"Why did you bring me here. Why save me."
"For the same reason why you brought that shield around me instead of yourself."
Dorian lets his head sink back against the ground, the rocks and grass digging against his scalp. It hurt. Everything hurts, and he hates it, this feeling of utter helplessness, hates it from the marrow of his bones, from the bottom of his heart.
"You don't get to kill yourself fighting an immortal mad queen, princeling," the quiet rasp of her voice meets his ears. He strains for a sound, any sound at all, but he can't concentrate on anything beyond her words. He curses himself again.
"What...happened?" he lets himself ask, finally, equally wanting and fearing the answer. Disdain floods him at the frailty in his voice, his throat dry, an odd mix of blistering heat and biting cold dancing in his veins, tiring him, consuming every bit of substance in him.
Dorian forced his eyes to open, if only for a hairsbreadth, if only to be able to gauge her reaction.
There was nothing, though. Or, nothing that any other creature would've perceived. He strains himself, forcing his eyes to squint, to see, to look. The blank expression on her beautiful face would've given him pause, or rather, should have, if he'd ever had the sense to feel any semblance of restraint in her presence. Which he'd never done.
Her face would've been blank, save the firelight crackling over it, painting her gold and amber and ivory, and Dorian feels his breath almost catch, a reaction befitting the little boy he's once been.
Manon's face is almost impassible, except for the minuscule tightening of her mouth, the tiny crease at her eye, the almost-frown between her silvery eyebrows as she stares into the fire.
She seems to finally snap out of her silence, and she inhales sharply before those golden orbs of hers bore into his eyes.
"You tried to take on that queen. She used some sort of magic to turn your power against yourself. You burned out and fell from the fucking sky," she says, almost easily. Almost like a careless report, almost like discussing the weather. Almost, except not quite.
Dorian murmurs in agreement, vague shadows of memories flooding his mind, the soft whisper of his tired magic answering in kind, crawling through his bones.
"And what happened then?" he asks, closing his eyes for a moment of rest.
"What do you think?" she counters gruffly. A guttural growl is heard from somewhere close, so very close, and Dorian realises that the side of his body not facing the fire, is yet warmed up by some sort of furnace.
Abraxos. Of course.
Dorian hums from deep in the back of his throat, his overused body clenching in pain. Helpless. Helpless, and saved again by the witch.
What he means to do in his situation, he has no idea. There is no plan, none whatsoever, as Manon and him and Abraxos appear to be stranded in the middle of nowhere.
The witch has yet to come out of her stupor. Her shock. Whatever it is that plagues her mind. A vicious snarl in his mind is grateful for at least that, that he's not the only one incapacitated, the only one lost and wavering.
Remorse at the thought follows imperceptably close, hitting him in the gut, and up goes the pile of things he despises in himself.
He dares to open an eye in her direction, but Manon lays in the same position he'd left her. Dirty shirt hanging around her shoulders, knees tucked into her chin, arms around them, her hair slipping from its intricate braids, now a tangled silver rope down the length of her back.
He remembers her. He remembers her cloaked in the darkness of her cell, soft and hard and warm, for all her blood running blue.
Dorian sometimes forgets what it feels like to be warm, sometimes forgets that the tingle of magic at his fingertips, the static in his hair and the gleam around his eyes are not a state, are neither nor warm nor cold, nor anything. They're just magic, they're just alive, but not living.
Not when he's with her. Heavens. He dares to try and turn his exhausted body on his side, put his back against Abraxos's heat, wanting to face the witch.
"Why not leave me off in some forgotten corner of the kingdoms?" he asks, goading a reaction from her. A vindicative bit of him wants to see her burn, shine brightly enough to blind him, he wants her to burn in anger or regret, or reproach. He wants her to feel just as useless, as drained and tired as him, except there's nothing in her face.
She scowls and looks at him with that special sort of coldness, the one that meant a creature would soon die at her hands, but then an irrational laugh starts bubbling in his chest, because he isn't afraid of her, he doesn't fear the monster she so dearly presents herself as, and gods, isn't that hilarious.
The first huff of laughter dies in his throat, though, and becomes a coughing fit. Dorian struggles for breath as coughs wrack his body, and he clutches, scratches and claws at his throat, where his scars to be choking him again and again, as his magic buzzed inside him, like in all off his nightmares.
Strong arms lift him up, turn him around and rip his hands from his throat, and the deja vu hits him like a cold bath, as he looks up through tear-fogged lashes and sees a pair of golden eyes looking at him.
For the first time in an eternity, Dorian feels like he can breathe.
As his breathing calms, he does not dare to break eye contact with the witch, the dazed, angry look in her eyes calming him, seemingly going through his very soul and it is so very pitiful of him, to feel so naked in her presence, after everything that has happened.
