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Carry My Sword With You

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Janai would never admit she was hiding. She was merely tactically surveying a very small portion of the palace. A glorified closet of a study that appeared to have suffered disuse since before her Grandmother’s rule. It had a tiny desk and mismatched furniture and no windows. Janai loved it.

It was impressive to find any amount of dust in her home - the servants took great pride in ensuring that everything would shine in the Light of the Sun.

But this room hadn't been made to shine for decades, if not centuries. Forgotten. Lost.

Exactly where Janai wanted to be. It may have been beneath the dignity of a queen to disappear after what had happened. It was unfortunately not beneath Janai’s dignity. She maintained the childish hope that this day would be forgotten as soon as the Sun set. Foolish and sentimental she knew. 

No one would forget - no would allow her to forget what had happened in that sparring ring early today. Why did it have to be in public? Why did I lose control in public?

Janai closed her eyes and remembered. It had been such a good day. 

“I bet you’ve gotten soft from all the sitting.” General Amaya’s smirk was legendary as Commander Gren translated for her. The man was better at it then Kazi - solely because the scholar had absolutely refused to speak to their Queen in such ways unless it was vitally important. Even if they were only giving voice to someone else’s words. So, if Gren was absent, Kazi would be present. Only if Gren were unavailable however. 

Amaya had traumatized the poor elf into becoming a blushing, stuttering mess around Janai. Janai’d be more impressed if it didn’t also mean that she was often a blushing, stuttering mess at Amaya’s flirting. 

She also hadn’t admitted it to Amaya but Janai had started learning from Kazi. And then forbade the scholar from ever mentioning it to the General until Janai was ready. At the rate she was going, Janai would be ready sometime around...Never. 

Sign language was a beautiful, if difficult, language. And it was a language. Honestly, Janai knew Ancient Draconic better than the KSL she had been struggling to pick up with Kazi for the past year. Since the Battle of the Spire. Having four fingers when it was made for five was also a source of frustration. Kazi was able to modify things for understanding fairly well but Janai struggled with it. 

“Your Radiance,” They had said, perhaps a month before this. “Sign language is just as much about body language and facial expressions. The General is already scarily good at reading you, and you, her. I’m sure she would be more than happy that you are trying. And she would likely love to help you learn.”

Janai’s face had twisted up into a grimace. Being anything other than excellent was a luxury she hadn’t been allowed for years. Even before Khessa had fallen - in more ways than one - Janai’s position demanded her to be extraordinary. To be Golden Knight as Crown Princess, it was not enough to be good - Janai had had to be exceptional. 

It was part of the reason she loved spending time with Amaya. The General only ever demanded her best. If her best was less than perfection, it didn’t matter. Amaya wouldn’t hold it against the Queen. In fact she seemed to take a great deal of joy in seeing the elf flustered. Unlike some of her advisors. Janai truly wished she had taken up the General’s offer to go a few rounds with some of her people. It would give them some humility. 

Unfortunately, that was just a diplomatic incident waiting to happen. Janai had to content herself to vivid daydreams. 

“Care to test that, prisoner ?” Janai finally responded with a smirk of her own, giving the human woman a heated look. The moniker had become a term of endearment. They both knew that it was more Amaya’s choices than Janai’s that had led to her imprisonment. 

Gren, while less uncomfortable than Kazi, still blushed slightly as he relayed her words to Amaya. Not that he needed to, really. The General’s eyes hadn’t moved from her face and they flashed with anticipation and something Janai couldn’t quite define. 

“I would. I think you need to be reminded of your place.”  

Janai swallowed roughly at just the look on Amaya’s face. When Gren had finished translating, proving that she had interpreted the signs correctly, Janai felt her face heat up. She wished it was just from heat-being mode. 

Point to Amaya.

The elf was uncertain Amaya kept track of who was “winning” whatever this game was between them. In the days and weeks following the attack on Lux Aurea and then the Spire, Janai had struggled to see to her duties and people. She had pushed the thoughts and feelings about the human general to the farthest, darkest corner of her mind. She had only once referred to Amaya as “my human friend.”

After that single time, when Amaya was still imprisoned in the Ring of Fire, Janai had denied any notion of friendship for months. Each denial had been weaker and weaker, with Amaya becoming more and more amused.

