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The ring’s orbs no longer carry any light, and PM can’t even begin to explain how glad she is. Wearing the ring was more tiresome than she could have imagined. And it’s good to have her body back. While flying was interesting, she is all too happy to give it up along with the rest of the ring’s other, nastier effects.

She's also equally glad to be on Earth again. Seeing Prospit had broken her heart in a way that the damage to the Battlefield had been unable to. The Battlefield hadn't been her home, but Prospit had, and seeing those bodies lying in the streets, the broken golden towers that once used to be home, that had ignited a rage inside of her that now chilled PM to the bone. And judging from the occasional glances she sees from other exiles in the refugee camp, she isn't the only one frightened of what she had been.

PM can live with being a little frightened of the rage, but there is a great deal of difference between her own thoughts about herself, and the thoughts of other exiles. She's their Queen now, and that means she has to lead them. The problem is that PM isn't sure what sort of Queen they need. WQ has been as helpful as she can be as PM's adviser, but she has noticeably shied away from telling PM exactly how she should be ruling.

"The method and means of your rule are yours to choose, and yours alone," WQ had said shortly after they returned to Earth, "I know what sort of Queen I was, but you need to find what sort of Queen you will be for yourself."

While PM appreciates that WQ wants her to seek her own choices, she finds it equally infuriating. How is she meant to know what she wants when she has no experience, and no guidance? She glances down at the empty orbs again. PM no longer even has this ring to define who and what she is. And as much as she is relieved to be free from it's terrible influence, she also misses the direct and guidance it gave.

“Oh,” WV says, jolting her out of her thoughts. She looks up from her palm and over to him. He’s carrying a bundle of clothes in his arms, “It’s gone?”

“It’s gone,” She confirms, not entirely sure what to do with the ring. It can’t do anything to her anymore, so she puts it on her hand for the moment, still feeling a bit uneasy as it fits snugly over her ring finger. PM stands up, getting off her rock and glancing around.

The refugee camp was so busy when they arrived earlier, and there were so many people asking questions. PM had been overwhelmed at first, right until she realized that part of being a Queen was delegating, and so she had gotten WQ to start handling questions, while WK and AR were ordered to take a count of the supplies, and WV was quickly put in charge of finding out everything he could about the camp. That had cut it down so PM was only in charge of settling a few of the scraps going on between people in the camp, and those had been dealt with (as much as they could be anyway).

But now at dusk, as a swollen moon lingers on the edge of the horizon, everything has gone quiet and there aren’t many people around. In fact, it seems like everyone else has gone to bed early, and PM isn’t entirely sure why. She does appreciate the peace and quiet, particularly after her first attempts at ruling. PM feels that it went over well, but she's not really sure what to judge it by, or if she even can judge at all.

WV offers her one of the bundles in his arms and she realizes that they’re clothes, real clothes. PM can’t stop the delighted smile that slides over her face, and WV quickly explains, his own pleased smile showing through now and again, “They found a whole warehouse underground full of them. I picked out something and. I hope you like it.”

“I’m sure I will, thank you,” PM brushes her fingers across the cloth, enjoying the lovely, luxurious feeling compared to the faded rough fabric wrapped around the rest of her body, “Do you know where everyone else is?”

“Oh. Um,” WV goes a bit red, and she can’t quite figure out why, “They turn in early around here.”

“I can see that,” She glances around again. There’s no one around, but it would be a lie to say it was exactly quiet. She can hear noises in the dark, soft murmurings and laughter, and other noises that she hasn’t hear in years-

It all clicks, and PM blushes a little too. Oh. No wonder they all go to bed early. WV must see her face because he goes even redder, and then she can’t help herself, she laughs, half out of shock and half out of pleasure at seeing WV as flustered as her. The giggles must be contagious because it’s not long before he’s got his hands clamped over his mouth to try hold in his own mirth.

“Oh my,” She finally manages to say, still not quite able to stop every giggle coming out of her, “... wait, do WQ and WK know? I was going to share at tent with them.”

