!TW: Trigger/Content Warning! Firstly, there is some graphic violence in the beginning of this chapter, but in comparison to how I usually write violence, it's not too bad.

Secondly, as I have mentioned in the notes of the last few updates, there is graphic sexual content at the end of this chapter. If you wish to skip that, it's totally fine and won't matter in terms of the progression of the story. I have put a little *~* on the left-hand side to mark when the smut starts and from there you can just skip the whole rest of the chapter as it's all smut after that. I will say that there's some kissing and heavy-petting before the official CW *~*.

There will be sexual content in future chapters as well, but they will always have a warning at the beginning. That being said, enjoy!


A flash of bright light flared red and orange through his closed eyelids. His eyes shot open and the singular object filling his vision was a long silver blade, glinting the light of the sun over his face as its wicked tip crept closer to his bare throat.

Harry jerked back in the water away from the blade and kicked his legs wildly to get away. But as he did that his wide eyes finally took in his surroundings and standing in the spring with him, he found a large dirty man covered in leathers and furs, baring yellow and brown teeth in a horrific grin. The man jabbed his sword closer to Harry as if to taunt him.

Harry turned to move towards the embankment, but then he saw another man, standing on the shore to his right, then another, and another and so-on. All around him.

He was surrounded.

Squeezing with all his magic, he tried to apparate away, but nothing.

Magical influx

He couldn't do shit without his wand. Which was sitting in the pocket of his trousers, on the grassy bank behind one of the men.

"She's a pretty one, ain't she?" The man in the water leered at him, bulging bloodshot eyes roving over Harry's barely clothed form. 'She?' Have they mistaken him for a woman then?

"Too bad she's been bred already. Think she'll fetch a better price with or without the sprog?" Another behind him mused, his wet and gravelly voice putrefying each vile word. Harry finally got his feet under him, so he wasn't flailing in the water, and he hunched down so low his chin nearly kissed the water as he readied himself for anything.

Harry was no stranger to fights. He'd been fighting all his life. He'd lead a war in which nearly every battle and duel had him at a disadvantage. Even without his magic, Harry usually wouldn't bet against his odds of making it out. But things were different now.

Harry kept his head and wide eyes on a constant swivel, trying to keep all the assailants in his sights while they bickered over his head about what price he'd fetch or how long it would take them to get Harry to their broker. And so, wandless, magicless, practically naked, and surrounded by enemies, Harry took what felt like the only option left for him.


Harry screamed at the top of his lungs with all the urgency and terror he could muster. The group of men froze around him with varying looks of confusion and sneering disbelief.

"Grod, you moron! That's a lad, you bleedin' nonce!" One of them roared with laughter, talking to the man still standing in the pool with Harry, who didn't look nearly as amused by this revelation.

His scarred lip pulled back in grotesque snarl, and he lifted his sword once more to point it at Harry. But before he would release his anger by sticking his blade through Harry's unguarded flesh, there was a whistle of cut air and a wet squelch that ripped their attention away from the wizard. The man who had still been cackling a moment ago was now silent and still as his dirty grey shirtfront bloomed with a dark red around the gleaming protrusion sticking from his chest.

Red-soaked metal sank back until it no longer held the man up and he tumbled to the grass, dead. Behind him stood Tom. Not 'Tom' as he's come to know him in these last few weeks, but something else entirely. This was the Tom that held the power to destroy worlds in the palm of his vengeful hand. This was the Tom that had the potential to snuff out generations to protect what mattered most to him. A wraith. A demon. An Eldritch king on a mountain of corpses.

Eventually thawing from his shock, another lunged at Tom with the swing of his battle axe. But in a blink, a spray of red arched like a crimson wing through the air and some splattered against the king's alabaster skin. Beautiful and bloody. An angel sent down to harken the end times.

Suddenly, as if realizing just how outmatched they are on their own, the others scrambled to attack Tom all at once. Even the man in the water with Harry had started wading through the spring to get to the edge. Harry took advantage of the chaos to climb out of the spring and onto the other side of the bank from where the battle was, quiet and careful not to draw attention as he was still so vulnerable.

His wand was too close to the fighting for him to safely reach it, but Harry was so focused on the sing of swords in the air and clash of steel that he doubted he would have been able to do much with it anyway. All he could see was Tom: the bunch and recoil of hard-earned muscles under skin, his long, bloodied sword swinging, swishing and flipping in his deft grip as he fought back and cut down the attackers one by one.

Harry had seen countless duels—he'd seen and been on the receiving end of so many of Voldemort's incredible and terrifying duels—but this was something else entirely. Tom wielded his sword like it was an extension of himself, and it might as well have been with the way it danced in his grip and split right through whatever was caught in its path. He was outnumbered by half a dozen armed men, but it was truly no match.

The final bandit climbed out of the spring. He was easily the biggest out of his group, but there was slight quiver in his hand as it tightened around his hilt. With a mighty bellow, the last bandit swung his broadsword up behind his head and charged at Tom. However, his impressive momentum was cut short as Tom's boot came up and he struck a hard kick right into the man's chest, knocking him right of his feet and landing him on his back as the air burst out of him in a wheeze.

Tom wasted no time stepping over his prone form and with one hand on his sword hilt, he plunged his sword straight down into the man's neck with so much force that the blade was embedded at least two feet down into the earth under the man. The veins and tendons under Tom's skin cut hard planes and ridges into his forearm and the hand wrapped around the hilt. With two hard jerks, the sword came free of the dirt and gore; Tom didn't bother wiping the dirty blade before sliding it back into the sheath.

And then his eyes were on Harry.

He was morbidly enraptured. Tom's eyes burned with the pits of damnation. But there was a blooming flower of warmth amidst all that cold black-indigo hellfire.

Harry was hunched over on the grass, his skin pebbled with goosebumps under the sopping wet shirt that hung down to his thighs. The wet fabric no longer clinging damningly to his midsection. His hands were dug deeply into the tufts of grass and damp soil, embedding the dirt deep under his fingernails the harder he clenched them. And his whole body was tense and trembling.

Everything about his crouched posture and constant quaking must have told Tom that he was terrified and in shock. For the blood-splattered monarch sank to his knee in front of Harry and he put his empty hands up coaxingly.

"It's alright now, you're okay, sweetheart."

But Harry wasn't afraid. Yes, the attack had shaken him in a way that he could feel would upend him when he was alone, but he wasn't in shock—shock was something that those in battle couldn't afford. Like any war-hardened soldier, he would unpack and sort out his fear much later.

So no, unfortunately, it wasn't something befitting the situation that had him quivering against the ground.

