Sin and Boa were furious with me for drawing Switchkin off and getting my self captured again. The healers had given me calming herbs, which had allowed me to make my report. I had sat stoic and half addled as Sin had railed at me about duty and responsibility until the tears had started to slip and the healer had put her out of the room. Toxemia was of a mind that I had been very, very stupid… when the herbs had taken effect and the sobbing had abated. I remember looking at him, standing there with is arms crossed staring at me darkly. He had simply said “You dumb.” In that way of his that always made me laugh. I did laugh then, a choked thing that sounded bitten off and bitter at the end and lacked any humor. Aalairius had glared at our friend and told him to get out. I think he was frightened and Tox was a convenient place to direct his anger, our friend had shrugged and wandered off. I think he understood. Things became very hazy very quickly after that…
Cursing, shouting and the loud crash of broken crockery, Aion’s light what is that noise? I remember thinking to myself. My head hurt, a lot… and though I tried I couldn’t open my left eye. I turned my head on the pillow painfully slow toward the ruckus and saw it was a man two beds down from mine. He was a giant, easily half a span taller than I was, and I was long of leg for a woman. He shouted at the healers, and it took five of them to hold him down into the bed. I reached out a hand toward them and said.
“Please, please stop… it hurts.” And they all did, heads turning in my direction. The man’s eyebrows raised and he stilled, surprise flickering through his clear gray eyes as he forgot his struggles and calmed. One of the healers called out, loudly, and I winced, but could not muster enough energy to call after them, to beg them to stop, the loud slap of their retreating steps echoing in my skull, each sound punctuated by an immense stabbing pain that pierced fiery claws inside my head.
“I’ll be damned.” The big man said. “She’s awake; I thought you guys said she’d never wake up. That she was going to be like that forever.” I closed my eye and swallowed… in that moment I wished ardently that I had stayed unconscious. Oh Aion it hurt.
They had returned with the head healer and given me something for my pains, then the questions started, about how long I had been kept and what the Asmodians had wanted and I was so very confused… What would the Asmodians want with a human Priest? They’d all gone quiet then and some had looked solemn when the big man spoke from two beds down.
“Leave her alone. Let her rest. She’s going to be here a while by the looks of her.”
The healers reluctantly left my bed side, lest the man from two beds down cause another row. His leg had been broken in two places, he had said from a great fall. Now that he had settled and wasn’t thrashing and trying to leave I could see the splint, keeping the leg ridged so the bones may mend. He raked fingers through his tousled white hair and considered me a moment.
“My name is Aalairius, my friends just call me Aal.” He said. “Do you remember your name?” I sank into the mattress and rested my head back on the pillow, keeping my head turned so that I may see him.
“I’m Sirona.” I whispered.
“Sirona.” He repeated, and it was like he tasted the name more than said it. “Pretty.” He commented before he laid himself back and closed his eyes…
I woke with a start, the gentle caress of fingertips trailing the length of my spine. I lay on my stomach in my bed and pushed myself up, turning so that I could see my beloved. It was slow going; I was stiff and sore all over from the encounter with Switchkin. I finished sitting up and took the steaming mug of tea my lover offered me, sipping carefully.
“You’ve been asleep for a long time.” He said. When I remained silent, drinking my tea he continued, “It amazed us you stayed up as long as you did let alone that you managed to give a full report after they dosed you. They gave you enough calming herbs to put a tipolid into a coma.” He put his arm around my shoulders and kissed my temple. He was silent for long moments, finally saying “We need to talk about this Sirona.” He looked at me, expression solemn and I bowed my head. I finally nodded.
“What were you thinking?” he asked.
“That he was a mad man and that I needed to get him away from all of you, so he couldn’t hurt you.” I answered truthfully.
“That doesn’t make any sense.” He stated flatly. I didn’t know how to explain it, I really didn’t but I loved him and so I would try.
“I would rather die, true death, than know that you were at that monster’s tender mercies. I would rather give my self willingly to that creature than have him touch you with his blades. I had to protect you.” He held me tighter and I rested my head upon the swell of his chest, listening to his heart and taking solace in his nearness and warmth. He sighed.
“Sirona, I love you, but it’s not your job to protect me… It’s my job to protect you, and I promise to protect you, but you have to let me.” He chided. I closed my eyes and nodded.
“I’m sorry.” I murmured and looked up at him.
Aalairius traced my jaw with his thumb and leaned down carefully, brushing his lips against mine. I closed my eyes and leaned into the kiss and he obliged me, deepening the contact, tongue flicking across my lower lip, tentatively first, before becoming slightly more demanding. I eased myself against his chest fingertips caressing his collarbone before resting against the side of his neck where his pulse beat warm and sure. When he finally drew back from me his expression was peaceful and he placed a gentle kiss on my forehead before taking the cup of cooling tea from my hands and retreating off the bed. I was just beginning to dose again when he returned, slipping out of his clothing and between the sheets, and gathering me close in his arms.
He kissed me again, long and lingering, his large hand resting against my ribs the other at the back of my neck, buried in my hair as he cradled me against his chest and I sank gratefully into the strength of his embrace. He laid me back into the softness of our bed, his lips moving carefully along my jaw to play along the side of my neck, and I closed my eyes, a tension I hadn’t even known was there easing from my body beneath his gentle ministrations. He kissed down the length of me, hands caressing over my breasts drawing a moan from my throat. My back arched beneath him and I felt rather than saw the smile grace his lips, as he pressed them over my own once more. His kisses became more urgent as our bodies twined closer and the heat built between us. Finally, he broke our kiss and locked gazes with me.
“I love you.” He said voice low and intense with emotion. My “I love you too” was lost in a moan of pleasure as he took me. My body bowing off the bed, bent nearly double back upon its self with the bliss of him. He struck a rhythm slow and sure, his body tightly controlled, intent on drawing our time together out as long as possible. I loved him so much, and I let the light fill my eyes as I gazed up at him, relishing the euphoria overtaking us. He slowed and stilled to bend and kiss me thoroughly again and my chest squeezed tight with the beauty of his touch and as he resumed his steady pace, the fire within me stoked higher and higher until finally both of us went, gasping and laughing, our skin dewed with sweat. We collapsed in each others arms lightly kissing each other where our lips could reach with little to no additional effort.
Limbs tangled, I listened to his breathing slow, before deepening and evening into the steady pace of sleep. I lay there cuddled and warm, his breath playing against the back of my neck and I was calm and relaxed. With a contented sigh I tried to sleep myself, drifting off lightly, warm and safe, my lover spooning me in the twilight of our bedroom. Why couldn’t moments like these last forever?