“Well. Um. I. Think they’re sharing a tent with AR now...” WV says, and PM’s eye-ridges shoot up at the sudden turn of events. They just look at each other, both clearly trying to picture it, and in unison, they start giggling again. PM’s stomach is starting to ache a little from all of this, but it’s good. She can’t remember the last time she laughed this hard. PM can’t even remember the last time she laughed at all. It feels good to do it, even it it’s starting to hurt a little.

“I guess there’s no point in heading back to their tent then,” She clutches her clothes closer, “Do you mind if I crash in yours?”

“No, of course not! I’d be happy to have you! I mean. In my tent. I’d be happy to sleep with you- I mean-“ WV’s somehow even redder than before and PM can’t stop laughing as he keeps sticking his foot in his mouth, “I- oh no.”

“It’s okay, I know what you mean,” She assures him, and they make their way back to WV’s tent, PM still giggling now and again. It’s hard not to when she passes by tent after tent in the camp, and realizes exactly what’s going on in each one. PM also spends the walk back getting a little more flustered, and a bit aroused, and then even more flustered at that last bit in particular.

She tries to distract herself with the thought of her duty. All day, PM has tried to decide what sort of Queen she's meant to be. It is easier to decide what she does not want to be than it is to decide what she will be. PM will not be the sort of Queen who goes to war, or the sort of Queen who rules tyrannically. She won't be the sort to stand idly by either, or to turn a blind eye to injustice. PM will lead, and she will do so by example. But by what example?

It would be nice to have a simple answer for once, but nothing is simple out here. This world is grey, not black and white, and when they make it bloom again, when they bring it to life, it will be a world of greens and blues, not black and whites. Her duty isn't an easy one, but it isn't as if there's anything easy anymore. All around her, there are thousands of people who depend on her, who are looking to PM to lead them. She can't let them down, not now, not after all they've been through. They need a Queen, and PM has to be that Queen, even if it would be easier to be a mail lady.

Lead by example. She grasps onto that again, and it feels comfortable. PM has always been a practical person and she has always done best with tangible goals. Maybe that's what she needs: something practical and tangible. A city in the desert. A place that needs to be built and not just spoken off. Again, it feels right in a way that her other thoughts haven't. Something that isn't just a distant goal but a real achievable solution.

WV’s assigned tent is nothing special, but after months and months of sleeping in the desert, it might as well be a five-start hotel. It’s even got a mattress in it – the blow-up kind – and blankets. WV crawls in first and PM follows, zipping the door shut behind them. They both lie on the mattress, still giggling softly when they glance at each other, but no longer completely crippled by their amusement.

The mattress is amazing. She’s gotten so used to sleeping on dirt and rocks and sand that she’s not entirely sure how to deal with feeling nothing but air beneath her. WV shifts around and she feels him moving before she sees him, the mattress moving under her.

The pile of fresh clothes is still beside her, and she keeps brushing her fingertips over the surface of the material. PM doesn’t know how she feels right now. Happy, she supposes. Excited of course. And… grateful. Grateful that she’s alive, and that tonight she’ll sleep with a roof over her head and tomorrow she’ll have clothes, and that the ring on her hand is just a ring, nothing more, and that WV is within arm’s reach of her.

She sneaks a look at WV. It would be fair to say that maybe she's a little bit in love with him. Okay, maybe a little bit doesn't describe it entirely. He was the first person to believe in her since her exile, and he has been by her side since they moment they met, always willing to do whatever she asked of him. A little spark of attraction has been nestled in her chest, something she couldn't dare act on, not while they were trying to bring an end to Jack Noir. Now, with him lying within arm's reach, she feels that spark turning into a flame.

Outside this tent, there are dozens of other couples sharing the night together. It wouldn't be too much to ask him if he would like to do the same. But PM touches the ring on her hand and the thoughts still. She understands comfort sex, but oddly enough, that’s not what she wants right now. Well. Not exactly anyway. Not entirely.

All day, she's pondered what sort of Queen she is meant to be, and how best to lead. She knows that she needs to be a leader that plays to her strengths, not against them. PM needs to be the sort of Queen who sets her eyes to the horizon and leads, proving a purpose and a place, a destination and a goal. Real physical things they can call their own, not just lofty goals and words.

