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Finally Free

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Briall never thought she would have to see this place again. She thought she was rid of her past. Yet, here she was. The closer to the water locked tower she got the deeper the chill in her soul settled. If any of her companions noticed, they didn’t show it. The only one who outwardly showed anything was amiss was her loyal hound, Bane. He stuck a little closer to her than usual as if he could sense her unease.

She didn’t notice the side glances Zevran would shoot her way. Didn’t notice the way his eyes would follow her nervous gaze to the great stone tower looming ahead of them. Perhaps she was simply too distracted to notice. He was, after all, the only one who knew about her entire past there. The Templar who took her innocence in every sense of the word. The only one who could possibly understand that it wasn’t necessarily the tower she was hesitant to approach.

Zevran was fiercely proud of his Warden when she first entered the tower. None of her discomfort or nervousness showed. She met with the remaining Templars and mages and took the situation in stride. Briall offered assistance to people he might not have if he was in her position. Not even the threat of demons, abominations and blood mages could turn her away from those in need, even if those people had taken her from a family and kept her in a life of captivity.

He did notice the way her eyes scanned the Templars in attendance. Judging by her lack of reaction, the offender from her past was not present in their rank. He wasn’t sure how he felt about that. He felt an odd anger well up inside of him, a raw emotion he’d rarely felt in his life. When she had told him the story of the dark hallway and the Templar who preyed on the women in the tower, the anger had surfaced and never really gone away. Especially now that he saw her holding back the fear that scratched so close to the surface of her calm demeanor.

He, however, wanted to see the man’s face. Probably as much as Briall didn’t want to see it. The nights she wasn’t plagued with nightmares of the arch demon she suffered from nightmares of him. It seemed that telling him her tale had opened an old wound. She struggled to keep her composure at night when they were alone. The Briall the others saw during the day was washed away at night with her tears.

Of course he was sure that her opening up about her past hadn’t been the only trigger. They had already been resigned to going to the tower when she’d told him. Probably prompted by her nervousness at going back. The closer they got the worse the dreams became. He also knew that it wasn’t just her attacker that made her fear returning. Her life in general in the tower had been miserable. Locked up, told what she could and couldn’t read, study or do. Briall was meant to be free, roaming the world. Using her skills to help better the lives of others. The way that she had opened up in their time traveling together had humbled him. He was the one she chose to share her life with.

And this lovely creature had deemed his life worth saving. Even at his lowest point she found worth in him. He struggled to reconcile the Briall he saw during the day with the on that he held at night.

Through all of that, she entered the besieged tower with no fear. Sheer determination kept her going where a weaker woman would have fled.

Despite Alistair’s dislike of Zevran they worked well as a team. Alistair to keep the enemy’s attention, Bane and Zevran to strike at the most opportune of times and Briall to stay on the outskirts hurling spells into the chaos. Both men trusted her completely to have their backs, her spells never so much as singeing their hair. Room after room, hall after hall, floor after floor cleared of blood mages and demons. Pockets of survivors were sent back in their wake, safely evacuated from the living hell around them.

With another floor clear, Briall called for a rest. They were all battle weary and covered in blood but still had so far to go. The biggest fight was yet to come. Briall was every inch the capable warrior Zevran had come to respect. Her robes were torn in paces from close calls that had Zevran’s heart skipping a beat. Her lovely red hair was starting to work its way out of the elaborate braid she’d set it in this morning. Delicately pointed ears peeked through the strands.

“Alistair, take Bane and go clear out the library. Make sure no one is hiding in there. Zev and I will clear out the store rooms on the south side.”

Alistair gave his leg a pat and the mabari trailed after him. He turned and walked backward, jabbing a finger at Zevran. “Hey, hands off!” He warned, looking at Briall then pointedly back to the assassin.

Zevran held up his hands in surrender. However, once Alistair was around the curved hallway and out of sight he pulled the mage into his arms, letting his concern show through.

“Tesoro, you should rest. I will search the store rooms by myself.”

“Absolutely not.” She argued, though she did let him hold her, resting her cheek against his chest and tucking her head under his chin. “I’m not letting anyone go anywhere alone.”

He tisked, but didn’t argue. “Very well.” Zevran sighed and released her. She pulled away and looked up at him with a weary smile.

