This is something I've been meaning to write for quite some time and I'm glad that I finally had the chance and the inspiration to do it. It's of, course, a Sora/Leon pairing because it's my favorite pairing and it's a pleasure considering situations with them together.
It's placed in alternate universe and I have a feeling you might like the idea! If I write it well that is. (Smiles) It's somewhat similar to my last one shot from Light and Fantasy - meaning, Leon has fluffy wolf ears! I have no beta reader so any mistakes you find are unintentional!
Disblaimer: No one is mine. Don't sue...you'll chase the muses away!
Warning: Might have mature themes. Depends though.
She lifted the folds of her kimono with one hand, ignoring the little voice in her head whispering that her actions weren't very ladylike, and broke into a moderate run towards her house, keeping her eyes on the swaying bucket of water she was holding. A great sacrifice considering the fact that she'd been forced to break the thin layer of ice - again - to get to it.
Hopefully she wasn't going to end up spilling more than she needed. This had to be the harshest winter she had seen in a long time and, while she was aware that one bucket was like a drop in the ocean for what she needed, she wasn't looking forward to going out again too soon.
With that thought in mind, Sora stepped inside her small cabin, sharply feeling the shift in temperature, and silently slide the door closed behind her. Careful not to disturb her visitor.
Her entire body was stiff by the time she had managed to start a fire but she was fairly satisfied with her work. Now she could finally heat some water and try to see exactly what was wrong with her patient. Even though by doing so she was going against everything she had ever been taught by the elders of the village.
Sora sighed and pushed a red strand of hair from her face, kneeling down next to the unconscious man who was blissfully unaware of his surroundings. Lucky, lucky man.
Biting her lips, she brushed her hand against his cheek, trying not to grimace as blood flaked and dirt smeared her fingertips. Her heart clenched in sympathy even as she lifted her hand to touch the not human ears on the top of his head. A demon...she was housing a demon in her own home and yet she couldn't bring herself to feel repulsed by his appearance or the blood running through his veins.
She had found him in the forest, covered in snow, half dead and suffering from serious wounds all over his body. The clothes he had been wearing were of unknown origin and she guessed that he was from faraway lands; how he had come to be in this state was still a mystery to her.
The teapot whistled breaking her from her reverie and Sora mentally thanked any Kami that was listening for hurrying up. Whoever this man was, he needed serious medical care as soon as possible and she was certain that if she tried she could set him on his feet in a few weeks.
A small prayer later and she was bustling through the house. Warmer clothes, bandages, scissors and some rags and medicine she had stashed in an old chest for unexpected situations.
This was unexpected enough for anyone, Sora thought crouching next to her new charge.
Ken had brought her a few rabbits the night before and those could be turned into stew...Sora couldn't really be sure but by the shape of this demon's ears, wolf she believed, he would appreciate as much meat as she could get in him. Of course, he probably wouldn't be able to take in much raw meat from the go-to so maybe she'd try making some broth especially for him...
Sora shook her head. She was putting the cart before the horse. Worries of those sorts would come later.
With an unrepentant sorry she cut clean through his blouse and ignoring the fact that he was very well built under those loose garments, or so she told herself, proceeded to wash him clean of dirt and blood.
It was of course insane but Sora told herself that it was all right to whimper every time he twitched or groaned mutely in pain. Those wounds were horrible enough to bring tears to her eyes. What animal could slash straight through his side like that? Or leave those claw marks on his chest...or bite his shoulder so deeply or...
Sora blanched and told herself that she was a baby if she started crying now that there was someone who needed her. She was not the one who was hurt and yet she felt like she was suffering just as bad as he was.
She didn't even know him either.
Tugging the material from the wound in his side, where it had caught and stuck to the ragged wound, was almost enough to make her faint then and there; there was so much blood everywhere that it made her sick to the stomach.
Sora knew that she was going to also add washing the floors and the sheets on her to do list later.
Somehow, the thought that this man could kill her passed only sparringly through her mind; it probably should've, considering some of the stories she had heard from the village elders. They hadn't been pretty and most of the times involved the horrible things demons could do to human women; gore, death in disgustingly explicit ways and some things she would've liked not to be aware of.
Of course, Sora mused to herself dabbing gently at the dried blood and newly formed scabs, people tended to exaggerate but that didn't mean that she couldn't be...a little precautious too now did it?
She guessed that she just had to wait and see until he woke up.
"I've never felt so exhausted in my entire life." Sora collapsed next to the fire, half sitting, half falling on the floor.
She wasn't joking either. Her feet were screaming in protest from all the running she had done over the last few hours of trying to give her guest a proper bath. There had to have been days worth of grime layered on him, as exaggerated as it did sound. Her muscles were protesting in strain and she felt like she had been scrubbing floors for hours.
One good thing...now she knew that he had white hair and not brown like she had believed at first - what a silly notion right? It had come to light - literally - after her second attempt to wash the waist long mane and now she had to admit that she was positively fascinated by the unusual color.
Well - she found the energy to blush - if she were to be honest with herself, she found him completely enthralling also. He was nothing like the village women made demons to be.
Bulky monsters with one eye in the forehead, three hands, dagger-like fangs, dark colored skin that covered deformed and twisted bodies and venomous poisons that smelled of death and danger. Of course she couldn't vouch on the deadly poison matter and so she hoped that he wasn't feeling up for human stew when he woke up.
Sora smiled to herself and tucked the blankets around him more securely.
He was quite a sight and if one ignored the fact that his ears twitched from time to time and that they were misplaced and fuzzy, one could actually pass him off as a human.
All right...so he also had fangs but the young woman didn't feel like running away, screaming her head off. Besides who could look at those when they could look at smooth skin, long hair, impressive frame? She was thinking...silk was the best way to describe him because even in sleep Sora had the feeling that he looked more elegant than anyone else. The clothes fit him perfectly and Sora had to admit that white suited him very well.
She stirred the broth and took a sip to convince herself that she didn't end up poisoning herself and her recovering patient. Improvement was still appreciated when it came to her cooking, though she couldn't quite say that she was that bad.
Just to be on the safe side though.
Well, it was edible and actually tasted like something she could consume without suffering from food poisoning so she filled a bowl and scooted closer to him, every intention of making him eat clearly written in her determined expression.
Lifting and supporting him was a difficult task - because he was so much bigger than her - but it didn't even come close to the feeding process. He choked several times and she was hard pressed to make him keep everything down and not spill anything herself while doing so.
By the end, Sora was at wits ends just thinking that she was going to have to repeat it several times a day to make sure that he regained his strength.
It was going to be a long night.
Sometimes between this and trying to cool his feverish skin, Sora had gotten sick of referring to him as her guest, patient or demon and had resorted to calling him - in concordance with his species and coloring - Snow Fur.