When Janai had finally admitted they were friends, Amaya had thrown her arms up in victory before leaving. Janai was both irritable and offended until the General returned with cookies. 

“An offering for my friend.” Kazi had translated. Amaya’s radiant smile had needed no interpretation.

Still, Janai couldn’t bring herself to ever use the possessive again in relation to Amaya. It...made things unclear. It made Janai want things she knew she could never have. Not as a Queen. Not even as a woman - Amaya had been clear in wanting her as a friend. Despite the human’s blatant flirting. Janai assumed that was the way the human always was. Because that was the only way she ever saw Amaya. Flirting. Confident. Incandescently beautiful. 

The elf led the way to the sparring room in the palace as her blush faded. Fighting with Amaya was one of the few pure pleasures Janai had left, amongst her duties as Queen. Facing off against the general was thrilling. Janai could never be entirely certain who would win on any given day. They were too evenly matched at times. The elf could have won more if she used heat-being mode but in a spar that would be beyond dishonorable. 

The room was fairly empty. Most guards were on patrol or eating the midday meal. Still, there were a few souls who were off duty practicing. There was also an instructor with a small handful of the newer recruits as well. Less than a dozen.

All of them stopped what they were doing and bowed.

Even after a year, Janai had to hold backa grimace. She truly hated the formality. As Golden Knight she had managed to get most to give her a less formal salute in place of a bow. As Queen, that was no longer an option.

“Please continue what you were doing.” She waved a hand to release the soldiers from their bows as she moved to an empty ring. Amaya was right behind her. The instructor regained her students' focus for the most part though Janai could still feel their gazes. The off-duty soldiers greeted Gren warmly and settled in beside him to watch. Their spars had become something of a spectacle. 

Janai removed her Sunforge blade, laying it next to Gren with a nod. No one here would dare touch it without her permission. Well, no one besides Amaya but she was about to be busy.

The two women faced each other. Today, they were both still in armor, so it was likely to be a more brutal spar. They pulled their blows but that didn’t mean they wouldn’t end up with bruises. Amaya was waiting for her to begin today. Janai was both terrified and enraptured by how the human could read her. How easily Amaya could tell what the elf needed. A few more breaths and then Janai snapped into action.

She lunged and Amaya blocked and they fell into a rhythm that was just theirs. 

There was something soothing about combat with Amaya. The push and pull of offense and defense. Janai had tried to describe it to her brother once, as he set and healed her nose after an intense fight. Amaya had been extremely apologetic about the damage, it had been adorable how panicked the experienced general had been at a bit of blood. 

Aodh hadn’t really understood the draw - he was a healer not a warrior. Amusingly, Amaya had hovered worriedly as her brother tended to her. Even when Aodh used his light being mode to heal Janai, Amaya had still treated the elf like glass for the next few days. Until Janai had irritably dragged her down to the ring and proceeded to take ruthless advantage of the human’s hesitation.

After Janai had kicked Amaya’s ass several times, the human tapped out. She had started laughing and apologized for not going into the spars at full strength.

Janai had sniffed haughtily before responding, “As you should be.” 

The elf really couldn’t truly describe what it felt like to face off against Amaya. It felt...almost like standing in the light of the Sun when it was at its peak. Like liquid warmth and peace in motion. Even that felt incomplete - only capturing a fraction of the experience. Even outside the ring, Amaya was brilliant and passionate. Janai had no doubt that if the woman had been born an elf, she would have been Sunfire.

Janai could also never share those impressions. With anyone. Ever. To have respect for humans had caused her no small amount of strife with other elves. To care so deeply for one? On a personal level? Janai’s people would riot. They had honestly adapted to treating humans as allies instead of enemies quickly. But to have the Sunfire Queen, their monarch, the Sun given elven shape, pursue one? Janai knew how that would end. 

One of the council, a man Janai had known and respected since childhood, had made it clear that he would Challenge her if it ever progressed beyond friendship. When she had been quiet and withdrawn at dinner that night, her brother had bullied her into telling him what was wrong. When she had answered his response had surprised her.

“You have given, will give, so much to our people. If anyone deserves happiness, it's you, Janai. We both know how fleeting life can be - even for us. Don’t let time slip by you like the rays of the day.”

