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Woven In My Soul

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Woven In My Soul

It'd been a long time since she'd woken up on her own, in her own sweet time. It was actually a strange feeling, opening her eyes slowly to blink at the small rectangle of light coming in from the arrow slit that passed for her window. It had entirely passed her writing surface, which meant it was sometime early in the afternoon. It wasn't much later than that, because it was just starting to creep across -

She stared. Virbane was sitting on the floor, back braced against the door and knees up, with his forearms resting on top. His head had tilted back against the door, and his eyes were closed. With the light just starting to inch across his boot, reflecting faintly around the room with each soft breath he took, Virbane was absolutely unreal. His face looked stronger than normal, the harsh lines not softened in the least, and it seemed that his natural, neutral expression held a touch of a sneer. His eyes were hidden, the strange inverse black outside and white ringed round with ethereal green concealed to leave him looking impossibly human, like an enticing nightmare or disturbing dream about to become reality. It was easy to see the Mindtwister in that form.

And the great demon prince was guarding her chamber and practically snoring on the floor.

That should not be endearing. Then again, there were many reasons to feel only caution -

"I'm glad you're not dead. I would have missed you." Oh, Stormsblood. What was I thinking?! Her head flopped back onto the pillow and she stifled a groan. She remembered how he'd forced a smile in return, even though his words had sounded sincere. Hells, she remembered it all, with surprising clarity for being the equivalent of the most drunk she'd ever been in her entire life, combined. As an apprentice Mage, she'd felt exhaustion – the Masters delighted in running all the 'prentices ragged. But the day before – drained of magic twice over, running through Donnell's ridiculous hellhole of a tower and physically fighting beasts on more occasions than she wanted to admit -

No, the only surprise was that she'd been able to say any coherent words at all.

Well. Best to pretend that everything was normal, and perfectly fine.

"I thought you were going to keep watch," she tried to tease, wincing a little as her voice came out in a bit of a croak.

He snorted, but didn't move or even bother to open his eyes. "And how do you think a book could see even the door? I'm keeping watch perfectly fine, thank you."

"To tell the truth, I'm surprised you aren't the book." She actually was a little concerned – wasn't it still painful, even if not insanity inducing?

He finally moved, the not-quite-sneer becoming a smirk. "I was for a little while, but given how you were tossing and turning, I decided it was better to manifest than to be seasick." He lifted his head to give her a full-on sardonic smile. "Need a hand getting free, by the way?"

It took embarrassingly long to get free of the blankets enough to make a rude gesture. Nameless, given how exhausted she'd been, she would've thought there'd been no dreams – she didn't remember any, for that matter -

Ah. Well. I see this is going to be one of those mornings where nothing will miss the opportunity to embarrass me. She'd been so exhausted the night before that she'd not only left her boots on, but also her pauldrons. That had not made for a comfortable night's sleep. She rolled her shoulders with a wince, beyond grateful that some Conclave mage had used quite the cleaning spell on the trip back. Her clothes showed signs of hard wear, but none of the blood or nastier substances that she'd dealt with lately. At least her sheets would be easy to clean. In the meantime, while a mage's clothes were magicked to be as comfortable as possible, for as long as possible -

It's been too long since I've had to rest in all my gear. She carefully unhitched the shoulder guards, then decided it could all go to the Abyss and less carefully shoved off her boots. They all ended up tossed underneath the writing surface, and she forced herself into an almost painfully long stretch.

Virbane was still watching her, looking vaguely amused and as if he were still waiting for a verbal answer. She felt incredibly self-conscious, and decided that the best path forward was to actually treat it as if she'd been incredibly drunk the night before.

"I'm... sorry I was quite so... emotional last night -"

"You punched me," he observed cheerfully. "If that's what you do when you get emotional then-"

"Idiot! I thought you died! You can't be surprised that-"

"You punched me several times, actually."

"I thought you were dead!!"

They looked at each other a long moment, her shout echoing around them.

