice her stare. “What? I never went to satyr school or whatevs. My dad was always too drunk on wine to tell me stuff like that… and you know I think it’s boring. Although the question is, if I don’t read it, will it still suck?”
Aubrey huffs contemptuously and stomps a foot.
“Oh Zeus, you’re so cute when you’re annoyed.” Beca chuckles and strokes Aubrey’s forearm. “However the effect is weakened with those squishy things.” They point down to Aubrey’s feet. “How can humans do anything else than walk without pain?”
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe if you’d actually read a thing or two about humans-“
“Yeah, yeah.” Beca turns and puts their lips on the blonde, who visibly calms down. “Come on, she’s walking to the next booth.” They grab Aubrey’s hand and tug her to another plant in a large bucket.
Aubrey pouts. “You know you can’t do this every time I say something you don’t want to hear.”
“I’ll continue as long as it works” Beca replies and winks mischievously. “Could you please tell me about the passage then?” They ask with a fake sweet smile and fluttering eyelashes.
“Fine; but stop this nonsense with your face. And do me a favor and remember it. So. It pretty much says that, although often enough fauns have one mate, there are several who have two, where the third one usually is the mate of both. It’s supposed to be more common than one can think, but because it’s probably hard to find a third mate, it’s less observed.” Aubrey explains with a teaching voice.
“Okay. And how did you find out that she’s our second? I mean right know it’s pretty hard with her being in her-“ Beca gesticulates at the woman’s form but stops their sentence when a group of humans passes both of them and is eyeing them suspiciously.
“WHAT? Can’t two humans do… human things? Get lost!” Beca shouts and the people quickly vanish with indignant looks on their faces.
“Come on, they act like we’re interrupting their morning stroll across the market!”
“Well, we do, kind of.” Aubrey corrects Beca and tugs at their human clothes.
“Anyways; where was I? Ah. How did you see it? She doesn’t look very faun-y right now; great transformation actually.”
“I saw her in the woods.”
“You saw her in the woods?” Beca deadpans.
“Yeah. I heard music and followed the sound until I saw her playing harp at the small waterfall a few miles from home.”
“So you kinda stalked her.”
“Did not! You would’ve followed the sound as well. It was then that I could see she has the same twist in her left horn as we do. And her eyes have the same golden corona. I could have talked to her, but I wanted you with me, since she’s ours and not just mine.”
“Aw, that’s so sweet, babe. Wait, how did you suppress the pull?”
Aubrey shrugs. “It was much less strong; maybe ‘cause we already mated?”
“Oh. Yeah, might be.” Beca makes sure they’re out of sight for most of the humans on the market and leans in again, capturing Aubrey’s lips. However the kiss gets heated very quickly, so the blonde pulls back.
“Not here. You know how fast we get carried away.” She peeks through the plant leaves again and frowns. “Shoot, where is she?”
“She’s over there, at the instrument booth. I was there a few times, the stuff they have is really amazing.” Beca answers excited. “Alright, here’s the plan-“
“I know the plan baby; I came up with it.”
“So shall I start?” Beca asks, eager to get into action.
“Please do. But don’t yell at humans anymore.” Aubrey shoots Beca a smile and shoves them in the direction of the instrument booth.
Beca jumps ahead and walks towards the red-haired woman. They’re able to perfectly imitate human behavior on a motoric level and quickly get lost in the shuffle of the market. When Beca gets near the booth, they can already hear the human salesman.
“May I be of service young lady?”
The woman frowns. “Um, I was just browsing around, thank you.”
“You’re sure? I could make you a good price for the flute there.”
“Yes, I’m sure, thank you very much.”
Beca listens to the little exchange and steps in right after, whispering to the woman. “The instruments are pretty exquisite, but they’re a bit overpriced.”
The woman turns to them and giggles softly. “I figured as much. Do you own one?”
