Chapter 52: Shahin
Are you an angel?
Am I already that gone?
I only hope that I won't disappoint you

Shahin woke early Saturday morning, blessedly not from bad dreams, and lay soaking in the warmth of Emrys’ presence.

This was the last morning it would be like this, the last morning she’d wake up in his bed wearing nothing but her gloves and his collar. She was startled, and just a wee bit chagrined, to find the thought filled her with remorse. She was going to miss this.

Miss being humiliated for three meals a day? Miss not seeing your friends? No… but she would miss the possessive, protective way he looked at her, and the warm feeling when he rested his hand just so on the small of her back. And all that would go away today.

She’d wanted this. She’d wanted him to explain the collars to her. She’d wanted what was coming next, more, to own him. To control him. To win.

Right now, she was simply terrified that she wouldn’t be his anymore, that this happy safe feeling would end. And more terrified at what that might mean… that it might mean he was winning.

She slunk over his body, slowly, until she was straddling him, her head resting on his collarbone, her hands on his biceps, as close to him as she could be.

His eyes opened slowly, and he wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly against him. “Good morning,” he murmured.

“Good morning,” she replied, kissing his chest gently. She needed to be closer to him. It would be hard to get closer to him than this. Unless…

She sat up, reaching for one glove with the other hand. If she took her gloves off, she could be closer. She’d be nearly in his mind if she did that.

He watched her curiously, the flickering flames in his eyes subdued, hands sliding up her thighs to hold and stabilize her. It was a nice feeling, him supporting her, everything in his hands.

She hesitated, looking at her gloves. This was the one thing still in her hands – her hands. If she gave in there, there’d be nothing left to surrender. He would have won completely.

She sighed, and dropped her hands back to his shoulders, still covered.

“Not today?” he murmured.

“Not today,” she answered softly. She rested her head on his chest again. “I’m sorry.” And she was. She didn’t want to hurt him, or disappoint him.

“It’s alright. Just be with me.” He held her tightly against him, the heat of his body emanating in almost physical waves to enfold her.

“I can do that.” She kept her voice very quiet, hoping he wouldn’t hear how it was shaking. “I like being here with you.”

“And I like having you here.” He paused a moment, idly stroking her back, before continuing. “It doesn’t have to change, you know. Or even if it does, you can stay here after the next week.”

She shuddered softly. She didn’t want it to end. She wanted to stay here in his arms forever, to be his forever.

“Oh, my,” she murmured. I told you this wasn’t a game, he’d said almost a week ago. And it certainly wasn’t. It was insidious and tricky – and, of course, so was he. “Could we discuss that later? Maybe tomorrow?”

“Of course. Whenever you want. I’ll be here for you.”

She relaxed, settling back down against him. “Thank you.” Maybe he didn’t really want to break her completely. He’d been nicer since Thursday morning, almost considerate.

“Mmm...” He glanced over to the clock on the end table, frowning slightly. “We slept late this morning.”

“We stayed out late last night.” She shifted her body, just a little, as subtly tempting as she could be, rubbing against him. “And it’s nice here.”

“It is, isn’t it... I could stay in bed a bit longer.”

“I’d like that.” She smiled warmly, continuing to move slowly against him.

“You can just keep that up, then, love.” Love.

“Mmm,” she purred. “I thought it might be a good idea.” Love. She moved slowly atop him, trying not to think about the way that word made her feel, trying not to wonder if he could mean it, when he’d thrown it out there so casually.

He moved under her, his hands on her hips, directing her, and before long, she stopped worrying about anything.


Love. She lay atop him, sated, content… in love? It was hard to tell, with the pressure of the bond pushing on her. Would it feel like this?

“Love?” she breathed, almost afraid to ask, but daring because she needed to know.

“Yes?” He answered her quietly, a contented smile on his face, clearly misinterpreting her question.

“Did you mean it?” she asked, wishing she didn’t sound so needy.

“Hasn’t this place taught you the power of words by now? I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t mean it.” He held her close against him still, radiating that enveloping warmth.

She snuggled against that heat, thinking about what he’d said. “Mmm....” She hesitated thoughtfully. “I like the way that sounds. But…” She bit her lip, and then shook her head. “I like it.”

“But you have doubts,” he probed gently.

“I’m not sure Belonging to you gives me room to have doubts.”

“It makes them unnecessary, but you can have them. It doesn’t compel your heart.”

She eyed him thoughtfully. It might not be her heart, but something in her chest certainly felt compelled. “Have you ever tried it?”

