Ch6.82 Trust

Dion leans back in the comfortable chair that sits before his desk in his own, private sanctum, and looks at the time-telling feature installed on the wall opposite the bed. The clear clock-face, with the mechanism exposed beneath and numbers that float around the edge, pointed to by the three main hands, tell him that the world outside is well into what would have been Sky’s shift but is, for today only, with Sky gone, Dion and Alma both weakened and Somrak in need to lay low, Corporal Lamore’s responsibility.

He has been bending over his books for just a little under two hours now, mostly not making much progress with his study but trying very hard to commit to memory the more meaningful facts about attacking and banishing demons, facts spread all throughout the tomes he has picked up along the way, some his own, some borrowed from Alma’s personal library, some lent to him by Sky. The devil himself, lending him books on how to identify, classify and approach demons and devils. Currently, he has the book that Somrak has given him for Triumph Week celebrations – or Year’s End, as Alma calls it – open on a page carrying a triad of symbols he has seen repeated over and over again, always as part of complicated banishment circles, identified as glyphs of one of the various logographic languages of Hell’s denizens but never really translated. He compares them to ones he has just found in one of Alma’s books. A perfect match. Open across his lap, the book written in the Death Clan’s unique language seems to offer a meaning to each of the symbols. Why the Death Clan bothered in translating a Hellish language is beyond him but the fact is that Dion does not understand enough of what is written to tell the actual purpose of the book let alone the motivation driving its writer. He rifles through the other volumes cluttering his desk, cursing under his breath that he is yet to have learned to read the language properly. Not to mention speaking it. Well, he hasn’t been learning for very long, he excuses himself, but it would still be nice to have grasped at least the basics by now. He will have to insist with Alma to give him some proper lessons when time permits. For now, he can rely on the little notebook she has made to help him in his studies, filled with the most frequently used words of her clan’s own writing system. He finds it under a book on portal dissociation he was consulting earlier and opens it, flipping through the pages until he finds the basic word shapes that match the ones in the book. He carefully draws the symbols down in a notebook of his own, matching them to the Death Clan’s proposed translations, making a mental note to ask Alma for confirmation on the meanings later.

reino inferior.pngreino intermedio.pngdestino.png

inferior soul destination

The symbols must identify the purpose of the banishment circles, then: to send hellish souls back to Hell. He snorts as he looks down at his makeshift dictionary and sees that the Death Clan’s symbol for destination is the same as their symbol for the Wheel. How very pragmatic of them.

But what intrigues him most is the fact that, in the one book of banishment spells he has borrowed from Sky – most are mainly focused on the classification of several categories of demons and devils, none of which looks or feels even remotely like the book’s owner – this triad is replaced by a single glyph. A glyph he has been puzzling over for nearly two hours now, one he has but to look down at his left forearm to see drawn in stark black against his white skin. It has been changing, contracting since Alma’s healing helped his body in dealing with the demon ichor. From a many-armed blotch around the point of entry of the demonic poison, it has shifted and broken into two pieces. Now it is apparently stabilized, as if it has matured to its final form, with a black dot where the poisoned needle pierced his skin.

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Curled, like a sleeping beast. A form for which Alma’s book offers translation as well, two separate meanings, actually: enemy and gateway. Hmm…maybe just one meaning with two parts, like enemy at the gate? Damn his non-existent knowledge of Death Clan grammar.

Enemy at the gate. A strange concept for a banishment ring but then, like the triad of symbols in the other books, the glyph often appears within the circle of glyphs and not really as a part of the banishing complex itself. He looks at the wall clock again.

Two hours and five minutes. She has been gone for two hours and five minutes. Not really unusual for Alma to be out harvesting for that length of time but he has been finding that the minutes stretch into eternity with her absence. Especially on a night like this, after a difficult, stressful day of fear, shock and heavy mana use, and with the gods know what enemies lurking about and targeting her. He gestures a command and the clockface fills with the pale, white, crimson and purplish light of three full moons. Well, at least she has plenty of light to harvest by.

He had wanted to go with her, insisted on it and only stopped short of begging her to let him escort her. At every new plea, she had reminded him the he was still weak from the poison, still recovering, and would not be at the top of his abilities when they happened to be needed unless he rested as much as possible. She had assured him that her mana headache was mostly gone, that it would be further alleviated by the fulfilling of her divine duties during the harvest. And she had promised she would drop by afterwards to check on him and let him know she had returned safely. He had accepted defeat at that point, not without a great big deal of apprehension, but soon found himself staring at the ceiling, slumber impossible.

