Notes: This is the full version of Chapter 6 of 'Little By Little'. It's rated M for a reason; if you're underage and reading this anyway, I accept no responsibility. And I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get it updated; the voices in my head were not co-operating and were much more interested in a rabid Harry Potter plotbunny that I really don't want to start writing until I've finished some of my current stuff. Anyway, the standard disclaimer applies; these two aren't mine, which is possibly just as well.

Also, this is dedicated to Daine-Weirynsra, because it happens to be her birthday today and I don't like denying the power of coincidences, and because she understands rabid plotbunnies, and because she stalks people with my encouragement.

Their next trip out went much the same as the first had done, save that the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Autumn was definitely on the way, and all the magic that had been thrown around during the war hadn't helped matters; it rained the entire time, and it was noticeably colder. Numair hated the cold anyway, and being wet at the same time just made matters worse – although he wasn't as cold at night, now that they were sleeping curled up together with a dragon and assorted wildlife. It was still almost suspiciously quiet in terms of immortal activity, but given the stresses of the past few months, neither mage was complaining.

Numair was wryly amused to find on their return to the palace that he seemed to suddenly no longer be able to sleep alone; he simply couldn't get comfortable, and it felt strange to hear only silence instead of the quiet breathing of his companions – whatever species they might be. He missed Daine's warmth at his back or side, and sometime around midnight he gave up on sleep entirely and got up to read until morning. Given how many years he'd spent sleeping alone, it was either funny or somewhat pathetic to confront just how dependent he suddenly appeared to be, but he wasn't going to try and fight it.

A couple of nights later he woke from a restless sleep to the knowledge that he wasn't alone and sat up sharply, black fire flaring to illuminate the room with its strange light; he found Daine looking at him warily from the doorway. "Are you awake yet?" she asked, attempting to sound nonchalant. "Or do you need a minute to remember who I am?"

"Sorry." He let the magic die away as his heart rate slowed, and lit the fire once more to provide a more conventional light. "I thought you knew better than to startle me when I'm asleep by now," he scolded lightly; he didn't react well to sudden shocks before he was awake.

"I know. I'm sorry."

"What's wrong?" he asked more softly, as it occurred to him to wonder why she was here. Blinking, he focused on her expression, frowning slightly. "Are you all right?"

She hesitated for a long moment before her shoulders slumped. "Nightmare," she said briefly, looking unhappy.

"Ah." He moved to sit on the edge of the bed and patted the blankets beside him. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"There's not much to talk about. I don't remember it. But now I can't sleep, and I was keeping Kit awake, so I left her to it. I'm sorry I woke you."

"That's all right."

She padded over and sat next to him, leaning against his shoulder. "Why's your skin always so warm?" she asked absently.

"I don't know." He slid an arm around her and rested his cheek against her hair.

They sat quietly for a few minutes, and Numair became aware of a subtle change in the air, a faint awareness that caused his pulse to speed up a little. Being alone on the road, with various animals and immortals around, was not the same as being truly alone together. Closing his eyes, he focused on his breathing, trying not to let it affect him too much. It wasn't just affecting him, either, unless there was another reason why Daine was starting to fidget. He removed his arm, expecting her to pull away; instead she twisted to look up at him, meeting his eyes and holding them.

"Numair?" she asked softly.

"I know," he replied equally softly, his voice a little hoarse.

He hadn't felt quite this unsure of himself in a long time. She shifted to kneel on the bed next to him, not looking away, and leaned in to kiss him gently; closing his eyes, he responded, her lips so soft against his, before slowly drawing away.

"This isn't why you came to me tonight," he said quietly, ignoring the small voice in the back of his mind that was howling that it didn't matter, nothing mattered except that kiss and where it would lead, and why was he stopping when this was what he wanted? He'd been ignoring that voice for most of his life.

"No," she agreed in a matter-of-fact voice. She licked her lips, the motion drawing his eyes to her mouth before he met her gaze once more. "Does that matter?" she asked, and he tensed, uncertain.


She reached out and touched his lips gently, silencing him; he held still, watching her face as she searched his eyes before seeming to come to a decision. She smiled at him. "If you ask me if I'm sure, or tell me we don't have to, or offer to stop, or say anything else sweet but daft, I'm going to have to hurt you."

