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The trail up Mount Nessar wasn't an easy one. Not that Ardal had expected it to be easy, but it was one thing to think, Oh, the climb's going to be hard and quite another to have to stop every so often and catch his breath. Catch his breath! He'd been walking through the foothills for a week straight and hadn't had to pause once to catch his breath. This was just absurd, this climb.

"You're a stupid mountain," he told it, in every language that he knew. His native Ranssian, what little Coilese he remembered from before Mom died, exotic Derran, even the forbidden Liltish. (He actually didn't know how to say much other than I, you, and curse words in Liltish, but it was sufficient for his purposes. It helped that the language was so guttural that everything you said in Liltish sounded like it was an insult, too.)

The mountain didn't care, of course, but it felt good to say it and let the mountain know how stupid it was. He pushed himself up and continued toward the cabin that he knew had to be up here.

People talked about The Wizard In The Mountain like she was some ethereal being, but Ardal knew she was real; he even knew exactly who she was and why she was stuck on the mountain. General Moyra Hattikar was the most well-known fire wizard from The Great War and Dad had been the one to chase her up here, since she'd tried to raise an army after the war or some crap like that. He'd quit paying attention at some point, mostly because Dad's lessons were kind of boring. Dad was the governor of the whole province and lived in the town where she'd tried to settle, leagues south of here.

Dad said that as long as she stayed where she was, she could do whatever she wanted and he didn't care.

He also said that he wasn't going to train Ardal's fire talent, and none of the fire wizards in town would go against the governor's wishes, so fuck them all. It was pretty much what Ardal had said in the note he left before he ran away, though he was smart enough to not tell them exactly who he was seeking out to train him.

If she wouldn't teach Ardal, well, he guessed he just didn't deserve to know more than what he'd already figured out on his own. But she was going to teach him, for sure, so he didn't even need to worry about it.

He just had to get up this stupid, idiotic mountain first. Ardal could smell woodsmoke, so her cabin couldn't be that far away.

"No," she said, deadpan, and shut the door in Ardal's face. She didn't slam it or anything, she had manners, she just didn't want to teach him.

Ardal knocked again, and kept knocking. His hand was starting to get tired as his legs, his knuckles sore, by the time she opened the door again. "What?"

He stared for a moment, because she really was beautiful even if she was more than twice his age. Her hair was going white at the temples, but white into copper-gold was just... well, it didn't look bad. And Ardal had always kind of had a thing for women who looked like they could beat him at wrestling, and she did.

Whatever else she did up here, she kept in shape.

And cleared her throat. Oh, he was supposed to be pleading his case. "No one else will teach me!"

"Don't you think there's some sort of reason for that?" she asked, leaning one shoulder against the doorjamb and crossing her arms over her chest. She didn't have much in the way of breasts, but most athletic women didn't, and it wasn't like Ardal minded. He'd never let breasts (or a lack of them) or a cock (or a lack of one) stop him from storing up wanking material on someone.

She was glaring again. Right, the reason that no one would teach him. Pretty simple, really. "It's because Dad said if he found anyone in town trying to teach me, he'd behead them."

He was pretty sure he couldn't have startled her more if he was trying: her mouth dropped open and her eyes went wide for a moment, and then her whole expression just went away. Except for the way her eyes were narrowed and her lips pressed into a thin line. "Who is your father?" Her tone said she already knew.

Ardal narrowed his own eyes at her. "I thought you said that stupid questions didn't deserve to be answered?"

"Right before I shut the door in your face, yes." She spoke with a calculated mildness. If she was like this after years of not fighting, he couldn't even imagine how she'd been in her heyday.

"Right, so. You know who my father is, I know who my father is, and we both agree that he's stubborn-headed--"

"You take after him."

"--So we're going to just move past that and get down to business. Do you have any reasoned objections to teaching me how to use my talent and become a proper wizard?"

Her lips quirked, like something was funny. "You're far too cute for me to want to make a murderer out of you. That a good enough reason?"

Cute? Cute? Ardal wasn't just cute; he was handsome, one of the best-looking guys in town, and certainly the most sought-after, though he didn't really have much interest in the girls his age who chased him. They were just girls, they weren't like General Hattikar, a woman in every way. "What if I say I'm not going to kill people?"

