"So...you been to his new crib yet?" Ruth asked solicitously as she examined her royal purple nails. The marker in which she had used to colour her nails was lying forgotten on the ground next to their table, threatening to trip waiters who would occasionally slip slightly on its dejected and used up form.
"Good god, Ruth. You did not just call his abandoned penthouse suite his 'crib.'" Val laughed and put her coffee down to avoid spilling it all over her pristine white fencing jacket. She was sure that the two of them (one wearing a neon green leather jacket with the words "If you can't take the heat, don't tickle the dragon" stitched haphazardly on the hem, the other wearing full fencing gear, complete with the foil and mask resting lightly on her knees) made quite the pair as they sat on the outside patio of the small café that nestled itself between a shabby Laundromat and a dollar store.
"Uh...what else am I supposed to call it? His Batcave?" Ruth raised a penciled eyebrow and took a sip of her espresso. "Oooh. Scary. Seriously though, have you seen him at all?"
Val enjoyed the moments like these. It was almost as if...as if things were normal again. Like things were in high school before the existence of faeries came into play, before her mother phoned her almost obsessively every second day to see how she was doing down at campus, and before Ruth started teasing her about "getting some hot troll action."
Not that she would change anything else about had transpired two years ago...she just missed the simplicity of Ruth's witty comebacks-sometimes-turned-barbs, her mother's nagging for her to wear makeup, and when the most important part of her life was trying to maintain her position as left attack wing. It was normal. It was familiar.
"No." Val finally answered as she stirred her coffee absently with the wooden stir stick. "Not really. The new Unseelie king has him making different potions for different such things, I dunno." She sighed and began chewing on the end of the stir stick. "It's been...a while since I've seen him."
Ruth leaned over and patted Val's hand comfortingly. "There, there. At least tonight you'll get some nice green action with your boyfriend."
"He's not my boyfriend." It was true. Ravus couldn't be considered a boyfriend. The term was just too mundane for him. And a lover? They hadn't even had sex. (Yet.) They were...were...
"Then what is he?"
"Ravus is...Ravus." Val said simply and turned her head to watch the scurrying of people along the sidewalk next to them. She bet none of these people had to deal with angry rogue faeries and demanding Unseelie kings. Well, perhaps that one girl with the disturbingly long nails and braided back hair that fell to her knees...
"Hey, Val, it's almost eight." Ruth nudged her knee with the tip of her stiletto boot. "Don't you gotta go?"
"Fuck." Val snatched up her foil and mask and slammed a few bills down onto the table. "Thanks for bringing me out, Ruth. I'll see you later." She ran her hand through her short hair and murmured, "Fuck it. I don't even have time to change."
Ruth merely waved her hand dismissively as she took a long sip of her espresso. "Whatever. Just tell me all about it later. Right now, you've got a date to catch."
Val grinned as she waved goodbye and jumped over the low fence separating the patio from the sidewalk to dart down the darkening street.
The stairs creaked as she ascended up them slowly, making her nervous as to whether the rotting smell in the building was coming from. The abandoned apartment wasn't very big, nor was it in a very populated area, which made sneaking in all the more easy.
By the time she reached the top, her hands were sweating from a different type of nervousness that had flooded her body. There was only one door, and what lay behind it made her veins run as jittery as they had when Never had coursed through them. It had been so long since they had actually seen each other. What if his preferences had changed? What if she was too boring for him? What if he realized that what was between them wasn't worth enough for him to risk it?
She reached up and gently touched the back of her hair uncertainly. It had grown out considerably compared to the length she had kept it at since she had shaved it and now tickled the tips of her ears and bangs brushed down against her forehead. What if he didn't like the change? What if he felt she was trying too hard? Biting her lip, she placed her hand on the knob in front of her and turned it slowly before peering in.
He was sitting in the centre of the room hunched over a table, his lean fingers holding a knife as he chopped herbs of some type. The candle light that lit the room made his skin glow a dark green and gave a sheen to his hair that electric light bulbs could never do justice to. He was the same. Exactly the same as she remembered him, she noted with relief as she stepped in and lightly closed the door by leaning back against it, her palms resting flat on the wood behind her after placing down her foil and mask.
His golden eyes slid towards her warily before making way to a small smile. Placing down the knife, he uncurled his body from around the table and made his way towards her, his fangs glistening against his dark lips as he grinned slightly at her.
"Val," He gripped her wrist lightly and pulled her closer to his table where an extra stool sat. "So you came."
"That's alright, right?" She asked nervously and bit her free hand's nail.
"I did send Hugo to deliver you a message inviting you, did I not?" He raised an eyebrow at her before ushering her to sit down, referring to the large crow that Val seemed to enjoy over the other ones he sent occasionally.
"Yes." She deflated slightly in relief, feeling stupid for sounding so pathetically desperate.
He chuckled lightly. "Well, I'm very glad you did." He looked down at her finally and blinked slowly. Knitting his eyebrows together, he reached out hesitantly to run a clawed hand through her hair. "It's longer. Longer than I ever remember it being."