“I certainly do; let’s just say mine is a bit more… enchanting?” Beca locks eyes with her and theirs flash lightning-fast, revealing a golden corona around dark blue irises. “Chaíre, I’m Beca.”
The woman gasps shortly. “Chloe.”
“Well Chloe, it was exceedingly nice to meet you, but I’m afraid I got to go already. Oh, and ignore the flutes. You look more like a harp-kind-of-girl” they say and wink before they vanish in the crowd.
Chloe is rooted to the spot while her gaze follows the brunette. Her eyes hold the same golden fringe and she has to literally shake herself to change them back before she turns to the shop keeper again.
“Miss, either you buy something or you need to leave. You scare away other customers if you’re just browsing the whole time.”
“Oh, sorry. Thank you for your time.” Chloe answers still a bit dazed and turns away, holding her paper bag tight against her body. She’s almost reached the end of the market when someone runs into her with a force that’s not characteristically human; her bag goes flying and she shrieks.
“By the gods, I’m so sorry Miss. Wait, I’ll help you” the person says and bends down to collect the dried figs and dates that wobbled out of the shopping bag.
With the re-filled bag in hand, the blonde turns to her a few seconds later. “There you go. I’m sorry I ran into you.”
“Oh, don’t worry, I was inattentive as well.”
“I’m not sure I got every piece,“ Aubrey points at the brown bag, “so how about a cup of tea to make amends?” She copies her mates move and looks at Chloe to reveal her eyes.
Chloe’s jaw falls down and she stares at the tall blonde human. “How-, who-, what?”
Aubrey winks at her and points to the exit of the market. “Come on, let’s get out of here,” she whispers and leads the way.
When they’re out of earshot from the last customers and go through the large town gates, Aubrey speaks up again.
“Sorry to surprise you. And sorry about the sweets; I didn’t want the impact to be so hard. My name is Aubrey.”
“It’s okay. I’m Chloe.” Chloe replies intrigued and watches the blonde, who looks like an upper-class citizen with her golden-white toga. Her hair is perfectly detailed and shines like wheat, while her legs are unusually smooth and, as her arms, of a warm light brown color. She smells like Chloe’s kind though; pleasantly earthly, like pine and lemon.
“How are you able to transform so perfectly?” she asks suspiciously.
Both women turn into a cartway that leads into the forest. Aubrey looks at her and smirks. “I could ask you the same, you know? You even bothered to have freckles.” She has the urge to nudge Chloe’s face, but suppresses it. Too early.
“Well, I know I could do it, but I wasn’t aware that there’s someone who’s equally good with it.”
“Oh, there’s not just someone.”
After around 20 minutes into the forest, they get to a tree stub and halt. Aubrey reaches into her toga and gets out a flute, which was hidden in there. She plays a little melody and waits.
Chloe notices how her body unconsciously reacts to the melody and she has to hold herself back from jumping Aubrey’s bones right then and there. “What are you doing? Shouldn’t we-“ she starts irritated, but gets interrupted by a creature coming out behind a tree.
“There you are, took you long enough.”
A small satyr approaches them, legs and lower belly covered in soft chocolate brown fur. The furless torso is mainly covered by a simple purple linen shirt, which looks as if someone drew a plaid pattern on it with a charcoal stick. When the satyr steps into a patch of sunlight shining through the trees, Chloe recognizes the face from the once human woman at the instrument booth. Except now their hair is a bit shorter and tousled; and they additionally have horns entwined with ivy on their head. The left one is twisted in a specific way, exactly like her own, and her instinct puts two and two together.
“You’re my mate!” She exclaims and as if on cue, she feels her body transform by itself. She doesn’t like the feeling of it now that she’s not in control of it; something that didn’t occur since she learned how to transform at all. It feels like a primal force surges through her; her skin prickles where reddish fur appears on her lower body and her head is hot. A few seconds later she feels her hooves again, a welcoming feeling on the hard and twig-filled forest ground.