“Being on the other side? No... but I guess I’ll find out.”

“Yeah.” She’d wanted that since he first grabbed her collar. Why did the thought bother her so much now?

He watched her closely, reading the look in her eyes. “Unless you’ve changed your mind?”

“You promised,” she reminded him, rather than answer his question. “The world shifted around us when you swore.”

“It did, indeed. It could only be undone by our mutual consent. Any oath can be released, of course.”

She smirked slowly. He was clever, her master, and he was using her doubts against her. She should have known better than to let down her guard. “Of course. But I haven’t changed my mind.”

“Of course not. And I hear it’s worth experiencing, anyway.”

“‘Worth experiencing.’” She couldn’t help a throaty chuckle. ”Mm, yes, I’d say it is.”

“And now we’ve missed breakfast time... so there’s not much point to getting out of bed. Although I suppose we should get you something to eat,” he mused.

“I’m not hungry.” She rarely was, lately.

“Regardless, you have to eat. We could go down to the café.”

“That would be better than the dining hall.” She poked him playfully. “I think you’re trying to fatten me up.”

He laughed, shaking his head. “Perish the thought.”

She rested her hand on her flat stomach. “I like myself the way I am.” She tried for over-the-top cute but tripped on a bit of pitiful as she asked, “Don’t you?”

“I like you just the way you are,” he agreed. “Let’s throw some clothes on though, unless you wanted to walk down to the café like this. I think we’d turn too many heads,” he grinned.

She grinned back at him. “I would if you would,” she teased, “but I wouldn’t mind some clothing, either.” Slowly, rather regretfully, she disentangled herself from him.

“I’d rather you didn’t actually, I don’t particularly like to share.” He rolled out of the bed, hunting for something to wear.

“And that’s of course why you wanted me naked in the Dining Hall the other day. The red shirt looks nice on you,” she added absently, unearthing it. “And I think it’s clean.”

“I didn’t really, I just had to think of something I knew you’d fight. I wasn’t going to let you do it.” He took the shirt from her, snatching up pants to go with it.

“Hrmff.” There wasn’t much more she could say to that. She picked a pair of wristies that left her fingers bare, and dressed to coordinate with his outfit as much as she could. “You’re lucky I didn’t puke on your shoes.”

“That’s still an impressive talent you’ve got there.” He finished dressing and turned towards the door, extending a hand to her. “Shall we?”

“As you wish.” She set her hand in his, loving the feel of his skin bare against hers.

He walked with her that way through the halls, until they reached the passageway that, once again, she had to close her eyes to walk through. She didn’t hesitate this time, trusting him to guide her with one hand on the small of her back and his other holding hers as she strode confidently forward, secure in the knowledge that he would guard her.

The Village spread out before them as she opened her eyes once again, bustling with mid-morning activity. They strolled the streets casually, heading to the small café he’d taken her to before, and Emrys smiled at the waitress as he requested a table for two.

She smiled at him as he held her chair for her. It was almost a real date, and a thousand times better than suffering through yet another meal with his friends.

That’s over now. Even if she wasn’t sure she wanted to let go, she would be relieved to never have to deal with that poisonous bitch Aggie again.

He ordered for her, as before, although she had to wonder yet again at his motives when she saw his choices. Maybe he just didn’t believe what she said about her appetite? She didn’t complain. There wasn’t that much time left, and she could fight with him next week.

When her laden plate came, she picked around the edges, trying not to appear as if she wasn’t eating.

“So, are we going to the dance tonight?”

She blinked at him for a moment, the idea of making a decision strange and novel. “No,” she answered after a moment. “No, I don’t think we are.”

“Then we’ve got an afternoon to kill. I suppose we could just stay in, after breakfast...”

She eyed him thoughtfully. “What did you have in mind?” And what was he up to?

“Mmm, well, we could pick up where we left off this morning.”

She studied him for another long moment, before the clock hanging on the back wall of the café caught her eye. Aaah. “Perhaps we can improvise as we go along?” she offered, smirking.

“I suppose we could, at that. But finish your breakfast first.”

She looked mournfully at her breakfast and began eating it. ”Only if you want me to lose it again.”

“Hey, it’s not that bad. You need to eat.”

“I’m eating.” And it was staying down, miracle of miracles. ”When did you get all mother-henny?”

“I’m just taking care of you. It’s important that you eat,” he insisted stubbornly.

She ate, hurrying at it to minimize the time he sat there watching her, and paused with about two-third of the plate empty. “I’m full,” she told him plaintively. ”Could I stop now?”

