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A dungeon, yet another one, was an underwhelming place for their first meeting in person. As were the circumstances, with his new human chained up and defeated. In a perfect world, Aaravos’ form would be corporeal. Not bound to a mirror by a dragon curse. Able to feel the cold prison air on his face and the stones under his knees.

For the time being, he took even this ironic shred of freedom in stride.

“Are you real?” Echoing on the damp walls, Viren’s whisper came out like a hiss. Odd question, even now. Aaravos’ mind gently followed the thread that bound him to Viren, reached behind his tired eyes – and melded into his thoughts.

“You were in the mirror.” Viren had been dreaming, if you could call it that. Dizzy from the impact of Aaravos’ spells, exhausted from the cold, his mind had conjured many a person in the cell. Humans, their young, even elves. A tall, dark silhouette – presumably of his former king – glowering at him from the corner.

This would not do.

“I assure you, I’m as real as I can be right now.” Aaravos made his voice into another thread, silver and firm. “I am in the mirror.” The thread wrapped Viren in its cool resonance. Fixed his mind together with Aaravos’, grounded it in the body. “And also here. Our blood pact is breaking the curse.” A cool breeze flowed through his voice and slowly drained the fever from Viren’s head. “It will take time before I’m fully formed. Days, perhaps.”

He reached again, with hands this time. Resting them on Viren’s face, he felt no feverish heat or sweat; nothing. They almost sank right through his skin, unable to find footing anywhere on this plane. Days. Compared to his time in the mirror, it would be a moment.

Viren turned his head to follow the movement and Aaravos felt his thoughts gain substance.

“Have you come to?”                                                            

He probed deeper into Viren’s mind. The silhouettes were all but gone, replaced by discontent as he took in the situation. Discontent gave way to fear, fear – to anger, and through Viren’s eyes, Aaravos saw his own form come to focus.

“Fully formed?” Less hissing, more scoffing. Good, and with just a gentle spell to hold him up. After centuries of magic, blood pacts and failure, Aaravos knew just enough about human constitution to weave enchantments through each of them with care. But enchantments always posed a risk when humans were involved, which made his science so fraught. Human body was unpredictable enough to crumble in the most inopportune moment. Unpredictable enough to pull through when most crucial.

“Fully out of my prison, if you will. I’ll be of more use to you unbound”, he explained, shifting to sit more or less level with the floor.

 “Of more use?” With voice, thoughts rushed at him. This was curious, but uncalled for. The way Viren’s vision and mind coiled around Aaravos in an unpleasant knot. Taking him in with… contempt? “More use than what, elf? Throwing me in a dungeon? Cutting off not just your magic, but my own? When I needed it the most?”

No. Not contempt. Just one more human delusion.

When a heavy object falls on your foot, you do not despise it. That’s what he was now – and to a human, no less. In just a few centuries beyond the Breach, priorities seemed to have devolved in the most bizarre ways.

“Ah.” Aaravos laughed, not bothered enough for scorn. Odd preconceptions were the least of his problems. “You would rather I let you die under the weight of our combined magic, I presume. Thank you for your feedback.” He had lifted the last phrase from a specific memory of Viren’s, connected to the very same prison. The effect it had on his new human was all but worth it. “Rest”, he continued. No sense to dwell for too long. “There’s a certain young king coming back soon. You want to be released, as I understand?”

Threads of his consciousness interlaced with Viren’s: a web, a pattern. A divination goblet between their minds. Thread: the young king is merciful and he, if anyone, can influence the priestess – but has a guardian who tends to harbor inconvenient suspicions. Thread:  the neighboring cell, there is a prisoner – a soldier who may be helpful by keeping quiet. Thread: Viren’s coveted dragon prince is on the run – with a young human and… a property of Aaravos’, which he wouldn’t mind retrieving. An experiment he wasn’t allowed the grace of finishing. Thread: the Pentarchy’s four remaining rulers are sending their messengers, now frightened into compliance. Thread: Viren has two children, who will appear soon as well: a magic user, a warrior and a minor liability in the form of resent they harbor towards their father. More like a game of human chess than a tapestry, the situation laid out ahead of him: short-lived, mundane, completely manageable. And holding a reward.

