A/N: Quick reminder. I'm only including the Nerys and Killiare chapters here. For those looking for the larger context, take a look at "Claws and Cloaks" on kkolmakov's page, as well as "Wolf Red and Wolf White" on Wynni's page. It's a three way collaboration.

Nerys pulled away with a gasp. This was the sixth night she'd spent with Killiare and she desired him desperately. Pushing him away, she turned suddenly and sat by the fire with her back to him as she angrily stabbed a stick at the embers.

He was silent behind her, but unlike the previous nights when she'd done this and he'd gone to sit far from her, allowing her her space, this time he settled beside her, his arms draped lazily over his knees.

"What is it?" he asked calmly.

She didn't answer and only stabbed the embers harder, glaring at them.

"Nerys, please. Have I done something to upset you?" His voice was low and gentle. He sounded concerned, and she felt guilty.

"No, not at all," she said.

"Then what's the matter?" he asked. She didn't know how to respond or know how to explain her fears and remained silent.

"I understand the first time can be painful, for you," he said carefully. She froze, her eyes fixed on the flames of the dying fire, not daring to move or look at him. Finally she spoke.

"I'm not afraid of a little pain." Her low voice was barely perceptible above the cracklings of the fire.

"Then what?" he asked, clearly more confident now that she was talking to him.

She began to stab furiously at the embers again, stubbornly refusing to speak for several minutes.

"I'm not used to being bad at things." Her voice was barely a whisper. She could feel the pinch between her brows as she scowled angrily. She didn't miss the surprise on his face as he stared at her. And then he began to laugh.

"What?" she asked, glancing at him in irritation.

"Well, if it makes you feel any better I'll have nothing to compare it to."

She looked at him unable to mask her surprise. "Really?" The stick lay in her hands forgotten as the flames flickered feebly.

He didn't make eye contact with her as he shrugged, his eyes fixed on his hands. She could make out the faintest blush on his neck through the light of the fire. "No one has ever shown much interest before," he murmured.

Nerys glanced at him and caught his warm chocolate gaze. She studied his features, her eyes lingering on his full bottom lip that she loved to run the tip of her tongue over. "I find that hard to believe," she said.

He shrugged. "I haven't been sought after, being of wolfkin family."

Nerys looked at him levelly. "I hadn't considered that." He slid closer to her and reached for her hand. He had to gently pry her nervous fingers from the stick.

"Nerys," he said. She refused to look at him. "Nerys," he said again, more insistently. She gazed stubbornly at his chin. "Tell me, please, what can I do?"

"I want it to be pleasurable ... for you. And I'm concerned that it won't be." Her cheeks coloured at her admission and she couldn't bring herself to meet his gaze.

He drew her hand to his lips. "Nerys," he whispered. "It will be with you. It will of course be pleasurable for me."

She dropped her eyes to their joined hands. "Killiare, I've never ... felt this way before." She wasn't sure what she had meant to say but she'd surprised herself. She glanced at him to see if he understood. His gaze was happy and warm. "Over the past days, I feel like I've come to know you. I feel very, attached, even though I avoided at first, and I don't want to do something that will make you find me unappealing."

He appeared to nearly laugh at her words. "How could anyone ever find you unappealing?"

Nerys shrugged at him. "Wren is sought after by so many, and Carys is warm and sensual. I'm not like either of them."

"Nerys," Kili said, again. "I feel it too."

"You feel what?" she asked, not understanding his meaning.

"The, attachment. I feel it as well. I think ... I believe," he suddenly stammered as he spoke. "What I mean to say is that, well, I am very fond of you." His words were rushed as he spoke, and he stared at her intently, waiting for her response.

She exhaled in relief as he spoke and ventured a smile, which he returned. Although she was uncertain of her future with him, she felt comforted by his shared affection for her. She suddenly was aware of how close he was to her again. Her breath caught as he leaned in slowly and pressed his mouth to hers. She had no desire to stop him this time.

Bringing her hands to his chest, she slid her hands over his shoulders to push his cloak from his shoulders. He pulled back quickly. "You're sure?" he asked, his voice suddenly husky and hoarse.

She nodded, feeling suddenly eager. She felt warm and safe and pressed herself to him, capturing his lips hungrily again. "I'm sure," she gasped. "These days have been agony."

He hummed as he gripped her back firmly. "They have for me as well." His hands came round to her.

They removed their clothing, their heavy mails, their boots, in a tumble of nervous laughter. Nerys gasped as Killiare brought his mouth to her neck, just below her ear. His actions became increasingly frantic, and at one point Nerys heard him growl, deep in his throat, when suddenly his whole body tensed and he emitted a pained moan.

