(Alternative version written in response to LA Knight's comment)
"Now I have another question - what did you do to my furniture?"
Nuada turned to meet Dylan's eyes. He studied her quietly, his golden gaze noting the fatigue shuddering subtly through her limbs, the haunted look in her storm-blue eyes, the tightness of her mouth despite her attempt to smile. He wanted to know more, to question her, but recognised that now wasn't the time. Dylan returned his gaze, eventually raising her eyebrows as the silence stretched. She looked around pointedly, some of the tightness easing in her expression.
Nuada's gaze followed Dylan's around her guest room. "Your furniture? I moved it," he said simply, his eyes meeting hers again. "As you see."
"Yes, I do see." Dylan's smile was wry. Nuada relaxed slightly, alert to the slightest change in her body language. "My question is, why?"
Nuada cocked his head, studying Dylan. How often had she seen him train? In his sanctuary when he had recovered enough from the wounds and iron poisoning to rebuild the strength in his body. In Findias, training relentlessly to control his anger at being manipulated by his father and sister. Surely she knew exactly why he had cleared space within the room she had given him use of.
Why then would she ask something she already knew the answer to? He smiled slowly as he pondered this. Had she asked, as an innocent way to revisit their time together in his sanctuary? Nuada looked sharply at her. Or, was she angling to see him dance with his lethal weapons, to enjoy his muscular grace? Nuada's smile spread. Dylan's heart was still racing, echoing the pain of her nightmare. Perhaps he could make it pound for better reasons.
"Would you like to see?" he asked casually.
"Sure. Show me."
Nuada rose fluidly, feeling the strength ripple through his muscles. He stretched languidly, listening to her heart beating, hearing the whisper of air within her lungs. He was aware of her silver-blue gaze following him as he turned to pick up his lance.
He focused, centering himself, idly spinning his beautiful weapon, the shining silver extension of his soul. Carrying the movement into a full, graceful arc, he swung the shortened weapon in a deadly circle, his body revolving with the movement, imaginary foes dying in the wake of the silver blade. He turned and slashed, pirouetting with deadly beauty, then leapt into the air to bounce off one of the walls of Dylan's guest room. The limited dimensions of the guest room didn't seem to limit him at all. He was peripherally aware of Dylan's gasp as he landed, fluidly rolling to his feet, his weapon constantly biting at his invisible foes.
Smiling to himself, Nuada swung his shining lance to his left hand, smoothly diving and rolling across his shoulders, springing up again to balance perfectly. His breathing was barely sped up, while the first erotic sheen of sweat kissed his brow. He paused, poised to deflect or to attack as the battle dictated, his attention on his human audience.
Dylan was sitting as upright as her damaged body allowed, her big storm-coloured eyes never leaving him. She met his golden gaze, her face alight with amazement at his unearthly, deadly power. Her pale face flared with colour as he deliberately held her gaze, his smouldering look burning her, one white hand casually unlacing his elegant silk shirt. He shrugged his shirt off, relishing both the whisper of the cool air over his white skin, and the involuntary widening of Dylan's eyes, as she studied his sculpted torso.
Dropping his shirt casually at the edge of the room, Nuada was aware of her attention, following him with an almost tangible touch. He revelled in this as he returned to the smooth, deadly movements of combat, his shortened lance dancing around his glowing body.
At length, when he was finally pushing his limits, Nuada froze in mid-spin, seizing Dylan's big eyes. He held her gaze, the intensity of his emotions scorching her, as he extended his beautiful weapon to her full length. Dylan started back, her breath quick, her heart racing, as the Elf Prince swung back into motion, now slashing his silver lance with perfect control and deadly accuracy. Dylan could almost see the army he faced, watching as he economically cut each foe to the ground. Nuada moved with a speed she could barely follow, his body glowing in the candle light he favoured in the room she had lent him.
As suddenly as he had started, he ended, his silver lance vibrating with the energy he fed it. Nuada finished with an elegant, somehow casual pose. He saluted his human audience, a slight smile easing the line of his black lips.
Dylan found herself breathless, as if she had been the one conducting this deadly dance. Her heart fluttered under Nuada's intense golden gaze. With his attention, warmth spread through Dylan, as if Nuada was using his healing touch. This lovely glow made the terror that had claimed her during the nightmare somehow distant and trivial, easing her ever-present pain.
Nuada sprang forward. Dylan squeaked when Nuada pulled her from the chair and held her effortlessly off the ground, safe within the strength of his arms. He rotated her with dizzying speed, evoking another squeak, then settled her against his body. She found herself spooned against the Elf Prince, one of his long arms bracketing hers, the other holding her tightly against the hard, muscular plane of his torso, raised so that her head was beside his. His breath caressed her cheek as she angled her face quizzically toward his.
Nuada placed his lance against her hand. Intrigued, Dylan let her hand tighten on the beautiful weapon, just below Nuada's. A magical thrumming ran up her arm, startling her. It was almost as if she could hear the silver lance singing in wild abandon, fired by her master's touch. Before Dylan could consider this amazing discovery, Nuada resumed his energetic sequence, holding her as effortlessly as if she were a child. Dylan held the extended lance with Nuada, laughing as he took her through some of the battle moves, allowing her to feel, just for a brief period, what it was like to have his power and grace.