Of course, there was also the sensitive issue of other dragons. And the fact that they could sense their own curses waning. They would not remain indifferent to the fate of Aaravos’ mirror.

“I didn’t forget about you… forming. Pray tell, elf… A dragon curse breaking is bound to alert them, am I correct?”

Though Viren didn’t seem to realize, their connection worked both ways. But Aaravos had nothing to hide. Not things that his human – any human – could read this easily.  

“You are.”

“And you didn’t think, even for one moment, that I may refuse to help you?” Viren’s lips curled in what could pass as a smile, given a lot of imagination and good will. A bold expression and a bolder statement, coming from a prisoner. With an exasperated sigh, Aaravos shifted closer to meet Viren’s eyes, hands once again on his face – or hovering where his face was, unfeeling and unfelt.

“I did. This, however, would be out of your hands even if you were still free”, he said. “They would come either way. And when they come – I will stand by you.”

Chapter Text

The mirror was back in Viren’s personal quarters, now that the young king sanctioned his release. Viren enjoyed his return to royal favors, forced by the situation though it was: the Pentarchy pressured king Ezran into reinstating him as strategist, despite the entire court remembering his little magic show from several days back. With this, Aaravos had more freedom from the mirror’s confines to enjoy as well. It was but a piece of freedom still, as conditional and restrained as his human’s. He could move about Viren’s quarters only: a part of the castle that no servant willed to approach, forbidden from entering and wary of the regent’s sanctimonious mood swings. As anything, this also held more appeal than the quiet, loathsome world inside his mirror.

He spent his days exploring. Taking in the new surroundings. Standing by the window at night – real night, not obscured by a glass sky – mapping out the new stars and greeting the old ones that had lit up Xadian skies a thousand years before. His form became corporeal enough to study Viren’s copious reserve of magical supplies, stored even at his bedside. To lounge in an armchair during discussions of retrieving the dragon prince and his experiment, shared with Viren in the evenings. To lean in and prop his elbows up in Viren’s lap, to almost, almost, but not quite, feel the texture of Viren’s clothes, before he pushed Aaravos away with an impatient tut.

Mind melding wasn’t necessary to sense Viren’s disconcert caused by the new situation, palpable whenever he passed by. Co-habiting like this had been his idea in the first place – ever-so-insistent on not alerting anyone – so Aaravos was not intending to take pity on him and peered into his thoughts on a regular basis. New, interesting emotions remained to be examined, but distrust and annoyance at Aaravos browsing his magical supplies looked like a constant.

“If you mind this so”, Aaravos finally said, as he was studying a collection of crystal vials and Viren’s thoughts intensified at the door, “you could bring me a few books. You just visited the library, you had a chance to use our connection thoughtfully. I’d be happy to study human writings-“

“Get out of my head.”

Viren yanked at the cloak on Aaravos’ shoulder. The movement in the corner of his eye and the wave of human anger brought more sensation than the pull.

“You think I didn’t notice? Who do you take me for?” Viren kept tugging. Aaravos dematerialized slightly and shrugged off his hand. Noticing the mind intervention was to be expected – Aaravos would not choose to own a lesser human being – but still impressive.

“You mind this, too?”, he asked, eyebrows raised. For a blink of an eye, it seemed like Viren would strike him. He clearly thought better of it.

“Obviously! I don’t need to lecture you how people don’t-” He almost hid the fumbling. “-usually read the minds of others, do I?!”

“And I’m a person to you now?”

Images of dark magic appliances and Viren’s collection of soul coins flashed through his consciousness before he forced Aaravos out of it, eyes ablaze. He grabbed the set of vials – Aaravos let it go freely – and put it back in the cupboard where it belonged. Something looming stirred in him for a second, tensed his shoulders as he closed the cupboard, and expired when he sat down.

