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“Oh, come on,” whined Eijirou as he struggled to keep up with Katsuki. “Just a few days. I can’t. I’m already dying. I can’t, Katsuki. I want you. No one else.” Then softer, “Please. The shelings—I don’t want them. Not the way I want you.”

Katsuki grunted and rolled his eyes as he walked through the white marbled hall where the rulers of the Twelve Empires met. This was an annual affair, where they all discussed specific matters before each vanished for heat month. The meeting had just ended. Boring, as always, though he’d learned that the teal sire had died; the dame he’d fathered, Breniah, had finally taken her place as empress of the teal empire.

Well, fucking good for her.

Fucking witch.

“You know they won’t allow it, Eij.” Not that he was honestly fairing any better. The thought of rutting with a sheling, an unworthy wretch like that? Ugh. No. Fuck that. Already, the fringes of his heat rose within him, stinging his muscles and burning beneath his skin. A hot coil of pure, primal need wound tightly in his lower gut.

“It’s burning, Kat. I can’t. Please. I know it’s not ideal—I know. But… please…”

His next words were empty, forced; each one was a lie, one he had to say here, in the presence of the others of the Twelve Empires. He hated it. He loathed having to do this, but if he didn’t… if they just left together… Fuck. That would end them.

“So find a fucking sheling. You’re the goddamn red sire. Don’t you have a damn harem?”

Speaking of which, Katsuki had his own harem of shelings waiting for him back in his own fucking empire. He even had a few males who’d lick his cock if he played his cards right. Not that he wanted them. Not the way he wanted Eijirou. They didn’t make need burn beneath his skin, across his muscles, and inside his veins, down to his very bones. Not the way Eijirou did. But he couldn’t admit that. Not here. They were in dangerous territory, surrounded by the other eyes of the Twelve Empires.

Eijirou whined and grabbed his arm. “Kat…”

He sighed and turned, glowering at the other young man in full. Eijirou wore traditional silks of his breed: all red, but unlike former sires and dames of his empire, he unabashedly melded the hue with black threads and designs.

Black was Katsuki’s color. The red sire had no fucking reason to wear black, except that he… well, not that Katsuki hadn’t emboldened his own sigil with red or wore silks with the vibrant hue melded into his own charcoal and black threads. His own nod to their past. To their possible future. To the fact that their empires had been allies for millennia, since the Fall. To all that Eijirou meant to him—a reminder that they had been born sires within the same century. A fucking rarity, that. Two sires had never been born in the same century. Never. Not even a sire and a dame.

And yet, spending heat together, when they should be ensuring the futures of their respective empires… They were two of the Twelve Empires, after all: two emperors in their own rights, ruling over neighboring lands that stretched from the darkness of Katsuki’s empire to the red eternally setting sun of Eijirou’s.

Katsuki snarled and grabbed Eijirou by the wrist, dragging the other man to him and pulling them around a corner. “You’re a fucking idiot. Nymova finds out about this, and we’re dead. We’re not whelplings anymore, you moron. We can’t play at… at whatever this is.” All fucking lies. He wanted this as bad as Eijirou—probably more. He just wasn’t stupid enough to say it in public, and certainly not here of all fucking places.

“Nym doesn’t need to know,” said Eijirou, cocking a red eyebrow, his lips spreading in a warm, reassuring smile and revealing pointed teeth. The idiot practically vibrated with anticipation and need. The smile melded into something more devious, a hunger hidden behind it that stole Katsuki’s breath.

Katsuki rolled his eyes and released his grip. Any more contact, and he wouldn’t be able to control the need spiking through him. His own black and red silks swirled around his muscled human form, a light whisper against hypersensitive skin. “You know—”

“Just one night, then,” Eijirou said, voice low and tantalizing. “One night of ten. Please, Katsuki. Please.” The last bit—shit, he was begging now? Fuck him.

“Don’t fucking beg, you wretch,” he hissed, but Katsuki dragged Eijirou further down the corridor, away from potentially prying eyes.

The orange asshole, Venryllion, was watching them again, his chin raised, cool eyes following their every movement.

“Not here, and not around them.” Fuck. Eijirou knew better. He goddamn knew better than to beg around the others of the twelve.