"Dammit." She couldn't take the absolutely neutral way he was looking at her, even that natural hint of a sneer gone. The Mage put her face in her hands, then with a deep breath she pushed them back, pulling her hair out of her face. "Stormsblood. Look, I'm-"

"I'm sorry." There was a strange silence as she gaped, and Virbane's eyes were directed down at his hands. "I... apologize. I've always preferred to push, and I thought better to make light of the situation. I... didn't think it meant so much to you."

"Didn't - ! Nameless, Grim! We're friends, you've been there since – since the beginning, since Ridley, I've put up with your sarcasm and wit and often very ill-timed humor, I have and I will defend you against any idiot who wants to get their hands on a demon prince, in Braen I didn't leave you, why do you think all of that means nothing?!"

He looked at her oddly, with some indecipherable expression on his face. "You think of us as friends?" There was a peculiar tone in his voice, matching chords of longing and astonishment.

"…. Yes, Grim." She gave an almost helpless chuckle that was halfway to a sigh before flopping back onto the bed. "I think we're friends. I can't imagine why I'd put up with you otherwise."

"Hah." One little syllable, and strange how it almost seemed like normal.

Almost. "Why did that surprise you?"

He snorted, but it sounded like he was using that to cover for something. "In case you haven't noticed, Demon Princes don't win any popularity contests – unless you're polling mad cultists, and I think we both know they don't count."

Somehow, it was easier to remain on the bed, not looking at him, pretending it was just her and Grim the book. "I don't think you're being entirely truthful. Does this have something to do with you manifesting?"

The silence was telling. "That seems like quite a random leap of illogic," he finally declared dryly.

"Maybe, but sometimes intuition is all you have to go on. Please, Grim."

She wasn't sure what it was – the pause, perhaps what she had called him, perhaps something else – but after a moment, he gave a long-suffering sigh. "Of course it does," he admitted softly. "The ability to act, to do something if I so desire, to walk and fight – not just observe, talk because that is literally the only thing left to me - You made that possible. It takes time to manifest – time I would not want to risk." The Mage sat up and stared, not certain she could believe what she was hearing. Grim sat staring at his hands, clenched tight into fists, then he looked up and smirked. "No need to point out how ridiculous this is."

She tried to smile back, though she wasn't sure how convincing it was. "The others helped. It wasn't just me. Stormsblood, Laida helped."

He was shaking his head. "But Laida's curse would have been pointless if not for you, and what you had already done for me. Yes, the others helped, but again, to what point, if not for you?"

She had absolutely no idea what to do with that. "I... gods, Grim. What do you want me to say?"

"Nothing, really. What is there to say?"

She was clearly too uncomfortable to come up with anything. Ridiculous, really, how the Dawnbreaker could be so easily tongue-tied. Well. Best put paid to that and force a conversation change. "Thank you, by the way." At her blank look, he grinned. "For calling me Grim. I'm finding it more comfortable than Virbane, and it's probably best not to go spreading word that the Dawnbreaker is conspiring with a Demon Prince."

Ah, there was the mage he was used to, snorting and rolling her eyes. "Yes, well, if our enemies want to discredit us, then I can think of many other problems that could crop up."

"Not just that." Ah, it was a wonder that she didn't see it. "Control. There is always a chance that some lunatic will try to take advantage of my, ah, sometimes limited form or circumstances and find some way to influence or control me. I'd rather not be fighting against our merry band. Best to just skip the ugly possibilities and keep my identity quiet."

Oh, Nameless. She had the look. She had the look of one who was thinking too hard, too far, and if he didn't stop it right now he was in for a world of trouble.

"How bad could that be?"

Dammit. The good news, was that she was asking seriously, thoughtfully – genuinely pondering the question and ramifications. The bad news, was that she wanted more information. "I suppose all I can do is point out that the Demon Princes have been considered as, or more, powerful as some God-touched." Perhaps if he was dry enough, then -

Nameless. She was looking at him. It was the grave, intense glare hinting that she was seriously considering all the possibilities he'd rather she didn't, and she was coming to a reasonable conclusion.

