The two of us remain facing each other in silence for a long time, connected by our hands as our hearts beat together. Leomi grows more agitated as the minutes pass, likely resisting the urge to mess me up or check how messed up my body is.
It’s in her eyes, the way they quiver up and down my body with infatuation, worry, and desire. Meanwhile, I admire the somehow still perfect arrangement of her straight black hair, how they fall and spread atop her shoulders.
I can tell that they’ve grown longer now that I see them untied. Yet, neither of us moves. Even if I had a left hand to seize her waist, I wouldn’t. The issues between us are far from solved, and the fact she drew a line between us about Celyz means that it’ll be even more difficult to get past those problems.
I doubt we could be any more physically compatible, her body and demeanor are things I fell in love with at first sight while she somehow found my own to be things she craves for.
What restrains us is psychological, a dearth of understanding of our own making towards the other’s goals born from our deceit. We may be able to speak volumes in a few words, but that doesn’t mean we trust or can predict each other.
“What did you plan?” I ask her to break the silence instead of making the step forward into her arms that I cannot take.
“…” Leomi bites her lower lip, causing her barely healed wound to bleed again. “Use our deaths to give the Hospitaliers a running start.”
I pause, stunned by the answer. So that’s why, she swung at me, not you. I grow jealous of Elizabeth, that her existence could reach so deep into Leomi’s heart that she would make such a decision. I can merely strike, not seize. The sorrowful words echo in my mind, reminding me of my promise to live the love we crave for.
I take a step forward and bring myself infinitesimally closer to Leomi but without touching her, so close that my chin settles in the space between her perfect round twin breasts as I look up to her.
“If you were ready to give up on it all, stay with me.” I plead with a voice shattering from emotion.
“I’m willing to die for you but I won’t live according to you.” Leomi replies with a hoarse voice, her sharp traits twisting from the difficulty of pronouncing those words. “You won’t be happy with me, not for long.” She adds.
I believe her, there is no doubt that we’ll face hardships just to establish our relationship, much less maintain it or forge a life of happiness. Yet, I’m certain that she’s giving me a warning, not rejecting me. I wish I could keep her here but the truth is that I know it would be impossible even if she agreed.
“Does that mean you’ll leave me?” I ask, almost unleashing the violent beast roaring in my chest in spite of my awareness.
“No, I’ll never let you go, no matter what or who tries to snatch you. I have the right to possess you and I will exercise it.” Lance replies with a deadly look in her eyes, her voice as cold as it is unyielding.
“And so I own your body and your heart.” I utter with a twisted smile, feeling delightfully evil.
“That smile grows on me the more I see it.” Leomi tells me, her pale face’s expression melting into a gentle one in the blink of an eye.
She raises the right hand that hung to her side all this time, it occasionally trembling as if she could barely restrain it from bursting forth. Yet, she controls herself and merely caresses the air around my head.
Perhaps in the past, I would have thought that my Lady is treating me like a piece of sugar, frightened that she would break this precious and fragile thing at the slightest touch.
But now, I know that breaking me is something she desires. At the same time, I am almost irresistibly attracted to the prospect of shattering her. What the both of us likely fear the most is that we would lose the other one if we were to act in such a destructive way.
I brush my right hand’s thumb against the back of hers, causing her to tremble, her lips splitting open to expel a sigh at that mere caress. Leomi throws me a hard glance, fully aware that I did so to toy with her a little.
I suddenly feel an emptiness and lose my breath, having to catch it. After a moment, I notice that she extracted all my flow with her right hand, playing with the small golden ball of merely a single portion between her slender fingers.
Leomi scrutinizes my reaction, with our noses mere centimeters away from each other, there is nothing I can hide so I make sure not to hinder my instinctual frown followed by my disgruntled acceptance.
“Without condition, I Leomi Lance pledge my flow to Jessica Elizabeth Vil.” Leomi articulates clearly without a shred of hesitation.
A tiny golden dot appears in the center of her chest, it takes me an instant to estimate that there are at least a hundred portions and that this is merely two-thirds of her full capacity. There is a thick silver light behind me, likely flow that Leomi stored in a gourd inside her warhorse’s pouches.
I don’t thank her, I simply smile as if her gesture is natural and not something that goes against centuries of laws and tradition. The reason is simply that there is no need to mention it between the two of us, we will strive to be what we choose to be regardless of any exterior factors.
She sends my mere portion of flow back to me with a flick of her hand before lowering her arms to pass her slender fingers where my left breast should be, making me quiver in excitement despite the fact that she never makes contact.
