A Trickster Series Fan-Fiction

Author's Note: I do not own the world of Tortall or the Copper Islands or Aly or Nawat.

Aly sighed, rubbing her temples. All she wanted was to curl up in a ball and shut her eyes and not be disturbed for a hundred years.

Ah, but by then you'll have missed all the fun, my love.

Aly scowled. Kyprioth didn't have to be bothered by all the human nonsense of planning an uprising. He didn't have people coming to her day and night, debating about weaponry and funding and numbers. He didn't have to turn unskilled men and women into expert spies, all of whom were older than her by many years. He didn't have to keep up a pretense (that he so kindly created) that she was serving Mithros and not the god with a million tricks up his sleeve, and keep up with all the duties that that pretense entailed.

And he didn't have to deal with the strong-willed daughter of the house, who hated being reined in much as her horses.

"My lady," Ali had begun, trying to be respectful as possible. "You must not--"

"Aly, I am tired of these 'musts' and 'must nots!' Day and night, someone is telling me to do this and do that! And I must not go out, I must not ride, I must sit here quietly and sew--"

"We're all trapped inside here, Sarai," Dove had reminded her sister quietly.

"You? You don't even do much! You're content with your books and your maps in that corner! And Aly is as free as a bird to come and go as she pleases!" Sarai had snapped.

Dove had raised her eyebrows as she and Aly had exchanged a look. Aly knew that this was what Sarai did when she felt trapped. Like a horse in a stable, Sarai kicked and whinnied and bucked and screamed, trying to smash open her stable door. She had been this way all autumn and winter. Aly knew that she was trying to think of something other than her recent death of her father at the hands of her almost-lover. But Sarai couldn't realize that her flying hooves were starting to bruise the others.

She had managed to escape Sarai and, after two separate meetings with Chenaol and Ulasim, she had an hour before she needed to meet with her trainees. Quietly, she slipped out of courtyard and headed to the area where she had grazed with goats that summer. Aly knew that Junai hadn't followed her, because Junai was currently working with her grandmother on the Chain. And Aly had convinced Junai and her father that she wouldn't need as much protection now that the winter storms had begun. Only the most determined would leave the comfort of their own ports. Any potentially unwelcome guests would wait until spring.

But before she could leave the courtyard, a strong arm wrapped around her waist. Surprised, Aly went into defense mode, and was about to knee her attacker in the groin, when she saw that it was Nawat.

He grinned at her and cocked his head as if to say 'What are you doing, silly human?'

"You really mustn't sneak up on people like that, Nawat. You could scare them," Aly told him firmly as she removed herself from his hold.

"Were you scared?" he asked, eyes twinkling brightly as he moved closer to her.

"Not exactly. More surprised," she said lightly, not looking him in the eye. In truth, she had been, for only a moment, terrified. Not of being hurt, but scared that she had grown careless and that in her one moment of weakness, someone had decided to attack.

"I am sorry that I scared you, Aly," Nawat said sincerely.

She smiled and patted his cheek and started to continue on her way, when he pulled her back to him. Before she could ask him what he was doing, he leaned down and kissed her.

He's really getting too good at that, Aly thought, before her thoughts were lost in the feeling of being held and kissed by Nawat.

Her arms moved, almost of their own accord, to wrap around his neck, as he tightened her grip around her, his hands moving upward to her back, pulling her closer.

She had kissed dozens of boys, and yet, every time she kissed Nawat, it felt like the first time. She never had gotten bored of him, never tired of the way his hands would run through her hair. Preening, he called it.

Aly wasn't sure what she'd call it. But every time they kissed, her heart and her blood and her whole being pounded. Something she wouldn't name would rush through her veins, something so powerful she was surprised she didn't explode in a burst of joy. Where they touched, there was a heat so searing Aly thought she would burn. But it was a good kind of heat, a heat that Aly didn't mind burning for.

Nawat's fingers began tracing up and down her back, sending chills that somehow did not contradict the heat burning between them. She clung to him tightly, realizing as she did how very much she wanted him.

