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Each One a World We Never Met

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Obi hasn’t lived the sort of life that lends itself to much faith in higher powers, but finding the cabin, he admits grudgingly, is something like divine providence.

His miss leans heavy on him as he works, her front pressed into his bent back, the chill of her wet clothes slowly dampening his own. “Can’t you go faster?” she manages to grit out, her teeth chattering in his ears.

His hands don’t shake, but they are half-numb; wet from hauling her out of the creek and frozen from the howling blizzard at their backs. They’re just barely sheltered by the angle of the cabin, and though his miss might think picking a lock is done by magic, he knows it’s done by feel.

It’s slow going. “Patience, Miss,” he tells her, letting a little of his irritation seep into his tone. “Don’t make me remind you who got us in this mess.”

She laughs weakly against his shoulder. His hands work faster. “Surely you can’t blame me for the blizzard.”

“No,” he agrees, “but you’re the one who said you could jump the river.”

He feels her bridle against his back and grins. “It was a creek. And you’re the one who said, I’d like to see that, Miss.”

He had meant it to discourage her; he should have known by now that it’s too close to a dare for her to turn away from.

The latch clicks in his hand. “Ah, here we are, Miss.” The door swings open. “Home sweet someone else’s home.”

It’s not any warmer inside than out, but there’s no howling winds nor driving snow, and a much higher likelihood of a fireplace, so he bustles the two of them inside and wedges the door shut behind them.

The cabin is really only a cabin in the sense that it is made out of rough logs stacked on top of each other in the middle of the woods. Inside it is carefully rustic, the sort of hominess that is curated rather than chaotic, a painstakingly elaborate fiction rather the result of a life being lived within four walls.

A noble probably owns it for sport. Obi would grimace, if he weren’t too cold for contempt.

“Go sit down, Miss,” he says, watching her drip onto the parquet. “I’ll try to get a fire going.”

The fireplace is hard to miss; it’s what Mistress Haki refers to as a statement piece, a hunk of marble carved cunningly into forest scenes. As impressive as the great stag over the mantle is, Obi can only hope that the hearth is functional rather than decorative.

There is a pile of wood and kindling behind some metal screen, clearly meant to obscure the harsh realities of how a fire is made from delicate noble eyes, but at least it saves him the trouble of trying to find dry wood in a blizzard. It’s no trouble at all to start up a fire; a couple strikes of flint and careful tending and there’s a merry blaze that lights the room.

His miss gives a gasp behind him.

His hand is on his knives, heart beating fast in his chest, only to see that she is staring down at the floor.

“The poor thing,” she says, stooping.

The floor beyond the hearth is covered in an enormous bearskin rug, complete with snarling head. “Maybe it tried to kill someone,” he offers, “it could have been a maneater.”

“Or it could have been defending its cubs!” She crouches a few inches away from its head, shivering, hesitant to come much closer.

“Stop making up sad stories for the carpet.” He bites back a grin and glances around the room.

Candles coat almost every surface, thick beeswax tapers, half burned down with pools of dried wax dotted with what seems to be…rose petals.

He can’t quite smother his laugh.

“What?” she asks, peering up at him. His miss is still concerned with the treatment of their rug pre-mortum.

“Looks like we’ve stumbled on someone’s…” Sex chalet seems too suggestive to say to his miss, even for him. “Romantic getaway.”

“Oh,” she murmurs softly, and flushes an even brighter red beneath her wind-whipped cheeks.

He works two of the most intact candles off the sideboard, wax crumbling off around their bases, and then thrusts them them in the fire to light. He hears Miss’s disapproving hiss when the fire licks up around his hands; the words just because you don’t feel it doesn’t mean you should do it echo in his head, though she refrains from saying them now.

He hands her one, watching as her small, trembling fingers wrap around the candle’s base. “Go sit by the fire. I’m going to find some blankets.”

The taper is meant more for ambiance and less for illumination; he hopes that there is some linen closet – places like this always have a linen closet – not far from the fireplace. He’s in no mood to stumble through a dozen hallways with the barest light to try find a dozen set of useless silk sheets.

He finds the bedroom first. “Of course,” he mutters, staring at a bed nearly the size of two of his put together. “Can’t have that far from the door.”

It’s piled high with thick blankets. No fireplace in here, he can’t help but notice. Everyone has to get real cozy to stay warm.

He considers leaving them; he doesn’t know what happens in here, at least not exactly, and he definitely doesn’t want to think about it – but he remembers his miss, soaked to the bone and shivering, and sighs. Even this is better than nothing.

He doesn’t notice the brandy when it’s on the bedside table, but he definitely does when it tumbles onto the pile blankets he amasses on the floor. Good stuff too, by the look of it; the glass stopper blown into the shape of some lily. Everyone knows the fancier the bottle, the fancier the stuff inside.

There’s nothing that warms like a good glass of brandy. He tucks it under his arm, along with the one snifter that seems unused. Obi’s sure whoever owns this cabin will understand – it’s an emergency.

When he returns to the main room, prizes in tow, the every flat surface blazes with candlelight. His miss’s shivering back is to him, holding her lit candle over another. Annoyance wells up in him, but he swallows it down. He should know by now that his miss can’t be told to do anything, not if it’s for herself.

“If we’re late to the wedding,” he says, startling her. “I’m blaming you, Miss.”

“We have ten whole days.” She shifts on her feet to face him, one arm wrapped around her chest. It’s warm enough in the room that she can suppress her shivering, but her clothes are still dripping, leaving trails of water to mark her journey across the room. “Plenty of time to get to Wistal. And” – she sneezes, a small, mouse-like chuu that leaves him grinning – “you can’t blame me for the weather.”

“C’mon, Miss.” He sets the blankets on the floor. “You’re dripping. We’ll set your clothes out on the hearth.”

She nods, setting her candle on the mantle, and sets about unclasping her cloak. He places the rest of his bounty on the sideboard, popping out the stopper and pouring a fortifying amount of brandy into the snifter.

“I might not be able to pin the weather on you, Miss, but you were the one who insisted we come north to visit Lady Masami –” His line of thought is broken when he turns to her; every part of him instead painfully focused on the pale expanse of skin between her shoulders, bared by the back of her shift.

His miss is bent over, working her wet leggings over her knees, and her shift is nearly as soaked as the rest of her, clinging to soft curves and riding up the pale flesh of her thigh. In the firelight she glows, every angle of her illuminated and –

He turns his head away and breathes. Nothing he hasn’t seen before; not as much as they’ve traveled together.

The decanter shines invitingly in the candlelight.

Looks like his miss will be the only one partaking tonight. Unless he’d like to say something spectacularly stupid, like I want to bite your thighs, or even worse, I love you. Either would be sure to drive his miss out into the blizzard.

“Here, Miss,” he says, shoving the glass into her hands when she turns back to him. “Go sit down. I’ll bring you a blanket.”

She stares blankly down at the brandy. “Alcohol?”

“It’ll warm you up,” he promises. Her looks turns incredulous, but she takes a sip.

She can’t suppress her wince. “It definitely burns,” she coughs, sitting at the edge of the hearth.

He straightens the blankets, trying to discern which among them will be warmest for his Miss. He pulls out one that seems to be made of lambskin, despite its great size, as well as a thick gray flannel and a duvet stuffed with eiderdown.

“You’re dripping.” Her voice startles him; and when he looks up at her, he sees her cheeks are already flushed from the brandy. “You can’t keep wearing those clothes.”