The name had stuck because she had really, really liked it. His hair was snowy in hue and soft under her touch and he didn't seem to mind being called this. Not that he had been awake to protest. Sora had assumed that he wasn't against it since he had calmed down every time she had tried to soothe him out of his delirious mumblings.
The latter happened very often unfortunately and she ended up patching up his reopened wounds more times than she could remember.
Sora closed the door behind her noisily, not even bothering to maintain a semblance of quiet like she had before. The incontrollable shiver that passed through her body moments after was a sign that she needed to shake the snow from her kimono as soon as possible and then perhaps settle near the fire and check on her guest.
She gingerly set down the pack of herbal medicine, turned around on her heel and almost tripped on her feet when she was met with the sight of him sitting on his bed and looking back at her impassively.
His eyes were a deep violet that reflected embers.
"You're awake." She intoned softly, determined not to falter in front of his steely gaze. It was certainly an awkward situation. "I'm glad. I was beginning to worry that something had gone wrong with your healing process."
When he only blinked, she continued her monologue with a warm, if not a little embarrassed, smile.
"Are you feeling better now? I had to change your clothes because they were wet and only worsened your health." She watched his eyes slide over the haori as if he had only now noticed the change.
She clasped her hands nervously and waited for an answer - anything would do as long as he ended the silence - with as much patience as she could muster.
"It is suitable." His voice was toneless and he didn't even turn his head to look at her as he inspected his clothes but Sora didn't mind.
Her tabi clad feet padded softly towards him and she settled down at a safe distance, mindful of making him angry or cornered in any way.
The fire needed rekindling, she thought to herself removing the burgundy shawl she had wrapped around her neck and shoulders, and the logs were increasingly getting fewer and fewer. Sora loathed going out and getting some but it was a necessity.
"Are you the one that...aided me?" His voice was clipped but vaguely curious at the same time and Sora suppressed a small chuckle.
She supposed that his pride wouldn't allow him to feel truly gracious for being helped. Aided had to be the understatement of the century.
"You could say that. I found you half dead in the forest a few days ago and brought you here for medical care. Don't worry, I never told anyone of my village you were here. I wouldn't want anything bad to happen to you and I know how people can be sometimes."
His eyes darkened visibly and Sora believed that he indeed knew how people could be.
"I will need to look at your wounds again." A little bubbly attitude never hurt anyone and she didn't want Snow Fur to be further saddened by her big mouth. And speaking of ridiculous pet names...
"My name is Naegino Sora." She bowed her head slightly, mentally berating herself for not starting the conversation with the tidbit of information first. A name meant trust and power. "You'll have to excuse me for not starting with that one. I'll admit to being just a little intimidated."
She moved closer to him and gestured for him to take of his haori so she could change his bandages. A giddy feeling enveloped her when he actually did as she bid him, without even making a sound of disapproval.
"May I please know yours? I have already made one up during your convalescence..." he gritted his teeth against the pain and Sora knew that the medicine she was applying on his wound stung like hell. She admired courage and even leaned forward to blow a puff of air to reduce the effects. "...but I would like to know your proper one."
The way he was looking at her spoke of puzzlement and even surprise.
Had no human ever asked him for his name before?
Sora smiled brightly up at him. Even kneeling she only reached his collarbone. "It suits you well." She fumbled with the bandages and finally managed to wrap them again around his shoulders and midsection, tying them tightly and securely.
"There, all done!" Sora chirped and rose quickly, hoping that Snow Fur - Leon she corrected herself immediately - wouldn't see her furious blush and know that she hadn't been able to keep her eyes only on her work.
'A proper woman would never look at a man half naked unless he is her husband.'
Pity she wasn't really a proper woman: she lived alone in a time when such a thing was frowned upon, she had no living relatives, her little house was situated a good deal away from the village, close to the forest, and she had brought a man in her house.
Now where was the proper in that? It had probably packed up and moved into another house, Sora thought with no little amusement.
She giggled to herself and batted those thoughts away with renewed energy.
"I'll have to go outside for a few moments to fetch some wood and then I'll prepare dinner." Sora gave him a look over her shoulder, brown eyes showing muted worry, and carelessly threw her shawl on to keep her warm. "I hope you like rabbit stew and possibly fish because that's all I have."
The door closed behind her and for the first time in three days, Sora felt grateful for the wind cooling her heated cheeks. He had looked at her in such a fierce way just now that she had felt her breath stolen away.
She stepped into the snow and looked up at the swirls of gray and misty white, biting back the impulse to curl into herself and go back where it was warm and pleasant. Clearing her head, and the currently ridiculous ideas running through her mind, was in order before she could step back in and face Leon.
Despite this, the desire to go back inside won by a long shot and she just went through the fastidious process of picking wood at an almost running pace. The chill outside was bitter and froze her hands until Sora couldn't even feel them carrying any weight at all. She wiggled her toes experimentally in her tabi and found them sluggishly obeying her commands, which could have been a good thing because that meant that they still reacted or it could have been a bad thing because they didn't react as fast as she had wanted them to.
No matter. Fire was a miracle worker and if followed suit by a cozy blanket or her comfy futon all would be well.
"I'm back!" She intoned cheerfully through pale lips and trembling teeth, which really belied the effect of her greeting greatly. "I hope these will suffice for tonight at least because cold day in hell doesn't make justice to the weather outside."
She found her guest in the same position she had left him and silently breathed in relief. That God, he appeared to be somewhat trustworthy - nothing was torn to pieces, nothing was missing and Leon didn't look like he wanted to rip her to pieces anytime soon. Actually, Sora thought disgruntled, she had the distinct impression that he wouldn't bother to dirty his hands with such a measly task.
The thought was slightly disturbing but that was, honestly, her impression of his composed expression and relaxed posture.
Moving around the house, Sora pretended that she didn't feel his eyes on her back and allowed him to study her thoroughly; knowing that he was probably weary and distrustful towards her too accepting attitude and wanted to see for himself if she hid any malicious intentions.
How troublesome, the redhead thought, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear, and reaching into a small cupboard to take out some bowls and plates. Was it her fault that she wanted to help as much as she could? Even if he was what he was, she felt the impulse to help him.
With that thought in mind, Sora turned around and stepped forward, allowing the burning embers to reveal her warm smile, sitting down opposite Leon with a calm she hadn't been feeling a few moments ago. The fact that she could practically taste his unease at her benevolence only served to turn her amusement into full-fledged mirth.
Being frank was the best way to go about it in all likeliness.
"I hope I am not making you uncomfortable. I am, ah, a little too happy for my own good usually. I can understand how scary that must be to others sometimes." She extended a bowl to him, careful to avoid the licking flames, and stilled under his hard scrutiny, determined not to give him any wrong impression.
She wanted him to trust her.
After a few moments, eternity to a fidgety mind like hers, Leon returned her gesture, taking the eating utensils out of her hand with no outward sign of distress or physical tenseness. He was warm in the brief moment their fingers brushed and Sora smiled again.
She wanted to help him.
