NB: I don't own them

NB: I don't own them!! I wish I did! If I did, Maerad and Cadvan would stay in bed all day shag – erm, anyway…Enjoy!

This is both M & A and M & C (but you all know who will triumph in the end :P)…


She had been right. It was like kissing a river. It was like kissing a half frozen river on the coldest of winter mornings, feeling the burning ice piercing her bones, seeping into her and pushing away any and all warmth. A river, wild and cold and thrilling. Uncontrollable emotions flowing into her like water, choking her, making her gasp for air with a torn desperation – she could not breathe while he kissed her and yet she could not bear being more than a few seconds away from his touch. He both killed her and brought her to life, and he knew it.

When they eventually drew away, she realised she was shivering with cold.

She was still shivering those hours later when she made her way back to the School, back to the house with her friends safe and warm inside. She had been both drained from warmth and blocked from feeling any more of it – her whole body felt as though it were made of glass and if she touched her arm or her cheek with her fingers, it burned like the hottest ice.

She entered the living room, her lyre tucked under her arm, the tuning fork around her neck, and three faces turned to greet her as she did – Cadvan, Hem and Saliman. They had waited up for her, she thought, knowing that she was meeting him. She would have felt affection at this, but nothing seemed the pierce the chill now raging in her heart.

She smiled as well as she could.

"I'm back."

"And?" Hem pressed. "Did he tell you how to join the Song?"

Maerad opened her mouth to tell Hem what he had told her, but realised she had forgotten everything – everything but the kiss. It had overwhelmed her, intoxicated her, obsessed her, and now nothing but the feel of his lips on hers remained of their interview. Saliman, seeing her hesitate, said smoothly,

"We don't need to talk of it now. Sit, I'll get you some laradhel." He reached to the cupboard nearby and Maerad obeyed, collapsing into the chair nearest the flickering fire, praying that she might feel some of the heat from it. But she could feel nothing, nothing but his lips on hers –

She closed her eyes briefly, and opened them again to find that Cadvan was sitting opposite her, watching her silently and intently. His eyes were a dark glimmering blue, his face – half lit by the fire – was expressionless. He knew, she thought suddenly, he knew about the kiss…It was probably etched in her own eyes as clearly as words could be etched into ice.

She tried not to show that she was shivering, and turned to take the glass of laradhel from Saliman, breaking eye contact with Cadvan gratefully.

There was a strange silence. Maerad sipped at the laradhel, which was tasteless on her new tongue of ice, and avoided everyone's gazes, staring blankly into the fire.

Am I still the Fire Lily? She wondered to herself numbly, watching the flames writhe desperately in the grate. I feel no fire within me…

Cadvan was still staring at her with that same deep gaze, but she did not have the courage to look at him. Eventually, when she thought that she would collapse with the effort she was putting on her body to stop it from trembling, Saliman spoke up.

"Well, I for one am right tired. Time for bed, I think." His voice held an amount of forced cheeriness which told Maerad that he had sensed the atmosphere between her and Cadvan. "Come on Hem."

Hem obeyed silently, squeezing Maerad's shoulder absently before leaving the room with Saliman.

The silence thickened ten-fold. Maerad glared into the fire.

"Why are you shivering?"

Cadvan's voice broke the silence, his words making her heart sink.

"I'm fine," she tried, keeping her voice as light as possible, but he was already moving from his chair to kneel at her feet, watching her intensely.

"Maerad – " he started, then put his hand on hers and flinched in shock. "By the Light, Maerad, you're as cold as ice!"

She could not feel the touch of his fingers on hers at all – she was utterly numb apart from the deep burning cold all over her; it was as if she wore a tight costume of ice just under her skin. She gave up all idea of pretence and slumped her shoulders with a little gasp, allowing the shaking to take her over.

"I'm so cold," she muttered through chattering teeth. "He made me – so cold – "

Cadvan's hand tightened on her own, and his other brushed against the side of her chin, tilting her head up so that he could get a better look at her face.

"You're so pale," he whispered.

Maerad felt her lips tremble with strain, and cold tears leaped into the corner of her eyes.

"I'm so cold," she repeated. She gazed desperately into Cadvan's darkened eyes. "He has kissed all the warmth from me."

A mere flicker in those deep eyes, a shadow across his face.

"Kissed," he said in a very different tone of voice.

Maerad nodded, taking in a shuddering breath and feeling the tears escape her eyes, sliding down her cheeks, the wet tracks left behind burning her face like a winter breeze.

"Can't get warm," she muttered. "Oh, Cadvan, I can't – "

He hastily took off his cloak and draped it around her shoulders, but she felt only its heaviness. The tear tracks stung her cheeks and she blinked desperately. His fingers moved across her face, wiping away the moisture, making her whole body sting for a moment before falling into numbness, She tried to whisper a thank you, but her teeth were now chattering too hard for her to utter a single word. She realised, in a wave of panic, that she was actually getting colder, not warmer. If this continued, she would never feel anything but ice ever again.