She’s right, of course; by his boots is a collection of meltwater, running in rivulets down his cape and coat. Snow. He’d been covered in snow when he come in.

He pulls at the clasp of his cape, the length of his belt, laying each item of clothing flat on the hearth beside hers. Her gaze is a palpable weight on him as he toes off his boots, leaving him in only his undershirt and pants. He glances back, curious to see if she needs something – why else would she stare? – and promptly wishes he hadn’t.

Her shift is paper-thin when wet like this, plastered to her skin, and she’s flushed from both the cold and from the brandy and – it would be different, in the harsh light of Lyrias’ lamps, where everything seems sterile and distorted, but the candlelight casts something soft and inviting over her, something more romantic than reality.

She shivers, arms wrapping tightly around her chest, and he say, “You can’t keep wearing that, Miss. It’s soaked through.”

“My other clothes are with the horses,” she tells him, her teeth chattering. The ones they left in the barn halfway down the hillside. He grimaces.

“Here.” He fists one hand in the cloth over his back, and yanks the shirt over his head. “This is at least dry.”

She nods, setting aide the brandy glass to take it from him.

“There’s another room down the – Miss.” He spins back to the fireplace, clutching at the mantle. He meant to tell her about the bedroom where she could easily go change but –

But she had just reached down and peeled the shift from her flesh, pulling it up over her thighs and –

He can’t think about it. He can’t. He’s got to get a grip.

He hears her pad up behind him, and from the corner of his eye he can see her lay out the shift, looking more like a crumpled handkerchief than clothing. He turns to ask her – anything really, are you warmer now? or comfortable? – but he sees her in his shirt, the hem of it fluttering around the midpoint of her thighs, and –

She looks like every fantasy and every nightmare he’s ever had, rolled into one.

He needs to get a grip on himself, but every moment with her tonight is an extreme endurance test on his control, a marathon that leaves him panting after every mile. She’s not leaving him any room to take a breath.

“Your pants are wet too,” she points out helpfully.

He swallows, hard. I’ll get you that blanket, Miss.”

He pushes off from the mantle, giving her a wide berth. Touching her now would be a mistake. He can’t let it happen.

He holds out the gray flannel, giving her barely more than a glance until she says, “We’ll be warmer if we’re both under one blanket.”

He wants to argue that he has no need to be warmer, not with the way his blood is pounding just beneath his skin, but instead he says, “Oh, Miss, are you asking me to hold you?”

He winks for good measure, waiting to see her blush, waiting to see her stammer and demure.

Instead, she meets his gaze and says, “Yes.”

He’s well and truly trapped himself with that one.

“Well, if you insist.” He wraps the flannel around his shoulders, sitting down so he can lean against one of the sheet-covered chairs. He pats the fur next to him. “I promise I don’t bite, Miss.”

She promptly disregards his suggested seat and sits in the vee between his legs, slotting her back up against his front and tipping her head back against his shoulder. Every muscle in him tenses; he has to forcibly relax each one. He brings up his knees, each one resting near her shoulders, and lays his arms across them. It’s the only way to keep them from wrapping around her.

That is, until she takes his hands and wraps them tightly around her middle, sighing with contentment. “There.”

“Warm now?” he asks, though he doesn’t know how he managed to speak. His breath is coming suspiciously fast, and he tries to ease it, make it sound relaxed even though he’s the furthest thing from it.

“Mm,” she agrees. “This is nice.”

He bangs his head back against the chair. She’s a lightweight. She’s probably drunk off the brandy. The way she sinks into him, the noise she just made, it’s – not him. Not about him.

She’s not making it easy to remember.

“I haven’t seen this,” she says, and he wonders if he’s missed part of the conversation until her fingers brush over the scar on his forefinger.

He hesitates. Barely five days ago, they’d gotten tipsy on Lady Masami’s select wine – left in their rooms as a token of gratitude, for coming so far – and as he reached for another glass his shirt had ridden up his side, revealing one of his uglier scars.

She had brushed it with her fingers, asked how?

Someone tried to stab me once, he explained with a shrug, it didn’t take.

His miss’s touch had stuttered at that, tripping over the raised skin beneath her fingers, and when he looked down there had been tears streaming down her cheeks. She had pushed at the hem, belligerent now that she had a glass of wine in her, and demanded he tell her about each one she found, a fresh wave of tears pouring out over every nick and line.

“Learning to throw knives,” he says simply. It’s an easy one to explain. “Started wearing gloves after that.”

She hums, somewhere between thoughtful and disapproving, and brushes over another, a jagged one on his palm.

“Blackberry bush, if you can believe it.” He can’t quite stop the chuckle that bubbles up from his chest. “Those thorns cut deep.”

He can’t see her face, but he sees the line of her cheek go tense, round. She’s smiling. Her fingers run over a series of ugly, regular bumps across his fingers.

“Got my hand stuck in a drawer.” It’s not a lie, but – that one’s not a truth his miss needs to hear. It would only upset her.

He can’t tell how long they spend, her pointing out the small scars on his hands and arms, him telling her the extremely edited stories of each one. It’s comfortable being like this; he always knew it would be. The problem is what happens when she wants him to stop, when she no longer needs to be this close to him.

When they get back to Wistal, and she has Zen.

They lapse into silence, and he thinks it will be soon. She’ll tell him she’s warm enough, or perhaps finally realize that she’s too close for him not to melt into her, not to imagine more. He braces himself when she takes his hand again, ready for her to pry herself away, to leave a cold void that the warmth of her body once filled.

Instead, she presses her lips to his first scar, so light he’s sure he imagined it. His breath catches, and she hesitates; her next is on his palm, much firmer. She moves next to his knuckles, broken so evenly so long ago, and presses quick, fluttering kisses to each.

He grits his teeth, trying not to pant, trying not to move, trying not to breathe. Anything that might make her stop.

Heat pools in his groin tightly; a warning. He should stop her, he should, but he’s so tired of doing things he doesn’t want to do.

She presses a kiss, open mouthed, against his wrist – don’t take a bone from a dog, Miss, he had said, minutes ago – and he lays his head back against the chair, breath pouring out from him in a single rush.

She pauses, her lips just above another scar that wends about his elbow, onto the soft skin of his inner arm, and he thinks this will be it, that she has finally realized how affected he is, how hard he’s become, how frayed his control –

This kiss lingers, a slow drag of lips that becomes another, further up towards his shoulder, and another, until she has turned to face him. He’s panting now, chest heaving against hers, and she must know now, seeing him like this, she has to stop –

The miss raises up onto her knees, lifting one, and then the other, until she is straddling him, her legs bracketing his. He feels his forehead furrow in confusion, and he opens his mouth to tell her that it’s a mistake, her doing that, she’ll definitely feel –

She fits her hips against his and lowers herself with an aching slowness onto his lap, her gaze never leaving his.

There is absolutely no way she cannot know exactly how non-platonic his feelings are for her.

He should say something, really; tell her – something, but his thoughts are hardly more than vague impressions of how badly he wants to mold her body to his, fragments of speech that sound more like yes and more than no and stop.

And then her mouth opens against the long, scarred line across his chest, and there is nothing in him besides heat, besides the thought that he needs her closer, so much closer. His hands wrap around her hips and pull down, pull her against him until the only space between them is cloth and then rocks her into him, catching her gasp with his open mouth.