Chloe isn’t really aware of her next moves; she just does them. It’s like an inevitable pull. She starts to paw the ground and then charges towards Beca, headfirst, initiating the acknowledgement of a mate. On any other occasion this would probably the beginning of a hierarchic encounter, but not under this particular circumstances.
Beca has already expected this and leans forward, their hooves firmly in the ground, to absorb the impact with their horns. Not long after that, Chloe loudly crashes into them and snorts heavily, only to be tightly gripped by Beca to calm her down.
“Shh, easy there, little goatling… well, aren’t you a beautiful thing!”
Next to them, Aubrey smiles brightly and nods approvingly, before she addresses Chloe.
“Although I really want you to stay like that, it’s probably inappropriate for our first meeting in threes. Here, I took something like that into account.” She walks over after she has collected the leftovers of Chloe’s dress that got ripped in the transformation process and offers her a linen shirt similar to Beca’s, in a plain yellow color.
Chloe slowly snaps out of her daze when she recognizes the piece of clothing in front of her eyes. “Oh. Thank you.” She takes the shirt and turns to Beca again when she notices that Aubrey starts to take off her own toga. The pheromones radiating off the small faun holding her smell like soil and juniper berries and home, and she nestles herself closer.
Beca presses Chloe tighter to their chest. Yup, that’s the same warm and safe feeling when they touched Aubrey for the first time. Definitely their mate. They’re painfully aware of Chloe’s bare chest though, and it’s getting harder to ignore their own… pull. “Hey, would you mind putting this on? You know it’s hard even with clothes.”
“Oh right. But you-, she-“ Chloe stutters and looks from Beca to Aubrey, who is in her original form now, too, wearing a light blue linen shirt with a low cut. Her once golden hair has turned a bit darker and a few yellow pollens sit on it here and there. Small horns peek out of her head, the left in a well-known shape. Her fur is in the same color as her hair and looks fluffy.
The primal feeling from before shoots through Chloe’s body again and she moves to Aubrey, her instinct telling her she’s being way too far away. She’s still held by Beca though, so there is no charging this time.
“By Dionysus, you too? How is this possible?” She touches Aubrey’s cheek and leans in, not able to control herself anymore with both fauns so close.
Aubrey can’t bring herself to do anything but let the kiss happen and pulls Beca closer to them, her arms embracing Chloe. The peace is disturbed however, when some noise from far off reaches their sensible ears, and a high-pitched whining fills the air.
Aubrey tears herself from the soothing feeling that goes along with the intimate touch of her new mate. She doesn’t want to stop this, but Beca’s pleading sounds snap her out of every possible trance, as will Chloe’s in the future.
She leans her forehead against Chloe’s. “They’re right. This has to wait a bit longer, we’re still too close to town. Come with us.” Aubrey whispers and grabs her hand. With Beca in towel, they run through the forest, deeper until they can be sure no hunters accidentally cross their territory.
It feels like a 5-minute trip, but they run for miles and miles until they’re in front of a large tree on a clearing. The sun illuminates the place around the tree, which is covered in moss and ivy; butterflies fly around and birds chirp. If she were a human, Chloe would dismiss it as a place that just happens to be particularly beautiful, like in a fairy-tale, but since she can practically feel the magical vibes pulsing, she knows where they are. They must have arrived at Beca’s and Aubrey’s lair.
Aubrey approaches the tree and Beca squeezes Chloe’s hand. “You’re okay?”
“Yeah, just a bit dizzy. It’s pretty overwhelming with two of you and it has been a long time since I saw another faun’s burrow. It’s nice.” She smiles lightly, which is reciprocated by Beca.
“Wait till we’re inside and in the backyard.”
With a kiss on her temple, they quickly follow Aubrey, who made a door appear at the foot of the tree. Chloe figures it was there all along, but since they’re not fully mated yet, it’s still hidden for her eyes - and many more, such as human’s or those of other creatures inhabiting the forest. Together with Beca close to her, she enters the lair, which is even bigger from the inside and furnished much to her liking.
