AN: Part 2 of Northern Man! Thank you so much for all of the lovely reviews and encouragement.
The language barrier was hard for both of them, Soul didn't speak much, even in his own language but he was quick to pick up new words. Grammar was the big issue, his language added strange endings onto every word and they changed depending on the subject, or time, and other things that he couldn't yet articulate to her. Maka's language was lighter but involved a few sounds that Soul just couldn't seem to make. He would scowl at her when she laughed before smiling a little himself. She would point to something and tell him what it was and he would repeat it slowly trying not to elongate the vowels too much and match her inflections. He would then say it in his own language a deep and gravelly voice that reminded her of forests, Maka would then stumble over the abundant consonants and he would smile at her accent.
It had been a long time since he'd laughed freely. And even though he was a slave, he didn't feel like one, Maka simply treated him as an equal. He almost felt foolish for being so wary of her at first with her little knife, but he had not been treated well in the past. She hardly asked him to do anything for her, the worst demand she had made was to reach a vase that was too high for her. The woman baffled him. Soul found himself looking forward to making her smile during the day when they would talk and teach each other.
"That one please." She was pointing at the dried rosemary but Soul reached for the thyme. "No, left, other left! Soul!" She whined. He smirked and got the rosemary from the rafters. Maka pouted until he tickled her chin with the herbs.
"This one, yes?" He asked and she giggled.
"Yes, the rosemary you oaf." Maka made to grab for the herbs but he jerked them away. "Soul." She warned, "Soul, what are you playing at? Come on, just give me the herbs." He was grinning and easily avoided her each time she lunged at him. "You're worse than a puppy!" Maka laughed and then laughed even harder when he tilted his head to the side not understanding what she'd said. "Young dog." She managed to choke out between her laughter. For such a tall and imposing man he could be so cute sometimes.
It was his turn to pout at her. "Big wolf. Not young dog."
"Yeah yeah, just give me the rosemary, Wolfy." She was wiping tears from her eyes when he handed her the herbs. She smiled at him and he couldn't help but grin at her in return.
It dawned on him one night that he was being careless with his growing affections for her.
"Maka! You would not believe how flexible those dancers can be!" Black Star's booming voice coupled with the slam of the door made Maka jump off her seat and sent Soul flying into a defensive position in front of her one afternoon in mid December.
"Black Star, you really can't keep doing that." She laid a hand on Soul's shoulder and shook her head. "He's an idiot, but he's a friend." Maka threw her book at Black Star who was still standing in the door gaping, "Shut the door, you jerk! You're letting all the cold in!" Soul shot her a look questioning her sanity and everything about the loud, blue-haired man.
"Yo, I thought my godly ears had heard something about you buying a slave, but seriously?" He sat down and propped his feet up on the table. Maka smacked the back of his head.
"Where have you been for the past four months? His name is Soul." Black Star held up his hands in defense and turned to face Soul. He was leaning against a wall, seemingly relaxed with arms over his chest with his eyes half lidded watching where Maka was in the room. Black Star kept his eyes lazy, but clearly noted that Soul was keeping himself between him and Maka.
"Yeah whatever, just remember this, I'm Black Star and I'm gonna surpass God!" Maka sighed and offered Soul a helpless shrug while Black Star cackled.
"I need to check on the bread. Black Star, do not touch my books." She glared at him before walking towards the kitchen, Black Star almost missed the slight brush of fingers and the way they both turned towards each other as she walked through the doorway he was leaning on.
Soul didn't move to follow her but his eyes narrowed when he realized Black Star had seen the entire exchange. "You got it bad for her, dude." Black Star snorted when Soul's gaze darkened.
"She saved my life."
"Yeah ok. And the whole smouldering looks thing is just a side effect? Look, you hurt her? And I won't just kill you, I'll slaughter you." Black Star stood, he was shorter than the other man but had more muscle on his side. He feigned just stretching his arms over his head but went for a right hook. Soul blocked it easily with his forearm. Black Star laughed, his knuckles felt like he'd hit the broadside of a sword instead of flesh. "From the looks of ya, you could leave anytime you want to. That band certainly isn't stopping you. Why are you still here?"
"Won't leave her." Soul growled and pushed back against Black Star's arm.
