(Bricu and Threnn have been together for three years now. This, in addition to “A Bottle of Port to Court Your Daughter,” is one of their first stories.)
I shouldn’t want this…
She traces a finger along his scars, old battle wounds and new, connecting them, finding patterns, careful not to wake him. The first rays of sun are creeping across the floor, and soon they’ll be in her eyes. On the street below, Stormwind is as quiet as it ever gets; she can hear people rustling about, preparing to open their stalls for the day, but the din of the crowd won’t swell for a few more hours. And here she is, in a bed in the Gilded Rose, curled against Bricu Bittertongue.
Three days ago, I wished him good luck with the whores. And people were talking about him being with Indarra, at least briefly.
But Indarra had been at the Pig the other night, just as they were leaving, and things had seemed…fine. Formal – although, Indarra was always that – but fine. It hadn’t felt like Threnn was being paraded in front of the priestess for revenge. None of the games she’d seen people play to hurt one another seemed present. And as far as she knows now, Indarra is Ulthanon’s. Not that she’s ever been good at keeping track of these things.
How long will he want a woman who fell into bed with him so quickly?
Color rushes to her cheeks. She hides her face against his chest as moments from the past few hours drift across her thoughts. It’s not like she’s never bedded anyone before, but the number isn’t all that high, and she’s always made them wait first. Bricu had talked about sparks, in between kisses that drove rational thought right out of her head.
Why should she play by everyone else’s rules? Why wait for something that might go away if she hesitated? Tarquin’s Law, he called it – “I could die in my sleep tonight, love, and then how would yeh feel?” He’d been joking, then, cajoling her into staying for a drink, and into letting him stand guard with her at her parents’ shop, but perhaps he was a little serious, too.
And so, as they sat there in the Recluse, drinking and bantering and stealing kisses, she’d decided that if he asked her into his bed, she’d go. “There are times to barter and times to buy,” her father had taught her, “and the finest silks will always be gone if you look away for even a second.” He didn’t have to love her; she’d worry about that some other time. It was enough to be wanted, or fancied, as he put it.
Gods, how long has it been since someone has wanted her for anything other than a dowry and a chance at inheriting her parents’ business? She’s turned aside so many awkward, would-be suitors, sat through so many dinners where her date spoke only to her father about the quality of his silks and never once gave her even an appreciative smile… and now, here was Bricu – unashamed to admit he planned on staring at her, not pulling away in horror at her impropriety if she kissed him first, not masking the desire in his eyes, or his voice.
She twines one of his braids around her fingers, and considers kissing him again. Sleep has softened his face, though, and she knows the last few days have been hell on him. Let him rest, then, before Tarquin’s Law comes into effect again. She begins tracing the slow circuit of his scars once more, closing her eyes and letting touch guide her.
“All that ne’er-do-well and womanizing shite, yeh don’t have to worry about it.”
They took the long way to the Park, and stopped to stare up at the stars, and kiss some more, before they set out for the Rose. If any of the Riders had come upon them… “Look at us,” he’d said in the bar, “two paladins behavin’ like schoolchildren.” Duthorian Rall himself could have tripped over them, and Threnn probably wouldn’t have noticed.
They took the long way to the Rose, too, and as they passed the Blue Recluse, he stopped, his face grown serious, and spoke his reassurances. She didn’t need them, but they were good to hear. Now, hours later, watching his chest rise and fall with the even breaths of deep sleep, she thinks about what the words mean. Oh, certainly, they’re going to the Rose Ball to “make it official,” so she supposes she does have a claim on him now, but it’s so new, it keeps taking her by surprise.
He stirs a bit and turns toward her, his hand coming to rest on her hip, but does not wake. These perfect moments before the day begins are hers, and for a little while at least, he is hers, even if it’s only till he wakes. She takes that, and his words from the night before, and pushes the doubts away. Too soon to give this a name, or to put it in a pretty box with a neat label.
“I’d expected one kiss, maybe two,” he’d said.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, “Is it wrong?”
“What, bein’ a good kisser?”
“No. Being so forward.”
He’d laughed. “I’ve been forward, yeh’ve been forward. An’ we both have some more bein’ forward to go before we’re done.”
She hadn’t expected anything like this, either. A drink, a laugh, a kiss if she was lucky. But oh, the sparks had wiped out any question of less than where she was now.
He’d paused again at the door to the Rose, framed by the golden light of the fireplace. “Yeh can still say no, yeh know.”
“I’m not afraid,” she’d said. “You can still tell me to go away, if you want.”
“Love,” he said with a smile that made her think wicked, wonderful thoughts, “get yer arse up here.”
And she’d followed him up the stairs, and into his room, suddenly a little shy, although she tried not to show it. Her hands had callouses from the forge and her weapons – they wouldn’t be soft like Indarra’s undoubtedly were, or…well, face it… like the whores’ in Goldshire. She was neither an elegant, statuesque elf nor pretty painted lady. A wisp of her hair fell into her eyes, and she wondered how absurd the reddish-purple dye must look to him. It had seemed such a good idea when she’d started buying the mixture from Maybell Maclure several months ago.
But then his hands were on her hips, his mouth covering her own, and she didn’t care who’d preceded her anymore.
Threnn pauses in her tracing. His breathing has changed, and she looks up into his eyes, which are lit by that heartstopping grin.
“Strewth, love, how’s a man to sleep with yeh doin’ that?”
“I can stop.”
“Ballacks to that,” he growls, and kisses her. Sparks, he’d called it, but this is…this has swept her up like…
She smiles suddenly, as the sun touches the tabards laid carefully on a chair.
This has swept her up like wildfire.