And how much he wanted her.

Her body and his were melded together, her chest and legs and stomachs pressed to his. She could feel his heart, his human heart, pounding through her chest, matching the rhythm of her own. Together their hearts beat as one as his lips moved over hers.

There was a need rising in her, a desperate hunger for him to be nearer and touch her without restrictions. She wanted to feel all of him, around her, against her, through her. The need half-excited her and half-frightened her, both emotions pounding in time with her heart. She clung tighter to him, trying to feel all of him at once, to never let go.

Nawat's lips left hers and began to trail along her jaw, under her ear, down her neck, resting at the base of her throat. He lingered there for a moment as Aly took shuddering breaths. Slowly, he began to kiss lower and lower until he was tantalizingly close to her heart.

He looked back up at her, mischief and desire in his eyes. Aly yanked his face back to hers. The burning desire had not necessarily disappeared when his lips had left hers, but she felt complete again when he returned his attention to her mouth.

Suddenly, Nawat broke their kiss. Dazed, and feeling as if something vital had just been torn from her, Aly looked him. His eyes were fierce, full of something that took Aly's breath away. Before she could say anything, Nawat swept her up in his arms, carrying her bridal-style.

"Nawat, where are you taking me?"

He grinned widely at her, part of his hair sticking up where she had run her fingers through it. "To our nest."

For a moment, Aly dizzily thought about what would happen if she said yes this time. He would be closer to her than any other person had ever been before. The need within her coiled harder in her gut. The world would fall away from them and it would only be her and him and nothing else.

No, no, no! The tiny part of Aly's brain screamed. You cannot let a moment without being guarded. They are depending on you. You must keep them safe.

Both cursing and thanking the rationality, Aly tried to pull away from Nawat.

"You are wiggling like a earth worm. It is hard to hold you. Why are you doing this?" Nawat asked. Aly noted the touch of frustration in his voice.

"Put me down, Nawat. I can walk."

Sighing, he set her gently on her feet. "And you are going to walk away from me again?" he asked sadly.

Aly smiled slightly. "I am sorry, but we can't, Nawat. You know that."

As much as she wanted him to, she couldn't. She couldn't afford to lose her head and give in to her heart.

Nawat's face and shoulders slumped down. The hurt that Aly knew would be there shone through his eyes.

"Nawat," she began, hating to hurt his feelings. "I shouldn't."

"That is what you said when I kissed you the first time. Now you let me kiss you. I will wear you down." He smirked, one of the few human male expressions he had perfected without practice.

She sighed, knowing that in many ways, Nawat was still a fledgling crow-turned-man.

"Nawat," she said warningly, "I have to keep the Balitangs safe. You know that. You're here to help me do that."

"What if I was not? If I was only here to be with you? Would you mate with me then?"

"Nawat, I need you to help me. I wouldn't be able to deal without you," Aly reached up and touched his cheek.

"I will not leave you, Aly. My brothers and sisters have a deal with the god, and I will not forget that. And I will never leave you." His eyes were gentle but there was a fire there, desperately trying to make her realize what she meant to him.

"Thank you," she said as heartfelt as possible. He was her only friend on this island, the only one she completely trusted. His friendship was as vital to her as his kisses.

With a sigh, he cupped her face in his hands and captured her lips again with his. The urgency was gone, but there was an intimacy there that took her breath away just as effectively. His arms were once again wrapped around her, and she felt safe and secure against the storm that was hanging over all of their heads.

Finally, knowing that her pack of spies was waiting for her, she slowly pulled back. Nawat cocked one eyebrow at her.

"Are you sure you do not want to go to the nest?" he asked, teasing.

"Nawat, you know I can't…" she said, trying not to sound whiny.

"I know, I know," he sighed dramatically, giving her a purposely sad look. Her face softened and she craned her neck up and gave him a peck on the cheek. However, Nawat quickly turned his head and she found their lips connected again.