Her expression is one of longing and loss as she does, she appears more affected by what I’ve lost than I was. There is no disgust on her face but a sense of deep regret, like a treasure was taken from her as she almost caught it.
Yet, I can’t help but tense at the thought that the scars on my body won’t so easily dismissed. Not to mention her possible reaction, I feel dread at the idea of her witnessing my state in broad daylight.
In my eyes, but not Elizabeth’s, there is a huge difference between her caresses in the darkness and her piercing gaze under the sun. Liz feels pride, yet I can only contemplate in shame that I’ve let the body I intend to offer Leomi to be damaged when hers is so flawless.
“Shh, don’t worry.” Leomi whispers gently, reaching up to a curl of my hair that she caresses with the back of her hand.
“We’ll take it slow.” I tell her firmly, in spite of the fact that I certainly don’t want to deprive myself of her. It’s the only way for us to settle into a real relationship. “Rushing won’t do us any good.” Not to mention, I can tell her touch will hurt right now by the quivers disturbing my flesh from simply being close to her.
“Okay.” Leomi starts making a smile but she suddenly blushes. “You weren’t supposed to ever find out about… you know.” She says with a tight voice.
“About?” I press, certain that she’s talking of her adventures with Elizabeth from the way that little berserk is thrashing in my mind in fury at the revelation.
“Liz and me.” Leomi admits with a tinge of shame. She opens her mouth to explain herself but freezes half-way through the first sound as her eyes shift down to my left side. “You touched me with it.” She gasps in horror.
Leomi pushes me away by using our handhold to force me to take a step back before pulling her left hand back while still squeezing mine. Her conflict between keeping hold of me and retreating results in her nails scouring the back of my hand, leaving four bright red marks from which a tiny amount of my blood seeps out.
“I tasted you through it, I had to.” I hurriedly correct in a desperate tone. “It was part of me, it was me.”
Leomi quivers in disgust and raises her right hand to tell me to stop talking with a look full of resentment but also with some understanding. She takes a while to catch her breath but doesn’t stop shaking even as she finally manages.
“I‘m going to, need to kiss you.” Leomi informs me. “Right now.” She adds, as if she thought that her previous injunction wasn’t clear enough of an instruction.
I frown, dissatisfied by her tone and choice of words, but I don’t protest because it’s an easy way to make amends, as well as one of my oldest and deepest desire for her to take my lips of her own accord.
Yet, I’ve grown since then and have discovered how greedy I am, how much more I want. I’ll never be satisfied by merely giving now, I have to take back an amount equivalent if not more.
Still, I did overstep by a huge margin with the Little one so it is to my advantage for this to be all she asks… well demands without giving me the choice to refuse if I’ve read her correctly, which I have.
I briefly nod to acknowledge that I’ve heard her while I scrutinize the involuntary spasms of revulsion that have yet to fully recede. A kiss will do much, but it won’t be enough.
Leomi reaches out to the side of my face with her right hand. She merely rests her slender fingers on my cheek, her hold is a mere caress and can’t be considered firm yet it’s all she needs to force me to raise my chin and enter her personal space.
We stand with our bodies a hair apart, our hearts beating irregularly like the pair fears to thump without first hearing the other’s vital sound of life but unwilling to completely stop because each pulse is an expression of love and longing.
Leomi closes her eyes first, making me instinctively do the same. I feel her leaning in so I push slightly with my toes to reach out to her as well. Her fresh and cool lips land on my burning mouth without warning as she seizes the initiative.
She takes my lower lip in to nibble it while her tongue runs along the pulp, behaving so roughly that I find no opportunity to participate short of doing something that would ruin it.
I soon feel her fingers settle on my cheek. She apparently chose to resolve her aversion towards what I did in short order. It makes me relax just slightly and reach up to her own cheek, finding it unfathomably soft and cold at the same time.
Leomi surrenders instantly to that patient caress, leaning into my palm as her kiss quiets down and she makes space for me to join in. Our lips realign and part for our tongues to meet.
The sensations as our tongues timidly poke, swipe, and slide together are magical, they are incomparable to how I felt when we kissed before. This time, instead of passion, there’s apprehension. We’re shy instead of bold, timid instead of intrepid.
Just as Leomi, I pay less attention to myself than to her. Our lips and tongues move together like the waves of a tide, advancing and receding as we nervously create a fragile but pure dancing kiss.
Our lips naturally split as we grow short of air. We both unsurprisingly found ourselves unable to breathe as we were completely enthralled by the other, completely focused on what we could give at the expense of what we needed.
“I love you.” She tells me.
“I love you.” I tell her.