So he had given up on that and moved from his bed to his desk. Best to keep his mind occupied while he waited. A quick glance over his books had found the half-hidden leather spine of his little black book of romantic conquests. For no reason that he could discern, he had picked it from the shelf and leafed through it. Such a stupid little thing. Meaningless in the face of all that had happened in the past few weeks. Useless, disgusting thing, lurking between his volumes on the magic arts and Guardia manuals as if it were a reference text for later consult.

He looks back at the little pedestal on top of which a brass bowl currently sits, spewing the warm, reddish light of smokeless flames. A delicate metal mesh placed on top of it keeps the paper and leather fragments gently burning inside from flying out, while a little copper saucer holds some diluted essential oils as they do their job of masking the smell of the carbonized pages. So much for that part of his life, he thinks without a trace of remorse.

He looks up at the door when the portal finally flares to life and lets Alma through. He stands as she walks in, moving to her and taking her hands, glad and relieved to see her back and smiling softly at him. “Welcome home.”

“You should be resting, not studying,” she scolds him gently, even as she leans closer and her hands squeeze his.

Dion glances back at his desk. “I couldn’t sleep anyway,” he says apologetically. “Not without knowing you were back. Preparation seemed the better alternative to trying to see patterns in the ceiling. How is your headache?”

“Barely noticeable,” she replies, her nose wrinkling as she sniffs the air. “Is something burning?”

“Oh, just some useless papers that were cluttering my bookshelf,” he dismisses it with a shrug, releasing her hands and gently wrapping his arms around her before she starts asking questions.

“Ah…” she mumbles, snuggling against his chest. “And how are you feeling?”

“Better now that you’re here.” He squeezes her gently, delighting in the embrace, one hand running through the silky locks of her hair. “Will you stay with me?”

She turns her head to deliver a soft kiss to his jaw, a touch that makes his senses tingle with pleasure and longing. “I was hoping you wouldn’t make me spend tonight alone. I’m frightened and I miss you. And I am struggling with the thought that I might not return home tomorrow.”

“I am trying very hard not to entertain such thoughts,” he admits, pulling away just a little, to look into her eyes and cup her cheek in his palm. “I cannot picture a world without you. You have far more to lose than I.”

“I have you to lose too,” she argues, fear on her face. “If you don’t return… “She shakes her head and presses her forehead against his as if to ward off an unthinkable idea. “Don’t do that to me, please. Don’t leave me alone. These past few days were painful enough.”

She stutters through the words, her voice heavy with emotion, almost liquid with unshed tears. Dion’s heart plunges to his feet at the sound of her choked plea, his eyes closing with pain, the grief of their separation still too fresh, too vivid. How could he have thought for a moment that their love is not real? That this is not where he is meant to be?

“I won’t,” he promises, the words as binding to him as the Adamantine Vow. “I know now…I belong with you.” He holds her face in his hands, eyes locked with hers, all of his fears about the great unknown ahead dethroned by the single certainty of the strength, the joy he feels with her at his side. “I’m yours. We’ll find our way together. Come what may. All right?”

Alma doesn’t say anything, fear in her eyes, longing. Yearning. Yearning to believe his words. Remnants of their fight, of the terrible words he said to her, of the even worse things he thought about her, about himself. He holds her gaze, desperate to make her understand, make her believe. He is not going anywhere. Not without her.

She swallows and nods, two quick jerks of her head as she leans forward to kiss him. He returns it gently at first but the first touch of her lips, the first soft squeeze of her hand to the silk-covered flesh of his side breaks the dam of his emotions. He holds her tightly to him, one hand coursing down to the small of her back, to bring her closer, thin the distance between their bodies as he releases every morsel of pent-up fear, of frustration, of longing, of love, such indefinable and boundless love, into the soft riverbanks of her lips, thrilling at her passion, at her joining in this exorcism of anguished thoughts.

He kisses her deeply, breaking only to breathe “I have missed you so–” into her mouth before hungrily kissing her again. Her hands are already travelling under the fine fabric of his shirt, caressing his belly as they move up, dragging the button-less garment along with them to expose his torso. He grants them their wish with barely a thought, giving her less than a second to regain her breath before his lips are on hers again. A little fumbling of his fingers against the hook of her badge, some tugging of the fabric wrapped around her waist and her lovely silver-embroidered sari lies on the floor around her feet.