She stood up straight again, regarding him as she uncrossed her arms and put one on the door again. "I'd say you're a liar; fire's not good for much else." And she closed the door, because Ardal had been too busy looking at her green, green eyes to put his foot out to block it.

"I don't lie!" he shouted at her though the door. "And I'm not going away until you teach me!"

The sound of laughter rang out from inside. "You won't last a month!"

"Watch me," Ardal said, but quietly, and went to go set a few snares and gather wood for a fire. It was the dog days of summer, but this high up it still got down pretty cold at night. Besides, he had to cook somehow.

As he had many times since he left, he silently thanked the five gods, each and every one of them separately, for Mom's insistence that he and his siblings know how to live off the land.

Ardal had a fantasy that he might keep her in her cabin by laying in front of the door, but as he lay in his bedroll thinking it over, he realized that was an awful idea and sure to make her hate him.

Well, if she wouldn't train him, could she say no to some help? Summer was ending soon and she'd need lots of firewood to keep her cabin warm, and he needed firewood anyway, so it was a perfect opportunity.

She caught him in the process of chopping wood--using her axe, of course, he couldn't have brought one for home all this way and still carried all the other stuff he needed, though he did have his hatchet--and glared at him.

He glared back.

Somehow it just made her laugh, shake her head, and go back inside.

Ardal loved people who had senses of humor; they were so much more fun to be around. And they tended to get him when sticks in the mud just got angry with him. It was another point in her favor: she was no stick in the mud.

Ardal didn't have anything to actually go hunting with but a flintlock, and those were... well, they were kind of crap if you didn't have amazingly good aim or didn't want to disturb the peacefulness of the forest. Because it was very, very peaceful. He found himself wandering off into the wilderness in places where he didn't have traps set and just sitting and meditating.

On the fire forms that he'd figured out on his own, on life in general. His place, such as it was. Youngest son, not worth anything, but his father still forbade him to train his talent. Not training his talent wasn't going to kill him or anything, not unless he got tempted by power and tried to do spells whose weaving he couldn't hold. It was just a criminal waste, and someone was most definitely walking through the brush toward him, along the same path he'd taken to find this wide, flat stone that looked out over a little drop.

He meditated on containing his glee for the however many minutes it took the general to reach him; he knew when she did by the way her footsteps became all but silent.

"Why do you want to learn?" she asked. She wasn't forceful or anything, just sounded curious.

Ardal had figured the question would come up sooner or later, so he had an answer ready: "So the same thing that happened to mom won't happen to me."

She was quiet, and he felt her sit down, her back ramrod straight, pressing against his. "What happened to your mother? The story put about was that there was an accident."

"An accident?" Ardal snorted and resisted the urge to roll his eyes. But he didn't offer up an explanation about what had really happened; his breath was shaky and his eyes a little glassy thinking about the whole thing.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, and all at once the heat of her at his back was gone and there was once more the sound of her retreating, this time down a different path. To the west.

There was a little pool west of here, and he'd caught her meditating there a few times but hadn't had the courage to disturb her. This time he was too busy holding it together to even think about following her, much less breaking her concentration.

Upon waking, Ardal found a worn bow and an equally worn quiver of arrows sitting outside the door one chilly morning, along with a string and some other essentials in a leather sack.

And a note, at the bottom of the sack, somewhat crumpled from the other things sitting on top of it. I am going to do you the favor of assuming that you know how to string it and keep it in good shape. - Moyra

He hadn't hunted with a bow and arrow since he was eight and his mother had he and his eldest brother and all the sisters between them out in the woods, teaching them all how to live off the land. The bow felt awkward in his hands and he botched shot after shot at first.

But it gave him something to do, some way to fill the hours of waiting until General Hattikar--or should he be calling her Moyra, now?--caved.

He even tried his hand at making arrows of his own, once he'd shot himself a bird that, going by taste and markings, was loosely related to a grouse. It was stringy and gamy and not at all tasty, but the feathers gave him something to make the fletching out of.

"You're not going to get far tying that with twine," Moyra said, suddenly behind him.

Ardal hadn't even heard her come up; he'd been so focused on the damn fletching. "What am I supposed to tie it with, then?"