She had given her brother a warm embrace but knew it could never be. She doubted her people would be ready in her lifetime for such a relationship. 

Janai was prepared to sacrifice her life for her people, without hesitation. It made her heart ache, to know she would also have to sacrifice her happiness. Or the chance at it at least. But if that is what the crown required of her, that is what the crown would have. Her grief, her happiness, her anger, her love. Everything that Janai was, was given to the crown. At least, that’s what she told herself.

Still, she could have this. She could have Amaya the only way she was allowed. As an honored sparring partner. The crash and separation of their bodies as they struggled for dominance. 

Janai was breathing heavily at this point. The spar had been going on for minutes. Even as distracted as she was, Amaya seemed even more so. When the elf saw an opening, she took the general down.

Amaya slammed to the ground, her breath knocked out of her in a wheezing exhale. The two grappled for a few more moments before Amaya went limp underneath the elf's hands. She was well and truly pinned. Her eyes burned into Janai’s as her lips quirked into a wry smile. You won. Good fight. The expression seemed to say.

The elf knew she should get up. That she had to remember there were others present, that they were in public. That she should remove herself from the human, offer an amicable handshake and return to her duties. But she couldn’t. 

Even through both their armor, Amaya burned her. She could feel the heat emanating from the human and Janai had the wild thought that it was Amaya who could set herself aflame. Not her. Janai couldn’t stop her gaze from dropping to the general’s lips. 

When the elf managed to rip her eyes back to Amaya’s there was that heated look again. The look Janai had seen more and more and never recognized before. Or was too afraid to recognize. Now, she realized it was desire. Her self-control, the thing she valued most, broke.

Surging downward, Janai captured the human’s lips with her own. She had never dared think about this. The dreams didn’t count. But if she had, Janai knew that this kiss would put anything she imagined to shame. 

It was soft and hard and perfect and beautiful. Everything that was Amaya. Everything that Janai had wanted, almost since she had been told to shove her own sword up her ass. 

Janai pulled back, gasping for breath. Amaya’s eyes were half lidded with desire. It made the elf shudder. It was a perfect, beautiful moment. And then it came crashing down as Janai remembered where she was. Who was around. And what she had just done.

The elf scrambled up, giving Amaya a stiff nod. Now, Janai could hear the utter silence that had fallen over the room. The Sunfire Queen had just kissed a human. No matter how it made her heart burn, she knew that this could not be. She could see the General’s confusion, see Amaya reaching to stop Janai from leaving. But she couldn’t stay here. 

Janai left. She heard Gren call out for her to wait. He was yelling for Amaya, trying to get her to halt. It hurt to ignore it, ignore her, but there was nothing left for her here. 

She left quickly. Desperate to escape what had happened. Desperate to forget the feel of Amaya against her. So desperate to leave, so heart sick that she forgot to collect her Sunforge blade. And as soon as she hit the door she started running. 

Janai opened her eyes. They burned with unshed tears. If Khessa were here she would tease her. Or if these feelings were for anyone but a human she would. Janai knew in reality, her sister would have had Amaya executed and Janai demoted for what had happened. 

One kiss would have ended Amaya’s life. One kiss could still end her life. One kiss could end Janai’s reign. To say nothing of the friendship she might have ruined. 

Janai had lived for almost a century and a half. She had never felt a connection like she had with Amaya. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, even physically as a fighter - she had never met someone who matched her as well as Amaya. A human. 

The elf was in a room without windows. But she carried a sun inside her. And she could sense the Sun in its afternoon light in the sky. She had missed lunch. And would likely miss dinner. Janai couldn’t bear to face anyone right now. 

So consumed with her own thoughts, regrets, and worries, Janai missed the door to her dusty room opening. She missed it closing. 

She did not miss the hand falling on her shoulder. With a squeak, Janai jumped and whirled to face who had found her haven. Amaya’s worried brown eyes stared back at her. The elf’s heart stopped. She had to blink back the tears that wanted so badly to fall. She noticed that Amaya was carrying her sword as well. Oh, that’s...that’s unfortunate.

“You’re a difficult woman to find.”  