Harry was . . . ironically, sickeningly, humiliatingly . . . aroused.

And he didn't know if he could even blame it on some horribly timed surge in hormones. Just . . . seeing Tom like that, seeing the man roll through a storm of enemies and cut each of them down like some sort of carrion deity . . . it struck a chord in Harry that had never been struck, that he hadn't even known existed! It called to the hungry, horrid dark creature that Harry had harbored in his chest since he was a boy.

While everything he'd learned and observed about Tom thus far had served to entrap Harry in an intoxicating web of lust and affection, this new side of him called out the violence in Harry's devotion. Staring up into those dark eyes, the iron and viscera in the air, all he wanted to do was dig his fingers and nails deep into the bulging muscles along Tom's back, cage those narrow strong hips with the soft prison of his thighs, and feel Tom pressing so deep inside him he swore it was punching the air out of his lungs.

Harry wanted to consume Tom and be consumed in return. The weight and power of his desire was frightening.

And wholly inappropriate.

Instead of doing any of that, though, Harry felt Tom's dry cloak being wrapped around him as the king tried to fend off the chill and cull his shivering. Involuntarily, Harry leaned into his touch until he was being swept up into the cradle of Tom's arms and lifted into the air. His head settled on Tom's shoulder and his eyes bore into the bare expanse of his neck in front of him, swallowing hard when his tongue wetted with the vision of his teeth sinking into the taut muscle and tendons.

Just as he'd thought, the fear of the experience didn't creep up on him until much later.

Tom carried him back to the camp and the first thing Harry did was fish his wand out of his trousers pocket and put up the protective wards. Then he spelled his shirt and hair dry before pulling on the rest of his clothes under Tom's cloak. The unexpected wave of arousal had begun to ebb away as the adrenaline faded and the reality of what happened, what could've happened, settled in.

All the while, the other man lingered at his side like a shadow, features pinched with worry. A stark contrast to the chilling display he'd seen at the spring.

"Are you okay?" Tom asked after an extended silence, like he hadn't been sure what to say or how to approach him.

"I'm fine." Harry responded reflexively, but when he glanced over, he could tell the other man didn't believe him in the slightest.

His skin felt too tight all of a sudden and frustration welled up in his chest. Not because of Tom, but because of himself. Harry had felt weak and helpless far too much over the course of his life. Always the underdog, the neglected, the abused, the forgotten. It was a feeling he truly hated with every fiber of his being. And although he knew that the magical influx was an inevitable side effect of his pregnancy and there wasn't anything he could do about it, it still frustrated him to no end.

But even with the magical influx, he'd been needlessly reckless. He'd known his magic was out of sorts, yet he'd been so careless. He should have kept his wand on him even in the water. He should have taken the time to finish setting up the wards around camp, and then should have set up temporary wards around the spring.

He knew this place was dangerous! Even though he hadn't expected the danger he would face here to be human in nature, he still should have been on guard. Frustration mutated into anger. It came to him so much quicker and easier than trying to accept and forgive his lapse in judgement.

"Are you sure you're-"

"I said I'm fine, Tom! So, stop treating me like a fucking child!" Harry suddenly snapped, venom dripping from every word as he unfairly forced his misdirected anger on the man. Harry felt like there was acid in his veins and razorblades in his chest. Rage rolled through him like storm clouds. But as soon as it came, it dissipated.

Tom blinked, taken aback, and Harry's heart fell straight into his soles. He immediately felt nauseous with guilt, knowing damn well that every spiteful word was just him projecting his self-loathing onto the man. Tom had saved him, had risked his own life and killed for him, and this was how he repaid him?

Harry blanched and his lips fell open but no words came out. He felt sick. He'd never wanted Tom to see this . . . ugly, angry side of him. When they had shared dreams, Harry had shown Tom his most broken moments: his sorrow, fatigue, and grief, but he had always tried to keep his destructive anger from the man.

Harry couldn't find the words to excuse his behavior. He couldn't string together a sentence that would adequately convey that none of his vitriol was meant for him, that he was just mad at himself. But Tom deserved an apology.

"That-I . . . I didn't mean-" Harry stumbled over his own traitorous tongue and his eyes burned at the worst moment with a well of unbidden tears. But before he could attempt to force out more clumsy words, Tom closed the space between them, and in the next moment Harry found himself with his face buried in Tom's chest. Tom's large hand gingerly held the back of his head and his arms wrapped securely around his smaller form.

And like a flip of a switch, the moment the weight of Tom's embrace settled around him and the world went dark as he closed his eyes and tucked his face into Tom's sternum, everything welling up in Harry overflowed. He was completely silent, save for the tremulous hitching of his breath, he was completely soundless. The hitching, sobbing breaths came first and a moment later, there were tears.

It wasn't even that he was that sad or afraid or whatever had sparked the burning behind his eyes. It just seemed like everything he felt in that moment, he felt it in its most extreme, visceral form. And as much as Harry hardly ever cried before, tears came so easily now and the feeling of release that swept through him as soon as he gave into the feeling was monumental.

Even though he still hadn't put anything into words for Tom or explained himself, it seemed the man understood what Harry hadn't said. Harry hoped that someday soon he'd be able to explain to him that he wasn't usually this dramatic and the fluctuating chemicals in his body were the main cause of him turning into a crybaby. For now, he'd just have to live with leaving behind dark splotches on Tom's shirt from his leaky eyes.

Things were rather subdued after that. Harry, too embarrassed by his own behavior, couldn't look Tom in the eye without wanting to bash his own head into the nearest tree. Tom, on the other hand, was practically his shadow and dogged his every step, not letting Harry out of his sight. It felt like the hellish beast had transformed back into a puppy and Harry didn't know which was worse for the integrity of his heart.

The only time Harry managed to talk to Tom, it had been to tentatively ask about the man that had attacked him and what were the chances of them being more fae assassins in disguise. However, Tom said that it wasn't likely and that they seemed to just be a group of bandits looking to take advantage of anyone who stopped to camp at the half-way point.

Harry's very next question was whether it would end up being a problem for Tom. The fact that he'd killed them, that is.

This too, didn't seem to concern the monarch.

"Hardly. I am still the king of this country, and the fact that they attacked my- . . . my people, this outcome is to be expected. As much as I don't like to put myself above any of my citizens or abuse the position as king, it is certainly far kinder a fate than what they would face if they were to be properly tried for raising their swords against me and my company. Even if I weren't the king, the crimes they have undoubtedly committed before today would have seen them hanged." Tom reassured him, though something in the way he said it made it sound like he was trying to convince Harry that what he did was fairly standard in this world.

