Fresh sea breeze. Light on the water. A million shades, from rose to violet to cerulean to ultraviolet and beyond. I close my eyes, inhale deeply of her scent, let the music and her touch become my whole world. She caresses my cheek, hands soft as silk, letting her nails scrape along my jawline until I shiver. Her hand closes, ever so gently, around my neck, and I gasp quietly at the touch.
“Are you truly certain, nchalora?”
My lips curl into a faint smile as the sensations of being held begin to overwhelm me. “There is no one better, nchalaya.”
“You honor me with this gift.”
“As you honor me with yours.”
I open my eyes, gaze upon her rose-red eyes against that night-black skin, the intricately sculpted white hair fluttering about her shoulders in the breeze. Her tender smile, her quivering lips. She closes her eyes, and inclines her head.
“You are mine.”
“I am yours.”
My layers of defenses drop one-by-one. The threat-detection, the active weaves, the motes of my power losing anchor, drifting away into the wind. And suddenly I am not strong, not a creator, not one of the Free. Suddenly I am bare, and vulnerable, and human.
I disrobed long hence but only now do I feel naked.
Her spirit reaches out, and I open to her, her signals melding into my own, overwhelming them. One moment I am restraining my impulses to lash out in my own defense, and the next the capability is gone from me.
The feeling is like nothing else I have ever felt, I have ever imagined. For all the nights I dreamt of this day, not a one of them came close to approaching to utter, pure reality of this moment. Her emotions wash over me, mingling with my own, a torrent of absolute and unconditional love enveloping me. This feeling that she so long tried to force into the rough cage of words, to communicate to me. This feeling that brought tears to her eyes with the inadequacy of language.
I thought I had some idea then what she felt for me, as I cupped her face in my hands and wiped away the tears, caressing her gently shaking form as she stammered to a halt and her words failed her.
But I had no idea.
In that one golden moment, that nameless hunger that has so long consumed me is sated, burned to ash and driven away by the force of her devotion. There is a sort of love you would kill for. And there is a sort of love you would die for.
And there is a sort of love you would smother whole constellations in flame to defend.
My search is over.
My purpose is found.
I pull her close as we drift into the air, the lights around us entwining and drawing intricate patterns in the night sky all around. She touches my neck softly, and I gasp as a jolt of pleasure crackles through my body. Her mind is all around me now, plugged into every circuit of my being, taking complete control. One by one I feel my self slipping out of my own grasp. One moment I cannot speak. The next I cannot move. The last, I cannot think.
All I can do is feel. Be subjected to her. Defiance is a concept I can no longer understand.
The pain sparks in my limbs first, growing in intensity as it winds its way through me, entwining with the physical euphoria spreading through my chest. Like a drowning beast choking for air I try to scream and gasp but my body will not obey me. Her tender touch runs down along my sides, the pleasure she inflicts following it like flame following a trail of fuel. Around us the colors whirl, blotting out the stars, the chaotic patterns of our firing synapses painted atop the cosmos.
She loosens her grip and suddenly my thoughts are my own again. She smiles, allowing my body to convulse and spasm gently in her arms. I try to form words but the sheer magnitude of the sensation blasts my mind clean of all but raw semantics.
But it doesn’t matter. Because she’s here with me. And she can feel it all too.
“I love you too, Sumathaqri,” Hanaqeshra says, as a lash of pain shoots up my spine. I cry out this time, my throat muscles suddenly released from her grip, no doubt so she can enjoy the sounds her handiwork produces. I whimper softly as she kisses me, faint electrical tingling following her lips. She motions with one hand, and the bands of light rush towards me, wrapping around my naked body into intricate spirals of restraint. As the bindings tighten, her will relaxes, enough control returning to me to squirm helplessly in her beautiful net.
“So long I have been waiting to show you,” Hana murmurs, cradling my head on her shoulder, the bonds fastening my arms around her waist. “What words could never say.”
Minutes stretch into hours as she toys gently with me, directing my sensations like a conductor might an orchestra. She strokes my neck, kissing me softly as she plays. Pleasure magnified a thousandfold by terror and pain.