She pulled away after a moment. "Dirty, cheating crow."

He grinned, cocking his head to the side, the question in his eyes still there.

"No," she said as firmly as possible. He made a move to pull him to her again, but she darted just out of reach. She wiggled her fingers and winked at him as she hurried round the corner. Once she was gone from the line of view, she peered at him. Nawat stood, dejected, where she had left him. After a moment, he turned and leapt over the wall.

Aly quickly headed to the tower, carefully skirting the duchess and her daughters as well as her fellow conspirators. It was hard to talk to humans after Nawat, hard to think while trying to push away the cold that she felt when he was gone.

She had never had someone who had had this effect on her before. Her brain had always been churning and thinking and analyzing, even while all the other boys flattered and flirted and kissed her.

With Nawat, it was like the spy part of her shut off. All that existed was he and she, like a calm river simply floating on happiness. Once they parted, it was like a dam being broken, and all her scheming and plotting would flood back through her mind without any restraints. It was unsettling and always took her a moment to reorient herself.

He was almost like her weakness, she thought. A dangerous weakness in dangerous times. And yet, she couldn't survive without him. His smiles, laughter, kindness, arms, and kisses, they all kept her buoyant.

Sighing, she entered her office, and grimaced at the mound of paperwork and at the faces sitting present before her.

"Duani, you're late," one of her older trainees, Olkey, rebuked her, teasingly.

"Tell me, as a spy, which is better…to be early or late?" Aly fired back.

Listening to the answer, Aly found that her mind had sifted back into normal mode, but she could still feel his strong arms around her, pulling her in.

"So, Duani, what was it that you were doing that made you late?" asked Atisa. "Chenoal and Lokei couldn't find you."

Nosy little trainees, Aly thought unkindly.

"Are spies supposed to be found?" she queried.


Expertly slithering around the questions, Aly managed to get through most of her lesson plan, and they had progressed to Liar's Temples when the sun began to set. Looking out the window, Aly caught a glimpse of three crows flying towards the window. She recognized the mage-marked one immediately.

Nawat the crow flew in and settled down on her shoulder. Immediately, he began nuzzling her inch-long red hair.

The other crows clucked at him, expressing their disproval. Nawat cawed something at them that Aly giggled at. The pack looked at her quizzically.

"All right, little one. Today, you will learn some of the crow language. I have already learned it and these three will teach you."

The faces that met hers were a mix of awe and skepticism.

"You know their speak?"

"Yes. This one here taught me." She patted Nawat, who nibbling on the back of her ear.

"Tricksy little girl, aren't you?" whistled Lokek, one of the trainees.

"That is why I am training you, is it not, old man?" Aly asked flippantly.

"He's going to peck you!" cried Boulaj.

Nawat had moved lower and was drawing a line with his beak from Aly's jaw to the base of her throat and cautiously starting going lower. She blushed, remembering where his mouth, and now his beak, had been dangerously close to.

"No, he's just a curious little crow," Aly remarked, somewhat darkly.

Nawat, insulted, responded by sticking his beak down her cleavage.

"Hey!" She clucked, and tried shooing Nawat away. He returned to her shoulder, and returned to running his beak through her hair, grumbling in crow-speak.

"Does he do that to you a lot?"

Aly giggled, a blush rising again to her cheeks. "Ye--Hey!" she cried, as Nawat stuck his tongue out, tickling her on her neck.

"He's rather attached to you, isn't he?" asked Eyun.

"I think so," Aly giggled. Nawat cawed in agreement.

"I wish my man cared that much about me. He doesn't cuddle me half as much as that nasty bird. Pity that's not a man, I'd tell you to snap him up quick."

Aly couldn't stop laughing.

"What is he doing to you?" Kioka asked.

Nawat responded, but since the entire lesson had been taken up with talking about this crazy bird, no one had learned a lick of crow-speak. Only Aly knew what he had said.

"Preening," Aly said, a secret smile on her face.

Thank you for reading!! ...Please :)