Eijirou whined a little as they slid into a wide hallway and away from the prying eyes of sires and dames.

“You fucking know better, you idiot.” But the words were said with affection, and Katsuki reached up, gently touching Eijirou’s face. He wanted to lean in and kiss the idiot—his idiot—silly. He wanted to kiss Eijirou until the red sire was grinning stupidly against his mouth.

A soft chuckle came from behind them, and Katsuki tensed, immediately pulling his hand away and stepping back. The scent clouding the air gave him more than enough of a warning of who was coming up behind them: rain, thunderstorms. Electric. Heavy. A scent that was positively ancient, a reflection of his pure breeding and absolute power.

Fucking shitty silver bastard. Katsuki scowled as he turned to see Ahraek striding toward them. “Of course you’d follow us, asshole.”

“Now, now,” Ahraek said, voice low, gray eyes scanning their faces as he approached, chin held high. His dark hair was kept trim and short, the undercut beneath his locks carved with shavings of runes. Some were scars, burned or scratched into place from various battles or by warlocks. “Wouldn’t due to have two whelps whining during heat.” A hot hand landed on Katsuki’s shoulder, and he fought the urge to slap it away.

“Fuck off,” he snarled.

Ahraek only chuckled. “Is he begging for you, too, Katsuki?” He leaned in until his lips rested near the shell of Katsuki’s ear. Warm breath joined every exhaled word, “He looks good, begging. But I suppose you should know better than most. Should’ve seen him with me earlier. Wanted my cock inside of him so badly, he almost cried.”

Katsuki shoved him away, knowing that Eijirou hadn’t once begged the silver bastard for anything. “I said fuck off.”

“So temperamental,” replied the other man, smirking proudly. “Well, shall I show you how to cow a red sire? How to make him beg more? I’m sure he’d weep for the chance to lick seed from your cock.”

A rumbling snarl was joined by a wave of black scales as they rippled over Katsuki’s arms and hands. His fingernails, stout and short in his human form, lengthened a little, curving and turning black.

“So young,” murmured Ahraek, as if it were an insult, and he instead turned his attention to Eijirou, running his thumb under the red sire’s chin. Red scales, glimmering with a hint of inner sunlight, cascaded over his face at the touch.

GET YOUR HANDS OFF HIM, SLIME! Katsuki lunged forward, but Ahraek shoved him away.

The silver dragon was scenting, and heavily.

Eijirou’s crimson eyes clouded over, the red scales slipping away beneath his sun-kissed skin, and he leaned toward the silver sire. “I… I don’t…”

“Back the fuck off,” snapped Katsuki, and he tore Ahraek away from Eijirou, using more force this time. “He’s not interested.”

“Oh?” Another smug chuckle. Ahraek turned his attention to the black dragon sire and cupped Katsuki’s cheek in his warm hand, the odor of rainstorms becoming overwhelming rapidly. He leaned in and dragged a long, slick tongue against Katsuki’s cheek. “Are you sure?”

The scenting from the older sire was almost too much. Katsuki blinked, shoving the headiness away and pushing Ahraek back. He released his own scent—heavy with the smell of vanilla, brown sugar, and cloves—to ward off the other dragon’s overpowering odor. “Back off, or I’m getting Nym involved.” The words tumbled from his lips faster than he could think them through. Ah, fuck. Shouldn’t have said that.

Ahraek seem mildly confused, then softer, “Ah. You don’t want her to know, do you? I have news for you, whelps: Nym knows. She knows everything.” He smirked a cocky snaggle-toothed grin. “Go home, Katsuki. Spend heat with some shelings for once. Enjoy the company of lesser males, if it suits you. You’d better bear a solid brood, though. You’ll need as many as you can produce.” He turned to Eij. “You, too, red whelp. The last few seasons have been a disappointed from you both. Your kin need your seed.”

Fuck you, thought Katsuki, watching the silver and white robes flutter as the other man walked away. Ahraek didn’t know shit. He turned to Eijirou, but the red sire was glowering at the floor, cheeks almost as red as his hair, talons balled into tight fists, red scales covering his forearms and disappearing beneath his silks.