Waking up the next morning, Sora opened the shoji door that connected her room to his and panicked at the empty bed and perfectly rolled up futon. There was no sign that anyone had ever been here - everything was in perfect order, just like it had been before Leon had come.
For a moment Sora told herself that she shouldn't be feeling so desolate; that loneliness had always been a part of her life and that wherever he was, Leon was fine and healing well by himself.
They had taken their dinner together the night before and despite the fact that she had been the only one to make small talk, in order to coax him to reveal one or two things about himself, she had enjoyed his presence far more than she had anything in a long time. She had checked on his minor wounds, insignificant scratches and bite marks, and found them strangely missing.
Maybe it hadn't been that strange. After all she had treated and looked out for him for four days and perhaps he had some healing powers of his own that allowed him to regenerate sooner than most humans.
Humans and demons had never mixed well enough and maybe he had taken his leave in the middle of the night.
Those thoughts didn't last long though and she found herself advancing towards the door slowly, unsurely; wondering why he couldn't at least have said goodbye when he left.
Sora knew for sure that she had always gone from one emotion to another faster than others but finding Leon sitting on the porch, cross-legged and looking at a fixed point beyond the trees, had to have been the most drastic of all.
She knew that for sure because her lips had turned into an involuntary grin of happiness.
Leon turned his head sideways to look at her and she couldn't help but feel drawn to the way his hair moved and cascaded over his back. It was like watching water in motion and for a moment all she could think about was running her hands through it.
"You're awake. You have slept well..." It wasn't a question, not really.
Sora felt rather foolish now.
"I did. And you?"
"It was satisfactory, thank you." He was giving her that considering look again; like he was searching for something deep in her soul that was unknown to her. His ears twitched and perked up and she fidgeted.
"Why are you upset?"
Sora smiled even wider and wiped a tear from the corner of her eye, contradicting herself by being happy and sad at the same time. "You weren't there when I woke up. I thought you had left and not even said goodbye."
"Would you feel sad if I left?"
"Of course I would...especially without a last farewell and a promise that you'll at least try to keep out of trouble."
He wasn't looking at her again and his back looked like it was close to breaking point due to the rigid way he was holding himself.
Her hand on his shoulder was enough make him tense even further if possible.
"I'd be disappointed if you did that but I'm going to be mad soon if you don't come inside this very instant." The effect was quickly spoiled by the humorous tone she couldn't hide. "I can handle life threatening injuries but I don't think I'd like to see you bedridden because of a simple cold. Sneezing, coughing..." She teased sitting down next to him.
He looked at her from above his nose. "It would be below me to fall in such a disgraceful state."
It saddened her - the hint towards her humanity but Sora still went on bravely. "Nonetheless I would appreciate it if you didn't move so much. There remains the danger of reopening the stitches."
"I am not weak."
"But you sure are stubborn."
Now why had she agreed to this again? She had sent him inside to rest and had gotten herself one of those enigmatic answers of his that had no connection absolutely to his condition - it probably didn't count that he was worsening everything and that she was going to have to stitch things all over again. Literally.
Sora leaned against the supporting beam and brought her knees up, feeling moody about the hardheaded demon in front of her.
She frowned and watched him slice, yes slice, through pieces of wood like they were mere pieces of paper to be manipulated at whim. She had wanted someone to help her with this fastidious task ever since she had been a child and hated chores, but this was simply preposterous.
Leon wasn't in the position to be moving around and he certainly wasn't apt for gathering firewood. It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him to stop but then she would be insulting him and his pride and she didn't to spoil the understanding that had developed over the span of the last two days...well, five for her.
Besides...if he was in pain, he didn't show it outwardly. Actually Leon looked quite bored and ready to pass to the next best thing.
Maybe after he recovered she would try him at other chores too?
"Since I can't convince you to quit what you're doing, would you at least accept my food offering as a repayment? It's the best I can give you right now."
The white-haired man cocked his head sideways and gave her a more unguarded look than before.
"How would you do that considering that you have none left?"
"It's an insignificant detail." Sora chirped, brushing the dust from her forest green kimono. "I was thinking of going to the market anyway so...is there something you would like?"
Leon smirked and sliced through another piece of wood without even denting his claws, leaving behind only a residue of bluish light that had the young woman looking more carefully to make sure that her eyes weren't deceiving her. "There will be no need for that. I will go hunting in a short while."
Oh no he wasn't! Sora frowned and crossed her arms.
"I will tell you in two words - no chance. You are not participating in such a dangerous activity even if I have to drag you inside the house myself. You're not healed yet."
Leon flexed his claws and they glinted eerily in the morning light. "It benefits me. Fresh meat is what I need most at this time. Do not delude yourself by thinking that I am doing this just for you."
"At least you could've let me believe you cared." The redhead grumbled good-naturedly.
"If it will make you feel better."
"...I am still going to the market. There is much I need to do anyway."
"Like?" He raised an eyebrow in a condescending manner.
"I live alone in this house and there's no one to help me so I am responsible for the both of us. The only way I can live is by sewing kimonos for the wealthier women in town and sometimes - though rarely because they're very heavy - supplying them with wood."
As soon as those words came out, Sora instantly felt bad for letting her mouth run away with her. Mostly for the rude way she had spoken to him but also for letting her life story slipping out unnoticed. Usually she wouldn't have felt ashamed to admit what she did to support herself but considering how elegant and noble Leon was, Sora knew that she had only belittled herself considerably in his eyes.
She bit her lip when his haughty expression became unreadable but still looked him straight in the eye, unwilling to let herself be humiliated just because she earned her living by working hard.
"Where are your parents?" He asked quietly.
"They died when I was only five. I was taken in by my aunt and uncle and lived with them until the age of sixteen. It is then that I learned how to survive by myse..."
"And where are they now? Your aunt and uncle." Leon pressed on, eyes darkening to a royal purple.
Perhaps she could turn on her heel and escape this interrogatory in her small house? No, not really...he'd probably follow her there or catch her before she even stood up. Stupid, constricting, clothes that didn't leave her freedom of movement.
"They were poor and it was getting increasingly difficult to feed themselves, myself and their daughter Yume." Her eyes hid painful memories and Sora missed the way his lips pulled into a barely visible sneer. "When I found out that they had a second child coming, I decided that I would not abuse their kindness anymore."
"I only left a note, telling them that I would look for a place to live for and that I was immensely grateful for they had done for me. That I loved them and wished them the best. I write them from time to time you know...they have answered every letter I ever sent."
Her smile was rueful and she pushed a strand of strawberry colored hair behind her ear. "So you see...earlier this morning, I thought that you had done the same thing I did then. Left without a proper goodbye; I thought that you had unknowingly paid me with the same coin. I'm glad you didn't."
Silence was the worst enemy Sora had ever known. It was either awkward, fear-inducing or simply charged with tension...this one comprised them all for example.
