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Consorting with Enemies
Honestly, she was relieved by the irreverence. Nythadri would lean into ritual if she believed it meant something to him, but for her it would only be another mask to wear. So the threat of his half-grin as she cupped his face prompted the hint of her own, restrained in favour of a raised brow. “I never said you were more stubborn than me,” she argued.

“And anyway, the best pancakes are in the north. Or so you told me.” She met his eye for a moment, amused and knowing. Because until tonight he’d revealed very little of his actual life as an Asha’man, but in the benign stories he had shared he’d laid a confectionery map of his tours. Jai always revealed more than he intended. She would have known where along the border to look first.

Afterwards saidar slipped away with a little less finesse than she was prepared to acknowledge. Fatigue chased the edges of control, also ignored; she was well aware she needed to rest. She sat back on her heels for his reaction, and allowed for her own attunements as her sense of him bedded into her mind. Jai shifted physically, like he was accommodating a new balance. It seemed more of a gift than she had expected, but it was her glimpse of his boyish grin that captivated her most in the moment shared.

“Like some kind of programme, you mean? We could train the world’s most elite warriors for the honour. What a wonderful idea.” She laughed a little, unguardedly dry, but within was only a sense she was revelling in his own wonder and the part she played in it. He’d reap the same physical benefits as any Warder – and the Green Ajah had its own particular secrets. But of course, want of a warder wasn’t why she’d done it. That was why there had been no oaths. It was want of him.

Her expression remained wry under his study, amused for his reactions, but he would feel the faint surprise at how quickly and unerringly he navigated his new insight. His hands found knots that nothing in her posture suggested were tight with the tension she carried. Though as his touch had skimmed up her sleeves, and she experienced something of what he felt in turn, Nythadri did not find it to be at the forefront of what she was thinking now.

Where Jai led she followed. She felt the welcome twist of his roguishness a moment before his expression changed. Heat flooded as he pulled the ties of her robe, prompting a wicked flash of appreciation in turn, and a needful tug of teeth on lip. As his attention found her neck she made a sound that only fueled the slip of his hands inside the bare curve of her waist. “There’s more I still need to tell you,” she murmured, completely serious, but the warning was easily deferred as her palm travelled the expanse of his shoulder. There was a resonant feeling between them, and it would never be as new as that first exploration.

Her fingers curled into the hair at his nape. Trailed to his jaw. When she pulled his mouth to hers, her lips brushed with heat but did not claim, just escalated that moment of anticipation with a tease that challenged capture. He’d chased her once like no horizon would ever stretch too far, no matter the bands on her hem. When she peeled away it was slow, the distance an aching divide with every sultry step backwards. Then she slipped the fabric from her shoulder, as blatant a tease as once beckoned him into the sea’s waiting arms, but with infinitely more promise. Where moonlight kissed skin then, it was only shadow and firelight to embrace in now, and her arms that waited to welcome. But she wanted him to watch first; to feel the crave of his eyes before the roam of his hands. And to see the longing in him, as he would see and feel it in her, as that robe finally puddled to the floor.

The kisses were hungrier then. They fell back into the bed, lost in each other. Desire once recklessly courted and danced for months on strings of control finally found release.


In a perfect world Nythadri would have curled into his side to sleep after. Light knew she was exhausted enough for it, and a part of her longed to escape a while longer into a world that was solely about that new wrought connection. It would be easy to mistake it for safety, because it did have that heady weight to it. Like some part of her soul finally settled into place. And for a while she did rest in the rhythm of breath and satiation, and softer touches that were a rarer indulgence of affection. The bond hid nothing of feeling.

“You have no idea how many times I’ve thought about that these past months,” she said, mostly for the flutter she knew she would feel from him at the confession. In normal circumstances and kinder surroundings, she would not be relinquishing him from her bed so soon at all. Not least for how long she had waited. The sly flash of pale eyes and twitch of her mouth said as much as she began to shift before she changed her mind. From the pillow of arms, she moved to rest against the headboard instead, still tangled in the sheets and the heat of his skin at her side. But it was another need she plucked from the bond. She knew Jai had absconded from the palace before the food had been served.

“I can’t remember the last time I ate, either. And I will need to set wards before we sleep.”

He’d soon enough recognise the fare the servants had brought alongside the bathwater as Illianer; platters of olives and cheese and bread, currently set along the sideboard from which he’d unknowingly channeled the wine earlier. Ellomai’s pastries had been a long time ago now too, and crumbled to ash for the turn the conversation had taken back then. Yet she was reluctant to move, for all duty's beckon. She reminded of the danger somewhat regretfully as she glanced over at him, aware of his boundaries, and aware of fears that would have sent him like an arrow plunged into night to protect those around him he loved. She would keep nothing from him, though it did not make her eager to begin.
[Image: Jai-3.jpg]

The last time she slipped from his arms it had been into the waters of the Aryth Ocean, and confusion and regret was left in her wake. When the silk fell like whispers to the floor, his heart actually skipped a beat. She must have felt it: the tightness in his chest that was certain to crush him at any moment. Only he realized it was from holding his breath, and when the air finally burst from his lungs, it was with such emotion, he didn’t even know it was possible to feel so much all at once.