And then his hips are turning, his body twisting, arms holding her up until her feet are resting on his, legs moving forward of their own accord. Until she falls backward and his knee is on the mattress beside her hip, her now open skirt falling from her legs as she drags herself further onto the bed, flat-heel shoes long gone. He delights in the ravenous tasting of her naked belly, in the music of her moan at a gentle bite to the curve of her hip, in the shiver that courses through her skin when his lips reach the sensitive inner thigh. They have done this before, oh yes, teasing and playing, exploring within their fearful limits. Slowly, always slowly, denying themselves that height of a full union of their bodies, finding pleasure in this bittersweet frustration.

Oh, but he is so hungry now. He needs her so badly, every bit of her. And his mouth is so close to the prize he seeks.

“Gwydion…” he hears her whisper softly, a note of trepidation in her voice that rises into a gasp when his tongue gets just a little closer to its target in a teasing preview of the sensations he can rip from her senses.

She is ready, he knows. Completely surrendered to his whims. Like–

Like all the others?

His craving falters. No, no, no. She is not like any of the others. He did not love them. He would not have waited for any of them. His heart would not have raced at the simple memory of their faces smiling at him. This… This body lying open to his touch, the soul that hides within it, are precious treasures to him. The most precious of his treasures and, even so, not truly his to take.

He finds his hand shaking as he caresses the back of her leg and the curve of her lovely round bottom, the rest of him rising to again kiss her stomach, moving up toward the blouse that still keeps her delicious breasts enshrouded in rich fabric. The dawning realization of his near fall into old habits, the shallow challenge of making a woman quiver with the onslaught of physical climax for the sake of proving his prowess, of getting back at fate by reaping the pleasure of divine bodies without falling into their romantic entrapments, makes him pause.

This is no one-night stand. Nothing lasts forever, as she has told him more than once, but this, he hopes, will last beyond any realistic imagining of the future. Love has found him and he finds himself feeling once again like a callow adolescent, confronted with the very first night of love spent with the one who holds his heart, the one he wishes to please more than anyone. The one he cannot afford to be anything less than perfect with. If they could not be compatible…

And only then does the thought hit him, of why they have waited so long to go any further in their physical union. The very real, very damaging possibility of creating a Bunny. And, tonight especially, the most frightening of prospects: creating a defenseless child only to leave him or her abandoned, should they not return tomorrow.

He pauses, his body half-lying on top of hers, his arm pressed against the contours of her side and holding her closely. She is lying still, her hands stroking his shoulder blades, running up his neck, fingers running through his hair. She must have sensed his hesitation. Does she fear he does not want her? Gods, he wants her so badly…

He raises himself to look at her, to find his fear reflected in her hypnotic, ever-shifting eyes. She strokes his cheek, silent, no words needed between them. Can they go through with it? Risk it all for this one night? She looks that question at him.

He looks back at her for what feels like an age, the whole of his body screaming at him, inhaling her scent, intoxicated by the touch of her skin against his, the taste of her still lingering in his mouth. The feeling in his core that this is where they belong, in each other’s arms, come what may. His eyes swearing to see a future of laughter, of a Bunny-child cradled in his lap, reflected in the swirling colors of her gaze. A son or a daughter loving him unconditionally, to exhaustion, growing before his eyes, loved, so very much loved, the healing reflexion of the family he never had as an infant.

“I will risk it with you,” Alma breathes, looking frightened even as her arms wrap around him, her hands pressing fingers against his back to pull him closer.

He kisses her, lost for words, finding the courage to move forward in their shared fear, in their mutual desire. They will survive, he tells himself. They will return. And if a child is created tonight, they will put the baby in stasis just for one day. A single day. And come back. Yes, come back. Alive. Ready to do whatever it takes, to raise their child together as any child should be raised, with loving parents present at every step of the way. They will live, he promises, to watch him or her grow.

In a matter of moments, his hands have removed the last traces of Alma’s clothing. His light household pants are cast aside. He lies with his love in his arms, the both of them naked, surrendered to passion. Open to each other at every level. At the edges of his senses, he feels the magic of her aura, the taste of her mana as it blooms, with peace and power and endlessness, a scent of Spring in the air, velvety darkness wrapping around them both, infusing him, urging his essence to come join it. He feels it stroking his core, teasing his newfound powers, awakening the presence that has been sleeping inside him for the past few hours. It answers the call, recognizing her spirit, her essence. Rushing to meet her, unfolding its wings.