She wanted him to berate her and give her one of those icy looks that told how much he was disgusted with her. Maybe actually turn on his heel and leave; go back to the forest where he belonged.
Instead she felt his hand on her shoulder. Sora hadn't even heard him moving and yet here he was, somehow conveying silent words he just couldn't bring himself to say because they weren't in his nature.
She shyly leaned towards him, her head brushing against his hakama, keeping her body at a safe distance so she wouldn't further injure him.
"Will you cry now?" His voice was quiet, the sound rumbling lowly in his chest and finally dimming into silence, but it didn't fail to get a minutely twitch of surprise from her. She sighed.
"No. I've had time enough to do that. I'm nineteen now." Sora pushed a red-violet strand behind her ear, her favorite gesture when she was feeling out of place, starting slightly when he tangled and twisted his fingers into her long hair to sweep it over one shoulder in a fluid motion. Long arms she mused to herself.
"That old?" Was he teasing her? He was so serious she couldn't be sure.
Her eye twitched and she poked him as hard as she could...though she doubted that his calf was suffering from her treatment.
"Don't push your luck. I may look harmless but I'll have you know that i have a mean right hook and will not hesitate to use it against you!" That sounded utterly unthreatening even to her ears. Sora doubted that he had even bothered to take heed of her foolish words until she felt his body rumble faintly.
"Physical pain will not deter me Try, but I doubt you will get anywhere fast." With no insignificant amount of chagrin did Sora come to the conclusion that Leon was silently laughing at her. Grudgingly she accepted...that maybe she did bring that upon herself.
The atmosphere was comfortable. Too comfortable in her opinion.
Sora lowered her eyes and pretended that she was picking invisible pieces of lint from his dark-colored hakama.
"Aren't you supposed to despise me now? I'm a heartless person who dishonored her family by leaving in the middle of the night. This is where you're supposed to denounce me as a vile human being with not sense and sensibility."
The tone of her voice was matter of fact but her heart was fluttering madly in her chest, almost like a trapped bird struggling to escape its gilded cage. Both of them felt the silence descend painfully but Sora was sure that she was feeling everything more acutely. His elegant fingers curling over and over again in her hair, his shallow breath sounding loudly in her ears and more importantly the way his eyes burned into the back of her head; like he was breaking every fact into small pieces, considered it and finally building everything back for the final answer she was waiting.
"You did what was right to survive and insure a normal life for those you care for." He tilted his head slightly to the right and long strands of white fell over his shoulder and down his back to tickle her face.
"Only humans could ever find such things disturbing and worth hating. There are worse things in life."
"You say human as if it were a bad thing. I'm human too and I don't like being referred to as if I'm sort of specimen to discuss and study." Her voice was chastising but she contradicted herself by rubbing her cheek against the coarse material of his clothes.
Her nose informed her brain that Leon smelled really nice, which inevitably led to her wanting to burry her nose in his clothes to inhale deeply. At that point she had already decided that she needed to rest because there was something seriously wrong with her.
"Demons are often seen as mindless beasts and while some are, most could enlighten the human population on a great deal of things. It goes to show just what humans are becoming." Leon spoke with such certainty that Sora actually believed him
Her smile was the epitome of innocence.
"You are still not going anywhere."
Sora couldn't really tell when the days started melding into one another, becoming more or less a blur. The weather was frosty and very rarely did it not snow, so she usually spent most of her time inside doing insignificant things one did during the long months of winter.
She scrubbed the floors to make sure they stayed clean, sewed some kimonos, aired out the futons, cooked food, washed clothes, embarrassed herself with indoor baths and making herself as small as possible in the tub, shoji door and all, knowing that rice paper was still transparent and Leon could see. If he ever did catch a glimpse of anything, he didn't mention it and for that she was grateful.
His wounds were getting better and better and with each passing few days she could notice the difference between the before and after. He never complained when she acted like a mother hen and in return she didn't stop him from spending the short days on the porch, back supported by the wooden beam, looking out at the forest steadily. Sometimes she would pause in her activities and swear that she had caught him looking at her but when she raised her eyes, his would always be impassive and trained somewhere in the distance.
She had never found out what had attacked him that faithful day in the forest and he had been very much reserved about the details. Somehow, though, Sora had the feeling that whatever it had been wasn't dead now and that Leon had taken great pleasure in injuring his opponent. The ruthless gleam in his eyes didn't let her fool herself into thinking otherwise.
Relief, warmth, companionship, happiness and many other emotions, some which still remained a mystery, churned in her stomach whenever she was with Leon so she didn't mind that she knew next to nothing about him yet. He provided her with conversation and someone to soothe her loneliness and that was enough.
There was no describing the feeling of having someone there to watch over her, help her, silently support her - in a tangible way that Sora could almost grasp - after such a long time of being used to the company of only the flickering shadows. It made her feel light and added an extra bounce to her step.
Leon was an extremely private person and he had guarded his personal space with steel resolve at first but gradually he had let her touch him without the usual chilly stare following in tow. Perhaps he had gotten weary of always keeping a wall erected between them because he was considerably more...docile could she call him?
It had all started with him consoling her and had gotten better and better from there on.
Gradually she had come to discover that every twitch of his muscle meant something, an emotion he couldn't bring himself to express freely. Slowly she had realized that his appearance was not the only one that suggested his intelligence and though he spoke little, Sora had the distinct feeling that he knew much more than he let on.
He had surprised her time and time again with his knowledge about human habits and even about books that she, herself, had read several times or some she had never heard about.
For all his reserve and high-handedness sometimes...Sora knew that she wouldn't trade his presence with her for all the gold in the world.
It had finally happened and yes, she had come out not as the victor but as the victim. Defeat was bittersweet. Leon had managed to prove his stubborn ways and she hadn't been able to express her opinion, mostly because she had been ignored completely. So, the young woman found herself walking through the market...wolf demon in tow and in disguise and all.
After weeks of confinement, Leon had finally demonstrated that it had not been her that had kept him rooted to one place for so long but his own acceptance of the fact that he was injured. Alas, this was also the day Sora had come to the conclusion that she didn't hold any power over this man and if anything he did whatever he wanted.
There went the hopeful notion of a woman's power over a man.
She picked up a few daikon radishes, courtesy of the money she had received after a job well done, and beamed to her ever-present shadow not even bothering to be worried anymore. It took too much for her and was beginning to stress her poor nerves.
No one had screamed and villagers wielding pitchforks hadn't attacked them so it meant that his kasa was safely in place and covering his ears completely. It would be a good thing if it stayed that way but Sora was prepared to grab his hand and run like the hounds of hell were after her if the whole ruse failed.
"Was it really necessary for you to come too?" She whispered in his direction, feeling her ire increase at the sight of his self-satisfied smirk. "I don't mind your company but I don't think I'm prepared to see you made into a fur. It would be too much, too fast."
She had the distinct impression that Leon was quite amused with all this; then again he always seemed to be amused by her behavior for some strange reason.