“I knew you would-” Her voice caught in a stuttered gasp. She was looking somewhere over his shoulder, green eyes wide. An enemy would have immediately elicited a fight response from her, so he knew there was no demon at his back. Instead, she looked ready to flee.

“Briall! Praise the Maker!” A man exclaimed. Zevran turned to see him stumbling toward them. Templar armor immediately marking him as one who should be helping to restore order. However, this man’s armor was completely clean. Surely he would have heard the fray of the fight and joined in. Where had he been? Hiding all this time?

He reached out to grasp her hand and Briall stepped back deftly out of his reach. Her eyes were locked on him, raw fear making her draw in ragged breaths.

“Mallum.” Her voice was a bare whisper. Zevran didn’t recognize the name. She’d never told him the name of the man who had forced himself on her years ago. But he didn’t have to know the name to recognize that this was the same man.

He rested the flat of his blade against the man’s breastplate, halting his bid to reach for Briall again. “The Mallum?” He asked, sounding impressed. “My dear Warden has spoken of you at length!” He lowered his blade and wrapped an arm around Mallum’s shoulders. “I know all about the care you took of her. Quite the impact you had on her time here at the tower! I should very much like to get to know you better!” He said, sheathing his blade.

“Mi amore, would you like to join us?” He asked, steering Mallum into one of the store rooms off to the side. His eyes were intense when he met her fearful ones. She understood immediately that he was asking her if she needed this confrontation to heal.

“N-No.” She stuttered, shaking her head. “I’ll keep watch out here.”

Zevran leaned his head close to the Templar’s and began to speak in low tones. She wasn’t sure what he was saying to the man though he seemed more and more hesitant to go with the elf, shooting her an odd look before Zevran nudged the door closed with his foot.

The moment the door latched, she knelt down and hid her face in her hands, letting out a great, gasping sob. The sight of her attacker broke all of her defenses. She fought hard to control herself, taking in deep breaths and forcing herself to stand back up. She clenched and unclenched her fists, her eyes screwed shut to keep in the tears. It was several minutes before she was able to compose herself. Perhaps longer, she wasn’t sure how much time had passed. It was all she could do not to re-live those painful memories. There was a job to do. Once it was over she could wallow in self-pity all she wanted.

*****

The door latched with a click and Zevran felt the man jump under his arm. “Um, how is it you know Briall?” Mallum asked, trying to move out from the arm around his shoulder.

Zevran clasped him tighter and chuckled. “I owe her a great debt.” He said simply. “And I’m about to repay part of it now it seems.”

“Listen, I don’t know what she’s told you but you clearly know we have a history together.” Mallum said nervously, attempting again to get out from under the constraining arm.

“I have heard indeed.” Zevran confirmed, walking him further into the room and around a partition toward a stack of large wooden crates. “Though, remind me, how do you know Briall?” He countered, his face close to Mallum’s.

“She was my ward when she was an apprentice.”

“And?” Zevran prompted. “Anything else?” He stopped walking but kept the man under his arm.

“Well, we...you know.” He was sounding more and more nervous.

“No, I fear I do not know. Please, enlighten me.” Zevran gave a winning smile.

“We made love once.” Mallum finished. “But it was a long time ago, if you and she are-”

In one swift movement Zevran unsheathed his dagger and drove it into the back of the man’s knee where the joints of his armor left him vulnerable. He could feel it tear through tendon, muscle and cartilage. With a strangled cry he fell to the floor, grasping his ruined knee and scooting away from Zevran to press his back against the crates.

“Wrong.” Zevran said simply, twirling the bloody blade in his hands. “That implies consent. Did she give you consent?” He asked, kneeling down in front of Mallum. His amber eyes were dark with anger that didn’t show on his face.

“She wanted it!” He cried out, rocking his leg to try to ease the pain. Again he had skirted answering the question directly.

For a moment, Zevran couldn’t contain his anger. A string of Antivan spilled from his lips. The beautiful language in the furious tone sounded guttural and harsh. He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath.

“Mallum.” He opened his eyes to regard the now sweating Templar. “We both know that is not true. Correct?”

“She didn’t say no!” He argued. He was breathing hard and his face was pale. Blood pooled beneath his leg.

Grabbing Mallum’s wrist he slammed it against the crate. With a quick thrust the dagger went through his palm to imbed into the wood. He cried out again, his free hand leaving his knee to grasp at Zevran’s hand, trying to pry it off of his wrist.