"I think we should talk about that."

"About what?"

A deep breath, clearly bracing herself for something uncomfortable, this was not good at all. "Grim, I want a worst case scenario."

"No. You do not." Somewhere in the back of his mind, he was surprised at the flat, final tone to his voice. This was such a bad idea.

But she was glaring at him, steel behind the blue glow in her eyes. "I want to be prepared. Too many times – especially lately – I find myself stumbling along, trying to catch up with whatever seems to be going on around me. I'd like to know what kinds of problems I might have for once!"

It was only sheer force of will that kept his hands from balling into fists again. He glared at them, just waiting for them to disobey. He hated that she had a point. "Virbane," he finally declared, reluctance dripping from every word. "Someone wipes my soul of Grim, so all that is left is Virbane. You would face the Mindtwister of old." To the Abyss with it. He slowly folded his fingers under into a fist, watching the tendons stand out and the knuckles start to drain of color.

"And what would the old Virbane do?"

"This is a ridiculous exercise. Even if I could give you an accurate account, I'm sure I'd recall the conversation and do something different."

"Or you could try a double feint, and do exactly what you said. Or a triple feint, or anything. Look, I just want an idea of what we might be in for."

His breath was trying to come faster, and for a moment he cursed the twisted heart that was trying to beat faster within his chest. Excitement at ways he might play? Loathing at the thought of what he would do?

Terror at what she might think of him?

To. The. Abyss. With it! He was more than that, greater than Virbane. Grim let out a slow breath and forced his hands open and loose again, then looked up at the Mage. He met and held her eyes.

"I would play upon your devotion. Your loyalty to your friends, your weakness where you so often feel you've let them down. How death shakes you to your core. I would be friendly old Grim, whispering doubts innocuously to you disguised as wit and unrealized barbs, shredding your confidence bit by bit." She was getting pale, her dark skin going sallow around the edges. "Since your friends are also one of your strengths, I would be working to tear them down as well. Ava would be easy. She trusts me, believes in me far more than she should. Since I can manifest, I would appear and lead her to destroy innocents, masking and muddling situations so that she thought she was a weapon of righteousness, destroying evil while you and Eron were busy. Eron, I would lead to discover her tracks, always too late, always hidden so that his suspicions that it was she would grow slowly, gradually. As you grew more divided, I would use that to shake your confidence more. When I grew bored of the game, I would have you present, but hidden – a witness as Ava realizes what she has become. She would be delightfully angry, but a heartbroken Eron would feel honor- and love-bound to be the one stopping her. It probably wouldn't take much manipulation to make sure they killed each other, but it might be sweeter to leave him alive long enough for the sorrow to rend his ancient soul."

He didn't stop, couldn't stop. The words tore free almost on their own accord now. "Your friends. At each others' throats and killing each other, right in front of you, while you stand by. Helpless. Torn by indecision, too doubtful to know who, if any, is in the right. And you will have failed them all, and brought them their deaths. I would be reminding you of that, every instant I slowly broke what was left of you – not that it would be much – and good ol' Grimbo would be the one to kill you."

And he waited. He kept holding her eyes, watching the narrowed hints of fear within. A part of him still thrilled at it.

The rest... was almost enough to torment him with hope.

The Mage took a deep breath, then nodded slowly. "That sounds... thorough." Another breath. "But a question. What would you do if someone else did that?"

He was genuinely surprised to hear a snarl ripping from his throat. "Any fool who dared to try would find their head on a pike before you had the faintest inkling of what was happening. If they had annoyed me, I would leave their soul within their head so they could see me shave their tongue into bookmarks. If they made any progress, had hurt any one of you - "

He looked away. That was... unacceptable. "I would let the Paladin and the Lightbringer find that head, and quite reliably convince them it was an evil monstrosity that needed to be destroyed. At once, and with extreme prejudice. And the fool would witness and feel it all, unable to speak or escape."