"They would be the ones falling first."
"Please don't kill them." Sora smiled politely at the fish vendor, spitting out the words through gritted teeth.
"Then they will do well not to keep to themselves and not stare."
"It's a small town. They will most likely be gossiping about me whatever I do."
"I could teach them a lesson." The temperature dropped a few notches and Sora was glad that his attention wasn't on her. She hated facing him when he was in one of his volatile moods.
"Now Leon, I can understand that you may like to..." here she struggled with a right choice of words. "silence them and possibly more but you have to understand that I don't accept slaughter at any time."
She could swear that he had chuckled, the sound rich and warm and so unusual coming from him, and pondered what the chances were of catching him in the act if she turned her head now.
"I have never heard anyone speak so simply about killing."
"It's only simple in theory." Sora brushed her fingers against the brightly colored hair ribbons displayed, admiring the bright colors and fragrant smell of snow blossoms that wafted from the delicate materials. "As long as it doesn't happen, I can live with it."
She avoided a large crowd of chattering women and swung her basket from her elbow, ignoring the fact that it was gradually getting heavier and heavier. The day was beautiful, even if a little windy, and the sweet scents and perfumes wafted to her nose making her senses heady with thoughts of crisp freshness.
Leon's smell, she knew it by heart now.
The rice wholesaler nodded at her and she did the same, careful to confirm her next command to him before passing on. No matter how small it was compared to others', it was still impressive and Sora needed someone to bring it to her home.
"Besides, there is no point in this discussion anyway. Let them stare as much as they want. I doubt anyone will come closer than two feet from you." She pouted up at him. "Everyone throws themselves away from your path and bumps into me like I'm invisible. It's not what I would call hidden intentions...the women are ogling you, glaring at me and the men are weary and jealous."
Sora yelped when his fingers wrapped around her hand and tugged her so that she was only moments distance from toppling in his arms. That didn't happen like she had expected but Leon kept his steel grip on her arm, conveying that she wasn't allowed to move from this newfound position. To say that she was embarrassed when people turned their heads to stare at them - blatantly - would be making light of the situation. Sora was positively mortified by hers and Leon's proximity. In public of all places. It was like begging to be gossiped about.
"Have you gone out of your mind?" She hissed, struggling to free herself subtly. The tentative was of course doomed from the beginning; she didn't hold a candle over his inhuman strength. Leon raised his kasa slightly and let her see the flickers of blue dancing in his eyes.
"You said you didn't like being trampled on." Leon's voice was almost intimate and this time Sora knew that he was indeed enjoying himself. "So you wouldn't mind standing close to me then..."
"Please let go of me, Leon?"
Like he could care less if she asked him nicely or smacked him in the back of his head.
"If it makes you feel better long sleeves are useful. For hiding." His voice gave away nothing again in a way that told her he was mad. Possibly on her; but why would he be? Had she done something to anger him? Had her refusal been interpreted as rejection?
"Leon, are you..."
"Sora!" There was no mistaken that boyish voice even if she had wanted to. The young woman looked longingly at her companion but he didn't bother to return the gesture, keeping his eyes firmly trained on the fast approaching figure she knew so well.
Schooling her features carefully, Sora turned towards her longtime friend, a bright smile plastered on her features. Although she didn't really feel like smiling anymore.
His grin dissipated as soon as he caught sight of the indifferent expression on Leon's face. And their linked hands half visible from beneath the flapping sleeves of their clothes.
"Ken," to her ears that sounded as downtrodden as she felt. "I didn't know you had come back in town so soon. It's good to see you again." At least that was sincere enough. If anything, she was glad to see that Ken had returned safely from his journey. The timing wasn't quite right but Ken had that...ability to come in the worst possible moments.
"Yes...it's good to see you again too." Ken's eyes were distrustful towards Leon. It was the first time Sora had ever seen anything but warmth and happiness in those cornflower eyes and that scared her more than anything else.
"Who is your friend? I don't believe I've ever seen him around these parts."
Her hand tightened around Leon's and his eyes flickered towards her for a fraction of a moment.
Well...he was a wolf demon who had come under her roof bloody, beaten, scarred and half frozen. It wasn't something she could tell anyone so Sora bit back the guilt and blatantly lied for the first time in her life.
"Leon is a close friend of my uncle's and happened to pass through town a few days ago. She accentuated the word close so he wouldn't miss it by any chance. "I offered to let him stay with me for a while...he has some unfinished business and will be staying for a week or two."
'Hopefully Ken will take the hint and leave. It's too tough to juggle all this at the same time.' Her mood wasn't in a better shape either.
Ken blinked owlishly down at her and for a moment he seemed to be at a loss of what to do next. "Is that so?" He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly and offered her a weak smile of his own. "Forgive me...for a moment I had imagined something else. I can't tell you how relieved I am that I was wrong."
He beamed down at her and Sora laughed nervously when Leon growled lowly in his throat. She contemplated strangling her dear friend for being so deaf and bad of hearing.
She had to think of something plausible enough to get Ken out of Leon's personal space and she had to do it now or risk a bloodbath.
"If you don't mind, we have to..."
He grabbed her free hand and Sora suddenly found herself divided between two men, the grocery basket dangling on her arm precariously. "I'd like it if you joined me for dinner tonight Sora...the both of you." He added reluctantly.
'The world is a play and I'm just a pawn.' Leon's claws were piercing into the skin of her palm, sending sparks of white, hot pain down her spine. Instead of getting Ken out of Leon's range of attack, she had gotten him more into it than before. Wonderful.
Gritting her teeth against the stinging sensation, Sora put on her best-sheepish expression and took a step backwards towards Leon. "I'm afraid I'm quite busy tonight, Ken. You see, I promised Leon that I would show him around the town while he was here and we haven't even gotten started yet. There's much to see after all." Yes, a town with thirty houses definitely requires a lot of attention these days...
Ken looked like he had just found out that someone dear had died recently.
She sent another request for forgiveness to the heavens for lying like this.
Leon's grip loosened noticeably and while Sora was sure that he hadn't done it consciously, she was going to give him a piece of her mind if he had mangled her hand on purpose. It was probably bleeding from the pressure he had applied on it but that she could take care of when she got home. Or maybe she could wave it in his face after all this was over and guilt him into giving her an explanation.
"Then perhaps another time?" Ken also let her hand go and Sora hoped that the way she had pulled it back even further hadn't been that obvious.
"Yes. Another time I'll come to dinner. Please send my best wishes to your parents too. We really have to go now. It's almost evening and we should get home before it gets dark. Neither of us has eaten much for lunch..."
Lie. It didn't matter though because Leon moved when she silently urged him to, even if Sora knew that she was running and not walking away calmly, and she threw a last goodbye over her shoulder, determined to ask her companion what was wrong as soon as they were out of sight and hearing. Away from the market and heading home.
