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