The silence stretched painfully thin. He wasn't sure what point she had been trying to make, what her goal was -

There was a stunningly gentle touch along his aching hands. His head whipped back around, and he stared at the Mage's fingers resting lightly across his. It was strangely almost automatic, unfolding his fingers, and when he did she carefully clasped his hand. "Thanks. It's good to know – both what could come, and that you're looking out for us."

He stared. She had a small, almost rueful smile for him, and he didn't know what that look in her eyes was. The Mage tugged his hand until he almost dumbly stood up, towering over her and feeling more awkward than he had in his entire existence.

He had no idea what had just happened.

"Sit." She tugged again, moving over so there was room on the bed next to her. "You crouching on the floor is ridiculous."

"I'm not crouching, I was perfectly comfortable." It was an automatic, overly haughty response which made her smirk wider.

"Whatever. Get over here."

He didn't dare. The night before, they had both been exhausted in different ways. He'd been more concerned with her welfare than the fact that she had been right there, beside him.

Touch... was still so horribly foreign. It hadn't been until at least an hour after he'd returned to the book that it had hit home, with the astounding clarity of being a quasi-inanimate tome that did not have a memory so much as a written record.

When Laida's curse had first taken hold, having a form other than the book had been excruciating. He had tried to downplay how the sensation had burned through him, starting at a low boil and building with an inexorable intensity. The notion of prolonged exposure to the curse had been more than terrifying. The second time he'd manifested – the first by choice – Glimpy had trapped him before he could do more than loom threateningly at the damned hutchen. He hadn't felt anything other than a slight disorientation.

The night before, though. The Mage had surprised him – she had an almost unfortunate talent for it – and after the solid punch he'd been more concerned with her wellbeing than to quite realize what it had felt like – yes, he'd spent far too long as a book, but he had had centuries with a body.

But that body had been sitting close to his Mage. She had been pressed up against his side, sleeping or close enough while there, and he had been able to feel every breath, every little movement in ways that were only echoed in the not-quite-restless way she'd tossed and turned within the blankets. It had been almost a matter of desperation that had led to him manifesting, to be able to feel solid stone and wood and extend his senses away from her, rather than past, over, or occasionally through her.

And now he was keenly aware of the strong, powerful hand upon his, the warmth soaking through the faint lingering ache of his own frustrated (never terrified) gestures. "Please don't."

She could not understand why his voice had gone so quiet, so bizarrely soft. "What's wrong?" She hoped she was still just a bit jumpy from the admittedly terrifying scheme he'd laid out, but he wouldn't look at her, wouldn't move, he just stood there, staring at her desk as if it were fascinating. If he was somehow enchanted, she was greatly concerned, and she knew from long experience that the desk was hardly of much interest. "Grim?" The Mage stood, reaching out to shake his shoulder.

Nameless, but he was fast for someone that large! His other hand came up and quickly caught hers, but his expression as he finally looked at her was almost unreadable.

"Please, don't," he repeated softly. "I don't trust myself right now."

Her breath caught sharply as their eyes met. His face might have been unreadable, but his eyes were something else altogether. The wide Ethereal-green iris had expanded in both directions, leaving him looking drugged or stunned -

Or interested. Nameless, but that was possibly not a good thing.

"I'm glad you're not dead. I would have missed you." The thing she said, but the message underneath – She had no idea how he had taken it. "Trust yourself," she repeated instead.


"To do – or not do – what?"

His eyes narrowed just a bit, and she could feel a tiny, quickly halted movement from his fingers across her hand. "I thought I just made it clear what I thought of you being hurt."

She wasn't entirely sure if it was her heart, or her hormones that gave a lurch, though she suspected both. "Do you mean you don't trust yourself to not repeat the Laida incident-"

"No!" His look intensified and the hold on her hands tightened for just a moment. "That is unacceptable – and... no. Nothing like that – will or would happen again. I swear."

She could be imagining it. She knew that. She was surprised to find that she hoped she wasn't. "So are you asking me to move for your benefit, or mine?"

"What the Stormblight does that-"

"Grim! Your benefit, or mine?"