"Goodbye Ken! I'll catch up with you another time, I promise."
With a muttered curse, Ken let the hand that had been suspended in midair fall. He should've hidden his weariness and disappointment and answered back as cheerfully as Sora had.
Sora. Even dressed in a simple, dark blue kimono with a white obi she had looked positively radiant. He had never seen her with her hair braided before and it had been a surprising change from the way she usually let it fall freely down her back. She hadn't smiled at him like she usually did...but then again he had been with her.
The young man ruffled his hair and looked after them long after they had disappeared, swallowed by the bustling crowds around them.
Ken had never seen a man like that before. His mere presence had commanded respect and everything about him had just flowed gracefully - his hair, the pair of simple clothes he had been wearing. It was like being in the presence of an unnatural being; someone not quite human yet bearing strong resemblance to one.
Those eyes definitely hadn't been human. Cold, ruthless, sharp, they had chilled him to the bone. And despite that, Sora had only paid attention to that man - Leon - barely giving him a second glance throughout their meeting. Everything, the four important sentences they had exchanged, had revolved around this Leon character. A good friend of her uncle's, she had said.
Ken knew better. That man wasn't just a friend, an acquaintance, he was something so much more. The way Leon had looked at him when he had taken Sora's hand into his spoke louder than words. His eyes had gone from freezing to smoldering in a matter of moments and the hint of steel had turned his eyes a dark blue.
In front of such a man, what chances did he, a simple boy, have at winning Sora?
The sunset was splendid. It was a sight to behold, a myriad of lovely colors all mixed to create this wonderful event of nature that stopped you in place just to witness it. The sky was a sea of gold with darker shades of orange and blue-gray clouds that created a staggering contrast.
It was paler during winter, more subdued, but still just as beautiful as she remembered it to be from times of spring spent underneath the falling cherry blossoms with only her musings to accompany her. It happened every day but was ever-changing. It differed through colors, intensity, season, the feelings of the watcher.
There was beauty in that, Sora thought, listening to the crunch of snow underneath her feet and knees and the unmistakable sound of water as she dipped her hand in the basin to help numb the dull pain still pulsing from time to time. Her pale reflection looked back at her and she wanted to tell it to stop looking so despondent because it didn't suit her personality.
It might've worked if Leon hadn't completely shut her out ever since that disastrous meeting with Ken at the market two days ago. She had been too shy to ask for an explanation, like she had planned in her mind, and so the road back home had been carried in silence and a heavy atmosphere - along with her heart.
Sora sighed to herself and wished that she could have had the courage to just march inside her house and ask him to talk to her and to stop ignoring her. He was doing a good job of it and it was clawing at her heart in ways that she had never believed possible before; hurting even more than the scratches now adorning her left hand.
Her arms came to wrap around themselves around her body and she shivered. Numbness had settled in her hand and Sora sighed to herself when she realized that she had completely forgotten to remove the makeshift bandage she had wrapped when Leon hadn't been looking. Even if he continued treating her with cold indifference, she still didn't want to burden him with such an insignificant problem.
Sora didn't really want to guilt him into apologizing for anything. It would've felt wrong even if he had caused some minor damage in his self-induced rage. Rage that she still couldn't grasp even after spending so many sleepless hours of the night looking at the thin rice paper that separated her from her source of distress. Endless moments in which she had taken and turned all the available scenarios, wanting to comprehend that moment in the market that had been that cause of all of this turmoil.
At best her arguments were fuzzy; at worst they were irrelevant.
Something whispered on the edge of her senses and instinctively she reached upwards to grasp the soft silkiness that had tickled her cheek for a brief moment. It turned out to be quite substantial, Sora realized bemusedly, as her fingers tightened around the silk haori that shouldn't have normally been there.
After all, clothes didn't just materialize out of thin air now did they?
"I suppose that if I told you that you're going to get sick you wouldn't believe me, right?" She hid her scratches beneath the material of her kimono and half smiled, half frowned up at her shadow. Quite an unusually beautiful shadow if one could say that.
Her breath hitched in her throat and she averted her eyes to hide the sudden blush at the sight of him in the fading sunlight.
"Correct." Would it be too farfetched to say that she knew him well enough to say that he was terribly displeased? "Are you waiting for me to say it or perhaps do you simply wish for me to throw you over my shoulder and carry you inside?"
"It's not that cold." She stammered through clenched teeth, chin rising in stubbornness. Was this the only reason he was bothering to speak to her? Because her well-being was at stake? Well, she thought in defiance, she was a big girl and she didn't need someone to look after her like she was a child.
Sora conveniently ignored the fact that she was acting like a child.
"You insist that I sit still all day and yet you purposely make yourself ill."
"I'm not going to get sick. It's not that - sneeze - cold!"
He didn't like that response, she could tell because she was looking at him sideways and his eyes were narrowed menacingly, and showed her just that when he swung her up into his arms and proceeded towards the house, completely ignoring her indignant sputtering.
"Put me down this instant! I'm not a sack of rice."
"Be quiet." He commanded softly, opening the shoji door and stepping in noiselessly. "My arm is not completely healed yet and if you wiggle like this you will ruin your own work."
The subtlety behind his words had an instant calming effect on her as Sora instantly froze and threw her arms around his neck to keep herself from losing balance. Her spontaneous gesture halted his advances for a few moments and Sora thought that he was mad at her for touching him inappropriately, though he had been the one to initiate it, but then he deposited her - gently - on the floor and she couldn't read anything that spoke of anger in his countenance.
How strange. Perhaps he had gotten somewhat used to her presence and touches and it didn't bother him as much? Or perhaps it had been her imagination that he had stopped just because she had been so bold.
Outside it was almost dark and so the light reflecting in his eyes was pale and faint. Still they glowed, enhancing the smoky purple color that she had thought so unusual ever since he had first opened his eyes.
"Does it hurt?" She was going to babble because she was nervous and she couldn't stand awkward situations such as this. "Your arm I mean," Sora tightened her hold on the haori and fiddled with the sleeve of her kimono. "I'm sorry if I was a nuisance...and heavy."
Well, she was not only talking to herself, she was spewing nonsense too.
To her surprise, and slight embarrassment, Leon's lips curved into an almost imperceptible smile and Sora wanted to tell him then and there that he should do it more often because the shadows in his eyes dissipated into nothingness when he was happy. He looked peaceful.
"It will heal soon enough. Do not fret over it." Not without that sling it won't you stubborn wolf! Sora thought grimly, noticing that he had removed the bandage.
"You are upset with me." It was not a question; it was a statement...one which she couldn't possibly comprehend considering that it had been him who had insisted on shutting her out these last few days. Sora's lips pressed in a thin line and she crossed her arms over her chest, remembering that she did have reasons to be angry with him.
"I don't know what you're talking about. You are the one doing a great job of giving me the cold shoulder and since I can't remember doing anything to displease you, I think I am entitled to return the favor." Wow, two contradictions in one sentence. Wasn't she just something?