Surprised, he blinked at her, feeling an answering smile tugging at his lips as some of his worries subsided. There was enough light to let him read her expression; nervous, but not afraid, and stubbornly determined in a way that was uniquely her. Once again he reminded himself that this was Daine, independent and always fiercely aware of her own mind. Reaching to catch her wrist, he kissed her fingertips where they lay against his mouth. "I wouldn't dream of it, love."

"Oh, really?"

He smiled, turning her hand to kiss her knuckles before letting go. "I'm not a complete idiot, you know."

"That's your opinion," she retorted playfully, reaching to gently touch his face before sliding her fingers into his sleep-tousled hair and leaning closer.

Numair remembered their first kiss, in the spidren's lair in the Divine Realms; they had both been a little unstable at the time – he'd been half out of his mind with terror and fury and exhaustion and relief, and she couldn't have been much better off – but he remembered the way his racing thoughts had stilled the moment their lips had met. In that moment, there had been no doubts, no fears, nothing but sensation.

He felt it now, as she kissed him once more. There was no need to think, and nothing to worry about, not now; all that mattered was the soft warmth of her mouth moving against his and his own response as he reached to draw her closer. Deepening the kiss, he ran his tongue along her lower lip, and she opened to him without hesitation; he closed his eyes, savouring the taste of her, and she leaned into him as he began to explore her mouth. When she started kissing him back, he eased away a little, allowing her to take control as her tongue slid against his.

This was the point where one or other of them had always drawn back, before; now he felt the thrill of realising that this time, they weren't going to pull away. This time, they didn't have to stop. He had dreamed of this for so long that the reality was almost too much to take in. Outside, in the darkness, rain lashed against the windows; he barely noticed. Habit meant that he had slept shirtless, and when she touched his skin he shuddered as her fingers traced the contours of his chest, lightly enough that he could feel every tiny callous on her fingertips and she could surely feel the pounding of his heart against his ribs.

Breaking the kiss briefly, he took a shaky breath, staring down into her face. In the dim light from the fire, her eyes seemed to glow. Gently he stroked a finger down her cheek, along her jaw, before cradling the back of her neck and drawing her towards him for another kiss before beginning to trace a path across her throat, below her ear, down her neck, lingering wherever made her shiver. He followed the line of her necklace, past the curve of the badger claw to the hollow at the base of her throat, her pulse beating rapidly under his lips.

Daine moved then, sliding a leg across his thighs and straddling him; he felt her hesitate and shiver, before pressing close against him, and his breath caught for a moment as he shivered in turn, his hands slipping beneath her shirt to rest on the soft skin above her hips. Her hands stroked his back, over old and new scars, and he raised his head from her neck to find her lips once more, kissing her hungrily. She kissed him back just as fiercely, before drawing away to look at him; the gleam in her eyes took Numair's breath away. He was no stranger to desire in a woman's face, but... not like this, not so personal. She knew him, all of him, and wanted him; it was almost too much to understand.

Slowly she lifted her hands and began to unfasten her shirt, her eyes never leaving his face. He felt he should say something, but her expression held so much that words weren't necessary. He lowered his gaze, watching her hands, caught by the skin slowly being revealed to him; he'd seen her naked before, of course, but this was profoundly different. The shirt fell unnoticed, and she sat a little straighter in his lap to unfasten her breastband. His eyes slowly traced the contours of her breasts as he drank in the sight, until finally she laughed a little nervously.

"You're staring."

"Yes," he agreed huskily, dragging his eyes back to her face. "You're beautiful, you know, Daine," he said softly, and smiled at the look on her face. "You don't believe me." Leaning closer, he whispered, "Let me show you."

Gently he cupped her face in his hands, running his fingers into her hair and feeling those lovely stubborn curls snagging at his fingers; they both shivered at the first skin-to-skin contact as he drew her closer, and his breath hitched for a moment. Numair kissed her forehead, her closed eyes, her nose, her chin, before finding her lips once more as his fingertips slowly traced the length of her spine. She was trembling now, breathing faster, and he lowered his head a little to kiss her throat, remembering that there was a spot near the corner of her jaw that he had recently discovered that made her shiver; yes, just there. He nuzzled at her neck, breathing in the scent of her, circling the hollow at the base of her throat and gently nipping at her collarbone.