He’s pictured kissing her a thousand times, but none of them have been like this: open mouthed and desperate from the start, his hands grinding the heat at the apex of her thighs against the length of his erection, feeling so close to the edge already. He lifts a hand to slide through her hair, pressing tight against her scalp, pulling her even closer, though he can hardly imagine there’s much more for her to devour. Her fingers scrape over the scar at his hip, another over the one winding across blade of his shoulder, and each touch is possessive, a brand she burns into him.

He doesn’t have enough words to tell her not to bother; he’s already hers.

It’s too good to last. He feels her slim fingers at the edge of his pants, and the last vestiges of his control rear up, wrapping his fingers firmly around her hair and yanking back.

“Wait. Miss.” He almost falls again, seeing her chase after his mouth, but he’s serious now, concerned. “We can’t.”

Her eyes flutter to half-mast, and he knows it won’t be easy to walk away, not when her eyes are so dark, so promising. “Obi,” she murmurs, fingers skimming over his abdomen, He flexes on instinct, and she hums, pleased.

She’s not making it easy for him to be responsible.

“Miss,” he tries again, loosening his grip on her hair. He thinks this conversation might go better if she wasn’t still touching him, if they were seated across the room from one another, but he can’t make himself pull much more away that this. “This may seem like a good idea now” – he ignores the affirmative hum she makes, the way she’s staring at his mouth – “But soon we’ll be back to our real life, with Mitsuhide, and Kiki, and all the rest, and –”

“Obi.” She’s sobered now, pulling his chin up to look at her. “You are my real life.”

“Miss…” She can’t mean that. “Master –”

“Zen’s getting married.” She stares, like she’ll willing him to understand.

“Then why –?”

“Not to me.”

His heart clenches; of course, of course this is what this is about. He knows by now: girls like his miss don’t trust men like him with their tender hearts, but their bodies, well – “Ah.”

“No, Obi.” Her hands cradle his cheeks so gently, forcing him to look at her, to see her. “He asked me to marry him. A year ago.”

None of this makes sense. He wonders how much brandy she drank from the glass. “Then –?”

“I told him no.” It doesn’t seem like something she should be smiling over, but at this point, he couldn’t reliably point out which direction was up, so who’s he to say.

“You said” – he lets her words catch up with him – “no?”

“We’d seen each other four times in as many years.” She shrugs. “He loved the me that left Wistal, not the me that made a life at Wilant.”

“I see.” He doesn’t, not really. Not her – not her reasons, of course, but the logic connecting them and tonight. There’s such a large leap from that to – this.

“Do you know what you did?” she asks. “The night I told him no?”

Absolutely not. He can’t even think of a time where he suspected she had done something so momentous, not during Master’s last visit. “Um.”

“Zen told me that Izana was making him choose between Clarines and me.” Her smile is soft, bittersweet. “He said, tell me to choose you. I said, choose Clarines.”

Her thumb runs along his cheekbone, soft, fond. “I thought I might have made the wrong choice the whole way back to the castle. I had wanted just that for so long – had been aiming for it so long – I thought I must have.” She grins. “But then you were there, cooking dinner, asking how my day had gone, if I had – seen Suzu about foxglove.”

He can’t even remember this. It sounds like every night; it sounds like their life and – oh.

Oh.

She must see it on his face; her smile turns radiant. “I couldn’t be with someone who needed me to tell them to choose me. Not when I already had exactly what I wanted.”

He thinks he understands, maybe, but –

“Tell me.” He needs to hear it, to hear the words because that’s the only way this can be real. “Miss, tell me what you want.”

“Obi.” She leans so close, all he can see is green. “I want you.”

He doesn’t need to be told twice. Not when hearing once was lucky enough.

He pulls her close, and it’s like they never stopped, like the space between this kiss and the last was a single breath – only now it’s better, now he doesn’t have to hold back.

His hand presses on her hip, a gentle suggestion of movement, and – and she rolls into him, painfully slow, leaving both of them gasping. He’d lost some ground during their conversation, thinking they’d have to stop, that he’d have to forget what she felt like against him, but now he’s hard again, eager. His hands run over the slick material of his shirt, roaming over the curve of her spine, rucking the fabric up over her hips to touch – bare skin?

He freezes. “Are you not –?”

“They were wet!” she protests, a bright flush spreading up form her neck. “I thought – you handed me the shirt and –”

“Miss.” His hands knot in the fabric. “You’ve been wearing nothing. Beneath my clothes.”

She’d been rubbing herself against him, only a single layer of fabric between them, and –

She had told him to take off his pants. Knowing.

His miss turns a shade darker. “Ye –”

He’s on her before she can even finish, aching with how much he wants her, licking at her lips and dragging closer, rolling up into her when she grinds into him, drawing out gasps and moans, and –

Her fingers pull at the fall of his trousers, insistent.

“We don’t have to,” he says against her lips, but oh, does he want to.

She rocks her pelvis against his, pointed. “I want to.”

He can’t manage to swallow his groan, not when every fantasy he’s had of her is playing in vivid detail against the back of his eyelids. “Have you –?”

“No.”

He stills her hips with his hand. “We don’t have to, Miss.”

“I want to.” She pushes against his grip. “It’s been a year –”

“I’ve waited six,” he assures her, because although he wants to – oh, how he does – this is enough for him. More than enough. “I can wait longer.”

Her jaw sets, the way it does before she does something incredibly dangerous –

She grabs the hems of his shirt and pulls it over her head. “I can’t.”

His miss makes an excellent point.

She makes the most delicious noises when he puts his teeth to her neck, distracting her from her mission with the hooks on his trousers, but when he draws his hand over her stomach, dragging is fingers down towards her sex, she shakes her head.

“No, now,” she tells him, firm, weaving his fingers between hers. “I want you now.”

He sighs against her neck. He’s the experienced one; he’s supposed to be responsible about this, no matter how hard she makes it. “It’s easier, the first time, if –”

“Obi.” Her voice is small, tight; embarrassed, he realizes. “I already – I’m aching –”

Her hips give an involuntary jerk against his at the confession, like she’s trying to ease the pain, and –

Responsibility can go stuff itself.

She spills back against the rug, him not far after, both of them frantically pushing at his pants, shoving them down off his legs – I told you to take them off, she mutters against his mouth, you should have mentioned it was for sex, he claps back – and then he is right there, against her, no barrier between them.

It’s too good, feeling her like this; the damp heat of her pressed up against his cock. He tries to catch his breath, panting against her chest, but one of her clever hands snakes down to wrap around him, guide him close, and –

Inside is so much better. She’s wet and tight and hot, and it’s been so long – too long – since he’s let himself have this, this smooth slide of interlocking parts. He meets resistance halfway in, his miss letting out a pained squeak, and he waits, lets her adjust to the feel of him. He kisses at her breasts, waiting for her to relax.

She stiffens instead.

He cranes his neck up to look at her, her face screwed up in a wince, as if she’s in pain. Her head has turned painfully to the side; she can’t even look at him.

“I can’t.”

He feels like he’s in free fall, out of control, his hands fisting in the fur beneath them. Of course. Of course. She can’t want to – not with him. It was stupid of him to think he could – that he deserved any of this.

He gathers himself, trying to think of how to fix this, how to go back to a point where he doesn’t know what her skin tastes like, how her lips feel against his, what it’s like to be inside of her –

She’s shaking beneath him, a full body tremor, and it’s not until a small squeal escapes her that he realizes she’s laughing.