Almost like he was worried Harry would feel horrified or guilt-ridden by their attackers' deaths, rather than just confirming that Tom wouldn't face any backlash from this, which was Harry's real concern. But what did it say about Harry that he was far more contrite about lashing out at the man earlier than he was about the deaths of over half a dozen men?

For the rest of the afternoon Tom continued to lurk around Harry as if waiting for him to break down again and fall into his arms. Harry just let him linger and fret as a way of some sort of unspoken apology for earlier. It wasn't perfect and Harry knew he was being dumb, but for him it was just easier to clam up and try to keep the ugliness and vulnerability inside.

When night fell, Harry turned in as soon as the sun sank below the horizon. He shed his boots and cloak as he crawled into the tent and immediately turned onto his side to face the canvas wall as his thoughts and fears feasted on his mind like a flock of crows. His body was heavy with fatigue, but his head was full of sharp beaks and beating wings.

He felt more than heard the presence that came in and laid down behind him after a while. No words were exchanged in the early evening. No more 'are you okay's or empty platitudes. Harry wondered for a moment if his outburst from earlier would come back to haunt him now and make this night far more uncomfortable than the first night they shared a bed. Even if Tom didn't seem particularly offended earlier, maybe he should buck up and apologize like the adult he claimed to be. Maybe he should set up his own tent tomorr-

He felt a warm wash of body heat behind him a half-second before Tom's arm reached around him and his long fingers wrapped around his wrist in a loose hold. Tom pulled him back gently until his back met the heat of Tom's firm chest. The hold was loose enough that Harry knew he could easily pull away, which Tom seemed to be waiting for as he held his breath behind him, but when a minute passed and Harry only relaxed further under his arm, the older man pulled him in a little closer and tucked his head down until Harry could feel his cool breath tickling the hairs on his nape and down the top of his spine.

Sleep found him quickly once the crows had flown away.

Unfortunately, nightmares also found him in the grey void. They were less corporeal than they usually were, more slippery. A confusing mix of old traumas and new enemies.

A ring of masked Death Eaters standing around him as he floated in a cold spring. A serpentine Voldemort descended upon him as he sailed on an empty ship through the eye of a storm in an eruption of blue lightning. Stood in the middle of a craggy clearing, a torn chunk of wall was carved with indecipherable runes and at its center was a small, slanted cupboard door that creaked open to reveal a gaping black maw of oblivion.

On and on they distorted and fused together in abominable configurations of past and present. As Harry rolled through scenario after scenario, he grew more lucid with each one. More aware that there was something very wrong about these 'memories' until he was ducking behind gravestones to escape spell fire with a heavy, round belly far larger than his own bump was at that moment.

But just as the sluggish realization dawned on him that this might not be real, blazing green spell fire shot out from the darkness before him and he jolted hard with a great heaving gasp of air.

"Shh, it's okay Harry. It's just me, you're okay." Fresh out of the nightmare, Harry couldn't comprehend the words or recognize the voice washing over him. All he felt was a warm palm brush his cheek and he flinched against it. His own hand shot up to clamp around the wrist and his nails dug deep into the flesh. It was dark and his chest was heaving with panicked breath.

"You're okay, you're safe. We're in a tent, in Nandera, on our way back to the capital." The words finally started to pierce through the fog of sleep and fear as the hand on his cheek remained and the thumb brushed slowly across the skin under his eye.

Harry blinked the film from his eyes, and they slowly adjusted in the darkness to make out the face of the person leaning up on their elbow over him.

"That's it, sweetheart. Just breathe, focus on me, focus on what you can see and feel around you." Tom coaxed and Harry shuddered hard as relief rushed through him. He was in the tent, in Nandera, with Tom, and safe. He repeated those words silently in his head like a mantra as he slowly came down. His grip on Tom didn't lessen, but he shifted it slightly, so he was no longer clawing into the skin with his nails.

They laid there for a long moment, they said nothing and just stared at each other. Tom didn't seem to be in any hurry. But as Harry became more aware of himself and the obvious darkness still pressing down on them, he was confused about why he'd been woken up. Had his nightmare woken Tom? His nightmares weren't usually loud and as he'd come to realize these past few weeks, Tom was a surprisingly heavy sleeper.

"Did I wake you?" He decided to just ask, his voice came out sleep-rough and barely above a whisper in the quiet of night.

"Not at all. I needed to get a drink of water, but while I was out there, I found something that I wanted to show you. However, when I came back it seemed like you were having a nightmare." Tom's brows creased and his careful fingers brushed a long wild curl off Harry's forehead and tucked it behind his ear.

With the residual hands of a nightmare still clinging to him, Harry latched on to the first sign of a distraction.

"You wanted to show me something? What was it?" Harry perked up from his bedroll and propped his elbow under him to mirror Tom. Tom hesitated, and even in the darkness Harry could tell he was being scrutinized. Assessed to see whether or not he should go along with it, or continue comforting Harry. It was sweet, really, but at that moment he'd rather set aside his demons than have to conquer them.

Finally, as his worries were set aside, a spark of anticipation ignited in the king. Tom sat up and grabbed his hand to pull him up with an excited curl of his lips.

"Come on, let me show you." Tom cocked his head in the direction of the tent flaps and climbed out, holding them open after himself for Harry to climb through. Ever the gentleman.

Harry barely had time to stuff his feet into his boots and check that his wand was in his pocket before Tom had taken hold of his hand again and he was being pulled to the other side of the camp—thankfully in the opposite direction of the spring. Harry didn't know what time it was but judging by the lively chorus of insects buzzing through the forest and the fire that had yet to settle into cinders, it couldn't be that late into the evening.

Tom came to a stop at the edge of the clearing where the wards stopped, and the forest began. Harry shifted his gaze from Tom to the dark wall of trees, wondering what he was supposed to be seeing. He opened his mouth to ask just that, when Tom straightened up beside him and cut in.

"There! Do you see it?" He was pointing off into the velvet shadows, but no matter how much he squinted and tried to adjust his eyes to the dark, Harry couldn't see anything but the vague outline of trees.

"No? What-" Tom suddenly let go of his hand and instead took hold of his shoulders to pull him in front of him so he could realign his sightline. Harry tried to focus on the inky blackness crowding between the trees and not the weight of Tom's hands on his shoulders or the low baritone murmurs breathed into the shell of his ear as the man behind him tried to get him to see what he'd seen. He was only mildly successful. That is, until he saw it.