She stiffened in her chair and looked up at his form that towered over her sitting one. Even when she was standing, he was still ridiculously taller than her. Now she felt even more like a child than she usually did in his presence. "It's...been a while since I've actually seen you." She murmured quietly as if that explained it all.
He frowned lightly and continued lightly scraping his claws along her scalp, making her shiver and lean closer to his torso. "It has."
"Is it okay?" She blurted out. "I mean, I told Ruth I didn't want anything too crazy, and she's pretty good at cutting hair, so I figured I could at least trust her with that. I mean, she's my best friend right? What else am I supposed to do? Just—" She abruptly bit her lower lip and pulled her lips into a tightly closed line. She was rambling. She was rambling because she was nervous about what Ravus thought of her hair.
A deep rumbling filled the room and it took Val a minute to realize that it was Ravus laughing. She looked up at him indignantly, intent on smacking the grin off his face until she felt him lightly clawing through her hair again.
"The length of your hair matters very little to me, Val." He smiled down at her and lightly cupped the back of her head within his hands. "Though," He bent down to lightly kiss the juncture between her ear and her neck, his fangs lightly pricking the sensitive skin enough to make her hiss and lean her head against his shoulder. "I do enjoy doing this." He demonstrated by running his hand through her hair again.
"Good," She managed to murmur out in a ragged breath. She wanted to kiss him. She wanted to pull his head away from her neck by his soft hair and have the both of them kissed senseless. Placing her hands against the side of his head, she was just about ready to do that when he removed his face away from her neck area and held onto her raised wrists gently.
"I see that you're still fencing." He noted wryly and smoothly slipped her hands off from his hair and placed them on her lap.
Val willed herself not to blush as he said this. She probably stilled smelled terrible from her fencing match (she knew she did when she had gone for coffee with Ruth after it. Ruth had outright told her so and demanded that she sit across from her at the table) and the fact her breeches were getting too tight for her made her shift uncomfortably in her seat and pull at the fabric nervously. She was however very grateful that Ravus was too polite to say anything about the odour.
"Yeah. I had a match today." She grinned and crossed her arms in front of her to have an excuse to keep her armpits covered.
"I'm guessing that it went well, judging from the grin on your face." He remarked and sat down next to her. His fingers curled around his knife as he continued to chop the dry ingredients placed on the table in front of him.
"It did." She watched as the herbs were cut up to bits she wasn't sure would be able to be cut down anymore and felt herself be lulled by the steady chop of the knife hitting the wooden board. "I got second place. I didn't do too bad that means." She gave a weak grin.
"Make no mistake, Val," Ravus turned from his table to look at her and leaned forward to look into her eyes steadily. The gold in them glinted bright in the candle light and made her own feel dull and lifeless in comparison. "You've improved greatly from the girl who couldn't even stand correctly with a sword. You should be very proud about the progress you've made in such little time."
"I've had a good teacher." She mumbled and held her crossed arms tighter against her chest.
"Modesty only becomes those who don't care to use it." Ravus sighed and leaned against the counter. "Your skill with a sword is very commendable."
"Thanks." Now she was uncomfortable. She didn't like being the centre of praise, but Ravus seemed to always have something to say that boosted her self esteem. "Do...do you have anything I could change into?"
He blinked before nodding slowly and standing up, beckoning her to do the same and follow him down a hallway that led to the door at the very end. The room was large with a single window boarded up as not to have any patch of sunlight showing through, Val supposed. Pulling out a dark shirt long enough to hit the middle of her thighs from a dresser, Ravus tossed it to her and waved uncomfortably at the door. "I'll...wait. Just meet me back in the work room when you're finished."
She waited until the door closed behind him before she began stripping from her fencing gear. She hadn't even realized how warm it had been being wrapped up in a padded jacket until the cool air hit her bare skin. Quickly, she pulled on the shirt that he gave her and sat down on the large bed that lay in the centre of the room. Everything smelt like him in here. Like cold, damp stone, like the herbs he was probably crushing right now, and like the subtle scent that was just so undeniably...Ravus.
She pulled the collar of the shirt up to her nose and inhaled deeply. It had been months since she had smelt this. Months since she had felt the rough texture of his hands. Months since she had felt his cool lips press against her own.
Months seemed like a very long time when she thought back on it.
She folded her white gear carefully and placed it on the bed before exiting the room to join him back at his table. As she watched him, so intent on his grinding of herbs, she felt the words she had been feeling ever since he had sent her the invitation bubble up in her throat, "Why'd you invite me here?"
He turned around slowly and soaked in her appearance. His eyes, if she hadn't known better, seemed to darken considerably as he watched her stand in the doorway leaning against the wall awkwardly. The condition in which she was in right now was certainly not lust inducing. Her hair was probably sticking up every which way from her dried sweat, the shirt (which she was sure happened to look very flattering on him) hung excessively loose on her body, hiding what little curves she had and even when covered in his smell, she still probably reeked right through.