"You're serious. Alright! Not that you can keep up with me, but you're cool." Black Star gave him a jab in the shoulder that Soul didn't block. "Take her with you when you leave. She's always wanted to travel and you'll keep her safe." Soul didn't say anything, just nodded and that was enough for Black Star.
He left shortly after, he didn't need the details but from what he'd seen Maka was in good hands. Soul was completely taken with her, even if he hadn't quite realized it yet himself and Maka trusted him. The rumors of a an unruly and vicious white haired slave he'd been hearing about were probably true, but he wouldn't be hurting Maka and that was what Black Star cared about. His knuckles were beginning to bruise, he had no doubt that when Soul wanted to leave he would be able to take care of any issues they might encounter. Black Star began to whistle, Maka would be just fine.
Deep into winter the temperature plummeted and to stay warm Maka took to sleeping next to the large hearth in the parlor. Soul had seemed unaffected by the cold until the sudden drop. They brought their bedding down each night and for a while they would converse. He was picking up the language faster each day and could hold almost an entire conversation without stumbling. His accent was still strong enough to drown out some of the smaller inflections but Maka found she liked the way he spoke. They would then arrange themselves across the room from each other, Maka liked those quiet nights.
The fire was still burning just enough to cast a warm glow across their faces as they spoke on the third night of the cold snap. Soul had sighed when she had started to ask him questions about the North, but he answered each as diligently as he could. "Are the pines really tall enough to touch the clouds?" Maka had enjoyed his description of the forests that defined the Northern border. He missed the security the branches offered from the open sky and the smell of cold evergreens.
"Some. The oldest from the times of gods."
"Someday I'll see them." She sighed. Trees that stayed green no matter how cold it became, the idea fascinated her. In her country the trees turned gold when autumn came and stood bare for all of winter after losing their leaves to the winds.
"Sometimes the trees pretend they are clouds when they wear their snow." He offered, unsure how to describe what the trees looked like when they were heavy with a wet snowfall. "They sing."
"Play music. When bone cold, if you listen they crackle and sway."
She nodded trying to imagine it. "What is "bone cold?""
"Deep cold. Lies in bones and chills from inside out. Dangerous because it does not hurt for a long time like skin cold."
"And what's skin cold?"
"This cold. Skin is cold to touch and burns when thawing. Red cheeks and ears, but not nose cold. Nose cold," he started before she even asked, "is when one can feel nose begin to freeze. Skin hurts, eyes rain, and breath shimmers. Colder than skin cold, just before bone cold."
"Is there anything colder than bone cold?" He shut his eyes and grimaced.
"Yes. Final cold. Too cold for snow, Father of Ice. Cuts through body, freezes mind, and steals soul. Cold becomes hot until one sleeps. One does not wake up from final cold sleep. Not even with Spring thaw." His somber tone made her shiver.
"Tell me about the snow?" She asked softly. Soul's chuckle lightened her heart.
"You are very curious. In North to be curious can save life or take life. Which snow do you want to know?"
"There's more than one type?" Maka had only seen the soft dustings that felt like a softer frozen sand.
"You only have one type?" Soul was equally surprised. "Just as there are many colds, there are many snows. But if you do not have them then I do not know their words."
Maka giggled, the Northern man seemed disappointed that he could not describe the snows to her. "Have you ever met Dusha Yedok?" Soul's back became rigid but it was hidden by the pile of blankets he was under. Maka didn't notice from her own nest across the room.
"Why do you ask about him?"
"I've only ever heard the legends about him that the merchants bring, I wanted to know if the stories about him are true. They say he's as tall as the pine trees, strong as a Northern bear, and that his blades cut the winds themselves. Is it true that he charmed a fairy with his smile so he could stop an entire war?" She had ignored his sputtering at the word "fairy" and grinned at him.
"You make him sound like he's a hero." Soul's voice was distant.
"No." He scrubbed a hand through his already messy hair. "His story in North is, different. Very different. He's not a hero." Soul ground out. "Just a man who was bred and trained to kill for money. He was feared. Mercenary of witches. He insulted a witch and was cursed with insanity for it. Dusha Yedok killed until the curse of the witch was sated by the king's blood."
"What did he do?" Maka's voice was small, she had not expected such a different story.
