Vaarsuvius watched in fascination as a female elf started climbing a tree, jumping from branch to branch as though she had been born there. The child lightly bit a tiny knuckle. Vaarsuvius hoped that Parent wouldn’t try to get her child to climb like that.
“You’re going to fall!”
Other Parent laughed up at the tree, blue hair getting tangled in the wind and his hands firm on the rough bark, eyes twinkling. Parent looked down, face bright, purple hair falling down to her chest. “Have I ever fallen?”
“It would be a shame if you did! I love you!”
Vaarsuvius cocked a tiny head, rocking a little back and forth. Most parents wouldn’t allow their twenty-seven-year-old child be without supervision, but Parent and Other Parent didn’t seem too concerned. Vaarsuvius was much too fascinated by their interaction. So warm. And the declarations of love—what was love?
“I love you too!”
Parent let out a joyful trill, sounding more like a morning bird than anything. “I’ll shout it for all the woods to hear: I love you!”
She jumped out of the tree like a squirrel and was caught in Other Parent’s arms, spinning around and laughing. They touched lips, hair falling over their faces and eyes closed.
Vaarsuvius felt oddly repelled by the display.
“Parent, what is love?”
Parent and Other Parent parted, turning sparkling eyes and smiling faces to Vaarsuvius, and the child almost felt badly about breaking up their gratuitous show of affection that would have inevitably devolved into whatever they did when they had their clothes off when they forgot that their child was present again.
“Oh, the most beautiful thing in the world!” Parent spun from Other Parent’s arms, picking up Vaarsuvius with a flourish and kissing her child’s forehead. “It’s what makes life worth living, Suvie!”
“It’s what makes you crazy for an elf.” Other Parent grinned and nuzzled Parent’s ear, eliciting a shiver and a delighted cry that made Vaarsuvius’s skin crawl ever so slightly. Maybe this was what was needed to remind the child why Aarindarius’s tower was always so much more attractive than home.
“It’s what makes your heart leap and your life seem rosy!”
“It’s what makes you yearn to be with someone!”
“It’s what makes you ache for them!”
“It’s what makes you tear apart the universe just to see your beloved smile!”
“It’s what makes your chest burst at the thought of your lover!”
It was apparently also the thing that made you incredibly cheesy and air-headed. Vaarsuvius scowled when Parent and Other Parent started touching lips again and prayed quietly that they would keep their clothes on this time.
Vaarsuvius kissed Inkyrius softly, warmth glowing gently within. The green-haired elf smiled, eyes half-lidded, and leaned forward, lightly brushing lips against pointed ears. “I love you, Suvie.”
“I love you too, Kyrie.”
They laced their fingers together gently, leaning against the tree outside of their cottage, a warm breeze playing lightly with their hair. Vaarsuvius looked up, squinting a little against the light. “Beloved, I must hurry to my study. I have been working on a certain spell, and I think I have nearly finished translating it from Archaic Elven…”
Vaarsuvius didn’t hear the disappointment in the baker’s voice.
Fire practically crackled between them, making the elf’s face flush and making the goblin’s eyes glow brighter. “Vaarsuvius, why won’t you give me something to work with? Give me their names and I won’t need to hurt you for a while.”
“I refuse to betray my friends!”
“Well we all need to do things we don’t want to do.”
Vaarsuvius turned away in disgust, eyes burning. “I will not compromise on this matter. Do what you will. You have claws; use them.”
There was a quiet, a beat where the atmosphere sharpened, then gently smoothed, allowing for the harshness to filter out. “You know I won’t, Vaarsuvius.”
A scaled hand touched the elf’s, clasping it. Vaarsuvius didn’t try to pull away. “If the time I’ve spent with you has taught me anything, it’s that you don’t crumble under torture before I let my soft side get the better of me.”
“You? A soft side?”
But the anger was ebbing away, slowly but surely.
“I have a bigger soft side than you, and I’m supposed to be the Lawful Evil one here.” Redcloak smiled ruefully, lightly wrapping his arms around the elf’s abdomen. Vaarsuvius permitted the contact, ears twitching lightly with residual anger.
