Lanterns
by Edmondia Dantes

Disclaimer: Not mine.

AN: Ficlet requested by Chionis.

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She arches her back and rolls her shoulders and flashes him a wicked smile, and even if he's been an absolutely terrible influence on her, there's no disguising the fact that she's happiest like this, elbow-deep in pumpkin guts and that weird artsy place that is her head. He never knows what she's seeing, but whatever it is, she seems to like, and the intricate pattern she's left in the pumpkin is enough to make even his eyes swirl.

He half-suspects she's just created something once used to summon an elder god, or at least a really old one, and he really should stop bringing her the contents of the Neitherworld's largest library, but he's never been known to do what he should, so he just props his chin in his hands and watches her go at it. She's nearly as good with a knife as she is with a camera, if a little bit frightening, and maybe if he were alive he'd be freaked out, but as things stand he just keeps a close eye to make sure that her own fragile mortality isn't endangered by her own artistic zeal. It's happened before, and it freaked him out then and he's still freaked out by it, but it's only a small comfort to know that she'll come to him when she's through.

He gives her witchlight when she asks, and a dead rose for a splash of color in her hair just because he loves her in red, even if it makes her swat at him, laughing, and it's a joy that all of that is behind them now, because he likes her and she likes him, and really, it's not her fault or his, even if she does have to slip around the Maitlands to hang out with him. It's okay, though, makes each encounter sweet and stolen, and he likes to watch her smile, and she likes to have him listen, and somehow, it works, this little mortal thing with her carved pumpkin and too-wise smile, and him, just himself, because as he's discovered it's hard not to be honest with her, and not just because she has no compunctions about stomping on feet.

She scoops up the lantern and sets it with the others, and he lets the magic swirl out, curl into light and darkness and slide out again in the lines she's carved, and this is all right, even if nobody else will ever know.

Even though his laughter is a bit on the mad side, she doesn't mind, and even though she's a bit on the quiet side, he doesn't mind her either, because shy as she is, she loves devilry almost as much as he does, and when he holds out his hand, she's the only one who's ever been bold enough to take it.

When they go in the middle of a moonless night, they leave a row of gleaming lanterns behind them.

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