His eyes half-closed, he kissed the curves of her breasts, the skin so soft under his lips as his hands settled just above her hips once more; he felt almost drunk, his senses overwhelmed by her, as his mouth reached the hardened peak and she gasped. When he began to suck gently, he heard her moan and felt a fierce surge of power at the knowledge that he had drawn that sound from her. By the time his hand began gently kneading her other breast she was moving against him, making soft noises in her throat; the friction against his erection was a wonderful torment.

Lying back on the bed, Numair drew her down on top of him, finding her lips once more and kissing her hungrily. Without breaking the kiss, he rolled them both until she lay on her back and he pressed close against her side, his tongue sliding and playing against hers as he deepened the kiss and felt his blood burning at her response. Her hands were exploring his body again, and now it was her turn to find the places that made him shiver, even as his fingers slowly traced a path down her stomach and he began blindly to undo her belt.

Their mouths parted briefly as they both tried to catch their breath, and she started kissing his jaw and his neck as he continued unfastening her breeches. Some instinct or chance led her to nip the spot at the base of his throat that was one of his biggest weaknesses, and he heard himself groan softly before she repeated it, smiling against his skin as she bit gently, suckling at the spot as he shuddered against her.

Both of them were breathing more heavily now, her hands brushing his as she lifted her hips and together they removed her breeches. He was trying to move slowly, but she was driving him insane, destroying his fraying self control until he could barely stand it any more and his next kiss was fierce as his fingers slid beneath the waistband of her loincloth, drawing away the last of her clothing and letting it fall unnoticed.

He raised his head then, drawing back a little and staring down at the sight of his Daine lying naked and willing beneath him in his bed, memorising every last detail; he had dreamed of this for so long that the reality was difficult to comprehend. "Beautiful," he whispered huskily, still staring, before he slowly bent his head and kissed her gently; her arms twined around his neck as she kissed him back, her body arching beneath him as his fingers explored the curve of her side and slid over her hip, down her thigh.

The strangled whimper that came from her throat as his fingers slid between her legs almost destroyed the last of his restraint; closing his eyes, he poured the fierce impulse into his kiss, and his hand stayed gentle as he stroked her, revelling in the knowledge of her arousal – for him. Lost in touching her, he memorised every soft sound, every shivering movement, until finally he carefully slid a finger inside her and she cried out and arched beneath him.


He thought fuzzily that his name had never sounded so right since he'd chosen it nearly ten years ago, but the thought dissolved as he began to move his fingers, watching her face as she closed her eyes and threw her head back, gasping. He was so hard that it almost hurt, but seeing her like this made it easier to ignore his own need, even as it increased it. A few moments later her hips bucked and she cried out wildly, her eyes wide and unfocused as her expression contorted in ecstasy, and he drew away and watched greedily as she rode out the final spasms and sank back, trembling, against the pillows. Absently he licked his fingers, closing his eyes briefly at the taste; when he looked back at her she was focused on his face once more, her eyes filled with soft wonder – and heat, a need that matched his own.

Tenderly he smoothed her curls back from her face, smiling down at her; she reached up and tangled her fingers in his hair, pulling his head down and kissing him. Deepening the kiss, he felt her hand moving from his shoulder, to his ribs, across his stomach to tug at the loose trousers he had slept in. "Please," she whispered against his mouth, and suddenly it was his turn to feel horribly, painfully self conscious.

It was utterly ridiculous for him to feel nervous, he told himself as he drew away and began to remove his clothing, but he hadn't been so acutely aware of his own body in a long time. For a moment he was fifteen again, gangly and awkward and uncertain; he watched her face as he stripped, seeing soft surprise as she saw his nervousness, before she smiled at him and he felt himself relax. Letting the last of his clothing fall, he stood naked before her, watching her face as her eyes roamed his body, and his mouth went dry at her expression when she looked back up at him; a little shy, a little nervous, but terribly, wonderfully eager.

He had never wanted anyone more than he wanted her at that moment, as he crawled back onto the bed and she reached to pull him closer and he felt her bare skin pressed against his body. Daine kissed him hungrily, and he yielded to her willingly as her tongue explored his mouth, feeling himself trembling in anticipation as her hand slid slowly down his stomach. When she finally touched him at last he moaned throatily, shuddering and automatically pushing against her hand; she hesitated, and he groaned, "Don't stop..." Please, don't ever stop...