"Was said he traveled into the, Perehzimuvat. You do not have a word for that. It is forever winter, always final cold. Should have died there." A final curl of smoke rose from the fire. Maka was quiet for so long he thought she had fallen asleep.
"What does Dusha Yedok mean?"
Soul sighed and thought before answering her, "There are no words in your language for his name."
"Thank you, Soul." She buried her nose in the covers and dreamed of cold pines and red stains in a hundred different types of snow.
Soul lay awake listening to the winds outside. It was a lie; he knew exactly how to say his own name in her language.
To their surprise the temperature continued to go down, Soul looked outside and nodded at her, "Bone cold." The sun offered no warmth and the wind made the cold dangerous. No matter how many layers Maka put on she was constantly shivering even in front of the fireplace. Soul scoffed at her one night before he sat down behind her and pulled her against him. He wrapped the blanket he'd had draped over his shoulders around both of them and rested his chin on her head. "Warmer." Was all he muttered against her hair.
He offered to her one night after almost a week of falling asleep together, that in the North, it was unacceptable for a lady to go cold. She had nodded, surprisingly disappointed. "Your coldest winter night will be our warmest. To survive we, cuddle. That is word?" She laughed, it sounded strange coming out of his mouth. His fingers danced up her sides tickling her in retaliation. Maka laughed until she cried, begging him to stop, Soul just grinned and feigned ignorance as he continued.
He finally stopped and admired the way her cheeks were flushed and how her normally even pigtails were undone. The heavy sleep shirt had twisted to reveal the pale skin of her stomach and he resisted stroking the skin with his thumb. Maka swatted his arm playfully before wiping away the tears from her laughter that were still clinging to the corners of her eyes. "You're terrible. I know you understood that." Soul smirked before rearranging them so she was nearest to the fire and his back would take the brunt of the cold that seeped in through the window. He found that sleep came more easily in the strange country when his arms were around her.
Maka awoke to the metallic sound of two swords meeting. Soul was above her, shielding her with his body and a wickedly curved red and black blade that replaced his right arm and her father had both hands on the hilt of his sword trying to force Soul's blade down. "Papa! What are you doing?" She couldn't move but her yell had her father stumbling backwards.
"That blade. Maka, who is this heathen?" Her father's yell was drowned out when Soul snarled at him, eyes wild.
"Soul! I saved him. Now what exactly—"
"Maka, do you know who this is? Do you know what that blade is? What that blade means?" Her father's voice was low and almost frantic.
"Papa, what is going on?" She glanced back to Soul but was forced to look away when a flash of white light blinded her. She blinked trying to clear her eyes but the blade was gone. Maka was more concerned that her father had just tried to kill Soul than the strange magic he'd used to protect them. "This is Soul; I bought him to save his life from the slave traders." She stood and offered a hand to Soul; he took it without a glance at her father who sputtered at them.
"Maka, baby, just come over here, away from him. Please?" He pleaded.
"I would never harm her." Soul shot back, making sure her father heard the contract in his words, he didn't let go of her hand.
Spirit ran a hand through his hair nervously. He'd known his daughter was stubborn but the man behind her was dangerous. "Maka, that's Dusha Yedok from the North." Soul's eyes narrowed at her father, he'd been hoping his scythe wouldn't be recognized.
"Papa don't be absurd."
"Maka I would not lie to you right now. That man is Dusha Yedok and you need to come away from him. He's been missing since he murdered King Asura and the entire Strahk court."
"Soul?" She turned to look at him, his hand suddenly seemed to large and too tight around hers.
"Dusha Yedok means "Soul Eater" in your language." He offered no explanation and let go of her hand. Maka began to shiver violently but not from the cold.
"He uses his own body as a weapon, a red and black curved scythe blade, it's in his blood and can hide his magic. That's why they sold him as a normal slave and allowed you to buy him. They must not have known. That band on his arm is nothing more than decoration. Maka please, come away." Spirit wasn't sure that he could kill Dusha Yedok even if Maka stepped aside.
"You killed King Asura and the Strahk court? You stopped Asura's war?" Her voice betrayed her fear.
"Yes." At the very least he owed her an explanation. "I insulted Witch Medusa when I refused to work for her. She cursed me with insane bloodlust. Was meant to start the war, not stop it. No excuse for my life." He stepped further back away from her and looked at the Marshall's strained face.