Janai was so distraught that she forgot that she hadn’t admitted to learning sign. Her response was stiff, her body rigid. “That was the point.”

Amaya’s eyebrows both practically flew off her face. Janai gave brief thanks that Amaya didn’t have a translator with her to witness Janai’s full-body blush. Bad enough for the woman herself to witness it. The general had placed the sword she was carrying on the dusty desk, to have both hands free to sign. 

“How long have you been learning?”

Janai averted her eyes, embarrassed. Amaya gently grabbed her face to direct the elf to look at her.

“Please?” The human’s thumb stroked along Janai’s paint as she used her other hand to beg. Amaya never begged. Not like this.

“Since the Spire.” Jania whispered, like the quieter she was the less likely Amaya was to understand. 

Amaya blinked, surprise flashing over her face before it settled into a small, tender smile. Janai had expected one of the general’s signature smirks. With one last caress, Amaya allowed her hand to leave Janai’s face to sign properly.

“You should have told me.”

“I...I couldn’t. It. It felt like too much. I am not very good at it.” Janai couldn’t bring herself to look away from the human. Even as every second she looked cut her heart into smaller pieces. Soon there would be nothing left. Janai was almost at peace with that. What use did a Queen have for her heart?

“You don’t have to be good at everything, Janai.”

“No. I’m expected to be competent, though.” She scoffed in response, trying to summon up an emotion other than bone deep weariness. Trying to ignore that the way Amaya had chosen to say her name included a possessive. My Radiance had always been translated by Kazi and Gren as simply Janai.  

“You are too hard on yourself.”

“Or not hard enough.”

Amaya sighed. It was easy to see that she was more saddened than angered by how Janai was reacting. There was still irritation, though.

“Why did you run and hide?”

“I am not hiding!”

The general arched a brow at the recalcitrant Sunfire elf.

“I’m...tactically surveying an out of the way room.”

Amaya smirked. She didn’t even need to sign for Janai to get the sense of teasing from her.

“Oh, fine I’m hiding.”


“That is a difficult question.”

“Then make it simpler.”

“You’re impossible.” Janai scowled.

“You love me that way.” Amaya was so fucking certain, with her smug grin.

So damned cocksure that Janai actually answered on instinct, without thinking. “Yes. I do.”

She only realized what she had said when she saw the general’s blush. Janai blinked, marveling at the rare sight. It was so hard to make the woman blush. The feeling of pride lasted only a second before Janai realized what had caused that blush. 

Oh. I’m an idiot. She thought to herself. She had been planning to deny any and all claims of affection. For Amaya’s safety, if not her own. It was too late now. 

Janai didn’t turn away this time. She defiantly raised her chin, with a clenched jaw. She would face this conversation with whatever dignity she had left and then go nurse the wounds to her pride after. She owed Amaya that much.

It took a minute for Amaya to come out of her head. It was fascinating to watch the play of emotions on the human’s face. It was part of why Janai loved her. She was so expressive.

When she did, Amaya signed simply. “Me too.”

Janai frowned, the signs not quite making sense to her. 

Seeing her confusion, Amaya clarified. “I love you. How could I not? With your determination and honor and strength and grief? I love everything about you. Even the fact that you’re surprisingly shy for a soldier.”  

Janai dropped her eyes again. Determination or not, hearing that Amaya thought her shy was mortifying. Again, the human caressed her face to get Janai’s attention.

“It's not a bad thing. It’s cute.”

At the sign for “cute”, the sign Janai remembered seeing Amaya use with her nephews at the Spire, Janai’s control broke. Again. She took Amaya’s stupidly perfect face in her hands and kissed her. 

She kissed her like Amaya was the Sun. Like she would die without Amaya’s lips on her own. Like if it was the last thing she would ever do her only regret would be not being able to do it more.  

Janai had spent months trying to convince herself she couldn’t do this. Her people would object. Her brother. And most importantly, Amaya would never want this. 

But here was the blessing the Sun gave her on this terrible day. Amaya kissed her back. Just as fierce. Just as desperate. Just as passionate.

When the kiss finally broke, Janai rested her forehead against Amaya’s, with her eyes closed. Taking a minute to bask in the moment. She opened them when she felt Amaya draw away.

