Daine dreamed even as she stirred. Her dreams were fever dreams but of another kind—they were not born of illness but of hands and lips and lustful sighs.

She rolled over, wanting to fall back into sleep and the visions it offered but the flickering of sunlight through her eyelids brought her to awareness sharply.

She was not, as she expected, in the rider's barracks where she usually woke when in Corus. Early morning light sifted through the forest around her as her memories from the night before began to fall into place. Stranger than not waking in her own rooms had to be not waking nestled between several mammals—in fact, it appeared that only one mammal had spent the night with her. Next to her, still sleeping, lay her former teacher and friend Numair Salmalin.

What had transpired was obvious. They both lay bare on his cloak that was spread over the ground of the clearing, her own draped over them and tangled around their naked limbs. She still wore her badger's claw and goddess circle, thank the gods, but the rest of their belongings were strewn about on the forest floor. She felt herself blush scarlet when she recalled the details of what had transpired where they lay.

She sat up, letting her cloak fall from her chest. They would need to talk when he awoke and no doubt he would be a stubborn dolt about the whole thing. She had to admit she was fair surprised herself. While there had been moments in the past several years where she thought there had been a flicker of something, they were just that—moments. She had brushed the thought off as a silly daydream on her part. She knew enough of his history to know what he wanted and that she was not it. She thought if she said anything he would laugh as he did when others made insinuations. She thought he would find her fancy childish, and not consider them the desires of a woman.

He had treated her like a woman last night though, a voice in her head whispered. She grinned and bit her lip as she remembered his strong hands running through her hair and gripping her hips. Lust she was familiar with, but this all-consuming fire that seared her to her core was something altogether new. She wanted more.

Numair stirred, startling her, and she reached down to brush a tendril of thick black hair from his face. He sighed and leaned into her touch, resting once more. She studied him now, resisting the urge to touch him more. She winced when she saw scratches on his chest and stomach—she would have been prudent to remove the badger's claw, however from the look of the make-shift bed anyone who saw could tell that sensibility and caution had not been their main concern but for one detail. She smirked, when she noticed the crude and clumsy protection circle in the earth surrounding them. She didn't know if he would be more embarrassed to wake next to his former-student or to see how shoddy his protection circle was.

She tried to think of when he had created it and chuckled when she remembered him moving her around the clearing as he kissed her lips and neck, desperately, before bearing them down to the forest floor. He must have drawn it with his foot. At least they were hidden from any prying eyes.

Her laugh must have been enough to rouse him because she felt him waking in earnest now. She leaned back on her hands, watching him carefully. He rolled to the side, chest pressing against her hip. A clumsy hand reached out to wrap around her waist making her breath hitch. Numair rubbed his face against the flesh of her hip, a soft sigh escaping the man. Daine fought to control her breathing as the hand against her waist moved upward, flattening against her belly. Fire coiled there and she closed her eyes briefly, enjoying the mages ministrations.

All good things come to an end, however, and she felt the man freeze, his thumb no longer tracing idle circles on her bare skin.

"Daine?" It came as a whisper, hoarse and horrified. Daine looked down at her friend. He looked up at her through sleep-mussed hair, his body still wrapped around her waist.

"Good Morning." She said quietly, and noted with amusement that she spoke to him with the same tone she would use to avoid spooking a timid woodland critter. Her smirk quickly turned to a pout when he drew away, rolling over onto his back. She could already see his mind working overtime to piece together their current state, his face becoming pale and panic creeping into his dark eyes. She noted, smugly, that while his mind may be reeling, from what she could see of his form under the thin summer cloak his body had no misunderstanding about what it wanted. She felt the heat in the pit of her stomach intensify once more at the sight of his desire.

"Mithros, Mynoss, and Shakith," he muttered and ran a large hand through his hair. He looked at her now and she could see distress written in every detail of his face. "I am so sorry." His voice was laden with guilt and she had to stop herself from laughing at his silliness.

"Whatever for?" She fell back on her side, supporting her head with one hand. She took no care to cover herself with the cloak that was now pushed down over the curve of her hip and was pleased to see his gaze move over her breasts. Despite his distress there was no mistaking the heat in his gaze.

"Whatever for?" He nearly hissed, "Magelet, I took advantage of you."

"Did you?" She was openly smirking now and scooted closer to the man, her body brushing lightly against the side of his. He shuddered.

"Don't be pert." He rubbed his nose. "With the festivities and the drink last night you were vulnerable. A man of my age and reputation should know better than to have put you in that position." He sighed, his disgust with himself evident.

"Were you drinking, Master Mage?" She couldn't help herself. She placed a hand on his chest, winding her fingers through the hair there and brought her face closer to his, her breath tickling his earlobe. His breath hitched and she smiled. She slid her hand down his stomach only to have it caught by his own larger one. To her irritation he held it there instead of guiding it further.

"Daine," he gasped, not looking at her.

"What?" She knew she was pouting.

"I am trying to apologize for this situation and you're flirting." He sighed, tightening his grip on her hand, "and not much," he added, almost as an afterthought. If she didn't know better she would say he was having trouble keeping his thoughts straight.

"Same for me, so the drink is a poor excuse." She pressed her breasts more firmly against his side, feeling a soft rumble emerge from his chest. "As for the festivities I have been to plenty a party and kept my wits about me." She sighed when he sat up, knowing a losing battle when she saw one.

"Daine, regardless of the details I pursued you and wooed you into my bed when I had no right or place to do so. Your trust in me—" he faltered here before continuing, "it's a simple thing for a man of my experience to trick a woman of yours into their arms. I had thought better of myself than to coerce you into something you had never asked for." He looked away from her. "Obviously I had too much faith in myself," he muttered before looking back at her and grimaced. "We should get dressed." He reached over to grasp the fold of the cloak bunched at her hip, meaning to pull it up and cover her.