“Eij—”

“I’m not a begging whelp!” he snapped, tears brimming as he rounded his head toward Katsuki. “I’m almost—my fifth turn! I’m almost… Katsuki, I’m not.”

“Shit. I fucking know, Eij. Don’t listen to that asshole.”

Eijirou’s lips trembled. “He’s such a bastard.”

“Yeah,” Katsuki agreed.

They stood like that in silence, away from one another. Katsuki wished he could breech the gulf that had spread between them at Ahraek’s arrival, but he didn’t know what to say. Fuck. He never knew what to say. His kin… they didn’t do this shit. They never did. Even the shelings and males who yearned to rut with him only did so to fulfill their sexual desires during heat—and to fulfill his own budding needs. Feelings weren’t something black dragons did.

Katsuki was about to speak when he heard the familiar clack of heels.

Shit.

He should have figured. Fuck that silver ass-scale.

A woman garbed in white silks approached, her long, tightly curled white hair a halo of natural beauty framing her dark face. Sky-blue eyes cascaded over Katsuki and Eijirou. She raised her chin and narrowed her eyes, glowering down her nose at them.

The white dame.

Nymova.

“Katsuki,” she said, voice low. “Eijirou.”

“Empress Nymova,” Eijirou said.

“Nymova.” He’d rather die than address her by her full title

Katsuki didn’t miss how she always failed to include their fucking titles in her greetings. They weren’t just Katsuki and Eijirou. They were emperors—two of the strongest dragons in the Twelve Empires. It was a fucking insult that she never included their titles. She shouldn’t even say their given names, should use the names of their kin. Fuck, she should at least address them by the color of their fucking courts, if she was gonna be so rude about it.

“You’re both in your fifth turn, are you not?”

“Yes,” said Eijirou, lowering his gaze, red hair cascading around his face.

Their fifth turns. Five thousand years old. They weren’t whelps anymore, but not quite fully fledged adults. They were still struggling between their base instincts and their need to adhere to the laws of the Twelve Empires.

“Katsuki?”

“Fuckin’… yes, Nym.”

She raised a white eyebrow at that.

Like fuck was he gonna call her Empress Nymova if she couldn’t even be bothered to grant him and Eijirou the same kindness. He stood his ground, glaring at her in silence.

A soft, low exhale, followed by the scent of summer winds and clouds. Springtime and open skies swirled around them, but not in a sexual way. Not in the heady, insistent way that Ahraek’s scent had enveloped them. Likely, it was more to calm them, to make them more compliant. Like hell would that work on him, though.

Katsuki should have known that denying the silver bastard meant that Nymova would get involved.

Fuck him.

One day,” she allowed at last, frowning.

Eijirou’s eyes widened, and he stepped back. “Huh?”

Hah?” demanded Katsuki at the same time, eyes narrowing dangerously in suspicion. “The fuck you mean one day, shel—”

Her cold gaze snapped to him. “Finish that, and I will eat you here and now and effectively end your empire, whelp.”

He clamped his jaws shut. A dame should never be called a sheling. Fuck. That was the first rule his dame—his own mother—had taught him. He’d called her one once and had the scars to prove it. The lesson hadn’t really stuck. As the black dragon sire, the born ruler of his respective empire, he’d always had troubles dealing with other authority—especially if it was from one of the other Twelve Empires.

His own mother had died not by his talons, as was typical of dragons, but by the horn of a fucking unicorn. Fuck those shits. Them and the fae should fucking die, the lot of them. Katsuki didn’t spite them because of what the unicorn had taken from him—really, fuck that old hag; it was his time to rule the empire, anyway—but because of what they were… and what they had. Their souls, their magic, was pure starlight, direct from the source. It hadn’t been wheedled down and corrupt by inbreeding like the souls dragons possessed.

Fuck them for thinking they were better than him and his kin. For having something so pure that it could kill dragons without much difficulty. He hated unicorns. They should all burn in his liquid internal flame. Yes. He’d like that. Very, very much.

Nymova stared him down in silence, and after a few long beats, she turned to Eijirou. “One full day. After that, fulfill your duties. You’re sires, for fuck’s sake. You have a fucking job.” And then she turned and left them.

