By Vema





He had taken her for the first time under the trees of the Palace Gardens, the pale yellow sun of Zeal warming his back through the leaves as he gently moved over her, kissed her neck, groaned her name into her skin.

It was the latest in a series of unwise decisions Magus had made during his time in Zeal. The first was allowing his younger self to see him. Janus had scowled and wandered off, muttering to Alfador as he went. Watching him, Magus had remembered himself as a child, seeing the Prophet, seeing the only person who seemed to have the black wind swirling around him thickly as well. The revelation sent him reeling; if he could remember himself being here in the past, it did not bode well for his intentions of revenge on Lavos, or for saving Schala.

This first error had led him to the second. He found himself trailing his beloved sister, watching her as his mind tried to sort out how to save her. He followed her all over the Kingdom of Zeal, and even followed her once when she went to see the Earthbound. When found, upon that expedition, she had asked him, eyes bright, if he wouldn't mind helping her to heal and comfort the desolate creatures, and despite his misgivings, he agreed. It was worth it, he thought, to see the pleasure in her face as they helped the inferior beings. As they worked, she asked his name, and he hesitated before telling her call him Magus. She laughed and quipped that it was another title she must remember.

At that point, he knew she must realize he'd been following her on her journeys. To his surprise, instead of protesting, she would often glance back and lift her aqua eyes, meeting his briefly before looking to the ground, a dark blush brightly coloring her pale skin.

The third was born of neglect. He was attempting to follow her discreetly, only realizing as he smelled the steam and saw her obscured, nude form that he was in the bath of Zeal Palace. She met his eyes and smiled shyly, and he panicked and ran back to his chambers, the image burned onto the backs of his eyelids.

From then on, as he watched her, he cursed many things about himself. Now knowing that he was following her so closely, she seemed to eye him and taunt him with her every movement. She suddenly looked so different from his memory of her. He had previously thought of her as slender woman, but tall, soft in a motherly way, full of maternal comfort.

Now, through eyes changed by time, magic, and the elements, she presented a much different image to his his eyes. Still slender, yes, but full of curves and sensuality his prepubescent self hadn't recognized.

She was still slender, but he eyes couldn't let go of her hips, round and swaying, mocking him, the way her chest heaved with breath as she concentrated on learning a new spell. Strangely, the juncture of her neck and shoulder was a source of fascination for him; he often found himself wondering what the skin there smelled, or tasted, like. Fevered dreams haunted his nights, full of long, pale peach limbs, wet heat, and three coveted words shaped by plump, pink lips; I love you...

His fourth decision was what ended his madness. Shame was an emotion Magus had rarely experienced. He was raised in a society where nearly anything was fair game, as long as you were powerful enough, but even with his position newly solidified as adviser to the Queen, his attraction to Schala (his sister, by the gods) was something he refused to act on. As a measure of self-protection, to ward himself from greater dishonor, he reversed his previous behavior and avoided her at all costs. When she entered a room, he departed as quickly as etiquette allowed. He averted his eyes from her as much as he could, shifting his gaze when he realized he was staring. Despite his efforts, he was haunted by her image on the back of his eyelids every day. During harrowing nights, he lay tortured and anguished, finally resorting to a cold bath or using his own hand to hasten his relief. It was with more shame that he turned more often to the latter solution, visions of her dancing around him as he shuddered under the moonlight.

After a a fortnight of his behavior, he was sitting alone in the Palace Gardens, surrounded by greenery in an isolated area, when she found him. How she'd done it, he would never know, but there she stood, her hair nearly teal in the yellowing sun of evening, surrounded by a halo of light. "Prophet," she said quietly, eyes on the ground at his feet, "Have I displeased you in some way?"

His mouth opened and closed a few times before he could find the words to respond. "No, Princess, nothing you could do would ever vex me. What could make you think this?" He closed the book he'd been perusing, standing quickly and taking her hands.

