Author's note: And we come to the end of Rain's journey through her past. More huge, wonderful thanks to those who have been reading this story, and I have treasured each and every one of your reviews. Just a warning that the rating has changed, and there is mature content contained within.
RIBBONS – PART V
Slowly, Rain came back to herself, pulling away from the vivid, conflicted memories of her younger self, constricted with sharp, aching emotion. Thinking, feeling, she closed her eyes on their tent and turned her face into Kivan's, where his head was buried in her warm neck, in her loose hair. His soft curls brushed her cheek. Breathing deeply, she let herself sink into their precious, hard-won intimacy just as he was doing, conscious of how fiercely he held her, his bare arms locked strong and tight. He made a soft, wondering sound and pulled her even closer.
"Are you back with me, love?" he asked her gently, his mouth whispering against her cheek. There was a soft, questioning note in his voice, but it was raw too; he seemed to be as deeply affected by their tender, agonised reminiscing as she was.
She nodded, slowly, and opened her eyes, though she did not take her face from his. Kivan was so close, his lips resting on her skin, his breath soft and warm. His eyes were deep and velvet and dark. Rain suddenly found herself unable to speak, her heart too full. So she simply pressed closer to him, his mouth firming on the slant of her face.
He swallowed tightly and kissed her there, his lips moving softly over her skin, following the sharp angle of her cheekbone in a profound, lingering caress. One of his arms slipped free from around her. He cupped her other cheek firmly in his roughened hand so that she was surrounded by him entirely, held captive in Kivan's fierce, intense embrace; surrounded by his warm fingers and scarred skin, his questing mouth. His hard chest pressed securely into her back. He brought his leather-clad knees up either side of her and clamped his thighs to her body, holding her protectively through the thin linen of her shift. Rain felt a hard knot form in her throat, nearly undone.
"Oh, Rain," he breathed heavily, stroking her face with his calloused fingertips. "So much we have seen. So much has passed between us. When I think back to then, and what we could not say, I –" He shook his head, choked, and slipped his hand beneath her hair, cradling her nape. "Elven memory is long," he observed, and his murmur was rich and deep, but haunting, too. Rain's skin prickled with the truth in it.
"Yes," she whispered. "It is."
Kivan stirred and feathered a kiss over her lips, then leaned his brow against hers. "I can still see you," he told her with that intent, haunting quality, imparting another truth. "Still see you in that tavern, so perfectly. Your shining, candlelit eyes, and your laughing smile, the pure joy of your delight. My silk ribbons in your hair and tied to your wrist." He sighed, wistfully, and the soft rush of air moved over her lips. "You were so beautiful. Every man in that room wanted you, and I did too." His voice lowered, becoming soft and husky. It was both sensual and mournful, sad and wanting. His fingers tightened slightly in her nape. "I can tell you this now, my beloved Rain," he whispered. "My dearest Rosa."
Rain trembled in his tight embrace, overcome. She overlaid his new admission on her own memories, reconciling them, and a terrible, painful sorrow suddenly strangled her heart. Unbidden, her thoughts flitted back to that awful day when he had finally farewelled her in Baldur's Gate, after Sarevok's defeat. She remembered her utter devastation, her dejected misery. She had been sure she would never see him again. She had been sure he was walking away to his own funeral. But no, she could not think about that now, not when he was warm and close, when they were together at last…
Kivan sobered and drew away, carefully disentangling his arms and legs from her. He moved around in front of her and knelt on his bedroll, facing her. He watched her very seriously. The shadows lay on him, on his sable hair and rugged face, on the planes of his scarred, naked chest. She looked back at him, only realising now how long she had been lost in her recollections. The scattered streaks of sun had already left the tent-canvas. The evening was deepening outside. It was humid still, and the insects buzzed more loudly in the Forest of Mir encircling their camp. Kivan raised his hands to Rain's face and framed her, looking at her long and deeply, with eyes full of awe and love.
"You do not know how precious you are to me," he said tenderly, painfully. "What a rare thing you are in this world. That you chose me, Rain, when you could have had any other…" He smiled at her, gently and sorrowfully. "I am glad that your heart was wise, amael. Wise to what truly lay between us, even if I was not yet ready to accept it and face it, not back then." His fingertips brushed from her temples down to her cheeks, very lightly. He carefully grasped her chin his hand. "I love you, Rain," he told her, his voice thick with rich emotion. "And I am glad that my own heart became wise, before it was too late."
With that, Kivan rose a little and leaned over her, moving forward to part her bent knees with one hand. He moved between her thighs, to be closer to her, and her white shift rustled against his legs, whispering against his brown breeches. Rain sucked in a sharp breath and felt her insides melt, going hot and heady with the depth of her desire for him. She lifted her face as he slowly raised her chin. He bent his head to hers and slid his hand up to her cheek, drawing out the moment as his mouth touched hers, very softly, very gently.
He took her head in his hands and kissed her deeply.
She kissed him back, her mouth opening hungrily and helplessly beneath his. She made a tiny sound as he drew her closer, fervently taking her lips for his own. Her hands found the sharp angles of his face, and she caressed him, twisting her fingers into his hair. He shuddered. Shaking with need, the blood pounding in her ears, Rain whimpered in protest as he suddenly pulled away. But when she opened her eyes, she saw that he was as tortured as she was, his breathing fast and ragged as he loomed over her.