"If I remember last night correctly I'm fair sure I was asking for it." She said it softly and stared him straight in the eyes. She could see the heat in his own when they met hers for a breathless moment. He swallowed and dropped his gaze to where his hand bunched the fabric at her waist.

Instead of pulling the cloak up he brushed his fingers against the bare skin and pressed his thumb into her hip. Daine was not sure which one of them were the one trembling as his gaze moved up her body, slowly, and he licked his lip unconsciously. A soft moan escaped her lips and, spurred on by the sound, Numair gripped her hip more firmly.

Daine thought she might pass out from the giddiness when he drew his hand down her thigh, most definitely the direction she wanted him to go in, pushing the cloak further down. His hand wrapped around to her inner thigh, teasing her. She wasn't sure she could even form the words to ask him to touch her where she desired it most.

She opened her eyes to find him staring intently at her, eyes dark and wanting. His ministrations had paused. Understanding that he was asking permission she closed the short distance between them and pressed her lips against his. His response was immediate and frantic. Crushing her lips with his own he turned her over onto her back, covering her body with his own. Shivers went up her spine, fed by heat from every place their bodies met.

Numair moved his attention to her neck, nibbling on a particularly sensitive spot below her ear. He seemed to take delight in the sounds it evoked from her and she rolled her hips against his, eager to feel him. He moaned and ran his hands down her sides until he gripped her hips and rocked his own against her.

Past the point of any care beyond the man above her she wrapped her legs around his hips, feeling him settle between them. He was kissing her again, tongue coaxing her swollen lips open as her hands gripped at his shoulders. She rocked her hips against him once more, taking pleasure in his shudder. She was so close now to being possessed by him as she had been the night before, coming undone in his arms and—suddenly where there had been heat there was only cold morning air. She blinked, momentarily stunned.

Numair was kneeling over her, looking down at her and struggling to catch his breath.

"We need to stop." His voice was ragged but firm. Daine propped herself up on her elbows and opened her mouth to protest with a few choice words not fit for use outside of barracks but he shook his head. "Daine, please. If you press me I won't be able to stop myself again but I'm asking that you leave things be for right now. I need time to," he faltered, searching for the words, "process this, I suppose. Here and now is the time and place for nothing but more rash decisions."

She sighed, but the look in his eyes had her defeated. He was asking something of her that she could do, and so she would. Despite her irritation she couldn't help but take in his form as he kneeled, bare, over her. His breath still came fast and his well-muscled chest rose and fell with each inhale. Dropping her gaze she could see that despite his words his desire was not diminished. She looked up at him and raised her eyebrows. He blushed, looking away.

"If you're thinking it's due to a lack of attraction don't. There is more than enough of that, sweetling." She blushed at the new nickname and fell back to the ground. She heard him sigh and move away from her. From the rustling sounds she assume he was tracking down his errant clothing. Modesty was not particularly high in her priorities but she grudgingly sat up and wrapped her cloak around herself, accepting that the morning was not heading for the ending she had hoped it would.

Numair stood with his back to her, securing his breeches. Daine sensed a starling nearby and blocked off her wild magic after offering a brief good morning. She had enough on her mind without comments from every creature within her range.

"Are you not speaking with me?" Numair looked over his shoulder at her. She could tell he was trying to keep his tone light but she recognized the worry in his eyes. She smiled at him and stood, clutching the cloak around her. She moved to stand before him and cocked her head.

"Of course I'm speaking with you. I'm just—" she found herself at a loss for words and offered an exaggerated exhale instead. He chuckled at that.

"I understand exactly what you mean." He smiled at her and she felt her stomach flutter. Would it do that every time he looked at her now?

"I have to ask," she looked at him through hooded lashes and knew she was pouting, "Are you sure?"

"Mithros, Daine, don't do that to me," He ran a hand through his hair, "Do you have any idea what a look like that will do to a man?"

"I'm trying to find out." She replied impishly, earning another laugh.

"I noticed." He placed his hands on her shoulder. "I promise that we will talk about this, and soon."

"Talk?" She raised an eyebrow and he sighed, but she noticed that this thumb had found its way to the edge of her cloak and was stroking a patch of skin at her collarbone. It was distracting, to say the least.

"Can you give an old man some time to think things through?" She rolled her eyes at him.

"You're not old," she admonished, ignoring his mutter of 'comparatively', "and you think too much already." She placed a hand on his chest and he hissed, dropping his grip on her shoulders. She pulled back and grimaced as he looked down to see his wounds. "Sorry, the badger's claw isn't always the most practical."

"No doubt this is the badger god's way of punishing me." He inspected the wounds and she laughed.

"Since you've gone respectable on me do you want to head back?" She eyed the blue gown laying on the forest floor and grimaced. Another of Thayet's gifts ruined no doubt.

"Ah," he rubbed the back of his head and looked around, "I think that there is some clean up that I need to attend to first."

'We're hardly the only couple to sneak into the woods on Beltane, Numair." She blushed and looked away at his raised eyebrow at her use of the word couple. "No one's going to be surprised to find a clearing with the ground disturbed." Numair mumbled something in reply and she had to ask him to repeat it.

"I actually meant the protective circle." He was blushing crimson, "Hags bones if someone saw that I had done that." He ignored her laugh as he looked at the crude and uneven line encircling them.

"In that case, I am going to fly back. Bring my things back with you?"

"Of course, Magelet." He patted her on the shoulder.

Feeling bold, she smiled and, not letting her gaze fall from his own, dropped her cloak to the ground. She waited for his resolve to falter and his eyes flicker over her body before changing shape and flying back to the castle.