Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Chapter 3.08 - Instincts

Adrian and Sionann’s wedding was unlike any wedding Lyra had ever seen before. It was nothing like the exorbitant affairs Lyra had photographed, or the traditional event her own spectacular failure of a wedding had been. When Lyra thought of weddings, she always thought of the same themes.
Classy venues. White or cream dresses. Bridesmaids and flower-girls and groomsmen and ring-bearers. Veils.
Sionann and Adrian’s wedding had none of that.
The wedding was held outdoors, with nothing but nature around them. The only two people who were dressed up were the bride and groom. Sionann wore her hair loose, flowers skilfully tucked amongst the strands, and she was wearing a green dress, cut the typical style Lyra had always imagined fairies would wear in, well, fairy-tales. Adrian too wasn’t wearing a typical traditional suit, clad instead in shades of green and white, cut in a decidedly non-traditional style. The two arrived hand-in-hand with each other, and the guests formed a circle around them, the fairies amongst them dancing and singing in some obscure language Lyra couldn’t even begin to decipher. Not a single guest wore shoes, and neither did Adrian.
Above them, the clouds were dark and heavy, but quiet. Not a single drop fell.
The singing and dancing of the fairies formed an alien rhythm that resounded in Lyra’s bones and resonated deep in her chest. It filled the entire clearing, and something about the whole affair was off, like Lyra’s perception of the world had shifted a fraction of a degree, causing every detail to stand out in sharp and vivid clarity. She felt hot, her heart racing, and her thoughts skittered all over the place, an overwhelming joy rising deep inside her heart.
A hand fell on her wrist, startling her out of her confusing reverie. She tilted her head up, staring at Blaise and meeting his overly blue eyes. He, too, was barefoot.
 “Don’t fight the magic,” he murmured in her ear, his breath cold against her flushed skin. She gazed at him with dazed eyes. Why hadn’t she ever realized how beautiful he was?
Her feet felt warm, and tight. What were her shoes doing on her feet? They needed to come off. Her feet were aching to feel the grass and bare soil beneath her.
“Don’t question, just obey,” Blaise coaxed her again. “Laugh, enjoy, feel. Be joyous. Let the magic guide you.”
Her fingers fumbled on the straps of her shoes. They had to come off, now. She breathed heavily as she struggled with her shoes, her senseless fingers slipping on the slender straps. The relief she felt when she finally got them off and buried her toes in the soft green grass was indescribable.
Around her, the singing of the fairies got louder, and their dancing got wilder. Spinning around and around, they kept singing in that oddly harmonic language, stomping out a rhythmic beat into the ground. Sionann’s silver laughter rang out amongst them, and she spun Adrian around in time with the music. He, too, was laughing, and the sound caused Lyra’s heart to sing in happiness.
This isn’t normal.
Again, Blaise touched her, this time on her waist and shoulder.
Don’t fight,” he ordered again. “The fairies are enacting the binding, and what you’re feeling is the magic guiding you to perform your part, as witness. Just let the magic flow through you, and listen to what your instincts tell you to do.”
She turned her eyes back to Blaise, blinking dazedly at him, trying to get her thoughts back in order. Her heart leaped in her chest, and her lips tugged into a broad smile, against her will, but she didn’t care. Her instincts were screaming at her.
This isn’t the time to question. Now is the time to laugh, sing, dance, and be merry.
So, she did.
She laughed more than she could ever remember doing back home, and she sang and danced with wild, reckless abandon, letting the fairies and her instincts guide her. Her heart beat in time with the cadence of the fairies’ song, and she danced with many, many different partners, never dancing with the same one for more than a few minutes.
In the centre of everything, dancing and singing and laughing just like all the rest, were Sionann and Adrian, and every time one of them laughed, Lyra found herself laughing as well. The day was about them, and her heart leapt with happiness every time she heard their laughter.
It was so, so much better than the stuffy weddings she’d known in Sunset Valley.
Sometime during the course of the celebrations, the skies opened up and it started raining, but the revelries didn’t stop, and Lyra found herself gravitating towards Blaise. The cadence of the harmonic rhythm still rang through her bones, guiding her to dance with reckless abandon, and while she danced, she met his eyes unabashedly. His eyes were an absolutely vivid blue, and she felt butterflies flutter in her stomach at the way he met her gaze. His normal scowl was absent, a corner of his mouth pulled up in a satisfied little smile, and there was something burning in his gaze she couldn’t identify. They danced around each other, close enough to dance with the other, but never touching. Their bodies flowed around each other in perfect harmony in a way not unlike their spars.
The space between them was positively vibrating, and the rhythm of the fairies’ dance kept ringing through her bones, egging her on to push for more and more. For every challenge she made, Blaise responded in kind, never once giving ground in this non-verbal challenge they were competing in. It drove her nuts. She wanted him to touch her, but he kept his distance, refusing to rise to the bait she was offering.
Then he grazed his hand against the small of her back, fast enough that she wasn’t sure if she had merely imagined it, but the smirk on his face confirmed her suspicions. She threw her head back, laughing out to the skies before she threw caution to the wind and slid her hands into his. She felt like she was riding clouds, her entire being and all her thoughts overruled by the overwhelming joy strumming through her veins. 
The celebrations continued for many, many more hours, and she danced the night away. She didn’t dance with Blaise again, but the skin on her back and hands still tingled with promise.
Life in the house hadn’t changed much after the wedding. Adrian and Sionann were still lovey-dovey as always, and everyone still followed the same routine as before. Things didn’t change much. About the only difference Lyra could see was that Adrian and Sionann were even more lovey-dovey than before.
