impertinences: (we'll see how brave you are)
you're too young & eager to love ([personal profile] impertinences) wrote on June 12th, 2014 at 10:59 am
I got it into my mind that shifters and thropes probably don’t respond well to alcohol. I can’t imagine that the animal inside of you would feel any better about being contained within a human appearance once inhibitions are lowered. Or that, at the least, alcohol wouldn’t settle well with some preternatural species. So that sort of brought this completely random piece on, even though I intended to write about Calev. Which I still might do.

I still don’t know too much about Lene’s personality besides that she’s supposed to be sassy. So … this probably isn’t spot on … but that’s okay because she’s drunk. That’s my argument. Fair warning, this completely pitters out at the end.

--

Lene does not drink. (Intoxication does not suit her job description, and, besides, Harrow rarely wastes alcohol on beasts designated for labor – the companions get an occasional diluted glass of honeyed wine, as though the syrup and fruit concoction might ease their obligations, amplify their willingness, or soften their bestial instincts. Body guards are strict-backed, as silent as iron, and best unnoticed until a threat needs subdued.) So it comes as a surprise when she arrives at Roman’s door, past the hour of midnight, teetering on her high heels, the strap of her expensive dress slipping against her pale shoulder.

Roman raises an eyebrow, extending his arm like a blockade, barring the entrance when she tries to walk in.

She scowls at him, but it looks more like a pout. “Let me in.”

When he doesn’t, she places her palm against his chest as though she might push him backward, but her fingers get sidetracked rubbing the wool of his charcoal suit.

Roman adopts a seductive smile, a grin of charm, and naturally wraps his other arm around her waist, his palm sliding against the small of her back. To an observer, it looks like a courtship, except his eyes are too serious and they sweep the wide expanse of the corridor. The shadows in the compound are known for their watchfulness and loose lips and while he enjoys a variety of special privileges, he knows well enough that her arrival would seem odd. She’s never before shown up unannounced – they have always arranged meetings under a veneer of protocol and business.

“Was ist das?” He murmurs into the shell of her ear, bowing his head, breathing in the scent of the salt on her neck and the sand in her hair.

To his surprise, Lene makes a noise that he equates with desire, a twisting type of mewl that’s half whimper and half sigh - a cat’s noise. He’s never thought her much of a feline before.

He wonders how long it’s been for her, how many men or women have wrapped themselves around her bones, if she’s nestled into their skin and touch for warmth or fulfillment. He wonders if she’s ever let a man inside of her, if her fucking would be like her fighting, or if her tenderness is something she reveals after she’s been unwrapped and undone. He wonders if she likes to be taken on her back, like a woman, or like an animal, on her knees with fingers in her hair, neck pulled back while she braces herself with her hands. Or maybe, he thinks, she is all softness and wonder and far younger in body and spirit and life than he’s willing to believe.

Lene says “Arletta”, her mouth having trouble shaping the name, and Roman checks the hallway once more before he finally ushers her inside.
Once the door closes and the locks click automatically, she pulls her shoes from her feet ungracefully, lets them fall with a clatter on the floor, and starts fumbling with the pins in her hair. “They’re celebrating H-harrow’s win at the tournaments… They’re in a good mood. Sharing, my grandmother used to say, is caring.” She waves her wrist in the air for flourishing emphasis, her words thick, her eyes focusing here and there but rarely on him.

Roman is amused. “Be thankful Harrow did not want to share in other ways. That dress is hardly subtle.”

Lene looks down, pulls at the slinky turquoise fabric with obvious hatred, and the silver bracelets on her arm sing like wind charms when they rub against each other. “She dresses me like a … like a doll.”

“That is because you look like one.”

Something in her expression changes, and she looks horribly amused, hesitating with a sweet secret on her tongue. Roman raises an eyebrow again, calculating what it is she might be thinking, but she turns abruptly and asks him to help with the remaining pins.

He deftly removes them, smiles when she shakes her hair free, and catches her by the elbow when her balance teeters. “You have never had this much to drink before, have you?”

“Our settlements had – ”

“In other words, no.” He interjects with a laugh.

She stares at him with blue eyes, and he realizes he’s still holding her by the arm while the pressure from his fingers turns her skin white, realizes by the way her eyebrows knit together and mouth twists that she must feel awful, feel out of her skin, feel dazed and uncertain with her stomach twisted into knots, that the animal inside of her is shaking and rearing and charging against the mountain that is her body.

A wave of nausea rolls through her, and Lene clutches at his shoulder, digging her short nails into his collarbone. This, he thinks, might be the most they have touched.

“Would you like me to help?” He asks it like a gentleman might, voice soft, with no hint of expectation.

She gives the barest nod of her head, reminiscent of a sullen child.

Her looks are deceiving. She is a tiny thing and he is all the more massive in comparison. Roman rather likes it; it reminds him of Adira. The same impressive strength and capability hidden inside of a misleading skeleton. He lets her keep her hand against him, her nails biting into his skin, but he dips down and cradles her waist in his arms once more. It’s more for stability than romance, but the closeness momentarily disarms her, and he thinks she might be breathing him in. Smelling what he knows must be a scent of death and ash and the bleached whiteness of bare bone beneath the warmth of wool and elements of human trickery.

His fangs descend silently, and he pierces the tender skin right above her jugular, practically painless. She tastes like iron and strength and the sick sweetness of decaying fruit. He drinks just enough to pull the alcohol from her blood, but she yields to him only with great reluctance, her hand hot and tight on his shoulder, the stiffness of her body a reminder of the obligatory nature of the act. When he’s done, he cuts his tongue and lets his own blood heal the wounds. Lene perches on the edge of his bed afterwards, her legs outstretched, her eyes closed as she waits for the last lingering effects to fade. She’s flushed, and she accepts the glass of water he pushes into her hands, barely hearing his recommendation that she request some iron-rich poultry and avocadoes and eggs from the kitchen staff, as though she is privy to the same luxuries as he.

The air between them shifts and Roman thinks he can hear the animal inside of her quieting.

“I would let you stay … but Arletta will be starting to notice your absence soon.”

She cuts her eyes at him with a smile, understanding. “Should I send you a
companion to take my place?”

“I am perfectly capable of finding my own bedmates, thank you.”

“I bet they hate this.” Lene wraps her knuckles on the overly firm mattress for emphasis.

“Not as much as they would hate a coffin, I imagine.”

She smiles again, amused, and doesn’t even complain when he lifts her feet one by one and slides her delicate heels back on. She thinks his fingers linger on her ankle, and she wants to say something about seduction techniques but she hushes herself, subconsciously rubbing at her neck. His chivalry does not make trusting him any easier; she has seen him perform the same tender actions with many others, seen him speak into women’s ears with a similarly hushed tone, and she has also seen the calloused and natural way in which he has hurt them later - either under Harrow’s orders or merely because he is expected to behave with a certain cruelty. Old habits, she thinks, and pictures him in a German uniform.

“Thanks,” she says when she heads to the door, but she doesn’t specify what exactly for.

He shrugs, untroubled – he understands the necessities of a partnership – but the next evening he does not look at her from across the room; when she happens to knock his table over in a hustle with a disgruntled party goer, he tells Arletta that her beast has brawn but neither the grace nor brains to match.
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