“You have not said no.” Zevran said with a shrug. “I am having a good time. You should be as well, no? Is this not your line of thought?”

“Maker, help me!” He cried out, hesitantly grabbing at the dagger handle. The moment he touched it it shifted in his palm, making him quickly release it. “I’m sorry! I was young and stupid. I didn’t know better.” He was whimpering now.

“Another lie I think.” Zevran tisked softly and pulled the dagger out with a sharp movement. Mallum cradled his hand to his chest and grasped the back of his knee with this free hand to stem the flow of blood. “You did know better. How many were there I wonder?” His accent grew thicker the more passionate he became. Mallum was having a hard time understanding him with the blood loss addling his brain.

“What?” He asked, holding back a sob.

“How many?” He dragged the tip of the dagger across his breastplate, the scratching noise making Mallum wince. “This is a very, very important question, my dear Templar.” He leaned in close, his nose mere inches away from Mallum’s.

“I will know should you lie.” He warned, his voice low and dangerous.

“Just her! I swear, just her!” He said quickly.

Zevran closed his eyes and shook his head sadly. “Dear Mallum. I truly hoped you would not lie to me. But perhaps this is better.” He opened his eyes and frowned at the man. “For then I might have spared your life.”

Gripping the top of Mallum’s breastplate Zevran sank his dagger low into Mallum’s gut. With a slow twist he pulled it back out again as the man gaped down at his actions. Mallum let out a long cry, both healthy and ruined hand moving to cover the wound.

The assassin wiped first one side of his blade then the other with a corner of Mallum’s tunic and then stood. Red still streaked the blade. There was far too much blood to clean that easily.

“You can’t leave me like this!” He pleaded as Zevran headed to the door.

“But I must!” Zevran threw a grin over his shoulder. “You see, I take my oath to protect my dear Warden very seriously. I have left her for far too long already. Pray to your Maker for forgiveness for I have none to give to you.”

*****

She heard a strangled cry from inside the store room that made her look up sharply. Time seemed to pass slowly before she heard a small amount of scuffling, another cry and then silence. It was a long time before the door quietly opened and Zevran stepped out. She couldn’t tell if any of the blood on his armor was new. He latched the door quietly behind him as Alistair came tearing around the corner, Bane at his heels.

“It sounded like someone was dying!” He came to a halt. Zevran’s bloody dagger was still out and he was standing in front of the door. “In there!” He pointed to the room. “It sounded like someone was dying in there. Did you kill someone?!” He asked incredulously.

“You wound me.” Zevran frowned. “He was alive when I left him.”

“You’re avoiding the question.” Alistair accused.

“Perhaps he is dead now, perhaps he is not.” The assassin allowed. Now Zevran was avoiding answering questions directly.

“Was it a demon?”

“No.” Zevran simply answered.

“Was it an innocent?”

“Certainly not.”

“What did he ever do to you?” Alistair asked, jabbing another finger in Zevran’s direction.

“To me, nothing.” He answered with a shrug.

“This is insane. I knew I couldn’t trust you!” Alistair started to push past Briall in an attempt to get into the room. Briall grabbed his hand and squeezed.

“Alistair, if you still consider me to be a sister to you, please, I beg you, please do not go in there.” He whirled to look at her, surprised. “No one in there is worth saving.” There was something in her look that removed some of his bluster. His anger turned to concern and his other hand captured hers, holding it between his own.

“Bri, please tell me what in Andraste’s name is going on?” He implored. “Do you not trust me?” He looked slightly hurt. She knew that it would bother him that she would trust Zevran with something she couldn’t trust with him.

“Alistair,” She kept his gaze while she struggled for the words. “When I was an apprentice here...there was a Templar. He…” She had to look away for a moment, biting her lip. “He forced himself on young women here. I was one of them.” She admitted, her voice shaking.

It took a moment to completely comprehend what she was telling him. She knew the moment he understood when the look in his eyes changed. It rather mirrored the look in Zevran’s eyes when she had told him. Raw anger. The protective instinct in Alistair was strong.

Her whirled on Zevran and poked him in the breast plate hard enough for him to sway backwards. “You better have made him suffer more than anyone else you’ve ever killed.”

