Tamora Pierce owns all, naturally. A One-shot.Some OOCness.
This is set in Alternative Universe. NOT Tortall. So read the fic as it is without any linkage to Tortall, though Tortallan characters will naturally play a role.
Warning: this is one of my more mature fics. Have implied stuff. But if you can read Life Mates comfortably, you can take this fic.
How can something so good feel so bad at the same time?
Daine breathed in deeply, inhaling the comforting smell of soap and spices. A smell uniquely belonging to Numair. She was comfortably sprawled over his warm body, and his arm was rather possessively around her waist.
She bit her lip, how she wished she did not take up the bet! She would not have crossed his path so… intimately if she had not. Although she and Numair were both studying at the same university, they were in separate faculties that were notorious for their rivalry. Faculty for the Gifted and faculty for the Wild Magic. Up till recently, it had all been rather childish and playful rivalry. Silly pranks between the different faculties. In fact, during orientation, it was a tradition that each faculty would require its newbies to play a prank on the other faculty. Numair first became well-known for having played one of the best pranks for his year. He had laid a cold spell on all the toilet bowls in the Wild Magic faculty and its hostels. Giving a freezing and shocking chill to all those who had to use the latrines. It had taken a week before the Gifted Professors could lift the spell. Indeed, it was just the first sign of Numair's brilliance and power. He quickly became popular with his easy-going and charming nature, coupled with his swoon-worthy looks. It helped that he topped the Gifted class and was well on the way to getting his much-coveted Black Robe status. He was even on friendly terms with the king and other high ranking officials and mages who often spoke to him for advice or help.
Such an elevated person would have scarcely crossed her path, a junior, if not that she was one of the best students in the Wild Magics faculty. They had worked on the occasional project, but had not interacted with each that often, being part of different teams. She had eyed him at the distance when her course mates pointed him out. Let's just say human lust knows no boundaries between faculties.
The unfortunate bet started when she and Numair had worked together on building and fortifying the walls around the Royal Palace. She and her colleagues had rallied the different animals and immortals to help in its construction, while Numair, leading a team of mages, had placed powerful defensive spells. Some people viewed the Gifted mages as far superior to the Wild Mages. Unfortunately, some Gifted mages shared that sentiment and all was brought to boil when Alanna, a member of the Gifted mages team, had remarked that Gifted Mages were better than Wild Mages. Despite most of the back-breaking work done by Wild mages, the wall was to be credited to the Gifted mages. Perhaps it was the jug of beer Daine had consumed or some faculty pride that Alanna had stoked. Whatever it was, somehow Alanna had dared and made a bet with Daine.
To seduce Numair.
Perhaps it was because Numair was the epitome and shining example of a successful Gifted Mage.
Perhaps it's because Alanna had remarked that female Wild Mages had little appeal compared to Gifted Mages, wallowing with animals all day.
Perhaps because Alanna had bet her 100 gold nobles and a public declaration of Wild Mages being better than Gifted Mages at the upcoming graduation ceremony.
Perhaps because Alanna and Numair were going to graduate this year and she was probably never going to see them again.
Whatever it was, Daine agreed. It was no hardship really, in fact, Daine found it pleasurable to interact with Numair. She had levered on their project to find excuses to spend time with him. Excuses became reasons. Concocted meetings became habit. Soon, they were seeking each other out naturally. Although they were from different background and ideals, somehow, they just clicked. She started looking forward to spending time with him, memory of the bet far far away from her mind. Until she saw Alanna wink at them one day when they were eating lunch under a tree in the forest.
Daine closed her eyes. Oh how she wished she could rub away the bet. She had no doubt that if Numair ever found out, he would be incensed. Furious. She knew any self-respecting person would be and Numair had a healthy dose of confidence. She wondered if he would believe her if she told the truth. That it started out as a bet, but somehow along the way she fell in love with him.
Love? Daine blinked, where did that idea come from? L-o-v-e? Did she feel that seriously? Sure, she definitely felt lust, as amply demonstrated by last night. Like. Yes. Daine very very like Numair. But love? She could not quite pin point when the change of heart had started. Was it when he had stopped Joren from making disparaging remarks about her? Was it when he had come out in the rain with her, to help her rescue a trapped animal under a tree? Was it when he remembered her favourite play and had secretly bought box tickets when the famous acting troupe had come into the city? Or was it in the small things like how he would automatically give her his portion of fish because he knew she liked it? Or was it in the small touches he liked to give? An absent minded brush of fingers across her hair or a small touch on her back or shoulder when he came into the room.
She groaned and rubbed her head against Numair's bare chest. What did she get herself into? Numair was hardly known to be a one-girl kind of guy, judging by the rumours he was quite a ladies' man. If she had not heard it from reliable sources, she would not have quite believed it. For during the time she had spent with him, he had been quite attentive and signs were that he was celibate for quite some time. Perhaps he was done sowing wild oats? Whatever it was, she just didn't want this to be a one-night's stand.
The arm tightened around Daine and she looked up. Numair captured her mouth in a long deep kiss, bringing other feelings and pleasant memories of last night into mind.