"You went into the Perehzimuvat. For the final cold." Soul could hear the tears in her voice but did not look at her when he gave a slight nod.
He asked the Marshall slowly, "What will you do? I will not fight."
"No! I-" Maka's shout startled both men. She stomped up to Soul until she was standing right in front of him. "I don't care." She ground out, tears still streaming down her face. "You are mine. Soul, Dusha Yedok, I don't care. I saved your life, I will not let you throw it away!"
Her father was aghast and Soul was completely floored by the woman in front of him. He was ready to face the consequences for his actions, he had been ready to die in the cold, ready to be a mistreated slave for the rest of his life, and now all that was really stopping him was a woman clutching his chest. "Maka?" He asked quietly, he didn't deserve her tears.
"You're an idiot. An absolute idiot. You're good, I know you are. Your soul's rough around the edges, but you care." She was speaking so quickly and was so choked up with tears it was hard to understand her.
"My soul?" She nodded at him before rounding on her father again.
"Papa you know I'm a good judge of character. You're the one who explained Soul Perception to me! Trust me, please. Please, you can't take Soul." Spirit had the decency to look crestfallen as he struggled for words.
"You know that Papa can't ignore his duties. Darling, he's a killer."
"You've killed before as well! Papa you were going to be sent to fight against Asura's army. Soul stopped that from happening!"
"Yes, by killing an entire court and crippling a kingdom."
"Just trust me this once, Papa. Just let me save his life." She was crying even harder, trying to push Soul behind her as if she could hide him or keep him safe. Spirited hated to see his daughter cry and her heart was breaking at just the thought of Dusha Yedok being killed.
"If I don't turn him in," Spirit began slowly, "He will still have to leave. He can't stay here. I am going to go upstairs and I will come down tomorrow morning. If he's still here, Maka, I will have to arrest him. If he isn't, well, then I never realized who he was." He'd hardly finished speaking as Maka jumped into his arms thanking him. Soul bowed his head to the other man, grateful for the chance. "I'm getting soft." Her father muttered. Spirit kissed her hair and hugged her close. "Go to bed, Maka."
She pulled back to look at him but she nodded. "Don't hurt him Papa, please?"
Spirit sighed. "I don't think I could if I tried." Soul managed not to smirk. She glanced at Soul who was still standing by the fire, he looked more relaxed but his slight frown worried her. He met her eyes and it was enough, she made her way upstairs. Soul turned his attention to the band still on his arm, the runes were simplistic and designed to contain a person without magic. He shifted his entire arm into a blade and the band hit the floor cleanly split.
"Just what are your intentions towards my daughter?" Spirit's tone was icy. No matter how good Maka may claim the man was, he'd still caused more chaos than one person should ever be responsible for. "I have a sinking feeling that she'll go with you."
Soul's eyes widened a fraction in shock. Spirit continued, "She's going to have to. Allowing a slave to escape is treated as a serious offense and even if we reveal who you are it will be no excuse. I will be stripped of my title and Maka will be arrested and tortured until she gives up any information about you." His blue eyes were hard and dared Soul to argue.
"I would give my life before I let anyone hurt her because of me." Another contract of words that he enforced with magic. Spirit nodded his approval. "She will be safe."
"Tell me why you will keep my daughter safe." Spirit demanded. "Is it because you owe her? Because that's not enough!"
"I will keep her safe because I love her." Soul's thick accent made Spirit stop, he said it with such conviction and surety that he conceded. Dusha Yedok loved his daughter and would keep her safe, the thought made him nauseous. Soul repeated it in his own language, almost to himself as if realizing just how true the words were.
Spirit's shoulders slumped in defeat, there was no better reason. "Good. Someday, when you have a daughter, you'll understand." He paled at the thought, any daughter of Soul's would be his granddaughter. Soul didn't bother to hide his smirk that time. He nodded his regards to the red haired man who was clutching the back of a chair trying not to hyperventilate and went up stairs quietly.
He kept his footfalls quiet, but not completely silent as he approached her door. There was a slight rustling and she was muttering under her breath. Soul knocked and all noise ceased, there was a small scurry and then the sound of sheets being thrown back. It made him chuckle and he spoke through the door his voice low, "I know you're awake. I'm coming in." The door opened with a click as she sat up looking at him expectantly.
