Disclaimer: It's called His Dark Materials; I am not a boy. You do the math.
Author's Note: You thought I was gone, but you were wrong! Mwahaha…
Dedication: For Pyth and the other readers who asked for more. Let us join forces and cover the world in PanxLyra goodness! (waves the OTP flag) XD XD XD
Warnings: PanxLyra, mentions of WillxLyra. A backwards time jump, as portrayed by italics. Ambiguity. Vaguely written lime. Eff-ed up-ness. Takes place after The Amber Spyglass; if you wish, you can consider this a sequel to Narcissus.
I think that's it…
This was dirty. She knew it, had always known it. This was all so very, very dirty…
The slither of fur on skin; like velvet on silk. Slipping and sliding and brushing and breathing on just the right places, making her squirm and sigh. Not unpleasantly, though; no. This was not unpleasant at all… though her stomach was in knots, though her body was swathed in sweat, though her hair was carelessly everywhere.
This was far from unpleasant. This, this was the opposite of unpleasant...
It was a new age in Oxford.
Yes, the streets were just as crowded, and the colleges just as important, and the children just as rowdy as they ever had been before… but the change wasn't really physical. It could be felt, true, but only on the inside. On the outside, it was all but invisible.
Yet it hung in the air… like Dust.
Death had been dead for over a decade. The Authority had fallen; humans were gods. The church existed, but was weaker than ever… customs were changing. Traditions were changing. People were changing.
But not Lyra.
Lyra had changed already.
"Are you ready to go, Pan?" Lyra called to her dæmon, straightening her silk blouse and examining her reflection in the bedroom mirror. She was lovely, tall and slender, with waving blonde hair that fell just past her shoulders. Her outfit was trimming and airy, made of fine silk and coarse velvet; pearl-gray buttons gleamed, opalescent, in the golden beams of sunlight pouring through the windows. She had to look her best, today. "It's nearly midday."
The bedroom door creaked; Lyra turned in time to see it nudged open by a beautiful pine marten. She smiled, and in reply Pantalaimon bounded gracefully across the hardwood floor and leapt onto her shoulder.
"Ready," he then vocalized, nuzzling her cheek.
"Lovely," Lyra giggled, nuzzling back. With a whirl of her skirts, she turned to the open bay windows and moved the fluttering gauze curtains out of the way, allowing herself a momentary view of the sprawling city below. She'd be down there in a few minutes, but the view from her apartment bedroom was too spectacular not to enjoy while she could… and she leaned out, breathing in the sights and smells of the Middsummer's Day festivals.
Pan nipped the very tip of her ear, calling her attention away from the ribbons and maypoles and vendors and parades. "Come, Lyra, we'll be late."
She retreated back into the apartment, sighed, and locked the windows shut. But the smile couldn't be completely erased from her face, and once she'd turned to the lacy crib in the corner, the grin was in full bloom again.
"All right, darling little ones," Lyra cooed, waltzing to the canopied cradle and bending over the basket. At the sight of their mother's face, little Eve and little Adam giggled and clapped their pudgy hands. "We're going out today, dear hearts! Isn't it grand? Oh, yes, yes, yes…"
Scooping the babies out of their bed was no trouble, for they were still young and light. They squealed with delight; Lyra cuddled the twins to her breast, and Pantalaimon fixed their frilled bonnets around their tiny heads, careful to make sure the cloth would keep the sun off of their delicate faces.
Finally ready, the little family left the bedroom and the apartment, and ventured out into the world of Oxford.
It was wrong, too. Yes, yes, she couldn't deny it. Dirty and wrong, so dirty and wrong. But still, oh, still—!
His voice was soft in the moonlight, just like his touches. Careful, full of purpose; making sure not to hurt her, and yet determined to make her scream. Scream out, scream for him, scream because it was all too sweet, too wonderful, too much. It was a goal he easily achieved, and he relished her musical moans as they filled the locked room.
They never wanted to leave its safety.
