Loosening for Comfort

It was not the first thing he had done, but Irial found himself, in his great disappointment, seeking comfort in the only place he truly could. It was cold in The High Queen's garden. She made it that way, gracious as she was for his company. Still, the chilly reception was exactly what he wanted. He had done what was best for his court, given Niall up to the whims of his fey, and now he was being punished for it. Punished by Niall's absence, punished by the cold, and soon he would be punished by his court, in that he would have to act as if it was less of a blow than he truly felt. He couldn't do that just now. Couldn't bare to put of airs for them at the moment.

When he felt Sorcha's presence in the garden, and he felt it because she made it very clear to him-a rush of cold wind, a suddenly clouded sky, trees becoming barren-he smiled. He was always willing to put on airs for the High Queen, if not only for the fact that she so disliked the demeanor he adapted around her often times. Sometimes it didn't have to be an air, sometimes it came all to naturally to tease the High Queen as much as could. He stood as if unaffected by the cool reprimand that preceded her into the open space, grinning lazily as he saw her. She was frowning, as she always did when she met, disapproval lacing her voice as she spoke. "You are not welcome uninvited."

Irial took a drag on his cigarette, taking a few casual steps forward. "Long time no see, Sorcha."

She looked distastefully at the cigarette in his hand. "You have no place entering my domain without reason-"

"I've reason." He assured her swiftly, snuffing out his cigarette and tossing it aside. "I've always reason enough to come and see. you." Irial only lightly tasted the displeasure that radiated off of her, looking around at the garden as if taking in the sight of it. In truth, he could care less about the space The High Queen kept for herself, but it bugged her not have his complete attention now that she had been bothered.

"What reason is that?" She questioned. Her voice was perfectly calm, posture perfectly rigid, but there was still the slightest unhinge in her emotion, and he wanted to pick at it. It was one of the pure joys he had in life, annoying Sorcha. Of his other joys, his friend and his something of a lover, one had recently deserted him, and he would need to accumulate what joy he had left if he was going to temper the sting.

"Sorcha, Sorcha, Sorcha..." He said slowly, stepping towards her and shaking his head. "Are you this impatient with your other guest?"

"You are not a guest if you were not invited." She returned, stepping promptly back from him. "You should not even be here, in my realm."

"How is your realm?" Irial asked as he moved closer, changing the subject. "Unchanging as ever."

"Faery does not need to change." Sorcha said immediately.

"Nothing has to change, for something to be different." He said.

"That makes no sense." She replied, backing up again, placing her back almost against a tree. She had let herself be backed against a tree. Irial knew that. Everything in this realm was controled by her mere thought. She could not have been cornered if she had not meant to be. But that was their game. He pretended that she was not giving in to him, just a little, and she pretended the same. Pretended she didn't want this as much as he did. He wondered, on occasion, if she ever needed to escape it all. After all these years, he couldn't answer that question. Where would she go, except into his arms at these moments if she did?

He was right before her, lips just barely not touching her own as he spoke. "Some of us don't have to make sense, Sorcha."

Then their lips came together and he was loosening her skirts and clothes from her. There was something about Sorcha that truly... quenched him. Something about making the High Queen loosen herself and open up for him that he craved, needed, in times like these. She saw things that he would never allow others to see, gave her confidences that he gave no other, and Sorcha, perhaps for the same reasons that he did, gave him the same. It wasn't anything that happened frequently. Neither of them would abuse the indulgence that way, but it could sometimes be exactly what was needed.

It was no warmer once the part had broken away than it had been when they began. Sorcha's way of labeling the whole affair as a mistake, as she always did. He would never call it that, but Irial was a Dark King. Not many indulgences would be counted as a mistake by him. It was as he helping her to redress afterwards, closing the latches she could not reach behind her that he said why he'd come to her. "Niall left me." He whispered.

She didn't turn to look at him as she pretended to straighten her clothes, and he mussed them a bit to justify her keeping busy and delaying turning toward him. "The gancanagh you were keeping company with." Sorcha said it as almost a question, but she knew. He was certain that she knew, but he didn't how she did.

"Yes." Irial replied. "I... gave him to the court. He left me. Gave up my side."

Sorcha slowly fixed her hair back into the desired arrangements, pretending as if Irial were not hovering uncomfortably close to her from behind. "It cannot be help, I assume. You are Dark King. He had to learn that eventually. You cannot love something that so easily breaks without finding heartbreak yourself."

Irial sighed, tracing a finger down what was still exposed of her back. "What about you, Sorch? How do you love?"

Sorcha sighed, chosing to ignore name, and inhaled deeply behind her as she spoke. "The Unchanging Queen cannot afford to fall in love." She said.

"If you did..." He trailed off.

"It's useless to contemplate what cannot come to pass"

"Perhaps..." Irial said slowly. "Myself, though, I've spent every moment since contemplating what would have happened had I only not given him to the court."

Sorcha turned slightly to face him, asking, "Do you regret it, Irial?"

Irial didn't answer a moment. "I would do the same thing, if I had to." He realized that wasn't truly an answer, but it was the type of answer that Sorcha would accept from him.

"He'll be hurting, too. Lost..." She said, and he understood what she was hinting to.

"I can't..." He began, but she cut him off with a soft whisper.

"I know, Irial. I know."

Irial moved a step away from her, having already dithered longer than he should have. He should not have come. Should not have left his court. But he had needed this, had needed to release the burdens he felt somewhere. And The High Queen, whatever else she was, was not unkind. Not to him. Not in moments like this. Logic as she may be, unchanging and unmoving as she was or chose to be, she was the only one he could go to in times like these. This was weakness he was showing and no one else could see it. Perhaps Niall, if he had not left, but he had and there was no going back. There was never any going back for him and Sorcha. They were the most burdened regents, Irial truly believed. Holding more responsibility than the other courts, even if in different ways.

Irial turned to go, but one last whisper from Sorcha stopped him. "Did you love him?" She questioned, and he couldn't tell what he heard in her voice. Longing? Envy? Reverence? He didn't want to pry far enough into Sorcha's emotions to find out.

"Yes." He answered. "I do." Then he left her, feeling slightly eased, but still heartbroken. If he could do so without insulting her, he would tell Sorcha that she should be grateful to be spared heartbreak. If he truly thought about it, though, he would perhaps pity her instead, if she truly could not love. He wondered the High Queen would ever know if she would not ever try for the good of her court. Maybe once he had recovered somewhat, once he had some free time, he could try to make the high Queen love him. Or maybe, he would not allow the gancanagh to so easily forget the lovelorn.