Then, of course, there was the tension between her and Blaise, more from her side than Blaise’s. The dance she had shared with him at the celebrations stood out in her mind with vivid clarity, and despite all her efforts to drive the memory out of her head, she kept coming back to it.
They had shared something during that dance, she couldn’t deny it. She just wished she knew what it meant.
Then again, Blaise’s attitude towards her hadn’t really changed, so maybe she was just overthinking things. His unrelenting taskmaster-like behaviour during their daily self-defence sessions certainly hadn’t changed.
 “You’re not focusing,” Blaise scowled at her. “Focus, or we’ll stop this right here. I’m not going to waste my time instructing an idiot who won’t pay attention. I have better things to do than that.”
Lyra shot him a foul glare, but she tried her best to drive her previous thoughts to the back of her mind and regain her focus. A deep breath later, she felt calm and focused again.
“Better,” Blaise approved grudgingly. “Keep your core in line with your centre of balance, and focus on…”
Lyra listened attentively, fixing the instructions in her mind and trying to fold her body into the movement she was trying to perfect.
Her perception shifted a fraction, and an abrupt, unreasonable sorrow suddenly rose in her chest.
When did it get so cold?
She blinked. Her perception corrected itself, the day returned to a normal temperature, and she was left standing bewildered, wondering what the hell just happened.
Blaise was looking at her with a carefully blank expression.
“I guess we’ll be focusing on something else today,” he stated neutrally. “Sit.”
She ignored his order outright, her mind still struggling to come to terms with what happened. She simply couldn’t figure it out.
 Sit,” Blaise insisted impatiently when she didn’t immediately obey. “Your magic is unstable. You need to learn to control it.”
That definitely broke her out of her senseless reverie.
“What?” she asked, completely baffled. She crossed her arms across her chest, staring sceptically at Blaise. “What are you talking about?”
Blaise mirrored her, crossing his arms and lifting an eyebrow, incredulous.
 “Don’t tell me you’re such an oblivious idiot you didn’t even notice casting that spell at me.” He pointed at the ground between them, which, to Lyra’s surprise, was covered in frost – frost that definitely hadn’t been there before they started their self-defence session.
“I…” She stared at the frost, trying to make sense of it all. Her thoughts were scattered all over the place, flitting from one idea to another, and again that inexplicable sorrow started to build in her chest.
Blaise grabbed her hands with an irritated sigh. For a second, his touch was unnaturally hot, and then, just as suddenly as it came, that pressure in Lyra’s chest disappeared. She jerked her hands out of Blaise’s hold, staring suspiciously at him. That was not normal.
He growled and folded his legs beneath him, sitting on the damp grass and staring at her with a pointed glare, waiting for her to do the same. Realising she wouldn’t get anything else out of him until she obeyed, Lyra sat down with an irritated huff. Almost immediately, the water on the damp grass soaked through her jeans, leaving her with wet panties and a cold ass. She grimaced at the feel.
 “Close your eyes,” Blaise instructed, his voice barely louder than a murmur and his breathing calm and even. Far too used to Blaise’s different ways of instruction, Lyra wordlessly obeyed, her breathing automatically mimicking his. He remained quiet for several minutes, simply breathing and exuding a sense of calm, and before Lyra realised, that same sense of calm had fallen over her. She felt curiously detached from the world around her, but a different, previously unidentified part of her brain was hyper-aware of her surroundings.
“You wouldn’t have noticed your magic before,” Blaise explained quietly, careful not to startle her and break her calm, “because that part of your brain was dormant. The ambient magic from Adrian and Sionann’s bonding reawakened that part of your brain. It’s wreaking havoc with your emotions because you don’t know how to control it.”
Ah. That explained why she had acted so completely uncharacteristic during the wedding celebrations. Or it should. The magic influenced her emotions; because she was magical. It was still difficult to wrap her mind around the fact that she was magical. She had known that on an intellectual level, but she had never paused to consider what it meant.  She should’ve known it meant she’d be able to perform magic herself.
“The more you practise, the more you’ll be able to control your magic,” Blaise continued calmly. “Before you can practise though, you need to identify the ‘feel’ of your magic. The best way to do this, is to meditate.”
Lyra continued focusing on her breathing, nodding at Blaise to show she was still listening and following.
“A part of your brain should feel ‘awake’. Focus on that part, then focus on me.”
Lyra tentatively followed his orders, and couldn’t quite stifle her gasp when her world suddenly expanded. Her eyes were still closed, but she could sense Blaise in front of her as clearly as if she could see him. To her senses, he was a bright, luminescent ball of white fire, glowing brightly and holding a touch of utter destruction, tightly contained right in the middle of that fire. It was oddly mesmerizing.
On a touch of whim, she turned her senses inward, wondering what she would look like in this strange reality that existed only in her mind. Her own magic swirled in a reddish-orange ball of fire, furiously snapping out tendrils of red-hot fire. Spitfire. It was the very personification of the nickname her dad had given her so long ago.
“Focus on what I’m doing, Lyra,” Blaise’s voice drew her back to the present. Energy coalesced in the palm of his hand, all verdant and sugary and –
Lyra’s eyes shot open. She stared at the apple on Blaise’s hand, incredulous.
 “That’s impossible,” she pointed out, utterly bewildered. What he had just done…it went against all laws of science. Conservation of energy, conservation of mass…he had just violated both of those laws. It wasn’t possible.