She dropped a bundle of something that looked a bit like flaky white string in front of him. "Sinew. You have to soak it in water first, though. Overnight, at least, but a couple days is better."

"Oh." He had a bowl that held water rather well, and went to get it, but she stepped between Ardal and his pack. From where he was sitting, looking up at her, she cut an imposing figure, her weathered face impassive as she stared down at him.

Or mostly impassive, anyway; she pressed her lips together suddenly. "Haven't you gotten tired of waiting yet?"

Ardal grinned up at her. "Why would I? There's plenty to do, and you just gave me even more." He hefted the arrow he was working on for a moment.

Moyra crossed her arms over her chest and widened her stance a little. "You don't need to learn all the forms to not be a danger to yourself. That you haven't killed yourself already means you know enough to survive."

This argument again? It was the same one Dad used. "I still want to learn so that I know. Just in case."

"You want to know what sound a body makes when you burn it from the inside out? You want to know how to kill ten men with one stream of fire? You want to know the smell of charred flesh?"

Okay, the first he didn't want to know, the second he did, and the third... "I already know the smell of charred flesh." He didn't put any weight on the words, with great effort keeping them nonchalant.

Moyra's expression fell away into slack shock and she took a step back. Not the response she was expecting, clearly.

It didn't almost make it worth it, not even close, but Ardal guessed if there was some good that came from all that bad then he couldn't really complain, could he? Except he'd give anything to not know. "It's okay, though," he said, softly. "I'm really not interested in smelling it again anytime soon."

"First snow is coming," she said, instead of continuing the conversation. "You'd better head out soon."

Ardal's hands tightened on the arrow, but he didn't say anything. It was just as well; she was already heading back inside the cabin.

Okay, so maybe sleeping outside in the middle of what had to be a blizzard hadn't been the best idea. But Ardal had made it just fine through the first two snows even if he’d froze his ass off, and when he went to bed this one hadn't seemed like it was going to be any different.

He was getting used to it, was the point, until this stupid blizzard came up and he woke up in the middle of the night with two inches of snow on top of him and his fire completely out.

Moyra was standing there, well, squatting now, brushing the snow off of his head. "This isn't going to work when winter comes." She didn't talk loudly, but it wasn't like she needed to. Snow deadened all the sound.

"This isn't w-w-winter?" Ardal asked through chattering teeth. He'd be fine, just as soon as he got his fire started again. He had some dry tinder under a rain slicker somewhere around here, but his movements were jerky and he really was shaking with the cold in a way he hadn't before. Of course: up until now, his fire had always been going. Without it, he was dead. Literally.

"No, this isn't winter! This is still autumn. In the winter the drifts will go up to the roof and I have to dig a tunnel to get out. Why do you think the door opens to the inside?"

He'd never really thought about it, but: snow drifts that went over the house sounded pretty... wow. He was used to a couple inches of snow at the height of winter, and to think it wasn't even... wow up over the cabin.

"You're going to freeze to death if you stay here," she said, matter-of-fact, like it didn't even bother her, even if she was frowning down at him.

He would've given her a teasing smile, but his teeth were chattering too badly. "Y-y-you'd bet-t-tter agree-e-e to teach m-m-me soo-o-on then, h-h-huh?"

She looked like she was going to tell him to go screw himself for a moment, then just sighed and dropped her head. "Okay, that's it--get inside. You're making me colder just looking at you."

Ardal would've loved to just listen to her. Get up and go inside and sit by the fire and warm up--it sounded really nice. The only problem was that when he tried to uncurl, he just ended up curling up again, his entire body shaking with the cold.

"You're such an idiot," Moyra said, but it didn't sound like she was really upset or anything, and anyway, most importantly, she pretty much picked him up and carried him over the threshold princess-style and as soon as they were inside started stripping off his clothes.

Another time, he would've been absolutely beside himself with glee. Right now, it was all he could do to uncurl enough to not hinder her efforts.

She was either practiced at getting nearly-frozen boys out of their clothes or she was determined or something, because she did get the clothes off and she did lay down on the floor and curl up behind him.

Even though she was blazingly warm against him, she wasn't naked or anything. They didn't move any closer to the fire, either, just laying there on the middle of the bearskin rug for a few minutes before she pulled a blanket over both of them and rubbed at Ardal's arms. "Feeling any better?"