“If you’re really full, then okay. Just remember that you need to eat later.”

“You can remind me,” she smiled, standing. ”I believe you mentioned something about spending the day in bed?”

“I did indeed.” He stood as well, taking her hand again. “Let’s return to it, then.”

If it was all like this, her hand in his and him taking care of her, she could be his forever... even with the uncomfortably-full state of her stomach. She walked beside him, smiling and content, as they made the trek back to his room.


Chapter 52b: Shahin
Gotta get ahold of your man
Better get him while you can
Good to be a lion instead of a lamb
Use what you got, take the upper hand

She lay under him, content and sated, wondering at the tenderness in his touch. He’d been gentler today than he ever had before. It was wonderful, that he took such good care of her. If she could stay protected in his arms forever, life would be wonderful.

She lifted her head to say something, to tell him how wonderful he was, how much she liked this. She didn’t understand why she’d fought it for so long.

The world went cold and frozen around her, her vision blank of anything but endless blue ice. For a long, choking moment, she couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move, could barely think.

“Shahin?” He stirred atop her, setting a hand on her shoulder lightly. “Is everything okay?”

There was a giant empty place inside of her, but she’d been empty her whole life. There was a chill surrounding her, but she’d been cold for nearly a decade. Her mind was clear and unclouded.

She grinned up at him, a surge of vicious joy flooding through her. “I’m fine.”

“Ahh.” He nodded slowly, a flash of understanding crossing his face. “Yes.”

She paused for a moment, on the brink of saying something snide and triumphant, and kissed him instead. He kissed her back, apparently savoring the moment… and it was a moment worth savoring.

She smiled gently at him, feeling a surge of affection that had nothing to do with being Owned. He could have been so much worse...

“Your turn,” she whispered.

“I suppose it is, at that.” He was very still, giving nothing away with body language, nothing away with his tone of voice.

She unbuckled the collar from around her neck and let it fall to the bed, studying his face for cues.

He took a deep breath, looking into her eyes. “Then for the next week, I am yours, Shahin.” There was only a tiny hesitation - he wasn’t entirely certain of this, but he trusted her. She wondered if he still would when they were done.

“For the next week,” she agreed, “you’re mine.”

He paused as the familiar ripple settled in the air around them, and then asked simply, “What now?”

What now, indeed. When this had been new and fresh, nearly a week ago, all she could think about was some time to herself, a moment to catch her breath and be alone. Now that she had him, though...

“Now,” she said, sounding decisive even if she wasn’t, “I want a shower, and my own bedroom, and a change of clothes.” She slipped out from under him and out of the bed.

He just nodded, laying back in the bed with a pensive expression.

She let him lay there while she dressed herself, watching his face surreptitiously. “Well?” she asked him, letting a little amusement leak into her voice, “Were you planning on coming with me like that?”

“You didn’t say you wanted me to come with,” he chuckled, rising from the bed to get dressed.

“Pack a bag,” she told him, rather than answer. He quickly pulled together a selection of clothing and necessities, assembling them into a large duffel bag; she, having no need to feign impatience, helped, picking some of the shirts she liked the best on him. She didn’t want to wait, oh, god, the things she wanted to do to him...

She slipped her hands under his shirt, running her fingers over his skin. He smiled at her, then, his skin hot to the touch, as he zipped the bag. “I’m ready,” he said, the simple words resonating on multiple levels. Was he? Was she?

“Mmm-hrmm,” she purred. She could wait until she got him back to her room to find out. She stepped back from him, smiling. ”Let’s go.”

In the hall, he fell into step with her, one pace behind and to the right, the bag swinging from his left shoulder. She walked crisply, her feet hitting the soft carpet sharply, her neck feeling bare without the collar. Collar... she should buy one for him. It was only fair, after all.

Her room seemed cold and unfamiliar when she stepped in, as if it was sleeping. That would change soon enough, with his heat, with their fire. He stepped in behind her, and glanced around quickly, as if assessing the place, familiarizing himself with it.

It didn’t have much of her touch to it, she supposed, just the black lace pillow-covers her Aunt Anna had tatted and the blood-red coverlet Aunt Stazia had tracked down. Even when she’d been here every day, it had never really felt like home.

She banished those thoughts, and the threatening ice they brought with them, with a wave of her hand and a well-placed kick, sending the door thudding closed.

“Home sweet home,” Emrys said quietly, in the silence after the door-slam.

She frowned briefly; she couldn’t read anything in his expression, and didn’t like it. ”Home,” she agreed blandly, looking him over.