He held her eyes a moment longer, then let out a small sigh as if the air were deflating from him. "Yours," he declared softly, the 'of course' silent but clear in his tone.

The Mage kept his eyes a beat longer, then carefully tugged a hand free to reach up and gently cupped his shoulder (blasted Demon, too damned tall and she couldn't reach any higher) and pulled him down. He leaned forward, the green in his eyes almost overtaking the pupil before he closed them and just followed her lead right into a kiss. It was amusing how he was clearly surprised once she did start, letting out a muffled noise of astonishment before almost hesitantly returning the gesture.

That attitude changed quickly enough as he realized what she was doing, perhaps that she was serious. He bent into the kiss, teasing and then exploring with his tongue. He was also much, much better at it than she'd expected, leaving her tilted back with eyes closed and working to keep her feet steady underneath herself. Grim was very good at this, even if he had been shifting around the entire time.

"Well." She was trying not to grin too much as he backed away just a little, really just enough to let her catch her breath. She slowly opened her eyes, working hard to come up with some sort of quip that would acknowledge his skills without inflating his ego too much.

Grim, of course, made that moot. She was now almost eye to eye with him, instead of him being inhumanly large. Seeing him close, human sized instead of strangely giant, was a touch disquieting. She'd gotten used to his manifestation being half again the size of a mortal, larger than life. She blinked. "You shrank."

The wry, sardonic smirk was clearly his favorite expression – and she privately thought it quite suited him. "Haven't you heard that happens to some men?"

"Grim!" She pulled back, laughing and shaking her head. "I'm serious! First you're stuck as a book, then you can sometimes be..." She waved a hand in his general direction. "And now you change sizes too?"

"Of course." He apparently decided casual was the way to go, sprawling down on her bed and grinning. "This?" He gestured grandly to himself. "This is a manifestation of me, my essence. It's easiest to keep to what is familiar, the physical boundaries I set for myself long ago, but it's all magic in the end. In theory I could change it any way I pleased."

She watched him a touch warily. "Any way?"

He looked back her for a long moment, then smirked. He leaned back a little to cross his legs at the ankles, and his boots disappeared without even a shimmer. "Yes. That, for instance, is convenient."

The Mage let out a small, surprised huff of a laugh and sank down onto the far end of the mattress. "I will never understand you." At his quizzical look, she shrugged. "One moment, I'm working very hard to..." Not seduce, not seduce, that was not seduction! "… reassure you, the next you're almost comfortable enough with things to joke and- Gods, you're like a crazed demonic yoyo!"

Grim was shaking his head with another wry grin. "First shrinkage, now yoyo's – goodness, Mage, how cruel are you normally to men?"

She didn't know whether to laugh or strangle him – oh gods, she'd best not say that out loud!

Thankfully, he was moving back towards a normal smirk. "Don't judge me by human standards. I am not, much as I enjoy pretending. You made your decision, and I have seen the unmitigated futility of trying to get you to waver from your course – any course, really, that you have chosen. It helps, admittedly, that I am... also interested."

There was no way he would ever tell her that it was incredibly amusing and strangely charming to make her flustered and awkward at conversation. The Mage looked down at her hands, and then shrugged, clearly trying to say anything at all.

"And how did you become that good at kissing anyways?"

"Even if I didn't have centuries of experience - which I do - where do you think half the randy young apprentices went for clandestine hook ups? Or some of the masters, for that matter? Almost everyone in the Citadel tries it in the library once, and I was on a rather obscure, out of the way shelf. So I saw a lot of people who were 'researching ancient texts' in someone else's... mouth."


He grinned slyly, giving her a sideways, speculative look. "And clearly, you have had some practice, but I never saw you there."

"Books didn't used to be my thing."

She clearly was trying to make a quip as dryly as possible. He found a wide, delighted grin on his face which quickly curled into a pleased and quite sensual smile. "Really," he virtually purred, leaning forward and delighting in the way she didn't pull back. "Does that mean they have risen in your esteem?"

She gave him an arch look. "Rather than shrinking? Perhaps."

