Raven felt the push of Malchior's confusion and surprise at the noise that poured from the old, broken speakers above their heads. He frowned as his eyes darted around the room, trying to decipher the purpose of faded band posters and ads for concerts from the previous decade. Grainy guitar broke the silence between them, and Raven looked over at the short, dark-haired boy manning the cash register. It sounded like Derek was in a Black Sabbath mood this afternoon. She gave the greasy shopkeep a half-hearted wave as she moved through the tight aisles of second hand records and CDs towards the smaller shop at the back of the store. The smell of plastic and must gave way to the exotic scents dried herbs and spices, mixed with a little magic.
"Hey, Rae. Haven't seen you in a while. I just had some great old records dropped off, you know, if you want to listen to them." Derek's speech was cut short as he caught the heavy, unguarded stare of Malchior. He dropped his hand and cleared his throat, his voice suddenly an octave higher. "Who's your friend?"
"Just a friend." Raven blatantly ignored the half-hearted attempt to ask her out, and continued on with her original purpose as if she hadn't heard his request. "I'm looking for Mrs. Swan. Is she in the back?"
"Yeah. I think she's with a customer right now, but her granddaughter should be running the register." His dark eyes ran over Malchior's form, as if there was a sudden moment of lucidity in him. Derek might have played the greasy-stoner-kid well, but he was much more intelligent and aware than he let on. "Looking for something in particular?"
Raven shrugged and moved even further back into the store, farther away from him and any more awkward interactions. "You know me, always looking for something hard to find."
Malchior glanced between the two of them with a somber expression before he followed Raven through a narrow door, painted with an intricate mural of multicolored ivy. As they passed the threshold, a whole different shop seemed to exist in the back of the dingy second-hand music store. Shelves of glass and tin jars lined the walls from the floor to the ceiling, printed with names like "Wolfsbane" and "Witch Hazel" in neat, even calligraphy. It was almost as if they had traveled into an apothecary shop from another world.
Raven sighed and let the door close behind her, leaning up against it for a moment. Malchior watched her, his expression unreadable as his eyes searched her face.
"You seem eager to have left that place."
Raven shrugged and made her way deeper into the shop, pretending to inspect a few of the jars and canisters with more exotic sounding names. "I was. He's kind of sleazy, and always tries to ask me out on a date. I don't particularly enjoy carrying on extended conversations with him… there's just something about him that puts me off."
"Ah." Malchior nodded knowingly. "I see."
"... yeah, grandma! I got it."
Raven turned around to see a tall, slender, blonde girl with pretty ice-blue eyes (the same color as Connor Kent's), and a cute, upturned nose smiling at her. "Sorry for the wait! Grandma Swan is with a customer right now, but is there something I can help you with instead?" Her eyes flitted to the man behind Raven and a blush curled up her neck and face as her fingers went to instinctively play with her hair. "Um… hi."
"Hello." Malchior's tone was polite, but detached.
She didn't seem to notice. With a smile and a twirl to her hair, she leaned over the register counter, obviously trying to display her cleavage in her v-neck sweater. "Is there anything you're looking for? Anything I can get you at all…?"
Malchior blinked, as if surprised that she was trying to make some sort of attempt at flirting. "I have no need of the wares in this shop. I came with Raven."
"Oh…" She looked slightly put-out.
"I need to speak to Mrs. Swan." Raven piped up, letting the girl know that she was here as well. "I need a few things that aren't usually on the shelves and she should have them in the back for me." Raven tapped her fingers on her thigh and forced a smile as the girl tried to pay attention to her, but kept getting distracted by Malchior. "I know she's busy, but we'll wait."
"Is that Raven!" A warbled voice spilled from behind the small space farther back into the shop, and a squat, older woman came toddling out into the open. She chuckled brightly and patted her granddaughter's shoulder, pushing her out of the way as she walked up to to the counter. "Miss Raven. It's so nice to see you again!"
"Thank you, Mrs. Swan." She gave the woman a polite smile. "I am in need of a few items that aren't always on the shelves. I was hoping you could help me out a bit."