Amid the shroud of night, like a lone star glittering in the vacuum of an empty universe, was a single little gold spark drifting up lazily from behind a tree. Harry stilled and watched it float up between the tree trunks, only for his eyes to snap back down when one, two, then three more sparks drifted out from behind that same tree. They didn't zip around or blink like lightning bugs, nor did they flutter and darken like sparks from a fire.

"What is that?" He tilted his face slightly for Tom's answer but didn't look away as he saw a few more specs glowing in the darkness as they floated through the air.

"Should we go have a look?" Tom asked instead of answering him, amusement and a trace of excitement subtly colored his voice. Harry, as always, couldn't help but be endeared by the almost youthful giddy that tried to take hold of Tom sometimes. So different was it from the vengeful protector that had cut down half a dozen men just hours before, as was it different from the pragmatic tactician that came out whenever the man was reminded of the crown meant to sit atop his head.

Harry knew that this side of Tom—less burdened, relaxed, and still susceptible to the flight of fancy that came with youth—was something he only saw this often because of the circumstances. He knew, logistically, that once they reached the capital and Tom then donned his crown once more, that all his precious little vulnerabilities would need to be tucked away. Harry didn't mind the thought of this Tom becoming something private that only came out when it was just the two of them again.

But in that moment, when it came so easily and so freely, Harry would give almost anything to indulge the man.

"Yeah, let's see what it is."

Tom's smile widened, visible even in the low light, and his hand slid down Harry's arm and across his back to grasp his hand once more and lead him into the trees. The origin of the glowing specs wasn't very far from the edge of the tree line. Harry barely went five paces before they circled around a tree and his curious eyes fell on a small cluster of flowers.

They were unlike any flowers Harry had seen before.

From the roots threading down into the soil, up through the stems, leaves, and petals, every millimeter of the plant was glowing with bioluminescence. The bright chlorophyll green of the stems painted the dirt and grass surrounding it a radioactive hue. The leaves started the same vibrant green but diffused into a cool cobalt blue at its tips. The un-bloomed flower buds were the same blue, but as they blossomed, their petals turned a vivid electric purple spotted with glowing magenta dots along its petals like freckles.

And from the delicate tails of the stamen at the center of the flowers, bright gold particles were detaching from the luminous fuzzy ends of the stamen to drift up from the flowers and float away on a gentle breeze.

Harry was in awe of the strange and beautiful plant. He barely realized that he had crouched down to brush his fingertips over the impossibly soft petals, until Tom crouched beside him and broke the silence of his reverie.

"The Violet Lumen flower. So beautiful, but so hard to find in the wild since they bloom and glow only at night and are dormant and dull looking in the daytime. Even at night they hardly give off any light, but they're pollinating right now." Tom swiped his finger over the end of the stamen and glowing pollen transferred to his skin, sparkling like glitter as he rubbed it between his fingers. Harry felt his stomach swoop when Tom looked up at him and something sly bled into his smile.

"However, this isn't what I wanted to show you." Tom hopped up and offered his hand down to Harry to help him to his feet.

As soon as Harry was upright, Tom was turning and leaning around trees in search of something in the darkness. He mumbled something under his breath to the effect of 'where there is one, there is many,' but it seemed more like he was just thinking aloud than anything.


Tom threw a dashing grin back over his shoulder at Harry before leading him deeper into the forest towards the distant gold spec drifting through the trees. With a mix of fondness and exasperation swirling in his gut, Harry allowed himself to be dragged along after the taller man. He wasn't worried about getting lost in the dark woods, as a simple 'point-me' spell would lead him right back to camp.

Besides, as unexpected and ridiculous as this little midnight adventure seemed, he couldn't deny that it was working for him. It was thrilling and fun to sneak off into the woods with Tom like a couple of teenagers to explore. Harry twisted his fingers in Tom's clasp so he could thread them together instead and when the other man glanced back at him, Harry sent a smile of his own that could only just barely be seen in the light of next glowing flower they came across.

His nightmares and the lingering fright of the attack slid off his shoulders as they found more flowers. They were increasingly closer together and in larger clusters the further they went until they came upon a large rock formation—that could have been part of a cliff or even the base of a sheer mountain side for what little he could see in the darkness—where the violet lumen flowers became more of a patchy trail that led up into the mouth of a cave.

Tom led him right up to the glowing cave entrance and without pause the taller man stepped directly on the flowers to enter the cave, as there was no feasible way to pass without stepping on them. Harry had only a second to worry about crushing the beautiful blooms before he too had to tread on them as Tom guided him onward. However, when Harry glanced back over his shoulder, he saw that the flowers they had stepped on had bounced right back up, unaffected by their unforgiving boots.

The cave was only a few meters deep before it opened into a cavernous domed rock chamber and Harry's breath caught in his chest as he was bathed in a veritable rainbow of lurid light. The entire floor of the round stone room was covered in glowing flowers and thick dark emerald grass webbing between the plants. Bioluminescent vines crept up the walls in curtains of green, and golden pollen floated through the air like burning snow falling in reverse.

It was breathtaking.

"Tom, this is . . . incredible." Harry gaped and his eyes opened wide as he tried to take everything in at once. It was so otherworldly, it felt like he was on an alien planet. 'I suppose, in a way, I am.' Harry mused internally.

Also, he didn't know if it was just the wonder he felt in that moment, his mind playing tricks on him, but he swore the magic here felt thicker. The wild natural magic that had scented the air since they'd entered the forest felt more concentrated here, but perhaps he was just getting too swept up in the moment.

By their entwined hands, Tom pulled Harry fully into the room and found a spot that was flat and had a little more thick, soft tufts of grass between the flower beds, and sank down to sit amongst the flowers. Harry sat down next to him and amid all the wonder and beauty, his eyes were drawn back to Tom, and he couldn't look away.

His mind was quiet but also so full it was brimming and spilling over.

"There was a small patch of these near the house I grew up in." Tom mused as the fingers of his free hand automatically reached out to pluck a flower in full blood and absently twist its stem between his fingers, so it'd spin in a dazzling fan of light and pollen. Then his smile turned slightly morose. "There's also some planted in the royal gardens, but they're not nearly as captivating as the wild ones. . . Even still, they remind me of home."

'You remind me of home too. All the best parts of it. The wonder, the magic, the innocence quietly blooming amidst bloodshed and war. My lone star in the vacuum of an empty universe.'

Tom looked at Harry and the wistfulness in his eyes turned sharper as something inexplicable bled into his thoughts, something more tangible and headier. Without extracting his hands from Harry's, he reached over and carefully tucked the short stem of the flower behind Harry's ear. Tom's small smile broke through the seam of his lips like clouds parting on a brilliant white dawn.