Even at 25, Lyra was the center of attention—at Jordan College, in the streets of Oxford, up in King Iorek's kingdom and in the wild wilderness of the witches' domain … in the world in general, really. They tales of her adventures had been published and republished, always in a different form: articles, books, play scripts… She was the world's youngest alethiometer reader, and only rarely had to consult books on the subject. As a female scholar, she gave lectures on everything from alternate universes to how the armored bears made their armor, and was listened to by all. But most interesting thing about her—or, perhaps, the most frightening— was the children she had birthed, Adam and Eve.
They had no dæmon.
Which was terrifying enough for most. But no, their was more: the children, though dæmon-less, acted perfectly fine. It was true; except for this obvious flaw, they were, on all other counts, as healthy as babies could be.
Their dæmons must be hiding somewhere, then, some reasoned. Or their dæmons can travel far, like a witch's, and we just haven't seen them yet.
Others suggested that Adam was the dæmon of Eve, or vice versa. They were born as a set, like a normal child and their dæmon, these people pointed out. Perhaps these children, too, share one soul.
Or perhaps they had no need for dæmons whatsoever. After all, they apparently had no need for a father, for no one had ever seen Lyra with a man. Not since the famous Will Perry, who had vanished 12 years ago.
And she made it clear she had no use or time for lovers.
What were these babes, then? Were they even human? They looked it, the people of Oxford supposed, for they had arms and legs and a head—they were in tact, with a dæmon or without. But, at the same time…
Those wild, dark eyes; the fine crop of autumn-colored hair. Pale white skin and rosy cheeks… they were beautiful. Much more beautiful than the average, red-faced, screaming babies one would normally find on the street.
There was something unique about Adam and Eve.
It was like they were a species all on their own.
Lyra walked proudly down the streets of Oxford, her children in her arms and Pantalaimon on her shoulder. Those who looked her way were met with a smile, and they graciously returned it—but deep down, their curiosity was writhing, demanding answers.
The young woman, the babies, and the pine marten whirled around the corner and entered the Botanical Gardens, vanishing from view.
Still… Though the words resonated deep in her clouded mind— dirty, wrong, dirty, wrong, dirty, wrong— it still felt so good. She couldn't help it. It just felt too good
And though she knew she shouldn't, she didn't care: she savored every second of it.
He darted upwards, his tongue trailing and tickling wherever he went, and she covered his warm face in a flurry of kisses; her flesh bare and rosy and glistening, her eyes full of raw emotion.
"I love you," she breathed, voice husky and low. Her fingers ran through his shimmering locks; she could see her reflection in his dark eyes. "Best of all."
He seemed to smile. "I love you, too. More than anything."
It was the same each year; the only fixed affair in a long past and an even longer future of perpetuity changing events. The new Master watched silently— his eagle dæmon perched in a nearby tree— while the beautiful young woman gazed thoughtfully into the distance, as if seeing into another world. He had come to care deeply for the young woman, for her children, and for the affectionately named Pan, and had eagerly embraced the task of playing surrogate father when the old Master had passed on.
And for those reasons, and for many more unmentioned, he allowed her this hour of private contemplation each year, and merely observed from the sidelines as Adam and Eve napped on the grass, and Lyra murmured soft words to Pantalaimon, calmly stroking his luxurious fur.
He wondered briefly what she was saying, what secrets she was hiding from him and the world.
She was an enigma.
The bells tolled somewhere off in the distance; the midday hour had come to a close.
Only then did he allow himself to step forward, to trek carefully across the sun-warmed grass. His footsteps were cushioned and muffled by the supple jade-green blades. "Lyra?" the Master called gently, in way of greeting.
Lyra glanced up at him, as if coming from a trance. "Oh… Master, hello! I apologize, I hadn't seen you there." She scooted to the left, allowing him room on the intricately carved stone bench. And when she thought he wasn't looking, she dabbed a tear from her eye.
Out of respect, he pretended he hadn't seen. "Are you… feeling better, then?" he asked instead, not wanting to bring up painful memories. He knew, of course, about Will. But he also knew she'd barely been 13 when she'd last seen him. Perhaps she was finally letting go…?