"I..." He stood up and walked towards her, his pupils dilated as he lightly brought the collar of his shirt that was slipping off of her shoulder back up and rested his hand uncertainly against her neck. "Did...did you not wish to come?" He looked around the room almost anxiously. "It doesn't exactly have the same...splendour as my last home, but I figured it would be more familiar for—"
"No!" She blurted out and cringed slightly when he flinched. "I mean, no, I did want to come. I wanted to come very badly." She fisted the shirt he was wearing and placed her forehead against his shoulder. "It's been a while." She looked up at him and grinned suddenly. "And by the way, the location of your home matters very little to me, Ravus."
He chuckled lightly. "Indeed."
"So...what did you bring me here for?" She asked, unable to push away at the insistent curiosity that was gnawing away at her insides.
"I merely wished to show you my new home. For you to reacquaint yourself to it like you had my old one." He glanced at the table and shifted awkwardly. "...And to give you something."
"Give me something?" Val repeated dumbly and stood on her tiptoes to peer at the table.
"Yes." He pulled her gently towards the table and handed her a comb that had been lying close to the dried herbs. It was surprisingly plain for something that looked to be made by the fae. There were no jewels or flashy gems; it was merely made of wood and metal with curling patterns carved into its face. "The teeth are made of iron. I figured that if you needed protection and I am unable to offer it anymore that you should have a way to protect yourself. I presumed that your sword would be a bit...ostentatious."
"It's...fantastic." She held it cradled in her palms and looked up at him. "Where'd you get it?"
He stared at the word table beside him uncomfortably. "...I made it."
"But...you said that the teeth were made of iron."
"They are." He raised his hands almost sheepishly, showing tiny white scars ran across his palms and fingers like burns.
"I thought you healed fast!" She cried.
"I do." He said placidly and brought his hand back down. "But not from iron. I cannot heal from that. No faerie can fully heal from iron injuries. But I'm fine." He smiled lightly down at her. "It no longer hurts."
"You...you..." She grabbed one of his hands and pressed her lips against one of the especially large scars that ran diagonally from one side of his palm to the other. Then the one on the tip of his middle finger. She kissed the one on the side of his thumb. She continued to kiss each and every scar she could find until she felt Ravus hold her cheek in a firm but gentle grasp.
"What are you...why are you..." His voice was laboured slightly as he struggled to get the right words out, his golden eyes suddenly darker than she had ever seen before.
"Kiss me." Val said suddenly and pulled him closer by the shirt she still had fisted in her hands.
"I can deny you nothing." He murmured in resignation before lowering his head to do just that.
Dear god in heaven, his kisses were still the same. He still made her head swim with the heady smell that was a thousand times better than just smelling it on his shirt and she still had to lean into him for support because those nips he was placing on her bottom lip were. Going. To. Make. Her. Fucking. Swoon.
She hardly even cared (or registered) about the pathetic mewling noises sprouting out from the back of her throat.
He pulled back and rested his forehead against hers, panting. "It has been…a very long while." His nose bumped hers as he closed his eyes and let his breath wash over her face. His breath, contrary to what one may think of troll hygiene, was fresh and cool over her face as if it were the brisk autumn wind itself.
Val was suddenly struck by how oddly romantic this scene was. Candlelight kisses between two lovers reunited after too long…
There was that word again.
"Ravus," A lazy eye blinked open at her in response. "What are--what are you to me?"
He went rigid and opened the other eye at her, a mixture of apprehension and fear settling into their bright golden depths. "I believe that what I am to you is for you to decide."
"I--well--" Val sighed in frustration and gripped her hair in aggravation. "Let me start again. What am I to you?"
His eyes narrowed almost suspiciously. "You are the one thing I would throw everything away for. Throw away my safety. Throw away my possessions. My life. My rationality. You've held my heart in more ways than anyone else…and you're my…dear one."
"Dear one…" She let that roll across her tongue experimentally and decided from the bubbly feeling in the pit of her stomach she enjoyed it very much.
She looked up at him, his eyes still nervously awaiting a response as he stared back. She wondered when the last time was someone looked into his eyes this intimately. The last time he embraced someone like this. When the last time he kissed someone like he did to her.
The last thought made jealousy surge forwards in furious waves, rolling through her veins in an angry rush. It was ridiculous, she knew, but the thought of anyone having this with him--sharing him with anyone--made her lose all sensible thought, because he was hers and nobody--
He was hers.
"Mine." She murmured to herself and leaned up to say it again against the throbbing vein of his pulse. "You're…mine."
His black eyebrows shot up at this before he gave a lopsided smile and began threading his fingers through her hair. "Yes. Yes, I'm yours. I've always been yours."
There are hardly any RavusVal fics out there (and finding a good one is a near impossible feat), and gracious me if that doesn't just boil my blood. Because they're great. And thusly, they need more love.
I actually have no idea whether Ravus calls her Val or Valerie…the book wasn't too clear on that, actually.