"I love you."

Harry noticed the surprise sparkling in the king's eyes and the way his smile softened with disbelief before he realized he'd spoken. Harry blinked and in the next moment as it struck him what on earth he'd just blurted out, his lungs grew tight, and his heart skipped and stumbled into a rhythm double its normal tempo. What. The. Fuck?!

But even more terrifying than the sudden treachery of his rogue tongue, was the realization that . . . he meant it!

Oh god.

Harry loved Tom. And he hadn't realized it until he was spitting that earth-shattering revelation out to the man in question!

Harry wasn't daft—despite what his colorful history might have led you to believe—he knew that things between them had an underlying note or romantic attraction. And he knew that, depending on the outcome of his integration into Tom's life, he might one day come to love the man. But he'd never thought that love would blindside him like this.

Like a fish in slowly warming waters, he didn't even notice it was warm until it was boiling. And it was boiling.

The air whooshed from his lungs all at once and it was like he could feel his affection and love for Tom filling every corner of his being. With it came the inexplicable burn behind his eyes and an overwhelming urge to cry? His vision swam and his eyes grew hot brimming with tears he refused to let fall.

He opened his mouth, but he had no clue what he would say. Would he apologize? Try to take it back? Could he?

But before a single sound left his tightening throat, the blurry apparition that was Tom surged forward and a firm hand clasped the back of his neck a split second before their lips collided. It felt almost exactly like the kiss Harry had initiated on the ship when they first reached Nandera. Bruising, feverish, hungry, and choked with emotions. Ironically, Harry only then felt like he could breathe.

His eyes closed as he surrendered to the kiss and the tears brimming on his lashes finally slipped down his cheeks, embarrassing as it was. Tom only relented with the domineering bite of his kiss when Harry melted into it. The kiss then caramelized into slow, sweet, and indulgent until Harry felt the liquid sugar in his veins bubble and drip down deep into his belly.

Too soon, Tom's addicting plush lips migrated away from his own and he felt them run up along his cheek on one side, and then the other to brush away the stray tears that had fallen—much to his quiet mortification. And the gesture of kissing away his tears might have been tender and sweet, had Harry's eyes not opened in that moment to see that devilish tongue drag along his lips to lick up the salty remnants.

Harry smacked Tom's arm even as the heat in his gut took on a molten boil. He didn't flinch under Harry's sharp smack, but his lips did break into a smile as his eyes slit open and he moved in to press another kiss to Harry's cheek, and then his lips. Against the corner of his mouth, he said;

"And I, with every filament and fiber of my being, love you too." Because Tom Riddle always had to have a flair for the dramatic, no matter what iteration he came in.

The kiss, this time, was different.

There was a sense of unhurriedness to it. Like waves slowly rolling into shore, they kissed with familiarity and ease. But instead of dousing the fires that had sparked in his blood, it only stoked them. Harry's hands found their way to the broad, satisfyingly muscled shoulders and from there he truly couldn't help himself but to let them wander. Questing hands dragged down Tom's chest, over the firm ridges of his abdomen, caressed the smooth skin of his bare neck, and self-indulgently squeezed the thick bicep under his devious fingers.

He missed this. Harry smiled into the kiss and Tom's lips wandered off on their own path along his jaw, the shell of his ear, and down to make a feast of the sensitive flesh of his throat. The first prick of teeth in the sucking kiss ripped a moan from Harry's throat. It echoed in the natural acoustics of the domed roof and the ripple of his own voice coming back to him brought a buoy of clarity back to Harry in the churning sea he'd plunged into.

His eyes flew open, and he was suddenly all too aware of the position they had migrated into. Tom had shifted to face him fully and was now on his knees between Harry's legs—when had that happened—and he had a hand braced on the ground behind Harry to hold himself up as his other hand tenderly held the curve where his neck met his shoulder and was slowly sinking further down.

Harry shivered as Tom's thumb brushed back and forth over his collar bone and he knew it was only a matter of time before the wandering hand rediscovered one of its favorite spots: Harry's chest.

Harry was breathing hard, his body taut with tension as he sat, leaning back at a precarious angle that seemed moments away from tipping and sinking back against the ground, at Tom's delightful mercy.

It was so very clear where this was going. And if it were in any other circumstances Harry would already be naked, but. . .

"Tom, wait." His breathless voice and the gentle tap he gave to the man's shoulder had him pulling back immediately. His eyes glimmered in the light of the flowers and his tempting mouth was bitten red. Harry wanted nothing more than to lean back in and taste his flushed lips, but there was something between them that he needed to address. Between them in the literal sense.

Something he'd already planned on telling Tom, but like the incredibly intelligent man that he was, he hadn't planned how he was going to tell him. And while he maybe should go cool his head and sort out his words before he said something stupid and ruined everything, Harry was having trouble thinking with his 'up-stairs brain' and decided to just wing-it.

Because that always worked well for him in the past.

"What's wrong? Is this too fast? I'm so sorry I didn't mean-"

"No! That's not it, I just . . . I have something I need to tell you first." Harry interrupted before the man could convince himself he'd miss-stepped somewhere. Tom straightened up and sat back on his haunches so Harry could sit up fully again.

"Yeah, of course. Say whatever you need to, I'll listen." Tom encouraged, a far sight from the carnal hunger he'd shown just moments before. Thankfully, Harry managed to control himself enough not to crack a laugh at such a bad time.

"Do you remember when I showed you a couple of memories from my past?" Harry started, not sure where to start but jumping in anyway and seeing where his mouth took him.

Tom nodded, prompting him to continue.

"And you remember how when I showed you memories of the period that we were sharing dreams, that I was in the thick of war?" Harry waited for another nod, this one a little slower and more confused than the last. "Right, nearing the end of the war in my world, the dreams stopped out of nowhere. And then you also saw the battle at my school with the dark wizards. You saw a memory of me being struck down by the leader of the dark wizards, only to get back up and fight him again later, correct?"

Harry paused for a moment, more to gather his words again than to get a response from Tom. Tom was smart no matter what world he was from, he'd have remembered every bit of what Harry had shown him.

"Well, I wasn't just struck down by that curse. Truthfully, I died momentarily and by some extenuating circumstances, I came back." Harry tried to beat around the bush a little, but by the alarm and abject horror burgeoning on Tom's face, he wasn't very successful. So, he dove back into his messy explanation in a rush. "Anyway, for the brief moments that I was—wasn't alive, an apparition came to me and gave me a gift to bring back with me and to protect. I didn't realize at the time, what I'd been given." Harry trailed off warily.