This place is a camp, but it isn’t an end. They’ll need a new home, a city in the sands. Somewhere with water and dirt where plants can take root and grow. They also need more people, more than just who escaped Derse and Prospit. Another sort of seed needs to be planted. The thought makes her blush, but she turns the ring on her hand, powering through it. She’s their Queen, that means she needs to lead them. She's already decided that she would do best if she lead by example and, well...

Her cheeks are heating up but she tries to push it aside. A baby. That's what she's really thinking about. She's quite seriously considering having a child in order to inspire others. This isn't exactly what she was thinking of earlier today while settling fights and trying to decide what her role would be. She had been thinking more along the lines of creating inanimate objects; buildings and wells and homes, gardens where fruit and vegetables could grow, places they could call there own.

And yet, there's a certain symmetry in this. She killed Jack Noir and brought the Sovereign Slayer's brutal reign to an end. And now, she can bring new life, and a promise of something better. A life for a life. Balance. Maybe she's the sort of monarch who seeks out hope. PM would be fine with that sort of destiny at her hands.

There's still one large problem though: conceiving the child. The obvious choice of father is lying beside her on the same mattress. PM has a flash for a moment, an image of WV laying underneath her, and heat blossoms between her legs. She presses her thighs together and her teeth worry at her lower lip. PM should just ask him. They're already lying here. He's the best choice. If she looks at it logically, it makes sense to ask him.

“WV?” She asks him softly, glancing over. WV’s already looking at her, those lovely white eyes of his staring at her quite curiously, and the words stall in her mouth. There's a vast difference between thinking something, and actually doing it, and she stumbles right over that gap, “I... ... nevermind."

"What?" He shifts onto his side, "Is something wrong?"

"No, no, nothing's wrong. I just. I," PM meets his eyes, and there's something about them that's so calming that when she tries to speak again, the words actually come out, "I need a favour from you. And if you’re not okay with it, you can say no. It’s just...”

“Whatever you want, just ask,” He says, and she has to fight off giggles again because he has no idea what he’s offering, “Really, I’ll do anything for you. Well. ... well, almost anything," And he looks away, clearly ashamed.

PM reaches out and touches his shoulder. It wasn't his fault he couldn't wear the ring. They should have known better, she should have known better. WV had been so afraid of himself, of becoming like Jack Noir. But he had still tried, and that's what was important to remember: he had tried. And when it had become clear that trying wasn't enough, he had placed the ring on her finger, and PM had done her duty like a Queen should.

"You were there when I needed you," She reminds him, because though he hadn't been able to wear the ring, he had rallied the survivors, and he had served as a distraction when she was searching for an opening. He had been so brave then, bold and strong and vibrant, and so unlike his usual awkward self. And yet, she likes this version of WV just as much, if not even more.

Just looking at him banishes the worst of her fears. She wants WV. She wants him more than she's ever wanted anything before. And she wants him to help her with this task, this child. She takes her hand away from his shoulder and composes herself. Just ask him, just ask, the worst he can say is no.

PM knows her face must be bright pink at this point, but the words come out without needing to be forced too much. “Would you like to be the father of my child?”

WV’s mouth drops. “Are you-“

“Not yet. That’s... what I’m asking,” PM explains, and tries to put all her thoughts into words, “We need to start moving forward. We need to repopulate. Those are simple facts. And… a Queen leads by example... but if you’re not comfortable with it, then-“

“I am. I’m. I’m very comfortable,” He assures her, and if she’s pink then he’s bright red, all his blood simmering under the surface of his face, “If you’re comfortable, I mean. I. I would do anything you asked me too. Especially this. I mean. Not only this. I'd do lots of things for you. It's just. This is something I'd really love to do. But- oh this is just coming out all wrong."

She presses a hand against her mouth, holding back laughter. "WV, I'm pretty sure that I'm supposed to be the one who's feeling awkward here."

"Maybe but. I think there's enough to go around. I. I would be happy to... I would love to," He's still trying to assure her, and she sees doubt creeping into his eyes, "But are you sure you want me?”

“Yes, I want you,” And of all the words she has to say, these are the easiest, “Not just for tonight either. I want you with me every step of the way, if that’s okay with you.”

“The smartest, bravest woman I’ve ever known wants me to help her make a baby. In case it isn’t obvious already, this is very okay with me,” WV can’t stop smiling and she can’t either.