He fights the urge to turn away, the urge to run and hide and never see daylight again, and his trembling fingers dare grasp at the hands holding his wrists, softly, surely, the pads of his fingers caressing her scarred knuckles.
Dorian never stops looking in her eyes, searching for every minute reaction in her dirt-covered face, and there he catches it, a trembling in her lower lip, bitten and raw, a jerking motion in her jaw, and it should be enough of an answer.
Their hands changed positions, he notes idly, his now holding her palms upward, skin against skin, blood dried on the pair of them, red and blue, blue and red, and he wonders if he clawed at his throat hard enough to break the skin.
It doesn't matter, though, not as he raises her cupped palms to his face, his lids falling shut as he presses his lips to her hands, tasting blood and death and dirt, skin soft like silk and callouses and scars that taste like tears.
Maybe his own tears, he thinks, as he presses his mouth against her wrist, feeling a thrill when he feels her blood thrum beneath her translucent skin, when he feels the beat of her heart, the vibration throbbing through her veins. The small, minute amount of magic left in him comes to life, calling for her own, and she answers in kind, the sound of her iron claws snapping in place at the ends of long fingers and these fingers touch his face, resting against his nearly gaunt cheekbones, they go on his temples, comb through his hair, her nails leaving soft trails on his skin, the sharp bite of iron a quiet distraction from the void inside.
He purses his lips against the plush skin of her forearm, reaching the edge of shirtsleeve, and he nuzzles the material, inhaling deeply when he reaches her shoulder, her other arm thrown around his neck, a steady length of ribbon tying the pair of them together, holding them close, but he is empty inside, the room left by his burnt our magic a seething void, waiting to be filled. The want hits him then, the pure unadultered want to fill himself with this witch is overbearing, so he snakes his arms around her waist and back, grasping her to him, and they melt against each other as he finds the skin of her neck.
It's only now that he dares to ask again, after pressing long kisses and blew hot air on the column of her throat, that he finds the soft shell of her ear, nibbles it with his teeth, and then breathes against her ear.
Manon snarls at him and turns, their noses brushing against each other, mouths open and sharing breath.
Only now, he opens his eyes to find hers searching. A golden ring surrounding pure darkness, and her flared nostrils and flushing mouth, her iron teeth out and gleaming
Dorian's heart stops in chest, and a tingle of magic passes between them, static making the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck rise, goosebumps errupting on his skin as her nails scratch his scar. At that moment, desire floods him so thoroughly, so fully that he gives himself up, lets himself drown into it, it and the knowledge that Manon Blackbeak, flushed with want, with her hands around his throat, her fangs near his mouth and his magic wrapped around them both is the most beautiful sight he's ever laid eyes on.
Her thighs come around his hips, his fingers toy with the shirt tucked in her leather trousers, taking it out and sinking against the warm flesh of her lower back, and her mouth, all lush lips and sharp teeth, slants against the place where his shoulder meets his neck, the place where his father's collar had once lain.
His eyes roll into the back of his head, fear and desire warring inside his soul as he moans in her ear.
"That's why," she answers and their eyes meet.
It registers somewhere in the back of his mind that her voice is as cracked and trembling and lost as his, but it falls on deaf ears as one of his hands tangles in her moonlit braid and pulls her head back, baring her exquisite neck and her sharp teeth and Dorian slants his mouth against hers in a kiss that is both conquest and surrender, both stealing her and losing himself.
She's mercifully retracted her iron fangs, but not before drawing blood from him; so he strokes his tongue along the roof of her mouth, meshes their lips together, holds her tightly by her hair and feels her arch into him.
Her fingers are at his jaw, twitching, holding him tight, one second away from crushing his windpipe, and the thrill of that sends warmth flooding into his belly, so he feels for the place of her split lip and sucks on it, drawing blood and the sound that comes out of her is half a snarl and half a moan, which spurns him further, has him raking his teeth along her bruised lip and then soothing it with his tongue.
Manon's claws dig in his shoulders, cutting through his tattered doublet and his shirt, scratching his skin and he parts from her for long enough to tsk in mock annoyance, a slow grin on his lips, but her eyes are closed and she's panting for breath through her teeth, which fills him with some very primal sort of pride, and his short nails claw at her shirt and she hisses at him when they hear the material tear. He presses wet kiss after wet kiss to her mouth to distract her, rougish laughter bubbling up in his throat and he raises her shirt over her head, and her hands go back to his doublet, pulling, ripping the buttons that remained resistant in front of her.
His shirt, the witch rips at the neck, too inpatient to untangle the mess of strings holding it together, and that joins the rest of their clothes on the hard ground, and they groan in unison at the sensation of skin against skin.