“Alas, I had not the time nor the instruments for that.” Zevran said nonchalantly. “Though I did have a little bit of time for some fun.” He added, almost as an afterthought, spinning his blade deftly around his fingers. “And his death will be neither swift nor painless.” He promised.

Alistair turned back to Briall and gently rested a hand on her cheek. “Are you okay?”

“No.” She answered honestly. “But I will be. Let’s just keep going, okay? We have too much to do. I’ll deal with this later.” Zevran found himself smiling at her. What hadn’t killed her had only made her stronger.

Alistair hesitated a moment before nodding. “Yeah. Too much to do.” He echoed.

“Come, tesoro.” Zevran took her hand and brought it to his lips, kissing her knuckles with the barest press of his lips before following Alistair.

She looked down when Bane nudged that same hand with his wet nose. He whined softly.

“Come on you beast. Let’s go.” She spared one more glance at the closed door before following after Zevran and Alistair.

Chapter Text

Though they were offered rooms for the night at the tower, Briall couldn’t stand another moment there. It was well into the night before they arrived at the inn at the Calenhad lake docks on the edge of the water. They got two rooms, but Zevran was surprised when she asked him to share with Alistair.

“Mi amor, will you be okay by yourself?” He asked quietly, his hand resting on her arm.

“Yeah, I just need to be alone for a little while.” She gave him a smile that wasn’t very convincing but he nodded anyway.

“I shall be just next door should you require me.” He looked down at the Mabari. “Stay with your master. Keep her safe.”

Bane merely blinked at Zevran before disappearing into the room designated for Briall. Perhaps he was offended by the suggestion that he would do anything other than protect her.

Zevran looked back once more before disappearing into his own room. It took him a while to fall asleep. Alistair’s snoring didn’t keep him up nearly as much as hearing her muted sobs through the wall. It was hard not to go to her. Not to hold her while she cried and offer what comfort he could. She’d asked for some time alone and he wouldn’t intrude where he wasn’t wanted.

He did finally fall asleep on the uncomfortable cot. Her crying had stopped and he hoped that meant that she had fallen asleep. At least she had Bane to curl up with her as he knew the dog would. Loyal to the last, that one.

It must have only been a few hours before the sounds of a nightmare woke him. Alistair was still snoring loudly so he knew it wasn’t one of their shared nightmares of demons and blights. He couldn’t stand it any longer. Rising from the cot he pulled on a pair of soft cotton pants and rummaged through his pack for his lock-picking tools.

Their troupe liked to joke that he couldn’t pick a lock to save his life. It was mostly true. He was trained as an assassin, not a thief. He was good at what he did so it didn’t bother him that he couldn’t pick locks. He was motivated tonight though, the sounds of her whimpering stronger through the door than they had been through the wall.

Swinging the door open carefully he was confronted by Bane, shoulders hunched and teeth bared. He wasn’t even growling. He was just prepared to attack without warning. Good dog.

“Enough, beast.” Zevran whispered, holding out his hand. Satisfied that an enemy wasn’t breaking in, Bane turned back toward the bed and laid down at the mage’s feet. Briall was whimpering softly, thrashing in her sleep. He sat on the edge of her bed and reached out to capture her hand. Still clasping it tightly he shook her shoulder gently.

“Wake up, mi amore.” He said softly, squeezing her hand. She woke with a gasp and shot up in bed, scrambling back against the headboard, kicking away sheets and blankets. He kept hold of her hand, shushing softly. “You are safe, tesoro. I am here.” He purred as she calmed, recognizing him in the dark and relaxing a degree.

“Zev.” She breathed, sliding her free hand through her mussed hair. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake anyone.” She sounded like she was about to cry.

She could feel it, a tightness deep in her throat and burning in her eyes. She returned his squeeze and closed her eyes tightly. “I thought if he was gone I would stop dreaming about him.” Her voice was breaking. She rested her head back against the headboard and took a shuddering breath.

“If you are burned by a hot coal and it is extinguished, does the wound not still hurt?” She met his gaze in the dark. Her emerald green eyes were pale and dull in the moonlight. “This thing that has happened to you will not go away, but the pain will lessen in time.” He promised. He seemed to be speaking from a place of experience.

“You are strong.” He promised her. “Strong enough that you take on saving the world from the worst creatures to ever roam it. Your strength amazes me.”