“Know your place, elf”, he said.

What faded in Viren, ignited in Aaravos – as if he regained all feeling and touched dragon flame. Still, he nodded along.

“Neither of us knows his place, dear human.” When he sprawled opposite Viren, his smile was poised and languid; his gaze was steel that disarmed Viren’s in an instant. “But I’m not willing to strain our relation, for both our sakes. I apologize for the affront. And out of your head I go.”

Chapter Text

“Weren’t you allegedly out of my head?!”

There was a stack of books on the table between them – a peace offering from Viren, already half-read. Next to it sat a pot of what was, according to Viren’s child, an excellent morning drink (that Aaravos would smell and taste once fully formed). Even the potion did nothing to lift Viren’s foul morning mood. Or clear his head, apparently.

 “I beg your pardon?” Aaravos didn’t need to feign confusion. Only an amateur would lie while bound by a blood pact, and he had been frank about not wanting to put a strain on their relationship. There was no logical basis for this outburst, and yet here Viren was: scowling from over the cup of potion.

“I beg your pardon. Reading my mind was expected of you”, Viren said, drowsiness fighting anger in his tone rather adorably, “but controlling my dreams is a new low.”

Aaravos sighed. Little could surprise him at this stage of life, but he had to stop and think what brought this about. Details told the tale: the way Viren’s pulse quickened, the tips of his ears, burning a pleasant shade of red. This was interesting. For a second, he tried to recall whether humans had always been so repressed, then entertained the thought of offering to assist with said repression, but dismissed it. Not that there was a chance of him ending up outmatched and added to Viren’s soul coin assortment, but Viren would surely try and spend himself into non-existence. Magical interference in human lifespan was a spell too delicate to risk for a trifle. Not before he forms.

“Whatever… happened in your dreams has nothing to do with me”, he said instead. “I know you researched diligently. You know what is and isn’t possible under a blood pact.”

“Lying, absconding, breaking a promise”, Viren recited and waved him off. “You, however are a-“

“A Startouch elf, yes. And this magic is older than me, older than Xadia and the sky we look upon. Even I am bound by some rules.” His mind reached through the room, but didn’t meld with Viren’s. Not if Viren doesn’t initiate it. Weaving in protective spells, raising barriers around all secrets, all things older than the stars that could crush a human’s consciousness like a dry blade of grass, he opened up. Extended his mind around Viren and invited him in. “Come, now.”

Viren’s resistance cracked into hesitation; hesitation crumbled into acceptance. Aaravos kept his eyes open just long enough to see Viren’s flutter shut as their consciousness joined. They sat for a moment, silent in unison, the presence of whatever Viren’s dreams were on the edges of Aaravos’ thoughts. He didn’t look. He hadn’t given Viren any reason to trust him.

You’re in my head now. Instead of voice, starlight showered them both. He saw Viren flinch at the unknown sensation, then relax and melt into it. See for yourself. Was it me, in your dreams?

“I wouldn’t know.” Viren was still speaking with his mouth, still new to this. “You put up barriers everywhere. I can’t see it all.”

So he noticed this, too. There would come a day when he burns all Aaravos’ barriers down. There would come a day when they both assume control, but neither has it; when this human, like all others before him, takes in his power and breaks. But it was not today.

“Think in words”, Viren chided him. Aaravos felt himself grin. “And give me proof. Something to work with.”

Meaning?

“Show yourself to me. What was your last failure?”

Really? Not even human lifespan could excuse Viren acting like an infant. But Aaravos had offered to put up with this himself. He would make good on the offer, if this was his human’s idea of morning entertainment. Starlight seeped through a barrier, dissolved it into a stream that carried them both.