"Are you unwell?" she asked, as she pulled back in alarm.

He stared at her, breathing deeply, his face ravenous, his eyes black as ink. His mouth stretch in a wide wolfish grin as he leaned in to capture his mouth again.

"I am more than well," he said. Nerys gasped when she realized he hadn't spoken, that his mouth was still moving over hers hungrily.

"You mated!" He pulled back and grinned at her words. "I had hoped that would happen, but I dared not wish."

"I suspected it would," he murmured, his voice husky. "There were signs."

"Does this mean that … we are bonded?" she asked, although she knew the answer.

"If you wish it." His eyes held her, and she felt his hunger as though it were her own. She also felt his apprehension and insecurity as he awaited her response.

"I do," she whispered, out loud unnecessarily. His mouth was already upon hers before she was done speaking. She pressed against him again, hungrily, her heart soaring at the unexpected change this week had brought her. She could feel his own thoughts that mirrored hers, his happiness at this moment of realization of their future lives together.

She could feel his thoughts. She was nervous, but she could tell he wasn't noticing. He'd been taken by the mating and was preoccupied only with his goal. He was hardly aware of his own thoughts, she could now tell. She marvelled suddenly at men's minds. As much as she felt uncomfortable with his being able to see hers, she didn't find it too bothersome. But she marvelled at how single minded he'd become.

She realized he could hear everything she was thinking even as she reasoned this out. He looked up at her. "You seem preoccupied. Are you sure you want to do this?" He was referring to the plethora of thoughts running through her head, she realized in surprise.

"Yes," she whispered. "I'm just a little bit unnerved by how exposed I feel with your being able to know everything I'm feeling or thinking. And I was nervous before."

"Don't be," he murmured, his thoughts returning to his task. He clearly seemed to think he'd reassured her.

Nerys' mind followed his as his hands explored his skin, pressing against his chest. She had until this moment avoided looking at him. The night was still well lit as it had only been a few days since the full moon, and the sky was clear. With the flickering of the light Nerys was able to see Kili well as she pulled back shyly, forcing herself to gaze fully upon him. And she was disconcerted.

She'd heard stories of men's bodies but was not prepared for how unappealing she found it at first. It looked like an ugly flesh coloured snake protruding arrogantly from between his legs. She wasn't horribly alarmed as she imagined her body was not perfect for his eyes either, but she hadn't been able to stop the thought from reaching him as he drew back suddenly, staring at her with wide eyes.

"Oh!" he said. "I … ah … oh."

"Killiare," she rushed. "I didn't mean, I was just surprised. I haven't ever seen before." She could feel his embarrassment and shame, and some sort of unspecific memory from his past of being teased or bothered by non wolfkin boys who caught him passing water in the woods when he was young surfaced briefly before he quickly shoved it away. He raised his hands for a moment. She had clearly found one of the things that would deter him from his single minded pursuit, and she regretted it horribly, feeling panicked and ashamed.

"Killiare!" she exclaimed again. "What can I do?"

"I need you to calm yourself," he breathed. "I can feel your angst."

"Alright," she breathed. She wondered how the connection between minds was at all helpful, desirable as it had seemed moments before. She closed her eyes, her fighter's training helping her soothe and calm herself, allowing her to clear her mind. She willed away the panic and fear that their first joining would be horrible and would ruin them, bonded as they now were.

Feeling calmer, she looked at him. "Thank you," he smiled.

"Killiare, I think you're very attractive. I'm truly innocent in men's bodies." He smiled and nodded, and she could feel his confidence returning. They moved together again, but she noticed he was not as hard as before. She had heard a woman speaking once of using her mouth to stimulate a man. Killiare groaned, and Nerys realized again he'd heard her thought. She could tell he greatly desired for her to do so.

Biting her lip, she dropped to her knees before him as she gazed upon his semi-tumescent cock. She had been wrong before and now felt it was quite appealing. Killiare whimpered as she brought her mouth to him, running her tongue experimentally over the tip. Then she quickly took him into her mouth, remembering what she'd heard women say about how men liked to feel themselves fully in a woman's mouth. She began to bob her head up and down as she thought she should when suddenly she heard Killiare hiss and felt that he was in pain.

"What's is it? Have I done it wrong?"

"Teeth," he gasped. She was relieved to see he was still hard but realized she had harshly grazed her teeth over the skin that must be very sensitive. She felt herself blush deeply, mortified that she had not considered this. She began to wonder if she would be able to perform the act at all. She had felt shy before, and now she seemed to be bumbling things horribly.