She was quiet a moment, gathering her thoughts. He was silent, letting her process her feelings. He could feel the tenseness leaving her. He brought her hand to his lips, kissing her knuckles gently. “It would pain me to leave you again, tesoro.” He whispered against her skin.

“Don’t leave.” She brought his hand to her cheek. His thumb grazed back and forth over her cheek lightly. “Stay with me.” She asked softly, her voice barely audible.

“Always, mi amore.” He promised. He climbed up onto the bed and rested against the headboard beside her. He gently manuvered her to sit between his legs and rest back against his chest. She settled in and drew his arms around her and he squeezed her tightly. Closing her eyes, she relaxed against him finding the peace that had eluded her in sleep.

Though she didn’t sleep, and neither did Zevran, they laid there together for what felt like an eternity. Comfortable in silence, comfortable with each other.

“Zevran?” She asked in the darkness.

“Mm?” He murmured softly, pressing a kiss to the side of her temple.

“Will you make love to me?” She seemed hesitant to ask. She still couldn’t see the worth that he did. She still feared he might not want her. That should would be too broken and damaged to want. She twisted in his arms and turned her head to look up at him. His amber eyes were intense.

“This is what you wish, tesoro?” His fingers brushed down her cheek.

“Unless you don’t want-” He cut her off, capturing her lips in a passionate kiss.

“Mi amore, I always want you.” He assured her. “From the moment I wake, to the moment I fall asleep and you are in my dreams in between.” He couldn’t see her blush but he felt the heat under his palm where it rested against her cheek.

“It’s just that you always make me forget.” She didn’t have to rationalize with him, but it seemed she needed to rationalize her want to herself. “You make me feel alive.”

He smiled down at her, his fingers sliding down her cheek, over her neck, down her arm. His hand finally found her breast, squeezing gently before teasing her nipple through her nightshirt.

“Who knew an assassin could be so good at making someone feel alive?” He chuckled.

“Well, as you say; it’s amazing what one picks up growing up in a whore house.” She teased. He smiled back at her as his feet hooked under hers to draw her knees up. She opened for him and his hand slipped down to tease her over her smalls. One hand between her legs, the other at her breast.

She let out a pleasured sigh, her hand moving to cover his over her breast, urging him to continue. Showing him what she wanted.

“Does my Warden have a need?” He purred into her ear before teasing the lobe with his teeth.

“Mmhmm..” She moaned, shifting her hips against his teasing fingers. It didn’t take long for her to grow tired of his teasing. She leaned back against him and lifted her hips to slide off her smalls, tossing them over the side of the bed. Once they hit the ground he pushed her forward gently to pull her nightshirt over her head. She leaned back against him now, completely bare. Grasping his hand she returned it to her wet cunt, spreading her thighs wide for him.

He attended to her as she had shown him that first night. Tight circles around her clit, only occasionally moving directly over it. She was so sensitive that it elicited a sharp moan each time his finger flicked over the little bud. His free hand found her breast again, pinching her nipple lightly before massaging gently, lovingly. He worshiped her with his hands, relishing the feel of her moving restlessly against him.

“More.” She pleaded, her head falling back against his shoulder. His lips immediately took advantage of her exposed throat, kissing over the rapid pulse, moving along her jawline.

“As much as you desire, mi amore.” He breathed against her skin as he sunk two fingers into her wet heat. She moaned and clenched around him, one hand gripping his arm tightly, the other curled around his raised knee. “You are so tight, tesoro. I can not wait to be inside of you. To hear you moan my name and know that I am the only one who has made you moan so.”

The lilt in his voice was so sensual it sent shivers down her spine. Her hips made small motions, slight thrusts against his fingers as he slowly began to pump them in and out. His hand slid from her breast down her stomach, his fingers light and tickling. Briall smiled and bit her lip to keep from laughing. “We shall explore that later.” He murmured into her ear with wicked promise.

Lithe fingers found her clit and rubbed as the fingers of his other hand continued to pump into her with increasing speed. He marveled at how wet she had become in so short a time. The sound of his fingers slamming into her wetness was nearly as arousing as her continued moans.

“Will you come for me, tesoro?” He asked, flicking her clit to draw another sharp gasp from her lips.