She tries to cover the grin stretching across her face, but she can’t manage to stop touching him with either had for more than a moment. “Not while it’s looking!”

He follows her gaze, right to where the rug has rucked up. the bear’s head staring at them with glassy eyes.

“It looks really angry,” she whispers, and he rests his forehead on her chest, her skin muffling his snicker. “We should probably just turn it so it isn’t –”

“Shirayuki.” Her gaze snaps to his, pupils blown wide. He’s confused until he realizes – her name. He’s never said her name.

He grins, lowering his voice. “Shirayuki.” She shivers. He leans closer. “Forget about the fucking bear.”

Her laugh is low, inviting. “Make –”

He sheathes himself inside her, all the way to the hilt, and her moan is definitely not from pain. “What was that?”

She gasps, clutching at his shoulders. She opens her mouth, presumably to speak, and he pulls back, thrusting deep. Her head falls back, chest heaving.

“Hm?” he asks, all innocence. “I didn’t catch that, Miss.”

“I said,” she pants, thighs gripping his hips like a vice to keep him still. “Make me.”


He does. Obi’s pretty sure she forgot her own name too.

“I remembered yours,” she laughs besides him, tucked into his side.

He grins. “That you did, Miss.”


They make a seven day journey in nine, and when they arrive in Wistal, Mistuhide is concerned.

“It wasn’t too bad, was it?” he fusses, his eyes roaming over Shirayuki as if to check she was in one single piece. “We said if it was too late in the season, you didn’t have to come.”

“I wouldn’t miss your wedding,” she laughs, shooing him away. “We just got held up for two days.”

Obi sees the beginning of her flush and he adds, “Bad weather.”

Mistuhide’s brow furrows. “But Lady Masami left the day after and made it –”

“It’s good you could come,” Kiki says swiftly, laying a hand on her fiance’s arm. “I’m sure you’re tired. I’ll show you to your room.”

Obi lifts his eyebrows in question. Kiki remains stoically hospitable.

“Sounds great,” Shirayuki says finally. “I think we’d both like to lie down.”

“At least one of us will be,” he mutters under his breath as they’re led away. She elbows him in the kidney, hard. A warning.

Kiki lifts an eyebrow at him. “Did you say something?”

“I said, sounds great, Sh – Miss.” He gives a big, showy yawn. “Feels like I’ve been the one being ridden the past few days.”

Shirayuki’s glare is eloquent in the way it conveys all the grim consequences of him continuing to speak. He grins back, winks.

“Wait,” Mitsuhide says. “Room?”

Chapter Text

“I told you to take them off,” Shirayuki mutters against his mouth, hands frantically pushing at the fabric of Obi’s trousers and – and this was not how she had expected her night to go.

She had thought – kissing, yes. More than the gentle press of lips she was used to. Some – some exchange of feelings, maybe, either before or after that. Hugging, to be certain. Cuddling, even. She had not thought, not once, about –

This. Sex. Or, at this point, hopefully sex, if his pants ever manage to come off.

“You should have mentioned it was for sex,” he claps back, tongue licking over her lips to take away the sting of the words against them, and she wants to tell him she would have had she any idea, even slightest inkling that –

That he would slot her hips against his so that the long, hard length of his – of him laid flush against her slit, only the fabric of his pants to separate them, and then grind her against it, over and over until her thoughts narrowed to how embarrassingly wet she was, how achingly empty, how much she longed for him to fill her –

And then, with a sharp pinch, he is. Somewhat.

She can’t help but tense; she probably should have listened when he told her about the other things they were supposed to do first to make this part easy, but even still it’s not – not painful. She feels stretched and tight, but he doesn’t push further, just lays open-mouthed kisses over the sensitive skin of her breasts, less for seduction and more for – for comfort. As if he is reminding her that he is there, that they are in this together.

Her breath is coming in fast pants, and she tries to ease it, to ease the tension in her body, leaning back with a sigh and –

Staring straight into glassy, black eyes. “I can’t,” she squeaks, trying to swallow down her laughter. She isn’t an expert at having sex, but she’s sure laughing the first time is frowned upon.

She can feel Obi’s gaze on her, just as palpable as if he had laid a hand on her, and she can’t even look at him. She’ll break if she looks at him.

Her hand runs down his chest, over his shoulders, reminding her just where her attention should be, and still she can’t tear her eyes away. “Not while it’s looking,” she finally manages, and she feels him shiver under her hands, pressing his head down between her breasts to muffle his snicker.

She’s babbling something about its angry look when he says, “Shirayuki.”

She’s suddenly glad he’s only ever called her miss. The way his mouth wraps around the sound of her name is obscene, low and almost sibilant; the kind of sounds that conjure silk sheets and slick skin and – oh, would she have figured this out long ago, had he spoken it.

He notices. “Shirayuki,” he says again, only more. “Forget about the fucking bear.”

She laughs at that, because her only other option would be to whimper. “Make –”

It burns when he slides himself in, but in the best of ways, and the slow, steady heat of being filled leaves her gasping. He’s close enough that she can feel the laughter brewing in his chest.

“What was that?” he asks, his shoulders trembling under her hands.

She wants to taunt him – make me – and she wants to tell him more, but the words turn into a whine when drives deep into her, and – aah, she had not thought, not for a moment, that it would feel so good to be with him like this. She’s almost angry when she thinks of how they could have been doing this for years instead of just these bare moments.

“Hm?” he hums, too innocent. “I didn’t catch that, Miss.”

Her thighs clamp around him, trying to keep him from another interruption. “Make me.”

He can’t swallow his laughter this time, and he struggles against the vice of her legs, each twist of his hips sending a shiver up her spine. She clenches her whole pelvis, trying to brace herself, but it must make other places clench – Obi lets out a loud, long groan, and she forgets what she was doing entirely, dragging him down to her mouth.

He rolls into her with purpose now, with a rhythm as unceasing and merciless as the tide, though she cannot be the shore for with each thrust she is the one breaking, hardly able to do much more than clutch at his shoulders as lightning sparks just beneath her skin.

Her whole body is alight, and much of it is from this; from the way his cock slides deeper into her with each thrust, the way his tongue licks into her mouth and presses against her teeth, the way his hands guide her hips against him. But the heat coiling tautly in her belly is just as much from memory as well: the tight grip of his hands recalls the ways he has lifted her before, his hands firm yet gentle beneath her thighs as she fits against his back, the weightlessness of falling and the sudden jar of a landing; the canted lips that press against her skin remind her of a thousand secret smiles made behind backs and over heads, dry commentary said sotto voce as nobles show off their ostentatious estates to the king’s diplomat, of the way he would lean his face close to hers when they spoke over the gap between their balconies; the way the muscles in his back shift under the palms of her hands move just the same as they do as he spars, jacket discarded and sweat beading at his forehead, sparing a grin over his shoulder for her and Yuzuri as they pretend not to watch on the walkway above.

She has a thousand memories of him, none of them like this, and every single one plays in her mind as she reminds herself that it is Obi inside her; Obi’s teeth that graze over her skin, Obi who groans when she rocks her hips. The sensation of it is overwhelming; she wishes that someone had told her that every hot jolt she had felt when he looked at her just so from the corners of his eyes, or when he pressed a hand to her back or clasped her shoulder, was not meant to be experienced as an isolated moment but instead build to this, to his heady heat within her that makes all her thoughts as muzzy and distant as if they were packed with cotton.