I had a spell, the stream pulled them in deeper; only years into his confinement. When the Council still claimed to care about human wellbeing and keeping peace. When his smug indifference turned to fight, hair singed from ineffective magic, knuckles bleeding from glass shards. It could annul the mirror’s runes. Help me break free. It was not a spell Xadians would use. The fake sky over the mirror world, torn asunder. Glass, library, wind – charged with his life force, bursting into sparks. Collapsing, to leave him powerless. To reveal Thunder, waiting. There was no more chances to escape.

“Why were you imprisoned?”

("Your magic wrought her demise! It destroyed many!"

"So do your laws, day after day! Why is it your concern now? Unless… you take issue with the magic, not the demise?")

The stream went stale, rising back up into a barrier.

“Now, now. I’m entitled to my privacy, much like you.” His lips twisted into the usual smile, this he could be sure of. It always looked the same: an absent gesture, or a grimace burnt into his face. “Do you see now? How the trace of my mind looks when it’s there?”

Viren blinked a few times, drifting back to reality. He looked at Aaravos and seemed to remember what the whole conversation had been about. Irked, he downed the rest of his drink, briskly grabbed his cane and paced to the door.

“I don’t want to spend all day on this”, he said through gritted teeth and left.

Humans couldn’t all enjoy suffering this much, could they? Perhaps Aaravos was looking at a one-of-a-kind specimen.

Chapter Text

Katolis’ royal court fell victim to so-called unrest. The young king decreed to hold off all armaments and Opeli pledged unwavering support to his cause; all this accompanied by a constant buzz of suspicions rumbling through the castle corridors. No situation was unsolvable. Some voices could be silenced, others could submit. But before anything else, creating an impression of hiding an elf assassin in one’s private quarters seemed unwise in such a social climate.

“And from there, my new human advisor, we can proceed to pursue the dragon prince”, Viren finished presenting his plan. New energy shot through Aaravos and he closed his last book.

“Gladly. No offense intended, but between your quarters and-“ he nodded in the mirror’s general direction. “-I’ve never had my options reduced enough to read about… what is it? Ah. ‘Love among the vampires’.”

“What- Give me-!” Viren whisked the book away despite Aaravos’ protest, smacked it back onto the table and pinched the bridge of his nose. “My daughter decided to sneak… this between my books. I don’t- I fear to think what she’s implying.”

Real, unbridled laughter bubbled up in Aaravos – a forgotten feeling. It vexed his human even more, but he wouldn’t stop.

“Come along. Let’s at least try to make you look human”, Viren sighed.

There’s a key to Moonshadow illusion, obscured from history records: the moon is never absent, even if invisible. A key unlocked through other arcana: as long as there’s sky, there’s a nexus. You touch the air with uncovered skin, its particles pass the rhythm of earth and water, resonate to the sky and, through the void filled with starlight, reach the sun and moon. A simple connection, woven through all matter.

They traced it together, minds joined. Aaravos guided Viren through the process, without a butterfly glamour. With minimum life energy spent.

Am I convincing? Fingers running through his hair, he dimmed the silver light with an ink-black veil. Viren exhaled a shaky puff of air. His mind still unthinkingly clung to Aaravos’, his eyes opened – and widened. Aaravos saw himself through them. Black hair falling on the shoulders. Dark copper skin, still glimmering with an echo of constellations, invisible, but there, like the night sky.

“I’m-“ Viren cleared his throat and shuffled his feet without realizing. “I’m not sure you’ll blend in.”

He lit up something mischievous: something that Aaravos had thought gone with the passing of centuries, that other Startouch elves must’ve never felt at all. Two soft steps were all it took to cross the room, stand in Viren’s space so their chests almost touched, gesture to cup his chin.

Why do you think so? Threads of his mind held on to Viren’s firmly, but with a new gentleness.

Viren took a step back.

“For one, you need clothes”, he said, voice cold as cracking ice in spring. “I can’t have you prancing around shirtless, like a peasant. Wait here.”

Of course, Aaravos could conjure an illusion of clothes, but before he bothered to explain, his human was already throwing a coat over him. It sloppily fell around his shoulders, slid down, snatched by Viren mid-fall-

-and sent an echo of a spark through his skin.