"Lirima," he breathed, whispering to her in elvish. "You are so lovely, my beautiful Rain. I thought I had time to tell you everything that lies in my heart, to show you everything that you mean to me, but now, I am not so sure." His voice was rough, hoarse. "The Solar has set us on your path, on your road to your destiny. Alaundo's prophecy draws nigh. I don't want to waste any more time, Rain. I don't want to feel it slipping uselessly through my fingers, away from me."
Choked with emotion, Rain looked up at him in the shadows, into his eyes holding her own. She waited as he sank back onto his knees, still within the embrace of her thighs, and took her shoulders in his warm, yearning hands.
"There is a full moon tonight," he told her quietly, and his dark gaze was open and wanting, inviting. Fevered. "Come away with me, Rosa. Walk the forest with me beneath the moon and stars."
Rain felt her lips parting at the naked desire in his face. She nodded, enthralled, and let him tug her up to him, on her knees in their tent. "I will," she said softly.
Kivan smiled at her, long and slow. He reached out for his discarded cloak and pulled it around his bare shoulders, pinning it in place despite the sultry heat. Then he took up his mana bow – not Deheriana's wedding gift – and his quiver. He paused to nuzzle at her neck. "We will bring our blankets," he told her huskily, "and your blades. Nothing else."
She smiled back at him, a sensual light kindling in her eyes. "No boots?" she questioned teasingly. She wrapped her sword-belt around her lean waist, over her shift, and buckled it in place.
His smile widened. "Definitely no boots."
Tilting his head, enticing her, Kivan turned so he could unlace the thongs tying their tent closed. He took the folded blankets from her and crawled out, holding the canvas flap open for her. Rain followed him expectantly. She stood on the springy grass outside their tent, feeling the soft blades beneath her bare feet, and looked towards him, in the direction of the campfire. Jaheira was giving them both an odd look. The druid raised her brows at their blankets, at their state of not-quite undress, but Kivan stalled her before she could demand to know just what they thought they were doing.
"We are going for an evening stroll," he told her smoothly, and flicked the blankets over his shoulder, draping them there. He pulled his strung bow over his head and shouldered his quiver.
Jaheira gazed at him levelly. "In the dark," she pointed out flatly, giving him an ironic stare.
Kivan's mouth twitched in amusement. "In the moonlight," he corrected her, and he lifted his head to the eastern horizon, where the full moon was indeed rising above the trees ringing their clearing, glimpsed through the branches garbed in full, glorious leaf. Rain smiled in wonder. The moon was pale and white and utterly beautiful, the sky blushed with the darkening, fading sunset. Kivan turned back to Rain and reached for her hand.
Jaheira sighed in defeat. "Elves," she muttered, but neither Kivan nor Rain waited to hear more. They left the camp and ventured into the forest, into the deep stillness that accompanied the growing shadows.
Kivan led her onward, deeper, down a path only he discerned, only he knew. The trees grew dense and close. The undergrowth was thicker here than in the Forest of Tethir, more luxurious. Rain drew the damp, fragrant air deep into her lungs, revelling in the musty scent of old bark and the richness of the earth, in the fresh, green, growing things. Her feet followed Kivan's over the uneven ground. She stepped lightly on last autumn's fallen, golden leaves, navigating the small stones and dropped tree-limbs that littered their path. Kivan surveyed the forest, intent and listening. He moved like the ranger he was, utterly immersed in nature. He saw everything. He heard everything. But always, his soft black eyes came back to Rain, and when he smiled at her, she knew that she was the only thing truly on his mind, the only thing he really saw. She smiled back, and his hand tightened on hers.
They came to a wide stream flowing over tiny rounded pebbles. The moonlight glinted silver on the moving waters. Rain dipped her toes in, laughing breathlessly at the cool, wet chill, and Kivan surprised her by suddenly scooping her up into his arms and ferrying her across, one arm under her knees. She wound her arms tightly around his neck and pressed her face into the strong column of his throat, breathing in the warm, smoky male scent of his skin. He laughed softly in simple, quiet joy.
On the other side, he did not set her down. He carried her further, deeper. Rain clung to him. When at last he did slow and pause, Rain lost her breath in the fall of soft, silver moonlight that flooded down unbroken into a tiny glade between the trees, staring around her in awe as he gently tipped her back onto her feet.
There were flowers. So many flowers. All delicate and white and star-like, opening up under the moon, drinking in the silver light. They covered the ground in the glade, mingling with the grass and moss, and the tall vibrant ferns. More flowers wound around the thick trunks of nearby trees, hugging the limbs closely. They were orchids, Rain thought. A deep purple fading to a pristine moonlit-white.
Rain felt her knees go a little unsteady, her balance shaky. She stood there among the flowers as Kivan retreated to the far side of the glade, half in the moonlight, half in the shadows. He looked at her; long, powerfully and intensely. Rain knew exactly what he wanted from her. Slowly, he shrugged out of his bow and quiver. He let their combined blankets fall to the ground. Then, he unfastened his ragged green cloak and slid it from his bare, muscled shoulders, and stood there in only his breeches, his feet naked on the earth.