She found what he liked quickly, without his prompting, and in only moments he was shaking as fire blazed through him; he held back for as long as he could, letting her explore his body as she wished, but finally he had to stop her before he disgraced himself completely. He didn't remember ever whimpering like that before, he told himself dizzily as he caught her hand and drew it to his mouth, kissing her fingers. "Sweet, you're driving me mad," he whispered hoarsely, aching with need as he stared at her. "I want you so much..."

"I want you, too," she whispered in return. "Please, Numair."

Just hearing her say it was almost too much and he had to draw back for a moment, closing his eyes and trying to control his breathing as she rested a hand on his chest. Opening his eyes, he stared at her, and she smiled at him in a way she never had before, and he was lost. Reaching for her, he drew her naked body tightly against his own and kissed her almost desperately. She kissed him back just as fiercely, rolling onto her back as her fingers tangled in his hair, and he moved slowly to support himself over her, staring down into her eyes and trying not to shake as she spread her legs for him.

He entered her as slowly as he could, every nerve and muscle tensed for the first sign of pain or distress, and the feel of her body around him drew a low sound from his throat as he struggled to restrain himself; she was so tight, hot and wet, and it had been so long, and he could barely believe this was actually happening. He watched her face, and when she drew in a sharp breath he froze instantly, trembling with the strain. She looked up at him and reached up to push his hair back from his face, smiling, her eyes blazing.

"It doesn't matter," she whispered. "Please, Numair." He didn't want to hurt her, but he could no more resist that look in her eyes than he could breathe underwater; lowering his head, he kissed her almost helplessly, and thrust home. She stiffened, biting his lower lip as her nails dug into his shoulders, and then she relaxed suddenly and was kissing him again, moving, almost writhing under him as he started to move with her.

Then there was nothing but sensation; he had closed his eyes, concentrating only on the feelings burning through him as they caught a mutual rhythm, sweat easing the friction of skin on skin as his breathing grew heavier and so did hers, and he could feel his body tightening as he drew closer. He shifted slightly, altering the angle of his thrusts, and then she moaned and he opened his eyes to see her looking into his face before she cried out and tightened around him, shaking beneath him as her eyes lost focus. It was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen, and he faltered, moving more erratically before he gasped and then heard himself crying out from an unimaginable distance, as the fire in his veins turned to molten pleasure and he was lost to ecstasy. For perhaps the first time in his life, Numair let go of everything completely, shuddering with the force of his release and holding absolutely nothing back.

The first thing he became aware of was the sound of his blood pounding in his ears, followed by the burn of his breathing as he panted for air, and a slow awareness of his own body once more; for a few moments he hadn't been sure where he ended and everything else began. His arms were trembling with the effort of holding his weight, some instinct having kept him aware that he was too tall and Daine wouldn't be able to breathe if he let himself collapse. He could hear her panting and a moment later felt her breath against his sweaty skin as she kissed his neck. Lifting his head, he blinked dazedly down at her as the world came back into focus, vaguely aware that he was smiling as the final tremors shook his long frame. "Are you all right?" he asked, before remembering that she had threatened to hurt him if he said anything 'sweet but daft'.

She smiled back at him lazily, apparently having forgotten that herself. "Oh, yes," she replied softly, stroking his cheek and pushing his hair out of the way. Reluctantly he forced himself to move, because it was that or collapse on top of her, and she turned as he rolled over to curl into the circle of his arms. They lay quietly for a few minutes as he listened to his frantic heartbeat slowing down, his mind empty of everything except the young woman snuggling closer against him. "Numair?"


"I love you."

He smiled sleepily, tired now, and kissed her hair. "I love you, too." She didn't answer, and he listened to her breathing grow slower and deeper, sighing contentedly as his eyes closed.

This isn't the first lemon I've ever written, but it is the first I've let anyone else see. What did you think?

Next time, we return to Little By Little, for the morning after. You can expect some fluff, some silliness, and a chance to see what everyone else is doing while our favourite mages are hopelessly obsessed with one another.