"Of course! I know some of the things you work with are a little harder to procure, but no worries. I should have what you need." She chuckled and motioned to a heavy, brocade curtain behind her. "Well, I'm in the middle of something right now. I should be done in about thirty minutes if you don't mind waiting." Turning to her granddaughter, she gently pushed the girl toward another, small room off the main shop. "Kelsey, get our guests some tea while they wait."
"Um, sure, grandma." She looked over her shoulder at Malchior again, a blush still staining her cheeks. "Any particular kind of tea you would like?"
"Black is fine. Thank you."
"O-of course." She disappeared into the back and Raven could hear the faint sounds of someone putting tea together.
Raven shook her head. "I wouldn't drink anything she hands you."
Malchior seemed genuinely confused. "And why is that?"
"She's a potion mage's granddaughter." Raven made her way to a velvet wingback chair in the corner of the shop and looked up at him with a smirk. "That's all I'm going to say."
He shook his head and sat down in the chair next to her, stretching out his long legs. "You seem to have this idea that all women have some insatiable need for me."
She gave a one shouldered shrug. "They do." Her eyes flicked over to meet his before turning to look straight-ahead at the wall. "You said it yourself: different cultures have different ideas of what constitutes beauty. Here, in this culture, you're pretty damned beautiful."
He rolled his eyes. "You enjoy teasing me."
"Sometimes." She smirked. "Not all the time."
"And this is which time…?"
Raven said nothing, her lips twitching slightly.
Malchior opened his mouth to speak, but Kelsey came back into the shop with two identical, white mugs filled with tea. Her eyes met Malchior's vibrant green stare and she nearly dropped the mugs as she attempted to get closer to him. He gave her a tight, polite smile and nodded as Kelsey set both of the mugs down on a small side table between him and Raven.
"So, is there anything I can help you with while you wait?"
"No." Malchior reached for his tea, expression blank. Raven couldn't help but think that he enjoyed playing Russian Roulette. "I am not in need of assistance."
"Oh… are you sure?"
"I am most certain."
Kelsey's face fell with a sigh, and she returned to her place behind the register, chewing her lower lip between her teeth. Raven almost felt sorry for the girl. All she wanted to do was try and flirt with Malchior (not that Raven could blame her, after all he was quite handsome) but all he did was keep brushing her off. However, it was probably a bad idea for her to get involved with him anyway. Hell, it was a bad idea for Raven to get involved with him, but she didn't have much choice in the matter anymore.
Shaking her head, Raven reached for the tea closest to her and took a long sip, tasting something sweet and citrusy on her tongue, like hibiscus and candied lemon peel. It tasted vaguely familiar, but also far off and unusual, like she had tasted it once before in another form. Her nose flared slightly and she licked her lips, trying to place the taste. Shrugging, she took another long drink, hoping the hot tea would soothe her nerves.
Malchior sat in silence his expression unreadable as he stared straight ahead, seemingly lost in thought. He appeared considerably calmer since his debacle last night, and while that wasn't necessarily reassuring, it did give Raven a moment to pause and reflect on his personality and their situation. He was trying to make a consistent effort to be more open and honest with her, and since the dragon was no longer tugging at his soul and pressuring him into an impulsive and animalistic personality, he was almost pleasant to be around. She just wished that this metamorphosis didn't have to come at the expense of his dragon, which had been (as far as Raven could tell) a part of his soul for over a millennium.
"You're staring at me, Raven."
She jerked back, surprise filling her face, and stared down into her tea. "Sorry, I was just thinking."
"Nothing in particular."
"You weren't admiring my beautiful good looks?" Malchior's smirk was the only indication that he was teasing, and Raven felt color curl up her own neck at the jibe. Since when did he develop a sense of humor?
"Were you expecting me to?" She took another long drink of her tea.