Everything else went hazy: the room, the flow of magic. All his being curled around the touch – a touch, a sensation – leaned in, waited. It was hardly felt, a muted spark of a distant star. Then it appeared again, and with it came warmth. It enveloped him and lingered.

“-happen?” Sound returned into the world and Aaravos remembered to breathe. He forced the world around him to come into focus, despite the subdued touch – despite Viren’s hands on his shoulders. They filled his vision, sliding over his skin, where copper faded into indigo and constellations shimmered through.

“Did something happen?”, Viren repeated. “You’re losing your illusion.”

“Forming…” The rasp came from his own throat, but felt as foreign as a living being’s touch on his skin. “The forming spell is getting to me. I’ll be myself in a moment.”

He heard his own gasp and saw Viren’s face overcame with a different shade of dark than it tended to cast. A greedy darkness that must’ve rarely resided in his features. Your human enjoys being in control, whispered the remaining sliver of coherency he still held on to. He likes to claim things for himself, like you.

Humans had always delivered. How could he not reciprocate?

Chapter Text

Between staying in hiding and preparing for war, they took what little rest they could. Secret passages inside the castle walls, leading in and out of all quarters, were functional. Arranging space and matter to  conjoin Viren’s quarters with the baths, preventing anyone from entering, was quicker. Viren had plenty of complaints to voice in the process.

“Why exactly do you deem it so necessary?” His objections made for a distracting buzz and Aaravos was in two minds about hushing him with a charm. He dipped both hands in water, marveling at the shadow of its texture, smooth and pliant. It circled around him in currents and particles and he molded them into runes of a spell that he’d been wary of using so far.

“I don’t”, he finally said. “It’s you who needs to drain some dark magic damage from your body.” Letting his own clothes fall loosely down, he moved to undo the clasps of Viren’s doublet as well. Viren tried to smack his hand away, so Aaravos extended his mind.

Look, now. See the spell for yourself. His human had made himself quite comfortable in his headspace over the last days. Mind-melding tended to soothe his nerves more than he cared to admit. They paced back across the room, with Viren examining the image of water runes and absent-mindedly undoing layer after layer of his clothes. It’ll only drain a little, it wouldn’t be… prudent to release a stronger one on you. Is this to your liking?

Aaravos sat on the pool’s edge, slid in first, offered a hand and helped Viren follow. Then he refused to move aside, taking in all the sensations he could feel: the distant hint of Viren’s warmth, the rough dryness of his skin, the tension of muscles underneath.

“I didn’t – ah. I didn’t mean the spell”, Viren managed to articulate as Aaravos’ hands trailed distracted paths along his back, as Aaravos’ lips ghosted over his neck. He thought of inching away, Aaravos could sense in his mind – but decided against. “I mean this. Why are you… intimate with me?”

Aren’t we only dropping pretenses? We’ve been intimate in mind for a while now. To make a point, he intertwined their mind’s threads, no longer met with resistance. There was a disquiet in Viren, a whirlwind of questions, tugging at a single, bold thread of want. Why would we hold back, if we both know our desires?

Viren turned around, faced Aaravos and, with a pensive frown, brushed a hand against his face. They were close as they could be now, bodies flush against each other, only a flicker of phantom warmth on Aaravos’ skin.

“I can’t claim to know yours, elf”,  he was all over Aaravos now, studying him with the same greedy darkness. “All the walls your mind is filled with. All I know is you must want something in exchange.”

Despite his words, he didn’t even think of backing away. There was no need to encourage Aaravos any further:  he gently spread Viren’s legs with one knee and slid a hand below his waist, following the trail of hair leading down.

“You’re-“ Viren gasped for air when Aaravos’ hand strayed between his thighs. “You’re what we call… transcendent.”