Grim pulled back since it was the only way he could laugh as uproariously as he wanted, beyond delighted that once again she'd twisted his words against him. That changed to a startled gasp when she followed his movement, sliding her hands inside the seam of his long vest. The sensation of her hands moving up his chest, warm through his shirt and solid, strong – he didn't think he was moaning, but someone was making breathless, panting noises.

Since the Mage was smirking, it was probably not her. Damn. "Why does this affect you so much?"

"Ngn." He tilted back just a little bit more, letting her shove the cloth further away as she moved her body alongside his. "I've been stuck as a book for centuries. Hands along leather covers, flipping through pages – the most feeling I've had since I was transformed was when we were near Weatherly. And that was hardly-" She had moved, sliding a leg over his and bringing her hips tantalizingly close to his. "- Hardly as pleasant as this."

She gave him a feline smile before nuzzling along his neck, somehow finding just the right spot to make him gasp some more. This will absolutely not do. Grim reached out to grab her hips and rolled the Mage on top of him, both gasping a little as she ended up straddling him. It was thoroughly arousing, but her weight helped him keep enough control to not end up like some first year 'prentice who was having their first encounter with an Amia.

That much control was enough to reach around her, lightly running his fingers along her arms, the powerful shoulders, and down her back to the catches along her bodice. He took his time unhooking them, letting his hands linger over her and stroke along the ribs as he worked his way down. It was quite worth it, give how she squirmed against his hips, and the look upon her face as her breath kept hitching.

When he finally had them all opened, he slowly spread the fabric wide, sliding his hands along her back and reveling in the feel of strong muscle bunching as she squirmed atop him. When he had it spread wide, straps tugged down to leave her shoulders strangely bare, he found himself breathless for no reason he could pin down. The Mage still had that feline smirk as she lifted herself up just enough to raise a hand and start gesturing, a delicate swoop of her fingers writing something upon the air before sending a puff of air across the tips as if to scatter something across the room.

As much as he wanted to simply be staring at her, his curiosity could not let it be.

"You know, I've seen dozens to hundreds of mages make those gestures, but I've never figured out what it is. Is that some sort of invocation to the gods for a good fuck?"

She chortled. "No, it's a safe sex spell. Cast once every few years by a skilled healer, and invoked when you make the gesture. Lasts for a few hours afterwards."

He gave her a dry, scornful look. "I'm a demon prince. We're not compatible for spawning without a lot of magic."

She gave him the same look right back. "You're a demon prince. Nameless knows what I'd catch from you." Then she pushed herself up, leaving her top draped across him.

He knew, somehow, somewhere in the back of his mind, that he really ought to have some quip in return, but his mind was absolutely no help providing anything other than the basic point. Her powerful shoulders framed a very nice set of breasts – this was foolish, it wasn't as if he hadn't known they were there but for them to be right there, in front of him and on display made all the difference in the world – and she had a leanness of a fighter with toned muscle all topped off by that smirk.

By all the Nameless, he could not stop staring. The arc of her body, the curve of her breasts, the faint glow from her eyes as she grinned and reached down towards her belt -

Bodiless below, her hands were veering towards her side, not -

Grim bucked a little and hissed as she lightly ran her fingers along the edge of his cover. It was a phantom sensation, where instead of the usual, regular feel of resting against the Mage's leg there was something completely different added. He could quite easily separate out which of his forms was where and experiencing what, but it also lent a sensual shiver through his more human form as she played with his normal one.

Clearly, she could tell. Her finger beat a little pattern down his book spine before riffling his pages, and when his hips moved in response she twisted hers to pin him further in place. It was a fantastic, sensual pressure against him, so he kept moving, building up a rhythm that was genuinely, strangely thrilling.

He was keenly, intensely aware of how her hands were traveling over him – book him – and how those strong hands could be passing over much more sensitive areas of humanoid him, and it was delightful and maddening. He squirmed underneath her, his hands gripping the blanket, and he couldn't quite figure out who was almost moaning as the Mage leaned forward. She kept going until she was almost lying atop, holding back just far enough that the curve of her breasts slid across his skin with every breath. One hand was placed near his shoulder, keeping her aloft, but the other continued those movements along his spine and cover. The more his hips moved, the more she teased him with those damned tiny, deft touches until it was clear something else needed to be done.