Raven didn't have a response to that, and instead she stood up to walk around the small shop, suddenly feeling the need to move. Something in her chest twisted and turned, ribboning through her ribs like a serpent was curled around the bones. It felt like she had drank far too many energy drinks and her heart was trying to simultaneously burst out of her chest and race through her body. She shifted her weight on her feet and continued looking over the shelves of jars and canisters.
Malchior watched her for a moment, his smirk transforming into a curious frown. "You seem… discontent."
Raven shook her head and took another long drag of the tea, moving closer to the jars and farther away from him. She suddenly had the strongest desire for space between them, like being too close was going to start a volatile chain reaction that she would be helpless to avoid. Her heart was picking up speed and her fingers felt like they needed to touch something. She looked down at him and felt a flush spread across her face as his vibrant green eyes met hers. Ignoring her racing heart she drank the rest of her tea and moved around the shop.
"Raven… are you certain you are alright?" He set his tea down and stood up, moving to where she was restlessly moving in the corner. "You're quite flush."
Raven watched in horror as his hands moved across her forehead, feeling her skin for a fever. Her internal temperature spiked a few more degrees, and she pushed his hand off of her, glaring into his shocked expression. "I'm fine. I promise."
"You're burning up, Raven."
"I don't see how that's any concern for you."
"Your health is always my concern… especially when your illness seems so sudden." His eyes narrowed and he looked over her carefully, as if trying to discern if she was under the effects of a spell. He glanced down at the empty mug in her hands, and pried it from her trembling fingers. "What was in this, Raven?"
"I assume the same thing that was in yours." She had to take a step back from him, because he was standing entirely too close. She could feel the heat radiating off of him like a fire, and he smelled too much like fine, old books bound in leather. Something about the smell drew Raven closer to him, and she felt her heart pick up speed as the scent filled her senses. She had the strongest desire to unbutton the rest of his shirt and nuzzle her head at the crook of his neck, the place where that glorious smell was radiating from.
Malchior's gaze was heavy on her face, and he ran his finger over the rim of her mug before carefully licking the tip of his finger. His nostrils flared and his eyes widened as if something hit him. "That is not the same as my tea, Raven." He turned around and looked at the empty register counter, obviously searching for something or someone. "Although I have a feeling that this particular cup was intended for me."
"What." Raven's question came out more as a statement of shock.
"Your tea was spiked with Lust." He looked down into the cup again and sighed. "I would gather a rather potent form of it too."
Raven took a step back, her mouth falling open in shock. "No. No, this cannot be happening." Her heart picked up speed at the vague possibility of indulging in lustful actions with another person. Seconds ticked by and her mind became a whirlwind of daydreams and phantom images and sounds. A breathy sound escaped her lips and she stepped back from him, trying to gain a fraction of lucidity in heavy mist that clouded her mind.
"Raven. Perhaps we should return to the tower for the evening…" His voice was careful and even, as if he knew he was stepping around landmines that could easily detonate at any second. "It's probably best to avoid contact with other people until this passes."
Raven felt panicked. Staring into his face, she tried desperately to focus on his words, and not be distracted by the slash of his mouth and the fullness of his lips. He was so close to her, close enough that she could close the space between their mouths and ravish him before either of them even realized that she was taking advantage of him.
Raven felt her throat constrict, and she gasped for breath at that thought. What in the world was she thinking? This was Malchior, and she knew better than to daydream about him.
"Raven. Look at me." His voice called out to her, and she lifted her eyes to meet his own. He groaned and tried to take another step back, but his hip connected with the counter behind him, effectively stopping his retreat. "Raven, please listen to me. We are going to take our things and we are going to return home as quickly as we can. I have had a bad experience with this potion before, and you have not yet experienced the worst of its effects."
Raven's consciousness came up for air enough to realize what he was saying. "It gets worse?"
"Much, much worse." He looked apologetic for a moment.
"Kelsey! You didn't… you idiot girl!" The noise from Mrs. Swan was loud enough to momentarily break Raven out of her reverie. She toddled out into the display area, her hands waving violently as she approached the couple standing in the center of her shop. "Raven, look at me. Did you drink that tea?"