"I...I had thought... You had been giving me your attentions, for a while... Or was I imagining it?" She paused and looked at her small hands in his, and he looked as well, noting the similarities and differences. Slender, both, but hers were soft and smooth, his calloused and clawed.

His heart thudded in his chest. "No. was folly, my Princess," he said softly. "You are so beautiful, so kind, I couldn't help myself. Do not worry that I look for you to feel the same. It is doubtlessly impossible for you to find room for one such as I in your heart, and so I attempted to remove myself would not feel threatened." It wasn't a lie, though there was more that went into the decision than he told her. He watched her carefully.

They looked into each others eyes for long moments, the breeze singing through the branches of the trees surrounding them. She smiled brightly then, flinging her arms around his neck and laughing. "I think I love you," she whispered warmly, her breathe ghosting across his skin as her voice became more frantic. "It may be considered odd to some in Zeal, possibly even Mother won't approve, but nothing could ever change how I feel for you. Please, please stop shunning me, please..." She kissed his neck and cheeks and forehead over and over as he held her up, landing finally on his lips, repeating her mantra, please, please...

How could any man resist?

They sank to the grass in the hidden glade, he whispering endearments against her sweat-slick skin, she urging him on with desperate moans and clutching hands. He shrugged out of his cloak and tunic, and had opened her robes before he noticed her staring at him.

He appeared before no one out of his layers of clothing, the hood of his cloak pulled up, the better to avoid detection as a charlatan. Now, he searched Schala's eyes for recognition, but if he found it, it was not what he feared. Her hands traced his muscles with something like reverence, her breath coming short. "I didn't know how time changed..."

Panic flashed in his mind, his reluctance returning. "My lady?"

She ran her fingers over the lines of his face, pulling him down for a kiss, melting his resolve again. She whimpered and shuddered under him as he followed his instincts, tickling the skin under her breast before enveloping it in his large, warm hand. The peak of her nipple stiffened beneath his palm and his moan of desire reverberated through them both.

As he hurriedly removed her underclothes, she suddenly became shy. "I've never... I was saving..." she hesitated, unable to meet his gaze.

Desire and shame rose inside him anew at her words. He urged her legs apart, kissing down the inside of her thighs as he murmured, "Trust me." The smell and taste of her arousal was heady, and in what seemed like no time at all she was trembling and crying out, thrusting herself against his mouth unthinkingly in her pleasure.

As she sagged to the ground, she helped him moved up her body, opening to him. There was only a little resistance as he thrust his manhood into her, stilling himself at her cry to allow her time to adjust, whispering to her how perfect it was to be within her. Without moving his hips, he resumed his worship of her breasts, kissing her gently. He purred into her ear how good she felt, urged her to look down and see them joined together. He brought her to another shattering climax around him before he sought his own pleasure, finally groaning earnestly to her than he loved her, that he had never and would never love another.

As he collapsed to her side, she moved into his embrace, and he pulled her close, his brain crawling slowly back to a functioning state. With growing horror he considered what he had done, knowing that someday he had planned to reveal his identity to her. How could he, now that he had taken her most precious gift? The proof of her innocence was still drying on his skin, by all the gods, and she was his sister.

She must have felt him recoiling, for she leaned over him on her elbow suddenly, cupping his face in her hands. "What are you thinking? Why are you pulling away from me?" she whispered, eyebrows arching in concern.

"I'm not - "

She shushed him with her lips, kissing him deeply again, running her hand down his hard chest. When she pulled back, she looked pleased with herself. "I've made my choice, Magus, as you have. A secret from others, but I will keep nothing of my feelings from you." Her eyes darkened. "But, let me know now if this is a game. You have the gift of prophecy – surely you know how I would react if you were to play me false."

He took her hands and kissed them, fervently declaring his affections. He couldn't stand the thought of hurting her, and if it required that he live the rest of his life as her lover, and never gave her his true identity, he would do it no matter how much it hurt. He dressed her worshipfully before he dressed himself, then sank down beside her again. They lay together in the secluded glen until the huge full moon hovered overhead, surrounded by a halo of dark trees, content in each others arms.