She shivered – out of fear this time – and Cadvan's hands came up and rubbed hastily at her goose-pimpled arms.

"There must be something," he said. His voice rang with urgency. "Something…"

Maerad shook her head wearily.

"He has l – left his m – mark."

"Left his mark," Cadvan murmured softly, thoughtfully. He watched Maerad trembling on her seat for a moment, then said hesitantly,

"He kissed you."

She nodded, feeling more tears gather.

"Kissed ice into you."

"Yes." Her voice hardly louder than a whisper now.

"Do you think…" He trailed off, an awkward look on his face, but Maerad was too numb to notice it. He tried again. "Do you think – if someone warm were to – were to kiss you - ?"

She blinked once, then stared up at him with the same stare that she fancied a drowning victim in the ocean would throw to their life-saver on the shore. He kept his eyes on hers.

"Do you think that would work?" he pressed.

Her nod was barely imperceptible, but it was there. He hesitated a moment more, then, when she shuddered so hard that she was almost jolted out of her chair, croaked quickly,

"Maerad – if I were to kiss you – "

She nodded more vehemently this time, feeling the numbness spreading through her like a ghost.

"Yes – oh, yes…"

Cadvan swallowed hard, took in the permission in her eyes, then moved his hands to her shoulders, raised himself on his knees and easily found her mouth with his own.

At first she felt nothing and she almost drew back, thinking it would not work, but then a steady warmth seemed to flush across her lips, bringing them out of their numbness, and she felt the electricity of his mouth on hers properly. She leaned triumphantly into the kiss, kissing him back to show him that she could feel it, and he deepened it quickly, making the warmth spread across her face and fizz into her mind. It hit her spine and crackled down it, and she shuddered at its force, slipping out of her chair and clutching unconsciously at the front of Cadvan's shirt with both hands, allowing his tongue to move between her teeth into her mouth.

Her heart was pounding and she could feel it, she could feel it, thumping violently against her chest like some kind of wild animal. The warm electricity shot through her web of nerves all the way to her toes, bringing every vein into life, sparking her blood once more into action and making her body flush with new colour. She clung onto Cadvan as if he were breathing oxygen into her, tumbling gladly back into reality, back into warmth…

Such a different kiss, she thought vaguely at the back of her mind. His was cold and wild and thrilling…but Cadvan's felt like…

Cadvan's kiss feels like home.

He is bringing me home, like he always does. Always there to bring me home.

Yes…warmth, safety, happiness…home.

Not that there wasn't a spark of passion somewhere in it too – a deep but unmistakeable passion seething below it all, a careful, comfortable passion…

Her body burned with warmth now – she had come back onto earth, back into reality…and now she was interested in finding out more of this new passion. She moved her hands up Cadvan's chest and laced her fingers around his neck, holding him tight and enthusiastically kissing him back, but he drew away as she did so, gently and carefully.

She opened her eyes. They were both sitting on the floor, he kneeling, she with her legs folded underneath her and her back to the chair, very close together, foreheads almost touching, both breathing heavily. Maerad was still shaking but it was with electricity this time, with excitement. She could feel everything – her senses were heightened as if they had been brought into the light after years of numbing darkness. She could feel Cadvan's pulse in his neck beating under her fingers, could feel the warmth of his cloak on her shoulders, the heat of the fire nearby seeping into her already sizzling skin.

"More," she breathed.

Cadvan's head shook slowly, his forehead rolling from side to side on hers.

"No, my dear. Not tonight."

His breath tickled her face enticingly and she blinked at its sweetness. Everythingwas so real, she thought, she was back again, she was Maerad again, the Fire Lily reborn.

She so wanted to discover more of that passion…but she could feel weariness setting in now that the initial electric shock was fading away, and knew that she would collapse with exhaustion very soon if not immediately.

Besides, they had time. All the time in the world.

"All right," she conceded, and smiled at him. Cadvan smiled back, pressing his forehead on hers for a moment, then drew away and stood up. He stretched lazily, then extended a hand down to her on the floor.

"Bed," he ordered, twitching his fingers in command. "Before you fall asleep on your feet."

Maerad accepted the hand and stood up on slightly shaky legs, leaning into him gratefully.

"Bed," she agreed. They were wandering out of the living room, his arm around her cloak-shrouded shoulders, when she added, "And thank you."

"For what?" he murmured into her hair.

"Bringing me home," she whispered. "I'm sorry I left."

His hand squeezed her shoulder.

"Leave all you like," he said. "Go as far as you want. I will always be here to take you home again."

And with that, he walked her silently to bed.

The End!

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