“In the laws of magic, it’s not,” Blaise disagreed, like he knew exactly what he was thinking. His brows sank a bit, like he was on the verge of scowling at her, but was trying his best not to. “Don’t fight this. Don’t think of science, or methods, or reasons. Just trust your power, and your instincts.” He leaned back on his hands, staring at her with bored eyes. “Try it. Focus on the magic you felt, and will it into being.”
It was impossible. He was literally asking her to do the impossible. But she didn’t argue with him, because there was an absolute trust in his eyes that she had never encountered before. Like he fully believed she was capable of it, and that the idea of her failing had never even existed in his mind. It was such a powerful emotion that Lyra closed her eyes and tried, despite knowing she was attempting the impossible.
She focused on her hand, and the way the energy of the apple had coalesced in her mind’s eye when Blaise had done it. She focused on the imaginary apple, and willed it to appear.
Her hand glowed brightly, and suddenly she could feel something forming in her hand, light at first and then heavier as it gained substance.
She opened her eyes, staring mutely at the object in her hand – a perfectly formed apple. She had just broken the very laws of science. Her mind boggled at it.
On Blaise’s face was a small, satisfied smile. It filled Lyra with happiness, and she quietly admitted to herself that his approval meant more to her than she had previously thought. When he smiled at her like that, she felt like she was capable of absolutely anything.
Sionann was strangely preoccupied lately, Lyra mused as she idly stared at the fairy, hands busy preparing dinner. She was on food duty tonight, and when home, Sionann normally kept her company, talking about recipes and herbs and just about everything else she could think of, all the while drinking copious amounts of deathly-sweet tea. Tonight though, she was quiet, and there wasn’t a single cup of tea anywhere in sight.
Instead, she was staring over the backyard, hands resting idly on her belly. It was really strange seeing the fairy so quiet. Even her wings were strangely motionless.
“Is something wrong?” Lyra finally asked, unable to stand the quiet any longer. Sionann jerked in surprise, completely caught off-guard by the question.
“What? Oh, yes. I mean, no, nothing’s wrong,” the fairy stammered uncharacteristically. Lyra simply lifted an eyebrow and waited for Sionann to elaborate. She was simply unable to maintain a proper poker-face under pressure.
Sure enough…
“I think I’m pregnant,” came the confession in a quick and rushed voice. Lyra dropped the knife in her hand, absolutely shocked by the admission. She had definitely not expected that.
“Wait, seriously?” she asked incredulously, bending over and picking the knife back up. Sionann nodded, her arm cradling her belly protectively.
“About seven weeks, I think,” Sionann continued. “My magic’s all wonky, and it started just after,” she paused and gave Lyra a side-long glance, “well, I don’t think I need to elaborate.”
Lyra abruptly turned back to her task. She had absolutely no desire to hear about Sionann and Adrian’s sex-life, thank you very much.
“It’s okay, I think I can draw my own conclusions,” Lyra agreed firmly, adding the chopped ingredients into the pan and listening to it sizzle as it hit the heated oil. “Does Adrian know?”
Sionann bit her lip and shook her head.
 “Not yet,” she admitted nervously. “I know he won’t mind, not really, but…” She sighed, a tone of resignation in the sound. “We weren’t exactly planning on having children this soon. We both still have so much to do on the island and with the Hunt and,” she swallowed nervously, “and we both agreed to settle affairs first before trying for a family. Now though…” She sighed again, petulant. “I guess now we won’t get that chance. This little one didn’t want to wait, it seems.”
“You don’t even know for sure you’re pregnant, right?” Lyra pointed out, stirring the mass of veggies cooking in the pan. “Maybe you’re just overreacting. Maybe your magic is ‘wonky’ due to something else.”
Sionann gave Lyra a sardonic smile.
“I’ve been a healer long enough to recognise the signs, Lyra,” she declared flatly. “Trust me, I’m pretty sure I know what’s going on.”
“Well, congratulations, then?” Lyra replied, not really sure how else to respond. “If it helps, I think you and Adrian will make amazing parents.”
Sionann’s entire posture relaxed, and her face softened at Lyra’s statement.
 “Thanks,” she agreed lightly. “It does help, a little. I mean, I’m really excited about this and I can’t wait to be a mother, but…it’s just a really inconvenient time, you know?”
No, Lyra didn’t know. In her opinion, it was never a convenient time to have children. But she kept her mouth shut, because it was definitely not what Sionann needed to hear right now.
“Right,” she simply agreed. “So, when are you going to tell Adrian?”
“Tonight, I think,” Sionann confessed unsurely, tapping her chin with her finger. “It’s still a bit early, as most pregnancies need about ten to twelve weeks to really get established, but…” She shrugged, in a what-can-you-do manner, “Adrian should know, I guess. The sooner we can discuss this and what it’ll mean for the future, the better. Whether we like it or not, our lives are definitely going to change soon.”
Sionann did tell Adrian that night, but she did it in a way Lyra definitely wouldn’t have. Lyra honestly hadn’t planned to witness the moment Sionann informed her husband of his impending status of fatherhood, but of course the fairy had to do it when the entire goddamn household were present.
 “So…” the fairy began, idly picking at the food in front of her. “It seems we need to leave the island.”
Lyra, having taken a bite of her food, immediately started coughing, trying to dislodge the piece of tomato she was choking on. She knew exactly where this conversation was going to lead to, and Plumbbob, she did not want to be present. And yet there was no decent way to remove herself from the conversation without giving the ball away, so she was stuck where she was. Adrian and Blaise, the poor oblivious idiots, had no idea what was coming.