He most certainly was not almost, or even actually whining with need. Grim finally shook his head, trying to ignore the brush of hair against his face. "Either get me off or get off me!" he snapped, hips still rolling with her. The Mage, blast it, just laughed softly (and the feel of that and how it made her torso and those breasts move against him-!).

"If you're sure." Her smirk left him breathless, which had to be why he just reacted when she leaned a little further down and kissed him thoroughly. She was good at it, blast it all, and when she pulled away he was still panting.

"Well if you insist I suppose we can keep doing this, but it's rather limited, and I thought you were interested."

She quirked an eyebrow at him before smirking wider and sliding off of his body, turning to give him an exquisite view as she started to unlace her pants.

Oh Nameless. She was going to leave the book for last.

Grim knew he really ought to be dealing with his own clothes, that it would mean much more fun more quickly, but all he could do was watch his mage strip down to her belt and nothing more than his own form, resting against a long, strong leg.

"You approve?" She was grinning as she posed, a hand on her hip before it trailed down to move across his cover again.

"If you need to ask, you're obviously not paying attention."

Her snickers made all sorts of interesting movements along her body as she slowly undid her belt, unhooking the carry straps to his book form. The belt fell to the ground, and the Mage moved him onto the desk. She was astoundingly gentle as she placed his book down on the writing surface, letting her fingers linger just a little too long to be anything but deliberate.

Right. Clothes. It took far longer than would ever normally be called for to concentrate enough to make his clothing disappear, but somehow, he found the will to make it happen.

The Mage was a little surprised at how much fun it was to tease Grim. She'd always enjoyed their banter, but the more physical byplay was absolutely thrilling. She turned away from the desk, only to stop suddenly.

He'd made all his clothes disappear, leaving bare a body long limbed and lean, pale skinned and well muscled. His smirk was firmly in place, and as she spent longer than she'd intended to stare at his fully erect cock. Somehow she'd thought he'd be ludicrously huge, or there'd be scales involved, or something. Instead he was all trim, nicely sized and very, very attractive.

"You approve?"

She yanked her eyes back up towards his face, then grinned just a little bit ruefully. "You seem to be an expert at turning the tables on me."

Grim snorted. "It's mutual."

"Good." She stalked forward, trailing fingertips down his side and enjoying the way his muscles bunched and jumped. "And yes, very much." She swung her leg up and over, hopping forward to straddle his lap with his dick flush up against her. She rolled her hips slowly, savoring the way Grim's eyes fluttered back and his breath kept hitching. The extra sensitivity he seemed to have was fascinating – not to mention almost adorable.

For a Demon Prince.

She rolled forward, leaning down to share another long, teasing kiss. When she finally had to pull back, just a little, Grim was giving her that Look again. "I did mean what I said."

The Mage smirked and rocked up far enough to come down upon him, giving an appreciative hum as she settled flush against him. She waited a moment, enjoying the way his eyes had closed in astonishment – probably at the sensation. He was breathing a little fast, and when he opened his eyes he was reaching for her.

It clearly had been awhile for both of them, the way his palms along her breasts sent lightning down her spine. He seemed to enjoy how she huffed a surprised breath and leaned down to kiss him again, deep as she could and trying to match hip movements to what their mouths were doing. It got an interesting moan out of him, thrumming through their bodies, and she pulled away far enough to give him the dirtiest smirk she could. Then she slowly changed the how she was rolling her hips, teasing him with different angles and bringing them both up, their speed increasing together until she gave a twist to her hips.

Grim curled up around her, arms sliding tight across her back and pulling her close, shaking in a way that brought her over into her own pleasure. She collapsed down on top of him with the feel of his breath against her shoulder, sliding in between the teeth pressed up against her skin.