“I want you,” she gasps as she arches into the sweet slide of him in her, her hands raking over his back. “Obi –”

He presses a kiss to the top of her breast. Her heart, she realizes, belatedly. “You have me,” he promises. His hips stutter as he speaks, and one of his hands grasps for her, intertwining their fingers as he presses it back into the fur. “You have me.”

His pace grows erratic, and each breath he heaves against her neck is unsteady, ragged; more groan than gasp. His lips drag over what skin he can reach, absently kissing between each panting breath, his eyes glazed and black. The sight of him like this – like this because of her, because the slick, torturous slide of his cock in her makes him as hot and undone as it does her – makes heat flare, makes her clench, and then she is pulling his mouth to hers, swallowing his moan as he drives his hips into her, and it’s – it’s not the same as before, where each thrust was measured, slow enough that she could feel the whole length of him as he pulled in and out; but it’s just as good, sharp bursts of pleasure that leave stars falling behind her eyelids.

His hips still, and his hands grasp at her, pulling her close, his fingers raking over the sensitive skin of her sides and belly and hips. He stops suddenly, just panting against her mouth, leaning his head against hers.

“Wow,” he chuckles, grin tilting his lips. “That was – wow.”

Heat stills simmers beneath her skin, begging to be released, and it takes her a full moment to realize the strangely pleasurable pulse between her legs its the last throes of his orgasm, each throb drawing another breathy laugh from him.

“That’s – good?” She watches his face for her answer; his eyes are squeezed shut, his expression clenched in something like pain until it eases into pleasure.

His whole body melts into hers, and while he still lays inside her it is hard to tell where his skin ends and hers begins. He rubs his cheek against hers, like a particularly pleased cat, and she feels the laughter rumbling in his chest when he says, “Better.”

“Better?” It’s not that she isn’t aware of a whole spectrum of positive descriptors above good, it’s just that – she wants to know where this falls for him. Better than good? Better than he expected?

Better than anyone else? She knows that might be a little much to hope for.

His eyes flutter open, and they have never looked more like a cat’s than now, hooded with satisfaction. “I never –” She has never seen his smile like this, so gentle and giddy and almost shy. His hand cups her cheek, thumb brushing over the ridge of her cheekbone. “I didn’t –”

His breath huffs out in amusement, and he closes the distance between them, his lips skimming over hers in a slow, languid drag that reminds her of the way he had moved in her. “It was intense, Miss,” he says against her lips. His other hand presses her hips into him, pushing him deeper, and a liquid heat uncoils in her gut, heavy as lead.

She may not know much about this, but she knows that they are done, and in all of Garrack’s overly explicit lectures on the topic, she harped heavily on what she termed aftercare.

It’s not a pleasant place to get an infection, her mentor had said, too thoughtful. The memory of it alone should be enough to cool her ardor, but Obi hasn’t yet stopped touching her; his hands traveling over her breasts and down her sides in a way that makes fire lick beneath her skin, and his lips have not yet finished with hers, drawing her into deeper and deeper kisses that tangle tongues and nip with teeth.

“I should,” she starts, when he allows her breath. “I should really clean up –”

“Ah, Miss,” he laughs against her mouth. “I’m not anywhere near done with you yet.”

“But you –” came, is what she means to say, but she can’t quite bring herself to. He grins.

“I did,” he agrees brightly, and then pulls out of her, long and slow, and – haah, it isn’t fair that this feels so good too.

He leans back, trailing one hand over her belly, and then – lower.

“You should too,” he suggests, his fingers trailing over her sex, sliding along her folds.

Panicked, she clamps her legs shut. “No, I’m – I’m fine, really.” The way he’s staring at her, hungry and expectant, makes her flush down to her chest. “I don’t – I’m fine with what we did. I don’t need anything.”

His fingers twitch, slipping tantalizingly against her, and she gasps at the static that shoots through her. He grins, smug. “Is that so, Miss?”

She can’t tell whether her blush has deepened or if she’s just hot, but she burns as he looks at her, and she can’t – “Not with you looking,” she blurts out, his eyes going wide with surprise. “I mean, it can’t – it would be boring for you.”

He laughs, gentle and almost self-deprecating. “That couldn’t be further from the truth, Miss.”

Still, he extracts his hand, coming to lay down beside her, his front fitting tightly against her side. He leans over, arm coming under her head to pillow it, and kisses her, slow and unhurried, as if there is nothing else he would rather do than simply this. His body radiates heat, and she finds her own seeks it out, rolling up onto her side to press her lips more firmly into his, to slide the length of her body against his. There’s something almost – erotic about the simplicity of this, just their naked bodies touching while they kiss.

“Is this better?” he asks, only just pulling away, his hand stroking down her flank. The calluses on his palms catch along her ribs, on the flare of her hip, and – it feels too good for just a simple touch. She nods.

He leans in again, ducking his head, his mouth latching hotly against her throat and – she is too hot, burning where his skin presses into hers, and she wonders if he can feel her pulse under his tongue when he licks along her jugular, since she can hear every beat of it in her ears. He works his way up her throat, using lips and teeth and tongue to wring inhuman noises from her chest, dragging his mouth over the curve of her jaw. He stops at the soft hollow behind her ear, letting her breath burst raggedly from her lungs before pressing his mouth to it and sucking

The noise he wrings from her is inhuman. Her nails dig into the meat of his triceps, her hips stutter forward into his, and then his hand is on her breast, thumb flicking over its sensitive peak –

She is so empty she aches; it is worse now, now that she knows how she might be filled. The place between her legs is painfully gaping, and each moment she is not filled seems like an eternity.

“Please,” she whimpers, twisting her hips against him. “Please, I want –”

His hand is already wrapped under her knee, hiking it up over his hip, and before she can take a single breath two of his fingers plunge inside her, sinking in to the last knuckle with hardly any effort at all. A moan tears out of her – she is so wet, so empty, and having any part of him inside her is a relief – and right alongside it is his, his hips rocking into hers.

“I knew you would feel this way,” he murmurs, his voice thick with gravel. “I know you would feel so good.”

He is not quite gentle, but then neither is she as she grinds against his hand, against the hard bone in his pelvis. They are both far too gone for tenderness; his fingers curve right to that place in her, and she scrapes her nails against scalp, dragging his mouth against her breast and –

She is mewling, whimpering with each stroke of his finger, each wet lathe of his tongue over her nipple. But he is the one that is louder, groaning every time her muscles flutter against the long taper of his fingers, when she makes the slightest noise of pleasure. The heat in her is so heavy, so thick, that it throbs when she hears him.

She is strung so tight, dancing along the edge of this something for so long that she loses sense of time, of space, of anything that is not the way his fingers drive into her, that is not his mouth against her breast or his hand along her back. Her hips stutter against his hand, and it is not enough, not deep enough to push her over.

He rolls, and for a moment she is unsure of what has happened or where she is, until she realizes he is on his back and she is straddling him, his fingers sliding even deeper into her, hitting right where she needs, driving a spike a pleasure through her with each thrust. It’s – it’s too much; she collapses over him, face buried in his chest, hardly able to do more than moan brokenly as he pushes her so close to her peak. He’s murmuring into her hair, broken little words like yes, and miss, and please, and my love, but it’s still not enough. She’s so close it’s painful, all she wants to do is fall.

