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“Mahala Satrinava…”

The magician tastes the words on her tongue as she admires herself in the Countess' vanity. She likes the way they sound, their flavor.

With Lucio behind them and Vesuvia safe from the Devil, Mahala finally has peace - ample amounts of it now - to muse over Nadia’s proposal. She’d accepted immediately, of course; she loved her too much to ever turn her down. Though she’d never have thought that when she visited the magic shop all those nights ago, that it would lead to the very Countess of Vesuvia becoming her fiancée.

Funny, how life worked out that way.

To Nadia’s pleasure, it also left her free to be spoiled without interruption, and free to become accustomed to such treatment more often. Mahala took advantage of that now, sweeping her sex-tousled hair over a shoulder to better admire one of many pieces of jewelry Nadia had gifted her.

“It suits you.”

Mahala turns to meet her lover's sleepy smile in the luxurious bed behind her, satin blankets slowly rolling from her dark skin, displaying reminders of the night before. Nadia drums elegant fingertips against the sheets as she surveys her magician, casting a lingering, appreciative gaze at the bauble nestled between her breasts.

“The surname and the necklace.”

Mahala smiles and returns to the bed and Nadia rises to meet her, leaning in to accept the kiss that succeeds the apprentice's, “Good morning.” The silence that follows is comfortable; Mahala leans her head on Nadia's shoulder and the countess draws soothing circles into her hand.

“The first of many mornings to come...” she muses, and Mahala turns to meet Nadia's adoring stare. “Are you excited, love?”

Mahala grins. “I'm gonna be married to the greatest woman in the world. How can I not be?”

The magician’s smile is infectious, and Nadia can’t help but pull her close, pressing their foreheads together. Mahala shifts and her open robe does the same, a shoulder lazily drooping onto her arm. 

“I almost wish the day would come sooner...”

Nadia leans away to meet Mahala’s eyes, knowing exactly what her “almost” was about. “My sisters?”

Mahala gives an embarrassed but curt nod in response, a pout forming on her lips. Nadia would kiss the cute little thing away but she knows how much Mahala worries over this, and so she lets her vent. “You already love me,” she murmurs. “So now I have to figure out how to get them to love me too.”

Nadia chuckles, cards her hands through long black curls that snarl around her fingers. “Silly Mahala, you know you have nothing to fear.”

Mahala huffs and turns away to pout in peace. “I don't think it's silly,” she mumbles, though her tone sounds like a child admitting defeat, like she knows she’s being a touch irrational. “I think it's a perfectly legitimate thing to be worried about. Have you met Nahara? Shit, Nafizah, too? Nazali?”

“I grew up with them, dear.” Nadia presses a tender kiss to the magician’s cheek and she turns back to meet her, pout fading. “And they love you already. They all do. You make me a better woman, a happier woman, and they see that. If nothing else, they all realize how amazing you are simply because they know I wouldn't pick just anyone.”

Mahala gives a quiet little snort at that, a pleased smile teasing at her lips, and Nadia thanks the gods or the arcana or whatever powers that be when her lover looks up at her with more confidence in her eyes. “And I’m not just anyone?”

“Not ‘just’ anything at all, and on’t you dare use that word to describe yourself again.” Her tone is stern, but she winks at her fiancée nonetheless. "I'll have to punish you if you do."

The apprentice hums and returns her head to Nadia’s shoulder. When she sighs, content, the countess considers the matter resolved for now. The peaceful silence returns and Nadia continues to play in her lover’s hair. 

“You could still punish me now, though,” Mahala’s breath is hot against her neck, voice low. Nadia leans away to throw Mahala a raised brow, and despite the red flush on her cheeks, the magician doesn’t flinch at all. “If you don’t, there’s no telling what I might do. Might fuck around and use ‘just’ again.”

Nadia eyes her carefully, hand still in the magician’s tresses, before she grabs a fistful of it near the nape of her neck to force her head back. Immediately the magician’s lips part in a muted gasp, but the look in her eyes tells her all she needs to know.

Nadia wonders if Mahala really was as unconfident as she seemed, or if she'd just turned her into a glutton for punishment. 

“It’s no secret that your self-confidence still needs some work, despite my best efforts,” she purrs, running a thumb along Mahala’s bottom lip with her free hand. “But I’m more concerned about that dirty mouth of yours. Perhaps we should put it to better use…”