He told the truth. "I've had a beautiful woman s-s-strip me and been able to do nothing but shiver; I f-f-feel awful." He was still shivering, but he could uncurl now.

Moyra laughed, at least, so maybe he was just funny instead of pathetic. She pressed one palm flat against his stomach; her touch felt like fire. "I wouldn't want to take advantage of the young and impressionable."

"Mmm, take advantage, that's what it w-w-would be." Ardal wriggled back against her in hopes that she might change her mind.

She laughed again, a lower laugh this time, more sultry. "I have to warn you: it's been a long, long time for me."

Ardal's laugh sounded shaky and awful, given the slight shivers that were still running up and down his body. He didn't think he could've had a more uncomfortable laugh if he was actually trying at it. "I. Er. Well, I've n-never done anything with another person." And he didn't emphasize any words, which was a small victory but he was willing to accept small victories at this point. "So you're still one step ahead of me," he added, shifting so that he was half on his back, able to catch her eyes.

They were almost green in the yellow of the firelight, the same color as Ardal's, and a little bit wide with shock.

Instantly he felt his cheeks color, despite the cold still everywhere in his body. It was amazing how his cheeks could get all hot and tight with the least provocation. "Um. So, yeah. If you don't want to do anything now, I--"

She kissed him. Moyra. General Hattikar just leaned down and pressed her lips against his, her other hand going to the rug on the other side of his chest to brace herself.

Ardal kissed back the best way he knew how, wrapping an unsteady arm around her waist and scooting as close to her as he could. When she opened her mouth, he opened his mouth too, and her tongue slid gently against his.

He would've thought that she kissed with more forwardness, but maybe... she made a soft noise into the kiss and suddenly her being half on top of him became her straddling his waist, her fingers finding his and lacing together, and her humming into the kiss.

Sometimes Ardal regretted being a teenager, and this was one of those times: as soon as her weight settled against his hips he gasped into the kiss and then broke it, biting his lip hard as he came all over her clothes and probably the rug and the blanket too. It was an orgasm like a powder keg, burning hot and bright enough to leave him gasping but over so quickly that the only sure sign it had happened was the slick mess of his come.

Five gods, could he just sink into the floor and die now and get it over with? He closed his eyes and turned his face away, still biting his lip as he tried to even out his breathing by just doing it through his nose. It didn't work, of course.

"That's actually kind of sweet," she said, and he felt her fingers on his face, his forehead, cheek, chin.

"So sweet," Ardal muttered, not meeting her eyes.

Moyra laughed; it sounded rich and delighted and not at all mocking. "No, really: It's kind of freeing to realize that you're going to get off no matter what I do."

Oh. In that case, he guessed it was okay. If she liked it. "I just, uhh. It's supposed to last longer than that?" He still couldn't look at her face.

She leaned down over him, her hair brushing his forehead, eyes serious. "It lasts as long as it lasts. That's just the way it is. You have hands and a tongue, if you can't get it up again, but you are young enough that it shouldn't matter for long."

Yeah, he could feel his cock already getting hard again, oversensitive from orgasm and hyper-tuned to every little move she made. Including when she leaned down and claimed his lips again. This time he followed her lead, swirling their tongues together, doing what he'd seen other people do and touching her face. Cupping one cheek and then the other, moving his fingers back to cover the back of her neck.

Her skin was surprisingly soft under his fingers. He, who had no callouses to deaden sensations could feel the ridge of the scar near her left temple, the laugh and smile lines on her face. Ardal wondered if she'd laughed a lot, once upon a time, because she seemed so serious to him, but was really starting to get the hang of this kissing thing.

The hang of their tongues swirling together in his mouth, then in hers, then dart in and out, and when her teeth scraped his tongue and she bit down on his lip Ardal groaned. It sounded so loud in the cabin's silence, and he could feel himself coloring. Again.

But Moyra just laughed, a low chuckle, and claimed his mouth again, rougher this time.

He almost came again then and there, which he guessed was a little better than this time, what with her strong thighs on either side of him, her weight on top of him, her hands holding his against the rug, her mouth keeping him so firmly pinned. So much sensation, but he managed to turn his face away and bite down hard on his lip as he shook under her.