Aaravos laughed, lips pressed against his human’s temple. His fingers curled around Viren’s length, so different from his own, smooth, tendril-less. Its touch, all sensations stayed distant to him. Merely a frustrating shadow of what they could be, what they soon would be.

Transcendent? Please, continue. I enjoy compliments.

“That’s not what I- Ah, to hell with it”, his human muttered, gripping his hips, clinging to them for dear life, as Aaravos was stroking him. He tried to repay the favor and frantically searched for Aaravos’ member, retracted into his body, finding nothing yet. It took every last modicum of Aaravos’ willpower to not give in: the touch he so craved was too faraway, too faint to undo him. Continuing to stroke Viren faster, tighter, he motioned with a knee to guide his hand away.

Not yet. This time is for you.

Viren’s mind anchored into his when he came, heaving quivery breaths, without a word or a noise. As he lay in Aaravos’ arms, magic-filled water rippled with something foreign, transparent, but darker than the night. The spell had worked, for the time being.

“Now, then. Why?”, Viren whispered. Water and sweat were dripping from his hair into the crook of Aaravos’ neck and the threads of his mind reeled. Pleasure and relief showered over coils of doubt, but they still slithered underneath: why be intimate? Why cooperate in the first place? “What do you want in exchange, elf?”

“I already told you. The path to the dragon prince holds boons for both of us.” Aaravos switched to words. There was no speaking in Viren’s head, given the state he was in. He could name more reasons, but for now he’d leave them trapped behind the walls of his mind, hidden from his human and even from him. “But if you insist on repaying me otherwise… Stop calling me ‘elf’. You know my name and it’ll please me to hear its sound in your voice.”

Coils of doubt tightened. Viren’s discomfort was tangible: with how there wasn’t a coherent reason to refuse such a simple request. With how accepting it shifted the well-oiled gears of his thinking. Forced him to close the remaining distance, as if lying together like this left any distance to speak of.  

Seconds, maybe minutes later, he nodded without a word.

No sense pretending Viren’s discomfort didn’t spark shallow, pointless satisfaction.

Chapter Text

The mirror jittered. Particles of glass: earth and fire, forged together with dragon magic, vibrated subtly, straining again and again under the forming spell. It wouldn’t be long now; any magical reaction from Aaravos could shatter it.

Overcoming revulsion, Aaravos pressed his hand to the glass. The only thing in this world he could really touch: hotter than glass should be, burning with an afterglow of long-extinguished dragon flame. Not muted by a membrane of emptiness. His fingers curled into a fist against it. All that’s left was patience – and caution. The moment he’s free, dragons will take flight. The moment he’s free, a war will scorch this land. He, however, will pursue his long- lost experiment in the human prince’s possession.

Perhaps he had more in common with other Startouch elves than he was comfortable admitting.

He didn’t register the soft creak of opening doors.

“Aaravos, the armies are ready-“

A new sound; a coveted sound. He whirled in his spot, faced the door – and his gaze met Viren’s, going from eager to amused.

“This is a sight I didn’t expect to see.” A new tension tugged at the corners of Viren’s lips, there was a hint of laugh in his voice. Still, an upbeat mood, caused by one stepping stone to success and whatever he saw in Aaravos now, couldn’t hide the growing strain of dark magic. A strain they would have no time to diffuse. “The archmage Aaravos, startled. Weren’t you expecting me to call you by your name?”

“Lying, absconding, breaking a promise.” Aaravos smiled back and reached for Viren’s face. “It wasn’t unexpected, no. But if my start is a new sight, you have many sights to witness yet.” He swept his fingers over Viren’s lips – and froze.

A burst of light under his fingertips. Sending waves through his arm, resonating in his core. He yanked the arm away, unable to process, unable to grasp the sensation, the first touch that felt real. Confused, Viren grabbed his hand on reflex and Aaravos struggled to breathe.

“Did- Is it the forming-“ Viren wasn’t afforded a chance to finish, because Aaravos lunged forward, hungry, desperate, and captured his lips in a kiss.