Ours

Oh gods…

He braces himself against the almost overwhelming sensation and dives deep into her.

神兎神兎神兎神兎神兎神兎神兎

It’s not perfect. How could it be? For all they have done so far, stretched their limits to learn about each other, learn the do’s and the don’ts, for all their games, their caresses, their time together, this is the first time they have been this close. And though their bodies fit together perfectly, their undeniable attraction translated into a fervent search, an ardent intertwining that has her thighs surrounding his hips, her hands squeezing his muscular rear against her, their rhythms are still off.

Frustration, fear, pent-up desire. This could be their one night. They rush. Yes, they rush through the myriad sensations, moving too quickly toward that final point where what is done is done and the suspense lifted on their anxieties. And gods, his hips move as if trying to break through the very crust of the world, sending their seismic waves in ungovernable torrents, through her belly, up her spine. Her mouth is dry from breathlessness, her heart pounds in her throat, too slow for a human, almost too quick for her. She cannot keep up with him.

Her hands reach up, fumbling, searching. She grasps his head, fingers clasping his skull through his hair, claiming his attention. She feels him pause, waiting. “Please…” she asks through strangled breaths. “I need… slow down.”

He hears her, she can tell. He moves again, slower now, moaning with the effort of restraint, of forcing his body, his yearning, to obey, to match her, to bring their rhythms into a delicious synchrony. Hungry still, passionate still, just slower, the intensity of each movement doubled in sensation now that he moves inside her at a pace that allows her body to capture every minute motion, now that her senses have more space to focus on the whole of his presence. He is everywhere. His scent is all over her skin, his heavy breaths, the whispers and moans of his passion fill her ears, his touch arouses her body from inside and outside. And his essence…

Gods make love with more than just their bodies, more than just their minds. They make love with their mana, with their very lifeforce. If a true connection is established, if empathy exists, gods will blend the essence of their spheres during that one moment of union, letting them spar or meld or nullify each other, the sensation bringing euphoria to their spirits in the same way physical climax shakes their bodies.

It has been so long… So long since Alma has let herself feel such sweet pleasure. Demigods are poor surrogates for it, their diluted divinity making them incapable of such projection of their auras, of their nature. They can barely even feel it for what it is, basking in the power of the exchange without being able to return the gift of their godly partner. Mortals are even worse. Not that Alma has ever taken a mortal to her bed. Through the long years of her celibacy and rare, fleeting liaisons, she has missed this most of all, this touching of spirits capable of creating small universes, of breathing life into barren fields, of reducing a bed or a house to dust and cinder.

And oh, Gwydion’s mana has blended with her own, throwing its unruly, tumultuous power against the sepulchral quietness of hers, ripping the pulsating vibrancy that hides within her Life sphere out of its usual slumber and rumbling with it, tussling and playing as if reunited with an old childhood friend. Impetuous, impatient, great and valiant and searing, like a great guardian beast entangled in the blanket of her aura.

Thoughts of tomorrow – and of tomorrows after, be they filled with joy or loss – flee as she loses herself in this shared moment, in this eternal now where his essence grazes her skin, enters her chest, roars into her throat. And leaves a taste of iron on her tongue.

The pleasure in each movement builds up in waves, higher and higher. Stronger. Close, so very close to its peak. And that is when she feels it come, blossoming hand in hand with ecstasy. A pull at her soul. Familiar from six other times, so clear now, suddenly so easy to understand. Powered by this release of her mana, of her dual essence, of this losing of herself into the arms of another, the Wheel opens before her, calling her into its belly. Breath catches in her throat, a whimper cutting through her moans and whispers. She cannot resist. As climax hits, she loses whatever control she had before. Her eyes flare.

She takes off.

And finds herself hovering in the ether. No, not exactly the ether. Her family has a name for this place, the Spectral or Intermediate Realm. A place of rest and passage to all souls in transit between death and life. And though all gods of death can send souls here after being harvested and then pull them back at the moment of their Year’s End ceremony, so that they are spun in the Wheel, most of them have never seen this place or read more than a vague description of it. And vague it must be for this is a place impossible to describe. It is not a grave nor a place of penitence. It is not a place of torture like some mortals fear, nor one of endless bliss. It is not dark. It is not bright. It is not empty. There is light here, but no source to it. There is presence but no body. She hovers in what seems like nothing, her shape drawn in flickering light as she drifts through this limitless realm. She had never recognized it before for what it is. She knows it now. It is a heart. The beating heart of the world. The cradle of potential for all life and slumbering bed of all death. And the countless souls hovering in this waiting room of existence–not too many yet, the year has just begun – shine like fireflies seeking to attract attention. Her attention.