It felt like he came, but if he did it was the weirdest orgasm ever, these waves of sensation but no come to go with them; even pinned as he was he would've felt the hot rush of it. Ardal writhed under her, eyes shut tight, struggling to keep himself quiet.

"You really are hair-trigger, aren't you?" she asked, her voice soft, breath against the side of his face.

He was going to die of humiliation or pleasure. He wasn't sure which and he wasn't completely sure that they weren't compounding one another. Those weird waves weren't coming through him anymore, but he was still unsteady in their aftermath, pleasure plateauing. "Not usually."

"Oh, I'm just special, then?" She nuzzled his face, and then bit down on his ear.

"Ahhh!" Ardal came for real this time, and Moyra compounded it by sitting back against his cock, rocking her hips, drawing the orgasm out.

He hadn't even known that it was possible to do it like that, and after a few seconds of it, of bucking and shuddering and crying out over and over, he started begging. "Stop, stop, please--stop--please--stop--please--I can't--I--stop, please--M-moy-a-ah-ahhhh!"

Lucky for him, she did stop, crawling off of him and stretching out next to him on the rug.

Ardal just lay there, twitching and panting, eyes closed, mind drifting. Too much. It was just too much. There was no way he could do this sex thing with her when it was like that. He'd felt like he was going to die toward the end there. Too, too intense, and he wanted to give back to her, make her feel like this, but he couldn't: there was no way he had enough skill for that.

Even though her technique had mostly just been holding him down. And grinding against him. And her actually being his type, too; he'd tried fantasizing about girls his age and it just didn't work. When he did fantasize, though, it was... he wanted things done to him, wanted to be restrained, have someone who could actually hold him down.

He had no idea how long he was out of it, how long it took him to recover, but he was quite thoroughly warm to his center by the time he did.

She touched his face, thumb rubbing from chin to ear and the backs of her fingers touching him on the return stroke. After that she kissed him on the cheek, slow and sensual. "So, it appears you enjoy pain and restraint. Any other preferences you'd like to inform me of?"

Oh, gods. He was blushing again, or maybe just still flushed from orgasm. "I... think you found all the ones I know about."

"Feel up to me finding more?"

Ardal honestly wasn't sure if he did. He took a few deep breaths, ridding himself of the last of the twitching, and rolled onto his side to face her. "I want... I want you to enjoy it, too."

Her smile was beautiful, absolutely beautiful. "I enjoy your orgasms. You look so delicious thrashing around like that, trying to keep quiet. I cannot see why you would worry, here in the wilderness, but..."

"I, um." Hazard of having as many siblings as he did: he'd learned to be all but silent when he masturbated; the sound of his hand on his cock was louder than any sound that came out of his mouth. But he didn't want to talk about that. "I want you to come, too."

Moyra looked away, at that, and he wrapped a hand around her waist and pulled her clothed hips against his bare ones. She trembled finely at that, but shook her head. "I'm not--"

"Tell me what to do, or I'm just going to stumble along and probably not do anything right at all."

She laughed, once, shaking her head, sliding her hand down to close over his. "You're bull-headed, you know that? I thought I was bad; I'm nothing compared to you."

Yeah, well. He came by it honestly."Dad always said that Mom was stubborn, too."

"You might be as stubborn as she was, but--"

"You knew Mom?" he sat up quickly, head spinning a little, all thoughts of continuing sex forgotten.

Moyra looked up at him, face solemn for long moments before she looked away, lips pressed together. "I was friends with your mother; when I went off to fight in the war, she went off and got married."

"You never trained her?" he breathed, shaking his head in disbelief. "You never--she had talent and you never..."

She swallowed, pushing herself up and hunching her back, hands in her lap, eyes on her hands. "Your father forbade it. He hated me. Why else do you think he bothered running me almost out of the country?"

But... Ardal rubbed one hand over his face, licked his lips, looked at Moyra's hands. Warrior's hands. "Then it's not because you tried to raise an army?"

It seemed like she was going to laugh for a moment, but then she just shook her head instead. "It was a long time ago. Don't worry about it. Let's--"

His mind was racing, connecting so many little things that Dad had said, and an argument he'd witnessed when he was younger that never made sense. It made sense now: Mom wanted him to let Moyra come back. Dad... Dad didn't want it. "Why does he hate you?"