No, she wasn't just something. She was just furious.
"Foolish human girl, I am keeping the distance for your sake not mine." His voice was down to a low rumble that fairly danced across her skin and his eyes held burning embers.
"How did you do that?" She asked in a mere whisper, looking wide-eyed at the burning fire that hadn't been there before. Had it suddenly risen out of the ashes at Leon's whim or was her frozen brain just imagining things? "How did you do that?" Her voice was higher this time and filled with unspoken awe and when she looked at him again, his eyes held the faintest traces of heat.
Sora blinked and remembered that they had been arguing before. Fire or no fire, he had just said the wrong thing to her.
"That's preposterous! Why would you keep away from me for my sake?" Her lashes lowered to cover the pained expression she was trying not to let show. "The only explanation I can think of is that you don't want me around for some reason."
"What if I told you that you're wrong?" Leon asked roughly, placing a clawed finger under her chin and forcing her to look directly at him. "The human species is fragile, so easily breakable under the slightest pressure that it is not a wonder why they cower away from demons." He lifted her hand and in the dim light of the fire, the scratch marks were a pronounced red.
"This is the only explanation I have for keeping you away. It should be more than self-explanatory in this case." His hold was firm but gentle and she rebuked herself silently for that slight pang of fear she hadn't been able to suppress at the first touch.
It dawned on Sora that she wasn't a very good liar, which was a pity really because Leon being aware of this injury from the very start certainly made things strange. Shame at her own folly, disbelief that he thought she would hold this against him, frustration for the same reason and a desire to just beat some sense into this overprotective - had they really gone to this in such a short time? - demon looking at her intently.
She frowned and entwined her fingers with his, pushing back the rising blush and her own virginal skittishness, when he made a move to pull back and let go.
"You actually mean to tell me that you've been so distant because of this?" For the first time in her life Sora wanted to have a good scream in her pillows! This had to be what people called the calm before the storm. "If I weren't so sure that I might get myself killed," there went her big mouth again, running away with her in the least opportune moments, "I'd smack you over that thick head of yours!"
"I could not kill you even if I had such a thing in mind."
"Is that an encouragement for me to hit you?" Sora couldn't help it - the way he had changed the subject, so reasonably and smoothly, made her want to throw in a sarcastic remark or two. "May I ask why not at least?"
"My honor wouldn't allow it." Leon responded stiffly, softening his answer by rubbing soothing circles on the calloused skin of her knuckles. Sora still felt that curious pang of hurt that signified her ever-growing attachment to this strange being in front of her. To be considered just a matter of honor hit something deep inside her.
"Well you're acting silly anyway because I'm neither afraid nor am I disgusted with you." Sora knew that she must've struck the right cord when he turned his head away from her to look at something she couldn't see. His eyes were shuttered again and the shadows and vivid, flickering lights danced back and forth in his hair.
Her heart tightened painfully and then expanded until she thought that her chest was going to burst. It would've probably been better if they had sat down and discussed this matter calmly - or she could just resort to beating it in him before her knees turned traitors and abandoned her.
"Did you hurt me intentionally? Tell me quickly before I can decide whether you've overstayed your welcome here." There she went again with those sharp remarks - she was a horrible person but if it had gotten to this then so be it.
"I told you before," his eyes were flinty, "it would be an insult to my honor and the debt I owe you."
"Well, then you have nothing to fear from me." Leon blinked down at her and Sora sighed. "You're still staying here until you properly heal and I can ascertain for myself the state of your wounds."
"I might hurt you again. Despite my humane appearance, my instincts are fairly close to the surface...in some instances I can't control. I am not accustomed to being close to humans for so long."
"You're completely impossible. I said you were not going to hurt me and that's that. Can't we just agree to disagree already?" She'd almost called him by her little nickname and had to bite her tongue against those syllables.
He was silent but his expression said more than words. In that stubborn yet calculated way this man seemed to display his emotions.
"Listen, you." Her temper had always been easy to taunt out and Leon was igniting the spark. "If I had been afraid of you, I would've left you in the woods and went on my way normally. I can not even begin to understand why we're having this conversation." She fisted her hands in the lapels of his haori and raised herself on tiptoes in an attempt to at least shorten the distance between them. Her eyes were bright with unshed tears but she could not have given an answer had he asked her why she was on the verge of crying.
"I think it's really stupid of you to avoid me but frankly I don't know why I should care. Don't you even ask." She stressed the words and his mouth shut on its accord, his jaw threatening to snap under the pressure. Yet she went on relentlessly.
"I really try - I try - to get you to trust me or at the very least to stop looking at me like I am just a lowly human not even fit to touch you." She stressed each word with a rather - painful, she hoped - hit in the chest but didn't protest when he caught her hand in his much larger one and immobilized her.
"Why can't you just let me in?" Sora leaned her forehead against his chest and sighed, feeling weary. "Am I too presumptuous? Am I getting in over my head? Please just tell..."
His fingers ghosted and curled underside her chin and by the time Sora had the time to realize what was happening, Leon had already tipped her head backwards and pressed his lips against hers in an unexpected kiss that took her breath away.
She inhaled sharply and felt a myriad of colors explode behind her fluttering eyelids, felt her heart swell for the second time that night and thump audibly in her ears along with her rushing blood. It was...nothing like she had ever thought it would be in a way that made her cheeks grow hot and her eyes cloud over. It was nothing like the chaste pecks on the lips she had caught her aunt and uncle give each other, didn't come close to the butterfly kisses the village girls whispered about behind colorful fans and delighted giggles and felt completely different than what she had envisioned for herself.
It was unexpected first and foremost because this was just a dream right? Leon wasn't really kissing her. It was too gentle to come from such a hardened man; probing the depths of her soul with such careful strokes that she couldn't believe this was the same powerful demon that could crush her with his bare hands in a matter of seconds.
Her lashes half lowered to cover the covetous expression she could see reflected in his eyes. Hers. Sora didn't object when he gently nipped at her lower lip, sending a bolt of zinging electricity down the entirety of her spine, nor did she try to resist when he - ever so slowly - pulled her close to him.
Was there something wrong with enjoying something like this?
He smelled fresh and tasted of melted snow. He was also watching her carefully - Sora had the strange feeling that he was studying what she knew was her dazed expression and so she closed her eyes completely so she wouldn't somehow embarrass herself in the process.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and almost whimpered when he changed the angle of the kiss, feeling her knees about to give from underneath her body. Perhaps it was the very little supply of oxygen left in her lungs or maybe the sudden hot pressure against her lips that made her feel like she was sitting close to a fire.
Sora had never known that she could feel so much at once and all from such a seemingly insignificant gesture as a simple kiss.
Apparently he also needed to breathe because, and as much as she regretted it secretly, Leon broke the kiss and settled his forehead against hers, eyes closed, breathing heavy and loud in her ears.