He'd been trying to get as close to the absolute truth without having to explain everything to do with horcruxes and Voldemort and whatnot. He might one day tell Tom about his otherworldly doppelganger, but that day would not be today. 'I'd kill for you' 'I love you' and 'I'm pregnant' all in one day was already way too much!

"What was the gift?" So far, Tom's facial expression and body language was still just as open and earnest as it had been when Harry had started this bumbling conversation. He just hoped that what he was about to say wouldn't change that. Harry took a deep breath to try to combat his pounding heart.

"Firstly," Because he couldn't just come out and say it, call him a coward but he needed to add more information and context into the mix first. He didn't think he could take it if Tom thought he was joking or lying and laughed in his face. "You should know that the magic of my world can do many incredible and impossible things. Specifically, in my home world there exists a very dark, very illegal series of potions and rituals that make it possible for a male wizard to bear life in the same way a woman can. I believe here you call them 'disciples?'. . ."

Tom went utterly still, not daring to blink or breathe. Harry couldn't tell what he was thinking or if he was putting together the sloppy puzzle Harry had laid out for him. When the silence stretched for a moment too long and Harry felt on the brink of being sick with tension and anxiety, he started to ramble.

"The thing is, I never took any potions, did any rituals, and I have never in my life been physically intimate with someone in a way that c-could . . ."

And now, for the first time, Tom's intelligent indigo eyes settled on the loose drape of Harry's shirt that covered his midsection.

"You're with child." It wasn't a question, but he answered it all the same.

". . . Yes."


"I don't know, Tom! I know this is hard to believe—even I wouldn't believe me—but somehow, someway, it happened. All I know for sure is that it happened when I was dead, and the only person I've had sex with is you! Which is insane because, technically, we've never-" Harry's voice rose in pitch and volume as his words came faster and his panic rampaged through him, completely out of control. Tom cut him off before he worked himself up to tears—damn these stupid hormones!

"Harry!" Tom seemed to finally come back to himself and just when Harry started to implode, he took ahold of Harry's blanched face in his hands and cut short his ramblings by pecking him chastely on the lips. "I believe you, darling. It's alright, just breathe. . . Admittedly, it does sound impossible since you're human, not fae. But that is only by going with the logic of this world. I should know by now not to tie you down by something as flimsy as reality." Tom's words held a note of teasing, and he could tell the man was trying to lighten the mood a little to keep him from spiraling again.

Harry tried to give him a smile in return, but with the worry still clogging his throat, it likely came out more as a grimace.

"I know it sounds like some kind of grift when I say that I'm certain it's yours, but I swear it's true. I can't prove it yet, but if there is some sort of way to test paternity in this world, I'll-" Harry started again, though a little less frantically. Still, Tom soon cut him off with a shake in his head and furrow between his brows.

"That doesn't matter to me, Harry. I believe you when you say you know it's mine. As they say, stranger things have happened. But even if it weren't mine, that wouldn't matter. I love you, and I will love anything that comes from you just as much." Harry bit into the soft flesh of his bottom lip to keep more unwanted melodramatic tears at bay.

Tom was gazing at his clothed abdomen again with a look of tenderness and longing that was so painfully unguarded at that moment. Unable to help himself, Harry took one of the hands holding his face and pulled it down to press it against the clothed swell of his bump. Something unfathomable passed through Tom's expression and Harry could hear the air catch in his throat.

After a few long moments of the king marveling over the baby bump that had gone unnoticed the entire time he'd been with Harry these last few weeks, his eyes flicked back up to meet Harry's and they burned with something fierce and sure.

"I told you when we started this journey that I would not force you to give me any promises or stay beside me when we reach the capital. . ." Tom began, and Harry could feel a shift in the air between them. Anticipation rose within Harry and his heart was in his throat as he realized where Tom might be going with this.

"And now?" He prompted, voice barely above a whisper. Without realizing he'd done it, Harry leaned in closer, pressing his cheek more firmly into Tom's other hand and tightened his hold on the hand resting over his bump.

When gazes met and molten indigo bore into electric green, the air charged with their bated breath and churning magic. Harry was taken completely off guard when the hand cupping his cheek suddenly slipped down to grip his hip, while the other hand that had been splayed over his belly curved around and dropped down to grab ahold of the juncture between his thigh and his ass.

Before he could register the shift, Harry's world tipped and his blood thrummed in his veins when in one swift movement, he was pulled up off the ground and into the king's lap. Heat radiated up his neck and pooled in his cheeks as his arms automatically wrapped around Tom's shoulders like it was where they belonged.

"Now . . . now my pride as a selfless man has abandoned me, for there is no force in heaven and earth that could force me to let you and our child go." His words rang through him like the solemn croon of bronze bells echoing in an empty cathedral. Harry didn't realize he'd been leaning in to kiss him until that devilish and divine mouth was once again stripping back his sense of rationale with every sumptuous kiss.

The possessive hand on the dip of his ass and thigh squeezed the plush flesh to the point that it almost felt bruising and white-hot arousal coiled tighter in his belly.

This part always came so easily to them. It was at once familiar, and completely new to Harry. The ache of Tom's hold on his quaking body. The shared breath and questing tongues. The taste of Tom on his lips was addicting, like dew and midnight fires.

Harry, as he had been for weeks, was quick to ignite and already hard and straining against the tight confines of his trousers. Without consulting his mind, his body moved on its own and in a bid for much-needed friction, his hips pushed and rolled against the firm body underneath him. The separation of cloth between them muffled the pleasure, but it was just enough to send a teasing curl through him, and he suppressed a groan in the back of his throat.

He should have felt mortified by his lewd behavior, but in that moment all that mattered was getting more.

He sat down fully in Tom's lap and a noise he couldn't suppress slipped out of him when he felt the stiff press of Tom's cock under him. Tom's hands tightened their hold on him, and he was pressed down harder against his length as he attempted to roll his restless hips again.

With his lips ghosting over Tom's, he purred, "I want you inside me." and peeked his tongue out to kitten lick the man's kiss-swollen bottom lip.

Tom cursed under his breath and quickly brought a hand up to brace the back of Harry's head before shifting forward and laying the wizard back against the cool grass and glowing flowers. Tom pulled back so he could take Harry in, and he tried not to squirm under the weight of his gaze as it traced over him like a physical touch.

However, when Tom's eyes reached Harry's stomach and the loose fabric outlined the gentle curve of his stomach, he stilled and his dark brows pinched in. Harry's stomach dropped and an unfamiliar wave of insecurity washed over him in that moment. He knew from past encounters that Tom was attracted to him, but that was before his body had begun to take on these strange new changes.