Dorian rips his mouth away from hers, licking his way down her throat, sucking at her bruised skin, teeth and tongue dancing on her flesh. His hands roam on her back, feeling her arch and writhe against him, hips sliding against his and he bites softly at her collarbone, pressing a kiss to the spot, before his hand rises to cup her breast.
He circles a finger around the tip, never touching, and presses a kiss to the underside of her other breast again and again, biting the soft flesh, draging his mouth over it, teasing her, but it's only when his mouth closes around a nipple, his tongue caressing the sensitive skin, that she lets out a mewl which has him looking up at her, wanting to see her undone, and gods, she is a nightmare and a dream and beautifully lost.
Her shoulders are pushed back, muscle shifting under scarred skin, purple blooming where he'd bitten and sucked, her fine-boned neck arching back, and Manon is biting her lip, her head thrown back in ecstasy, her lids heavy on her golden eyes.
It is then that Dorian feels his chest tighten, not with magic, but with some sort of longing so deep he turns from it before it may look him in the eye, he tries to fight it before it can take root in his soul, but his tongue caresses her skin and the moan that goes past her defense breaks him, and he knows he'll always see this when he closes his eyes, he'll see her wrecked and wanting and flushed and he forgets why that would not be a good idea.
He kisses the scar on her abdomen, swirls his tongue around it, reaching the hem of her pants and he blows hot air against her skin.
Then, her nails rake down his back, the bitter tang of iron making him groan and kiss and her hands are fumbling with his belt and they fall in the cold grass in a tangled heap of limbs and hot breath.
He presses her into ground, the heel of her boot digging into his back, and she's managed to get his pants and smallclothes down and Manon is lifting her hips off the ground as he takes off her tight trousers and kisses the side of her throat, and gods, they're both ruined and gods, he wants to tease her, to bring her to the brink of insanity and make her beg, watch her unravel underneath his gaze but her legs are around his waist, and she's scalding hot, against him, and it only calls to the magic inside of him, the tingling in his fingertips as he flicks her nipple and wasn't she supposed to be made of ice?
A broken moan is torn from her throat when he enters her and she envelops him wholly, utterly, perfectly and Dorian wants to swallow that sound and hold it in his chest forever. He meshes their mouths together then as he thrusts into her, and his witch answers in kind, rolling her hips against his and sliding her tongue in his mouth and pulling onto his hair.
Suddenly, her hands claw at his shoulders; she pushes and with a roll of her hips, before Dorian can think anything at all, he finds himself underneath her, silver hair dangling over a shoulder, over a breast, the intersected and intricate braids it had been bound in falling apart, and she starts moving against him, riding him in careless abandon and Dorian lets out a moan from deep inside his chest.
Manon slams a hand against his abdomen, anchoring herself, opening her eyes just a sliver, barely just enough to look at him and he gives her half a smile, curling a corner of his mouth at the sight of her, and he digs his hands into her hips, hoping darkly from the bottom of his being that this'll haunt her just as much as it will him.
His witch continues to move above him, each tug of him inside her electing a sound from his mouth and he watches as her flushed chest goes up and down and he forces himself to rise and take a breast in his mouth and he suckles and tugs at it with his tongue and teeth and his hands glide up her taut belly and her waist and back, they ends of her hair tingling his cheek and shoulder, and he feels her tighten around him, then her hands find his and she pushes them above his head and tangles their fingers together and their faces are so close and she moans in his ear.
In turn, he nuzzles at her cheek, presses kiss after kiss to her ear, her cheekbone, her jaw and her eyes are molten gold, dripping into his soul, and Dorian finds her open mouth with his and kisses her languidly, with just the right measure of desperation and the sound she makes in his mouth is so perfectly broken, that it nearly makes him come then and there, nearly breaks his heart.
He feels her, she's close, so very close, same as him and she tightens around him harder and harder, and he turns and kisses the inside of her wrist, and raises his hips off the ground to thrust into her and she nearly screams and goes slack against him for a moment, and he takes the chance to roll her underneath him.
Manon arches her back and looks at him from beneath her light lashes, their hands on either side of her head, broken cries and inarticulate curses spewing from her lips with every thrust, and she thrashes her head from side to side and Dorian lets go of her hands.
She brings them around his neck, bringing him to her and Dorian moans her name in her ear, and she may have cried his, but he isn't sure, he isn't sure of anything but her mouth and herself as he feels her tighten around him, then arch her back like a bow and he kisses her and drinks in her moans while she comes.
Dorian follows her moments later, emptying himself inside her, and falling into her arms, exhausted and empty, his head buried in the crook of her neck, his hands around her frame, and he closes his eyes.