“I won’t betray them.”
“Then why do you keep asking me to?”
“I don’t expect you to give me a real answer, but it’s my job to try to get you to.”
Vaarsuvius relaxed, slowly leaning against Redcloak’s chest, resting a light head on the goblin’s shoulder. “I am only letting you off this time because the most you have done for a while is ask the questions, get insistent, and give up.”
“I learned that violence doesn’t do much for you a long time ago, Vaarsuvius.” Redcloak smiled, lightly stroking the elf’s cheek. “I don’t enjoy hurting you, so I won’t do it if it won’t help. Besides, I could be as violent as I want—you’ll always be the one in control.”
“Where does that logic stem from?”
“Don’t try that with me. You know as well as I do.” Redcloak nuzzled his partner’s neck affectionately, eliciting a small squirm and a chuckle.
“You have done well in getting back into my good graces.” Vaarsuvius turned around, smiling again, and gently wrapped delicate arms around the goblin’s neck.
“I wouldn’t want you to be angry at me. You hold onto grudges like a fiend.”
Vaarsuvius gently swatted Redcloak’s chest. “Beast.” The elf went on tip-toes and kissed the goblin gently, fire burning between them, painful yet welcome. Redcloak slipped his arms around his lover’s slender waist and pressed their bodies together.
Vaarsuvius snapped awake from the trance, immediately standing from the bed, picking up a folded outer robe on a chair shoved under the circular window looking out into the ocean.
“Sleep, Miss Starshine. I am only going to the upper deck.”
Haley let out a mumble and turned on her side, promptly falling back asleep. Vaarsuvius pulled on the heavier robe over the thin night robe, tying it tightly and leaving the room, bare feet feeling the full effects of the rough, un-sanded floor even when the elf climbed up the stairs on to the main deck.
The familiar smell of salt just agitated Vaarsuvius further, only bringing up more memories.
“Nightmares?” Vaarsuvius spun around, leaning on the boat railing and looking at the raven staring up accusingly from the ground. “Or something else?”
“Not nightmares.” Vaarsuvius looked out to the sea, frowning. “Not nightmares.”
“Were you reliving sex with the goblin again? Because you seriously can’t dwell on stuff like that.”
“Not the copulation itself. Just… talking to him. And my parents. And to Inkyrius.”
“That’s a mash-up. Why’d your brain string them together?”
Vaarsuvius didn’t answer.
“Bonded, remember? I can figure it out myself.”
“It all involved passion.” Vaarssuvius touched the area just above a small beating heart. “Or… perhaps passion is not the right word.” The elf was silent for a while. “I believe that I miss Redcloak.”
“What about Inkyrius?”
“Blackwing, I prefer to not speak about my emotions.” Vaarsuvius stared into the water, lips slightly tight with pain. The elf’s abdomen and back were hurting a little. “They are difficult to think about.”
“Hey, I’m your familiar.” Blackwing flew to the railing, landing on it gracefully. “And you sort of went insane last time you let your feelings stew, so yeah.”
“That was different.” Vaarsuvius stared at the water, tracing the foam with a violet gaze. “My parents, Inkyrius, Redcloak… they’re in my past. Not my future.”
“That’s what you’d like to think.”
Vaarsuvius sighed, gently wrapping thin arms around a tiny elven body. “I allowed myself to care too much about Redcloak. Put too much heart into him. For that, I must pay.”
“Did you love him?”
The elf glanced at the raven, frowning. Blackwing looked entirely serious. “It hurts you to be away from him. You’re still dreaming about him about a week after you knocked him out. And I saw you when you two were together.”
“Love would be a foolish thing for me to give to him.” Vaarsuvius looked back at the water. “I do not love him. I never did and I never will.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Your belief means nothing when it comes to fact, Blackwing.” Vaarsuvius straightened, wincing a little at a twinge of pain in a thin back.
“Are you okay, Vaarsuvius?” Blackwing flew to his master’s shoulder. “You’ve been acting weird.”
“I have simply taken ill, Blackwing.” Vaarsuvius started towards the trapdoor to under the deck again. “Nothing but that.”