Welcome to chapter two! Implied sex incoming.

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That night at the Black Rose, Logan had danced for the first time in what felt like ages. He had drowned out the anxiety of waiting by writhing to empty lyrics and a never-ending beat that sometimes pounded so loud as to physically pain him. Even after-hours, as he lay on the bed in his apartments, it still pulsed in his ribcage. A long bath had loosened his muscles to the point that he barely bothered turning his head to the portrait hanging beside him.

In stark contrast to the dark purples and grays of Logan's bedroom, silver-haired Fairy Queen Lucinda wore a flowing white dress against a sunny pastoral background. The great queen had died the year he was born, and he'd always felt a twisted kind of connection to her. Logan had traded some very rare potions for the life-sized painting, which according to its dubiously trustworthy dealer, had been stolen from the fairy palace a century ago.

"Hmmm, Lucinda, how long will he keep me waiting?"

Her smile was always indecipherable. Vapid, enlightened, secretive—every time he looked at her, it was cast in a different expression. Now, she seemed infuriatingly patient, capable of waiting another hundred years for someone to bring her beauty and pleasure in this dungeon chamber. Logan was not so serene.

"Hopefully not as long as your Mr. Gardener."

Of course, that was completely different. Their love had endured for two hundred years; Logan would be lucky if Prince Lorren's lust lasted for longer than a night.

As if on cue, the room filled with a soft pulsing light from the stone basin on a pedestal beside his bed. Logan's mouth curved into a smile as he leaned over and peered into it. The waters swirled into an image of a black-clad figure outside the doors to his foyer.

"Well, look who's decided to make an appearance. Let's not be rude—let him in."

Through the scrying pool, he watched his guest step warily through the doors that swung open entirely on their own and shut quickly behind him.

Logan rose and re-tied his silky dressing gown. He had no time to put on real clothes, but that was just as well, since soon he probably wouldn't be wearing anything at all. The slap of his bare feet on the stone floor followed him to the room's entrance. He opened the door.

"Come in."

Stiff and tightly-wound as a toy soldier, the Prince entered and silently shut the door behind him, as if someone else around might hear. His hat, mask, and cloak were the same, but now he seemed so uncomfortable in his own skin as to be an entirely different person from that afternoon.

"Hello, Prince Lorren." Logan smiled. "Sorry to greet you like this, but I just bathed and was about to go to bed. What brings you here so late at night?"

"The amulet," the Prince, averting his eyes, said in a barely audible voice. "I'll trade you for it."

Logan caught a glimpse of a white and blue object tied at the Prince's hip. He'd actually brought the amulet after all.

"You've had a change of heart? Wonderful. I sold that spellbook to an imp named Crumble, minion of a very powerful warlock. Although I'll warn you, getting it away from him won't be easy."

"That's not enough."

"I can barely hear you." Logan leaned closer. The Prince didn't move away. "You can speak up; there's no one else here but the two of us."

"I said that the spellbook isn't enough."

"Well what else do you want in exchange?" Logan asked, although he had a good idea of the answer.

The Prince finally looked at him. Logan could barely read the expression behind his mask, but his intense stare felt like a pointing finger—half desire, half accusation.

Now this was an interesting turn of events.

"Me?" Logan restrained the sly grin tugging at his lips. "I'm shocked. I never took you as that sort of man, Prince Lorren."

The Prince pretended to ignore most of that. "Is it a deal?"

As usual, Logan had lied. The Prince was the sort of man who would desperately cling to any fragile illusion of power.

"Deal."

They shook hands over this strange breed of sordid business deal. The Prince's skin was icy; he was ever so slightly shivering.

Logan took the Prince's hands in his. "You're freezing." He rubbed them between his palms as he slowly guided the Prince towards his bed, relishing every opportunity that the Prince didn't take to run away.

They were no sooner across the room than the Prince tore his hands away and seized Logan by the shoulders. Logan felt the soft mattress beneath his back and the Prince's hard mouth on his lips as the other man fell on top of him. He really was awful at this—all raw energy, no finesse. Logan wondered how it was with that cute blazing star mage, but mentioning her right now would risk sending the Prince running out the door.