Through the tired haze, Dorian tries to remember the last time he's ever been this close to someone, anyone at all. When he'd felt this wrecked, this intimately bound. He is vaguely aware of taking Manon in his arms and rolling to his back, the sound of the crackling fire and her steady, almost delicately shallow breaths against his neck lulling him into a dreamless sleep, but not before he presses a kiss to her damp forehead.
Dorian comes to himself brusquely, startled by the cold air again his side. He raises himself to a sitting position, the cloak thrown around him pooling around his hips as he looks around confused.
For a moment, he thinks she's left him, the dream and the memory yet warm inside of him.
But when he looks towards the embers left from their fire, he sees her, huddled in his tattered cloak staring in the dying flames, and a weight lifts off his heart.
"Come closer," he murmurs tiredly, barely managing to move one of his dead weight arms to beckon her to him.
The witch jumps up at the sound, then seems to berate herself.
"Manon," he whispers again, and she looks at him this time he manages to take her in, the tousled hair and the bruises on the column of her throat and what's left of his heart breaks at the look in her eyes.
"Why should I?" she rasps quietly, her voice a dagger to his gut.
Of course. Of course she will not stay. Of course.
"Why, indeed," he answers in kind, wondering darkly. He wants to hit himself, wants to crawl up in a hole and never look at the world again, but his magic is yet depleted, and the ache in his body is worse than ever as he screws his eyes shut against it.
"Why?" and the way she says it is final and broken and Dorian wonders just what they've done to each other.
"Because I need you," he clenches his jaw at the desperation in his voice, hating himself for it, but the shift behind her eyes plucks at his heart and he tries to figure out when he became so vulnerable to her. "Because I can help you," he tries again, willing his face to not betray him, willing himself to not fall to his knees and beg her to stay.
"Because you need someone to catch you when you have a suicidal bout of courage?" the bitterness in her voice startles him, cuts too close to home. "Because you need someone to warm your bed while you're away from home?"
Dorian turns to her so quickly his neck almost snaps in the process. How dare she. "No," he manages to croak out, "no more than you do so, yourself."
She flinches at his answer, and he almost wants to take it back, but he needs to think. He needs to gather his wits about him, and give her an answer, because the thick voice she spits out words at him in is far too much like his. They're both too close, too vulnerable and raw to deal with this.
Why? Why does he want her so desperately here? Why does he feel like her leaving in the darkest hour before dawn would be the final nail in the coffin in which he's spent so many months with one foot in?
His throat tightens around the answer and what little magic is building up in his veins is bristling at the surface.
It's all selfishness. He wants her near him. He wants her dry wit, her bitterness around him. He wants the soft way she argues with Abraxos. He wants her writhing and flushed with the pleasure he brings her. He wants her with her hair flowing in the wind and eyes glowing wild as she flies and fights and kills. But... Gods. Gods that don't exist, he can't form the words in his mouth. Not these words. Not again.
"Because I can help you find them," he follows resolutely, "because together, we can find your Thirteen, wherever they may be, and then you can forget this fucking war, take Abraxos and go home."
I'm begging, Dorian realises. Masked with all the power I still have, I am begging and pleading with her to stay. If only she'll not see beneath my facade. If only. Please. Please. Please.
Her eyes glow in the grey darkness at the mention of her witches, and he hopes to heaven and hell that it is enough.
"And what's in it for you?" she asks, and for a moment Doriam wonders if she's goading him.
"Your help," he manages to not have his voice crack, "your help in fighting this madness. Only until we find your Thirteen."
And Manon, the witch he'd once seen, surrounded by an army of her own, undefeated and unbent, not the broken woman clad in rags and crawling inside herself, appears before him for a moment, a fraction of a heartbeat, in the straightening of her shoulders and the certainty shining in her golden eyes, and he knows her answer before it leaves her lips.
"Deal," he answers.
He can finally breathe. Dorian manages to exhale softly enough for it to be taken as minute relief, not the enormous weight lifted off his chest, not the little ribbon of hate he wraps around himself, not the way his heart beats like mad and, if his magic would've been at its normal state, the fact that this whole forest would have been leveled to the barren dirt on the ground.
That's when Dorian notices it, the glaringly obvious fact.
"Where is Abraxos?" he asks bewildered, looking around their little encampment.
To his surprise, Manon huffs in something almost resembling laughter. She looks at him from her place on the other side of the dead campfire, the first rays of dawn painting her in silver and gold and ivory (and purple and blue and red), as she raises her eyebrows at him in what he can only assume is a tired form of half amusement.
"We scared him off, earlier."
A/N: so this happened. the idea is that manon escapes, maeve attacks and dorian goes after them. he fights maeve and loses.
i don't even know, xD cross-posted on tumblr and ao3.
let me know what you thought of this mess :D