Title: Skin Like Green and Gold
Rating: T because it is their wedding night, after all, and Costi did say, "You can't imagine what thoughts your little frog had, Jena. Far more than he ever dared share with you."
Notes: Because while the idea of having sentient pets who may or may not lust after you is gross, Costi is lovable and lovelorn and so, so sad for so much of the book.
Costi does not know if he hates dreaming or waking more. The dreams are sweet and all the more deadly for being so. While he sleeps, he is tall and has human hands. Jena smiles at him, her eyes sliding into light. He can touch her like this. He can speak to her with tongue and lips and mold his words with sound. I love you. No; the words are inadequate—laughably, grossly small. How many things does he love about Jena? Her mind, her wit, her nimble fingers, and how quick they are with quill and needle; her lips, the curve of her ear, the fall and shadows of her hair; her heat, the steady thrum of her breath, the drum of her heartbeat. In his dreams, all these things are his for the taking. In his dreams, he sips from her and is never thirsty.
Waking, after, is cold torture. Even when Jena lifts him up onto her shoulder, he longs, and this longing feels hot and sharp, like pain.
They've kissed a thousand times, a million times, in stolen moments and in shadows where Florica or Iulia pretended not to see.
This is different. Now they are bound. Jena smiles at him in the candlelight. Wife. He reaches for her and she comes, willingly, sweetly eager. How many times had he dreamt of this moment? Of a hundred moments like this? His hands are big, brown, human; he touches her throat with his fingertips. The pulse at the base of it jumps.
"Jena—" he whispers, faltering. Even after all this time, speech is difficult. A million fantasies, each more desperate than the last, whirl through his minds like leaves in autumn.
"Costi." His name is a breathy whisper. She, always the braver one, breaches the divide first. Her lips are soft but sure. Heat flares, unmindful of gentler notions, between them, and they are wrapped in each other, slick and desperate and needy for long minutes. He breaks away from her mouth, plunges a hand into her hair, exposes her throat. There. Skin glows in the light of flickering candles. He puts his mouth to it, like he had wanted to for years and years, like he will never tire of doing for even more.
"Costi—" she gasps. "Oh."
He tears his mouth away from the juncture of neck and shoulder, but cannot bring himself to abandon the touch of her skin. His breath comes as though he's run miles, loud and harsh. "Stop me now," he growls, resting his forehead against the line of her collarbone. "Now, if you don't want—if you'd rather wait."
Her chest rises and falls sharply. "I don't want to stop," she whispers, breathless. "I—oh, you're—I want this very much, Costi."
Reason, then, is lost and torn asunder in her sharp, breathy exclamations, in the patterns he traces with his fingers and tongue on her skin, of joining, finally, in ways he had only dreamed. After, her thigh falls across his, and feels like a benediction. He smiles, kissing her shoulder, her neck, the line of her collarbone, the curve of her ear, and finally surrenders to sleep.