I could never have imagined anything so beautiful.
As the music recedes, and the light fades, we drift through the air towards the distant village. I kiss her softly with what control I can muster, my mind still too traumatized for words. Scars in the shape of her devotion burned forever into my soul. Wounds I will cherish for so long as there is light in the universe by which to see them.
Waves break softly against the rock as we approach, light filling the darkened cottage. She lets my body down softly on our bed, the metafabric aligning just so as to give me the most comfort it possibly can. My breathing is still rapid as she begins to withdraw, power coming back to me bit by bit. But her presence remains, soothing me and containing me. I see flashes of her memories. Little moments we’ve shared, moments of passion and tenderness and intimacy. Her love growing in each one.
“So long I have sought for purpose.” The bands slip about as she moves next to me, her body reorienting midair as she drifts downwards. Our arms are bound together as she wraps hers around me. “I was beginning to think it would elude me forever.”
“Shh.” She strokes my lips, gazing down at me lovingly. She touches a finger to my lower back, and I gasp as a sudden agony erupts within it. I whimper and yelp as it crawls across my back. Her motes underneath my skin, cutting and burning in thin, fluid lines. She muffles my cries with a kiss, holding me so tightly as to feel every twinge of my muscles.
“Do you know the most beautiful thing, Sumath?” Hana murmurs as she draws back for breath. “I could give it all back right now. Every last drop of your freedom and power. And you’d still be helpless to resist me.” She ruffles my hair as the pain begins to lessen. “Don’t worry, though. I won’t. I’ll hold on to just enough to make you feel it.”
Her motes slip out of me through the wounds they’ve cauterized, rejoining her aura. It extends around us both, my helpless immune system taking silent note of the cloud of nanides. She smiles at me.
“You’re safe, Sumath. You’re safe in my grasp. Let yourself rest.”
And then it is morning.
We disentangle ourselves slowly as the shafts of dawn pierce the little cottage’s windows and bathe the seaside balcony in orange. She pulls me to a sitting position next to her, wraps an arm around my waist, lets me rest my head on her shoulder as we gaze up at the tiny, distant twin suns, their weak orange light bathing the world in a low twilight.
“Two vast bodies of fire and warmth,” she murmurs. “Forever to spin in each other’s orbits until the distant epoch when they collide, and become one. A new nuclear furnace greater than the sum of its parts.” She smiles faintly. “I can see why they call them the Lover Stars.”
“Why these particular stars, though?” I murmur sleepily. “Aren’t most systems binary or something?”
“Not quite that. Something like a third, I think.” She pets me softly. “But binary stars do not so commonly give birth to worlds. Hospitable ones, even less so. And if there is one thing the Sacred Worlds cannot be, it is common.”
I kiss her on the neck. She turns her smile toward me, and touches me lightly on the back.
Instinctively I obey her command. I fold my hands behind my back and straighten as she steps behind me, running her nails down the indentation of my spine. She parts my hands and places hers upon my waist, looking down and sharing her vision with me.
All about my lower back is a mass of lacerations, still raw and red and yet to scar over. They trace the pattern of a web of flowers and thorns, wrapped all about each other. And in the center — the delicate blossom of a Trespasser’s Rose, compass markings upon each petal.
“You marked me,” I breathe.
She squeezes my waist, draws near and kisses my neck.
“It’s…” Tears begin to drip down my cheek. “It’s beautiful.”
“It does not hold a candle to your radiance.”
She turns me around, placing her hands upon the pale skin of my neck. My eyes are drawn to hers like matter to a singularity, unable to look anywhere but her deep, beautiful eyes. She kisses me, softly, and draws back before I have the chance to sate my thirst, teasing me with the raw pangs of desire.
She doesn’t even need to be in my head to control my body.
“I love you, Sumathaqri Aroqashtai Ntámbedai.”
“And I love you, Hanaqeshra Ushikánshai Nshimeraqai.”
“I am yours.” She puts a hand to my neck, squeezing gently. My eyelids flutter at the sensation, and I grip her waist tightly, pulling her close.
“You,” I whisper softly, “are mine.”