He set the bag down in one corner and sat on the edge of the bed, just watching her. She watched him in return for a moment, wondering what he was thinking.

Well, he was hers now. She could do whatever she wanted with him, if only she’d stop floundering around and decide something. She wasn’t going to win at anything staring blankly into space.

Shower. She’d wanted a shower. She wanted him more. The shower could wait. She closed the distance between them and, without words and without prelude, pulled off his shirt.

He smiled at her, softly, warmly... hesitantly? There was just a glimmer of uncertainty in his eyes, even as he leaned in towards her. She ate it up, loving that he was finally on shaky footing, even as she felt a pang of empathy for him. She dropped his shirt on the floor and reached for his pants.

He set his hands on her shoulders, the fire of his touch only intensified, pulling her closer. “I want you naked,” she murmured softly to him. ”All the way naked, both of us.” He stood for a moment, shedding the rest of his clothing and reaching for hers.

She let him undress her, taking the opportunity to watch his face, the fleeting scraps of emotion that passed over his expression, and to enjoy his closeness. He seemed content with her as he slowly stripped her bare, all but her wrists, and reached for them...

She caught his hands, and found that she was biting her lip nervously.

“You said all the way,” he said softly. “If you didn’t mean it, you have to tell me.”

She took a deep breath. ”All the way.” It seemed as good a time as any. “All right.” She let go of his hands, and turned her own palm-up. He unfastened the wristguards carefully, pulling them away to peer at what lay hidden beneath. It took all of her willpower not to look away. She hadn’t bared her wrists to anyone - not a single soul - in almost a decade. Not since the visions had first started coming.

He exhaled slowly, looking back up to her eyes, his own warm with concern. “Shahin...” She didn’t want to explain, wasn’t sure how she’d begin explaining, so she grabbed his ponytail and kissed him. He kissed her back, hesitantly at first, but then pulling her against him fiercely, as if trying to devour her.

Devouring, she could live with. It would mean less questions. She wrapped her free arm around him tightly and kept kissing him. He, in turn, wrapped both arms around her, pulling her down to the bed with him; she moved with him, straddling him, still holding his hair in one hand, still kissing him as she took him.


He was, all things considered, a rather nice bed. She lay atop him, slick with sweat, running her hands up and down his arms. His tattoos were alive, writhing softly under her even as he lay mostly still.

“Mmm... I think I can live with this.” His voice rumbled under her.

She looked down at him, a little amused. ”There’s not a lot of choice to be had, is there?”

“There’s always a choice, as I think you well know.” He was still cocky and confident, all of his earlier insecurity seemingly gone.

She smirked at him gently. ”I suppose there is. But you’re not yet displeased with your choice?”

“I think I chose fairly well,” he smiled up at her, the light in his eyes dancing.

“Mmm.” She traced his wandering, ever-changing tattoos with a finger, unsurprised that they had heat of their own. She knew his body, after a week serving under it. Now she wanted to know his mind. ”I think I chose well, too.” She kissed the hollow of his throat.

“Good.” He half-closed his eyes, letting her move over him.

“Good?” She chuckled down at him. He was so exasperatingly cocky, arrogant… sound like anyone else you know? She wondered if he was as terrified underneath as she’d been.

Well, she could ask.

“What are you thinking about?”

“Mmm... wondering what this is going to be like.”

“Any thoughts on the matter?”

“Well, I guess I’ll find out how well I really know you. There’s nothing like putting yourself completely in someone’s hands to help you understand them.”

“Really?” She raised an eyebrow. “So, if I’m to gauge by last week, you’re mildly sadistic, chauvinistic, caring when no-one’s looking, and every bit as much a showman as I am?” The last came to her as she was talking, in a brief flash of insight. She wondered how much of the last week had been an act, and if even he knew where that line was.

He grinned broadly, eyes opening back up. “That could be, I suppose.”

“And a weasel to boot,” she added, finding herself grinning widely. This was more fun than just making him tell her - although that had its appeal.

“A weasel, am I? And what does that make you?”

“Why don’t you tell me?”

“Well, I don’t know yet, do I? I’ll tell you in a week.”

“Cop-out,” she scolded gently, still smiling. “I want to know what you think right now.”

“I think you’re an amazing, beautiful woman, and I’m just going to have to suffer through being yours for a week.” His eyes twinkled as he watched her with that ear-splitting grin.

“Suffer?” She grinned just a little wider. “Oh, I’m sure you will.” Beautiful? Really? Amazing?


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