They move closer to one another, meeting in the middle, their arms brushing up against one another. “So...” She says softly, “I guess maybe we should start work on that.”

“Yeah... that’s... that’s a good idea,” WV manages to say, and after another moment of hesitation, PM leans forward. WV meets her, and their lips press against one another. The kiss starts chastely, but then she opens her mouth a little, and he does too, and it’s so easy to slowly escalate their kiss into something full of want and longing. PM curls herself closer to WV, until they’re pressed up against each other. Their kisses get longer, deeper, and there’s no denying the sexual current running between them.

One hand cautiously settles on her hip, and she wraps an arm around WV’s back, both of them starting to tug at their wrappings. When they stop to catch their breaths, WV’s fingers cautiously skirt over the end of the faded banner. She can see him trying to ask the question, and she saves him some time, finding the ending of her outfit and tucking it into his hand. “Here,” She tells him, “Go on.”

WV tugs on it, and slowly begins to unravel her. PM has to get up onto her knees so he can get around her, and her outfit slowly heads higher and higher. She can’t get any pinker than the moment that it reveals what lies between her thighs, but WV sweetly keeps moving ever upwards, unwrapping her hips, and stomach, her breasts and shoulders. The hood comes off in one piece, leaving her completely bare.

He takes her hand and presses the end of his sheets into her palm, and she does the same with WV. As each dusty sheet slips away, it reveals more and more black carapace, untouched and unseen by anyone for ages. The wrappings slide off of WV’s waist, and he's half-hard, and she's hit by a wave of lust that nearly knocks her over. She tosses the dusty wrappings to the side, and forces herself to reach out and touch him instead of giving into futile shyness. PM touches the middle of his chest, and slowly drags her fingers downward, until they finally slide over his shaft. It's hard not to giggle as she feels him harden under her fingertips, and as he says, "O-oh!"

PM leans in and kisses him again. WV puts his hand on the side of her face, and they come closer to one another again, the heat of their bodies feeding off of one another. PM's not sure where to begin, or what to do, or even how she wants to do this. She wants to do everything, and the way WV's cock is prodding her thigh says he feels exactly the same as her. PM slides her mouth to the side, pressing soft kisses to his cheek and jaw. "I think we should lay down again."

"That's a very good idea," WV eagerly agrees, and they settle themselves back on the mattress, each on their sides facing each other. PM twines her fingers in WV's and presses her mouth against his, falling back into slow passionate kisses. It's so nice. She's missed this so much and she hadn't even realized it until this moment. There is something so wonderful about all the little luxuries in life: a bed, blankets, a trustworthy man who kisses her like it means something special.

WV's other hand tentatively touches her chest, his fingertips ever so slowly sliding across one breast, and then cupping it in his palm. The hand begins to migrate further south, tracing the flat of her stomach, and resting just above the y of her thighs. His hand stays there, even as their kisses deepen, and PM has to make the move, pressing her hand overtop of his and sliding it down those last few inches. WV whimpers as he slides a finger into her, and PM smiles to hear that sound, and make her own soft noise when his finger finally brushes against the top of her clit. He slides his finger again, settling on a slow but steady rhythm, and her hand reaches up to touch his face.

He's blushing so hard that she can feel his cheeks throwing off heat like a little boiler, and her own face is doing the same. Every time he rubs his finger against her, she feels little sparks running through her pelvis, but more than that, she feels the shiver of anticipation looming. She's going to have sex with him. And she's going to let him come inside of her so they can have a child.

If anyone had ever told her on Prospit that she would be this turned on at the thought of having a baby, she would have laughed at them. But here she is, feeling weak in the knees at just the thought of having WV lose control while he's inside of her, of having a little grey-coloured child with her father's white eyes.

"Please," She whispers, and there's no hiding the longing in her voice, "WV..."

