You slam your spear against hers, a groan ripping from your throat. Serpentine has the advantage of height, but you are pure strength, honed by the long months of battling Beasts in dank sewers, while she has grown lazy and fat with her wasp-waisted woman to bring her pickled eggs and salted herring. You think it was a mistake to leave her for so long.
She falls back three steps, her dark eyes lit to fire. She is so accustomed to the simpering and slavering of her subjects that she has forgotten the true meaning of a fight. You smile, baring all your teeth, more than happy to remind her.
"I should kill you for your insolence," she says, nails scratching into the thin layer of skin over your sternum. Her eyes are narrowed in displeasure and she is coated in a sheen of sweat, body littered with cuts you left her as small, sweet reminders of your bout.
You smile, and do not bother replying. You drop to your knees, running your hands along the worn leather of her boots, biting the inside of her thigh. This is how it is between you: you are always willing to kneel, in the end, once you have reminded her that you do not need to.
Hunter, she utters, guttural, arching beneath your hand. You bite into her neck and taste the blood of your match, metallic and hot.
It is four weeks into sparring that she pins you to the ground, driving the tip of the spear into the soft flesh where your jaw meets your neck.
"You grow overconfident, Hunter," she says, feral and victorious, and when you look at her you see the Queen you nearly lost, and you let out the breath you have been holding since you looked upon her face and saw a glutted artistocrat.
"I live to serve," you say with all derision, but when she leans down and rips the furs from your chest, nails raking burning lines all over your skin, you meet her motion for motion and revel in her return.