"Shall I try again?" she asked, relieved that he nodded. He was anxious, but stroked her hair soothingly.

"Don't worry," he said. "You're very nervous, as am I. But it … makes it … more difficult." He laughed, and she realized he was saying his own nerves were already a problem, and hers added were making it hard for him to focus.

"Alright," she whispered, returning her mouth to him. She was barely successful in willing away an awkward feeling that was beginning to descend on her. She felt bare and exposed, on her knees in a forest, trying experimentally to mouth a man when she hardly knew what she was doing. She felt horribly unprepared for this moment and was beginning to worry she was going to make a horrible error.

Wrapping her mouth around him again, she was careful to keep her teeth covered. She felt him relax, which helped her to feel more at ease. He groaned and she could tell he was beginning to greatly enjoy her actions as she felt his hardness return. Remembering another thing she'd heard, she brought her hand up to cup his sac firmly, earning a pained shout from him this time.

"What is it?" she pulled back. He was bent over slightly, his hands on his knees, unable to speak. She could feel nausea and pain radiating from him and she realized she had gripped him hard.

"Oh, I should have known!" She was horribly mortified now. Did she not know this was an undefended area that she herself had used to her advantage in combat? "Killiare! What can I do?" He moved quickly away from her, and she felt anger and annoyance as well as pain mingling in his thoughts. The feeling stalled her, and she felt shame building up inside of her, morphing with the realization that this had gone horribly and was truly ruined.

"I think I'd like to stop," Killiare gasped. Reese felt even more ashamed. When had a man ever been the one to cease when he had a willing maid? She realized how unappealing she was, how inept she was that she was unable to maintain a man's interest within minutes of his reaching his goal.

Angry with herself as she began to feel tears build in her eyes, particularly because he knew they were there as she could hide nothing from him now. Turning her back to him, she sorted their clothes angrily, throwing his towards him as she dressed herself roughly. She could tell he had composed himself, his thoughts were gentle again, but she could feel he pitied her as well. She refused to voice her thoughts though. There was no need, but it made her feel as though she had some control over what he knew of her shame.

"Nerys," he murmured. She cringed at his loving tone. "Please, don't be angry. There's nothing to be ashamed of."

She snorted at his words as she drew her mail over her head.

"Nerys, please. We are bound to have difficulties. It mustn't be easy the first time, and sharing thoughts, I thought it was desirable, but I can see now we will have to take time, be careful with each other. And it will pass in a few days, and then maybe we can try again, until we know each other better?"

She straightened up and turned to him, suddenly furious. "We will never try again," she spat. "I will never put myself in such a mortifying situation again. You may be mated to me, but I will never allow myself to experience such shame again." She could feel how sad and hurt he was at her words and immediately felt regret at hurting him, not that she could hide her thoughts as it was. Feeling no more need to speak, she turned and walked to the opposite side of the fire. She could tell he knew he should not approach her again that evening.

This was how they spent the night, far apart from each other, unable to escape the intermingled thoughts of shame, embarrassment, judgment and despair that no couple, particularly a new one, should ever know about the other. She knew with time she'd be able to block the sharing of thoughts, but she had to wonder how people who were mated in this way managed to survive the early months of the relationship.

The next day was no better. Wren and Darius had returned to the camp, and Killiare and Nerys spent the morning in silence as they made to move on. Killiare tried to speak to Nerys when they walked, but she refused to engage in discussion. She couldn't keep him from her thoughts, but she found she became better and better at blocking him. She was grateful that it was a skill that could be learned as it appeared they were destined to share these thoughts every full moon from this day forth, willingly or not.

"Nerys, are you alright?" Wren had approached Nerys after two more days of silence. Nerys had not missed the worried glances Wren had shared with Darius. Nerys was grateful that the mind connection with Killiare had passed, only typically lasting three nights at most.

"Yes, cousin, I am fine," Nerys said harshly, not looking at Wren's strange concerned eyes.

"I can see that you are not. Did you and Killiare argue?" Wren seemed truly worried for her.

"We did not," Nerys said. "Believe me, cousin, all is well." She didn't care that her voice had a forced lightness to it. She couldn't help being annoyed later that day when she saw Darius in furtive conversation with Killiare. She knew Killiare was sharing everything with Darius, and Darius even cast Nerys concerned looks from time to time.

Nerys ignored them, instead focusing on the plan she and Killiare had to trap Wren and Darius in a cellar of an abandoned house to protect them from the Crooked Dwarf. They would arrive the next day, and despite her current circumstances, Nerys was a woman of her word. She had promised Killiare of the plan, and she would not stray from that path.