There are tears streaming down her cheeks. I reach up to my own, finding that I’ve been crying myself. There is nothing that can compare in our relationship to this kiss we just shared, not even the first time we had sex.
The only event that could compare would be the night we lose our virginity, yet even that will neither surpass nor replace this moment. We stand there crying and grinning like two idiots while the sun continues rising far above the eastern horizon.
“It is a bit early but, would you join me for lunch, Jessica?” Leomi asks a bit hesitantly.
“Of course.” I nod, feeling elated at how careful she’s being.
It means our relationship isn’t very solid yet, but it also means that she isn’t looking to submit me. I notice from the edge of my field of vision that Leomi is squeezing her fists like she’s obtained a hard-earned victory.
Such a little thing like that and she treats it with such importance. It boosts my confidence and pride to be so valued. I can’t help but lock eyes with her, trying to express with my gaze what I would fail to with stuttering words.
Leomi fiercely breathes cold air in, like she’s barely able to keep standing under my look. I blush in spite of the fact that she should be the one with red cheeks.
She hops over to her warhorse and pulls a thick blanket out of a pouch, folding it in a neat square before seriously handing it over to me. I accept it, understanding that she wants us to do things perfectly this time.
It’ll be very difficult to achieve between our quirks and our differences of opinion, not to mention the unavoidable obstacles that the rest of the world will throw our way, but we’re far from naive and we won’t retreat in front of hardship.
I make my way over to the large oak I used to eat my lunch under when I toiled in the area and spread the blanket out under it before sitting down with my back against the large trunk.
Leomi brings over two pouches and a soft leather gourd to let me arrange things while she returns to clean her gear of snow and put it away. While she does, I unstrap the first pouch and find a pack of traveling rations next to a pile of sliced smoked meat. I open the pack, finding some kind of very compact bread cut into rectangular slices.
In the second pouch is a set of writing apparatus containing ink, paper, quills, wax, the Hospitalier seal, House Lance’s seal but the crest lacks the house of Meria’s antlers atop the lance, a book without a title, and a set of various knives including a scalpel.
I open the book to throw a quick look inside. The first few pages describe various rules to respect when writing different letters and the intricacies in how to address Nobles whether they’re titled or not, including advice about what to say when one is asking for a favor, providing one, or engaging in a trade.
I flip a few more pages, finding a list of crests with short descriptions of these families’ histories. At first, there is a single page per Noble house with extensive information but then there are several, the sixth’s is about house Cenwalh while the first five introduce the other Kingdom’s Royals.
I don’t attentively read through but I do catch the fact that this book is very new and that, while the Royal houses have ruled their Kingdoms in the past, no house has done so consecutively for more than three generations.
I pick the bottle of ink and the scalpel out because I have an intuition about why Leomi took this pouch out before closing the pouch. I arrange the pack of rations and the stack of smoked meat in front of me before picking the gourd, finding that it’s filled with a rather mild but fragrant wine.
Leomi returns then, having removed her hard leather armor and chain mail, she now wears a riding outfit with padding for the thighs and calves. She sits down on my right but at an angle so we can easily look to one another by slightly turning. I reach out and take hold of the left hand she just put down next to me, feeling like this is a dream come true.
“I didn’t prepare much.” Leomi tells me apologetically.
“Mhm, let me have a taste.” I reply, unconcerned.
She immediately understands what I mean and grabs a piece of ration, breaking a corner off before gently pushing it past my lips. I’m very careful not to touch her fingers as I take hold of the compact piece of bread and chew it down into dust.
It feels like a combination of bread with ground meat and vegetables which is pretty good, definitely better than my usual. I beckon for another bite with my chin. Leomi obliges while observing me attentively, preparing a third piece with seemingly no intention of eating it.
I let go of her hand and reach out to it but she shakes her head. “I’d rather watch you for now.” She tells me with a slight blush.
I give her a very serious nod and lean back onto the tree to be fed. I look up at the sky, having a hard time believing that I could be so lucky. As I do, Leomi hands over the gourd. I open it and have a sip under her unflinching gaze.
“I can’t be that fascinating.” I comment, feeling awkward.
“Don’t fish for praise.” Leomi counters instantly.
“I’m not.” I protest.
“You’re brighter than a summer sky to enjoy and more calming than a spring breeze to savor.” Leomi explains with a serious expression.
“You’re making fun of me.” I chortle.
“A little.” Leomi admits with a chuckle. “But not entirely. Hand over the gourd.”
She doesn’t wait for me to do so and directly takes it from my hand. She takes a long gulp and lets out a sigh, looking up to the clouds with an expression of peace on her face that I don’t think I’ve ever seen her wear.