 “Why?” Adrian asked, baffled, at the same time Blaise said, “What the hell are you talking about?”
Sionann smiled sheepishly at Blaise. “Well, Adrian and I are going to have to leave the island sometime soon. I guess you don’t really have to.”
Her answer still didn’t make any sense to them, as they simply continued to stare at her with confusion. Lyra desperately wanted to bang her head on the table.
“Sionann, you’re not making any sense,” Adrian declared, gently taking her hand in his and staring at her with concern. “Why would we need to leave the island?”
Because she’s pregnant, you dolt! Lyra screamed in her head. For crying out, he’d been the one to explain to her what happened to people who expected children on the island. Surely, he could draw the right conclusions from that.
Sionann smiled hopefully at him and raised her eyebrows expectantly. Even she expected him to be able to draw the right conclusions.
Across from Lyra, Blaise did. He, too, started choking on his food. Unlike Lyra, he had no reservation in speaking his mind.
 Shit, Sionann,” he exclaimed incredulously. “You’re pregnant?!” Beside him, Adrian stiffened, his eyes widening with shock. He looked at Sionann in wonder.
Sionann gave Blaise an unimpressed stare.
“Thank you, Blaise,” she replied primly, “for informing my husband before I could.”
“Well, you were taking ages to do it,” Lyra couldn’t help but interject, grateful that the cat was now out of the bag.
Sionann threw her hands up in exasperation. “Sorry that I was expecting you guys to have a little more decorum!”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have done it at the dinner table?” Lyra pointed out. “Just a suggestion, you know.”
“A bit late for that, now,” Blaise growled in response, also engaging in the banter.
Adrian held up his hand, halting the banter. “Stop it,” he ordered Lyra and Blaise, turning to look incredulously at Sionann. “Sionann?”
She gave him a sheepish smile and a slight shrug. “It’s early yet, but yes. We’re going to have a child.”
He stared at her in wonder for about two seconds before his entire face lit up in adulation. He was up from his chair way faster than Lyra had seen him move before, and so was Sionann, and he lifted her in the air, spinning her around, absolutely delighted.
Lyra watched the spectacle with a small smile. She was glad Adrian seemed so happy. She considered both Adrian and Sionann to be her closest friends, and seeing them so happy…well, it made her feel like the world was just that little bit brighter.
Parenthood would suit them. And curiously enough, despite her own very firm views on having children, she was strangely looking forward to meeting the pending little bundle of joy.
“This couldn’t have come at a worse time.”
Lyra stiffened guiltily at the voice drifting out of the open window, lowering the book in her hand. It was Adrian’s voice, and he sounded more tired and vulnerable than Lyra had ever heard him before. For a moment, she considered closing her book and going somewhere she wouldn’t be able to eavesdrop, but the second voice and the words he spoke caused her to halt curiously.
“You aren’t happy about this pregnancy, are you,” Blaise’s voice replied. It definitely wasn’t a question.
“I am,” Adrian immediately disagreed. “It’s just…” He sighed despondently. “There’s a new Hunt coming up.”
Lyra cocked her head curiously. How had they gone from the topic of Sionann’s pregnancy to that?
Blaise simply grunted in response. “I know.”
There was a sound coming out the window, and Lyra had been exposed to it enough times to recognise it as Adrian sweeping his hand through his hair, something he only did when he was upset about something.
“Your father asked me to lead a team during this Hunt,” Adrian confessed quietly. There was a rustle, and Lyra could just imagine Blaise crossing his arms and scowling at Adrian.
 “The fuck?” he swore lowly, his voice incredulous. “He knows we’re partners. Why would he split us up?”
“I don’t know,” Adrian immediately declared. “It’s just…Keeper, Blaise, you know how short we are on manpower. I can’t afford to leave the island until we get reinforcements, but with Sionann expecting…”
“You can’t afford not to leave,” Blaise finished the sentence for him. There was a moment of silence.
“Yes,” Adrian admitted, subdued. “I can’t put her at risk like this.”
Blaise snorted derisively.
 “You can’t put yourself at risk, Adrian,” he pointed out sharply. “Sionann needs you to stay alive, child or not. You knew this before you married her.”
Lyra frowned contemplatively, wondering why the heck they were talking about this. It sounded awfully serious, talking about risk and staying alive and…Plumbbob, things weren’t really that bad. They made it sound like just by living they were in this incredible danger, like they were stuck in the middle of a battlefield.
A shiver ran down her back as she remembered that technically, they were. They were living on a Gateway World. It had been easy to forget, in the normal routine of everyday life, that they were all fighting a battle she herself didn’t participate in. Putting their lives on the line was a normal, everyday routine to them.
There was another moment of silence before Blaise continued.
“Don’t accept Leneo’s request,” he pleaded. “Leave. Go to the mainland. We’ll cope without you.”
Adrian didn’t reply. Lyra’s grip on her book tightened as she ran the conversation through her head, trying to figure out what it meant. Surely things weren’t so dire on the island that one person’s absence would make a difference. And what did it matter, in the end? Didn’t Adrian say that Alison forced everyone who expected children to leave and go to the mainland? She didn’t understand why Adrian was even contemplating not going.
The wind started to pick up, and Lyra rubbed her bare arms, startled out of her thoughts by the chill. The wind was bitingly cold, and it carried a hint of moisture in it. It was going to rain again soon, and judging by the clouds above her, Lyra guessed it might even snow. Autumn was finally over.
Adrian sighed. “You’re right,” he murmured. “We should leave. I’ll let Lord Leneo know tomorrow. You’ll be fine without me, won’t you?”