Eijirou’s eyes were wide. “Did she… just…?”

Katsuki snorted and rolled his eyes, but grabbed Eijirou’s hand and held it tightly. “Gave us her fucking blessing.”

“One day,” whispered Eijirou, voice soft, almost wistful. He turned to Katsuki. “Do… do you think, maybe…?”

He didn’t. And he wasn’t about to give Eijirou hope, either. “No.”

The red sire’s chin dipped to his chest, his expression falling away to sorrow, and his shoulders slumping. “Oh.”

Fucking… He hated seeing Eijirou like this, so he reached out and clasped the other man’s chin in his free hand, the other still clenching Eijirou’s. He forced the redhead to look up at him. “Eij, I don’t care what they say. She won’t allow it—neither will the others. But…” And a crooked smirk crossed his lips. It hurt, though, because he couldn’t give the sire what he wanted. What they both wanted: a soulbinding ceremony. A way to embrace one another—and only one another—for the rest of their lives. Maybe, if they hadn’t been sires. If they’d just been normal males… they could have…

But they weren’t.

They were sires. Emperors. The most powerful of their kin. The only ones of their kin that were this large, strong, and purebred. The only ones closest to the pure starlight they all sought and envied.

“One full day? Let’s make it worthwhile.”

Eijirou nodded and lifted his chin, forcing a sad smile. “Yeah.”

Katsuki practically yanked the other sire toward the twelve glistening portals. He hesitated, eyes darting between the black portal and the red one. They were beside one another, surrounded by the portals of the other ten of the Twelve Empires: teal, purple, orange, white, gold, silver, green, bronze, blue, and brown.

“Whose…?”

“You hate the sun, right?”

Katsuki snorted. “The sun hates me.” It was true, though. The sun had never shone upon the black dragon’s empire. Never.

He didn’t dislike daylight. Actually, he rather enjoyed it when he visited this place—the Seat of Twelve—and when he made the journey to Eijirou’s sunset lands. As whelplings, they often spent hours upon hours just basking in the sun in their raw forms. It was warm and comfortable and a joy to behold. It reminded him of Eijirou’s red hair and open smile.

But… at home? In his own empire? Darkness reigned. Day and night were one eternal, black imprint on his land. Even the moon didn’t exist in his empire, strange as it sounded. Stars were loathe to sparkle down upon his people. And the sun… It was like those fucking unicorns. Too pure to bother with one as corrupt as himself.

Fuck the sun, too.

“Well,” and Eijirou chewed his lower lip. “Do… you… want…?”

“The sun to watch us?” he grinned, almost cackling at the thought of the sun itself watching them fuck through their first day of heat. “Whatever you want, Eij.” That was said with a lot more affection than Katsuki normally allowed.

Footsteps approached.

The newly appointed teal empress strode forward and stopped beside them, gazing down at them with eyes so blue that the ocean would be envious. Breniah. Fucking witch. She smirked and tilted her head to the side, long blonde hair dipping over her shoulders. “Nym gave you permission?” She was roughly their age, about halfway through her eighth turn—the only dame born within three millennia of them.

“Shove it.”

“Yeah.”

Her smirk widened. “Aw, babies! So cute!”

Shove it.”

Eijirou just reddened more, and not because of his scales.

Breniah leaned closer, until her shoulder rested against Katsuki’s. “You know,” she whispered, “I’m jealous. I never did get to spend heat with Thryssia.”

Thyrssia was the purple dame, a few turns older than Breniah. They’d been close friends as whelps, but had drifted apart when Thyrssia’s duties as empress and dame became her primary focus. Breeding had all but consumed the purple dame’s life during heat, and even when it wasn’t heat season, she disliked being around the others. Something about them being too immature and not understanding the complexities of ruling an empire.

Seriously? Fuck that witch for abandoning Breniah.

That would never happen to him and Eijirou.

Never.

The red and black empires would stay close. They shared a border. They shared the line between daylight and darkness. They shared blood, if lore could be believed. They shared more than the other fucking empires ever could. He and Eijirou would be together forever. Maybe not soulbound, not in the way that sires and their primes were, but they’d be together in other ways.

