To love you is not my promise,

it is my fate,

to burn until I can burn no more.



"Tell me a story, storyteller."

It is an order, if the lazy purr of a contented cat can be an order.

"Once," he murmurs, smiling into the shadow behind her ear, "an ordinary man loved a royal enchantress…"

Fingers drift languidly through his hair. "And did she love him in return?"

"Certain circumstances allowed him to believe so."

Her throat trembles in a silent chuckle. "Then he cannot have been so very ordinary."

"Being no fool, he let her believe whatever pleased her." Her skin burns around the smooth silver crescent against his lips; a strange mingling of sensation; hot as sunlight, cold as the sea. The sharp edge of the jewel catches and nicks the corner of his mouth. "She was—,"

"Wait," she interrupts, hand halting in its silky glide across his ribs. "Does this tale have a happy ending?"

He hesitates. Firelight quivers, broken, in her liquid gaze, a mirror of the storm in his soul. A glittering tear wanders down her cheek. He kisses it away, salt biting at his nicked lip. He welcomes the sting of salt to a wound now.

She tastes of it, always, and if he ever stops burning it will mean she is gone.

His hand traces the rounded curve of her belly, the promise of a future they can hold.

"Sometimes," he whispers, "I dare to believe it could."




Thank you all.