The woman had a smug, satisfied smirk on her face. Usually it made Janai want to punch her. Now it just made her want to kiss the general. She resisted the impulse. With difficulty. She also dragged her eyes away from that mouth to focus on what Amaya was saying. With even greater difficulty.

“So, why did Aodh,” the name was finger spelled out, “Congratulate me on our engagement? Is kissing after a spar a common engagement practice for Sunfire?”

Janai groaned and buried her head in her hands. She had forgotten that this had started because of a public kiss. If she could crawl into bed and never leave it, it would still be too soon to face this.

Amaya gently took her hands in her own and kissed them. Janai watched, mesmerized as the human laid kisses on each of her fingers and her palms before letting the elf’s hands drop. 

“It’s ok. I’m not afraid of being engaged to you. Just curious if it was due to the kiss.”

Amaya, the human who spat at the monarch imprisoning her, was so much braver than Janai. She seemed so pleased at the thought of being engaged to the elf. Her former enemy. They had tried to kill each other, for Light's sake. Multiple times.

“Why are you happy about that? It would be a mess. Thinking of the treaty alone between Lux Aurea and Katolis to have our engagement be official is enough to make me wish you had thrown me into The Breach last year.” The elf rambled through just the start of the reasons about why this was a bad idea.

“Because, Janai, it means you’d actually be mine. My Radiance.”

All it took to silence the Sunfire Queen was two signs now apparently. My Radiance. Janai had thought, as a child, that she would hate a possessive lover. From Amaya, all it did was make her feel safe. Wanted. Loved.

Janai leaned in for another kiss. When they separated, Amaya demanded an answer again.

“I would still like to know how we’re engaged.”

“My sword.” Janai waved at the weapon on the desk that she had honestly forgotten about. 

"Its...nice? But what does that - “

“In Sunfire culture, a Sunforged weapon is one of the greatest honors that could be bestowed upon someone. Have you ever seen someone else carry my blade?” Janai asked.

Amaya thought for a moment then shook her head. 

“To carry someone’s Sunforged Sword is to carry everything they are. They can only be made rarely - a sword the size of mine can only be forged once a century. They are precious and they are equated with the person who wields them. If I were to die my blade would be buried with me, with one exception.” 

Amaya’s head tilted curiously.

“If I were to marry, my spouse would have the right to carry my sword. To use my life, to carry a piece of my soul as she saw fit until she also died. To carry a Sunforged blade is an honor. To be trusted to carry it by its owner is considered one of the greatest romantic acts my people have.”

Amaya stared at her. Then at the sword. Then back to Janai. 

“I carried that sword around for an hour looking for you. Aodh saw me. Kazi saw me. Members of your council saw me. I guarantee that almost the entire palace saw me.”

Janai couldn’t resist the laugh that escaped her. Was this going to cause trouble? Oh, yes. Did she regret leaving the sword behind? Hell no.

“Congratulations on our engagement indeed. I’ll have to announce it, start negotiations with Katolis and preemptively Challenge Odalis.” Janai paused upon seeing Amaya’s surprise. “If you agree, of course?”

“I do. I just wasn’t expecting you to leap straight into this.”

Janai shrugged, taking Amaya’s hand and squeezing it. “I was willing to sacrifice everything to my crown. Even my desire for you. I just wasn’t expecting you to desire me back. I have lost so much, we both have. I don’t want to lose this chance.” 

Amaya squeezed her hand back. Janai would never tire of the soft smile that stretched across the human’s face. It made her more beautiful than the Sun itself. 

“Together then.”

They kissed again before Amaya pulled back with a questioning look.

“Janai, what’s a Challenge?”

The Sunfire Queen laughed, kissing her general again. “A worry for tomorrow, tonight we should probably head to dinner.”

The suspicious look Amaya gave Janai made her continue to chuckle even as she picked up her sword. She hesitated before buckling it back on. Janai looked between the blade and the human for a moment before finally pressing the weapon into Amaya’s hands.

The human’s eyes widened, trying to give it back. “No, this is yours.”

Janai wouldn’t accept it back. With shaky, slow hands she signed to Amaya. “Everything I am is yours now. It has been for months. Carry my blade with honor and know that you carry my love with you.”