Sora couldn't help but think, fleetingly, that he looked incredibly sensuous like this. When he opened his eyes to look at her with desire in his eyes, the coil in her stomach heightened and the aching sensation between her legs intensified tenfold.
Had this been the revelation waiting to happen? Had they not realized that maybe they were heading towards the edge of the precipice and dangerously close to falling?
Her mouth parted slightly but there were no words to describe the feelings she was experiencing just by looking into his eyes; so she lifted herself upwards and kissed him again, knowing that actions spoke louder than anything she could ever say to him.
Leon swept her off her feet, and her pulse raced wildly, but she couldn't find it in herself to deny him in any way. Not when he kneeled next to his futon and deposited her on it with so much care she could feel her eyes stinging with tears again.
She couldn't deny him anything because now she knew why her heart raced madly every time he was near or why she couldn't imagine him going away and leaving her alone. It seemed unconceivable to live without this cold, proud killer - a natural enemy of humankind - anymore...as strange as it sounded.
As his mouth left from hers, Sora discovered that her skin had sometime during this become overly sensitive. She shuddered when he dusted butterfly kisses down her jaw and tilted her head backwards to give him better access to her bared throat. Someone was breathing harshly but she couldn't tell if it was him or her...
For the first time in her life Sora felt exquisitely feminine and soft. Beautiful, wanted...completely blissful.
"Ah, Leon..." The kimono had been pushed of her shoulders and the only thing that kept her from his eyes was the fact that every inch of her was pressed against his chiseled body. Sora couldn't complain though when Leon lightly bit into her shoulder and then soothed the bite by swirling his tongue around it.
A moan. A snarl that shook her to the core.
To reveal so much skin surely was wanton and impure. She whimpered as Leon bared more of her body and nuzzled the valley of her breasts. It was indecent but even so she knew that she wanted him to go on.
"Beautiful..." Leon dragged his claws against the clothed flesh of her hips and her back arched of the bedding in mindless pleasure, her blush all too evident. "You can't imagine what it has been like to be so close to you without touching you." Despite the fact that there was nothing human about the timbre of his voice, Sora didn't feel afraid. "To do little more than just bask in your presence..."
Those last words came out as a hiss, another reminder of the darker side of him she was just getting to know. Sora breathed out his name and pulled him down for a passionate kiss, one hand tangling in his glorious hair and the other sliding down his chest and fumbling with the knots that held his clothes together.
It proved to be more difficult than she had first believed and she squeaked when Leon suddenly pulled her in a kneeling position and helped her divest him of his haori. He was still recovering and healing but bandages and bruises did nothing to ruin his beauty.
Sora leaned forward to listen to steady beat of his heart, feeling conscious of her nakedness, and his arms circled and spanned her waist, slipping beneath her loosely tied obi to ghost along her sides and press against the small of her back.
Goosebumps prickled at her skin at the intimate action and Leon nuzzled the top of her head, growling in what she thought was inviting her to make the next move - to let go of her inhibitions and touch him. Her breath came out in a quick whoosh and her hands shyly obeyed, gliding across warm muscle and smooth skin, silently delighting in the way he seemed to shift and come alive beneath her touch.
Raising herself on her knees Sora brushed her lips against his throat, surprising herself with her own boldness, and blushed hotly when his feline-like purr vibrated along the rim of her ear. He bit down lightly, eliciting another startled squeak, and fisted his hand in her hair, watching as it tumbled around her like restless dreams.
She looked like she belonged in his arms and Leon liked that.
"Give me permission..." He purred low in his throat again, pulling the kimono lower and lower down her shoulders...exposing hidden secrets and supple skin.
"Permission?" Sora mumbled dazedly, wondering just why she had chosen this day not to wear bindings. Just a little more and he would...
"Tell me now that you are mine and I will not hold back." Teasing and taunting, one of his hands lazily, deliberately, pulled on the intricate ribbon of her obi in small tugs and yanks that spoke of his impatience.
"I want you..." Leon didn't raise his voice but he didn't need to either. The effect was almost hypnotic, soothing and Sora nodded slowly, gasping through pale lips when Leon pulled her into another drugging kiss and completely undid the strings holding their desires.
The sheet twisted around their legs and clung unpleasantly to their sweaty bodies but Sora found that she couldn't complain about the warm glow that started somewhere in her chest and curled her toes beneath the thick blankets.
Now this was something she could definitely repeat again...
A purr escaped her throat when Leon laid a kiss on her bare shoulder and moved some strawberry strands from her face, tickling her neck in the process. She giggled and this time it was he who purred slowly in response to her happiness.
"I'm sorry I hurt you."
"Silly..." She blinked owlishly up at him, feeling incredibly lazy and content. "It was only natural and I wanted you to show me everything."
He chuckled in response to her blush and she tried to glare at him with as much force as she could muster.
"You look like an angry kitten like that - I'm sorry to say not very intimidating."
Well she felt like one too. Compared to his impressive size, broad shoulders and considerably bigger body, Sora felt like a kitten next to a mighty tiger.
Leon thought so too and draped a muscled arm around her waist, drawing her protectively close to him, her back to his chest, and tugging her blankets closer around both of them. She snuggled cutely and turned her head sideways to look at him in what he could only call tempting. And still...she was so fragile, so small-boned and breakable next to him that he wondered how she could hold so much fire within that small frame.
He could twist her neck in one simple move if he wanted but the thought was too morbid to even consider farther than just speculation.
"Tomorrow I want you to tell me everything about you." Despite the grave air and seriousness in her voice, her doe eyes were smiling and tender and he kissed her again, because he knew he couldn't get enough of her ever - today, tomorrow, a hundred tomorrows he was sure that he would still want her just as much.
When they broke apart, her eyes were feverish and a smile was on her lips. "Will you?"
"Do you really wish me to?" He enquired quietly, listening to the crackling firewood and the muted snowstorm outside, which he was sure only his sensitive ears could pick out.
"I want to know everything about you. Before you leave..." She swallowed and snuggled deeper into him, like she didn't want to even consider the possibility.
"Are you so sure that I will leave you? Even if I pledge that I will stay here with you forever?" There was a hint of steel but underneath Sora could hear the thoughtful sadness. So she smiled brightly for him.
"Oh Leon...I couldn't be so selfish to keep you here just because I think I love you. I want you to be happy with whomever is waiting for you out there."
"My sister." He whispered, as a memory played beneath his shuttered lids. "Her name is Sophie. My pack..." Leon trailed off as Sora hugged him and rubbed her cheek against his.
"Don't worry. I understand. Will you think of me when you go? I want to be selfish at least in that aspect and hope that you will remember me."
More butterfly kisses.
"I will do better...I will come back for you. No matter how, I will find a way to take you with me." She loved the color of his eyes.
"Believe in me."
Sora laughed through her tears.
Well...that was weird. Came out of nowhere and took me many days and night to finish properly.