Was Tom off-put by his belly? Was Tom repulsed by him?

Harry now squirmed for a whole different reason. He couldn't stand to look at Tom's face anymore and he self-consciously reached down tug at the hem of his shirt. As if he could hide his stomach despite the pull of gravity on the fabric. The action didn't go unnoticed.

"No, that's not-" Tom took his hands and pulled them away from the fabric, lifting them to give them each a tender kiss over his fingers. "Don't hide from me, sweetheart. You are more beautiful than ever, and the transformation childbearing has made to your body has only made me yearn for you more. It truly becomes you, Harry. I just worry . . ." Tom trailed off and concern overtook his features once more as he looked at Harry's bump.

"What?" The doubts and embarrassment had ebbed away, but until he knew what had stayed Tom in the heat of the moment, they waited in the wings, ready to prey on Harry again.

"You are a temptation meant to fell the most headstrong of men and it is taking considerable restraint not to thoroughly have you in this moment. But . . . I don't wish to harm the baby." Harry could tell immediately that he was genuinely concerned about hurting their child. And maybe laughter wasn't the appropriate response in that moment, but he couldn't have stopped it if he tried.

Soft, nearly soundless laughs hiccupped out of the wizard as he rolled his lips in between his teeth to keep them inside.

"Tom, us having sex isn't going to hurt the baby." Harry spoke with mirth bubbling between his words. "Even in a normal pregnancy, there are walls of thick muscle and the cushion of amniotic fluid to protect the baby. On top of that, I'm a wizard so naturally a good portion of my magic is being used to constantly shield the womb." Even without his magic, the only time they might have to abstain from sex would be during the last few weeks of it, since he'd read that something in semen could induce early labor.

Harry really couldn't blame Tom for not knowing, as he probably would have assumed the same if he hadn't cram-read one of the few maternity books he'd owl-ordered before everything went to shit. But he just couldn't help it when Tom looked so adorably conflicted.

"You're certain it won't harm either of you?" Tom reiterated, his hands settling warm and heavy on Harry's thighs, which lay slayed open overtop his own legs.

Harry rolled his eyes fondly.

"Yes, I'm sure. Trust me, at this point not even a battering ram could hurt them. Now please, touch me before I lose my mind." Harry lamented, the arousal that had been steadily building just beneath his skin since the moment Tom had kissed him had reached a boiling point. Not even the breaks in tension and bubbles of conversation had been enough to abate it.

With Harry's reassurances—and shameless begging—the last of the other man's restraint crumbled and without preamble, Tom hooked his fingers around the waistband of his trousers and pulled them off in one swift, impatient movement. If it was possible, Harry felt like his face flushed even darker. There was something more embarrassing and oddly more vulgar about being naked just from the waist down.

But the hot coil of shame that wound tight in his belly was forgotten when he saw how Tom's dark eyes sparked with a hungry light of their own. The king bent down, lifted one of Harry's legs, and like a man starved, began to lay open-mouthed kisses on the pale skin that was more teeth than anything. From there, Tom proceeded to leave greedy, indulgent kisses and bites all over Harry's bare flesh.

From the pillowy plush of his thighs, to the round knobs of his knees, down the curve of his calves, and finally a tender peck dropped on the tops of each of his feet, there was no part of Harry that Tom did not touch or kiss. Harry felt his urgency hitch in every panting breath he took, but he didn't rush Tom. Pregnancy hormones be damned, Harry was technically losing his virginity and he wasn't going to let his own impatience sully the atmosphere.

When Tom helped him slide out of his loose shirt—which was actually Tom's shirt that he'd stolen back on the ship—Tom took Harry's fully naked form in with such a ravenous desire that Harry shivered and a little pearl of white precum dribbled from the head of his cock despite being untouched. With his eyes glued to Harry's prone form, the king pulled his own shirt over his head, folded it down into a small rectangle, and tucked it under Harry's head like a make-shift pillow.

So much care in every little action.

"Every time I see you like this," Tom hovered over him with one arm braced next to his head and the other tracing feather-light over his cheek, down his neck, and across his chest in wonder, "I am humbled by your resplendence, love." Tom always had a way of praising Harry like he was waxing poetry. Always so flowery and over-the-top, but Harry was weak to it, nevertheless.

Tom continued to hover over him, even when Harry fished his wand out of his discarded trousers to cast a charm that every teenage boy with a wand learned at some point. Tom smiled and kissed the corner of Harry's mouth in thanks when the wizard expelled clear lubricant from the tip of his wand to coat the man's long fingers. The wonders of magic!

A warm, slick hand trailed down his cock and Harry keened as his spine curved up off the ground. Tom kept his touches light and slow, and while Harry usually would be kicking him for teasing him, it was clear that if the man took a firmer touch with him, Harry would be gone in a matter of moments.

"Are you comfortable, darling? I know this isn't the most ideal location for this?" Tom carded his fingers through Harry's hair with the arm braced near his head. Harry looked up into his adoring eyes and opened his mouth to assure Tom that he was just fine, but right at that moment, slick fingers slid down his perineum and dragged a slow circle around his entrance. What came out of his mouth instead was an echoing, desperate moan.

He loved this part. He loved every part.

He wasn't sure if any of the mumbled vowels and consonants trickling from his lips formed words after that, or just pleasure-drunk gibberish, but eventually he got what his body was begging for and a single, long finger sunk past his tight, squeezing muscles. Tom kept it still while Harry adjusted to the feeling and in the meantime, the king leaned down to trail sweet kisses across his face and down his neck.

It was everything he needed, and yet already not enough.

Not long after Tom started to pull and push his digit back into Harry, the younger man was impatiently asking for more. Tom didn't give into his pleas immediately—wanting to make sure he didn't hurt him—but he did eventually acquiesce when Harry lifted his hips and began to rock back on his finger.

When the second finger slowly pushed up into him, Harry's mind started to melt into a hazy of aching pleasure. In a process that could have taken moments or hours, Tom carefully opened him up. He was begging by the third finger for Tom to just fuck him, but Tom didn't relent until he'd managed to fit a fourth and gave it a few good thrusts. Rationally, Harry knew that thorough prep was necessary with Tom. He was big, in more ways than just height and breadth.

When the fingers inside him finally retreated, Harry could almost cry with relief. As much as he loved when Tom took him apart with his hands or mouth, it felt like he'd been waiting an eternity for this. His favorite part.

