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daffodils for a kingdom of ash and bone

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Rudolf pauses in his doorway, staring at the man lying languidly upon his bed. The velvet-clad man’s head snaps towards him, and a charming smile paints his features once he sees him. His chiselled features appear sharp and soft all at once, and Rudolf wants nothing more than to run into the arms of his otherworldly prince. “My prince,” Tod purrs.

The prince in question feels his face grow hot at the man’s tone. “My friend,” he acknowledges, eyes flitting between Tod’s dark gaze and his reddened lips. He looks as if he’s painted them. Rudolf’s gaze is drawn to the bright red staining the other man’s hands. “What is that?” It’s a fruit he’s not familiar with, looking like little bleeding berries in the palm of Tod’s hand. 

“Pomegranate,” Tod answers simply. He lifts a few to his mouth and slips them past his lips. A seductive groan escapes him as he licks the juice from his fingertips.

“I’ve never had it,” Rudolf replies breathlessly. He vaguely recalls the name, though he’s too preoccupied watching Tod eat to remember the instance where he heard it. 

Tod beckons him forward. Once he’s close enough, Tod pulls him in by the belt, dragging him onto the bed and reaching up to swipe a red thumb over his lips. Rudolf’s lips part ever so slightly, and Tod takes the opportunity to slip a few seeds of the bright red fruit into his mouth. The taste is striking. He chews on the pomegranate and, after much deliberation, swallows the seeds, not knowing what to do with them. Despite himself, he jerks forward as Tod starts to pull away, taking the man’s fingers into his mouth and lapping at the leftover juice. When he comes back to his senses, Tod is simpering at him. 

Rudolf quickly withdraws, his face burning brighter than the pomegranate. “That was good… where- where did you get it from?” Cool hands stroke his face, and he melts against Tod’s touch, letting his head be guided to rest against the other man’s chest. 

“A lovely meadow, mein Liebling,” Tod muses, running his fingers through the prince’s blond locks. “The Greeks called it Asphodel.”

Rudolf’s blood runs cold. He very suddenly recalls where he’s heard of pomegranate before. He read of it in a children’s book recounting a pagan myth where a verdant maiden was thrust into wedlock by eating six pomegranate seeds. “That- how? What?” All questions leave his head as Tod pushes him to lie on his back and crawls over him. 

“Yes, my sweet boy,” he hisses, serpentlike, and Rudolf reflects on another myth about taking offered fruit. “Do you know what that means?”

Rudolf shudders as Tod grows closer, his breath cold on his face. He doesn’t jerk away before their lips connect. For the first time, he doesn’t feel compelled to.

The kiss tastes strongly of pomegranate, and Tod’s lips are warm despite all his coldness. The Crown Prince tries to reciprocate, but he’s pressed flush against the mattress, entirely at Tod’s mercy. Rudolf moans and sighs into the kiss, letting out a keening whine as Tod pulls away. 

Suddenly, reality catches up to him, and he jerks in Tod’s grasp, gasping as he clings to the man’s velvet coat. Tod’s gentle hands caress his burning chest, and his lips graze his cheeks. Rudolf shivers in Death’s embrace as his heartbeat hammers in his chest. His grip begins to falter, his fingers growing numb, and his dark prince takes that hand in his own to tighten it. His eyelids flutter, and his mind swims, but the ringing in his ears mercifully fades. 

“Are you well, my prince?” Tod asks reverently, stroking the prince’s hair. Despite knowing he was not, Rudolf nods and tries to sit up to meet Tod’s reddened lips again. With one hand, Tod keeps him on the bed. “Nein, mein Geliebter. Only once. Once again, and you come with me.” His lips brush against the Crown Prince’s ear. “To solidify our union.”

“Am I…?” Rudolf needn’t finish the sentence because Tod is already shaking his head. “Will I…?”

His dark prince chuckles. “As all living things do, yes. But not before your time.” He sweetly smiles as he cradles the living prince’s face. “Not until you long for it with every ounce of your being. That is my gift to you, mein Rehlein.” 

Rudolf shivers as the implications wash over him. He could live forever if he wished. However, he feels all too willing to throw it away now, just for one more kiss. “Why me?”

The aura of suavity slowly dissipates from Tod’s features, replaced with bemusement. “Why else? Because you are my prince.” His tender tone makes it easy for Rudolf to imagine Tod is a prince much like himself: human and flawed. It isn’t the Lord of all Dead who holds him in his arms, but a dear friend he grew up beside. The one who dried his tears when he killed his first creature has tended to his broken heart ever since. A dear friend… who has asked to spend eternity with him. 

Rudolf chastely kisses Tod’s neck. A tentative question: Are you mine? 

Tod answers with lips trailing down the prince’s front, stopping at his pristine white shirt. He looks at Rudolf with heavily lidded eyes as he undoes the other man’s buttons. Despite his still-red fingers, Tod leaves no mark on the shirt. However, when Rudolf looks down, he sees proof of Tod’s affections staining his collarbone and chest. As Tod angles his head to look at him again, he sees a matching mark on the dark prince’s skin. The pink on his neck and lips bring warmth to Tod’s cold pallor that Rudolf is blessed to have the pleasure of witnessing. 

Tod’s hands settle on his hips for only so long before tugging down the prince’s black trousers. Rudolf’s breath hitches as he spreads his legs, eager to receive his dark prince. Tod, as always, is content to take his time, wetting his fingers in his mouth before prodding at the Crown Prince’s entrance. Rudolf whimpers, squirming in Tod’s grasp as he’s opened for him. 

Tod nuzzles his face against Rudolf’s, and the prince hums contentedly. Rudolf gasps as the other man's mouth trails down his chest, and his heart pounds as Tod leaves a trail of hot kisses down his stomach before sliding up his rigid cock. He leans into Tod's warm, wet mouth and brings his hand down in a fist to grip the other man's dirty blond hair. He thrusts up into Tod's waiting mouth, whining desperately. 

"Nnngh. Please," Rudolf gasps. "More."

Tod sits up, and Rudolf quietly mourns the loss of the other’s lips around him. No matter, because the man grips his hips tightly, rocking into him and causing him to forget his grievances. Tod's fingers dig into his sides as he flicks his hips upwards. His thrusts are so gentle, and yet Rudolf can feel the bruises starting to blossom from Tod's iron grip. The sensation of being filled so perfectly makes Rudolf's eyes roll back in his head. His fingers curl into the sheets as he melts from the dark prince's touch. 

Tod groans softly against his neck, nipping gently at the sensitive skin. Rudolf bucks his hips, a strangled cry escaping his lips. They ride the wave of pleasure for as long as they can until Rudolf reaches his peak, and they collapse on the bed in a tangle of arms and legs. The Crown Prince pants as the other man brushes his hair out of his face, pressing a light kiss to his brow. 

“Rest, mein Rehlein,” Tod coos into Rudolf's ear as the prince huddles close to his chest. Rudolf sighs blissfully, licking the sweet taste of pomegranate from his lips.