“Of course I will,” Blaise assured him. “Don’t worry about me. It’s time to focus on your family.”
A/N: Hmm, let’s see. Happy wedding? Check. Romancy relationship stuff? Check. Sorta. First baby for the next generation on the way? Check! Yes, Sionann and Adrian’s baby will be one of the counted children of generation 4. :)
Also, why do all the good couple poses have to make the male pose taller? It annoys me way more than it should. Every adult in TS3 are the same height, dammit. Now there are continuity issues when I use those poses. -_-

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Chapter 3.07 - The Worst In Her

*Warning: Contains bad, uncensored language.*

Lyra had absolutely no idea what was going on, but she gathered the death dragon wasn’t exactly a welcome sight. Adrian had tensed up with fear, and Blaise’s eyebrows dropped into an even deeper scowl than the one he normally carried. From the backdoor, she heard Sionann gasp as she, too, stared at the new dragon with wide, fearful eyes.
Her voice was barely louder than a whisper.
“Who…?” she asked fearfully. Blaise scowled and lifted his arm, the dragon-wing earring hanging from his ear glistening in the light, and the black dragon they were so afraid of settled onto his arm.
There was a moment of heavy, tense silence as Blaise and the dragon stared at each other, before Blaise gave a deep, shuddering breath.
“Tighe,” he declared, his voice deeper and huskier than normal. Sionann gave a short, devastated gasp.
“Oh no,” she breathed, her hands shooting to her mouth. “That’s horrible. Poor Deirdre.” Her eyes welled up with tears, and she threw herself into Adrian’s arms, clinging desperately to him. Adrian’s eyes softened, and he held her close to him, rubbing her back and whispering soothing words to her.
Lyra stared at the scene in front of her, eyes flitting from one person to the next as she tried to figure out what the hell was going on.
“Uhm, a little explanation, guys?” she asked impatiently. Adrian, the dear soul that he was, glanced up at her, his arms still wrapped tightly around his lover. The corners of his eyes were tight with sadness.
“One of our comrades just died,” he informed Lyra. “Mortis,” and he nodded at the death dragon still perched on Blaise’s arm, “is Lord Leneo’s dragon. Whenever there’s a death in our community from an attack, Mortis goes out and informs everyone.”
Lyra gasped. Plumbbob, that was horrible. Judging from Sionann’s reaction, they must have been pretty close to this person. ‘From an attack’? Did that mean…was it the Wilds that had killed this person?
“Shit,” she breathed, horrified. “That’s horrible. I’m so sorry.”
“Fuck,” Blaise whispered, his face twisted in a grimace. “Sionann, this isn’t the time to cry. We need to get to the base before Deirdre does something stupid.”
The fairy in question gave one last shuddering breath before she looked up from where she had buried her head against Adrian’s chest. He loosened his hold around Sionann and allowed her to draw away.
 “Right,” she agreed tearfully. “She’s going to be unstable. We should go. It’ll be horrible to lose her as well.”
Again, Lyra looked at Adrian for an explanation. Plumbbob, she felt so out of the loop. Who the heck was Deirdre?
Sionann gave Adrian a teary smile before she stepped aside to take Blaise’s arm. Blaise looked at Adrian and cocked an eyebrow, wordlessly asking him if he wanted to go with them. Adrian gave him a sad smile, but shook his head.
 “I’ll stay here, with Lyra,” he decided. Blaise simply nodded and gave a sharp whistle, and he and Sionann disappeared along with the dragon.
“Who’s Deidre?” Lyra asked softly. She wasn’t particularly mad that Adrian had decided for her that they should stay. She didn’t know the deceased at all, so she had no intense desire to go to the base. Although, judging by their reactions, it almost seemed like everyone was more worried about this Deidre? She had no idea what the significance was.
Adrian sighed, and swept his hand through his hair, a sure sign that he was upset.
 “Tighe’s bonded,” he explained tightly. “A fairy.” He seemed to realise how utterly useless that answer was, as he gave a sigh and elaborated. “Fairies bond for life. They go about their entire lives searching for someone to love, to bond with, as their full powers are only unlocked when they experience ‘true love’.”
“True love’s first kiss?” Lyra asked sceptically. Really. Could things get even more cliché and fairy-tale-ish?
Adrian shook his head in denial. “Not quite,” he denied. “It’s rather more…” He tilted his hand side to side as he hedged around, trying to find the words. “Okay, look, fairies are magical. Very magical, and very powerful. They’re probably the most powerful of the classes, but you will very rarely hear about their powers, because of their nature.”
“Meaning?” Lyra asked, crossing her arms.
 “Meaning,” Adrian continued, “that their true powers are only unlocked when they experience the strongest of emotions. They are neither good nor evil, but they have a capacity for both. When they find someone to love with their whole heart, completely and absolutely, without hesitation, someone they’d willingly bond themselves to, the ‘good’ aspect of their personalities reign. The ‘evil’ aspect of their personalities reign when they experience the exact opposite.”
“So, when they hate someone?” Lyra guessed. Adrian shook his head.
Grief,” he corrected sadly. “Hate and love are two sides across the same line. It’s the same emotion, essentially, and hate will never be stronger than love. But grief…love will take you to the sky, while grief will throw you in the deepest, darkest abyss.
 “When a fairy loves completely and utterly, they are the sweet, gentle creatures most people know, who’ll go out of their way to ensure there is more good in the world,” he continued. “But when they grieve…when they have loved so completely, and then had that person ripped away from them…they descent into a deep, deep madness they cannot get out of. Tighe,” he returned to the topic at hand, “was Deirdre’s bonded – her love.”