"Okay, just. Just a moment," He withdraws his hand, and she squeezes the hands they've still got clasped together, pressing a kiss to the bump of his nose. WV clearly considers things and then rolls her onto her back, cautiously kneeling between her thighs. He looks so nervous, but his eyes are burning with want, and his length stands erect, pointing triumphantly at her. Another case of giggles threaten to take over but she beats them back, even as WV says, "Are you sure you want me? You're a Queen and I'm. I'm just-"

PM spreads her thighs, and WV's words just dry up, his eyes getting big as he looks at her, "I'm sure. I want you. I want... well..." She can barely bring herself to say the words, even when he's naked and only seconds away from being inside of her, "I want you to plant your seed in me."

No sooner are the words out of her mouth that WV stops, and his face transforms as he fights off laughter, and PM should be annoyed but honestly, she can't stop the giggles that come over her too. "You said-"

"I know! I know." She's naked beneath WV and nervous, and she can't stop giggling, no matter how hard she tries. "This is harder than I thought it would be."

He grins at her, and leans in and kisses her. It's a difficult kiss at first, since they both keep giggling, but WV keeps stealing kisses, and with each tender press of his lips, the giggles slowly die, until she's kissing back, all too aware of what she's asking him to do. WV rests his forehead against hers before straightening up. "I. You're sure-"

"WV, please." PM feels her heart flutter a little, and this time when she finds the words, they aren't so clumsy or funny. "I want to feel you come inside me."

It's WV's turn to tremble at the very thought. She watches him struggle, and when he can't find the words, he simply leans in and kisses her on the mouth. It's a brief kiss this time, powerful but fleeting, and when WV pulls away, PM wraps her legs around him and beckons him on. He carefully moves forward, and then ever so slowly slides inside of her, as if he's afraid he might hurt her.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. It doesn't hurt at all. It feels so good, and she can't stop smiling as he slowly fills her up. WV's arms settle on either side of her, and he presses up against her body, his head looking up at her from the top of her breasts, "I-" He struggles to speak again, and gives her the sweetest smile, his eyes so wide and white, "PM, I love you."

"I love you too," She returns the words, wrapping her arms around him, "WV."

"PM," He takes a breath, and then begins to rock into her. PM bites the inside of her mouth to keep from moaning too loudly. It feels so very good to have him inside of her. He's gentle and WV takes his time, clearly feeling no need to rush this. She's glad of that. The last thing she wants is to rush this, not after this long.

Three days ago, they were standing the ruins of Prospit once more, facing down Jack Noir. Three days ago, she had decided to end Jack Noir, no matter what the cost. She had been prepared to die for her people, even if she was the Queen of only four subjects. But dying is the last thing on her mind now. She wants to live, and more than that, she wants to thrive. PM wants to see her people thrive too. And strangest of all, newest of all, she wants to see her child thrive too.

The tent is like a sort of echo chamber, and she hears every breath from WV, and the soft squeak of the mattress, and the sound of him steadily sliding in and out of her. WV presses his mouth against the tops of her breasts, and she whimpers softly as his mouth moves down, brushing over her nipples. His hands slide out, seeking her hands, and they twine together again, just like how her legs are twined with WV's.

They fit together like two puzzle pieces, and she feels a flush of pleasure with each thrust from his hips, the lovely ridges on his shaft brushing against the more sensitive areas inside of her. He begins to slide in a bit deeper, and it burns just a little when he does, but in the most wonderful way. "That's so nice," She tells him, because she feels she should say something, "Keep doing that."

"I will," WV promises and keeps it, making sure to give her that little extra friction that makes things so amazing. Her thighs stay tight around his waist, and he keeps pushing into her, making sure to go deep with every thrust in. "Do you like this?"

"I do, I really do." PM whimpers softly as the head begins to rub against something deep inside of her, something that feels amazing. WV stretches up as far as he can, and she moves to meet him, their mouths pressing against one another quite briefly. Another time, they'll do nothing but this and kiss. And PM feels her heart skip a beat at the thought of a next time, and a time after that, and so many others stretched out before her. "Do you? Do you like it?"

"Of course I do." WV smiles at her and his thrusts begin to speed up a little. "I can't believe you want me. It's like a dream." She wants to laugh and tell him that it's not, but she doesn't get the chance. It happens so quickly and she is nowhere near prepared.