It has a fireplace in the middle of a large area which is surrounded by blanket covered straw, and several shelves are lined up at the round walls, leaving space for a bunch of small windows. A collection of rocks and stumps put together to imitate something like stairs lead to another floor, maybe a sleeping place. In another direction, a door is embedded in the wall. They cross the area and leave it on the other side to get into the backyard Beca mentioned.
The large rear area exhibits several flowerbeds and a vineyard that stretches out further back. The front section they’ve entered is roofed by an ivy-covered grid and further straw covering blankets are spread around. Aubrey sits down on one of them and they join her immediately.
Safe and embraced, Chloe is able to slowly accustom to the feeling. She touches both of them somewhere, just to make sure they stay, but ultimately, she knows they don’t have any intention to leave. They say sweet nothings to her and after she had some time to adjust, Aubrey and Beca whisper over her head.
“Look at the small yellow flowers between her cornets, are those buttercups?” Aubrey asks grinning, full of adoration when she points on Chloe’s head.
“I suppose. You’re the gardener of us…” Beca answers smiling and inhales deeply. “She smells so good. Like you. Just… different. Like wild strawberries and moss.”
“You know I’m lying here with you, right?” Chloe disturbs their shared pining, smirking at both of them with a raised eyebrow.
They share a laughter and cuddle even closer before Aubrey replies. “Sorry. It’s probably a lot for you to take in. I suppose it’s a bit easier for us since we already bonded, but it’s incredible, nonetheless. We didn’t know we were missing something until now.”
“Yeah, that describes it pretty well.” Beca adds. “I’m sure you have questions?”
Chloe sits up a bit and looks around. The sun is lower than before and twilight is approaching. Apparently, they’ve spent much more time here than anticipated and she’s thirsty. A water bowl is sitting on the ground not far away and she reaches for it. After quenching the physical thirst, she’s ready to satisfy the mental one.
“Did I hurt you?” Chloe asks Beca, referring to the mate acknowledgement. The small faun smiles reassuringly.
“Not at all. I was expecting it and even if not, it’s supposed to feel that way. Funny story; I charged at Aubs with full speed when we first met and we went flying a few feet.”
“I was gardening and they took me by surprise! We were lucky for having a pile of leaves behind us” Aubrey laughs and crawls Beca’s legs.
Chloe grins, it’s not the most catastrophic story of a first meeting she’s heard yet, but sure not the most harmless. “Okay, then I don't have to feel guilty. Hm, let’s see. How come you didn’t charge at me?” She continues, referring to Aubrey.
“We don’t know, but I think it’s because Beca and I already mated. I hope you’re not disappointed?”
“Oh no. I knew that it would come eventually, but I wasn’t prepared at all. I’m a bit relieved not having some of you running at me if I’m honest.” She blushes a bit and takes another sip of water to hide it. “Speaking of already mated… how is this,” she points between the three of them, “even possible? I mean I obviously feel it, but…”
“Are you kidding me, you didn’t read it as well?”
“The records of our kind?” Aubrey answers questioning.
“Did you read them?”
“Of course I did! It’s standard literature!”
“O-kay, smarty-pants, you’re aware that not every family has like a library or the possibility to get a hand on them, right?” Chloe answers smirking. Next to her, Beca grins widely and makes a face to Aubrey, who seems to be confused.
“I thought it’s in every lair, actually.”
“Well, then you’re family is a bunch of wealthy and educated satyrs.”
“Oh. I never thought of it that way…”
Beca can’t hold back their laughter and pokes Aubrey’s horns. “What did I tell you! Not everyone knows the old boring stuff!” When Aubrey pouts, they quickly kiss her again. “Anyways, to answer your question; yada yada, old boring stuff, it’s actually pretty common but less reported because it’s hard to find a second, I mean a third mate, so to speak. We just got lucky to find you.”