And now the source of her grief, Lyra understood. How absolutely horrific.
Adrian closed his eyes and bowed his head, silently grieving not only for Tighe, the deceased, but also for Deidre, who in effect, they were also going to lose, not to death, but to madness.
Lyra couldn’t possibly break the heavy silence that had fallen in the house. The raindrops pitter-pattered endlessly on the roof, and then, as if even the weather could feel the heaviness in the house, the clouds opened up and the rain started pouring.
It was several, long hours that passed before Blaise and Sionann returned from the base. Sionann immediately threw herself back in Adrian’s arms, looking for comfort.
Sionann’s a fairy, Lyra came to the sudden realisation. Of course, she’d always known, but she hadn’t understood what it meant. It suddenly made sense, why Sionann was so clingy and lovey-dovey with Adrian, and why Adrian was so tolerant of her spontaneous shows of affection. Adrian was her love.
 “She’s lost,” Sionann informed Adrian, sobbing into his chest. Adrian sighed and pulled her closer, and it was such an intensely private moment that Lyra immediately excused herself from the scene, giving them some time alone. She had no right to intrude on that moment. From the corner of her eye, she saw Blaise scowl and exit the house as well.
She spent a long, long time in the garden, unwilling to go back into the house and intrude.
People grieve in strange ways, Lyra mused as she listened to the conversation flowing around her.
They were all sitting in the living room, various forms of hot and cold drinks in their hands, and a very amiable feel had settled over them. Sionann was snuggling a bit too close to Adrian, the only sign that she was still upset, but she was laughing at a tale Blaise had told about Tighe making a fool out of himself. Her laughter was pealing in the room like little silver bells, Adrian’s heartfelt chuckles forming a warm counterpoint. Even Blaise’s constant scowl had evened out a bit as a fond smile pulled at his mouth.
They were grieving over their comrade, but they did it in such a positive way, remembering the good times.
That hadn’t been the way her family had grieved, after that night. Instead, there had only been silence, as everybody had tip-toed around the topic, unwilling to face reality. Paired with the way Arienne had ripped into Renard, blaming him for the entire event, it was no wonder it had taken Lyra so long to come to terms with it.
If they had talked like this after the funeral, remembering the good times, would her family still be whole? She wished she knew. But it didn’t really matter, in the end. They hadn’t, and her family had been broken apart. There was nothing she could do to change the past.
She wished she could see them though, even if only one more time. Did they miss her? Did they even realise she’d gone, or did they think she simply left for a different town without bothering to let anyone know? If they did realise, did they think she died? And if that was the case, did that bring them closer, or tore them apart even further?
She swallowed heavily at the lump in her throat. All things she’d never get the answer to.
“- Keeper, was it funny,” Adrian’s laughing voice pulled her out of her depressing thoughts. “I thought he was going to die of embarrassment. There he stood, mighty powerful fairy that he was, completely powerless to push away one measly little human girl, who was utterly entranced by the way his wings fluttered in embarrassment, and wouldn’t stop trying to touch them. It. Was. Hilarious.
The room burst out in laughter again. It made Lyra wish she knew this Tighe, if only a little. The stories were funny, but she had absolutely no context, no understanding of who he was, so they were funny in the way inside jokes were to bystanders.
“And of course the more flustered he’d get, the more his wings would flutter, so the more entranced the little girl would get!” Sionann gasped in laughter. Blaise’s deep laughter rang with hers when Adrian confirmed it with a nod, unable to confirm it verbally as he tried holding his laughter back, before he finally gave up and joined the chorus of laughter.
…Come to think of it, Lyra couldn’t recall ever seeing a child since she came to this world.
“There aren’t a lot of children here, are there?” she asked curiously, interrupting the laughter. Adrian wiped a few mirthful tears from his eyes before he turned to her.
“Virtually none,” he confirmed, still chuckling. “It’s about the only rule Lady Alison absolutely enforces. Children are vulnerable and precious, so they have to be protected, especially from the Wilds. There is a barrier around the island, and entry and departure from the ports are strictly regulated, so the Wilds can’t reach the mainland. When someone expects a child, Lady Alison sends them to the mainland to raise their child, sending them beyond the reach of those who would harm them.”
 “So, just like that, people have to change their lives and give up their homes just because they’re having a child?” Lyra asked incredulously. “That’s a bit unfair, isn’t it?”
“And raising a child in the middle of a battlefield is fair?” Blaise growled pointedly, his customary scowl back on his face. “This is the frontlines. Anybody who would willingly raise a child here doesn’t deserve the name of parent.” He glared at her, daring her to disagree. She couldn’t, so she jerked her gaze away, breaking the glare.
“Fair enough,” she mulishly conceded the point, chafing at the fact that she was conceding victory to him.
 “Anyway,” Sionann interrupted with an excited clap of her hands, changing the topic and trying to break the atmosphere before the two of them got into an argument, “I made some apple cobbler. Would anybody like to try some?”
Blaise gave Lyra once last glare before he turned away, accepting the peace-making attempt.
 “By the way,” Sionann proposed, much, much later, long after the pieces of cobbler were finished, “I’ve been thinking…”
“A dangerous activity, that,” Blaise interjected with a mildly sarcastic growl, causing Adrian to chuckle. Sionann huffed and rolled her eyes at him.