He tugs his hand out of her, a swift pull that leaves her groaning, writhing, and then he is goading her forward, pushing her past where his head lies until she is leaning on her forearms, her sex just above –

“Obi,” she gasps, blood rushing to her cheeks, “you can’t mean to –”

The flat of his tongue laps against her folds, and she – she shrieks. She feels his breath catch, feels the vibration of his groan as she pants against the carpet. Then his fingers are filling her again, so deep, and his mouth –

It is, in the end, less like falling and more like soaring.

She is nothing more than the last moments of a lights display, when the boatmen look at the barge to see all the unused fireworks and say, well there’s nothing for it but to light them all, boys. For what seems like an eternity there is nothing more than just sensation, than just a thousand sparks bursting just under her skin, the rush of heat and liquid between her legs as all the tension in her releases in a glorious rush, and she is left gasping, her hands fisted in bear fur.

Haah,” she whimpers, slumping over. Obi laughs beneath her, slowly working her hips back until they are face-to-face once more. One of his hands threads through her hair, now dark and damp with sweat, and pulls her mouth to his. He tastes salty and slightly bitter and – the heat in her had just barely banked, but now it flares again at the taste of her on his lips. She wonders if she’ll ever be free of it, of wanting him this badly.

His tongue slides against the bow of her bottom lip. Something twitches beneath her hips.

She hopes not.

“Is that –?” She can’t help but grin against his mouth.

“Miss.” His smile is languid when she pulls back. “You just –” His mouth tilts into a smirk. “If we were in the castle, Miss, everyone would know what you had just done.”

“Oh.” It comes out very small.

He looks very satisfied when he adds, “And who you did it with.”

She might simply die. She hadn’t realized – she thought it had just been noise. Not – ugh.

His look turns wicked. “And that was just with my fingers, Miss. Think if I –”

She takes him in hand and in one smooth motion – albeit, a little painful – Obi finds he has little else to say.

Ah,” he sighs. His hips push up against hers, and she is so sensitive still that she sees stars. “I should warn you, Miss. I’ll last long this time.”

“We’ll see,” she tells him and rolls.

(He is right, but only just.

“I would have lasted longer if you weren’t so beautiful when you come,” he tells her, feigning annoyance.

“It’s hardly my fault it feels better when you’re inside me,” she replies wearily, her face buried in his side.

She feels his grin against her hair. “Fair enough.”)

Chapter Text

Obi awakes cold and with empty arms while a blizzard rages outside.

It isn’t a strange occurrence here in the north; his burner has a bad habit of running out of coal before morning, and if Miss hasn’t crept in to share warmth during the night, he’s often left with cold hands and nose.

What is odd is the satisfied ache in his body, the way he lays in strangely sated repose, the way he lingers contentedly at the threshold of dream instead of bolting between sleep and awareness, as if he –

He jolts upright as his memories from the night before flood into him with a vengeance. This is not his room. He is not wearing clothes.

He had sex with Shirayuki. More than once.

Obi blinks into the gray light of the bedroom, gaze catching on the tangle blankets at the other edge of the extravagantly enormous bed. She’s not within sight, and for a moment his heart races – had she woken in the night, mortified by what they’d done? Had she turned to him, his scars stark in the moonlight, and realized she had given herself to someone little better than a thief, a killer?

He clenches the bedsheets in his fists. No, she said –

She said she was waiting for him. That she wanted him. And he had never known her to lie, never known her heart to waver once she had set it on its course.

He lets out a breath, ignoring how it shakes, and sets his feet to the ground.

Ah, gods, he has regrets. Who designs their sex chalet without a fireplace in the boudoir?

A shiver rolls through him as the cold air settles around him, chill seeping into him up through the bottoms of his feet. All their clothes are laid out on the hearth, a whole room away, and he flinches thinking of having to cross the space between there and here uncovered. The distance had not seemed to great with Shirayuki’s legs wound around his hips, mouth hotly painting welts over his neck and chest, and –

Something stirs. He hisses out a curse. Now is not the time for that sort of behavior.

He pads out to the entrance, his skin flush with goosebumps as the ambient air shifts in temperature. Despite the size of the chamber, the hearth is sufficient to keep the room well-heated, and he’s able to release his arms from where they hugged at his chest, let his body settle into its usual wary ease.

It’s here that he finds her as well.

Shirayuki is curled up by one of the grand windows, a mound of blankets stacked up against the glass to keep out the cold and cushion the hard wood dais she’s seated upon. She has a book in hand, eyes wide as she slowly turns each page, bottom lip thoughtfully caught between her teeth. He stirs again, but that is understandable; he has always responded to her, but now he has memories to show him how he might have her again, gasping and writhing beneath him, and –

“Trust you to find a book anywhere, Miss,” he teases, approaching her with a bold swagger. She appreciated his body more than once last night, and he might as well give her a look in daylight as well.

She yelps, hugging the book to her chest. She’s wearing his shirt beneath that bundle of blankets and – my, that is not helping things.

“Obi!” she gasps, her cheeks flushing prettily. “I didn’t – I didn’t think you’d be awake yet.”

He hums, curious, watching her try to slip her book beneath the blankets. “You did put me through my paces.”

She nearly drops it then, a delicate blush working its way across her pale skin. He likes that about her; how even in this she can hide nothing from him.

Even when she tries.

“What is this?” he asks, plucking the book from her clumsy fingers. She lets out a squawk, grasping for it even as he holds it out of her reach, settling across from her on the seat. He doesn’t bother to cover himself.

The cover is leather bound and embossed with gold leaf or something like, but there is no title stamped along the binding. He flips open to any page, and –

“Oh my, Miss,” he breathes, eyebrows raising to hairline. His heart give a single, solid pound, the blood going straight to his cock. “Just what have you been getting up to?”

“I found it and was curious what sort of book someone might bring to their, ah…” She worries at her lip, trying to find the words. “Place for intimate liaisons.”

Across each page is a detailed painting of a couple in various states of lovemaking; he’s seen it’s like before. Very popular where he came from, though he’s sure few would admit it. Of course, the man and woman in this one do not look like him, but like rather pale Viandese; different enough to be considered exotic by the aristocracy here, but not so much as to be scandalous.

“Why, Miss,” he purrs, running a finger down the binding in a way that makes her breath come short. “I never realized how adventurous you were.”

“Obi,” she yelps, snatching the book from his hands. “I didn’t say I was – that I wanted to –” she lets out a mortified whine – “I’m not even sure some of those are possible. There’s more than a few where they’re standing up, and one where the woman is held and –”

“Oh.” He grins, leaning close, luxuriating in the heat between them. “Trust me, Miss. Those are possible.”

Her mouth opens and closes a few times; her eyes, so dark now, fix on his chest. He oh-so-casually flexes, enjoy the way her gaze averts shyly. “O-oh.”

He lays a hand on the book, tipping it down between them, lowering her shield. “You know, Miss,” he begins thoughtfully, mouth tugging up into a teasing smirk, “if you ever wanted to try any of these…”

He expects her to demure, to shake her head and retreat, but instead she meets his gaze and flips the page. “W-what about this one?”

Crouching Tiger, it reads, the woman half-crouched over the man, head thrown back in ecstasy.

“Or this?” she offers, flipping to another page. Warrior, it reads, the man on his back with legs bent in the air, and the woman speared between them, supported on her knees by his hands.