"Ngn. Thank you for not biting."

Grim couldn't contain his smirk, nuzzling along her shoulder. "I thought you might object." He was not about to examine the differences, how with Laida that sort of thing was in fact expected, the norm – all their coupling had been half-fight half-sex; an elemental, basic delight of getting that close to another being.

He had wanted to bite. The feel, the taste of the Mage as his gritted teeth slid against the skin of her shoulder even as he could feel them moving as one had been so tempting. He wanted to leave a mark, claiming to any who would get close to her that she had been his, that this was his Mage, his... companion. It could be delightful, a grounding contrast to the high pleasure rippling through both of them, and a convenient excuse to restart activities later with some soothing touches and gestures.

He would have to ask her what she would think of it – at an appropriately embarrassing time without Eron or Ava around – but for now, it was too much a part of his past life. Too demonic.

Nameless, he never would have thought he'd be tentative like this, considerate! Bah, it was disgusting.

But he didn't move.

The Mage chuckled and returned the nuzzle against his head. "I probably would have. Well done. Save it for another time, all right?"

By all the gods, the burst of warmth and somehow pleasant astonishment that bolted through his entire being was enough to shock him into stillness. "What?"

The Mage looked down at him with a thoroughly puzzled expression. "Considering everything else we've been though lately, rough sex is simply not something I want to deal with. Try it again some other time."

He was sitting up slowly, not daring to look away from her for one single moment. "That... implies there will not only be a next time, but at least several more."

She had a truly lovely talent for raising a single, incredulous brow and gracing one with a look that clearly communicated a horribly low opinion of one's intelligence. "No, Grim. That made it very clear that I want to do this again." She smirked. "A lot. I don't know what the Conclave intends for us, but I suspect we'll be able to snatch a few moments here and there to do so."

Grim had no idea what he was feeling, some strange emotion that seemed to be part joy, of all ridiculous things. The rest of it, he didn't want to consider too closely.

It really wouldn't be seemly for a (former) demon prince.

Nonetheless, he was reaching out slowly to rest a hand on her shoulder. "You – this wasn't just a-"

His Mage gave an amused snort and leaned in to give him another of the searing, deep kisses she seemed to enjoy. When she pulled back, it was only far enough that their noses barely brushed. "Book, you are being absurd. No, I don't want to just knock boots some time. We're in this – whatever 'this' is – together. Now do you want the whole package or not?" She did the eyebrow thing again. "I've no complaints if you want to be friends without the extra benefits, but it seemed like you'd enjoyed that."

He snorted his own laugh and let his hand drift up into her hair, gently pulling her closer until their foreheads rested together. "Very much."

"Good." He couldn't see much of her smile from where he was, but it was brilliant nonetheless.

Of course, a few breaths later the comfortable silence was broken by a vague rumble. The Mage pulled back and glared down at her stomach. "Well that's embarrassing."

Grim snorted a laugh, and let his hand gently slide from her hair and down along her cheek. "I suppose given the last few days, I should be glad we got through sex without it happening." It was a surprising relief to let his magic dissipate save for a few sparkles of purely Ethereal magic which hopefully were trailing over towards his book form.

As wonderful as sex, and sensation, had been, it was good to be back. "Get something to eat." It was also embarrassing to sound so... fond.

The Mage gave him a wry grin. "I apologize, O Grim the Mighty. Some of us need regular rest and food. "

"Thankfully, I don't have any actual corporeal form, so I don't have that problem."

"Gods, you are such a brat!" she laughed, sprawling out on the bed.

He had to work to make sure his tone was appropriately smug. "And you wouldn't want it any other way."

The Mage's smile was astoundingly gentle as she reached out and lightly rested a hand on his cover. He was fairly certain he wasn't expressing the pleasant shiver that ran through him at the warmth, but it was hard to tell. "No, of course not."

They shared a quiet moment, his pages rustling and her fingers lightly moving across his binding. He wondered if this was what peace was like, and then decided it didn't matter.

Whatever this was, it was exactly where he wanted to be.