“Very funny, Blaise,” she mildly reprimanded. “As I was saying…I think we should show Lyra some of the basics of self-defence. Living on this island, it’s always a good idea to know how to protect yourself.”
The proposal hung heavily in the air, and it took Lyra a couple of seconds to process the words.
 “Wait, what?” she asked incredulously. “Don’t I get a say in this?” She actually wouldn’t mind learning some self-defence tricks, but seriously? Could they stop making her decisions for her?
“Well, it is a good idea,” Adrian pragmatically pointed out. Even Blaise seemed to consider the idea, that customary scowl of his replaced by a contemplative expression as he studied Lyra. He seemed to come to a decision and smirked at Lyra, and the gleam in his eyes did nothing to reassure her. It was positively evil.
“Sure, why not?” he growled his agreement. “I’ll show her some tricks.” There was a challenge gleaming in his eyes, and there was no way in hell Lyra was going to back down from that.
“Bring it on,” she challenged with a sweet smile.
What had she been thinking?
Staring at the muscled monster of flesh standing in front of her, Lyra felt dread rising in her chest. Seriously, what had she been thinking? There must have been something illegal in Sionann’s cobbler to make her agree to this absolutely ridiculous idea.
Blaise was a fighter. He was part of the Hunt. He killed beings for a living!
She was so, so, utterly, fucked.
Blaise, the arrogant ass, seemed to read her mind as he suddenly smirked at her, that same evil, evil gleam in his eyes.
“Having doubts?” he mocked her, and goddammit, Lyra had to do something about her ridiculous sense of pride.
“Of course not,” she snarled, both at him and herself. Get it together, dammit!
“Know any martial arts?” he asked, pacing around her like a predator circling its prey, studying her with contemplative eyes. She felt like a piece of meat, about to get torn to shreds by something much, much bigger and stronger than her.
 “No,” she admitted with gritted teeth, once again remembering how utterly stupid this idea was.
“Good,” Blaise growled with satisfaction. “It means I have a clean slate to work with. Now, follow my movements.” He flowed gracefully into a stance, and Plumbob, Lyra would pull a muscle if she tried to do the same. She gritted her teeth and tried her best to duplicate his stance.
It was a spectacular failure.
“Bring your feet closer together,” Blaise instructed shortly. “You’re off-balance. A feather landing on you will cause you to fall over.”
Lyra gritted her teeth and did as he instructed, but he still wasn’t satisfied.
“Twist your chest a bit more to the right, and bring up your arm.” A moment of irritated silence later. “No, idiot, your other arm.”
“You really suck at instructing, you know,” Lyra snapped irritably at him. He growled, actually growled, at her and pushed her shoulder back a finger length. From the side, Lyra could hear Adrian chuckle, but she resolutely pushed it to the back of her mind. She had to focus.
 “You’re the one with absolutely no awareness of your body,” Blaise growled and tapped her elbow, lowering it a fraction. “Now, stay like that. When I reach for you, raise your arm like this,” he paused a moment to demonstrate the movement. Lyra clumsily tried to imitate the movement, and once again she was met with Blaise’s irritated scowl.
And holy hell, she could even start to differentiate between his scowls.
No, you idiot, don’t move your shoulder,” he barked at her. She scowled venomously and tried her best to follow his orders. Again, her movement was met with complete disapproval.
 “You’ve got absolutely no talent for this,” he declared a moment later. “Keeper, it isn’t that difficult. How hard is it to copy someone?”
“Well, maybe,” Lyra snapped fiercely, her eyes blazing with anger, “if you weren’t so utterly useless at explaining something it wouldn’t be so difficult!”
That same fire that blazed in her eyes appeared in Blaise’s.
“And maybe,” he growled menacingly, “if you had an ounce of athletic ability you wouldn’t find it so difficult!”
Sionann clapped her hands together, breaking up the imminent fight.
“Okay,” she announced sweetly, “I think that’s enough for tonight. Give Lyra some time to process it, yes?” She stared expectantly at Blaise until he stepped out of Lyra’s space with a low growl. And when had he gotten so close?
Lyra tossed her hair back over her shoulder and tried to recompose herself, willing her racing heart to calm down. There was just something in that ass that always managed to bring out the worst in her.
 “This isn’t over,” Blaise declared ominously. “Practise what I showed you, and we’ll see if tomorrow goes any better.”
And so Lyra’s months of hell began.
 “Again,” Blaise ordered from his seat on the stairs, his entire presence radiating boredom. He watched with half-lidded eyes as Lyra smoothly repeated the movement, her limbs flowing gracefully into the new stance, and she couldn’t quite suppress the flicker of satisfaction in her heart.
She loved martial arts.
Oh, she had hated it, at the start. She couldn’t get anything right, and Blaise was a ridiculously hard taskmaster, refusing to move onto anything new until she completed each movement with absolute perfection.
The first couple of weeks had been hell, and there hadn’t been a single night she’d gone to bed without fresh bruises and screaming muscles, but then a day came when she got the movement, Blaise’s mouth quirked in satisfaction, and Plumbob, it was the best feeling she’d ever experienced. Not because Blaise was satisfied, oh no, never that. It was just an absolutely indescribable feel to know exactly what she wanted, how to do it, and have her body respond perfectly.
She just couldn’t get enough of it.
 “Passable,” Blaise murmured and stood up, shrugging off the outer layer of his shirt as he did so. The days were starting to get chillier, and while Lyra knew winter was still a little over a year away, the chill in the air some days tried its best to convince her otherwise.