He can feel his pulse behind his eyes, thrumming so hard it was difficult to think, save for imagining her taking him as depicted, his cock buried so deep inside her –

“This too,” she adds, warming to the subject, pointing to a page entitled Leopard, where the woman is on all fours and the man reclined behind –

“These are all a little…advanced,” he says, voice hoarse. Her face falls, disappointed, and he hurries to explain, “They would hurt you since you, ah –since we have already…been intimate. Many times. Today.”

“I feel fine,” she insists, squirming under her blankets. “I want to –”

He leans in, pressing a lingering kiss to her lips. Even that threatens to become more, her fingers brushing lightly over his chest, gently tracing the silver slashes that cover his body.

“I didn’t say no,” he promises, lower than he means to. How she can affect him by such innocent touches, he will never know. “But something…easier.”

She nods and taps a picture: the man on top, knees bent, holding himself over the woman, and she –

Obi lets out a breath, light-headed. “Now, Miss, are you sure?” he teases, trying to make his mouth sit in its customary smirk, but it feels like he’s forgotten how to do anything but drink her in. “You were very shy about allowing me to look and touch –”

Her jaw sets, and he should know better by now, he should, but – 

She whips the blanket off her lap, her hands finding the hem of his shirt and then – then –

Then she is naked before him, skin flushed with her boldness. Her gaze clashes with his, so dark, and she slowly, purposefully opens her legs.

His throat makes a hollow thunk when he swallows.

“Try me,” she says, challenge in her voice.

Two can play at that game.

He comes to kneel between her legs – a feat, considering the odd shape of the seat – and gently, so gently brushes his fingertips over her folds.

She gasps, her thighs quivering as if she’s fighting the instinct to close them, to hide. Even so, her feet remain firmly planted; she even slides them just a little out, widening for him further.

He parts her, fingertips teasing her slit and thumb grazing her clit. She arches with a whimper, eyes falling to half-mast, but she catches herself, dragging her gaze back to his. He grins, meeting her eyes before he pushes two fingers into her. She’s so wet, so ready that they sink right to the last knuckle in one smooth slide.

Aah, it’s so unfair how something as simple as that makes him so hard, makes him throb with wanting. It’s unfair when she cannot possibly –

“I’ve been thinking about you,” she admits, breathless. Her hand skims down over her stomach, down over her hips, and when her fingers so tentatively touch his wrist he groans, loud and long. He thinks the room might shake with it. “While I was reading.”

His fingers curl, hitting her just there, and then she is gripping him, using her hand to urge his on, setting the pace. It’s slow; a long drag of his fingers in and out of her, and it leaves the both of them panting after only a few strokes.

“About how much I-I –” Her courage falters for a moment, or maybe just her breath – “How much I like the way you feel in me –”

He pulls his hand from her with a hiss, getting to his feet. She send him an alarmed look, but he just drags her after him, gathering her up in his arms.

“The bed,” he explains against her skin, backing her toward the hall. “We need the bed. More room.”

She lets out something between a moan and a laugh, ducking her head to offer him more of her neck. “Do you have plans?” she teases shyly, sighing against his chest, hands skimming down to brush his cock as he guides her into the darkened passage.

“No.” He gives her a nip as they step over the threshold. “But you do.”

“Oh,” she gasps, mouth curving into one of her sweet smiles. He leans in to taste it, only to find himself frozen and her hand wraps around the base of his shaft.

“That’s right.” He does not know how she manages to sound so shy, not when her hand is gripping him, giving him one slow stroke. “I do.”

Chapter Text

He leans his back against the wall, chest heaving hard as he angles his hips toward her, letting her stroke him from base to tip. Cold stings his shoulders, but he hardly cares when she looks at him like that, as if she wants to see him fall to pieces and savor every moment.

Obi’s in no danger of embarrassing himself, not now – his miss has ridden him harder this past night than he’s managed over a lifetime. Still he’s eager to be in her again, to please her, and when she leans in to press hot kisses along his chest, he purrs, “Don’t forget your book.”

Miss’s eyes widen as they look up at him, mouth still pressed to his skin. “Mm?”

“You had a plan, didn’t you?” He squirms, just slightly. Her kisses may have stopped, but her hand still runs over his shaft, idly tracing along the vein. It’s – a lot. “Something you wanted to do?”

“Oh!” She breaks away from him with a pop. It echoes ridiculously in the cavernous hall, leaving both their mouths twitching. “Yes,” she says, sending him a sly look before scampering away.

It’s not long before she’s hurrying back around the corner, book clutched in one hand. She has that wide-eyed look that suggests she’s starting to overthink, that she’s trying to make sense of these last few hours – only last evening she’d been untouched, and now here she was, a an erotic text tucked against her naked breast –

“Here,” he says, “let me carry that for you.”

She stops short, blinking. “Oh, it’s not – ohh.”

Her free hand clutches to him as he lifts her, and this should be more difficult, should be more awkward –

But her legs part around his waist, thighs squeezing tight to his hips. She might be surprised, but she’s certainly not objecting.

“Oh, Miss,” he rumbles, leaning his forehead on hers. “I know better than to come between you and a book.”

Her wide gaze narrows, sweet mouth canting slyly. Beneath his hands, he feels all her apprehensions slip away, the muscles of her back languidly arching, reminding him how she felt beneath him, how she’d whimpered and moaned and ran nails down his skin –

His cocks twitches, giving her ass a mortifying whack.

Ahh-ha. He should…really keep in the moment.

Shirayuki huffs out a giggle, lifting her hips just so, freeing him from where he had been awkwardly pressed against her bottom. The hand that clutches him loosens, drifting down his arm, as her other wraps around his neck. She slips his head over her slit, a tease, and –

And it’s just in time for her arm to seize around him, whacking the book painfully into his temple.

Ah –” He infers something mildly impolite about the damn thing’s mother.

“Oh, Obi!” She presses tighter to him, running a hand along his scalp. It burns a little under her touch, but he hardly notices. It’s hard to notice anything that isn’t the way her heat presses against his cock, the way the tip of him is still slick with her. “I didn’t mean to!”

“Shirayuki,” he laughs,pressing his forehead against hers, noses brushing. “You’re already getting me in your bed. You don’t have to knock me out.”

“Oh!” She clucks her tongue, and he can’t help but laugh harder, laying a kiss over her lips as he takes a wobbling step down the hall.

“But really,” she presses as they come closer to the room. “You’re alright? You aren’t dizzy?” She squeezes his bicep soothingly. “You can put me down if you want. I don’t want you to trip –”

“You weren’t worried about me tripping last night,” he teases, grinning as her cheeks flush.

“I-I hadn’t concussed you you last night.”

“You didn’t concuss me today either.”

She peers up at him from under the fringe of her lashes. “But your pupils are dilated.”

“Shirayuki,” he sighs, trying not to roll his eyes. “Just let me have this one moment of romance –”

Her mouth twitches. He steps over the threshold, and he sees it – the sly look in her eyes, all gone dark.

“Goodness,” he says, stymied. “You’re flirting with me.”

She goes rigid against him, but oh, does he know better. “That’s what this is,” he crows, ducking his mouth close to hers, lips brushing tantalizingly. “You are trying to flirt with me?”

“N-no!”

He laughs, spilling her back on the bed. Her pout breaks as she hits the mattress with a bounce, legs still locked around him. It grinds her against him in a way that leaves them both gasping, and it takes a moment for them to realize she’d lost her grip on the book as well, thrown just farther on the bed than she can easily reach.

He leans over, smug, plucks it right away from her grasping fingers –

And she bites him, right over his scar.