When he sank to his knees before, it was because he knew he’d never have another opportunity to display the depths of his devotion ever again, and the temptation to do so a second time was strong, but instead, he moved only a little as the towel crashed to his ankles. She already knew he wasn’t modest, and had seen as much before, but he’d never felt more vulnerable in his entire life as at that very moment. To reveal what he tirelessly kept hidden from everyone who knew him, and for the first time since gaining that scar, he was glad to have gotten up — if it meant this was where the road led.

Then, like two magnets that suddenly flipped, they rushed together on the winds of FINALLY, and he had no awareness of the seconds that passed until the downy softness of blankets filled their world. It was like being blissfully drunk on the best wine, existing in this dreamy sort of happiness that he didn’t even know was possible in this life. He did not want to stop, and he didn’t stop, but there came a moment wrapped in arms and legs, when he looked down upon Nythadri’s blushed face, brushed the hair from her temples, and breathlessly asked her permission. It was old-fashioned, but amid the desire he felt as sure as his own, the man that touched hilt to heart showed himself, and he waited for her assent. When she gave it, he smiled, pressed his lips to hers and happily obliged.


He held her tight enough to think he’d never let her go. His mind was blissfully empty, eyelids low in exchange for drinking in the million other sensations. Her weight on his shoulder. The scent of her hair, damp with fuzzes beginning to tickle his cheek. The contentment that wound through himself — into her — and back again. It was almost overwhelming except that he wanted to be overwhelmed. And he was. It was the kind of moment he imagined he'd remember during the last minutes in this life.

Her statement tugged his lips into a broad, charmingly cocky smile, though his eyes remained shut when he responded.
“I see my plan to leave you wanting more worked like a charm.”

He might have remained completely unmoved through morning until she shifted. For some reason, it wasn’t difficult to release her, and the calmness in his expression watched her find a new position with a sort of wonder for everything she did. He often questioned what thoughts swirled behind those pale eyes, but even now, she was focused on providing like a task to be marked off a list. If he was dramatic, then she was practical. So he shifted and sat up alongside her, only to fix his gaze upon the needs currently occupying her mind and body.

Still strong, and strangely not as sleepy as he expected to be, he pat her knee reassuringly. “Well, luckily for you, Nythadri Sedai, I happen to be a channeler and can take care of both those things.”

When Jai channeled, it was like walking into a fireplace roaring with flames where only the most precise, most exact steps would keep himself from catching. He had to wonder what she would feel of it, if anything: the intensity of wrestling with saidin until control was wrought. It was second-nature, of course. So much so that he could channel and not even be aware of it, apparently, but it was gloriously powerful. Even something so simple as laying trays of food within arms reach surged him with gratitude. He plucked an olive, popping it into his mouth, and enjoyed the flavor while the second task was completed. He had no idea what to ward against, though he suspected intruders were the primary threat, so on the sweep of his hand, the threads knotted themselves over the door, and as he swallowed the olive, he explained, “It’s a lot easier when there’s only one way in or out. It’s a pain to make a ward when you’re sleeping in the woods. I mean, where do you put the knot?” And he chuckled to himself.

He plucked a second olive, this time leaning near in order to roll it against the plump of her lower lip, grinning with the kind of tease that said he might follow immediately afterward.

The tang of the cheese was oddly familiar, and he nodded in final understanding. He’d eaten the same before. Long ago. Illian. But he said nothing of it. Not yet. It wasn't until he had devoured a few mouthfuls that he realized his own ravenous hunger. There, they enjoyed the moment while it lasted.

“I know you’re eager to talk, and there’s something bothering you about waiting. Guilty, maybe? I’m not sure.” His gaze sharpened as he observed her, attempting to decipher her thoughts. "So, if you're going to insist that this can't wait until morning," he began, feeling invigorated, as though he could stay awake all night and engage in more of their current activities before leaping into battle at dawn, “then I insist on something in return.”

Despite how he felt, Nythadri was practically asleep sitting up. He wasn’t quite sure how to do it, and maybe the strength came from saidin or maybe it came from himself, but mastering this newfound focus was surprisingly effortless.

He breathed deeply after infusing some of that energy back through the bond, and slipped to his back afterward until his head was propped by the pillow, where he continued to snack while he listened.
Only darkness shows you the light.


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