He took a stance in front of her, lightly bouncing on the balls of his feet and rolling his shoulders, loosening his muscles. Lyra felt a flicker of anticipation at the sight. They were going to spar. They didn’t spar often, as Blaise was way too stubborn on getting her to perfect the movements, and he was a firm believer of practice makes perfect, but when they did spar…damn, it was good. The thrill, the speed, the fear, the way he constantly pushed her more and more until just before she reached her limits…it was a dance she was absolutely addicted to.
For all her bluster that first night of instruction, Blaise was actually an incredibly good instructor. Not that she’d ever admit it out loud.
He rolled his head on his neck, his entire body still the picture of boredom.
“Now, let’s see if you can apply that in practice,” he declared, and moved. Lyra saw the punch coming and responded, twisting her body out of the way in a graceful dance and going on the offensive herself. Her kick was, as always, met by an immovable defence.
They continued the spar, dancing around each other until Lyra finally saw the opportunity to use the new move she had learned. She spun into the movement, going for the opening and felt her heart sink when she realised Blaise had simply been baiting her. He moved his feet a mere fraction and suddenly she was thrown off-balance, and he was in her space, forcing her to back away.
Her back hit the wall behind her, and his hand came to a stop, way too close to her head.
“You’re dead,” he growled menacingly, the same way he always did when ending a spar. “Learn some spatial awareness, idiot.”
Lyra bit her tongue, silently fuming at herself. She had absolutely allowed herself to be baited into that. It wasn’t even the first time he had pulled that move on her.
…And holy freak’n hell, it was difficult to concentrate when he was so close to her. She breathed heavily, silently willing him to back away, as she was unwilling to let him realise just how much his proximity was bothering her. He’d been confusing the heck out of her lately. She still couldn’t stand him, but the months of instruction had shown her a different side to him, and he was such a goddamn exhibit of testosterone that she sometimes had to stop herself from doing something outright stupid.
He was so close to her that she could feel his breath ghosting over her lips. Unconsciously, she flitted her tongue across her lips, wondering what it would feel like for him to place his lips on hers and kiss her senseless.
His pupils dilated, and he backed away with a growl, the sound sending sparks down to her belly. She coughed and looked away, trying to slow her racing heart. He was the absolute last person she wanted to get all hot and bothered over.
 “We’ll stop here for today,” he growled, and seriously, could he stop that? Her goddamn libido had enough trouble as is.
“Fine,” she bit out, very eager to remove herself from his presence. “Tomorrow, then.” It was a little ritual they completed after each instruction session. It had started when he’d challenged her that she wouldn’t be able to continue with the lessons, that she’d give up, and of course there was no way in hell she’d ever give up, so she always promised to be there for the next lesson.
He nodded curtly before turning on his heel and walking over to his outer shirt layer. The muscles in his shoulders pulled tight against his shirt, causing the fabric to stretch and cling to his skin, highlighting every line.
She spun around, jerking her eyes away from the sight. His footsteps crunched on the grass as he walked away, leaving her to stand alone in the garden. When she turned around again, he was nowhere to be seen, and she couldn’t help but sigh, both with relief and loss.
He was going to be the death of her.
She wished she understood her own heart more. She hated him, but she couldn’t deny that she was attracted to him. It was becoming difficult to be around him and not wonder what it would feel like to run her hands over his chest, or feel his hands on her waist, or bury her fingers in his hair, or
Plumbbob, she needed a shower. A cold, cold one. Even Edwin had never turned her on quite like this, and it definitely hadn’t been due to lack of trying.
She set off towards the house, more than ready for that shower, but before she could enter through the door, hands pulled her away and flush against the familiar chest she had just tried to get out of her mind. She glared up at Blaise, but he merely shot her a look, halting her angry tirade before it began.
“Don’t interrupt,” he ordered briskly, eyes focused on the scene inside the house.
Lyra shoved at him, trying to push him away, but Plumbob, he was strong. His muscles were like iron-bound logs, pinning her to place and leaving her no room to move. It was not comfortable.
“Let go of me,” she hissed dangerously, trying to keep her voice low enough that the couple inside the house wouldn’t hear her.
He did, so abruptly she almost fell over as she was deprived of her support. She shot him one last glare before she straightened, nonchalantly dusting off her clothes and paying attention to the scene inside the house for the first time.
It took her a moment to process.
“…Is he proposing?” she asked incredulously. She shouldn’t be so surprised – Adrian and Sionann was the quintessential couple for living the happy family life – but she was. Perhaps it was because she’d always seen them as the happy couple, and in her mind, they had long passed that step.
Blaise grunted in response.
“About fucking time,” he murmured, whether to himself or her, Lyra had no idea. She crossed her arms, looking closer at the scene visible through the glass door.
“I thought they were already bonded,” Lyra admitted, a bit confused. Wasn’t that what fairies did? Look for their true love and ‘bond’ with them? That day when Adrian had explained a fairy’s nature to her…she had been so sure that he was Sionann’s love.
“Don’t talk about shit you know nothing about,” was Blaise’s oh-so-helpful response.
The glare Lyra shot him at that response spoke volumes. Freaking ass. Why did he have to be such an irritating, arrogant asshole?
Inside the house, Sionann threw herself in Adrian’s arms, exuberantly accepting Adrian’s proposal.
A/N: *Reads over the spar scene again. Cringes* Well, I suppose that’s what happens when I try to write romance – clichés and badly-written-fanfiction-like sexual tension. Oh well. I enjoyed writing it. XD I’m having so much fun writing and shooting those two. Some of the expressions they pull are simply brilliant. So expressive. I love my sims. <3