Haah,” he breathes, pulling away. “I believe, mistress, that you had a request.”

She nods, suddenly at a loss for words, taking the book from him with clumsy fingers. Even so, it takes her only a moment, laying it on the bed next to them so he may see.

He twitches.

“I –” his mouth is so dry – “you’re sure?”

A slow grin spreads over her lips. “Yes. I think it’s…intriguing.”

His swallow makes a hollow thunk in his throat, and he leans down, thoroughly kissing the smirk off her lips.

He lifts a knee upon on the mattress, and then she is sliding back, giving him room until he’s fully on the bed. Even crosswise, the bed fits him, and again Obi can’t help but wonder what exactly was meant to happen in this room, to have this much space –

“Come here, Obi,” she says, breathless, and he forgets everything save that he is meant to obey her.

He crawls up her, nose tracing a path from her stomach to between her breasts, up the smooth column of her neck until he swallows the shaky gasp that escapes her lips. Her moan rattles in his ears when his tongue traces over lips, and oh, oh, he can do nothing but follow her down, molding the arch of her body along his.

“On your knees” she reminds him, little more than a breath against his mouth. “Like the picture.”

“Mm.” He grins against her neck, shifting forward on his hands, balancing his weight on his knees. “Oh, miss, you don’t need an excuse to get me on my knees for you.”

A laugh groans out of her, her body squirming beneath his. “Obi.”

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like that?” he teases, arching into the nails that drag down his back. “My mouth on you –?”

“I have you where I want you.” She mouths over the edge of his scar, setting him whining, hips bucking against empty air. “Almost.”

“Alm – aahh.”

Heat envelops his cock, sweet and perfect, but only – only the very tip. Where the ridge of his head ends, he is bare, left without release.

He grits his teeth, fingers knotting in the duvet, fighting every instinct to grab her, to hold her down and have her take all of him –

“Is that all right?” she asks, far too innocent. Her hips rock, just slightly, a taste of how good she’ll feel.

“Hng,” he groans eloquently, trying to locate words past his haze. It’s too much and not nearly enough, but the angle of his hips keeps him from being able to chase her, from being able to bring himself all the way inside. “Please.”

Her chest stutters beneath his, but she keeps up her infuriating tease. “Please?” she echoes, almost coy, eyelashes fluttering against her cheeks.

“Please,” he breathes, lips brushing over hers. “Let me come home.”

Those – those weren’t the words he meant to say. He’d only – they’d gotten all mixed up in his head, and –

And she arches under his hands, moan sweet in his ears as he slides into her, so deep his arms tremble. He can’t move, not the way he’s positioned, and she rocks, shyly, gently –

“Yes,” he pants, dropping to his elbows. “Gods, yes, don’t – don’t stop.”

“I won’t,” she promises, grinding up into him. He can barely think with her so tightly around him, with her so fully in control. “I won’t. I want you.”

“Take me.” His breath is hardly more than a whimper, and he presses his lips to her skin, trying to drown the sound of it. “Take me.”

“Obi –” she lets out a noise that’s half laugh, half whine – “I need you. I need you –”

“I’m here.” Hardly; it feels like he’s come detached from himself, just existing in pure sensation as she works him, as her cunt clenches around him –

“No, I mean –” she gasps as he sucks under her ear, bucking against him – “I mean I don’t – I can’t –” She laughs. “My stomach hurts!”

That shakes him enough. Her thighs tremble around his hips, her belly quivering tellingly against his, and –

And he tips his forehead onto the mattress, trying to muffle his laughter.

He’s so close, he feels the heat of her blush. “If you’re done?”

“Oh, Miss,” he murmurs, lifting his head. “Not even close.”

He drops back onto his heels, dragging her with him, keeping his cock as deep inside her as he can. Her ass rests on his open thighs, and she’s parted before him. He’s buried so deep that he can only tell where he begins and she ends by the border of black and red.

Her feet have come up off the mattress, hanging uncertainly in the air. “O-Obi?”

“Feet down, Miss,” he tells her, almost conversational. “Your work isn’t done yet.”

Her gaze snaps to his, so dark. Her heels hit the bed so fast it startles a laugh out of him.

“Eager, Miss?” He grins, his hands sliding down her waist, curving around her hips to come rest on her ass. She lets loose a scandalized squeak – as if he hasn’t touched her everywhere, as if his mouth hadn’t dragged over those curves last night, teeth scraping over her until she moaned –

Ah, that’s – enough. He needs to focus on the here and now. On how she is squirming impatiently against his palms, bouncing her hips –

His fingers dig into her flesh, not gently, and her hiss elides into a moan as he rolls her hips into his, his own giving a short, hard thrust.

“Oh!” she gasps, arching into his touch as he moves her, sliding her along his cock at a pace that leaves her whining, hands reaching out to urge him faster, goad him faster –

“Shirayuki,” he murmurs, sliding one hand to her belly, keeping her from bucking against him. The pace is killing him too, but oh, oh it is worth it to see her fall apart like this, to see how her wetness slicks her thighs, how her lower lips blush as much as her breast when he takes her. “Be patient.”

“No,” she whines, but she doesn’t jerk out of his grip, just lets him rock her into him as she knots the bedding in her fingers. “I want – I want you.”

His hips stutter, leaving her gasping and – and he should be used to hearing it now; she’s said it often enough since he’s took her with the damned bear looking on – but – but –

But he feels the tightness in his cock, in his balls; in the way his mind hazes at the edge and his pace becomes quicker, more frantic. She’s helping him now, stomach tensing beneath his hands as she rolls into him, as she takes him again and again, and it’s nothing to slip his hand lower, for his thumb to brush right where she needs to be touched –

“Obi!” she gasps, hands clutching at his wrists, nails digging into his skin. It just makes him hard, hotter, and it’s – it’s a relief when she falls apart about him. She’s stopped moving under him, just trembling in his hands as she comes and comes, wetness spreading down her thighs, rubbing over his.

But around him, oh, she is the inexorable force of the tide, pulling at him, ebbing with a force that tempts him, that urges him to let go, to follow her out to sea. He bites his cheek to keep in control, to keep riding her though the shocks of her orgasm.

It’s only when her body is limp under his, only when her grip gentles and her head lolls back on a soft sigh that he lets himself follow her, that he lets go and –

And loses himself.

He doesn’t know what sounds he makes, but when he comes back to himself, hips fitted so tightly against hers, Shirayuki is staring at him with a banked heat, as if he has said something she’ll tuck away for later. He falls next to her spent. My, he certainly hopes whatever it was is good.

Her lips spread, opening on a smile to speak, to doubtlessly say what he blurted out in his ecstasy, but she is unceremoniously interrupted by a loud, demanding growl.

He grins. “Miss. Have you been letting me leave you unsatisfied?”

“Oh!” she gasps, cheeks pinking. “Oh my! I only – I didn’t mean to, ah, say anything…”

His own gurgles in agreement, insistently vibrating against his belly. “Well, it seems it’s time to discover if this place has a larder, isn’t it?”

“And dry clothes,” she reminds him. “Unless you’d like to search for breakfast naked.”

“Mm,” he hums, thoughtful. “I don’t think you’d have complaints.”

Her mouth twitches. “It’ll be cold. I’m not sure you’ll be to your best advantage.”

Obi grimaces. “Right. Pants first. Then food.”

“No shirt?”

“Why, Shirayuki,” he purrs, enjoying the shiver that works along her skin. “I have to give you something to look at.”