She was breathless when she spoke, her grip tightening on his arm. “If you do that thing where you-”

He immediately curled his fingers inside of her and she let out a cry. “Yes!” She hissed out, grinding against his hands. It was a matter of a few moments before she came undone for him. Her back arched as he continued to pump his curled fingers inside of her, teasing her clit to prolong her pleasure. It hit her hard enough that she couldn’t moan, just let out a gasp, her whole body tensing.

When the sensation became too much she grasped his wrist and pulled his fingers away. His fingers left her clit as well, traveling back up to her breast to wet her nipple with her slick, teasing the peak. She move his hand to her mouth and brought the two fingers that had previously been inside of her to her lips.

Her tongue peeked out to taste herself before drawing his fingers into her mouth. She suckled softly, eliciting a moan from Zevran. He was painfully hard, his cock straining against the cotton pants to press against her back.

He could count on one hand the number of times they’d been intimate since that first night at the waterfall. Each time she grew more sure of herself. More sure of him. She was learning that there truly wasn’t anything she could do that would scare him away. His calm patience and understanding bringing her further out of her shell each time.

As she drew her mouth away she teased the tip of his finger, nipping playfully with her teeth. Turning in his arms, she moved to her knees between his legs. Her gaze rested on the bulge in his pants. A flush covered her cheeks as she bit her lip, looking up at him questioningly.

“I am yours, mi amore. Explore as you wish.” He straightened his legs as she crawled over him, pressing her lips to his for a slow kiss. Her hand slid to the ties of his pants, undoing them so that her hand could slip inside. He groaned against her mouth as her fingers lightly explored the swollen head. Her fingers danced along his length as they traveled down to cup his balls, teasing and learning their shape. He bucked against her hand and she found it exhilarating having such control over him.

She deepened the kiss as she wrapped her hand around his length, stroking slowly. She finally broke the kiss, sliding the tip of her nose against his. “Will you tell me if you don’t like it?” She asked quietly, staring into his eyes.

She found reassurance there as he smiled and ran the back of his finger along her jawline slowly. “I do not think you could do anything I would not like.” He assured her.

With more confidence than she’d felt a moment ago she looked down to watch his cock spring free as she moved the band of his pants down. She crawled back a few inches and lowered herself to tease the head of his cock with her tongue.

He hissed sharply, fingers moving to her hair. It wasn’t possessive and he didn’t try to take over. He just had to hold onto something. He needed to be touching her. Her hand wrapped around him again and she took the head into her mouth, sucking softly.

He shifted his hips forward a little, allowing him to lay back more, watching her beautiful lips wrap around him. His fingers slid through her red hair, pulling it away from her face so that he could watch her. There was something about her innocent hesitation that was erotic. Knowing that she’d never done this for anyone before. It was rare that any of his partners were a first with anything.

She swirled the head of his cock with her tongue, tip sliding along the small slit. Releasing him, her tongue teased the base of his cock before sliding up the underside. Grasping him again, she took him into her mouth, sliding down as far as she could. She began to move over him, cheeks hollowing slightly as she sucked. Her hand moved in time with her mouth, growing faster as she found more confidence.

“You perform magic in more ways than one, tesoro.” He moaned, his hand tightening in her hair slightly. Though he wanted to guide her movements, thrust his hips, he kept himself still for her. He’d said he would let her explore and he was a man of his word.

She hummed around him, adding vibration to the ministrations of her tongue. She pulled away from him with a pop of her lips as the suction was released. She released him and Zevran helped her remove his pants, tossing them aside with her clothes. At some point Bane had left the bed and was curled up out of sight, probably on the floor at the foot of the bed.

She didn’t even care as she crawled back up his body and straddled him. His hand gripped the base of his cock, allowing her to shift her hips until she felt the head tease her clit. She rolled her hips, bringing a moan from both of them. Lining up his cock with her wet entrance she slowly slid down over him. Her mouth opened into an ‘O’ as she rested her forehead against his while he sat up completely. He devoured her with his gaze, wrapping his arms around her. She began to move over him, her hips moving back and forth while she slid over him, changing the angle of penetration with each thrust.

It was all he could do to hold himself back. She was so wet and hot and incredibly tight. She leaned back slightly as she rode him, her head falling back with a moan. His hands roamed her back as it arched, sliding along her spine then down her sides to grasp her hips.