She smiled, and one could see that she was truly the daughter of Marisa Coulter. Her beauty was unsurpassable. "Yes, thank you," she said quietly, and giggled as her dæmon gave her face a tender lick. "It's nice to know where he is, every year. I do love him dearly, you know."
The Master nodded his withered face slowly, understanding. "First loves are hard to forget."
"Yes. But that's the funny thing." The young woman sighed and gently lifted her son from the ground. He pouted a bit, for he had been playing with some caterpillar grass, but he soon forgot his troubles when he realized it was time to eat.
With no further warning, Pan leapt onto the bench, back arched, growling warningly, and glared at the Master until he had turned away, cheeks mildly pink. "Er," he cleared his throat, flustered; beside him, he could hear the sounds of unsnapping buttons, and then of fervent suckling. "What's the funny thing?"
"Well, there are so many different types of love, aren't there?" Lyra explained, sounding surprised that he'd had to ask for her to embellish. "I mean, yes, Will was my first love in some ways, but I've had other first loves, too. Like Roger, for instance. Roger was the first boy I ever had a crush-love on. He was also my first friendship-love. And there was Iorek Brynison, who was my first older brother-love, and Serafina Pekkala, an elder sister-love. The gyptians were my first-aunts and uncles-loves. Will, he was my first romantic-love. And then my children; I can't put into words how much I love them. It's like I've grown two new hearts to love them all the more with. But then, what about our dæmons? I think everyone's first-first love is their dæmon, for how can you love anyone else without first loving yourself? So there's Pan, my very first love and dearest dear. My soul mate, if you will."
Pan's marten body swelled with pride, and he curled and cuddled around Lyra and her children with a self-righteous swirl of autumn-colored fur.
The Master considered her point, wide-eyed and bewildered, for he'd never thought like that before. In a nearby tree, his dæmon flapped her strong wings. "I… well, you make an interesting point, child," he managed finally, rubbing his chin. "But I must admit, I am confused. You said Will was your first romantic-love, as if you no longer love him."
"I shall always love him." She sounded defiant, and insulted that he'd say such a thing. Adam had been lowered carefully to the ground again, and Eve was lifted into his place.
The older man nodded, unperturbed by Lyra's tone. However, he was more puzzled by her words than ever before. "But do you love him as you did when he was around?"
She did not respond. The sound of Eve's hungry slurping filled the blossoming garden; the bugs hummed and butterflies danced through the heavy perfumed air.
"So I though." The Master smiled slightly, staring up at the wispy-white clouds. "If you don't mind my asking, then, Lyra…"
"Yes?" To his surprise, she no longer sounded angry— rather, a little bored. She seemed to know what was coming.
"Who fathered these children? Who did you love so much… that is," he floundered, suddenly a tad embarrassed, "of all those different kinds of love, of all your first loves… was the father one of them?"
Lyra set Eve down; once the Master had heard the snap of buttons he knew it was safe to turn around once more. And as he did so, he caught the tail end of a mischievous smirk. "Perhaps," was all she offered.
"Which one?" he demanded, curiosity getting the better of him.
The young woman stretched, and Pantalaimon again hopped onto her shoulders, curling around her throat like a loose shawl. "The one I love the most."
Her eyes flashed, and her lips curled into a dazzling grin.
He was speechless in his bewilderment.
"Would you like to help me carry the children inside?" Lyra then inquired, changing the subject as she stooped to gather her little darlings. "I know how much the scholars enjoy their visits, and I'd like to give you a chance to say hello, if you wish. Just be sure to keep them close; they throw an awful fit if they're apart, even for a moment. As if you were taking their dæmon away…"
She spoke so lightly, so casually, as she gathered little Adam and he, baby Eve, that the Master didn't realize what she'd said until later, when two separate scholars tried to take the children to their two separate offices. The twins threw such a fuss, screaming and retching and sobbing, that they needed to be given back to their mother and her dæmon, who gently licked their tears away and snuggled up as close to the desperately cuddling children as he could.
It was then, and only then, that the Master noticed that the children's peculiar black eyes and their stunning red-gold hair matched Pantalaimon's perfectly.
And the one who were two became one again.