Katsuki would fucking make sure of it.

His hand tightened around Eijirou’s, a low growl rising in his throat. Breniah didn’t understand personal space. Never fucking had.

Breniah’s gaze dropped to their clasped fingers, and her lips twitched upward. “So cute.” She sighed and leaned closer, her scent wisping around them, smelling of fresh snow and cold winters. “Listen,” and she looped an arm lazily around Katsuki, pressing her cheek to his. The fucking dame had a death wish, that much was obvious. “I know of… a way…” Her voice lowered substantially and she wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.

Eijirou frowned, confused. “Huh?”

She sighed and rolled her eyes. “You know. A way.”

When he still didn’t get it, she snapped, “To be together, you idiot! Twelve lights, Katsuki, what the fuck do you see in him?”

Eijirou’s eyes widened, his mouth falling open, revealing the sharp points of his teeth. “You do?”

“Shut up,” hissed Katsuki, shoving her off of him. “Don’t you dare. Don’t you fucking dare do that to us.”

“You want to be together forever or not?” she demanded, hands on her hips, her nails curving and turning golden, teal scales with the slightest glimmer of sea foam green glistening across her forearms and up to her shoulders.

Eijirou leaned forward, urgent, pleading. “Yes! Yes, please! Pl—”

“Stop begging!” snapped Katsuki. Begging was reserved for the plebs and slaves; wyrms and drakes could beg, and so could shelings and halflings, but not them. Not their kind. Never their kind.

“I want this, Kat!” he shouted, turning back. “Don’t you?”

Tears brimmed in his red eyes—eyes like rubies, eyes soft and pliant and sweet and filled with laughter and joy. Eyes that Katsuki never wanted to look upon anyone else. Eyes that he wanted only to look at him.

“She’s fucking lying,” he hissed between clenched teeth.

Breniah smirked and pulled a black dagger, runes of white carved into it, from her silks. No… the runes were inlaid in the metal, not carved. And they glowed.

“The fuck?”

“Unicorns,” she whispered, leaning against Katsuki again. Her eyes glimmered. “This can give you what you want most. No soulbinder would reject you if you had this.”

Eijirou reached for it, but she pulled back, chuckling lowly. “Want it, babies?”

“Give it!” Eijirou demanded, scales bristling and poking through his silks. “Now, Bren!”

She snorted and easily dodged his reach, her right side expanding as she took part of her raw form, shoving Eijirou into the marble ground. Teal scales glistened in the sunlight. The fucking dame laughed.

Katsuki snarled and whipped forward, his own raw form exploding outward from his fragile human figure. Black scales ripped through his silks, wings expanding, and he was on her within seconds. He might have been a few turns younger, but he was by far the stronger of the two—and larger, despite his youth. He shoved his talon into her snout and pinned her down, his nightmarish teeth inches from her scaled face.

“Release him,” he growled, and her scales receded as she backed off from Eijirou.

Eijirou shook his head, grumbling as he stood. He hadn’t gone raw, not even after she had assaulted him. The idiot probably thought it was an accident. He was too soft, too sweet for this world. Not that he couldn’t protect himself, but fuck. He should’ve at least fought back!

Breniah just laughed, the sound deep and guttural as she took on her full raw form. “Katsuki,” she said, speaking in the mother tongue, the words but hisses and grunts to uneducated ears, “you should learn to control your temper.”

He growled lowly, fire spinning in his chest, lighting him from within with a hellish orange and red glow. “I’ll rip your face off for touching him, Bren.”

Another low chuckle caught his attention, and he slid his red gaze toward the doorway leading inside. Ahraek stood at the top of the stairs, gray eyes glimmering.

Fuck. They’d wasted enough time here. He shifted back and walked away, grabbing Eijirou and pulling him through the portal into the red empire without a second thought. The portal clung to his tattered silks and skin as he walked through. Fucking portals were always grabbing at whatever passed through them, greedy creatures that desired their souls.