Harry heard and felt Tom shuffling and repositioning above him, and he realized that at some point his eyes had slipped closed as he was swept away in the sensations. He opened his eyes just as Tom took ahold of his hips and pulled him up a little higher in his lap so he could get a better angle.

"Good?" From that single word, low and rough with a slight growl in the friction of his vocal cords, Harry knew that Tom was nearly as gone as him in that moment.

Harry, his ability to articulate long since lost to him, could only nod and loosely wrap his legs around Tom's waist. Tom braced one arm above his head again while the other reached down to slick up his cock and take ahold of himself to line up. Harry threw his hand up to hook around Tom's bicep next to his head in anticipation and the other man leaned down to press a tender kiss to his temple.

Tom pressed in slowly, but even after all the prep and the sedate pace, the burn was immediate. Harry gasped in a quaking breath and the arm tensed and bulged under his hand as Tom went still as soon as the head popped past the first tight ring of muscle.

Harry was already panting but threaded through every exhale was an involuntary reedy keen. It burned, but he wanted more. He wanted all of Tom. His legs tightened as he attempted to pull the man in deeper, but Tom was like a brick wall, he wouldn't be moving an inch unless he wanted to.

When he finally did move again, Harry saw stars. Pleasure, hot and intoxicating, blanketed the burn of the stretch as Tom sank deeper and deeper. The plunge seemed to go on forever and by the time Tom's hips were flush with his ass, Harry could practically feel it in his lungs. When he pulled back, Harry felt the drag of every single centimeter.

He'd had countless memories of being intimate with this man in their shared dreams, but none of that could possibly compare to the real thing. Those pleasures had been vague and transient things, and his perception of Tom had often been blurred through a dimensional membrane. He could not feel the velvet inferno of Tom carving out a place for himself inside of Harry. He could not taste the dew of perspiration on his lips as he kissed every inch of skin that came close to him. He could not hear the little puffs of breath and hitches of air when Tom found a steady, rolling pace.

Now he could.

Every thrust sent waves of sizzling, effervescent pleasure through Harry. Hasty could tell that Tom wasn't specifically aiming for his prostate, but his length was stretching him so keenly that he was grazing it with every movement. It was all too much, and Harry felt like he was dissolving like pollen desperately clinging to its stamen. Harry's toes curled and his eyes fluttered shut, his face contorting with pleasure that was almost akin to anguish with the way it devastated his faculties. His head craned back, only to feel the burning wet stripe of Tom's tongue across the length of his taut throat.

Harry found himself dancing on the edge of his climax embarrassingly quick despite having barely touched his weeping member as it tapped smears of precum against his lower belly with each thrust. Sweat trailed down his temple and disappeared into his hairline and the once-soft grass below him was starting to stick and itch the skin of his back. His moans echoed through the stone chamber, and it felt like his heart was beating at quadruple-speed in his chest.

"I'm . . ." Harry's breathless voice could barely be heard over the organic sound of skin hitting skin, but he tried to warn Tom all the same. "I'm gonna . . . -nna cum." He wasn't sure if the other man even heard him at first until mid-thrust his hips went still and he took several deep, harsh breaths and Harry realized he wasn't the only one that was close.

Suddenly, without pulling out of Harry, Tom straightened up and sat back on his haunches. Harry's eyes feasted on the sight of the man in all his naked, glistening glory and in an act of pure redundancy, a new gush of arousal shot through him—as if he wasn't moments from climaxing already.

Tom took ahold of each of his legs from where they were still draped over his hips and lifted them up to set his calves on his shoulders. And then, in a show of strength that had an embarrassingly high yelp chirping from the smaller wizard's throat, Tom braced each of his large hands over Harry's hips and shifted up onto his knees.

He pulled Harry's hips with him, subsequently taking on almost all his weight like it was nothing. The only part of Harry still touching the ground was his shoulders and his head. Harry's hand flailed out, wildly patting the grass beside him until he found the discarded wand. By some stroke of luck, the cushioning charm he cast under his head and shoulders worked the first time he tried to cast it.

Just in time for Tom to pull back and slam back in with a satisfyingly hard impact. Immediately, the king set a dizzying, beautifully brutal pace.

It was the angle, oh god, the angle! The shift in position had made it so that Tom's cock now ground hard into his prostate with each thrust, instead of just grazing past it. The change was almost painfully good, and each time Tom pushed in, Harry's internal muscles clenched down in an involuntary pulse, which sent pleasure through him that was at once far too much, but he never wanted it to end.

Tears sprang to his eyes and Harry's mouth dropped open as he barely had the air to breathe, much less moan. The only thing he could hold onto was the dewy grass and soft flowers above his head, which showered him in a spray of glowing pollen and torn petals as he crushed them in his white-knuckled fists.

It was so intense that Harry didn't even realize when he'd started coming until a choked noise trilled from his chest and stripes of hot ejaculate painted and dribbled over his skin. Tom kept pushing into his taut body and the tears brimming in the corners of his eyes spilled over in a sudden wave of relief, only to disappear into his hairline along with his sweat.

Before the ecstasy could bleed into painful overstimulation, Tom's brutal thrusts turned into a slow, deep grind and a flood of molten heat bloomed inside of Harry as Tom pushed his seed deep into Harry's pliant body.

Harry basked in the afterglow as bone-deep fatigue and euphoria warred within him. He sucked in deep lungful's of cool night air as the ringing in his ears slowly abated. He could only muster a lethargic wince as Tom slowly pulled out and lowered him back onto the grass carefully. He pressed a kiss to each of his ankles before setting them down.

Harry's half-lidded view of the domed cave ceiling was blocked when Tom settled back over him—careful not to put any sort of weight on his midsection despite Harry's assurances. Not that Harry could complain about his persistent caution when the man proceeded to shower him with a deluge of sweet, sipping kisses and murmured praise.

Harry was content to lay there, catching his breath as his pulse settled and the sweat cooled on his body. In fact, if he let his heavy lids slip closed as they were wont to do, he could easily fall asleep right there. He likely would have—location be damned—if the lips that had been brushing and whispering against his skin hadn't started to trail down his neck. He thought nothing over it at first, too caught up in the haze of post-coital bliss.

That is, until a hot tongue and just a hint of teeth descended upon his chest and plush lips wrapped around his nipple. Harry jolted against the ground at the sudden intense stimulation and yelped as he tried to sink away from the touch. He glared down at Tom, only to be rebuked by the deviously wicked, simpering smile Tom sent back up to him.

Harry knew then that it would be a long while before he could drift off to sleep.

As he was gradually coming to realize, Tom's love was a hungry one. And Harry would be remiss to claim that his wasn't the same.