"I said don't worry about it," she snapped. "There are things that I don't want to talk to you, her son about. You--"

Ardal stood, taking the blanket with him, wrapping it around himself. He was a mess, sticky and nasty, and he couldn't do this. She'd been his mother's lover! "Don't act like you're protecting me. I can figure things out for myself."

She followed him, grabbing one arm and then the other, forcing them apart, looking down at him. "Stop acting like a child."

In spite of everything, the only reaction Ardal's had was for his breathing to hitch and his cock to stir. The grip she had on his hands, the way she held them, the strength inherent in that and the tone and all. He was doomed if arguing with her did this to him every time. "Let me go."

Moyra's eyes went from his face down to his sticky middle--oh gods, her clothes were white and sticky at her crotch and stomach, all his fault--and a slow smile spread over her lips. "What if I don't want to let you go?"

That voice, low and dangerous, made his cock go from half-hard to aching. He shivered. He wanted to form words, but he couldn't, mouth working soundlessly. It wasn't fair, but he kind of liked it that way.

One swift movement was all it took for Moyra to switch from holding his hands out to either side of him to having his hands behind his back, his body pressed against hers as she bent over him. "I want to take advantage of that cock," she purred in his ear, and then bit the lobe, other hand pulling his hips back against hers as she ground against his hands. The heat between her legs, where his hands were pressed, was intense enough to make him gasp, realizing suddenly that she liked this just as much as he did.

Pleasure coursed through him, making his knees weak. She picked up on it immediately and lowered him back down against the bearskin rug, pressing his arms above his head. "Keep those there," she commanded, soft but sure. In a smooth movement she stripped off her shirt and then arranged his arms above his head, each hand cupping the opposite elbow with the shirt tying them together in the middle, his head resting atop them.

Ardal had seen her in her undershirt during the hottest days of summer, but seeing her now in the reflection of the firelight was something else. Her skin looked so soft but at the same time hard, the muscle underneath sliding as she unlaced her pants and pulled them off. Light and shadow, peak and valley.

Moyra stood above him, naked, for long moments, hands on her hips as she looked down at him.

It shouldn't have made him squirm, trying to find some sensation, his cock hard and breathing unsteady. He realized he was making a high, whining noise and stopped, but she leaned down then and whispered, "No, I like the sound. Don't restrain yourself; I want to hear you."

He moaned shakily, and for a reward her hands trailed over his chest and pinched one nipple and then the other. "Good. Keep it up. If you go quiet, I'll stop."

"Please," he said, not even sure what he was asking for.

She squatted, still over him, as she dug her blunt fingernails into his skin as her fingers trailed over his stomach, to his cock. This she touched daintily, pulling back his foreskin, letting her fingers slide in the precome and then drawing her hand away.

No, no, no, he thought, biting his lip harder as he arched his hips.

"Noise," she reminded him softy.

Ardal's cheeks went red and tight. "Sorry, sorry, I--"

In a smooth movement, Moyra went from squatting to straddling his hips, leaning over him to pressing her lips against his. He groaned into the kiss and did his best to kiss back, but having the bright heat of her cunt pressed against his cock, the firm muscles of her thighs trapping his hips, was almost too much.

She reached down and arranged his cock to where it was pressing along the wet, wet slit between her legs, then broke the kiss. The sight of her sitting up like that, hands on his stomach, was--Ardal's thoughts cut off completely as she let her full weight rest on top of him and began rocking her hips back and forth.

That he didn't come was probably some kind of miracle, but he didn't. He just moaned and moaned, hips bucking, back arching. She moaned too, beautiful and lithe and so, so hot against him.

"You think you can really handle being inside of me?" she asked, voice a little breathy as she continued to rock.

Ardal shook his head hard, all but howling. She wasn't stopping. She was going to get him off just like this, so slick and so much pressure and the heat, the heat, the heat. He probably screamed, but he didn't hear it, focused instead on Moyra: her small breasts swaying a little with the movement, the way his cock peeked out from under the mound of her copper hair when she slid all the way back, and most of all the look on her face. Pure pleasure, pleasure from using him.

She didn't stop when he came, either, just continued to rock and rock and rock, muscles going tighter and tighter. Breathy, too, the sounds she made got softer and breathier as she kept going.