Malchior looked down at the short woman and sighed in annoyance. "We've already discerned that Raven has ingested a Lust potion… courtesy of your granddaughter, I'm sure."
Mrs. Swan groaned and yelled out for her granddaughter again, her round face turning an particularly bright shade of red. "KELSEY! Get out here and face your mistake, right now! I will not be held responsible because you took it upon yourself to experiment with our customers."
The shop was silent, and it appeared as if Kelsey had taken a back exit to an alleyway, desperate to get away from the problem she caused. Mrs. Swan swore under her breath and stared up at the two customers in her shop with a frustrated and exhausted expression. "Damn girl must have run off. I'm going to take it out of her hide later for this."
"It was clearly something that shouldn't have happened." Malchior's voice was stern, as if he was berating Mrs. Swan for her granddaughter's indiscretion. His emotions were a jumbled mess inside his head, and they beat relentlessly on Raven. He dropped Raven's empty mug into Mrs. Swan's hands. "I have the feeling that this particular serving of tea was intended for me, and now because of your granddaughter's desire for my attention we are going to have to postpone the rest of our day to handle this problem."
Mrs. Swan groaned and pinched her nose. "I am aware of this, and I cannot apologize enough for my stupid, hormonal granddaughter's response." She sighed again and shook her head, continuing to mutter under her breath. "If you have a list of what you need, I will make sure that she delivers the supplies to the tower personally, and with a full apology."
"That would be most advisable." Malchior wrapped his hand around Raven's wrist and glanced down at her, as she stared off into the space in front of her. "I need to get Raven home and away from others while the effects of the potion wear off, before she does any irreparable actions toward herself."
Mrs. Swan winced again. "I have never had this problem with Kelsey before. She has always been a sweet, shy girl."
Malchior raised an eyebrow, his expression unreadable. "There is a first time for everything, Mrs. Swan. Just be glad we caught this now and not later today when the effects are at their worst." He fished in Raven's messenger bag for a scrap of paper with her neat, even scrawl on it. "Here are the things we need, please have them delivered as quickly as you can."
"I will have these things to you tomorrow."
"Thank you." He looked down at Raven, who was in a daze, stumbling on her feet as wave after wave of emotions crashed over her, like the sea upon the sand.
It felt like her will was being drowned out by the emotions she picked up with her powers; every twist in their conversation could be felt, and Malchior's emotions were the worst. Fear woven with shock, and even just a little bit of aroused excitement buried under his concern seemed to attack her. It was as if he knew the serious implications of the potion, but also had some iota of excitement that something in her was now interested in him. Her mind worked on its own without her logical input, creating images and daydreams that she had never imagined she could have. Things her body was not capable of doing, and feelings that she had never dreamed of having. She twisted against his hold and pulled her wrist free, trying to hold on to some iota of sanity in all of this.
"She needs to rest." Mrs. Swan sighed and placed a cool hand on her forehead. "This should pass by tomorrow morning, but she will need constant supervision until then." Mrs. Swan paused for a moment, as if pondering something. "Unless she wants to go out and indulge in the sins of the flesh, then who are we to stop her?"
Malchior growled low in his throat, the tone sounding more possessive than protective. "That is not safe, and we both know that. These feelings are not her own, and I certainly do not want her to do something she could soon regret."
"In that you are correct." Mrs. Swan moved toward the door, Malchior and Raven following her close behind. "I will have Kelsey drop by tomorrow to make sure everything is back the way it should be, and to make sure you receive the things you need."
"Thank you. And be sure she doesn't try to pull another stunt like this again." Malchior wrapped his hand around her wrist again, and pulled Raven's small frame along with his steps as they exited the store. Her hand twisted in his grip, trying to readjust her grip to hold onto him, and thread her fingers through his own.
"Hold my hand?"
He glanced down at her, his expression a mixture of annoyance and sadness. "I will hold your hand, Raven. But be aware that if you ask any more of me, I will not comply with your demands. Is that clear?"