“Katsuki!” Eijirou snapped, yanking his hand away once they were on the other side. “You didn’t—she had something that—”

“She was lying!” he roared, turning to the other dragon, scales rippling over his face and arms. His clothing was basically gone, but he had no need for formal silks here. Eijirou’s home might as well have been his own, after a fashion. “A dagger? How the fuck is a dagger going to bind us? For that matter, how would it convince a soulbinder to give us what we want? Think for a damn minute, you idiot!”

Eijirou frowned. “Huh?”

“She wanted your soul, fucker! Yours and mine! It was inlaid with unicorn souls, fool! What’s more dangerous to us, huh? What’s more lethal? Fuck!” Katsuki walked away, wiping his hands over his face. His gaze darted to the portal, as if those on the other side could hear them. They couldn’t, of course, but being near the portal still unnerved him, and Katsuki didn’t fucking get unnerved. He wasn’t—he didn’t, okay? He just didn’t. “Come on. We only have a day.”

“Bren wouldn’t… she’s… our friend.”

None of those asshole are our friends, Eij,” he replied, jabbing his finger toward the portal for emphasis. “None of them care about us. They never did. We’re stronger than most of them.” And he reached up, caressing his love’s face gingerly. “So much stronger. I bet you and I could even take Nym down, if we wanted.”

Eijirou chewed his lower lip, catching the soft, plump skin between sharp teeth. “Kat…”

“Just…” He leaned closer, pressing his forehead to Eijirou’s. “Fuck them, okay? They aren’t worthy.” They weren’t worthy of Eijirou, of his warmth and joy. They weren’t fucking worthy.

He nodded slowly. “Yeah. Okay.”

Katsuki smirked. “Good.” That was more like it.

With that settled, he grabbed Eijirou’s hand and led him through his own palace. The walls were red, hewn from a natural stone that looked like fresh meat. White veins marbled it, just like fat in an animal’s flesh.

After spending countless hours here—really, the time amounted to years, if it were all added together—he knew where Eijirou’s personal chambers were like they were his own. Servants bowed and backed away. Eijirou’s slaves stood to the side and lowered their heads, thick chains wrapped about their shoulders.

He spared them glances and kind smiles.

Really, he was too soft to be a dragon, let alone a sire. But maybe, just maybe—well, fuck probably—that was the reason Katsuki loved him so much. Despite the greed and rage and envy the others all carried, despite their need to make everyone and everything cow beneath them, Eijirou was somehow different.

And that was what made Katsuki’s heart pound faster and his gut flutter with warmth.

Well, that and his rising heat.

One of the slaves smiled back as they passed, and Katsuki snarled lowly. She shouldn’t even be looking at them. He knew better, though. Never could he—or would he—lay hands on Eijirou’s slaves or threaten them.

Once, Eijirou had offered a few during heat—but they both knew that wasn’t the reason they’d come here. No matter their breeding—be they nymphs, elves, wyvern, or any other being—they weren’t Eijirou. Katsuki didn’t want them the way he wanted his friend. His lover.

At last, they entered Eijirou’s personal chambers, the large wooden doors swinging open for them by the hands of his personal slave, a man named Kaji.

“Leave us, Kaji,” snapped Katsuki.

“Yes, Emperor.” The man bowed and swept from the room, closing the doors behind him.

Eijirou sighed and rolled his eyes. “How many times have I told you not to order him around?”

“He’s so good at taking orders, though,” Katsuki replied languidly as he strode through the large solar, aiming for the bedchambers.

All of Eijirou’s personal rooms faced the sunset. He knew why. Where the sun sank against the horizon was a smudge of darkness. Eijirou hadn’t needed to explain it when he’d had this part of his palace rearranged and rebuilt. Katsuki understood well enough. There, in that dark thumbprint on the horizon, was Katsuki’s own palace. His own bedchambers faced this direction, though he’d never been able to actually see anything more than a hint of red on the horizon.

It was never enough.

Katuski grabbed Eijirou by the front of his silks, pulling the other dragon closer. Their lips crushed up against one another, soft and pliant in this form. Tongues pressed past teeth and into mouths. Hot, heavy breaths raked over Katsuki’s face as he held Eijirou’s head, fingers tangling among the red locks, as if he could pull the other dragon closer.