Dylan was out of breath by the time Nuada came to a fluid stop and gently set her on her feet. One of his hands remained, light at her stomach; she could feel his breath fanning her hair. He inhaled slowly, enjoying her reaction to his touch, to the pressure of his body against hers. Dylan started as Nuada reduced his lance to her 'resting' length, letting it slide through Dylan's fingers before he placed the weapon casually on the chair beside them. He listened carefully for the signs that her still healing injuries were tormenting her.
Dylan stood in his arms, leaning back as her damaged leg complained at her weight, allowing the tall elf to support her. His heat was distracting, a welcome pleasure against the chill in the room. She caught herself dwelling on the amazing dreams she'd been having, when nightmares weren't devouring her sleep.
Was this a dream? Or was it reality? The lines were beginning to blur for them both, as they unknowingly re-enacted aspects of their shared dreams.
Dylan's breath quickened as she felt Nuada's lips moving along her hair, nuzzling her temple. His hand on her stomach was moving subtly, stroking back and forth. She realised that Nuada's heartbeat was still fast and hard, his breathing a bit erratic. She mirrored him in this regard as white hands settled on her arms and gently turned her to face him.
This must be a dream!
Dylan closed her silver-blue eyes, surrendering to the peace and hunger of the moment, relishing the feeling of Nuada's hands on her arms, of his body, close by. She raised her chin artlessly, thrilled with the soft whisper of his breath on her upturned face. She felt tension on the scars slashing her mouth as she grinned, feeling that whispering breath trace a line of fire along her cheekbone. It was hard to concentrate – Dylan was distracted by the velvet caress of Nuada's hand, sliding up her arm and cupping her jaw – but she was aware that the Elf Prince was breathing compliments into her ear: treasuring her fiery spirit; her storm-lit, honest eyes; the delicious scent of her luxurious hair. Before she could gather her wits, she felt his thumb touch her lips. She gasped, amazed that the subtle run of his thumb back and forth across her full lower lip should fill her with light.
Distantly, she was aware that his mouth was no longer at her ear. Dylan held her breath, still mesmerised by the continued stroking of his thumb on her mouth. She twitched with a small sound as warm lips descended gently on her forehead; Nuada kissed her with enough force for the impress of his lips to linger when he raised his mouth. She could concentrate just enough to catch the blessing he gave her, before the caress of his breath, now ragged, moved again.
Lips settled onto one of her eyelids, gently pressing; Dylan's brows briefly contracted in surprise. The feeling of his black lips on her eyelid was surprisingly sensual, and she relaxed into the soft kiss. She sighed happily when Nuada provided the same service to her other eyelid. Nuada seemed to be humming deep in his throat, producing an erotic purr as he drifted his lips down her face. Dylan trembled gently under his touch. She gasped helplessly as she felt his lips find a home on the sensitive skin beside her mouth, hiding a kiss there, like a secret. When his tongue traced her scars, setting them alight with pleasure, she couldn't help but moan. He grinned fleetingly at her primal response. His thumb stroked to the secret kiss and she felt his lips brush her own, in a feather kiss that set her heart pounding.
Time seemed suspended as she waited, aware of his breath on her mouth, mingling with hers. Just when she thought she'd scream with frustration, his lips settled gently onto her own. His kiss was velvet soft, tender, mindful of her damaged mouth; Dylan felt suddenly lightheaded. She forgot to breathe as he deepened their kiss, increasing the pressure and demand of his mouth on hers.
What a wonderful dream! Dylan wouldn't fear sleep if only all her dreams brought her this! Dylan retained just enough control not to submit to the pounding of their hearts and the invitation implicit in the way his mouth teased hers, encouraging her to part her lips and let him taste her. Nuada's hands stroked her as he caressed her lips, inviting her to reciprocate. Drifting her hands up to his naked chest, she found...
Reality smacked her, and she pulled away suddenly, her eyes flying open. Nuada stared down at her, a puzzled look on his face, as if her sudden withdrawal had confounded him.
"Eeew, Your Highness!" Dylan grimaced at her wet hands, her comical expression taking the sting from her words. Nuada's quick flare of fury was replaced with amusement at the fastidious disgust in her tone. She moved further back, saying accusingly, "Sweaty!"
Myriad emotions jostled one another on his sculpted white face. At length, Nuada twitched, moving toward Dylan. But the moment had passed: she was awkwardly hitching away on her damaged leg, limping to the door. She paused at the threshold, glancing back at him. He stood, frozen, a hard look on his face.
"I see why you moved the furniture. Very understandable," she murmured, managing no more than a quick look at him. "I will leave you to your training. Good night, Your Highness." Without waiting for him to respond, she slipped away, her heart thundering and inexplicable tears close to the surface. She shook her head impatiently, embarrassed by the strength of her reaction. She must be more worn down than she realised.
Left in the glow of candle light, Nuada cocked his head and looked at the closed door for a very long time. He was somewhat disturbed by the strength of his longing for the complex, kind, ever intriguing woman who had somehow become a part of his life. The dreams he had of her simultaneously thrilled and repelled him. And yet, the bond seemed true; the power of their kiss told him that. She must, somehow, be Fae! There was no other explanation for the attraction that both bound and frustrated them. Surely such an attraction could only evolve among the Fae; surely such a strong and subtle pull could never develop between an elf and a hollow human..?
A slow smile spread over Nuada's face. He would enjoy studying the problem, exploring the bizarre unity he felt with this damaged, delightful woman.
Perhaps dreams could come true!