Suddenly, the door to Daine's room slammed open. The couple broke apart and Daine stared in shock at Onua. Luckily, Numair had covered the sheets over them before they had slept last night.
Onua whooped and said, "I was wondering what happened to you guys after the Midsummer Night's dance last night! Congratulations Daine for winning the bet! We must so go shopping with the money after you get it from Alanna. Wild Magics rule!"
Daine gaped, "ONUA!"
"Oops! Sorry, sorry!" Onua said unrepentantly, and shut the door. Daine did not know where to look, what to do. Onua was another Wild Mage working with them on the project and had been there when Alanna had made the bet. She had not known of Daine's different feelings or change of heart.
A long awkward silence fell.
'I guess this is the end,' Daine thought, blinking, willing herself not to tear. She started to move to get out of the bed, when Numair's arm pulled her towards him and in a smooth practiced roll, had her under him. His weight trapped her onto the bed where they had consummated their relationship last night.
He gently tapped her cheek. "Well, well." She averted her eyes, not daring to look at him.
"I, I… am sorry…," Daine stuttered.
He said rather mildly, "Don't you have anything to say for yourself?" Tension was thick in the air.
Daine gulped, and blinked rapidly, "I don't think you'll believe me anyway…"
"Try me," he said firmly and roughly.
"It, it started out that way, Alanna made a bet with me about you and I was drunk, angry that she insulted Wild Mages and I accepted. But it changed as I spent more time with you, I started to fall in lo- like you and it's just crazy. And all this is crazy and I'm stuttering like an idiot and I should just get out of here," Daine gushed and tried to squirm out from his possessive weight.
Numair gently but firmly held Daine's face in his long hands as his thumbs gently brushed away the tears forming at the edge of her eyes. "Stop that," he said sharply as she squirmed even harder. "Or we are going to be doing more than just talking." She instantly froze, suddenly aware of his sudden other interest.
"So, Veralidaine Sarrasri," Numair said, "the most important question is… do you love me or is this just a game to you?" She looked up at him in surprise. He didn't look angry, just serious and intent.
"Why?" Daine asked, her blue grey eyes widening in surprise. "Aren't you angry? Aren't you going to slap me or something?"
"Don't avoid the question," Numair said sternly.
"Humph!" Daine snorted. "You can easily cast a truth or compelling spell to find out, can't you?"
Numair frowned at her and said sternly, "I will never do that to you. Don't even suggest such an idea. Surely you don't think I interfered in our relationship with magic."
"No," Daine said firmly and quickly. Numair may be a lot of things, but he was an honourable man. Which was perhaps one of the reasons why she adored him so. "And…" she held her breath, thinking, she had nothing to lose anyway. "Yes to your other question…"
A smile played around Numair's lips and he said, "Hmm… to what question?"
Daine frowned at him, the tightness around her heart began to loosen. "You know what I mean. Don't be mean. You haven't answered my question as well."
"Fair enough," Numair said and looked into her eyes intently. "Because I love you. And…" he nuzzled her neck. "I can think of more pleasurable ways to punish you and for you to make up to me for your rather… unorthodox motivations…"
"You love me?" Daine said, stunned. "But how?"
"From the moment, I saw you scold off a gifted mage for abusing his horse in the University stables," Numair murmured, becoming pre-occupied in kissing her neck.
"But, that was last year!" Daine gasped.
"Hmm… I have been observing you then," Numair muttered. "Now then," he raised his head and looked at her surprised face, "Why don't we move onto other matters? I believe I still need convincing of how repentant you are of your actions."
"Hmm…" Daine said, her eyes alit with joy as she pulled him down towards her.
"Here's your hundred gold nobles." Coins clinked as a bag of money passed hands.
Alanna shook her head. "How far the mighty has fallen. What happened to the ladies man I know huh? Resorting to this underhanded tactics. You must really be in love to put in so much effort and to sacrifice your reputation like this. You know news of the bet has spread around."
Numair grinned at Alanna, "I wouldn't have been able to get Daine interested in me otherwise. We move in very different circles. But, thank you for a job well done, in provoking Daine to taking up your bet."
Alanna snorted, "If it wasn't for the fact that I knew you were serious about her I wouldn't have done it. Seduce you indeed. Huh? This better not be a plan to get laid."
"Don't insult me," Numair harrumphed. "Of course it is not! I would never do that. Besides," he reached into his pocket and showed Alanna a box. "I plan to ask her to marry me when I graduate and am able to support her and myself."
Alanna gasped and examined the ring. "It's beautiful."
Numair grinned, "It's a family heirloom passed to the wife of the oldest son whom he loves. A bit of a romantic story behind it actually. The ring has very powerful protections inlaid into it and is only given to the lady he loves. It was a bit of a ruckus a few generations back when my male relative refused to give it to his wife in an arranged marriage."
"Well," Alanna said, "you better hold up your end of the bargain."
"Sure, sure," Numair said good-naturedly, "I will publicly declare that you are the best Gifted Mage around and even better than me."
Hope you liked it and the bit of twist at the end. Taking a brief break from all the studying and exercise some writing muscle. Wrote this fic quickly so you're free to point out any errors. Back to studying for me! Jia you! After exams will hopefully update BSNS and WI.