She stands at the center of this place though its center is not marked anywhere or in any way. It does not have to be. The center of the Spectral Realm is the heart of the Wheel. The turning axis of the Wheel of Souls. Its goddess. Its Spinner.

Alma.

Six times she has visited this place – no, seven. Maybe eight? There was one when she was very young…

A soul, its lifelong shape already mostly distorted into little more than a ball of light moves closer, clinging to her like a moth sacrificing itself to a flame. This too, has happened before. The last time was just a few days ago, at the Spinning Wheel ceremony. She remembers now. So many things make sense now…

“No, not yet,” she whispers to it. “When the Wheel spins, you can go.”

She gently pushes away the soul trying to latch on to her and it floats away, unresisting, helpless against her will. A baby, she learns from the touch, lost to the sickness of a congenital defect, no more than a few months of memories of her parents to make it hold on to its shape. She can feel the others watching her. And from a distance, other eyes, other presences looking at her with interest. But before she can investigate, she finds herself being pulled away again.

Back into herself.

神兎神兎神兎神兎神兎神兎神兎

The moment is near. He has been waiting for it for so long. Centuries, it seems to him. Or just weeks. Minutes. Or the whole of forever. Time is of no consequence to his kind. All he knows is that he has waited for far too long. He can feel it, the sheer electric surge through his senses at each thrust, at each joint movement of their hips, each deepening of their contact. He is pushed to his limits, silently begging for her body to give out. Another wave of pleasure, long, nearly overwhelming. His essence is fully wrapped in hers, captured and unresisting, a willing prisoner holding on to its captor, taking pleasure in being defeated, in being tamed, offering itself to her whims. For a moment he had feared it might hurt her, when he had felt it roar a challenge into the silken, cold shadows of her being, but instead it had sparked light in her, warmth, a rushing force that had knocked the beast off its feet, rolled with it in the dark, pinned it down and joined it in play, in a wrestle of puppies cavorting together, of predators caught in mating. And even they are at their limit.

As the final wave crests, rocking his body into its climax, Alma’s back arches, a wordless cry escapes her lips. Her eyes open, blazing with light, the pearlesque colors so beautiful and frightening in their strangeness flaring as she joins him in ecstasy.

And then something happens, a new power comes to play, opening under him as if the bed had just melted away, swallowing him whole. He feels his arms clenching around her, desperate not to lose her, a part of him terrified and another ecstatic, the core of him clamped by her essence as both are jerked upward, or forward, into the past, the future, into the Void itself, whatever this place is. He feels her presence stretching, thinning, trickling between his transcendental fingers. She is there, but she isn’t. Just beyond his grasp, her whole being hovers, twisting and turning. Death to the left, Life to the right, now moving, switching places, orbiting a glimmering center, closing in on it, pulled into it, about to crash. He can only watch, an irrational part of him yearning to join in the dance, to penetrate the eye of this raging storm.

But the forces never collide, the crashing opponents never meet. Darkness and light fade, crumbling in a million motes of mana that all pour peacefully into an Alma-shaped mold, back into his arms, into his keep. He holds her closely to him as he crashes back into his own body, back into himself. And it is all he can do to keep himself from collapsing in shock.

A short eternity of breathlessness goes by before he catches the sound of his own heavy breathing. Vision returns to his open eyes. The scent of sweat and musk, the scent of her body all over his skin. Her touch. Her hand running fingers over his side, his flesh slowly registering touch. He turns his head to look at her, marveling at the intricacy of her gaze, at the tenderness, the sharp intelligence looking back at him, at the essence of her soul that a part of him is even now still holding on to, at the beauty of her, all of her.

He rolls from his position atop her onto his side and reaches a hand to stroke her face, gazing at her in wonder. “What…was that?”

She smiles at him, her hand covering his. “That was… The Wheel. A tiny movement of it.” She takes his hand in hers and brings it to her lips, kissing his palm before rolling to face him, one arm draped over his side. “I know how I did it now. The Bunnies, how I created them. And how to keep from doing it again.”