She was an achingly beautiful sight. In the dim moon-lit room her hair seemed to be the only color. A blaze of ruddy copper that streamed down her back and over her shoulders. It was so long that it teased his thighs when her head was thrown back. It was usually kept up in a confining braid or tight bun. He so loved when she let it down.

With her back arched her breasts were thrust toward him. His hands slid up her sides to tickle her ribs with the light touch as his hands found their way to her breasts. He kneaded softly as she rode him. She’d found a steady pace that had her moaning and tightening around him.

His hands slid around to her back and he hugged her body to him as he moved, rolling her onto her back, never leaving her sweet cunt. She could feel his muscles shifting beneath his skin and relished the strength beneath her fingertips.

When she looked up at him he took her breath away. His gaze was so intense, roaming her body just as his hands were. He looked at her like she was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. It made her believe that maybe she was. A small part of her nagged that it was probably part of the sex. Caught up in the moment he probably looked at all of his lovers like that.

His hand slid over her thigh and around the back of her knee, drawing her leg up against his rib cage. When he looked up and into her eyes, moaning her name, that nagging thought left her. He pulled out of her slowly and thrust back in quickly. No, that look was just for her. Endearments he threw around at a whim. His treasure, his love. But her name, spoke so rarely and usually only in intimate moments like this became a true endearment of its own. A true measure of his passion for her.

His hair fell around his face and he lowered himself to an elbow to kiss her, his other hand capturing her knee against his body so that he could hilt himself inside of her. She stretched around him, her body accepting him easily. And when he filled her a pang of pleasure shot from her stomach to her heart, making her gasp against his lips. Each thrust was so deep she was sure they would meld into one person.

“Come with me.” She asked, her hand moving to his neck to keep him from pulling away. When he smiled she knew his answer. He captured her lips again, his tongue invading her mouth as his cock slammed into her. She let out a sharp moan into his mouth, one hand moving to grip his hip, her knuckles white with the force. He continued to pump into her, pulling out slowly and slamming back in.

The little gasps and moans with each thrust would be his undoing. She hid none of her pleasure from him. Was not shy about her hand snaking between them to tease her clit. Her other leg wrapped around his waist. He broke the kiss to bury his face against her neck as he felt the telltale signs of her orgasm. Her body tensed beneath him and her breath caught. Then, in a wave it hit her. She cried out as her body fluttered around his cock, tightening and releasing. It was only a matter of a few thrusts before he joined her. He slammed deep and released into her hot cunt.

They both lay like that for a long few moments, breathing hard. He kept his weight on his elbow to keep from smothering her, nuzzling her throat. It was in that moment that Briall came to a realization. In small degrees, somewhere between all of the death and terror, she had fallen in love with this man. This assassin who gave her his strength when she had none of her own. Who looked at her like she was a goddess. Who gave everything and never asked for anything in return.

She drew in a ragged breath as he left her body, moving to lay beside her. He found her hand and grasped it in his own, interlacing their fingers. He’d said nothing would scare him away, but she didn’t think he’d had love in mind when he’d said it. She turned her head to look over at him.

He looked relaxed, much like he always did. Though, the corners of his lips were turned up slightly in a smile. The words almost slipped out. Instead she blurted, “I love it when you say my name.” To hide her blush, she sidled up against him, resting her head on his chest as his arm wrapped around her. “You make the ‘r’ sound so sexy.”

He chuckled, pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “I make everything sound sexy.” He countered smugly. She laughed, laying her arm over his chest. “I even make you sound sexy when you moan for me.”

She smiled and closed her eyes, letting out a contented sigh.

“You should sleep, tesoro.” He was quiet a moment. “Briall.” He said her name in a whisper against her hair, squeezing her tightly. “Sleep and have sweet dreams of me.” She could hear the grin in his voice.

Though she fell asleep quickly, he was awake for a while longer. He listened to her soft, even breathing, assuring himself that she wasn’t slipping into another nightmare. It was hard to remember sometimes how innocent to the world she was. She’d taken on her role as Warden with no complaint, vowing to save a world that had done her no favors. Taken her from her family, shut her away in a tower. Taken away her innocence by force.

He kissed the top of her head and closed his eyes. The soft sound of her steady breathing was his lullaby and soon he was asleep as well, his Warden tucked safely in his arms.