This wasn’t their first time together. They no longer had need for tentative, soft kisses, no need to hide their fears or their love for one another. How many years had it been? One thousand? More? They’d always known they wanted to be with one another, in some fashion. Their first time had been awkward. Strange. But now… now…

Katsuki pushed Eijirou toward the nearest piece of furniture: A long table made from wood that was stained black. Even here, even in his own empire, in his own chambers, Eijirou dared hold Katsuki’s colors. He dared allow them to shine and show and be alongside his.

Little shit like that? Yeah. That was shit that Katsuki lived for. That was the crap that got his heart beating fast, made him sweat. To anyone else, it would seem a gross miscalculation. To Katsuki, it was a symbol of affection and love.

They never did reach the bedchambers.

Eijirou’s lips were pink, puffy, his eyes fierce, and he launched forward, red scales at last ripping through his silks as his raw form consumed him.

Katsuki grinned as his own raw form overtook him, tearing forth, glimmering darkness, a speck of eternal night within the land of the eternally setting sun.

Their necks rubbed together, scales scraping against one another. Katsuki released his scent, the heady vanilla, sugar, and clove mixing with Eijirou’s own fierce, musky odor. He smelled like the mountains and like ash. Eijirou let out a guttural groan as the heady scents filled the air. Everything was heavy, thick, hazy.

Each touch sent a spark through Katsuki’s body, and with it, the need inside of him escalated until it practically screamed at him to rut and fuck and take and mate and own and consume.

Sires had the strongest scents of all dragons, overwhelming in their purity. Dames were close, but their odors were nothing compared to that of a full-grown sire. And Eijirou’s scent was the only one that Katsuki ever let cloud his vision. It was the only smell he allowed himself to become lost in.

Katsuki reached up and pinned Eijirou back against the table, and it cracked, snapped, and broke under the weight of two growing dragons. They roiled and fought, each trying to mount the other as they grew larger and larger. Claws twice as large as Kaji was tall scraped against mismatched and uneven scales. Katsuki’s teeth raked over Eijirou’s jaw before finding a spot just above his scent glands to pin the red sire down.

A deep laugh billowed from Katsuki, and he snorted as he adjusted his position, keeping Eijirou locked between his legs. Yes, this was perfect. This was what he wanted—his mate below him. Yes. Perfect.

He felt rather than saw his erection extend from its slit. The head brushed against Eijirou’s lower stomach. A jab forward as he thrust, another lower, as Katsuki sought out his lover’s slicked entrance.

Then, finally, warmth and tightness.

Eijirou moaned, the sound rumbling through the halls.

Katsuki didn’t hesitate, falling into the familiar rhythm of sex. His eyes rolled shut, but despite the pleasure, he kept his jaws firmly in place around Eijirou’s throat. If he released the other dragon, the red sire would pull away, and neither of them would enjoy the moment. They would become consumed with another fight, and right now, Katsuki just wanted a good, hard fuck.

Eijirou would get his chance to mount Katsuki. They’d both fuck each other multiple times as their heat ramped up, as it increased. With every thrust, Katsuki thought, Mine. Mine, mine, mine. My mate. Mine. His gaze dropped to the slow roll of Eijirou’s throat as the other dragon inhaled and exhaled. His ears were pressed against the trunk of Eijirou’s neck, and he could hear every inhale, every frantic pulse of the other dragon’s heart.

Mine.

He moved faster, harder, enjoying the slick against his cock, the tight wetness of Eijirou around him. Moans cascaded between them, and Katsuki wasn’t sure who was making the sound. All he knew was that he wanted more. He wanted more and more and more. Faster. Harder. Fucking Eijirou was always the best. It always felt so good, like his thick cock was meant to be inside of the red sire and no one else.

Talons gripped the stone beneath him. It cracked as the nails sank deeper, the stone becoming soft and malleable under the heat of his claws. If it were the obsidian of his own palace, it might have fractured. It had before.

Here, though, the granite held, and he rutted harder into his lover.

Mine.

This wasn’t enough. He knew it wasn’t.

This just satisfied the itch temporarily. He wanted more though. Wanted Eijirou to be his. Wanted them to be bound, so that no other could ever have him. And as Katsuki rutted, he imagined what it would be like to have a sliver of Eijirou’s soul beating beside his own, and how it might feel to have a small piece of his soul beside Eijirou’s.