"I thought you were my father." She whispered as she moved from the bed.
"We are both glad that is not true." He returned as she stood in front of him. Maka was holding her hands to her chest, trying to keep herself from clutching at him.
"Have you come to say goodbye? Because you can't." Even in the dim room he could clearly see her green eyes waiting for him to confirm her fears. "You can't say goodbye. Because I'm going with you." Maka watched as he smiled, it was a small and almost unnoticeable the way his eyes crinkled.
"Good." The space between them was too close and too far away until he cupped her face in his hand. His calluses were rough on her cheek but she leaned into him and placed her own hand over his. She looked at him through her lashes, watching his reaction when she rested her lips on the inside of his wrist. His eyes darkened when she moved her lips ever so slightly to feel his pulse and he visibly shuddered when she tasted his skin.
He moved slowly, pulling her against him and running his hand through her hair to cradle the back of her head. Her breathing was shallow and she began to tremble in his arms while he hovered over her, waiting. "Soul?" It was a small whisper, unsure and hopeful and it finally had him brushing his lips against hers. They were chapped and caught on hers, the skin raw and ready to crack from the dry winter air, but they were warm and gentle. His nose brushed hers when he kissed her upper lip and then her bottom lip, Soul pulled back just enough so he could feel her lips ghosting against his, so light it burned and itched. "Soul." She was breathless and pleading for him.
Soul crashed their lips together, hot and biting but soothing her. He groaned into the kiss when she opened her mouth to taste his breath. His teeth were sharp and left her quivering each time he tugged on her lips. She shyly met his tongue with her own and moaned at the warmth that spread through her. Maka's unabashed moan had them both snapping their eyes open. Her father was still in the house and her hands had found their way under his shirt to clutch at his back. She giggled and Soul shook his head.
"If I am yours, you are mine." The way his voice rumbled through her chest made Maka bite the inside of her cheek to stifle another moan. Soul watched as she nodded, her eyes never leaving his. He brushed a kiss to her forehead and held her for a moment. "We will leave in the morning."
Maka woke up cold and alone before the sun was up. She hadn't been able to convince Soul to stay with her, but her father being home was a good reason to not sleep together. He'd made sure to kiss her thoroughly before leaving though. They'd spoken briefly about traveling and that her father understood that in order to keep her safe she would need to come with him to the North. Maka dressed as warmly as she could, tucking the pearl necklace from her mother and matching earrings from her father into a pouch before heading down stairs.
Soul was nowhere to be seen, but in the dim morning light her father was sitting at the kitchen table with his head in his hands. "Papa?" He looked defeated and heartbroken. Even with all of his cheating and lying, he was her father and she loved him. Maka hugged him, "Thank you." Spirit shook and kissed her brow.
"You stay safe. And warm. And be careful? And don't talk to strangers." He was rambling, but it kept him from being completely frantic.
"I know Papa."
"And baby girl? Promise me one thing?" He looked at her, she was so much like her mother it hurt. "Just remember that Papa loves you." She hugged him again, fiercely this time, trying to bury her tears in his tunic.
"I promise." Maka finally choked out.
It took everything Spirit had to let go of his daughter. "This is your dowry. It isn't much, but it should help you on the road." He handed her a small purse and clenched his teeth. "He's waiting for you outside." Maka nodded and kissed him on the cheek before turning and leaving; she didn't look back.
He was standing with his back to her watching the sun rise. "Soul!" He turned and caught her as she jumped into his arms, spinning both of them in a wide circle. Maka laughed when he didn't set her down, just kept her hugged against him with the toes of her boots barely skimming the snowy ground. He kissed her lightly and felt her smile against his lips, even when he put her down Maka looked like happiness in his arms.
"To the North."
"To the North." She agreed, nodding. They walked out of the town unseen in the cold light of the morning sun hand in hand.
Glossary of poorly translated Russian
Dusha Yedok: rough translation of Soul Eater
AN: This isn't the end. There is so much more. But huge thanks to everyone who helped me and put up with my whining. Please let me know if you have questions or concerns, or just tell me your thoughts. Thank you, thank you, thank you!