In one skillful movement, Logan flipped the Prince onto his back and straddled him. The Prince stared up at him with surprise that even penetrated the mask. That stupid mask. Logan reached to take it off, but the Prince took a strong hold of both of his wrists.

"It doesn't matter. I already know who you are." It came out as bizarrely gentle and reassuring instead of impatient, and the Prince relaxed his hold without letting go. He let Logan unmask him, but to any outside observer, it might have looked like he was the one guiding Logan's hands rather than the other way around.

Logan had seen his face before, but only in pictures or from a distance at official kingdom ceremonies and the like. He was no striking beauty, but attractive in his own way with those pale green eyes almost the same color as his skin. For all the confidence and posturing, callow as it was, Logan hadn't expected him to look this young. All of his disguises had been stripped away, and his face captured all of that vulnerability and naked fear.

"How old are you?"

"Nineteen."

Nineteen. If he remembered correctly, the blazing star was seventeen. That was certainly less of an age difference, but for powerful magical creatures like himself, age hardly mattered as much.

Logan found himself curling his finger around the thick black hair at the Prince's temple. "What should I call you?"

"Nothing."

"Like how you only call me 'you' and never bother with my name?"

"Well, now it's even."

"Well, I'd rather call you Lorren."

Anger flashed across his face. "Don't say—!"

But Logan cut him off by covering Lorren's lips with his own. Every emotion but lust seemed to burn off of Lorren's mind, and he kissed him back and grasped feverishly at his hair and body. He slipped his tongue into Logan's mouth and the robe off his shoulders as Logan undid the fasteners of Lorren's shirt and cloak. That ridiculous hat had fallen to the floor long ago.

A mix of body heat and chilly cavernous air drifted across Logan's skin as his robe slithered down his body. Lorren's cold clawing hands took its place—not as luxurious as silk, but somehow just as pleasurable. Logan smiled—well, as close to a smile as he could manage, given the circumstances—and reached for the top of Lorren's trousers.

Lorren jerked away, flattening himself against the bed. He clutched at Logan's wrists and held them still, but didn't push him away.

"What?" Logan leaned down and whispered in his ear. "Isn't this exactly what you want?"

"It is, but…" Lorren let go of him and reached for the protection amulet at his side.

"You don't still think that I'm bewitching you?"

He looked Logan in the eyes for a long silent moment and frowned. "Today, after I left, I asked the court sorceress to check me for any traces of spells."

"And she found absolutely nothing."

That wasn't a question, but Lorren reluctantly nodded.

Logan pressed his lips and teeth to Lorren's neck and felt him involuntarily tremble. "You're not under a spell, Lorren. Your feeling are all your own."

"It's just…I don't understand it."

Logan couldn't see his face, but the sudden painful sincerity in Lorren's voice caught him completely off-guard. All of those puffed-up pretenses had evaporated. He ran his fingers through Lorren's hair with a sort of tenderness that was not normally his style.

"Of course you don't understand it. You're attracted to a man whom you think is an unscrupulous criminal, just as I'm attracted to a man who treats me like scum. Desire doesn't make sense; it's not supposed to make sense."

"It doesn't bother you?"

"Not at all. I embrace my desires. I indulge them on my own terms. I own them."

Logan wanted to advise Lorren to own his desires before they owned him—and before he tried to own anyone else—but too much preaching would drive the ambivalent prince out of his bed for good. Instead, he rolled onto his back and let Lorren tentatively kiss him again, because whether or not Lorren realized it, Logan knew who was really in control.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o

The end! Well, that was a lot of fun to write, but not remotely a lot of words to write—certainly not enough words to justify my taking an entire year to finish it.

You might be wondering why I wrote about a pairing between two characters that never actually interacted in the books (or maybe you aren't, but I'm going to tell you anyway). Imagining a dynamic between them was just an enjoyable challenge, and I wanted to do something unusual. I hope you enjoyed it!