They would feel each other’s pain, each other’s pleasure. Every transformation would be felt, every direct thought heard, even across long distances. They’d always be together, even as they ruled their own empires thousands of leagues away from one another.

It would be fucking bliss.

Yet it could never be.

Eijirou snarled and broke free of Katsuki’s grasp, throwing him back into a set of chairs in front of the fireplace.

Katsuki shook his head. He’d become distracted, loosened his grip on Eijirou.

The red sire took advantage of the moment of confusion and shoved Katsuki down, forcing his rump higher. His tail was shoved aside, and suddenly, without preamble, Eijirou thrust into him, filling him completely.

Katsuki whined and shifted, trying to get more while fighting the urge to rip away. His instincts screamed, NO! NOT THERE! I AM A SIRE! HE IS MY MATE! HE IS LESSER THAN ME! The instincts were almost overpowering, just as they’d probably been for Eijirou. The need to conquer his mate was so intense that Katsuki nearly ripped away as Eijirou rasped his name.

“Mate—mate Katsuki!”

Katsuki hissed.

Faster, harder, deeper. It wouldn’t be long before Eijirou finished. His talons were shoved into Katsuki’s back, pinning him down above his wings. They scraped and slid over scales as Eijirou’s thrusts became frenzied, every one of them striking a well of pleasure within Katsuki. The pleasure grew and grew, mounting until the urge to resist and fight ebbed.

His eyelids fluttered shut.

This was the best time.

This was when his instincts slipped away—just before orgasm. Just before completion, this was when he could enjoy the sex, when he loved Eijirou being deep inside of him.

Eijirou’s moan shook the room, and he kept going, thrusting through his orgasm, even as his seed spilled out of Katsuki and between his muscled, scaled thighs and to the floor.

At last, the red dragon pulled out.

Katsuki rounded on him without hesitation, shoving him down and pushing himself inside. Faster. He moved faster, harder. Keeping Eijirou down. Yes, mastering him. Owning him. He owned his mate. Eijirou was his. His and no one else’s. Yes, his. Yes, yes, yes!

He was Katsuki’s greatest treasure. No one else could ever have him.

The sense of owning Eijirou, of controlling him, of keeping him put—that finished him.

Katsuki screeched in his orgasm as the cloud of pleasure whipped through him, hot, burning like his inner fire, but instead it was beneath his scales and through his muscles, down to his bones, not in his gut and chest. Every nerve was alight with that fire, with that desperate need.

Then he yanked out and hissed, his hackles raising.

Eijirou snarled and snapped at him, the two jumping into another fight as their heat rose with another swell of need. Not a minute of rest. Within minutes, Katsuki had Eijirou pinned again. He was the larger of the two, and much stronger. Eight times out of ten, he was the one to breech Eijirou and to fuck him senseless.

By the time their day together ended, Katsuki had curled around Eijirou’s raw form. The room was slick with seed and other juices. Sex was often messy in their raw forms, but Katsuki wouldn’t have it any other way.

He rested his head atop Eijirou’s, feeling the familiar rise and fall of the heated, scaly body of the other dragon pressed against him. He opened a wing and wrapped it around Eijirou’s side before burrowing his snout into Eijirou’s neck.

Mine.

The others of the twelve could go fuck shelings and lesser-bred males, for all he cared. On some level, Katsuki understood that he had to return to his own empire and impregnate some blasted sheling with his seed. He knew that he couldn’t stay. But right now, he didn’t give a shit. Right now, this was all he wanted.

One day? Right. Like he'd let them stop there.

Nymova herself could come and try to tear them apart for all he cared.

She could try, and she would fail. She had no power here. 

None of them did. He and Eijirou were going to spend their entire heat together. Fuck the empires. Fuck the twelve. Fuck them.

The sun sank across the horizon, casting red light across a red city and a red palace, shining upon the black dragon sire—the one sire it loathed.

Katsuki grunted in mild amusement.

The sun itself was red with envy.

And why shouldn’t it be?

Eijirou was his.