She nodded and threaded her fingers through his own, tightening her grip with the touch between them. His emotions roared to life at the simple interaction, and Raven felt her body react from the push of his feelings. It was like she was drowning in a sea of pleasure, indulging herself in the unrestrained emotions of Malchior. Excitement and gratification seemed to usurp his initial fear and reservation, and Raven was drawn to it like it was a designer drug and she needed the next hit. Her body and the world around her was a sea of colors and sounds, textures felt as though they were made for her and her alone, and she wanted to touch everything. She swept her eyes up to meet his own, drowning in their kryptonite-colored depths.
"I like this." She ran her hand up his arm and moved closer to him, smelling the heady, drugging scent of him as she closed their much-needed space. "I like this a lot."
Malchior looked down at her, a frown sewn across his lips. His appearance did not reflect the emotions rolling off of him; the emotions that gave Raven her high. He sighed and tried to put more space between them, walking down the chilled sidewalk to the T-shaped tower looming in the distance. "You seem to be enjoying yourself, that is for certain."
"And you're not?" Her voice sounded husky and slurred to her own ears, as if she was drunk. "Your emotions are all over the place, but I can feel your desire." She tightened her hand in his and pulled gently on him, bringing his body around to face her. "I can feel your-"
"Enough, Raven." He turned around and looked down at her with an expression that was far too serious for the situation. What she wouldn't give to replace that look with a smile, or a smirk… or just have him kiss her. He dropped her hand and took a step back from her. "I am serious, Raven. You have been drugged with this potion, and its strength is something that I cannot predict. I am asking that you respect the space between us."
Raven looked up at him, still trying to focus on his words. "Because you don't like me?"
An eyebrow peaked, the only indication that he was finding her ridiculous. "Because you are testing a ability to control myself."
"Oh." A smirk rippled across her lips and she stood on tip-toe to look into his eyes. so green… what she wouldn't give to see them hovering over her as he made love to her. To see them smiling as she gave into the pleasure that was ransacking her body now. "What's the point in trying to control something that can't be? Why don't you just give in…? Just indulge for once in your very long existence? I won't blame you. I won't even blame myself."
"I find that impossible to believe."
"I don't." She smiled and ran her hand down his sternum, the dragon pendant she bought him resting between her hand and his heart. "I think that this is something I've been holding back for a long time, and I'd like to explore it before I lose the courage."
"No." He removed his hand from her chest and took another step back. "I know better than to trust the mind of someone clouded with Lust. Even if you were being honest, and if I were to allow you to… indulge with me, I want it to actually be you." He motioned to her body, shaking his head as if in disgust. "I do not want this distorted person who is not the Raven I have come to care for. I want her, not someone whose mind is under the thrall of potions and magic. You cannot fault me for that, can you?"
"No." Raven shook her head and looked down at her feet, a moment of lucidity clearing her senses. She tried to put space between the two of them, but there wasn't enough space in the world that would stop these feelings wracking her body. She was desperate and her conflicting emotions were threatening to tear her psyche apart. "I can't fault you for your reasons, and I know that I should have better control over myself, but I just can't seem to stop myself. I feel… I feel like I'm on fire, and there's nothing that can stop it."
"I know." He sighed and gave her a sympathetic look. "I warned you that it would get worse before the potion ran its course. You are lucky in that your own power will help it pass much more quickly, but it will not be fun." He took her hand again, this time being careful to guard his emotions from her. "Let's just get back to your home, and you can rest in your room without interruption."
She looked up at him, eyes wide and curious. "And you?"
"I will sleep outside in the hall until this passes."
"That's chivalrous of you."
He glanced down at her, face blank. "I am only doing it because I trust myself less than I trust you while you are in this state."
Raven felt a blush stain her cheeks. "Oh."
Hey, look at this. I did this! Haaaaa… sorry it's been so long. I actually had a bit of trouble readdressing this story and this chapter, but I think it should be wrapping up in about five or six more chapters. So, yaaay!
Anyway, thanks for being awesome and reading the newest addition, and let me know what you think!