Everything surged through him at once. Warmth-dryness-moisture-breath-pulse-new constellations under his skin-air hitting his lungs. He bit in, a metallic taste filled his mouth, but he kept clinging, feeling, until Viren broke off, gasping for breath. His face blurred in Aaravos’ vision: flushed, eyes wide, a drop of blood trickling down his chin. Reaching to wipe the blood, Aaravos melded his mind with Viren’s – he had to speak, say something, share it, his voice couldn’t be trusted.

More.

Viren hesitated, but understood. Now his mind’s threads immersed in Aaravos’, greed overflowing and entwining in them both. Now he rushed forward, stumbling over his bad leg, gripped him, went for his mouth. He slid the cloak from Aaravos’ shoulders – soft, smooth, fluttering unbearably – and fumbled with his belt. Prying his hands away (heated, dry, impatient, alive), Aaravos practically tore the belt from his hips, shuddered at the cool, sharp atmosphere and scraped for the clasps of Viren’s clothes. Impossible colors gleamed under his shut eyelids and he let Viren’s mind guide him through so many layers, help him rip open the remainders of clothing, put his hands where they belonged.

A quiet, shrill noise filled the air. Fracturing glass.

He was speaking when they both dropped naked on the armchair. Sound was reverberating through his throat, for all he felt through the burn of another’s skin on his, but he couldn’t make out his own words. Please, he thought, tugging at his human’s hair, painfully soft, please, let me, sliding down, chest, abdomen, the agonizing heat between his legs. Let me take you.

A flash of pain dimmed both their minds when Viren staggered, his leg giving out, and sat down. Aaravos shifted, leaned over him, floor blazing cold under his feet, and positioned his hips between Viren’s spread legs. It’s fine, he thought, to Viren and to himself. He let Viren touch his shaft, fully out, wet and slick from staying retracted. The dryness and resonance in his throat ached when Viren led it to his entrance. Again, he couldn’t breathe. There was a palm of a hand on his cheek, unsure but oddly soothing, wiping the moisture from his eyelids.

Aaravos. Compose yourself, these were not his own thoughts. A thread of Viren’s voice trailed through his mind: sharp, annoyed… playful? It’s you who’s bedding me, not the opposite.

There was no composure left in him, no going back. He sank into Viren, one tendril after another, taking it slow with all his willpower. Fully in, kept together only by the embrace of Viren’s arms and mind, he propped his forehead on his shoulder, bit into his skin, breathed in his scent. A hiss of pain, nails in his back – igniting supernovas – his own nails clawing in return. He picked up pace, pounding into his human – mine – like back in the mirror, in dreams. Unlike back in dreams, Aaravos lost the sense of time, surroundings, his own control. Enveloped by the shrill noise of strained glass, they climaxed both at once, both connected.

Aaravos collapsed, vaguely conscious of starlight under his skin glowing brightest in a thousand years, of smeared traces of blood, giving it a red tint. Amidst a world of touch, now hazy again from overwhelm, he found no more strength to hold up mind barriers. Eyes closed, he watched some of them dissolve into bright, golden streams. He watched magic leak, fill their heads, fill the room. Some barriers he would rebuild. Others Viren already tore apart without knowing as they lay, like someone tied with a blood pact was bound to. There was coming a day for him to share Aaravos’ power, touch the surface of a star and burn himself down.

When a Startouch elf lived long enough, he could grow apart from the now.

He could also seize it.

Behind their backs, the noise culminated.

The air sparked with energy: ancient magic flaring one more time before wearing down. Lines of dragon fire splintered the mirror into shards, then into more shards, and shards again. Soon it became a wall of light that burst in fragments smaller than stardust, sweeping through the room in a perfect storm.

Viren jolted and took in the sight. They both knew what it meant.

“You’ll be the death of me”, he murmured and laced his fingers through Aaravos’ hair. Curled into his human in a whirl of stardust, Aaravos breathed in the last of their time, the start of a new thousand years.