"Close your eyes," he said hoarsely.
She obeyed, her heart leaping wildly within her breast. She drew in short, sharp breaths as he closed the distance between them, taking his time. Listening to him coming for her, his feet so soft on the flowers and grass, Rain shivered in anticipation, her senses stretched and wide; taut. Kivan halted behind her. He reached his arms around her, slow and sensual, and Rain trembled violently as her sword-belt came away, his fingers deft and sure on her buckle. He tossed her scabbards aside, into the shadows.
Kivan stepped back.
There was a short, moonlit silence. Rain squeezed her eyes shut, wondering how he knew just what to do to her, to turn her blood to mindless, molten desire.
"Once," he said, and his voice was thick and strong, near and far. "Once," he repeated, "I was winter. Hrive," he hissed fiercely, in elvish.
He took a slow, single step closer to her.
"Then you came," he continued more softly, "and there was spring."
He stepped closer to her again, approaching from behind. He paused, right there at her back and shoulders, so close that the heat of his skin seemed to burn through her thin shift, setting her afire. Rain shuddered and nearly cried out when he traced something soft and delicate along the long curve of her pointed ear, tucking it into her hair.
It was one of the orchids. Rain breathed in its sweet, heady fragrance, growing dizzy with it. She wondered if this was what it felt like to be drunk on love, drunk on passion and need for the man she utterly adored.
"Ehtele'," Kivan whispered.
Gently, he ran his fingers down the line of her bare arms to her hands, making her shiver uncontrollably, her pulse quickening madly in her throat and wrists. He captured her fingers and lifted her arms high over her head. Kivan poised her there, waiting, and Rain had the sudden sense that he was about to spin her in a slow, sensual dance, courting her in the silver darkness and moonlight.
"Now," he breathed, his voice breaking, "you are laire. Summer. And I love you so very much, my beautiful, magnificent Rain."
He twirled her then, hard, back into his chest. They spun together, twisting and weaving and dancing, just like the copper ribbon she had worn on her wrist, writhing in the air before the lantern-flame. The moonlight was pale on her skin, and it burned in his dark admiring eyes, silvering his black curls. She gripped him tightly and let him love her. His kisses were fierce and needy, his hands longing, caressing her everywhere through her shift. He pulled the linen over her head. When Rain was standing before him in nothing but the bright fall of her hair, clad only in her skin and scars, Kivan sank to his knees in the flowers at her feet and stared up at her, rapt. She thought she might blush, but she did not.
Kivan's love for her was that of a long-lived man's, not a young boy's. She now knew what it was like to receive his passion in full.
A rare gift indeed.
"Rain," he whispered, choked. Very gently, he cupped her hips in his trembling hands and pressed his mouth to her skin, kissing the flat of her belly. "Rain," he mouthed again, more fiercely, his lips hot and seeking.
They fell into each other then, lost in each other, wrapped in moonlight and starlight and shadows. They fell down to the carpet of soft white flowers.
Kivan's kisses were hard and consuming. His passion burned her alive. And when he rolled her onto their blankets and took her swiftly, pinning one arm possessively above her head among the starry flowers, in the sweet grass and moss, Rain whispered his name into his mouth and shuddered, knowing that she had come into a love so strong, so intense, that the rest of the world paled into insignificance beyond it. She tightened her fingers on Kivan's hand and clenched hard around him. He groaned, went rigid, and held her eyes, looking down deep, deep and rich, into her own. He breathed her name. Then he let himself go. He arched into her, again and again, and it was a claiming, telling Rain that she was his.
In the silvery, shadowed quiet that followed, Kivan pulled her tightly into his arms and showered her face with soft kisses, showing her the sweet, warm depths of his love. He drew his cloak over their hips and embraced her, warming her cooling skin. He smiled at her in the darkness.
"I have been thinking," he said huskily, kissing the tip of her nose. "The next time I come across a ribbon-seller, I am going to buy you the entire stall. Every last ribbon."
Rain laughed quietly and lifted a gentle hand to his cheek. "All the ribbons?" she echoed wryly, amused. "That is a lot of ribbons." She gazed at him, lying there beside her on their tangled blankets, face to face on the ground, and her blue eyes danced. "I might not inspire too much fear in our enemies if I rush at them with my swords drawn and hundreds of silk ribbons tied to my black leathers, all aflutter in the wind. Though I will certainly be memorable," she added mischievously, grinning at him.
Kivan burst out laughing. It was such a free, joyous sound that Rain's heart soared in delight. He wrapped his arms around her back, hard, and pulled her atop him, onto his chest. He grinned up at her in return.
"Well, maybe not all the ribbons," he amended. "Just a few. Just enough to grace your beautiful hair, and match your lovely eyes." He cocked his head and gave her a long, affectionate look. "Would you like that, amael?"
Rain found herself drowning in his eyes, in his tender, jet gaze. She smiled and lowered her mouth to his, kissing him very warmly. "Yes, my heart," she whispered. "I would."