One moment, she's just soaking in the wonderful feeling of WV inside of her, and then it's like her body goes into overdrive, and suddenly this thrusting becomes so intense that she can barely stand it. "WV, I'm- I'm-!" She barely blurts out, and before she can finish her sentence, she comes so hard that for a moment, she can't see anything. Her eyes fall closed, and all she feels are his hands tightening in hers, and WV buried so deep inside of her. PM gasps and moans uncontrollably, body torqued tight like she might shatter, and then falling apart a second later. She simply falls back on the mattress, opening her eyes and looking up at WV.

His face is shocked and he's staring at her with pure, open lust. PM shudders, aftershocks running through her, and she manages to smile at him. He squeezes her hands again, and begins to thrust again. She does her best to accommodate him, even though she's having trouble even thinking straight.

"PM," WV says softly, his hips speeding up with every thrust, "I've wanted you for so long, since I first saw your face, and the parcel-"

"The parcel," She whispers, remembering the green box all too well, and the sound of gunfire, and WV sitting beside her, looking so frightened and yet... and yet, he had given her the parcel. It would be fair to say that she had started falling in love with him in that moment. Hadn't she always been weak for a good man who knew how to do his duty? Still is, if the longing she's feeling is any indication.

"I never thought you'd want me," WV babbles, and it's clear that he's trying to hold off, just talking to keep going. It's sweet of him, so sweet, but that's what he is: the sweetest man she's ever know. "I love you so much. I'll be whatever you want me to be. I just want to spend the rest of my life with you, and... and our baby."

PM whimpers, and she brings his hands to her mouth, kissing his knuckles, "Please," She begs him softly, "WV, please, don't hold off any longer."

"I-I-" He strains, but he does as she asks. PM feels his hips fall out of sync, and her eyes stay fixed to his face, watching closely as he approaches the edge. Her hands hold his tightly, even as he starts to make these helpless sounds. He cries out when he comes, and PM gasps as she feels him fill her, the warmth of new life flooding her senses. WV collapses against her, and she holds tight to him, closing her eyes and savouring the strange and wonderful feeling of WV's seed taking hold in her womb.

They lay there entwined, both panting softly. PM keeps holding his hands in hers, rubbing her thumb across his. She leans down as best she can, managing to kiss the top of his head. WV squeezes her hands and stays lying between her thighs, as if he's acting like a plug to keep his contribution safely inside of her.

But the night is cool, even in the tent, and they're forced to draw apart as the sweat cools on their skin. There are plenty of blankets, and they wrap themselves up together, WV wrapping his arms around PM and pressing his head against her chest. She slides her own arm around his waist, while the other slides over the curve of his skull.

"Was it good?" WV cautiously asks, still so nervous, and PM would laugh only she's not sure she could manage to when she feels like jelly, all loose and wobbly.

"How many times do I have to agree before you believe me? Or do you need me to say 'yes, yes, yes' the whole time?" PM teases him, and WV flushes again, a smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

"I would be okay with that," WV admits, tracing his fingers over her belly, "I'd be okay with a lot of things. I just... I don't. I don't have a lot of experience and-... you'd tell me if I did bad, right?"

"Hmm," She pretends to consider it, but when WV's face drops, she snuggles closer to him, "You need to trust me. I liked it a lot. I liked it so much that I'm... well..."

"Well what?" He asks, looking at her with that same expression of worry.

"Well... I'm looking forward to next time. And... to maybe me being on top of you," She says, and watches as WV presses his lips together in anticipation. Before she can lean down, WV comes up to meet her, and they kiss softly. She's so in love in this moment, and it's a little scary how quickly she's fallen for this man, this stranger who somehow turned her whole world upside down and gave her the one thing she needed to destroy a tyrant.

WV leans his forehead against hers before snuggling up against PM again. He moves one hand up, sliding it just under her stomach and resting it there. She wonders what he's doing, and then it hits her: that's where their child will be growing. Her heart swells and PM kisses the top of his head again.

"Whatever you'd like," He whispers to her, "All I want is to be with you."

"You will be, now and forever," PM promises and means it, fingers stroking his head. She's so tired and worn out from the past few days. Though, if she's being honest, she's been tired for years. PM lets her eyes sink closed and she falls asleep, safe and content with the knowledge that WV will be here in the morning.

And someday soon, he won't be the only one.