The orgasm made his cock soft, but the continuation made him hard again before long, even if his head was swimming at the pleasure.

"Yes," she breathed, hands gripping his sides for a moment before one reached between his legs. She rocked forward, her fingers pushed his cock up, and when she rocked back, he was inside of her. They both moaned, Ardal shaking and Moyra tensing up, so tight, so so tight around him. Even with the change, she didn't stop rocking, and a few moans later she stilled, grinding her hips in place, and shook all over, breathing in a shaky, shaky breath. She was coming, he realized, eyes going wide suddenly.

Moyra was gorgeous like that, eyes closed, head hanging a little and sweaty all over. The tightness let up a little as she gasped in one breath, and the next, and the next, and then eased herself up off of him. Her movements were sloppier than usual as she untied him. "Come on. To the bed, if you can walk."

Ardal's arms barely worked enough to push himself up. He managed, but swayed a little where he sat. Walking would be... well. Better to crawl. He could see her bed over in the corner, and she could walk, sat there on the edge of it, her legs spread. His come was creamy and white in the coppery curls of her mound; he smiled at the sight of it, and was quite happy sitting there between her legs, looking up at her. He wanted to bury his face in it, but he still felt boneless and weak.

"You're going to have to finish me another day," she murmured, and hooked her hands under his arms. "Come up here."

He did his best to cooperate, but... well, there were certain things the human body was capable of and certain things it wasn't. He did end up on her bed, though, and she used a rag to clean both of them off before laying down next to him and pulling the blankets over them both. "At least you'll keep me warm," was the last thing he heard before he drifted off to sleep.

Waking up in the warm cabin was a nice change from having to talk himself out of crawling out of his bedroll each morning.

Waking up with Moyra's arms around him, her body spooned behind him, was an even better improvement.

She seemed to wake up at the same time, or maybe she'd been awake and was just waiting for him. Either way, her hands shifted and she rolled her body against his and stretched and yeah, that was his cock getting hard.

But there were more important matters. If he was finally in her cabin, it meant, or could mean... "So," he drawled, "are you going to teach me?"

Moyra's body went tense against his for a moment, and then she puffed a laugh against the back of his neck. "Fine, you win. I'll teach you. But you can't tell anyone who taught you."

What? "Do I really look that stupid?"

The long pause was the only answer he needed, but she spoke anyway: "Yes."

So, despite being in the cabin, things weren't going to be that much different. Ardal wondered if she'd even do the sex-type-thing with him again. "We're going to have fun, aren't we?"

"Oh yes," she said, sarcasm heavy in her tone. "Tons."

In for a penny, in for a pound. "But at least the sex will be good."

"If," Moyra hissed against the back of his neck, "I let it happen again."

Ardal rolled over to face her, giving her a big grin. "I think you want me too much to resist forever."

Her mouth quirked and then she laughed. "I went twenty years without the touch of another human being; do you think my resolve is so weak?"

Oh, it was just too easy. "No, I just think you went twenty years without the touch of another human being, and now you have one who is handsome, ready, and willing."

"I don't know about handsome..."

There was only one response to that, and it was to press his lips against hers. It was a gamble, but it paid off beautifully: Moyra chuckled up to the kiss and pushed him onto his back and climbed on top of him.

"Well, maybe a little handsome."

"Mmm," he hummed as she kissed him again. It was a wonderful kiss, though pretty distracting, driving him to whimper and pant and squirm underneath her, mostly to feel the way she held him down.

Her fingers came up, resting delicately around his throat until the moment when she broke the kiss and leaned her face away from his. Ardal tried to follow and her fingers pressed down and he came, shuddering underneath her.

"We have a lot to work on," she murmured, but at least she sounded amused.

He couldn't focus his thoughts beyond, "Train my talent, right?"

Moyra chuckled, rubbing one thumb against the underside of his jaw. "Among other things. What happened to your mother will not happen to you. I promise it; your father won't have his way in this."

The words took his breath and made tears well up in his eyes. He blinked them away, not exactly sure what to say. Not sure how to ask what she knew, how to... do something. Until a thought occurred to him: "Did you know I was coming?"

"I knew the day you left, Ardal."

Hearing his name on her lips made him realize: he'd never given it to her.

They really did have a lot to work on.