Dion’s eyes widen in surprise. It is a pleasant shock, but still quite unexpected news. And the consequence of it… He looks around, searching for anything remotely Bunny-shaped that might not have been before. Nothing. He looks back at her. “You…you mean we can do this…without…”

Alma nods. “I just need to pay attention, not allow any souls to cling to me and follow me out of the Spectral Realm through the Wheel. My new sphere. It just made it all so obvious all of a sudden.” She looks downcast at this. “I feel rather foolish I didn’t realize all this before. But yes. It’s safe.”

He smiles, wrapping an arm around her and pulling her closer to him. “Seven wonderful beings came about as a result. But that is very good news.”

And yet he cannot help but detect a note of wistfulness in his own voice, a twinge of loss at the sweet mirage his mind had built around the possibility of fathering a Bunny. Silly feeling, but there nonetheless.

Alma snuggles against him, her voice sounding low, almost hesitant to speak the next words out loud, “I can’t help but wonder what would have resulted from our union…” She looks at him apologetically. “I’ve never gotten to raise any of them from babies, after all…”

Dion strokes her hair, finding her embarrassment endearing. “I have to admit…the thought crossed my mind as well,” he confesses, watching a sympathetic smile bloom on her lips. “I thought, ‘What if it does happen? How bad can it be?’ And I imagined him, or her, and now…” He trails off, chuckling at his own foolishness.

Alma says nothing, her lips curled in a soft grin, her hand stroking the back of his neck, a gentle-rubbing finger making the short hairs there stand on end. He closes his eyes, his throat humming a near-purr of pleasure.

“Hmm…” he hears her say. “I seem to recall an urban legend about a god who is famous for being a great lover but never staying with a lady until morning. Have you heard of it?”

“That sounds like a very silly god,” he replies, opening his eyes to find her face very close to his, her mouth just a short tilt of his head away. “Let’s not think about him.”

He kisses her just at that last word, feeling a questioning spark flash within him, his awakened essence lifting its metaphysical head in attention.

We play?

No. You just played. Sleep.

Ours!

No, mine!

Hungry little creature… He feels it grudgingly return to its nest, watching still but no longer interfering with Dion’s fun. Now, where was he? Ah, yes… great lovers.

“Though…” he says as they break away from the kiss. “On a scale of 1 to 10…”

Alma chuckles at him, playfully tackling him onto lying on his back, half-rolling atop his body as she replies, “It’s an ‘I love you’.” She kisses him. “That’s my scale.”

“Mmmmhmmm…” he mumbles as another, slow, deep kiss temporarily dissolves his thinking processes and destroys his chances at a witty comeback.

The kiss extends, degenerates into a series of softer kisses until they finally break away, sated for now.

Alma lies down again, her body fitting nicely against the contours of his side, head nestled in the crook of his arm, one leg crossed over his at the knee. “I really don’t want to sleep, but… You have already pushed yourself too far.”

Arm holding her closely, he tilts his head to look at her. “I assure you, I can push myself further.” He grins. “I need to get myself a bit higher on that scale.”

“Oh really?” she asks with a chuckle, her jesting tone matching his. “And where do I place on your little black book?” She looks at him in mock accusation.

“If I still had it?” he asks, laughing quietly at how her eyes widen in shock. He kisses her forehead. “I would have to put all the stars in the night sky in front of your name to do you justice,” he whispers. “Especially with the whole Wheel thing.” She frowns at him, her eyes squinting in obvious exaggeration of her displeasure, a telltale mark of amusement behind her expression. He can’t help but laugh. “Seriously, you should advertise the thrill!”

She slaps his chest. “Silly!”

The slap is probably a little stronger than intended and stings his skin. But it barely registers as her cry drives his laughter harder and louder, until she starts laughing too. Oh, it feels so good to laugh. He could swear he had forgotten how to do it.

They laugh for a minute or two before they trail off into chuckles and giggles. Into silence. He breathes deeply before kissing her forehead again. Enjoys the touch of a small kiss of hers to his right pectoral. They lie quietly, relaxed, his fingers stroking her hair, her hand resting over his side, thumb stroking his abdomen. Bliss. Complete and peaceful bliss. The whole world locked away outside the door to this sanctum of theirs.

It does not take very long before he feels her hand stop moving, her breathing deepening, slowing down. She sleeps. He holds her, enjoying the feeling of her body against his, letting the cadent, sluggish rises and falls of her chest against his side lull him to sleep. And soon, he too is lost in dreams, of blue twilight and dragonflies landing on his nose.

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