A/N: This is just a tiny little one-shot. I wanted to try my hand at a bit of a steamy fic, so please review and tell me what you think. I've read some god-awful bedroom scenes around and my biggest fear is that this will be yet another to add to the collection! Its short, but hopefully sweet.

Disclaimer: Tamora Pierce owns everything you recognise.

Illumination

Midwinter's Eve, the longest night of the year. One last night of darkness before spring begins to stir and before winter is lulled into peaceful sleep. Tonight, an icy wind from the far South makes the bones of the trees creak, as though very much aware they lack their usual green protection. Only a few hours have passed since darkness draped its shadowy cloak over the realm of Tortall, and not a single star lights the way to the heavens tonight. All is silent, and snow falls in great abundance, providing a chilly curtain call for the days festivities. Spiralling snowflakes have little time to dance through the air before finding themselves reunited with the soft earth.

As the Gods are fond of symmetry, it is little wonder that earlier on this day many Tortallans also found themselves earthbound after overindulging in the sweet wine and mead provided at Midwinter celebrations. By now, these unfortunate souls would have bedded down, albeit sodden and chilled, to dream of the coming warmer months, and a miracle cure for the throbbing headache they will find themselves with on the coming morning. It is also more than likely that their significant other is bedded down elsewhere.

Lovers quarrels are often worse when the hour is late, when wine has flowed free all night, and when one partner has Mithros' own headache. In this case, Midwinter is a time of separation, sometimes loneliness, and often regret. No mortal knows what Midwinter will bring, for it is a time for the Gods to work change upon their people. For better, or worse. Perhaps Midwinter brings you solitude. It may bring you clarity, or strength, or happiness. Perchance, it may bring the most treasured gift of all…love, if the Gods deem it so.

At this moment, within the upper levels of the Royal Palace of Tortall, the candle held by a silent Buriram Tourakom flickers and dies as she moves secretly toward the chambers held by the Knight Master, Raoul of Goldenlake, leaving only a wisp of smoke to indicate her passing. Yet truly there is no need for light, as his door is already opening for her, just as it has done each night for the past 3 years - unbeknownst to all who know them. The door is quietly closed, and as she disappears into his chambers, and his arms, one last ray of light journeys up the hallway and glances off the brass plate attached to a sturdy oak door, tracing the fine lines of a curling script.

Numair Salmalin

Daine Sarrasri

All is darkness within this chamber, it's inhabitants have little need for light now. In fact as long as they have each other, they have little need for heat either.

And yet by the bedside, a single candle holds back the black night, casting soft shadows over the richly furnished chamber. Illuminating a couple, in peaceful repose after a night of midwinter celebration. All is still, or so it seems.

A window has been left open, and the South wind needs no further invitation. A chilly breeze forces its way into the bedchamber, stirring the silken curtains of a comfortable four poster bed into motion. The candle too is taunted by the breeze, and its flame shudders in the cold air. Within this flickering light, a young woman lies in the embrace of a very tall man, her chocolate curls falling softly against the skin of his arms as he holds her tight to him.

The cold air raises goosebumps on the skin of the prone man and he is stirred into wakefulness. Even with his dark eyes still heavy with sleep he is able to find the sleeping form of his love, curled with her back pressed to him, sharing warmth. He traces the curve of her exposed hip with a steady hand, some measure of thoughtfulness written in his strong features. There was a time when he only dreamed of closeness such as this. The friendship they carefully built during the past five years had grown to love, just as he had hoped it always would.

He needs no light to find her in the darkness, as his mind is already so attuned to her own. Years of working together, of companionship, have synchronised their movements. Tonight, on the longest night of the year, he had again proposed to her. Yet this time, she had accepted. And now, more than ever, he aches softly for her, with the knowledge that she will always be his.

Unable to resist the temptation of her skin, his hands slide gently around the curve of her waist, holding her flush to him as his mouth traces a path along her shoulder to where her pulse beats at the base of her throat. She stirs, whispering his name under her breath as she turns and curls around him, her arms slipping around his waist. The silk of her leg brushes his own as she pulls his hips closer, and the evidence of his desire for her is painfully obvious.

A sleepy chuckle escapes her. "Honestly, again love?"

Not to be swayed, his soft lips continue their exploration of her skin, tasting, teasing.

"Magelet, when it comes to you, I'm afraid I'll never tire."

She smiles, for him, and the creature in her is freed. Using the element of surprise she leans into his embrace, hooking a leg over his own and pinning him beneath her. There is a look of triumph on her face as she teases, "If you're sure you're up to it, old man".

He growls, but he proves that he is, by pulling her body down to him as his hips rise to meet her own. And they are one once more.

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There are moments when time slows, limbs become heavy, and each movement is tender and deliberate. Yet moments of fierce desire soon follow. When passion and aggression merge, and close is never close enough.

She cups his face with her hands, and winds nimble fingers through his dark hair. Dragging her hands through it gently she tilts his head back, exposing his throat, and samples the soft skin there before returning to his mouth. All the while they move together, a steady rise and fall. Yet she is unable to continue when he cups her breast in his hand, and lowers his head to take its peak into his mouth, caressing her gently with his tongue.

She is close to release, he feels it when she breaks the steady rhythm of their lovemaking. She is overwhelmed by sensation, and stills her movements upon him, just for a moment.

Release.

She arches into him, and he covers her lips with his own, swallowing her cry of pleasure while pulling her closer. Deeper. She can never be too near. His hands smooth down her spine, and she pulls her lips from his, laying her head against his shoulder as she regains her breath. He smiles, content that he can reduce to this, and feels her heart pounding against his chest.

There is a moment of peace.

And then, she begins to rock slowly against him, revelling in the final remnants of her release. Still pulsing around him, she creates a maddening friction, Her eyes, now on his, draw his full attention to the movement of her body, driving him onward, upward.

A delicious pressure builds within him as her hands and lips caress the skin of his chest, his throat, and finally his mouth. All the while she keeps a steady rhythm, rising and falling above him. He can only watch and wonder, at how he has found such happiness with this woman. He meets her grey eyes, to find they glazed with passion, yet deeper still, hold such love for him. And she is his.

His breath hitches at the glorious sight of her moving above him, and all thought escapes him, for she captures his lips with hers, and he is finally lost.

All is quiet once more, the man rises for a moment, and with one breath the candle flame is extinguished, and its smoky soul makes the journey toward the heavens, carrying with it the untamed cries of two lovers who hardly need the intervention of the Great Gods on this most holy night, for they are already blessed with the greatest gift of all, each other.