“How did you, by the way? I’ve never seen you before. You didn’t stalk me, right?” Chloe asks laughing.
“I did not! I just happened to hear your music and followed it.” Aubrey playfully snaps.
“A few days ago, at the waterfall. We sometimes go there to get water.”
“Seems legit, I mean I live there.”
“You live by the waterfall?” Beca asks incredulously. “How come we’ve never seen you before?”
“I haven't been around here that long. A few weeks maybe; I traveled a lot. Under the waterfall is a little cave which seemed fitting.” Chloe explains and further describes how she enchanted the entrance.
“That sounds very cute actually. You should show us tomorrow when we get your stuff” Aubrey suggests and takes the water bowl from Chloe.
“… get my stuff? Why?”
“Well, you’re not going to need your cave anymore, sweetie.”
“…apart from the fact that once we mated, it’s kind of impossible to be that far away from us for the next few weeks.” Beca elaborates. They see the confusion in Chloe’s face and their shoulders drop down. “You… you are going to mate with us, right? I mean… why wouldn’t you?” Beca’s voice is trembling and they scoot over to Aubrey.
Mate rejection was very rare, but the few more or less recorded cases were all filled with excruciating mental and physical pain. It’s important to Chloe to clear up these suspicions as quickly as possible, so she reaches over to keep the physical contact.
“Shh, of course I will! There’s no way I can ignore it; everything in me screams to do it and why we haven’t done it already.” She grins and takes Beca’s hand to kiss it before she looks down and gets serious again.
“I just… I mean you have built a life for yourselves here and… I don’t want to intrude. I can just live around the corner.” She doesn’t mention that the thought of being apart from them alone is physically painful.
“Yeah, and if I believe it hard enough, I can fly. Nonsense; mates live together. Our burrow is large enough, I mean you haven’t seen the whole site yet. And if you don’t like it, we’ll find something else. Beca and I also set forth and found this little hide away here.” Aubrey states in a way that leaves no room for objections.
“You belong to us. We belong to you.” Beca mumbles, their fears allayed.
They continue the conversation a while longer and manage to convince Chloe eventually, until every one of them realizes the appetite they’ve built over the day. Aubrey collects some vegetables from their own cultivation and Beca gets more water and, being the vintner they are, a little hogshead. A short time later, they’re positioned in the large middle room in the tree, where a pheasant is roasting on the open fire.
They feast on the food and wine and leave no remains - this is a reason to celebrate after all. Aubrey gets out her flute and plays a soft melody while being accompanied by Beca on the mandolin. Since her harp is in her hideout, Chloe just sings along. When the song comes to an end, they enjoy the magical bliss they’ve created, drifting through the burrow.
“I take it you can perform in transformation as well?” Beca asks Chloe softly after a while.
“I think so, but I haven’t done it very often. Transformation was always something I could control best though. Well, until today” she grins.
“We play in front of humans from time to time, it always brings us in some drachmae to spend on the market or on peddlers.” Aubrey explains as she strokes both of her mates hair.
“Can you believe this; Aubrey wanted to call us Bardic Bellas, because we’re like bards and obviously beautiful” Beca says, which earns them a slap on the arm.
“Hey, you don’t stab a mate in the back!”
“Sorry baby” Beca laughs. “Okay, it’s cute, but I’m just not comfortable with having a recognition value for the squishy walkers.”
“Yeah yeah, I know my little grumpy goaty,” Aubrey retorts and jumps up and on Beca, horns first. They tussle around through the room, biting and kissing, when suddenly a soft bleating fills the air. Both turn to Chloe, who watches them, obviously aroused, panting and pawing.
“Gods, look at her. We should do it already” Beca whimpers and they run through the door into the backyard with Aubrey; Chloe hot on her hooves charging after her mates who wait for her outside.